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Hey everybody, my name is Dan, and this is my first post. I've been lurking a while now and I have to say, this is one of the best forums I've ever come across.  The vast amounts of information and inspiration are very helpful to new owners. And there is a shocking abscence of bickering, oversensitivity and internet tough guys that seem all too common on other forums. With that said, it's about damn time to start talkn bout Comanches...
  

I've had my eye on getting a Comanche for a couple years. Started seriously looking last January, had a few slip through my fingers, but finally got one in March. Got lucky and found an 87 SWB 2wd 5spd with just under 130k and completely stock. Picked it up for $1800. ;) It had some water leaks(carpet was wet) and needed tires. When I went to leave after sealing the deal, the starter stopped working. So the seller gave me back $60 for a new starter. So for the next day I had to give the starter some love taps to get her going. Turned out to be a loose signal wire. Score! Also, I forgot how much I like driving midsize trucks with a manual trans.

 

Here she is a few days after I bought her:

 

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Unfortunately, I didn't take any pics before I started wrenching on it.. Was just really excited. I installed a tool box that I had on a couple other trucks and bought those wheels/tires on craigslist. $70 with pretty worn BFG A/Ts. But they weren't dry rotted like the tires that came on the truck, so that's something.
 

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Took it out in the woods, and got it stuck with some impressive decision making driving.

 

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It was steeper than it looks(I swear). :) It was a wonderful combination of slick roots and slicker/thicker mud. And after stirring up mud for a few minutes, a swarm of bugs emerged and filled up the cab. Eventually, my dad had to come pull me out with my grandpa's truck. Learning is fun!


 

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After driving it for a few more weeks, I realized the carpet wasn't drying, even after not seeing any rain. I saw a few horror stories about floor pans on this forum, so I worked up the testicular fortitude to pull the carpet. AAAAAnnnnndddd... Surprise! Rust:
 

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But nowhere near as bad as you guys on the east coast. Some of those photos should be labeled NSFW. Anywho, she sat for a month while I collected my motavation to POR-15 the floorboards and roof. Can't say I liked the process for cleaning and application of POR-15, but it seems like tough stuff. Got it back on the road and was loving it. Just fun to drive, even if the Pugeot trans has some quirks. Now that I was driving it regularly, I began to make note of some minor issues:
    It leaks oil like its meant to
    the steering has a good amount of play
    the headlights were exceptionally dim
    the front end was a bit smashed from some previous accident
    the tape deck is garbage and all four speakers are blown

Those are all fairly minor, and the truck runs great! Love the inline six. Killer torque. Around this time I got the Jeep bug and decided to jump into a 4x4 swap. Bought a 3.55 MJ Dana 35 off craigslist for $70. Figured if I'm gonna do all this work, might as well make the gearing a bit better, and I think 3.55 Dana 30s are easier to find. Turns out, the seller was part of the club. Unfortunately, I don't remember his name or screen name, but if you're reading this: thanks dude!

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After looking for a few weeks, I decided to buy a parts rig for the 4x4 swap. It's pretty nice not having to scrounge around craigslist and junkyards trying to find small parts. So I picked up a 1990 2dr 5spd Cherokee with blown/disassembled engine for $500. It came with all the parts and even had a Warn winch and brush guard! Sadly, it's super clean and has the factory bumper mounted spare tire. I promised myself not to hack it up and bring it back to decent shape after I've cherry picked the good stuff. Hell, I'm kicking around the idea of keeping it and dropping a running engine in.
 

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I started picking through the parts Jeep for little odds and ends for my MJ:
    footwell lights
    antenna
    Warn winch brush guard
    front bumper and header panel
    speedo cable
    gauge cluster lens and surround
    little engine parts
    28mm sway bar
    front brake calipers
 

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Truly the gift that kept on giving. Took the good, non-smashed header panel from the parts Cherokee, color is off, but not too bad. I ended up plasti dipping all the plastic front end components and painting the front bumper and winch mount. It was really nice to get a front end on there that wasn't smashed. At the same time, I made up some relay harnesses for the headlights. Turned out to be about twice as expensive than the ebay harnesses, but it was really cool to be able to make something like that myself. And I know all the components were quality. What a difference that made. Before I couldn't see the road if it was wet out.
 

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Gogomorgo- I feel ya.. I figure once I drop an axle in there, the chance of me replacing it later on is slim to none.

 

Keyav8r- Thanks man! And sad but true, all these parts keep adding up to $$. I definitely got pretty lucky on the floors, no salt in the PNW

 

 

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Next, I decided I really wanted to get the interior put somewhat back together. The truck was like an echo chamber without a headliner installed. I know I'm gonna get some sh*t thrown my way for this :peek:  , but I decieded it needed a custom touch: Pokemon. This was a whole month or so before Pokemon Go took the world by storm (I have witnesses), as always, ahead of the trends. It goes rather nicely with the baller blue interior. Sometimes I impress even myself.
 

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Got lucky and found a guy parting out an MJ a couple miles away from me. Picked through it a and grabbed a SWB rear driveshaft(!), a front driveshaft, a dark blue bench seat, and some other interior bits. I hit the magic number again at $70 for the lot. Unfortunately, the rest of the truck was in pretty rough shape, so I didn't grab the other MJ specific stuff like the tails.
 

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After I got the interior somewhat reassembled, I needed some tunes. I personally think there is no better place to listen to music than your own vehicle. I installed a Pioneer bluetooth deck and tried to use some 3.5in speakers behind the kick panel. Didn't quite mount the way I wanted, and they sounded like poop. Basically tweeters. Ditched those and installed some 5.25in Pioneers in the doors. Another reason I love small trucks, the sound from just those two speakers is pretty good. Also, bluetooth is kickass. Being able to talk and shift at the same time is underrated.
 

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Now it was time to do all the basic little projects I love to do to all my vehicles. Did some spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor. Indexed the distributor per Cruiser54's recommedations, also did most of his tips. Great website by the way. Basically did a bunch of nitty gritty stuff that give me a nice sense of satisfaction. Decided to tackle my oil leaks, oil spills like the Exxon Valdez were getting old. Started top to bottom. Pulled the valve cover, painted it, and reinstalled it with a fel pro gasket and some got some NAPA vacuum harnesses. Wasn't real impressed by the NAPA stuff. Usually they have good parts, these didn't fit quite right. They work, but just not as good as the factory.
 

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Then I dove in to the oil pan. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. That thing was literally bonded to the block. I damn near ruined the pan by prying on it and hammering a small pry bar between the pan and block. Luckily, nothing a bit of massaging couldn't straighten out. But there was still that 30 year old cork gasket, determined not to be divorced from its spouse, the engine block. I have never scraped for so long in my life. But, much like  a lawyer, I emerged from my task greasy and filthy, the once happy couple now legally separated. I figured since I had gotten this far, I might as well do the rear main seal. It wasn't leaking, but someday it surely would be. That went pretty well. I was definitely pretty nervous about removing a main bearing cap and using a punch right next to the crank, but it turned out ok. So painted the oil pan and reinstalled it with another Fel Pro. Can't say enough good things about those new gaskets. Light years better than the factory stuff.
 

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Your truck is amazing! My oil pan took more than a day to get removed (it did not survive the process) and several hours of scraping to get the block clean. I hate those cork gaskets with a passion. The factory used a rubber gasket very similar to the Fel-Pro after about 1994 or so. 

 

I've never seen such a clean blue interior. And you may or may not know, but the wheels on your 2dr XJ are Comanche Eliminator wheels. They're quite rare. I have a set I need to clean up and put on my '89. But that looks like a really nice XJ. I wouldn't be able to cut it up either.

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Thanks a lot Minuit. I've read most if not all of your build thread, you also have a nice truck. You've done a lot of work. Your oil pan/rear main seal was quite the fiasco. And that's interesting on the wheels. I have all 5 and they're in pretty good shape.

 

 

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I didn't really look too close at the wheels. The difference between the Eliminator wheels and the similar regular XJ alloys comes down to the circle of rivets around the outside. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the guy who put them on wasn't even aware that they were something special. Both the 2dr XJ's that have been in my life have the non-rivet ones.

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I finally pulled the trans and front driveshaft out of the parts Jeep to keep for the 4x4 conversion. Turned out to be the easiest tranny pull I've ever done. Out in a couple hours.Since the previous owner said that it popped out of first, I took the tranny to a local shop to have it rebuilt. Gave me an initial quote of $900. Unfortunately they found it had two pitted shafts: main and counter. AAAAnnnnddd that jacked the price of a rebuild up to $1900. I politely refused, and took my box of now junk trans parts home to come up with a new plan. After some a lot of thinking and searching for a used AX15 that wasn't priced like it was forged by the hand of Hephaestus, I decided to look into the NV3550. From what I've seen, they aren't much more than an AX15. If anyone from the club wants some AX15 parts, I think I'll just give em away.
 

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Then I swapped in the new (to me) Dana 35 w/ 3.55 gearing. Went pretty well as the new axle came with leaf springs attached. Unfortunately, while disconnecting the rear brake line, my friend stripped out the fitting on the hardline. So I decided to just go ahead and delete the proportioning valve. I hadn't planned on it, but the rear brake line I bought for a 1990 Chev 1500 actually had the right size fitting to directly hook up the 7/16 line. :chillin: NAPA P/N 38624.

 

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Rest of the swap was pretty straightforward, followed SBpunk's thread for the delete(thanks!). I also installed some JKS 1" lift shackles at the same time. Little disappointed in those, had to open up the bracket on the body to get them installed. Got it all done and love the new gearing! Much better acceleration, engine braking, and I can do 4th gear hills now. BUT, the new leaves were pretty wore out and the passenger side sits 3/4" lower and 3/4" inboard than the driver side.  :fs2: Clearance with my new 30" tires is pretty minimal. Looking at the leaves, they are pretty much riding the overload springs with no weight in the bed. So now I'm deciding whether I'm gonna install the original leaves from my truck, or purchase some from General Spring.

 

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Passenger side:

 

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Driver side:

 

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