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1975 Brutally Simple Daily Driver

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3 minutes ago, neohic said:

Not quite top priority right now. When the time comes, I’m sure travel will be a part of the adventure. 

I figured that was the case, I just saw it and figured it wouldn't hurt to post it. 

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4 hours ago, neohic said:

Does anyone know when you find out when you've got a problem with your headlights? That's right... when it's pitch dark outside. :fistshake2:


Dumb, old Jeep really surprised me last night with the headlights going on and off. I suspect it's the dimmer switch that went bad.

Sounds like the headlight switch

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10 hours ago, jdog said:

Sounds like the headlight switch

I was on a side road so I clicked on the high beams… that’s when the problems started. Then I wiggled the wired at the switch in the floor and sometimes they’d come back. Haven’t looked into it thoroughly yet though. The wiring (although not done by me) is fairly new but the switches in the dash are old. I cringe when I think about doing anything in that dash. It’s all functional, but far from pretty. 

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21 hours ago, jdog said:

Sounds like the headlight switch

Looks like we both won the guessing game! I pulled the dimmer switch to find that the action felt terrible. When it did click was when the lights would come on. New switch and the removal of about two feet of wiring later, and things were working again. 



… right up until I started backing out of the shop and they went out again. This time it was with a noticeable popping sound from behind the dash. 


10 hours ago, neohic said:

I cringe when I think about doing anything in that dash. It’s all functional, but far from pretty. 



See, the wiring harness was “installed” by a complete idiot and then “fixed” later on by another. I tracked down the wires from the fuse panel to the switch to find?…




… a big problem at the switch that was hidden by a giant wad of tape. Some wires were tied together and some weren’t that needed to be. One such set was a big red wire that lost power when I pulled the headlight circuit fuse and an orange one that had a constant 12 volts. With the switch wiring mocked up, the red wire and the switch itself got noticeably warm but didn’t pop the 40 amp fuse (which seems big to me, but I left it for now). I pulled the orange wire and left just the dedicated red wire from the headlight circuit, took another couple feet of useless wire out of the picture, and all is well without getting warm. 



Somewhere along the journey I lost function of the high beam indicator in the cluster. Can’t win them all… guess I’ll be tracking that one down when I decide to tackle pulling the cage to get behind the dash. 

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As for another project that took way too long…

On 9/6/2019 at 5:05 PM, neohic said:

Finally found just the right balance of vintage and scrappy looking for a tach.


We’ll see how long it takes me to wire it. 


… three years. It took me three years to wire in the tach. 


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1 hour ago, Pete M said:

time for a whole new harness?  (I'm assuming they are available for a CJ)

The harness is new(ish) but the execution wasn’t done up to par. That’s another ‘72-‘75 intermediate CJ anomaly that they used later switches but an earlier style harness which opens the door up wide for butchery. I think 1975 was the first year that used the square bulkhead fitting on the firewall that we all know. Early harnesses are available as are late model harnesses. 1972-‘75 are like the ‘86 MJs of the CJ world. 

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  • 1 month later...

I think it’s time to embrace what it is. A tub swap isn’t out of the picture but for now some decisions need to be made.




That’s how the cool kids do body work on their CJs, right? The whole body is rough. The amount of bondo and chicken wire just in this corner is unreal!




I found more chicken wire poking out on the surface under the paint. Same goes on the interior over the fender wells. I never noticed the GIANT radius of filler until a 1” long bolt wasn’t long enough to get all the way through!


Anyhow, the corner guard is 1/8” steel diamond plate that I’ve had kicking around for a very long time. It’s definitely thicker than it needs to be but it’s for sure a “corner guard”. 




I’ve got the other side to do and I’ll do a better job of showing how I bent the corner without a proper press or bender. The non functional reverse lights are going away as are the square trailer lights. I think I’ll mount an auxiliary light in their place. The passenger side guard will also be where I’ll hang a spare tire carrier. Keeping it inside has been fine but it definitely takes up a fair amount of space.





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On to the next side. Come to think of it, this is the first automotive fabrication project I’ve done in this shop! I didn’t do a very good job of showing how the first corner guard was done. Call it a proof of concept. This time around I wanted to show how to do something like this without any fancy tools. 

Make a template… a previously scribbled over page works fine. 


Use that to figure where the bend needs to start. I like to make a mark at least every inch where the bend will end up. 



Here’s where things get time consuming. I used a bunch of clamps and a couple long pieces of steel tube as leverage. (These will probably end up being rock sliders in the springtime.) Line up the first set of marks at the edge of the table. 



Clamp, bend, check… clamp, bend, check…



Work it slow and don’t get too far ahead. 



Then comes the fine tuning and artsy stuff.










The whole point of this project was to make a tire carrier. Sure, the driver side is mostly a garnish to match the passenger side, but I guess it also buys me some time to figure out what to do for a tub. As for the carrier, I’ve got a bunch of odds and ends kicking around that I’m using up.










The basic frame for the carrier is as far as I got today. I think I’ll offset the tire to the passenger side. Sure, having the spare centered looks fine but it also stirs up the OCD in me that I notice every little thing that isn’t symmetrical. I’ve always put my spares offset on past rigs so why not keep the tradition going? Doing that also leaves more useable space for all the other stuff we love hanging off spare tire carriers too. Fuel… shovel… jack… I’m not planning on anything more than the tire for now.


Probably more tomorrow. 


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Other than the increased load it would put on everything, is there any reason that you decided to put the spare on the passenger side instead of the driver side? I would think that it would interfere with vision more on the passenger side  when you turn your head to look out the back.

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Up to ‘75, these bodies had an additional brace in the back corner on the passenger side. Originally, it would’ve been an option for a side mounted tire carrier. I’m not too concerned with visibility for how many windows are on this thing. The spare has always been on that side too. I’m used to it being over there. 

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… continued from yesterday. 





The material is leftover 1.25” pipe size tube from handrails a very long time ago. Wall thickness is about 3/16”. Everything used for the entire project was junk I’ve been holding onto for years. 






I really dig how compact the whole package is. 






Admittedly, the spare is smaller than the 33x10.50 Grabbers. It’s a 32x10.50 old style Wrangler MTR on a factory wheel that features poorly applied black paint that’s all falling off. For a spare, it’ll get me off the trail. As for the interior, there’s so much room in there!

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Trying to get another project scratched off today. The giant square hole in the dash had to go. 



Then just my luck I remember why these switches have been sitting around forever. One of the blue switches plain doesn’t work and the orange one has to be just in the right spot. The plan was a switch for a USB port (empty hole) and a separate switch for interior lights and a rear light. Guess they’re just place holders. :fistshake2:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Started on rock sliders and frame tie-ins for the cage today. Not sure when I’ll get back to everything but I like getting all the little fiddly bits done first so I can just crank them out when the time comes. 




Sliders are 2x2x1/4”… which is way overkill. Frame extensions are 1.5x1.5x3/16”… which feels about right. All of the other swoopy bits to tie the cage into the frame in four spots is 1.25x3/16” tube… which works out nicely for fitting tightly into the rear wheel well. Once again, this is all stuff I’ve had kicking around for a while so it’s all clearly the right material. Don’t think I’ll tie the sliders into the body. Probably just outrigger style extending out from the frame.


Truth be told, I've got a bit of a deadline in my head. See... a few weeks ago, one of my old wheeling buddies from Minnesota informed me that the gang was going to be out in Moab during the second week of April. Then the other day, a local friend of mine (who has never been a part of the off-road community) comes up to me and asks, "What's the deal with the first week in April out in Moab? Some EJS thing? Another friend of mine invited me out in his old Jeep. You should come!" So... now I've got it in my head that the universe wants me out in Moab sometime in early April and I've always had a soft spot for a reckless road trip in this little rig. Stay tuned, I guess.

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Big step forward today! I made the drive a half hour up the road to my buddy’s place. I know that doesn’t sound terrible, but it was a big eye opener for just how bad this engine has gotten. Uphill, into the wind, while trying maintain 50 mph feels like the end of the world!


My buddy married into a very interesting family that runs deep with AMC goodness. His late father in law had his garage set up pretty well and it’s like a time capsule from when he was building engines and tinkering. 




He loved that AMX. It’s originally a 290 car but it’s sitting on a cart. The current engine is a 304. Not sure why the original was pulled. There was two 4.0s and most of a 4.2 in the garage too. I think the plan was to build one stroker out of the three for my buddy’s wife’s high school truck. 



These are good people.


Anyhow… my engine. We did some horse trading and settled up today. Two of the engines I’ve already been through. I should’ve taken notes so I ended up going through one prior engine again. The 4.2 was mostly there but it clearly has a ton of miles on it. The first 4.0 was pretty clean, also had a ton of miles on it, but was just a long block.




Lastly was the other 4.0 that I hadn’t been in yet.




Both of the 4.0s had an AMC stamp on them so they must’ve been from an ‘87 to early ‘89. This one being fully dressed looked pretty good but was also very caked with oil. After digging into it I found a dirty engine that showed signs of lower miles but a lack of proper maintenance. The oil pan had a little more crud in the bottom than what I was hoping to find but the deciding factor was after pulling the bearing caps. There was some wear, but this was clearly the best condition of the three.


In the end I made the decision to make a “best of album” out of the three. I’ll be cleaning up and using the dirty but lower mile short block, the head from the clean but higher mile engine, and I grabbed the intake from the 4.2 to port match and clearance to fit a 4.0 head with the 4.0 exhaust manifold. And I know… I know… “4.2 intake on a 4.0 head? Why not run the 4.0 electronics?” I’ll be using the throttle body injection I put on the current engine a while back. I’ll hold on to the 4.0 intake should I want to swap all that on in the future.






Technically, the CJ already has its new engine in it!

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Started on the engine cleaning today.




I got the 4.0 out of the CJ and on a stand. This thing is filthy! Layer and layers of caked on oil and the only obvious prior leak was the oil pan. Someone stuck it on with silicon and it was a real bear to get off. Otherwise, everything came apart easily. No obvious wear after taking a closer look at everything. Prior to cleaning I set it at top dead center just to have a known starting point. 




Then lots of degreaser and scrubbing. 




It’s not completely perfect but I’ll give it one more once over when the engine gets reassembled so I can paint. Had another look at the head I chose and I’m still pleased. 




No broken bolts… no carbon build up… no fuss to clean.


One thing I wanted to do was call Kevin up at Performance Fuel Injection in Michigan. What the current engine has going for it is the injection kit and I wanted to see what Kevin’s thoughts were on running a 4.0 with his computer. He couldn’t think of any reason not to other than a factory multi port setup would probably be more efficient. This isn’t new territory in terms of putting a 4.0 in a CJ though. People have done it and then just plopped a carb back on. I’ll report back to Kevin once it’s all back together and in the Jeep. 


Probably more tomorrow. I need to get parts coming soon. 

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More cleaning today. I wasn’t going to touch the block again until assembly but I wanted to give it one more go.



The oil pan got cleaned up too along with rockers and pushrods. Tomorrow I’d like to fit the 4.2 intake to the 4.0 head with the 4.0 exhaust manifold. Looks fairly self explanatory for what needs to happen. 

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Another good day in the shop. We’re leaving for Minnesota soon and I wanted to get the intake mated to the exhaust manifold before we left. Mission accomplished.


From looking around in internet land, there’s some information out there but pictures or a “how to” doesn’t really exist. To recap, I want to use my 4.2 intake on a 4.0 head with a RENIX exhaust manifold. The 4.2 and 4.0 heads are very similar and everything is within the ballpark of fitting. Both the 4.2 and 4.0 intake manifolds use dowel pins to locate them and that’s where this all starts. Due to the shape of the intake ports, the 4.2 intake needs to sit higher than it would’ve originally for complete coverage.




This means that the power steering pump bracket will need to be modified too… probably just elongating a couple holes though. I’ll deal with that later. Once I get gaskets I’ll match it up to where it’ll now live and do some port matching too. Anyhow, the holes for the dowel need to get turned into a slot. 


I rounded the bottom corners for a little extra wiggle room. Then I started sneaking up on it.




… of course it hits. The two exhaust runners need a little massaging. 




Yup… this manifold is in rough shape but I didn’t really want to cut up a good one. More on than in a bit. The two middle runners got a little heat and then were dimpled in with a pipe and hammer. I went only as far as I needed to give myself an 1/8” space between the exhaust and intake. As for the intake, the two outside bottom corners needed to get rounded to fit. 








Now we’re getting somewhere. You can see under the intake that it moved up about a 1/4”. Now… that ugly exhaust manifold… these like to crack but the aftermarket has good options to replace them. I’ll deal with that in the future should it crack again. 




For now I went through and rewelded all of the joints and deleted the EGR fitting while I was in there. My current set up in the Jeep has the EGR and tube still in there but nothing is hooked up. It leaks too. I’ll be making a block off plate.




I used stainless filler for the new welds and gave the whole works a good cleaning. The backsides got welded and then it got bolted back on the head to finish. The two outside runners did pull in a little but it still slides on and off easily.


Let’s get back to moving the intake up that 1/4” and how everything gets held in place. Some later manifolds use step washers and the older use conical washers. Regardless, the intake and exhaust share hardware. My flange thickness worked out that most of the conical washers will still work. Where I thought it was a bit of a stretch, I made up some fancy washers to cover more ground. 




Two on the bottom and two on the top needed new washers. With everything snugged up, the intake just finds it home now.






Ready for assembly. I talked to Novak this afternoon too and got a part number for a pilot bushing that’ll work for me. Outside dimension is 1.05” and internal is .754”. Once I get back home I’ll get gaskets and seals coming. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Some engine rebuild parts have been trickling in but I’m still waiting on the full gasket set. Haven’t done much more than more cleaning on small parts and the intake manifold. 



Waiting to paint anything also until the gaskets show up so I can fog the whole engine at once. Soon… I hope. 

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