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Specifications
1990 Jeep Comanche Pioneer, LWB, 4WD
4.0L I6, AX-15 manual transmission
206,000 miles

I originally had the truck about 10 years back. At the time it had a 4" lift, 29x9.5x15 tires and the stock 3.07 gear ratio. Interior entailed a very posh, bench seat with head rests. Needing a vehicle a family member gave me the truck and being new to jeeps I never thought much of it. At the time it had a 4" lift, 29x9.5x15 tires and the stock 3.07 gear ratio. I drove it around for a couple years and that was that. As I started reading and learning more about jeeps and offroading I thought that an XJ Cherokee would be a better vehicle to build. Most of the information I could find online was about XJs, as well as most of the aftermarket support being geared towards the XJ. Going with what was thought to be a better move I bought a 98 Cherokee Sport. The Comanche was given back and away I went building, modifying, and learning as I went.

10 years later with a second jeep replacing the Cherokee, the Comanche came back into my possession when the family member decided to upgrade to a newer, nicer rig. They asked if I wanted the truck back, and you can bet that I wasn't going to pass it up. When they handed it over they listed a few changes they had since done: an engine rebuild, the addition of the WilderNest, some airbags and power windows......only functioned on the corresponding control, the drivers side and passenger side if you reach across the cab, and stated that it was a no maintenance truck. So with that I have already got my plans, for the direction that I want to go with this jeep. I have already built, wheeled and sold the XJ. Then moved on to a SWB Comanche that I have been building the last 4-5 years. That one I kept rather stock, all mods can easily be undone. This time I find I want to go between the last two and have a moderately built overland rig. To speed up the process, the plan is to take all the aftermarket parts from the SWB and move them over to the Wilderbeest. As much as I would love to keep both, I don't have space and I know I won't drive both. So I am going to consolidate down to one. I am going to take the best parts from the two and make good one. But enough with the chit chat, on to the pics.

 

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When last in my possession, almost a decade ago, it was in great shape. Since then it has had an engine rebuild and and I was told some metal had been placed on the floor board to cover the small hole. I pulled the interior to see the small hole for myself and indeed found a wee hole. The metal patch was half a stop sign molded to fit and was simply sitting over the hole.

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Passenger side was a little better.

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The first thing that needed to be addressed was the lack of floorboards. Started the process by removing all of the rust affected metal. A wire wheel was used to remove all the flaking rust to see the integrity. Passenger side was pretty easy to prep, a 18"x8" area was all that needed to be removed. Driver's side (neglected to take a photo) required most of the floorpan and portions of the transmission tunnel be removed. With the rusty floors removed, new ones were ordered. The closest floorpan I could find was for an XJ. I read mixed reviews on the fit of the pans during installation into both the XJ and MJ. But for having all the bends made and being made of 19 gauge steel, I figured I didn't really have to much to lose.

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I've seen so many rotted out floorboards that you'd think I'd get callused to it.  but nope.  makes my heart sink each time. :(  thankfully it can all be fixed. :D  

floors aside, it looks like a solid platform for your build. :thumbsup:  should be a lot of fun!

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11 hours ago, DirtyComanche said:

Neat Wildernest topper. :thumbsup:

Thanks, it’s in good condition for its age  Makes setting up camp a breeze. 

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While I was waiting for the floor pans to arrive I took the opportunity to start swapping over parts and making repairs. I started with the engine bay. The first thing that I swapped over was the set of brown dog motor mounts with the flex rubber bushings to replace the stock motor mounts. I went with the flex rubber bushings to help reduce cab vibes. Initially they don't do a lot in dissipating the vibrations, but once the rubber has a chance to break in they actually do dampen vibrations from the engine. I've run these on 2 different rigs now. I ran these mounts in an XJ I had previously and never had a problem.

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While in the engine bay I started on the list of electrical maintenance items identified in Cruiser's Mostly Renix Tipsfor the Renix era jeep Mj and XJ. The various grounds were refreshed by unbolting, removing years of baked on dirt and grease, buffing connections to a new luster with fine grit sand, and a healthy dose of anti-corrosion gel being applied before reattaching them.

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Not wanting to have oil rain down all over the garage floor during oil changes and to allow for an easier time locating filters and a more ample selection of oil filters, an oil filter adapter with SAE threads from a 95' Cherokee was placed on the engine block.

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Battery cables were then upgraded. I did some research on battery cable replacements and came to the conclusion that the stock 6-gauge battery cable wasn't going to cut it. I float around several other jeep forums and have seen several people going with 2-gauge cables and others with 4-gauge cables. The general consensus is 2-gauge is best suited for heavy demand situations, while 4-gauge was a good upgrade for stock applications. At the moment everything is stock with no after-market accessories, so 4-gauge should be sufficient. The setup I ran is as follows:

Positive battery terminal = (B+); Negative battery terminal = (B-)

Battery clamps are brass wing nut terminals.

Battery Cable Cable Length Cable Termination
(B+) to starter motor 40" 3/8" on both ends
(B+) to starter motor relay/distribution 12" 3/8" on both ends
(B-) to engine block 40" 3/8" on both ends
(B-) to inner fender 12" 3/8" on one end, 1/4" on other
Engine block to firewall 12" 1/2" on one end, 3/8" on other

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I was informed that the truck ran crappy when it was turned over to me. With the motor mounts in I then moved onto doing a tune up. Tune up wise I pulled and checked all the spark plugs (which included recapping them to .035 mm), as recommended by Cruiser's remix tips I installed a set of Bosch 4-hole injectors for better fuel atomization, installed new spark plug wires, new ignition coil, and a cap and rotor.

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The throttle body and the IAC were inspected and cleaned. This one was long over due as the photos can attest to. It took awhile but with some throttle body cleaner, elbow grease and time all the carbon build up was successfully removed; before:

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After:

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The air filter showed signs of oil getting on it from some blow-by created by the towers located under the aluminum valve cover being too low. To eliminate the issue a steel valve cover with baffles from a 98' XJ was swapped on (make sure to use a new style valve cover gasket with replacement grommets). 

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Can someone shed some light as to what this component is? I didn't have this on my 89' Comanche and have never com across one until now. I tried a goole search to no avail. Its hard to search for something when you don't know the proper name.

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what the hell is that?  :thinking:  better post it up in the main tech area.  

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Not sure here either, but did the vehicle ever have dual batteries?

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10 minutes ago, Ωhm said:

Not sure here either, but did the vehicle ever have dual batteries?

 

Not to my knowledge. And no space has been created that I can see. Engine bay looks stock apart from the cylinder and two extra relays on the passenger fender.

14 minutes ago, Pete M said:

what the hell is that?  :thinking:  better post it up in the main tech area.  

 

I will post there as well, grabbed a few more pics of some other parts I believe are tied to it. This is based of the connecters. I'd have to cut open the loom and trace wires to be 100 percent sure.

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Any chance there's a winch connection? Maybe using a heavy duty connector, the PO had a hitch mounted winch he would throw in there? Does the truck have a front hitch?

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On 4/4/2018 at 8:30 AM, Skorpyo said:

Any chance there's a winch connection? Maybe using a heavy duty connector, the PO had a hitch mounted winch he would throw in there? Does the truck have a front hitch?

 

No front hitch on the truck. I just need to take the time to trace the look and see what/if it connects to anything.

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Thats crazy after so many years you got it back haha, glad to it getting some love

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By this point the replacement floor pans that were ordered from classic2current fabrications had arrived.  I've read mixed reviews on the fitment one the pans when put in both the MJ and XJ. However, for having all the bends and being made of 19-gauge steel I figured I didn't have too much to lose. It took a little massaging to get them into place. I worked my way around tacking it into place about every quarter inch. Once a portion was tacked, using a ball peen hammer I would massage the next section of the floor pan to the contours of the existing floor, then tack a little more in place. This manner was followed until the floors were replaced. The passenger side was done first as it was less material to work with.

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Some rust area were reassessed on the passenger side transmission tunnel. For the most part it was superficial. There were two spots that I was able to punch through using a screw driver while tapping around. I cut out the pitted metal and then used some of the extra material from passenger floor pan to cut out the two patches. 

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12 hours ago, Swampy said:

Thats crazy after so many years you got it back haha, glad to it getting some love

 

Thanks, I am glad to be giving it some of the TLC that it needed. It will never be show room nice, nor do I want that. Cars are made to be used. But I do plan on taking care of it. First on the list is the surface rust.

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The drivers side floor pan definitely was not a close fit. Took quite a bit more than massaging to get it into place, I'd venture as far as saying it was more of a forceful coaxing to get into place. As with anything though patience pays dividends.

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With the floor pans welded into the truck it was time to prevent the remaining rust from spreading, while preventing the new floor pans from succumbing to the same fate as the previous floor pans. I spent more time that I should have reading and debating on which rust inhibitor to go with. I really could not decide whether to go with POR15 or Chassis Saver. Both products have great reviews, so it seemed that I couldn't really go wrong. I finally decided to go with the Chassis Saver as there was less upfront prep work involved. I read through several forums and watched multiple online videos to get any tips for making the process go smoother. The main take aways were remove the loose flaking rust, it does not adhere to bare metal, and don't to let the stuff get on your hands. The directions on the can also recommends scooping only the needed amount into a secondary container and thinning the stuff out with their S8 reducer. A quick check of the SDS sheet shows the S8 is an aromatic hydro carbon, the exact same stuff as xylol.

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Prep work was straight forward, yet time consuming. As everyone always states, it's all in the prep work. I started with a wire brush to remove any remaining loose/flaky rust. The sections of floor without any rust I scuffed with 60 grit sand paper to remove any sheen on the factory paint for the Chassis Saver to have something to bite onto. Once all the sanding and grinding was completed I vacuumed out all the dust, and wiped everything down with warm soapy water (an idea of how it looked before).

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After

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To cover up the bare metal of the recently installed floor pans, they were scuffed with 60 grit sand paper, cleaned with denatured alcohol, and covered in two coats of automotive primer. The automotive primer gives the Chassis Saver something to bond too.

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Chassis Saver can be applied by spraying or with brush. I went with the brush method. 

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Chassis Saver was applied to the areas where the rust came through as well as areas where there is a potential for water to pool.

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Before I tore the interior apart to repair the floors, I noticed that the parking brake lever would not stay engaged. Every time I depressed the pedal it would spring back up instantly. After searching through the forum I found an amazing write-up by A-man930:

 

http://comancheclub.com/topic/48483-parking-brake-pedal-refurb/

 

However, I decided to start with the simple as recommended by Cruiser54 on page two. I replaced the stock spring with a new one, as the spring appeared to have lost a lot of its original tension. I made a trip to Ace Hardware and found a spring that sort of matched the stock one. Originally they were to long, I shortened it with same wire cutters.

 

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I made it a bit shorter than the stock one to give a bit more tension on the pawl.

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After the floor has fully cured I'll reinstall the assembly to see if the spring fixed the issue. If not I will remove it again and follow the repair done by A-man930.

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11 hours ago, agamble said:

I spent more time that I should have reading and debating which rust inhibitor to go with. I really could not decide whether to go with POR15 or Chassis Saver.

 

Me too, and I ended up picking Chassis Saver as well. Great stuff.  Give it a solid 7-10 days to fully dry and cure.  A little less if it's still cold where you are.

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On 4/15/2018 at 6:40 AM, kryptronic said:

 

Me too, and I ended up picking Chassis Saver as well. Great stuff.  Give it a solid 7-10 days to fully dry and cure.  A little less if it's still cold where you are.

 

Thanks for the tip. I am in no rush, so I will definitely give it a week before I seam seal and put the carpet and foam padding back in.

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I didn't do any welding on the underside of the floor pans. They were installed like they were from the factory, I drilled multiple plug welds to weld it directly to the U-channel of the unibody. I tried to not have too much over lapping steel, most of the floor pans were situated to mate up. The biggest issue I had was when I tried to stitch weld it all together I would repeatedly burn through. I ended up applying multiple tacks around the circumference of the patch like I saw on a couple youtube videos. Once it was all tacked in a bead of seam sealer was applied over the the weld joints both inside and outside. On the outside the seam sealer is going to be covered with Chassis Saver.

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The Comanche was also suffering from another common issue with both the MJ and XJ. The driver's side door had broken free from the factory welds. To get the door to unlatch you had slightly lift the door up to get the door up over the striker.

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While surfing the web I came across these products from hooliganoffroad: https://www.hooliganoffroad.com/collections/xj/products/xj-door-hinge-support. I placed an order for them about the same time I ordered new floor pans. I figured I could do all the necessary welding at once. The shipping box came complete with instructions and couple decal stickers that come with a guarantee to increase horsepower output and offroad prowess when adhered to your jeep.

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The instructions are brief, literally 4 steps, but clearly instructs installation. Installation requires removing the front fenders to gain access to the door hinges. I didn't take any pics of removing the fenders as this has been covered in several other threads. Once access to the hinges is gained, the instructions call for removing the plastic plug that is located under the top hinge of the door. Place the bracket up to the body and trace around the outer edge and clean to bare metal.

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The door hinges had a foam placed over the top of the factory welds. The foam was readily removed with a flat head screw driver. It took about 5 minutes per side to clean off all the foam. 

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After cleaning to bare metal, clamp the bracket into place to get a snug fit. I used a mini C-clamp placed into the opening that is visible in the picture below to secure the bracket to the body. When welding the bracket onto the body you only need to put couple stitch welds along the outer perimeter of the bracket. Then completely weld the door hinge to the bracket.

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awesome!  :L:  can you make a copy of that install for the DIY forum?

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Finished with the door support brackets from Hooligan Offroad. Applied two coats of Rust-O-leum paint and primer to cover up the bare/exposed metal and then as overkill put some seam sealer on the outer edges to keep any water from getting in between the bracket and the body.

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I also swapped over a remanufactured RedHead steering box. Their process for remanufacturing the steering box includes:

  1. Machining out the housing and installing needle bearings
  2. Replacing the shafts and installing new control valves
  3. Custom fitting each worm and piston assembly with over-sized ball bearings

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While installing a heavy duty telescoping steel steering shaft made by Borgeson. To make installation easier I removed the brake booster and brake lines.

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While attempting to remove the power steering lines I broke the plastic nipple for the return line off. So until I order a replacement, the lines will have to hang there.

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