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On 6/30/2018 at 12:01 AM, MuchRespect said:

Love this setup. Do you know the Wildernest model number? Did it need to be modified or is it a perfect fit?

 

From what I have read up on they only manufactured about 300 a year and what little information on the web that I can find is that based off of the serial number it was built sometime around 1990? I do know for sure that if there are to small "S" shaped windows on each side it is from 1994 or earlier. The last two or so production years the opera windows were merged into one bigger window on each side. 

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This is actually the second wilderness topper that I have had on Villa. The first one was about 4 inches to short, and I used a piece of flat iron to mount the front of the Wilderness to the bedrail. This one is the Tent Top Model Number 91/ Tip Top Model Number T91. Its designed to go with a number of light weight pick-ups with a long bed. A link to a brochure that lists model numbers: http://www.therangerstation.com/resources/pdf_documents/Wildernest_OEM.pdf. So as its a one size fits all approach it is not a perfect fit. Height wise it sits about 1.5" below the roof, width wise is a perfect fit, and length wise it is about 1.5" too long leaving a gap between the back door and tail gate. For it to fit on the long bed comanche it requires a rear door wedge, which I don't have. However, the fit is close enough that it is super noticeable; enough that it doesn't bother me.

 

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23 hours ago, agamble said:

 

From what I have read up on they only manufactured about 300 a year and what little information on the web that I can find is that based off of the serial number it was built sometime around 1990? I do know for sure that if there are to small "S" shaped windows on each side it is from 1994 or earlier. The last two or so production years the opera windows were merged into one bigger window on each side. 

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This is actually the second wilderness topper that I have had on Villa. The first one was about 4 inches to short, and I used a piece of flat iron to mount the front of the Wilderness to the bedrail. This one is the Tent Top Model Number 91/ Tip Top Model Number T91. Its designed to go with a number of light weight pick-ups with a long bed. A link to a brochure that lists model numbers: http://www.therangerstation.com/resources/pdf_documents/Wildernest_OEM.pdf. So as its a one size fits all approach it is not a perfect fit. Height wise it sits about 1.5" below the roof, width wise is a perfect fit, and length wise it is about 1.5" too long leaving a gap between the back door and tail gate. For it to fit on the long bed comanche it requires a rear door wedge, which I don't have. However, the fit is close enough that it is super noticeable; enough that it doesn't bother me.

 

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Thanks, man!

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On 7/1/2018 at 10:04 PM, MuchRespect said:

Thanks, man!

 

On 6/30/2018 at 10:49 PM, agamble said:

 

From what I have read up on they only manufactured about 300 a year and what little information on the web that I can find is that based off of the serial number it was built sometime around 1990? I do know for sure that if there are to small "S" shaped windows on each side it is from 1994 or earlier. The last two or so production years the opera windows were merged into one bigger window on each side. 

 

 

This is actually the second wilderness topper that I have had on Villa. The first one was about 4 inches to short, and I used a piece of flat iron to mount the front of the Wilderness to the bedrail. This one is the Tent Top Model Number 91/ Tip Top Model Number T91. Its designed to go with a number of light weight pick-ups with a long bed. A link to a brochure that lists model numbers: http://www.therangerstation.com/resources/pdf_documents/Wildernest_OEM.pdf. So as its a one size fits all approach it is not a perfect fit. Height wise it sits about 1.5" below the roof, width wise is a perfect fit, and length wise it is about 1.5" too long leaving a gap between the back door and tail gate. For it to fit on the long bed comanche it requires a rear door wedge, which I don't have. However, the fit is close enough that it is super noticeable; enough that it doesn't bother me.

 

 

Thanks, man! Also, I gotta ask, would you ever sell it?

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16 hours ago, MuchRespect said:

 

Thanks, man! Also, I gotta ask, would you ever sell it?

 

At at this point in time no. But you can never say never. 

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It took a lot of talking myself into it but I pulled the trigger. Its not the first time that I have cut off the control arm mounts, but there still is always a feeling of dread at the thought of doing something on that scale. The had to go to create the space needed for the rock-link long arms from ironrockoffroad. I didn't take any pictures of the cutting portion, just the aftermath. It took a total of six cut off discs, three per side, to get the lower mounts off. I started on the inside and worked my way out. Once the major cutting was done, the fine clean up and smoothing were completed with a flapper disc.

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Once smoothed and cleaned, a couple coats of primer were added to cover the bare metal.

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Then to continue the theme or removing and preventing future rust, two coats of Chassis Saver was applied.

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As this build is directed more towards overloading, I figured that long arms would be a benefit on all aspects of the rig. Two jeeps back I had an XJ that I equipped with IronRockOffroad Critical Path Long Arms. To date it was one of the best modifications that I have ever done. When purchased it was purely from an offroading perspective but, the benefits didn't stop there. With an improved control arm geometry it absorbed bumps well and rode so smooth.....for a jeep. On-road handling there was a marked difference compared to short arms. As well ease of creating clearance for making front end maintenance much easier. Now I have only had good experience with IRO and while I liked the Critical Path Long Arms, I wasn't a fan of the caster adjustment that came with the driver side arm. While searching for a long arm setup, not being too picky only requirement was it needed to work with 3" of lift, I found IRO had a new rock-link system. The arms are designed for a minimum of 3" of lift, eliminated the previous caster adjustment and it was a true three link.

 

Install was pretty straight forward. There is a good how to video for the long arm kit on the IRO webpage.  The kit comes with two outer brackets that have the mounting points on the subframe for the arms. This setup allows for the cross memeber to be dropped without having to remove the arms as well.

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The only hiccup that was encountered during the install is the arms are designed for an XJ. Meaning, if you're familiar with the XJ, the rear brake line and fuel line run flat against the inner frame. On the MJ there are two rear brake lines and fuel line that bend out towards the transmission to wrap around extra bracing that is used to mount the stock cross member. The drivers side subframe mount for the long arms is designed to have a space for the lines to run between the bracket and the inner frame. So for the Wilderbeest I had to use a work around for the time being. I ended up removing all the retaining clips from the fuel filter forward to create enough flexibility in the lines allowing them to be pushed up on top of the bracket. I checked the clearance to see if the upper control arm moving up would smash the lines, and there was plenty of room. With subframe and cross member in place the new front axle was rolled into position and bolted onto the control arms.

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I have read on various  cherokee forums of using a pool noodle to protect the door hinges from water and mud. With pool noodles being so cheap and plentiful I figured that I would give it a try to protect the door hinges.

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Installed new 5125 bilstein shocks (P/N 33-18552) on the front of Villa. The shocks measure 23.35" eyelet to eyelet, with a collasped length of 15.91", an extended length of 25.93", and 5/8" eyelets. I ordered these back in May during a memorial day sale. I thought I would take the easy route and have seller assist with sizing. My first order was through 4WheelParts, when buying from the website (first mistake) the page states that a sales rep will call to confirm size for your vehicle. Well the page listed jeep Comanche in the drop down so I put in an order for a set of four. 5 days go by no contact about the shocks, meaning no confirmation of order, shipment, or contact by the sales rep. So I phone into the customer service and to tell them I haven't had the shocks i ordered a week ago sized or confirmed. They give me the sales rep who is supposed to help and he doesn't answer on his direct line or return my call over two days. So I call the main number again, tell them I can't get the sales rep to contact me or return my call so they give me another one who call immediately. He looks at my order number, and after a minute says Bilstein doesn't make 5125 shocks for the jeep Comanche. Lets see if they have 5100s. I tell him hold up, hold up, I don't want 5100s. If I did I would have ordered them, I want 5125s. Again he says they don't make them for the Comanche. I ask is that what a webpage is telling you? He responds yes. I say they do make the right size, as shocks are simply measured from eyelet to eyelet to fit. He says well if you can find the correct manufacturer P/N for me I can order it. At which point I say, you want me to go to the manufacture page, find the P/N, call you back, give you the P/N, and wait for you to order it. Sounds like I am doing all your work. Do I get a 15% discount then? He says no. I promptly reply, well if I don't get a discount for doing your job and I have to do all the work why would I order from you. Cancel the order. I then went online found the sales brochure and 4 minutes later was on Amazon placing an order for 5125s. I know long winded, but morale of the story is don't go with a large retailer website.

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Accompanying shock tower for the upper eyelet.

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Finished up with putting in the CADless HP Dana 30 that I previously built. As it stands the caster and toe have not been fine tuned. Once the Jeep is drivable I will adjust accordingly.  

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On the SWB when I did the BA10/5 to AX15 swap I used the the Novak SK2XC Cable Shift Assembly. While it provided the smooth shifting that it is purported to do, for me it was overly complicated. This time I wanted something that still eliminated the complicated stock Z-linkage, provided a smooth shift, and was simpler. Enter the Boost Engineering 231HD Linkage. It cannot get any simpler. A custom made shift tab moving the throw to the topside of the transfer case, two FK rod ends, two jam nuts, and random nuts to connect everything. The installation instructions provided were very clear and easy to follow. First step is to remove the shifter from the transmission tunnel. There are 5 bolts that hold it into place and then it lifts right out. The next steps I forgot to take pictures of the process but, I did snap a picture of the pictures provided in the instructions......I know cheesy. With the shift assembly out of the vehicle, cut and remove the plastic grommet in the end of the tab. With it removed, bolt on the provided tab and drill out a second 3/8" hole on the tab.

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Hit the freshly drilled tab with some paint to prevent rust, and reinstall the shift assembly.

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Once its in bolt on the new shift linkage and tighten the provided bolts and nuts. 

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The test shifts were amazingly smooth, the first few times I almost couldn't tell if it was shifting or not.

 

While I was under the truck I installed the rear Bilstein shocks. All the mounting bolts were very rusted, so a week prior I started soaking them in PB Blaster. Even with a weeks worth of soaking the top mounting bolts were very stuck. It took longer than it should have but, I went slow as I did not want to break the upper mounting bolts. Once the new shocks were on, as I have done on all of the bolts that I have since put back on the truck, a healthy coating of anti-seize was applied to the threads.

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And because I was on such a role. I installed the Hurst Short Shifter.

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Spent the afternoon cleaning up the bench before reinstalling it. The seat brackets were showing the rust that had eaten away the floor boards. There was significant metal remaining and the were still integrally sound. A couple layers of Rust-O-leum rust inhibitor followed by Rust-O-leum Epoxy paint to seal it off. (Drivers side had much more rust)29A9598E-737A-46BD-86AF-39F391074D02.jpeg

 

After sealing the brackets I moved my attention to the upholstery. The seats were covered in stains from who knows what. 

(Before)

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To clean I applied shout and used a stiff bristle brush to rub it in, then let it sit for about 5 minutes. Then I scrubbed with hot water and dawn dish soap. After scrubbing the excess soap and water was removed with the shop vac. The process was repeated until the significant staining was removed. 

(After. The dark spots are shadows created by me when snapping the picture)

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The seats were feeling a bit saggy. I’ve seen various remedies and experienced some. A previous vehicle felt as if I was riding on a board, a investigation revealed that to be the case. The P.O. has placed a board between the padding and the springs. Since I was not a fan of the board approach and I’ve had ample success with towels in the past, an extra bath towel or two was stuffed between the padding and spring to bring the firmness back in the seat. 

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And the next mod I cannot take any credit for. I saw another member here in the forum so this and I thought it was genius. To protect the threads and lessen the potential for rusting threads I replaced all the nuts with couplers. 

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Finally had time to finish doing some rust prevention on the rear half of the Jeep. Again I used Chassis Saver to cover up the superficial rust found in several different locations on the rear frame and hitch. 

 

Before and Afters

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I tried to remove the hitch to make frame preservation easier. However the previous owner at some point added nut strips and over time they have rusted solid. I soaked all the bolts with PB blaster for a few days. After applying heat and using an impact wrench. I am out two sockets, those bolts would not budge. So there it stays for now. 

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 With the bumper found a large area of paint bubbling on the lower corner of the bed. After removing a large amount of scale I had one screw driver size hole break through. I figured that I might as well get more practice on body work.  I ended up removing about a 2” x 2” area before I found usable metal. It was rather thin in a couple places and I had some burn through. After cleaning it up I covered the patch. The patched area and all the visible rust will be coated with Chassis Saver and and eventually repaired to match the rest of the lower portions of the bed.

 

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On 8/6/2018 at 4:21 PM, agamble said:

The seats were feeling a bit saggy. I’ve seen various remedies and experienced some. A previous vehicle felt as if I was riding on a board, a investigation revealed that to be the case. The P.O. has placed a board between the padding and the springs. Since I was not a fan of the board approach and I’ve had ample success with towels in the past, an extra bath towel or two was stuffed between the padding and spring to bring the firmness back in the seat. 

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that's a new one to me.  but if it works, I love it   :D  

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, Pete M said:

 

 

It may be the placebo effect but I’ve had great success with this method. It eliminates the saggy feeling with out sacrificing comfort. 

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Lately I’ve been tracking down and taking care of small things that needed to be addressed since most of the major swaps and repairs have been made. Sknce swappong in a full gauge cluster the voltage gauge was not working. Was constantly at 0.  After some diagnosis the gauge itself was not working. Swapped in a different gauge and it now sits at about 11. 

 

I’ve never been a fan of the two spoked steering wheels. Swapped it out for a three spoke.

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the 2 spokes just seem too... "old man" to me.  :dunno: 3-spoke for the sportiness win!  :D  

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On 8/27/2018 at 7:44 PM, Pete M said:

the 2 spokes just seem too... "old man" to me.  :dunno: 3-spoke for the sportiness win!  :D  

 

My sentiments exactly. I have also heard that swapping in the 3 spoke guarantees a 1-2 hp gain.

On 8/27/2018 at 7:50 PM, Minuit said:

3 spoke is the way to go... it's just so thin without the leather wrapping.

 

Couldn't agree more. I had one without the leather wrapping in for a while, it felt way to thin in the hands.

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Spent the day cleaning, repairing, tidying, prepping and coating the bed in Villa . This was what it looked like, the pictures make it look cleaner than it actually was. You can't tell it but there is about an in or two of dirt and 40 lbs of dog hair stuck to the everything that is in the back.  

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Earlier I put on a functioning tire carrier that I had laying around so the spare tire was relocated under the bed where it belongs. The carpet and carpet padding has been set aside for now, I am debating on whether to put it back in again or not, it may be nice to have when camping as extra cushion. The milk crate and other odds and ends were also placed to the side, pending further organization once the bed is complete. The weather guard box was unbolted from the bed and set out in the garage where it too underwent a make over. The above picture doesn't show it but there was maybe 4-5 years worth of dirt, derbis, and oil that had fallen/spilled behind the weather guard box and dirtied up the front of the bed. This shot is after all the cleaning. 20-30 minutes with a wire brush to remove the caked on dirt and oil. That was followed by about 15 minutes with a wire wheel to remove loose paint and any remaining dirt and oil. once that was done 3 hours of sanding both with an orbital sander and by hand to remove the surface rust found in various spots of the bed and scuff up any remaining paint. Then a quick vacuum, and completed the prep work with a wipe down with denatured alcohol. Looks loads better, the bed actually looked white again.

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For a bed liner I used the Rust-O-leum spray on bed liner. I have used it in the past with good success. Prep work is key and if done well it will hold up well and last for a long time, but I like the added benefit that it is easy to touch up and repair if and when it needs it. I applied two coats, I may do one more on the floor of the bed. The first photo was taken just after spraying the second coat. 

Before I sprayed in the bed liner I repaired and replaced a few of the straps and buckles that hold the guts of the wilderness up in the shell. As an additional aide, to relieve the pressure from straps and buckles holding up the weight of the tent, I fabricated a mount for some square tubing to hold up the center portion of the tent where they like to sag the most. 

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With the bed done and drying I moved my attention to the weather guard box. It's one of the side mount bed boxes, however for my setup its been oriented to lay in the bed of the truck. The side that is suppose to face down into the bed of the box was bubbling and rusting worse than any other sides. When installed this side will actually be facing the back of the cab, so the door it accessible as shown in the following picture. The sander was used again to removed the rust bubbling, and scuff the surface to give the epoxy paint something to bite into.

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All sanded and painted, just like new.

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A couple days prior I finished cleaning and modifying the rear bumper. Cleaning was the theme of the project removing, abating, and preventing further rust.  The bumper was originally designed for an XJ, to mount I made some 3" x 4" plates that were welded onto the original MJ bumper brackets allowing me to bolt the XJ bumper on. It's strong enough to use as a recovery point if needed, but I don't think I would go around towing anything with it. The mounting hardware was replaced with Grade 8 bolts.

 

The rear plate was previously mounted into the tailgate. I did some mods on the bumper to allow the license plate to mount onto the bumper instead. I first removed the face of the integrated hitch to give the license plate a flat area rest against. The height of the plate was to tall for the bumper so used so 3/4" angle iron to make up the difference. 

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I first removed the face of the integrated hitch to give the license plate a flat area rest against. The height of the plate was to tall for the bumper so I used 3/4" angle iron to make up the difference. I found a set of LED bolts online for motorcycles that were used to mount the plate onto the bumper. The wiring was run down into the hitch receiver to make for a cleaner look

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Finished up the last of the interior today. UP to this point I did not have the fabric backing board that goes behind the seat. When I got the truck there was a black plastic shelf attached with sheet metal screws into the rear of the cab. While I liked the shelf for the added storage I was not a fan of the attachment method. I've seen several other members builds where they built their own so I figured that I would give it a go. First on the agenda was a stop at the Home Depot. There I acquired a 4' x 8' x 3/16" hard board. 

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Using the backboard from the other Comanche that I have as  backboard I traced out the dimensions,  then used a circular saw to make quick work of getting the shape out.For the smaller cuts and access holes I used a dremel with a reinforced cutoff wheel. 

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The covering was felt that I got at Joanns fabric store. The color is a bit off but most of it is going to be out of view anyway.

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I used some tee nuts as the new method to attach the shelves to the backboard.

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These shelves will come in very handy to store and carry extra parts and other knick knacks. 

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6 minutes ago, Pete M said:

I love it!  that looks incredibly useful  :L:  

 

Thanks. While I have never actively searched, I'd never seen shelves like this in a cab until I got the truck. They were too cool and handy not to put them back in.

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When I removed the fenders to repair the door hinges I attempted to remove the fender flares. Ultimately I ended up breaking off the majority of mounting bracket studs. To re-attach the brackets I used a angle grinder with a grinding wheel and punch to get the old studs off the bracket. Then tacked 10-32 x 1” bolts onto the brackets. Once the new studs were in place a couple coats of paint were applied to brackets. Just waiting to reinstall the fender flares. 

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Been daily driving Villa in an attempt to find remaining issues or things that need to be addressed. Which included an 80 mile round trip to my work. Majority of the drive....as in 95% was on the highway with average speeds of 75 mph. Only issues were a high idle, 1500 rpm,  no climate control or transfer case lights, blower motor was weak and a smell of oil on the exhaust. 

 

I traced all the vacuum lines and couldn’t locate any holes or leaks in the lines. So I double checked my work. Still didn’t find any leaks or holes. So the diagnosis moved into other sensors and fuel related items and all were new and working or just working. I had a similar issue in another renix era Jeep and ultimately I ended up adjusting the butterfly valve to .003 mm. I ended up doing the same thing, but instead went with .004 mm. Now the idea rest right at 900 rpm. 

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Just faint amount of light coming through.

 

The bulbs for the climate controls and the transfer case were replaced and all displays are now illuminated. 

 

The burning oil on the exhaust was traced to the output shaft seal on the transfer case. That was quickly replaced and oil smell is now gone. 

 

Cruiser54s mostly remix tips were referenced and used to make a ground closer to the blower motor and the output has since increased significantly. 

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