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I grew up driving Jeep Cherokees, and my daily all through college was a budget rock crawler XJ. Ultimately the motor died from abuse at around 200k miles a few years ago. I got a reliable daily and the goal was to rebuild that Cherokee from the ground up…. until I spotted this Comanche on Craigslist.
 
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I’ve always wanted a Comanche, and after going to look at it in person I was sold. It’s a 92 2WD long bed with the HO 4.0, and I have all the parts needed to convert it to 4WD. 

The game plan was to drive this truck to KOH, which gave me 4 weekends since I don't store the truck at my place.  

 

So I pulled the front axle, drivetrain, suspension, and any little piece I could use off my XJ. First job was to give the front axle some love. I purchased an Arctec truss with Currie Johnny Joints, Solid diff cover, Ten Series tube seals, ball joints, and started to replace everything.

 

I cleaned the axle down, propped the truss into place, and followed the instructions I got with the kit. The truss needed to be clamped down onto the axle on the backside as there was some gap between the truss and axle tube.

First I just tacked all touching parts to help prevent any warping.

Next I welded it on opposite sides for 1” intervals, and allowed it to cool for 15mins between welding the next spot.

 

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Once all the tubes and end were done it was time for the cast. I read a lot about this, and was a little nervous as this is my first major welding project. My buddy held a torch and heat sensor and warmed it up, but the air was so cold so we couldn’t keep it above 200-250 without constant applied heat. (using MAPP gas)

So while it was sitting at 250ish, my friend would concentrate on one area until it hit 325, and when he moved to the next spot I would weld behind him, and I chased him around the axle. When we finished 2 people picked it up by the knuckles, and one person wrapped it in a welding blanket, and we let it sit overnight around 12 hours. (sorry lack of photos, it all happened so fast)

 

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Next morning it all looked good to me, and seems strong!

 

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With that done and the axle assembled, it was time to start putting parts on! 

 

The rear was pretty straight forward, new leaf springs and used a Dodge Dakota brake line. One thing that surprised me was the shock, I had Fox 2.0 shocks on my Jeep (for a 4.5” lift kit) and wasn’t sure the rear shocks would fit after reading some posts. After measuring in the OEM shock mounts I have around 3.5” down and 4.5” up, and figure the leaf springs would settle with weight in the bed. I also lucked out on the leaf shackles, as the stock ones were too short. I had some aftermarket extended hangers from my old XJ and they worked out well. I’m hanging onto the stock springs for SOA down the road.

 

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Originally I was planning on using my old steering linkages as I had the solid tie rod from a Grand Cherokee, but the tie rod ends were super worn out. I ordered some new steering parts with my ball joints, but I didn’t check the steering parts when I got them and none of it fit together. I decided to pull the trigger on Ruff Stuff’s Heim steering kit. 

Link to steering build;

https://comancheclub.com/topic/57502-ruff-stuff-34-heim-steering/

 

As for the front end the whole thing came off, we just unbolted it from the body and rolled it out on the stock wheels. . From my old Jeep I had those Fox shocks, 4.5” rough country coil springs, and some generic extended lower control arms. We got the axle bolted in and the coils in place. I decided to change the lower shock mount because the pin bent the mounting area pretty bad. I welded on a square plate with shock tabs, and gave it a little lean into the body. I also picked up some extended brake lines from Rough Country along with one of their HD Track Bars. 

 

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I plan on doing a lot of weekend highway driving in this thing to go wheeling and camping, so I chose to get some Cooper Discovery STT Pro’s since I read they are not as loud as traditional mud terrains. I have about 350 miles on these tires now and they have been great so far. 

I also took a chance and mounted them on Crager V5 15x10 rims. I’ve read some people saying you can’t air down as far on 10” rims, and some people say they’ve never had a problem. I just liked the idea of a wider footprint and the look of a more filled out tire.

 

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After putting the tires on it was time for some fender trimming. 

The rear doesn't rub bad, but the front needed a lot cut. 

Here is a guide how to trim and keep your stock fender flare!

https://comancheclub.com/topic/57504-relocated-front-fender-flares/

 

After installing everything I put around 50-75 miles on the truck to find any other issues and then I hit the road! 

I loaded up and drove 2 hours out to Johnson Valley for KOH. 

 

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Although it was still only 2WD, I was stoked to get a lot done and put about 300 miles on the truck and see how everything was going to work.

This truck cruises 65-70mph on the highway with no issues, and felt great ripping around the desert all week.

 

I'll be doing the 4WD conversion early March and plan to document the swap as I go. 

 

   

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Very nice truck. They front axle definitely looks strong. Can't wait to see the rest.

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Got the motor and transmission from my old XJ separated finally. 

It's an AW4 with an NP242, still waiting on some other parts to get here before I can start swapping it all in.  

 

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Making slow progress on this thing. Spent Saturday mocking up the new exhaust and pulling the trans, however I got sick and couldn't get much done on Sunday. 

Hoping by the end of this coming weekend we'll have the 4WD swap completed! 

 

If anyone is looking to do this swap, I found some great info that has been helping me out;

https://www.pullapart.com/video-library/videos/how-to-pull-a-jeep-40l-automatic-transmission-jeep-cherokee-grand-cherokee-and-wrangler/

https://www.naxja.org/forum/showthread.php?t=954587

https://www.naxja.org/forum/showthread.php?t=954587

 

I looked at a few exhaust options, definitely wanted something tame because my ears can't handle long drives in loud cars anymore. 

I ended up going with a Dynomax Ultra Flo-Welded and will be welding a flex pipe into the front portion of the exhaust;

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00029J3CU/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s02?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

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Finished welding on all the hangers and stuff, then set it to the side and proceeded to pull the transmission. 

Unplugged 3 sensors, cooling lines, shifter linkage, flex plate bolts, cross-member, then mounting bolts, badda-boom badda-bing it was out within an hour!

 

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I pulled the bench seat out and started working on getting the T-Case shifter handle installed and my new Novak adapter linkage kit started, 

However I ran out energy and could no longer breath out of my nose, so I'll be picking it back up next weekend. 

Bonus doggo photo!

 

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Got the carpet all pulled out this weekend and there was more rust than I expected. Thinking the cowl is leaking because the carpet was still damp underneath after all the rain we just got. 

 

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I took a power drill with a wire brush and cleaned up all the rust, luckily it was almost all surface rust. 

The section closest to the door however was pretty chewed up. I was able to clean it down to bare metal, and there are a couple small holes I will be patching up later. 

I painted it with some rust-preventative paint in the meantime, and will be driving it without carpet or anything until we come back to re-do the interior later. 

 

 With the transmission out I got started installing the shift lever for the t-case and brackets for the Novak Cable Shift kit. 

 

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With all the prep work done, it was time to put the donor transmission in!!

 

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Everything is bolted up, and I replaced some of the hardware with Grade 8 bolts (those star bolts on the top, the cross-member hardware, and the transmission mount bolts) 

I did notice the TV Cable was shorter than the original one, and I had to re-route it. I'm thinking maybe because this donor came out of a renix era Jeep it was a different length because it mounts to a different point. The speedo sensor is also too short and I need to extend the wiring. Other than that everything was completely plug and play. 

 

All that is left is get the rear drive shaft shortened and finish the exhaust. 

 

 

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Wrapped up the last bits of the 4X4 swap, and had to do some minor maintenance. 

I had some Brown Dog motor mounts that had never been mounted laying around, and had a coolant leak to figure out. 

After some quick inspecting, I found the source of the leak;

 

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Took it out for a quick test drive and everything is running smooth and has zero leaks for now. 

 

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Truck is running smoothly and I plan on driving out to Death Valley in 2 weeks. 

Going to try and make some rock sliders in the near future, and will start working on the interior at this point :D

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