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70barracuda

Driving on the street to street truck

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So I am a tad behind on documenting my build of the Comanche. I'll upload everything I got till it's all caught up to present.  Timeline might be a bit off as I try to remember everything I did, so I'll try my best.

Wasn't necessarily looking for a Comanche, as I just wanted a new project car and it had to be manual. I was all over the place until this one caught my eye, being a Comanche for me was the deal sealer. It was all the way in Virgina, 4 cylinder 2wd and a 5 speed ( later found out it was actually a 4). Listed at 1300 for who knows how long, I messaged him just to find a little bit about it. No rust, runs and drives, and clean title. All I really needed. I offered him 900 bucks and said I can be there Friday. Deal. Rented a u haul and towed it home to NJ with my grandpa's grand Cherokee. Must admit the 4.7 did an amazing job, no issues at all. Here's how it was when I picked it up 

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after I got it home I drove it around the block and while it made it, I probably wouldn't have trusted it another block.  It shook like crazy and the power steering leaked. Like full on empty the resevior in 30 seconds leak. Also would not idle unless gas was held. So I parked it in the driveway. It had been sitting under trees so it had a layer of sap, dirt, and grime all over it.  Engine bay was absolutely nasty with grease.  Interior was alright, but the carpet was wrecked. Spent the first week just cleaning it with dish soap and stripping it down. Took off the bed box, bed liner, front bug catcher, cb antenna, and also gutted the interior. Carpet was absolutely soaked under the mats.  Only rust on the entire truck was a half dollar sized hole in the floor. That's it on the whole thing. Degreased the engine best I could before the tear down on that. These were from the initial tear down once home. The bed was in immaculate condition. I feared the worst when I pulled off the liner, but after cleaning out the 20 pounds of leaves and ants nests, it amazed me. 

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Continuing with engine I tore that down to just the block in the bay and got to scrubbing. Probably went through 3 gallons of purple power. Having my Cherokee was great. Usually I could never really get involved because I had to drive it to work the next day but this one I could keeping going day after day. After I got it cleaned up I started ordering parts. Like an insane amount of parts. I got a header for a YJ which fit great except for one bolt hole. Just wallowed it out and boom. Perfect. NJ doesn't have any inspection for this old of a vehicle so I gutted all the emissions on it. I replaced the power steering pump, power steering lines, alternator with one from a 80s Caprice (105 amp). Steering box. Steering shaft. Timing chain. New seals. Rebuilt the TBI. Put in a WJ booster and master. Engine and trans mounts. Full new exhaust. Replaced every sensor except the TPS. Just adjusted that one and it was good. Cleaned all grounds. Cleaned the c101 connector. Bypassed heater for for now to eliminate the valve. yj valve cover. Definitely more stuff I will list as I remember. 

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Once I got the engine running good i moved on to running wires and cleaning up alot of the factory stuff. I replaced the mechanical fan with a new electric one.  It was a universal flexalite with a built in shroud. Amazingly it fit the radiator absolutely perfect. I made some mounts, wired it in, and installed a temp probe in the thermo housing. Works great and the truck barely gets over 210. So from there I moved on to the interior.  Factory was grey but I did not like it at all. I wanted tan. So I found a guy parting out one in South Jersey and pulled every plastic piece I could minus the dash. Before I put the interior back together I welded up the floor hole (my first welding job, don't make fun of me), cut out all the old insulation, and dynomatted the entire truck top to bottom. I actually used a knock off brand but it worked just as good. Once that was in I bought a brand new carpet and it fit really well. The stock shifter console was not in good shape so I left it out. Just cut a hole for the boot to fit through and it came out good. Put in all the tan pieces. Orginally I wanted to paint the dash black but I actually like the grey tan combo now. The buckets were in ok shape but covered them in crappy covers until I found new seats.  Recovered the headliner and sunvisors too. New aftermarket but old school radio installed as the one the PO had in there didn't really work. New speakers too. I think it came out really good. A couple weeks later I found the seats I've been searching for and got an aftermarket console for some cup holders. 

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Once I got the interior in and the engine all buttoned up, I moved to the brakes. My goal for this truck is to make it a street/racer style truck. But before that I really just wanted to start driving it around.  So I just wanted it good enough before I started to upgrade and change things. But me being me I hate to get into a job and put old parts back. Also if I could upgrade I wanted too because I don't wanna spend the money and do the job twice. So for the front brakes I did a full rebuild. New calipers new bearings  new rotors and pads. WJ master and booster. Just cleaned the rear drums for now as I wasn't invested in the Dana 35 at all.   After I got the brakes done all that was left were wheels and tires. I was trying to copy the Archer Bros style and found the same wheels for sale and went with a low pro tire. Kumho 225 50 15s. I love them. Got them on the truck, made sure everything was tight and fluids topped off and drove!

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I drove the truck for a good month. Manual was new to me so a big learning experience. Didn't have one issue except that the suspension was extremely clapped out. I traded rust for dried out bushing. Fine with me. So I took it off the road again and started the suspension. Now this is where I wanted to start changing things. So I did my research on lowering and began. The rear got all new poly bushings in everything. XJ shackles to lower slightly.  The front I cut down some old lift springs from the xj and just cut till it leveled out.  I got kyb shocks. F150 for the front and Tacoma for the rear. The fronts are a tad short but work, rear were way too short. At this time I also picked up a 8.25 to swap in. I spent a good time cleaning it up and cutting off the old brackets. Moved the truck to my house before I really dug into the rear end swap. I pulled the 35 out and got the 8.25 fitted in. I also put in some 2 inch lowering blocks for the rear. I got the pinion angle set and tacked the location of the perches in. Then took it all back apart to have them professionally welded in. While I got that done I also dropped the fuel tank to replace the pump. But also ended up buying a new tank. The original was kinda crusty and had a jb weld repair on it so why not. New one was only 80 bucks.  So with a new pump I got that all in there.  Also did a rear level sensor delete, splitting block delete and ran all brand new lines. Rear end also received a complete drum kit. In order to control rear bias I got an adjustable prop valve from wilwood and plumbed that in.  Finally got the rear end in and got the truck on the ground for the first time in 2 weeks. 

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So all of this was in preparation for a road trip to roadkill nights in Pontiac Michigan. For anyone that doesn't know Roadkill is a show and the are sponsored by dodge. They hold this giant car show/drag race event for the past 5 yrs. Last year I drove the xj to it. This is I entered the mj in the show. So all this build up was for the trip and I wanted as much done as possible to avoid having to call AAA and showing up on a flat bed. Along with building the MJ, I got a free 1999 Camry from my neighbor and planned on giving it to my sister for her first car. Well as all free cars go it needed EVERYTHING. plus my dad wanted it safe so I made the list. Along with everything I did to the manche, the Camry got a full brakeing system, suspension, and a ton of work too.  

 

The last of the Comanche parts were a track bar, and WJ control arms installed. And then just making sure I tightened everything and little odds and ends. July was a straight mad rush working on both cars every day after work and the only thing I would do on my days off. Well it payed off because not only did I make to Michigan and back no issues (except throwing the belt on the dyno) the Comanche was a hit at the show. I couldn't get away from it cause so many people were coming to talk about it. It was awesome. As as I got home the clutch master went out in my driveway. Luck is an understatement.  So I fixed that and drove 2 more hours down the shore for vacation with no issues. This thing is awesome.  That was 2 weeks ago. I haven't done much recently. Just enjoying driving it before winter comes and I put it away. It will never see salt.  I'll keep updating as I go along now that I am all caught up. Sorry for the extremely long initial posts. 

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Almost forgot, I didn't know this when I bought the truck but while cleaning it out I found the original owners notes on all maintenance performed since day 1 of owning all the way up to when he stopped driving it about 2017. 

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1 hour ago, 70barracuda said:

Almost forgot, I didn't know this when I bought the truck but while cleaning it out I found the original owners notes on all maintenance performed since day 1 of owning all the way up to when he stopped driving it about 2017. 

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This is pretty sweet!

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I saw you out at roadkill! I drove my truck out too but I wasn’t in the show. You gave me the link for the carpet kit. Awesome truck sir. 

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Update. Swapped my front cut springs to some zj rear springs.  Soooo much better.  Still stiff but nowhere near as bad as the cut. Before it was like riding a dump truck. Now it's more way more tolerable. Also added a roll pan bumper for the rear. Its from an s10 and it actually fits really well. A tad short on the sides but good enough for me. Now to decide whether to paint it or leave it black. 

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Finally changed out the tie rod ends and upgraded to the ZJ tie rod end.  Also got "the cure" from ruffstuff coming in the mail.  My rear belltech sway bar came in and looks pretty stout, just gotta make a run to the junkyard to grab XJ rear mounts.  Still waiting on the addco front unfortunately, but hopefull itll come soon.  

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So originally I bypassed the heater core in the spring when I was gutting everything and during hookup I didn't wanna bother with it and just get it driving. Well now it's getting pretty chilly in the mornings so I wanted heat. Hooked it back up with no heater valve, just hose from manifold to core, and a 97+ Cherokee hose from core to the water pump. Heat works great!  Also got the addco front sway bar in. Sdtruck kept telling me my order was delayed 6 weeks two times in a row so I cancelled that one, ordered a xj bar off summit racing and had it in 4 days. Wish I did that from the get go. But holy **** is this bar great.  Front end feels like it's on rails. Can't wait to get the rear bar in. Definitely gotta make shorter end link though, got an extra set on there way and will cut down and weld them up. 

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Finally got the rear sway bar in. Definitely a lot more involved than I originally thought.  Had to make custom brackets. Then I scoured AutoZone trying to find a link that would work. Eventually came up with a jeep commander front link that I think fit perfect. Still have to clean up the bracket I made and I am going to weld them in too. But as it stands it works amazing. Absolutely zero body roll in this thing now. 

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2 hours ago, onebigmj said:

What is the rear sway bar setup from?

2nd gen blazer.  97 to 03 I think is the years?

2 hours ago, Dzimm said:

Sway bar looks good!

Thanks!

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Finally got the ax5 swapped in after getting it in August. Pretty straight forward swap. Getting the trans into the engine was a bear though, took probably 3 hours and it finally fit. It's sooo nice have 5 gears. 3000 rpm at 70 all day long.  Before it was 4 grand at 70 and the motor wasn't exactly the happiest. 

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Well the time has finally come to put her away. We got a snow storm coming and they started to salt the roads, so the manche will be off the road until spring. Gonna start collecting parts for the v8 swap and hopefully be ready to do it once the weather breaks. My goal is have it done by August so I can drive it Michigan again this summer. 

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