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Hello Club Members,

 

I'm probably doing the build sheet a bit backwards since I just finished my initial restore, but I took lots of pics to walk you through my journey.  I will start at the beginning and walk you through each area of focus and then continue to post as I make updates.  I have wanted a Comanche since high school so this was a fun restore for me.  Let me know if you have any questions I can help you out with.

 

 

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*Initial purchase

 

1990+, Silver, 4x4, 4.0, Auto, SWB

 

I had been looking for a Comanche with the specs above for a while, so when I saw one posted in Alabama with 135k I took the rest of the day off work to pick it up.  It wasn't without its issues.  Body damage, some rust, idled horrible, oil leaks (everywhere), no heat, water in floor pan, electrical shorts, and the list goes on.  I thought I could drive it 3hrs home, but ended up having to pull over 4 times to let the engine cool off because the original gauges really didn't tell me anything and I was concerned I would make matters worse.    

 

 

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* Engine Head

 

I'm not sure why, but I start all my jeep restores by pulling head.  I think it is to determine how the previous owners treated the jeep and better understand what I'm in for in the long haul.  It also gives me some peace of mind on who was in my engine last!  I like to do visual inspections on cylinder wear, straws, lifters, valves, rockers and also validate distributor timing.

 

On initial inspection, I didn't like what I saw.  Oil build up was bad, I could even get the lifters out.  It looked like the previous owner ran it hot or without proper oil for some time.  I sent the head to a local shop to be machined and resurfaced the engine.  I had to buy a lifter removal tool to get the lifters out due to the build up on the bottom of them. 

 

I also replaced the fuel injectors, thermostat, water pump and other small parts.  I put a 3-row radiator in it for better cooling which has worked great.  If you swap your radiator, remember to get the quick connector (pictured) for the bottom transmission fluid line.  These were hard for me to find so I bought 6 of them for future use.

 

Note:  If you use a lifter tool, make sure to plug your holes so you don't get metal debris in your engine.  Triple check by pushing a magnet in the holes before your put lifters back in.  You should use Felpro gaskets and seals if possible.  Since you have the weight off the engine and stuff out of your way.  It is a great time to replace the motor mounts.  I went with Brown Dog.

 

   

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* Exhaust Manifold

 

As you know, from this point on you get yourself into a "well since I'm here I might as well...." domino effect and since I had the exhaust manifold disconnected well...  This engine idled and sounded horrible.  In close review of the manifold there were cracks so I replaced gasket, manifold, pre-heater hose, and oxygen sensor.  Make sure to follow torque specs and also spray soapy water to make sure you don't have leaks.  Note:  when buying an exhaust manifold, you will want to consider the connections for the pre-heater tube and exhaust pipe.  Some decide to go without them.  I chose to keep them.  Use lots of PB Blaster and possibly heat to loosen the pipe.  Also, not all gaskets are created equal.  Make sure your gasket doesn't reduce air flow by mating it for review before install to get the correct one.  Notice the holes in the gasket to right in the picture below does not match the size of the original.  

 

Since I had it out, I also replaced the CPS for good measure.

 

Exhaust Manifold Dorman 674-170

 

 

  

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* Valve Cover

 

There are a number vacuum lines on this engine and most were clogged.  I took the opportunity to replace all the hoses, grommets, and repaint the cover.  You should also take the appropriate steps here for Cruiser54 tips.

 

 Crankcase Breather Hose-Carded Dorman 46005  

 Vacuum Harness Dorman 46004

 

 

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* Other Engine Parts worth mentioning

 

There were a few other parts that I replaced that are worth mentioning I'm going to lump them together.

 

Fuel injectors - I know many have suggested 4-hole Volvo 746 and I may go that route a some point in the future, but I was changing so many things at once and I had a poor experience with refurbished injectors in the past so I went with a new single hole Mopar injector (53003956AB).  Some state that ionization of a 4-hole will give you better idle and gas mileage.  In my research I haven't seen or experienced any supporting evidence of material gain.  BTW.  The o-ring in the fuel rail canister is the same as the injector o-rings so you may want change that while you have every thing apart.

 

Water Pump - My suggestion here is to not go cheap.  Some of the cast-iron water pumps are poorly designed, stay with a premium version.  In addition, make sure that you have clearance for your wheel cover.  Some are categorized for Comanche models incorrectly and the cover touches the pump when attaching it back on. 

 

Radiator - I swapped my radiator with a 3-row version.  It fit and works great, just make sure you get the transmission line quick connector with it or are able to order one.  They are hard to find, which leaves some people cutting the line an rigging it with a metal clamp.  I bought 6 of them when I finally found it.  :) 

 

Ballast Resistor - I didnt replace this, but I did order one to put in the glove box.  You've been warned.   8933000682

 

Harmonic Balancer - The internal rubber was starting dry rot and break off.  If this happens, its not if it will fail, its when it will fail.  I wanted to get this changed out under ideal conditions so I replace it while the rest of the items were out of my way.  Once you have the belt off, you may need to put some string in the spark plug holes to get enough resistance to remove the bolt (19mm).  If you don't have a puller kit, best to rent one from a local repair store. 

 

Sensors and Throttle Body - I cleaned all sensors from the manifold and the throttle body.  Replaced gaskets and oiled as needed.  

 

spark plugs, thermostat, thermostat housing, serpentine belt, IAC gauge, oil filter, and other standard items were changed.   

 

 

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so THAT'S why I can't get "MANCHE" on a tag.  :laugh:

 

the truck is just spectacular!  but you knew that already. :D 

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* heater core and a/c evap

 

The Comanche came with a lovely mild dew smell due to a busted heater core.  When you turn your heater on, a burnt coolant smell or lots of moisture fogging up your cab are dead give-aways.  I decided to change the a/c evap and surface the grounding areas since I had to pull the dash.  Some people state this is a 3hr job, but I took my time and it was about 10hrs (partially a learning curve in there).  I couldnt find an original a/c evap and had to make some adjustments to get it to fit.  I also had to drill a hole for the temp regulator.  When you pull the dash, I suggest you bag and mark all the screws to make your life easier.  If you have freon in your a/c, make sure to get it pulled out.  Some places will give you credit when you have to refill it.  I used various sizes of window sealing tape from HomeDepot to replace a lot of the container seals.  Be prepared to buy studs for the container, more than likely some of them will spin when you try to remove them.

 

Lesson learned

I did not take the time to seal the firewall up before I put everything back and still have a small water leak when it rains so I have to pull it all back out again in the upcoming weeks to track it down.  Son of a.... 

 

 

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* sound proofing and carpet

 

I don't remember the Wagoneer or XJ's being nearly as loud as the cab in the MJ was.  Some of it was due to the exhaust, but I wanted to make this truck as quiet as I could.  After pulling the carpet there were just a couple of pinholes on the passenger side that I welded. I removed as much rust as possible and covered the flooring with POR15.  I found there where 4 areas of focus to minimize noise in the cab. Front window strip, door seals, sound deadening, carpet/padding.  I used noico on the floor of the cab and second skin on the roof, doors and back of the cab.  I ordered new carpet from ACC.  I was told to use the old carpet as template, but I would suggest that you start with the location of the drivers foot well and work your way out with a roller because the carpet you get won't be exactly like the original carpet. 

 

 

 

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* brake booster, proportioning valve, brake lines, solenoids, etc.

 

Because I wanted to use the truck as a daily driver there were couple of updates I felt were needed.  The brake booster was one of those updates and since I was changing the booster... you know the rest.  I had a leaking brake solenoid and when I tried to loosen the connection, I broke the line so I decided to go head and get started on the brake system.  I replaced rear brake lines, solenoids, parking brake cables, drums, drum hardware, and removed the MJ proportioning valve.  I used a 95 XJ booster and added a 98 XJ portioning valve in place of the MJ distribution block.  I also grabbed some 2003 WJ flex cables to attach it to the master cylinder.  End result was a major difference.  You should do this upgrade if you havent already.

 

Lessons Learned

I over shaved the first brake booster (pic below)  and went back to the salvage yard to get another.  If you take too much off, the brake switch will not be stable.  Make sure that you have your brake nut on the right way (pic below) before your double flare your line.  :)  

 

    

 

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* body work

 

If there is one thing I regret, it is not taking more time on the body work.  I'm going to repaint this jeep in 10 years so I will have a chance to fix some of my mistakes, but there are a number of small areas that consistently remind me I should have some patience.  I painted the whole jeep back to its original color, but fixed dings and surface rust areas.  The other frustration area is that the hockey stick decals (mopar) were not oem colors so the top hockey stick did not have the right contrast against the new paint so it is hard to see.  I also replaced the windshield and cut out the trim posts, filled and sanded so I could replace it with a rubber seal.  Then repainted the trim pieces argent silver so they would match and restored the badges.

 

 

 

    

 

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* wheels and caps

 

When I bought the Comanche the previous owner put star wheels on it and also offered to provide the original steel wheels so I took them but I really loved the look of turbines.  I picked up a set for $100 that were in fairly good shape and striped them with aircraft paint remover then pressure washed them.  Once cleaned, I used a orbital sander with various grits and steel wool to clean up the faces and remove rash before taping them off.  There was a lot of elbow grease on this effort.  I wanted the spokes to pop a bit so I used a darker gray that ended up drying like battleship gray.  I may change that in the future but running with it for now.  After everything was finished on the rims, I clear coated them.  For the caps, I used Brasso to clean them up and used epoxy to fix the center stickers from lifting off.  Taped them and sprayed. 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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* cluster gauge update

 

This is my favorite MJ upgrade, mainly because of the engine temp gauge.  It was very easy once I had all the right parts. (temp sensor and oil pressure sensor) It took me a little while to figure out if I disconnected the transfer case odometer cable it would give me the slack to disconnect it from the back of the gauge.  Everything else was straight forward as all the write-ups describe.  I do have an automatic, so I had to cut the column shifter window.  If you have a column shifter, make sure to take extra precaution that you don't damage the shifter cable when you initially remove the old cluster panel.  Even though my truck is exempt in GA, I matched the mileage exact.

 

 

Temp sensor: Well TU108

Oil Pressure Sensor: Duralast PS133

 

 

 

    

 

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Nice!  When I did the cluster swap, I just left the indicator off.  It's pretty easy to tell where I'm at by feel :P

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* Other small stuff

 

There were a lot of other small items that I did and bought to get this truck the way I wanted it.

 

Rollbar - It took a while for me to find a factory roll bar.  There was a guy in Alabama that was trying his comanche and I saw it in off to the side in one of his pictures.  It was a 10 hour trip to pick it up and bring it back, but worth it to me. $300 I had a friend powder coat it for me.  I picked up my brackets from @krustyballer16 and they fit perfect.

 

Hitch - The Comanche came with a ball hitch setup, but I really need to get a 2" hitch added.  I order this from @krustyballer16  also and had it powder coated.  I had to make a few cuts to the old hitch to free up the brackets, but the install was straight forward and it works great.

 

Tail Lights -  The tail lights were in good shape but definitely showed 30 year usage.  I used a combination of dawn scrubbing, wet sanding, and plastic polish to get them back where I wanted them and then sprayed clear coat to keep them looking good for a while.

 

Cup Holder - There were a few areas that had me scratching my head when understanding the engineering on some of the components, but a cup holder?  I think the user acceptance department was sound asleep during market adoption testing.  I JB welded a GMC cup holder insert to a board and pushed it under the bench seat.  It is very stable and works great.

 

Marchal 750 - These things are crazy expensive...  It took me a while to find some that I was willing to pay for.  I had to swap out the harness in the front to get the fog light connections/relay.  I havent ran the wiring for the rollbar lights yet, but will do that soon.  Also I just got a cargo light to land both of the switches.   

 

Interior Lights -  If I wasnt trying to get this back to stock, I would have went with a different interior light.  I had to pull these lights apart fix the connectors/lens and put them back together.  Very tedious work to get them functioning correctly.

 

Mud Flaps/Splash Guards - I really like the look of the AMC logo'ed splash guards, but havent been able to find them.  I was able to find NOS of the correct ones for the my Comanche.  They are growing on me so I will probably keep them around

 

I am still in search of the following:

Passenger interior door panel - gray

Factory brush guard

Factory running boards

 

 

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* oil pan, oil pump, and rear main seal

 

When I pulled the engine head and saw the oil build up on the cover and lifters, I decided to replace the oil pump.  I figured the screen was probably clogged.  In addition, I had a pretty bad oil leak that looked like was the rear main seal so I decide to tackle that also.  After removing the starter and putting the frame on jack stands, I was able to get the pan out by sliding it out the back.  Due to the position, it was very difficult to get the pan separated from the block so I had to make a little wedge tool (pictured) and tap it with a hammer.  I filled the oil pump with petroleum jelly to prevent damage when turning it over.  Painted the oil pan and used a Fel-pro gasket with some sealant when putting it all back together.  I also made the mistake of using a narrow punch when trying to remove the main seal and split on side of it.  I was able to make a thicker punch to get more material from a screwdriver (pictured) and push it out from the other side without any damage. 

 

Oil leak still there!!

After all that work and finally putting it back together, I still had the oil leak.  It turned out to be my distributor gasket...ugh!  In the process of replacing the gasket, I over tighten the stem retainer and broke the cast iron stem mount then had to replace the distributor.  I also took the opportunity to make sure I was firing on dead center.       

 

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