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Hello there!

 

My name is Stephen, and I picked up a 1986 Comanche X in Phoenix last week. 2.5L, five speed, 2WD, long bed. If you want the fine details, head to my registry topic here.

 

I actually have another account on here, BebopComanche, but I lost the email account it belonged to. I was not very active anyway, as I was only dreaming of owning a Comanche in those days. However, I did have the wonderful opportunity to drive Automan's '86 2.1 diesel back then, and I think that pretty much set me on the path to where I am now. Just took me a long while to get there.

 

I flew into Phoenix with the intention of picking this truck up, getting a couple things fixed, and driving it the 1800 miles home to Illinois. Safe to say, things did not go according to plan. To be fair, it did make it 300 miles to Gallup, NM before it gave up the ghost. It is a long story I will get to later.

 

For now, have some photos, and know that my plans are to use it as a daily, after I degrease, undercoat, and clear it to prevent Illinois from turning into dust. That is, after I find out what is wrong and get it home. OM97cwN.jpgCJw2tUe.jpgubFJl1l.jpgDU6qpQq.jpgAvoHuyw.jpg08eUkls.jpg92oMjtm.jpgdAGVFHW.jpgqWfpqKp.jpgGGujfze.jpgM9HEEbJ.jpg

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4 hours ago, 89 MJ said:

Welcome! I live in WI. I will also say, do not drive these trucks year round. The salt will eat then regardless of undercoating. 

Well shucks. I mean, the truck is not in Illinois yet. But I do not have much of a choice for transportation this year. I will do my best to keep it clean though.

1 hour ago, WahooSteeler said:

I believe I see an AMC20 for the rear axle?! :drool:

I am not experienced in identifying axles, but I do not believe so after doing a search. The AMC 20 cover looks different than what I have. It is tmhard to tell in the photo, but the 3-6 o'clock area is punched in and has a drain/fill hole.

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I will try to keep this story from being too long, but I tend to go into a lot of detail, so I apologize.

 

About a month ago, I decided that I was ready to own a Comanche. I did some searching and put some feelers out to find ome. I was not picky, other than I wanted it to be as close to stock as possible, with as little rust as possible.

 

There were a few prospects, but I ultimately decided on the one you see here. The previous owner is an enthusiast to say the least. He has several projects on his hands, and owns one of the Street Comanches. Sent me a ton of photos that showed the body was really in good shape, just used like a truck should be.

 

We agreed on how things would work; he would do some maintenance to make the truck as ready for the trip as he could, then I would fly down and drive it home. I also purchased some new 235/75-15 Michelin Defenders to mount on a set of turbines I purchased from him, and I would have them mounted and aligned when I got there.

 

I flew down on October 2nd to claim my prize. When I finally saw it, I still did not register in my head that it was mine.

 

It definitely needed some work, as I would come to find out over time, but I had to get going. I loaded up my stuff and headed off to my appointments. Got the tires mounted no problem. Went off to have it aligned... and that was where the problems began.

 

The drag link tie rod end and pitman arm end were worn and needed replacement. The steering box also has a leak, but not bad. I sourced the pitman arm end from Autozone, and the PO gave me a whole drag link with the tie rod end on it.

 

I collected both of those parts, and as I tried to leave the previous owner's house for the second time... it would not start. We could smell fuel, but we did not see much of anything leaking. Let it sit for a while, nothing. Finally, he mentioned it was carbureted, and I remembered a trick I saw to get a vapor locked engine going. Tried that, started right up, and away I went.

 

Unfortunately, by the time I got back to the alignment shop, they did not have enough time to replace my parts and align the truck that day. No big deal, I set aside four days to bring it home. Go back outside to go to a motel... no start. The previous trick I used was not working either. I could see a little fuel leaking down the front of the carb though.

 

Eventually, I got it going and to the hotel for the night, hoping that maybe sitting overnight would cool it off or something. No dice, same thing next day. Handily, insurance towed it for free back to the alignment shop, which does other work too.

 

After opening it up, they discovered the carb was flooded due to our favorite thing: bad O-rings. They cleaned the carb, aired the engine out, cleaned the plugs, put on new O-rings, and it was good to go again. Same with the steering parts and alignment. I also went to pick up a fire extinguisher from a friend in case the situation above happened on my trip and caught fire. By the time I was done with that, I decided to wait until the next morning to leave.

 

It was smooth sailing the next day. Got through the mountains around Phoenix, through Payson, and all the way to Gallup. I stopped at an Autozone there because the voltage gauge was reading 12 volts, and bouncing a little with the turn signals on. Figured I would check the battery and alternator. Battery tested okay, but the alternator would not test.

 

At that point, I decided to replace the alternator there, as they had one that should have worked if I swapped the pulleys from the old one (serpentine pulley) to new one (vbelt pulley), and clocked it properly.

 

This did not go well. The old alternator basically split in half by the time I took it off the truck. Of the four screws that were supposed to hold it together, two had fallen out somewhere else already, and the other two fell out when I removed it from the truck.

 

We tried to swap the pulleys, but they were on too tight. It was getting late at that point, so I decided to have a shop swap them in the morning. I reassembled the old alternator with the two remaining screws, installed everything again, started up the truck... and it ran like garbage.

 

At this point, some context should be provided. The was a random knocking noise that sounded like a heat shield or something. It goes away when the RPMs would go up, and it did not sound like it was in time with the engine. Multiple people dismissed it as such, the previous owner included. That knocking was still present when this all happened.

 

It was clearly not running on all cylinders, and down on power. Fed up, I gathered my stuff and putted to my hotel for the night, planning to have a shop look at it again.

 

Get it into a shop the next day. Half an hour later, all is revealed; that knocking noise is still present without the serpentine belt attached. It is coming from the front of the engine, possibly the timing chain area. One idea is the timing chain is loose and it jumped enough to run like garbage. It would also explain the knocking noise, which sounded hollow.

 

On top of that, the water pump pulley was loose, so that may have gone at some point. And the alternator? The refurbished one from Autozone was garbage, as the mechanic found out when he took it apart to clock it. The one I took out of the truck was never supposed to be in there in the first place, but someone made it work.

 

You can imagine how I was feeling by this time. Luckily, a friend in Amarillo saved my @$$ by coming to get me the next day and tow the truck and I back to his place.

 

So what is next? I am flying back home, as I do not have anymore time off of work. My friend is going to take a look at it over the next week or two, see what it needs, and we will go from there. Hopefully it can be repaired without too much trouble, and I can fly back down and bring it home soon.

 

In my next post, I will list out the stuff that needs to be fixed, and some of my plans for it.

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Following. I’m pretty knowledge able about the little mighty 2.5L. Your build sheet indicated it was Throttle Body Injection unless the previous owner switched it to a carb(don’t know why, it’s garbage and I have the carbed version that will be upgraded to TBI) but those engines are pretty reliable and easy to work on. When you get it back in your hands I will be more than happy to help keep that engine ticking. 

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2 hours ago, Rad_Comanche said:

Well shucks. I mean, the truck is not in Illinois yet. But I do not have much of a choice for transportation this year. I will do my best to keep it clean though.

4 hours ago, WahooSteeler said:

Fluid Film, Chassis Saver (to paint over current surface rust), and very frequent car washes are a must then. 

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3 hours ago, Rad_Comanche said:

Well shucks. I mean, the truck is not in Illinois yet. But I do not have much of a choice for transportation this year. I will do my best to keep it clean though.

I am not experienced in identifying axles, but I do not believe so after doing a search. The AMC 20 cover looks different than what I have. It is tmhard to tell in the photo, but the 3-6 o'clock area is punched in and has a drain/fill hole.

AMC20 is a BIG round pumpkin, D35 is a little oblong and similar to your description, but upon another look at your picture, the jury is still out IMO. Still thinking it might be a 20. Hoping for you it is! IIRC, if the truck came with 4.10 gears in 86 it also had the 20.......but I could be wrong. 

 Jeep CJ AMC 20 Rear Axle 39:11 3.55 Gear Ratio 51” Narrow Track | Jeeps  Unlimited USA

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5 hours ago, eaglescout526 said:

Following. I’m pretty knowledge able about the little mighty 2.5L. Your build sheet indicated it was Throttle Body Injection unless the previous owner switched it to a carb(don’t know why, it’s garbage and I have the carved version that will be upgrades to TBI) but those engines are pretty reliable and easy to work on. When you get it back in your hands I will be more than happy to help keep that engine ticking. 

It is a TBI, but for some reason I thought that was still a carb of some kind with that, having never encountered it before.

 

Glad to see there is another liver of the 2.5L. I have been a Honda owner all of my life, so four cylinders are what I know. This one has impressed me so far with the pep it has, aside from going up the Rocky Mountains, lol. Down the line I definitely want to give it some more pep. I figure has less weight and more room to work in the the bay is a bonus. It is stupid easy to access everything in this engine bay.

5 hours ago, 89 MJ said:

Fluid Film, Chassis Saver (to paint over current surface rust), and very frequent car washes are a must then. 

I can definitely look at those. I was thinking of doing POR15 on the underside, but I am open to suggestions like yours. I will take a look at them.

5 hours ago, WahooSteeler said:

AMC20 is a BIG round pumpkin, D35 is a little oblong and similar to your description, but upon another look at your picture, the jury is still out IMO. Still thinking it might be a 20. Hoping for you it is! IIRC, if the truck came with 4.10 gears in 86 it also had the 20.......but I could be wrong. 

 Jeep CJ AMC 20 Rear Axle 39:11 3.55 Gear Ratio 51” Narrow Track | Jeeps  Unlimited USA

From the research I did, and what my butt says, it definitely has 4.10 gears in it. I thought they only came with a Dana 35 or 44 in the rear though, so now I am excited to see what is back there next time I see it in person. I have been suspicious of it having limited slip as well, but the jury is out for now.

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18 minutes ago, Rad_Comanche said:
5 hours ago, 89 MJ said:

 

I can definitely look at those. I was thinking of doing POR15 on the underside, but I am open to suggestions like yours. I will take a look at them

Chassis Saver is basically POR-15 with fewer harmful chemicals. 

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19 minutes ago, Rad_Comanche said:

From the research I did, and what my butt says, it definitely has 4.10 gears in it. I thought they only came with a Dana 35 or 44 in the rear though, so now I am excited to see what is back there next time I see it in person. I have been suspicious of it having limited slip as well, but the jury is out for now.

You could get the AMC 20 in 86 MJs (like yours). It wasn’t available after that though. 

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I would strongly suggest Fluid Film or similar over a paint-on coating such as Chassis Saver.

 

It has been my overwhelming experience that opaque painted-on coatings trap rust and allow it to spread invisibly. Fluid Film (or any of the other lanolin wax based products out there - it's all sheep wax) is clear (allows you to see the condition of what's underneath the coating without removing it), does not allow rust to spread invisibly, and can be removed if desired.

 

I do not suggest anyone apply POR-15, Ziebart, or any other paint-type undercoating to anything that has not been completely stripped to clean, bare metal.

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19 hours ago, Rad_Comanche said:

Well shucks. I mean, the truck is not in Illinois yet. But I do not have much of a choice for transportation this year. I will do my best to keep it clean though.

 

these trucks rot from the inside out. :(  we're very serious when we say you should find an alternative winter driver.  a single winter in the salt can find allllll the scratches in the paint and start a process inside the rockers and frame that you do not want to have to undo.  :(  :(  

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If it makes you feel better, your truck started rusting from the inside out the day after it left the factory regardless of whether it was exposed to salt or not.

 

My '89 has been in the South its entire life. I have my doubts that it was ever driven in any significant winter. It is the most remarkably rust-free 31 year old vehicle I have ever seen... everywhere you'd expect salt to accumulate. All of the factory undercoating is still there. The factory paint is almost all still on the axles. I can take out pretty much any bolt with a standard hand ratchet.

 

Its driver side floor pan is completely gone as is half of the transmission tunnel, thanks to a combination of a water leak and a failed attempt to fix the rust that actually helped it spread faster.

 

To understand the way these trucks rust, you have to understand the way they are built. A Comanche is no more or less prone to rust by salt than any other old truck. HOWEVER - they are severely deficient in interior waterproofing, and thanks to the unibody design that incorporates a lot of sandwiched sheet metal panels, combined with highly absorbent factory carpet underlayment, once water gets into the interior, it will not go away. The floor pans are the first place everyone tells you to check for rust, and for good reason. The design of the truck allows water to leak into the interior and rust the floor pan out without you ever knowing it happened until your foot goes through the floor one day. And don't think you're going to get out of it by sanding some rust off and spraying some dollar store spray paint on top of it.

 

A comprehensive application of a Fluid Film style product to the underside of the truck is probably about the best you can do to keep the rust due to salt away, but you're probably 34 years late to stop the inside-out rust due to interior water leaks.

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I have been reading and rereading your comments for the past couple of days when I have a break at work. I will definitely be investing in Fluid Film when I do finally get the truck home. As for the interior, the previous owner (Cactus Comanche on here) told me he used POR15 on the interior to prevent any future rust. Looking at your comments about that particular product and others like it, I will be looking under the carpet to make sure nothing looks out of place.

 

I said I wanted to make my next post about problems and plans for this truck, so let me see if I can remember them all!

 

  • No interior lights. I plan on getting the eBay ones everyone loves.
  • No A/C. It needs lines to the condenser and such. It is not a priority right now.
  • Vents. Air does not flow out of all of them. Likely I need to buy some ducting and redo it.
  • Cluster. All gauges needs to be checked for accuracy and if they are working. Coolant gauge bounces when the truck gets power and starts, but nothing else. Fuel gauge is inaccurate. Speedometer is slow on the uptake. Tachometer sits at 2k RPM when the truck is off, but seems to work okay when in use. Not sure about 1500 RPM idle though. The oil pressure and voltage gauges may be working fine, but I may as well test them too.
  • Headlights. Low beams do not seem to function. Could be the bulbs, switch, etc.
  • Washer nozzles. I can hear the pump going, and the tank has juice. Nothing comes out though. Could be a clogged line, or something else.
  • Intermittent wipers. I did not have to use them much, but I did not notice that part working. Further ddiagnosis required.
  • Window seals. Pretty sure they are original. Garbage. You can hear air coming through them while driving. May either replace them or do the full size window upgrade. Undecided for now.
  • Window handle. Driver side handle rubs against the door card. One or the other could be installed incorrectly. Diagnosis required.
  • Windshield. Obviously cracked and needing replacement. I am told I can get a 97+ windshield with the tint on top and the rubber molding instead of the chrome stuff, and it will fit just fine. Seems like the best option.
  • Rear sliding window. Two thirds of it is there. The actual sliding part is plastic, and does not move. So I need to source that from somewhere.
  • Ignition cylinder. It is not bolted into the column, so it comes right out. Lovely security feature, but I want a real one. The key is also a GM key, so I need to source some original parts or something akin to original.
  • Door locks. Due to not having the original key, the door locks do not work either. You cannot even get the lock switches inside to move. I am hoping I can get something from the dealer and kill two birds with one stone. We will see.
  • Rubber components. All around the truck, rubber is cracking and worn due to age and Arizona/New Mexico heat. I need to replace these pieces.
  • Sound. The speakers kind of exist. I am not too worried about audio when this truck needs functionality fixes first. I will get to it eventually.
  • Power. The previous owner mentioned that the battery does not drain, because nothing is pulling power while the truck sits. I am realizing this is actually a problem. The clock on the stereo resets every time. The truck is shut off. The clock does not work. This could be the cause of some of my other underlying problems. Definitely need to invest in a multimeter.
  • Fog lights. They are off of a different Jeep, and are not wired. I need to wire them up, and find a set for the top of the roll bar as well.

I am sure there is more I am forgetting, but that is all I can remember at the moment. I will add more over time I am sure.

 

What are my plans for it? I plan to keep it relatively stock, with some tasteful additions that make it more functional. I want to keep the look it rolled off the factory floor with, while keeping it as a functional daily.

 

I would like to make this the equivalent of a metric ton package in the back, since I can see my needing to haul things. I am also considering adding four wheel drive, due to living in Illinois. I do not plan on much off roading or rock crawling.

 

I also plan to keep the 2.5 and make it better. I am no stranger to four cylinder engines, coming from a Honda background. They appeal to me, and less weight in the front is always an added bonus. I may decide to upgrade to proper fuel injection as well, depending on the upgrades I do. It may even be easier to swap in a newer 2.5 from a Wrangler or Cherokee. Time will tell.

 

The interior is pretty nice already. The previous owner redid the headliner, the bench seat is in excellent shape, and the carpet is nice too. I was originally thinking of doing bucket seats, but the idea of keeping the bench is growing on me. We will see.

 

Sorry for another long update. I have not heard anything about my truck since I left it with my friend in Amarillo. He has his own stuff going on, so I will hear back eventually.

 

Feel free to ask any questions you have. I will try to answer them as best as I can.

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The vent problem can easily be the plastic line from the cab to the vac ball behind the bumper could be rotted and gone. Usually when that system has no vac, it defaults to defrost mode. 

 

My truck had a GM key and ignition cylinder, wasn’t sure why. As for the door keys though, don’t swap those cylinders out yet, it could very easily be something stuck with the latch mechanism. Suspect the latch mechanism to be dirty and in need of lubrication and cleaning. 

 

That tach sitting at 2k is correct behavior for that cluster of the time period. The tach on the early clusters have a circuit board on the back of them so when it loses power it just goes to a default position.  84-86 clusters have some weird behaviors to them. Clean up the grounds, take the cluster apart and clean the contacts for the gauges and they might act right or better. Also engine grounds too as the sensors themselves rely on those. 

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5 minutes ago, eaglescout526 said:

The vent problem can easily be the plastic line from the cab to the vac ball behind the bumper could be rotted and gone. Usually when that system has no vac, it defaults to defrost mode. 

 

My truck had a GM key and ignition cylinder, wasn’t sure why. As for the door keys though, don’t swap those cylinders out yet, it could very easily be something stuck with the latch mechanism. Suspect the latch mechanism to be dirty and in need of lubrication and cleaning. 

 

That tach sitting at 2k is correct behavior for that cluster of the time period. The tach on the early clusters have a circuit board on the back of them so when it loses power it just goes to a default position.  84-86 clusters have some weird behaviors to them. Clean up the grounds, take the cluster apart and clean the contacts for the gauges and they might act right or better. Also engine grounds too as the sensors themselves rely on those. 

I guess I will be looking behind the bumper then!

 

With the door locks, I agree on them being in need of cleaning. I was more referring to taking my VIN to a dealer and hoping they could cut a key for me, as I do not have the original for the doors.

 

That is an interesting fact about these clusters. I will definitely give it a good cleaning. I also remembered the trip meter is jammed up, so I need to take that apart and fix it too.

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Excellent! And for taking your VIN to the dealer and cutting your key, I am not sure what they will be able to pull. I seem to have lost that function since I’ve returned to the dealer but there’s a few steps they have to do to get a code and the keys are no longer available. I have never tried to pull a key code for myself so I don’t even know if Chrysler has the codes for our locks. You can try by all means but I can not guarantee it’ll go how we would like it to. 

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4 hours ago, eaglescout526 said:

Excellent! And for taking your VIN to the dealer and cutting your key, I am not sure what they will be able to pull. I seem to have lost that function since I’ve returned to the dealer but there’s a few steps they have to do to get a code and the keys are no longer available. I have never tried to pull a key code for myself so I don’t even know if Chrysler has the codes for our locks. You can try by all means but I can not guarantee it’ll go how we would like it to. 

Couldn’t you just take the door lock cylinders out and have a lock smith cut a key?

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1 minute ago, Chad R said:

Couldn’t you just take the door lock cylinders out and have a lock smith cut a key?

Well, I figured that idea was common knowledge lol. Thats probably your best bet to do. Unless both locks are coded differently. Had that happen. Passenger side was different than the driver.

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30 minutes ago, Chad R said:

Couldn’t you just take the door lock cylinders out and have a lock smith cut a key?

 

28 minutes ago, eaglescout526 said:

Well, I figured that idea was common knowledge lol. Thats probably your best bet to do. Unless both locks are coded differently. Had that happen. Passenger side was different than the driver.

In the likely event I cannot get keys cut, the next step would be a locksmith. I just made a purchase that would make either all the better, whenever I get the truck back. Details when I get a package in the mail.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/10/2020 at 8:08 PM, Rad_Comanche said:

 

In the likely event I cannot get keys cut, the next step would be a locksmith. I just made a purchase that would make either all the better, whenever I get the truck back. Details when I get a package in the mail.

 

did you get your package? :brows:

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  • Rad_Comanche changed the title to 1986 Comanche X: Papago

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