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Hello again! Sorry for the roughly three month disappearance. I have been waiting for my friend to finish the truck, so I did not feel like I had much content to provide to the thread right away, aside from the occasional parts purchase. I will address all of that when I get home. For now, I just got my truck back in Amarillo yesterday, and I begin my journey back to Illinois today. Hopefully things will be a lot smoother this time.





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  • 3 weeks later...

Man, I really need to stop procrastinating making posts. Makes it that much harder to type out what has all happened since the last one!


The short version is the truck made the 1100 mile trip home without any of what I would call major problems. 


The longer version is not too dramatic honestly. The first day heading back was mostly uneventful. My road trip partner and I made it to Emporia, Kansas before we finally stopped for the night.


At the beginning, I twice had tail lights only partially working. When I took them apart, I found the sockets for the bulbs to be filled with something that had the color and consistency of peanut butter. It looked like it was used to seal the connectors at one point, then began leaking into the socket itself over the years. I can show you pictures at a later time.


Cleaning the gunk out got me fully functional rear lights, aside from one bulb. One out of six was okay with me.


Most of the trip was spent keeping the truck on the road and figuring out fuel mileage. The shocks are bouncy as hell, and the steering has at least six inches of play in it, so going along any bumpy road at 60+ was always fun.


Despite not wanting to risk the tank going empty (incorrect fuel gauge reading), I still managed to get about 20 MPG. She definitely runs rich at times though.


Eventually, night fell, and the cold came with it. Armed with only high beams and the suggestion of heat coming from the blower stuck in defrost, we pressed on... until another turn signal light went out, this time in front. After cleaning out more gunk, rust, replacing that bulb, I went to test it, only to find I had no turn signals at all now. I had also lost my radio, heater, and wipers.


In the middle of nowhere and behind schedule, we soldiered on. I had brought clothes for the cold, so it was not all that bad. After asking a question about my loss of accessories in a Comanche Facebook group, I got one answer: the ignition switch. Having never heard of this before, I was skeptical, but damn if they were not on the money.


As luck would have it, Emporia, Kansas happened to have an Autozone with the exact switch I needed; I only started looking when we got to that town. We found a hotel for the night and waited for Autozone to open.


I grabbed my part the next day and began the work of replacing it, thanks to articles I found here of course. Having small hands, it was not that bad of a task. The new switch went right in, except for a blue tab that was locking switch in whatever position it was in. That came out, likely broken now, and after putting everything back together, everything worked again! Well, except for the wipers, but I later figured out I forgot to plug them back in, lol. Aside from that, I have to be careful with the key now; that blue tab that locked the switch up completely also prevents the switch from engaging the starter continuously while the truck is running. I just have to make sure I bring the key back to the running position.


With that, we were on our way again. It was an all right journey, even though it was wet in areas and I had no wipers. The real fun came in Iowa; fog. For about 300 miles, we drove through constant fog, in the dark no less. Thankfully I had my friend there, because having only high beams would have been a bad time.


We eventually made it home at about 2:30am Monday. We were exhausted and frustrated, but home. I celebrated with an Arizona beer I had bought back in October and subsequently left behind called Orange Blossom, then passed out to go to work that day.


In the next post, I will update y'all on the things I have discovered since bringing the truck home, and have actual pictures for you. Also toying with the idea of making a video instead; might make things easier to show/explain, and it might cut down on the time between posts. Let me know if that is something you would like to see.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/28/2021 at 9:14 AM, Pete M said:

beat up old trucks are certainly an adventure :D 

I would not have it any other way!


Well, it is a little later than I wanted, but I made a video for folks to view. I find it easier to get my thoughts across this way. I am not trying to make a channel to follow or anything, just make it easier to get this stuff to you folks, and faster as well. I tend to go into too much detail.


Please feel free to ask any questions or provide feedback here. I am more likely to look for comments and respond here than on YouTube.


I touched on a few things in this video, but I did not want to go on too long, and there is a lot more to go over. There will be more to come.



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  • 4 weeks later...

Thanks for sticking that video in a post Pete; I was trying to do that on mobile, but it seems to be a desktop only feature. Maybe if I try it on my phone via the actual website instead of the app.


I finally have an update. We had some lovely negative temperatures in Illinois the last few weeks that kept me out of the garage, sadly. Last Saturday was in the 20s though, which was warm enough for me to work.


I'm my last post, I said I was going to snip off the headlight harness connectors and solder the wires together. A few days later, I was showing an electrical savvy friend of mine the truck, and he turned me on to Deutsche DT connectors. All I needed to do was depin the old connectors, cut the old pins off, strip the end, crimp the new terminals on, and assemble the new connector. You can see my results below.












Strangely enough, DT connectors do not come in 10 pin for whatever reason, so I opted for 12 pin, in case I add any other fun bits, or hook up my fog lights and need extra pins. After 35 years, that old connector really was falling apart, so this was a nice piece to add. They weather resistant as well!


The only wire I could not put in properly was the red one, which is power for the fogs if I read the electrical diagram correctly. The gauge was thicker than all the others; too thick to properly sit in the connector, and you can see the crimp did not get all of the copper either. A problem for another time.


So after all that, I should have low beams again, right?


Nope. No low beams, only high.


After stewing for a bit, I asked a Facebook Comanche group the dumb question of how the headlight switch actually works. My stupidity was rewarded with sudden clarity in the form of about ten answers in about five minutes; the headlight switch does not control the high beams at all, but the wiper stalk does. You know, like on virtually every vehicle.


I told you it was a stupid question.


So I have come to the realization my high beams are jammed on, and my stalk will not deactivate them due to being stuck/broken. I vaguely recall trying to use the stalk to turn them off back in Arizona, but when it did not click or make any kind of movement, I thought that was just how it was designed. Whoops.


I tried unsticking it after reading about people in similar situations on here, to no avail. Looks like I need a new cam, at the least. However, I have several things that need fixing located in the column:


  • Wiper delay does not function
  • Wiper switch also smokes when using the stalk
  • Hazard lights make noise, but cause all exterior lights to blink
  • Horn does not work
  • Ignition cylinder needs to be bolted in
  • High beam activation stuck

I know that some of these items can be bad grounds, so those will need to be checked as well. But it seems I cannot put off pulling the wheel any longer.


After browsing RockAuto a bit, it looks like the entire multifunction assembly is listed as the wiper/washer switch, minus the electrical connectors for the other functions of course. I should only need the electrical bits for the wipers, unless the hazards switch electricals need to be replaced too. That is tied in with the main signals anyway.


Sadly, the ACDelco unit is out of stock everywhere until next month, so I may have to settle for another brand. That is just me being picky at this point though. After that, I should finally have low beams, allowing me to drive the truck on a regular basis.


Other than that, I have a few cans of Fluid Film waiting to go on the underside. Just waiting for a day to wash her down before I do. For the top, I will clean her as best as I can before applying a couple coats of Collinite 845 to protect the rest of the faded paint and exposed metal.


I think that will do it for this update. Oh yeah, I decided on a name for the truck: Papago. Same name as that beer I got in Arizona, and the design is distinctly 80s as well, so I thought it fit.



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  • Rad_Comanche changed the title to 1986 Comanche X: Papago

Papago is also the name of a tribe local to the Tucson area many years ago. Couple of parks and places are named after them and the Order of the Arrow chapter down there also took on their namesake as well. Just some fun AZ facts for your trucks new name. 

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23 hours ago, eaglescout526 said:

Papago is also the name of a tribe local to the Tucson area many years ago. Couple of parks and places are named after them and the Order of the Arrow chapter down there also took on their namesake as well. Just some fun AZ facts for your trucks new name. 


Thank you! I did look the name up before deciding on it, and I saw it was also the name of a local tribe, but there is a lot more attached to it I did not know about.


16 hours ago, 89 MJ said:

I love the stripes that came on the 86s. I want an 86 just to get the stripes and all of the weird AMC goodness.


Not gonna lie, that was part of the appeal for me as well. There was another 86 2.5 manual for sale about 100 miles north of this one. It was 4x4 too, but was also an ugly brown color, and had the basic cluster. In hindsight, it was probably the better truck, but I have no regrets.


Made some more progress tonight. I rented a steering wheel puller from Autozone after work, then got to it.








You can see how absolutely filthy it is in there. The orange gunk where the stalk activates the high beams looks like old gum. I tried messing with that piece, but it is definitely broken, requiring me to dig deeper into the column.


Unfortunately, right after I took that video was when my phone shut off from the cold, so I decided to call it a night. Hopefully I can make some more progress tomorrow.


On another note, I was expecting the torx screw for the ignition cylinder to be missing, yet there it is. Perhaps I will order a new cylinder then, if I cannot get it to stay with a screw.


Also, if anyone has the hazard knob and spring, I would love to get one. The original was missing when I bought it, unfortunately. I know it is a rare part, but I might as well try.

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I have a lot of different topics to post about since last time, but I will put them in later posts to keep them smaller. For now, we shall stay on track with the headlights.


Over the weekend I managed to finish disassembling my steering column and remove the wiper and turn signal switches. I was convinced the column shroud was on backwards due to a piece that looks out of place. You can see it jutting out around the five o'clock position from the lock cylinder hole.




Now I am not sure, and have no idea why it is there. Either way, someone had broken the shroud a bit before, and I managed not to do any more damage to it


I was also wrong in my last post, about the toggle in the column for the high beams, and the bolt for the lock cylinder being there. The toggle seems to work fine, the rod and switch were out of adjustment. The torx screw is either the original, or was a replacement for a lost one. There were three screws holding the electrical goodies in, and the torx was the odd man out, so I confused it at first.


Speaking of the switch, I did not know the high beam switch was actually called a "dimmer switch." Kind of misleading to me, but oh well. When I finally figured what and where it was, I tested it by hand. I had no headlights at all now, lows or highs. I tried connecting a couple of things I took apart just to be sure, but nothing changed.


I ordered up a new dimmer, turn signal, and wiper switch for good measure. I figure these parts are either original or really old already, and I have the wheel and column apart now, so might as well.





The dimmer switch got here last night, and the turn signal switch the night before. I went outside after work to test the headlights.







So nice to finally have working headlights. This will allow me to drive my truck at night without getting a ticket or pissing people off. Once I get it back together that is. Maybe I will see if the wiring is there to hook up those Wagoneer fog lights too. Still need a switch for that though.


I will show you what else I got into later.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Seems like I need it to snow to get me to post updates, lol. We have had some good weather here since my last one, which allowed me to get the steering column put back together and actually drive Papago on a daily basis.


I only have a couple photos, since I was focused on getting everything back together and working properly. I had to spend a while getting the rod that activates the high beam switch to actually work from the stalk. After that, it was a relatively smooth reassembly; I had to fix the way the wires sit for the washer switch, as they were interfering with the turn signal clicking left.





Love me some new parts!


Been driving her daily for about two weeks now. The difference with these lights is absolutely amazing, especially the high beam output. I still need to aim them a bit, but you can tell they are a quality product. The best headlights I have of the three vehicles I own are on the oldest vehicle. :laugh:


I checked the Wagoneer fogs out, but alas, no harness. I was told they were not hooked up, but did not know the extent.





At least I know what kind of plug they have, not sure of it is the same as factory Comanche/Cherokee fogs though. Not sure if I will keep these or get something else, but I will have fog lights still. I also plan to mount them further out on the bumper; there are already holes with rubber stoppers for just that.


Now that the headlights are done, I will have some smaller updates, hopefully more frequently. Some new parts, some things I have discovered, etc. I am constantly having ideas, so this will be a way to get them out there and on paper, so to speak.


For now, here are a couple of photos post headlight install. I love seeing this truck whenever I come out to a parking lot.




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While I was waiting for parts to put the steering column back together, curiosity led me to looking at a few other things that needed fixing. The trip meter in my cluster was not working, and the reset bar felt like it was jammed as well. So I found a handy article for disassembly and took it apart.




What I learned is that the springs in the gears have a bend in them that prevents them from turning both ways freely. They can wear out over time, and need to be bent back into place






I spent a long time messing with them, but unfortunately the problem was not fixed. The best I can tell, the black gear (to the right of the tan one in the first photo) had a plastic piece snap off at some point that connected it to the odometer and the rest of the mechanism. Without that piece, it spins freely, without turning the numbers for the trip meter. I am not sure why the reset bar jams up, but it is probably related to this.


I ended up reassembling it and putting everything back together for now. I can find a used trip meter that works and install that one easily enough, while keeping everything else.


I also found a few old labels inside the cluster itself, identifying it as a four cylinder version. Not sure what all the other numbers are, but still cool!




One last note. I use a speedometer app on my phone is lieu of my bouncy, inaccurate speedometer. Despite the above, I found the odometer actually records the proper distance driven. I half expected it to mirror the speedometer, but I am pleasantly surprised.


More updates on smaller things tomorrow.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Spent the last few weeks researching some of the problems with my truck, how to fix them, and parts I may need. Made a big RockAuto order, and a Team Cherokee one for good measure, and waited for it all to arrive.


I have not gotten around to getting photos of it all, but one of my problems has been high idle when warm (between 1500 and 2000 RPM), and trouble idling on cold start unless I give it a little gas for about ten seconds. Mileage has naturally suffered a little as well, with less than 20 MPG unless it is straight highway miles.


I know there is a vacuum leak, after covering the intake and the engine still ran. I suspect a leak around the exhaust/intake manifold, and I have the gasket for it. Not looking forward to all the trouble that involves, like draining the coolant again, but it will have get done. There is also one in the brake booster, or the check valve, but I am not sure that one affects idle unless the brake is applied.


I also have a new MAP, TPS, crankshaft, and oxygen sensor, and well as new plugs and wires, among other things. With the unknown history of this truck, I have no idea how old some of the parts under the hood are, so they probably need to be changed out.


I installed the MAP on Thursday to test the difference on the drive to and from work. Initial results were great; Papago actually idled on cold start without giving her any gas. However, now the idle at proper temps likes to lope, and it is dumping fuel into the engine, all classic signs of a vacuum leak.


All attempts to find one by spraying areas and vacuum lines have given me zero results though, even around the intake/exhaust gasket. Replacing TPS, plugs, and wires did nothing, and she was actually misfiring on cold start today. I hooked the old one back up and that that seems to work for the time being.


Hopefully I can get that gasket and oxygen sensor done this weekend and get some results. I feel like only I could have an engine running worse by installing a new MAP sensor, but that is vacuum leaks for you. The new one is even an ACDelco part, although the old one is a branded GM part.


One more thing. Am I crazy, or is this no IACV on the 86, or the 2.5 in general for that matter? Seems like it was an MPI thing only, but maybe I am not looking for the right term in the service manual.


More to come soon. There is a lot of overdue maintenance to complete on this truck before I can get into the fun stuff.

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On 3/4/2021 at 12:20 AM, Rad_Comanche said:

You can see it jutting out around the five o'clock position from the lock cylinder hole.

that would be where the key lock out would be and is in the correct location.


33 minutes ago, Rad_Comanche said:

brake booster, or the check valve, but I am not sure that one affects idle unless the brake is applied

if you can hear hissing inside with the brakes applied its a booster

looking good and that you have been busy. good luck with the manifold gasket.

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4 hours ago, jdog said:

if you can hear hissing inside with the brakes applied its a booster

looking good and that you have been busy. good luck with the manifold gasket.

Good to know. I have been looking into the WJ brake master upgrade, so this makes it that much easier to justify.


Another quick update. I was disgusted with not getting anything to work today, so I decided 2 A.M. was a great time to replacemy oil pressure sensor and get my gauge working.


It was not so simple of course. Removing and installing the sensor was easy actually; it was not stuck at all, probably due to oil leaking from the valve cover. Reconnect everything though, gauge is still dead.


I followed the ground wire through the harness and find it disconnected, from what I did not know, until I saw another wire dangling in a mess of others, all connected with this little spice of some kind.




Obviously someone has been in here doing some kind of @#$%ery; I had no time for this bull$#!&. I pulled the wire out, used one of my non-insulated butt splices, crimped the wires together, slid some marine heatshrink over it, and used a lighter to finish the job.


Happy to say I have a working oil pressure gauge again. At least I got SOMETHING working today. Baby steps.

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7 hours ago, Pete M said:

I hate those little guys :fistshake2:


5 hours ago, JMO413 said:

Scotch locks are always a bad idea. To this day I don't understand why they make them.

There are more in the engine bay to eliminate, so more wiring practice for me in the future.


Papago and I did a lot of driving today. We went to Milwaukee to pick up a 2.5 from an 87 that was sitting in an 86 chassis. The owner was a cool dude; he threw in a bunch of new gaskets, a badge for the tailgate, and showed me how to remove the tailgate in about five seconds.





Having a truck sure is handy for hauling things, like a spare engine and parts for said truck!


Unfortunately, my power steering pump capped out just before I got there. Luckily, this engine has one that is good, hopefully. It also has an A/C delete bracket and pulley I need. My A/C system is missing half the components, and I discovered this while changing plugs and wires yesterday.





So while I source that bracket and figure out new A/C components, I will use the pulley from the spare motor instead.


Getting the engine out of the bed was fun too. The guy I bought it from had a huge five ton warehouse crane to move it. I had this to work with.







Thanks to some borrowed equipment and guidance, I got the job done. Now I can continue the work on the actual truck.

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I have been doing a lot of thinking about my build, and wanted some feedback on my current drivetrain plans. I will start from the front and go back.

  • Engine: I would like the build my 2.5L. The plan would be a stroker kit, cam, lifters, springs, porting, etc. All of it can be had for a reasonable price, and would yield 4.0 power and torque from the 2.5. Another Comanche owner has done this exact build here: https://m.facebook.com/groups/1402616813111625/permalink/5363638673676066/
  • Front Axle: HP Dana 30. Nothing special, but I would like a Detroit TrueTrac limited slip in it. OR. I saw there is an IFS Dana 30 as well. I could be really funky and try to make an independent front suspension Comanche. Not sure if that is possible though.
  • Transmission: Not sure. The AX-5 is the easiest choice, as it bolts straight to the 2.5, and the 21 spline output shaft would match the transfer case I plan to use. Downside is that the AX-5 is not known for strength, so how long it would last behind a hopped up 2.5 is unknown.
  • Transfer Case: I have a 21 spline NP-242 I picked up from Pete M (Thank you again!) that is a 21 spline version, so it matches up perfectly to an AX-5.
  • Rear Axle: Undecided. The stock Dana 35 will have to go, but I do not know what to replace it with. Dana 44, Dana 35 Super, maybe a Mopar 8.25, etc. Many options. This would also have a Detroit TrueTrac limited slip in it.

My goals for the truck are a daily driver that can handle all weather conditions I throw at it. I do not plan to go rock crawling or throw big tires on it, but I would like it to be a capable bad weather/terrain vehicle that can haul what I need in the bed or tow, within of reason of course. I am also not looking to lift this truck. If anything, maybe lower it an inch or two, something very mild, like XJ shackles in the rear or something. This truck is pretty much at the perfect height for me to slide in and out of already.


I want to keep the 2.5, but give it more usable power and torque. The stroker kit and other pieces can help with that. The possibility of boost in the future is there too, but the transmission would hold it back if the AX-5 stays.


Speaking of the transmission, finding one that bolts up to the 2.5 is tough. I was looking for GM units, but I am not having any luck so far without some modification. I could always retain the AX-5, but as stated, it is not know for holding up to abuse. I suppose I could find a way to strengthen it, but that could cost more than building the engine, iif even possible. The other option would be finding an AX-15 from a Dakota with the right pattern for my engine, but that could take a long time, and the spline count changes from 21 to 23, making it incompatible with my 21 spline 242.


I am not familiar with how interchangeable splines, shafts, and gears are with transmissions and transfer cases, so I am not sure how doable that would be if I wanted to change the spline count. Seems like it would be easier to source a 23 spline 242. If anyone has an article or video I can review, I would love to do some learning on the subject.


As for the rear axle, I plan to install metric ton springs in the rear to make my truck more capable of hauling, hence the need for a better axle. What axle that might be is unknown at the moment, aside from a few options listed above. Another thing I heard about was asymmetrical leaf springs, which was a Mopar thing. Supposedly they can improve handling, but I do not know how this would affect hauling capacity in the bed, or if it is even possible or wanted.


As you can see, I have a LOT of ideas, but nothing set in stone yet. I appreciate any input from more knowledgeable folks.

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research, research, research.  and then once you've got all the data you can find but still no obvious path, flip a coin :D 

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