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Dirty-Diesel Comanche Project

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Picked up a 1989 Comanche on Thanksgiving day, made it back in time for supper too! The PO was an old fart who was basically living out of the truck with about a million roaches, so the first thing we did was power wash & soap/degrease the entire truck (inside and out). And it now lives in the backyard waiting for the engine and transmission to sell.


The plans are:


  1. Tackle the light rust in the floor pans.
  2. Remove hood, radiator support, cowl, doors, etc (all damaged body components) 
  3. Replace parts for anything that is damaged from donor XJs in JY
  4. Pull JY Ford 8.8 with 4.10 LSD & D30 4x4 axle with 4.10s 
    1. Pull JY 8.25, SOA conversion, also pull front D30. Rear ARB and front Aussie Locker.
  5. Sandblast exterior completely or 10 gallons of aircraft paint remover
  6. Bodywork & prep work <- (this is a little easier said than done :/ )
  7. Paint factory colour if possible, if not something cool?
  8. Finish interior including fabricating mounts for new seats (Still can't find blue bucket seats)
  9. Lift kit parts 3.5"-4" lift, OME front and Rustys rear springs.
  10. Fab new engine mounts
  11. Mate AX15 to engine and slap it in. (already done in other jeep)
    1. Mated no problem. Need to machine a new pilot bushing before finalizing the conversion.
  12. Complete the quest for the ever elusive Drivers-side brake light.
    1. Done, thanks Chris! 


So, I know some will say "Damn, what a $#!&amp;ty looking comanche to do all that work to" and you are correct. I am sure for another $3k I could get a nice looking comanche that didn't need a ton of bodywork.

But thats not the point of this build!

My goal is to build this truck for use! Not clean enough to baby or garage, but not dirty enough to look like... well how it looks now. 

I should note the diesel swap stuff is fairly easy, my main hindrance is finding parts and completing the bodywork & paint decently enough.

Already looking through a bunch of posts, you guys seem like an awesome group of folks and its awesome to learn from you guys!



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21 hours ago, Pete M said:

welcome to the addiction! :L:  plenty of us have rescued an MJ or 2 just like you have.  :grinyes:  all are worth saving! 


he should definitely start a build thread.  if he'd like, I could move this one over to the build subforum.

Yes please, I think I selected the wrong catagory, my bad!

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9 hours ago, Tex06 said:

What's the plan for the motor? I read dirty diesel and got excited but didn't see any plans for an oil burner....

Its getting a slightly built Mercedes OM617 I5 Turbodiesel its step 11. I want to sell the factory drivetrain before I even start workin on it. Just so its easier. The diesel is coming out of my YJ, and the YJ is getting a built OM617.

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8 hours ago, 87MJTIM said:

At least the PO didn't spray paint the fender flares and part of the Comanche badge.  Can't say that much about the door handle, lock plate, and B pillar vent cover.

Well... he did spray the badge on the driver side, and literally the entire outside of the truck, and its like crappy walmart spray can paint too. And its terrible because the paint underneath is perfect. 

Oh well, now I get to play around some more with a paintgun lol. He did get the tops of the flares but I will be nicely cleaning the rears up and just getting donor flares from the XJ fenders.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Alright, its time to get started. Now that the drivetrain is free from it, I was able to pressure wash and get a good look at the truck without all the oil and dirt grime. No major rust, except the battery tray may need some help from a fresh 14ga sheet but the uniframe and all is perfect :laugh:




Pulled the inner fender off the jeep. Used a 3/16" HSS drill after center-marking all the spot welds. Bored it again with a 1/4" Carbide, and finished with a step drill. Will try and swipe one from a XJ tomorrow. I will most likely use Mr. Sawzall as I would like to drill the holes based off the old one as best as I can lol.



This marks all the completion of step 2 which is to remove all the damaged body parts. I will probably get new doors just because they are so easily acquired from XJs. just need a nice one with manual everything and it should bolt right in. New fenders are from Summit racing for $43 a pop. But everyone is charging like $160 for shipping! So I will go down to McDonough, GA (1.5 hr drive) and pick em up for free.

I can't find a posi 4.10 8.8 in my local pull yards, some dingus keep pulling the carriers out!! The D35 might get a Lincoln locker lol 

Monday will get some 14ga sheet metal for the floors, they arnt too bad, maybe biggest patch is 2"x4" or so. 




As far as the engine goes, need to find someone to pie cut me some intercooler piping for my custom turbo. Then I can donate the old diesel from my YJ to this fella. 


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Pete, those bits are a real hassle, used em before tried em again, you gotta be super gentle and take your time lol I drill pilot holes for the tip so the cutter doesnt walk everywhere. If I had the patience I would use them but I prefer my method alot better :laugh:


New fender is in place, got dark before I could finish but its nice and square. Also picked up the 14ga sheet metal so the floor repairs are next.




Welding in the dark with only the glow of molten steel is not ideal but no porosity or separation. Really need to get a TIG setup down the road. Stick/MIG are getting boring lol.



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Been a few, ended up selling the other uh lawn ornament recently so now I have a bunch of spare interior parts and space to work again! 

Got this AX15 for $150 from a 95 Wrangler, yes yes I know about the transferase clocking and all but its not gonna be a problem.




Next update will be after sorting all the parts out and working on the floor pans. Will also be locating a hood, some fenders and some axles.



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  • 1 month later...


I've been pretty busy with other projects at the moment, I just finished up my wrangler engine swap (2nd engine) and with life as it is, I don't think I want to get into another money pit.


The other reason is I wanted to replace our Tacoma with this truck, but in order to even fit the OM617 in the engine bay you need at least a 3-4" lift, I looked at other (rear sump) engines aswell but the cost of getting them and machining adapter plates etc etc etc. 


So... to anyone who may be interested in a basically rust free comanche & parts. Let me know, I would like to sell the truck whole (with 2nd interior included) and additional parts as needed. 



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  • 2 weeks later...

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