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AZ Overlander - '86 4x4 longbed


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Over 25 years ago I drove a 85 Jeep Cherokee and always wanted the pickup version.  Fast forward 20 years, I started searching for Comanche for a trail riding truck to explore Northern California Sierra Mountains.  I had no luck, after 10 months,  finding a local "clean" Comanche.

 

Then I found a '86 4x4 long bed on a Copart online auction in Montana.  I was bidding only against one other user, who was from Kuwait.  I won the bid, but was nervous as I have never bought any vehicle without seeing it, but the photos looked great.  So it arrived in North California about a week later, dent free, rust free, and a clean interior.

 

The first step was to find everything wrong and worst, it had water in the oil.  So it was not drivable, not without causing engine damage.  As it has the 2.8l V6 GM engine and with a little internet research, the most common problem, causing water leak in the engine, is a bad intake manifold gasket.  Hoping that was it, I torn into the engine top and removed the intake manifold.  It was very apparent, the gasket was leaking water.  So ordered new intake gaskets.  Once reassembled, change the oil, filter and crossed my fingers that was it.  So after four years, it is still running, water free in the oil.  Before I could get started on all the other things broken or issues, like the big water leak from rain into the cabin, my job changed, got super busy, and I parked the truck in my garage for about a year, as I was work and family busy to do anything on it.  Then for my job I moved to Arizona, just before Covid-19 outbreak.  I found paint shop who mainly work on old cars and trucks.  I dropped my '86 there, with an agreement, I am in no hurry, so take your time.  It sat there for most all of the Covid-19 period, with a-little part being done now and then.  Then two weeks ago, almost two years later, the truck was done!

 

Now the work begins for me to build it up as my AZ Overlander.  As my dream is to use it for camping, while exploring Arizona, New Mexico, and Southern Utah.

 

My to do list for it now is:

1.    Lights – turn signals do not blink, brake light not working now after the repaint.
2.    New front Winch, mount, and wiring
3.    New carpet
4.    refresh Diff gear oil - front & back
5.    Check A/C - not working - convert to R143a
6.    Bed mount rack for pop up roof tent & trail jack
7.    transmission oil change
8.    pass. side window motor not working - repair
9.    2.5" lift kit w/new shocks
10.   upgrade radio and speakers
11.    Ball joint replacement
12.    Aluminum radiator swap w/ new Anti-freeze
13.    Fuel filter

14.    Transmission linkage adjustment - it will not go into Park

15.    Improve overall electrical grounding
 

So a long list of things to get done.  It will slow going as it is mid-summer in Phoenix and 110 degrees in my garage daily!  I will need to work early morning on the weekends when it is under 95 and quit by noon when it hits over 105, but my goal is get the top 10 items items done by mid September.

 

- Bruce

 

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:applause::L::beerbang::driving:

Great post. I'm very appreciative to have you finally a owner and still a jeep driver. And you know this place is great.  There are some local members you may run into now that you have an eye for these MJs. :grinyes: very nice project list. Looking forward to following along with your build updates. And in hope of some great action shots with the beauty nature has given us to enjoy. 

 

I Like to get out in my rig once and a while. :teehee:

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11 hours ago, MiNi Beast said:

:applause::L::beerbang::driving:

Great post. I'm very appreciative to have you finally a owner and still a jeep driver. And you know this place is great.  There are some local members you may run into now that you have an eye for these MJs. :grinyes: very nice project list. Looking forward to following along with your build updates. And in hope of some great action shots with the beauty nature has given us to enjoy. 

 

I Like to get out in my rig once and a while. :teehee:

Thanks for the support from Michigan!  I started 4 wheeling in Michigan in 1980's, in a 1972 GMC Jimmy.   Then I was member and officer in the MTU 4 Wheeler Club in Houghton MI, during my university years.  http://mtu4wheelers.powweb.com/

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2 hours ago, The86manche said:

Number 7 and 11 are the same on your list. Unless you're planning on changing tranny fluid twice lol

Also I love that two tone black red look. You putting the red stripe back on or leaving it solid black?

Corrected my list, thank you.  One less item!  No, leaving the red two tone strip off, staying with an all black theme w/chrome

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The bed rack arrived!  I ordered it over five months ago and it was on backorder.  Not many racks for roof top tents that will fit the Comanche bed.  With all the new smaller trucks coming available, like the Ford Maverick, Hyundai Santa Cruz, the redesigned mid-sized Nissan Frontier, more smaller bed racks will be coming to market.

 

I used a closed cell 1/8" thick neoprene weather stripping to protect the new paint between truck bed and bed rack.  Next step is to mount my roof top tent to the bed rack and my hi-lift jack.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Pete M said:

love it!  :D

 

 

how do you get in?  is there a ladder attachment or do you just climb up the tire?

There is an expandable removal ladder that attaches to the side.  Here is a photo when it was mounted on my SUV camping in New Mexico last month.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Started my A/C repair this week to find why the A/C is not operational and then covert to R134a.  I do have a system leak, which after I performed a vacuum check, It would not hold a vacuum.  Injected some green leak detection fluid and found the leak in the receiver to evaporator hose.  Searched the internet for a replacement A/C hose for my '86. but none to be found.  Does anyone out there have a source for these hoses?  There are also two A/C hose repair shops here in the Phoenix, AZ area, which if I can not find a replace hose, is my next step.  Thanks.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Updated my A/C from R12 to R134a.  First was to replace a high pressure hose that had a hole worn through it.  I first searched online, but could not find a replacement hose.  What I did find were two local Phoenix, AZ A/C hose repair shops.  I dropped my worn hose at AAPAK and 3 hours later, they had the repair done, the cost was $63.

 

Then I add a vacuum pump and made sure it would hold a vacuum in the system for 40 minutes.  After that added 24 oz of R134a and 4 oz of A/C system oil.  The system now chills down the interior very nicely and I should be able to survive the 105 degree AZ temps this week!

 

 

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27 minutes ago, bruceb said:

What I did find were two local Phoenix, AZ A/C hose repair shops.  I dropped my worn hose at AAPAK and 3 hours later, they had the repair done, the cost was $63.

 

Thats fantastic to know actually. I am curious about the pound and a half of R134. I got some mixed performance from just 2 lbs but yet added an extra ounce and got way better cooling. Wonder if theres less capacity in the V6 set up.

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1 hour ago, eaglescout526 said:

 

Thats fantastic to know actually. I am curious about the pound and a half of R134. I got some mixed performance from just 2 lbs but yet added an extra ounce and got way better cooling. Wonder if theres less capacity in the V6 set up.

My system says 2 lbs of R12, so that is 32 oz x 85% for R134a or 27 oz of R134a.  So I added two 12 oz r143a cans and 3/4 of the 4 oz r134a oil can.

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Door Rattles and speaker upgrade was the Saturday project today.  The power window motor mount in the drivers door had a big rattle and a small rattle in the passenger side.  So I drill a hole next to the factory aluminum rivet and added a steel pop-rivet.  The old speaker was upgraded to a new two-way and next is the radio, was that does not work.  Cut the old connector off the speaker and soldered/heat shrink'ed in new speaker leads.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

We are having nice cooler weekends, now here in Phoenix.  So I am able to tackle more items on my MJ.  So the past three weekends, I have found my cause for the recent dead battery issue, the glove box light staying on.  Fixed the windshield washer motor, just lightly tapped it and it started pumping again, but one hose was off the driver sprayer head, because the sprayer head was broken.  Replace that sprayer head with a salvage yard version and add new wiper blades.  Bolted in the new winch mount and new winch.  I need to still cut the part the bumper top to fit it back on, a project for next weekend.  I like the clean look of this winch mount on my MJ and it also reinforces the frame for the power steering mount.

 

 

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Finished the winch install this weekend, by cutting and refitting the bumper.  Happy with results.  Also adjusted the transmission linkage and it will now start in park and neutral.  The radio mount was loose and it broken when trying to tighten, so will have to order a replacement, so no radio for now.

 

 

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