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Thread: 79 CJ7 Project (Mild Trail Rig)

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    Red face 79 CJ7 Project (Mild Trail Rig)

    My intent when I got the CJ was to use it in this spring's novice run and figured I would document how I got it there.

    My start to the novice ride actually began back in October of last year when I brought home a stock 79 CJ7 that my father made me tag along with to inspect for him to purchase. When I saw it sitting on the side of the road my first words were "hey that would be sweet on a novice ride and to run to the store for ice cream runs on the weekends.". 6 months later I would do both on the same day. I have always liked old CJ's and was really in the market for a Willys.. specifically a CJ3B since the high hoods are sweet. I would have also liked a CJ5 since its dimensions are similar to a Samurai and figured a 30-33" tire on one would be a sleeper trail rig like sammies are. My dad waffled on buying it due to the lack of power assisted necessities and I ended up bringing it home to either fix and sell or use as a mild off roader.

    So the road to novice began with the purchase, while looking at the jeep we saw a good frame, T18 trans, and it seemed to run okay (I have low standards limited to does it hold oil in the pan while running and doesn’t burst into flames. Check!) But it had body rust, no power steering or brakes and someone used a tree to stop with the passenger front fender with damage limited to the bumper, fender and a bent leaf spring. Mental list: to go off road it needs brakes gone through, oil change and carb rebuilt.




    Time and money were an issue for many months, it took a month to save up and rebuild the carb, another 2 months to go through the brakes (good thing I did, only 1 caliper worked out of the whole system) and while poking around I found 10 out of 11 body mounts had rusted out. It got a fuel and ignition tune up using Ford 300 6cyl ignition parts for the big distributor cap and new upper/lower radiator hoses. It looks like the radiator has been “repaired” from the tree incident where the fan and radiator kissed but I have not had any cooling or leaking issues so it’ll stay put until a good use one can be found or I can pony up the $300 for a new brass one.





    Body mounts were kind of a buzz kill, had to weigh the options of completely replace, pull tub to fix properly or just have some plates cut and plop them on top of the rusted out mounts to burn in place for a speedy repair. I opted for the last option due to time, space and cost. Removing the old mounts went better than expected with only 3 broken bolts and 1 rear body mount completely gone from the body. All other body mounting locations were structurally sound and we only had to open up one hole under the rear seat to get to a bolt lodged in a cage nut. New poly mounts with new hardware were installed and temporary fixes done to the body side of the rear cross member mounts out of ¼” steel.

    With a solidly located body I drove it across town to the local muffler shop to fix exhaust pipe leaks. I had already installed a new down pipe donut gasket and put a Felpro exhaust/intake manifold gasket in to ensure no leaks since from the factory there was no exhaust gasket. My aim was to ensure no fumes in the cab since my son loves to go for rides on our property in the “rock crawler”. The original converter likely blew all its fillings into the original muffler and was deemed trash. The final product from the muffler shop was a nice, clean and very tucked install that left the edge of the tailpipe flush with the end of the rear bumper. Love how quiet it is vs the 4runner that sounds reminiscent of a V8 and is a little too obnoxious for a stock vehicle, my argument on the runner is it sounds like it looks but I might be getting a little old for the noise now.
    It’s funny how all of those seem sort of trivial given what we do to modify vehicles for trail duty with axle/engine swaps but it felt like a ton of work!


    The one thing I stayed up working on but could not finish was getting my old Warn 8274 winch mounted. My father had gone through it a few years ago and cleaned/ greased it up and found 1 bad solenoid. We also were missing the controller but a simple industrial hoist switch was rigged up in the interim since replacement remotes are about $80. Unfortunately the winch was mounted to an old Warn universal mount and not the CJ specific mount that offsets the winch for headlight clearance so it has yet to be installed but is on my list before another trail ride.
    Last edited by mtnbiker4evr13; 08-01-2018 at 02:05 PM. Reason: Pictures Added after released from Photobucket Ransom
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    I like seeing old rigs on the trail
    JIM
    72 FORD BRONCO 351W,C4 TRANS LOCKED FRONT AND REAR 5:13 GEARS
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    I don't think you can complain with how the ol girl did. If I didn't have fifty vehicles already I would love to swap out stockish rigs on a regular basis
    1988 Suzuki Samurai,SPOA, 31x12.50 boggers, 15x10 Eagle 589s, 6.5:1 T-case gears, H shift pattern in t case. F/R lockers, diff guards, rocksliders, custom bumper w/ 5500LB winch, power steering, rear disc brakes, Sony CD player and 6.5" speakers, 300 watt amp, and 10" sub.

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    Definitely can't complain being able to hop in something and driving over an hour away, wheeling all day without needing a strap and driving home. Plus its really fun to drive even if it is a J**P. It doesn't quite fill he hole left from the FJ40 but it helps and is cheaper to work on. My revolving door of small project vehicles allows me to check off bucket list trail rigs, I still want to wheel a fullsize v8 truck, an old diesel and maybe someday a buggy.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    If you decide to change rides, keep me in mind, Ron
    1990 YJ, 350 sbc, AX15/231, Tom Woods SYE & shaft, Dana 44's F&R, 5.13's, detroit lockers, 3.5" springs, 1"bl, 1/2" boom shackles, 35" MTR's, Warn 8274, overland bound member #3644

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    stretchedsamurai1.jpgsamuraiflex1.jpgsamuraiflex2.jpg
    Getting close to driving this pile.
    1988 Suzuki Samurai,SPOA, 31x12.50 boggers, 15x10 Eagle 589s, 6.5:1 T-case gears, H shift pattern in t case. F/R lockers, diff guards, rocksliders, custom bumper w/ 5500LB winch, power steering, rear disc brakes, Sony CD player and 6.5" speakers, 300 watt amp, and 10" sub.

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    Nice project! Your rig got some crazy flex.

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    Added pictures after Photobucket released their ransom on photos.

    Update:
    First ride it did awesome, ran great all day and was pretty (relatively) capable for the novice trails. The 258 with T18 is awesome on the trail and is really torquey. So much so that it twisted the front driveshaft like a pretzel coming back up over Albright hill to shortcut home. I tried the ol' brake and gas as a limited slip diff maneuver. Of course I was by myself so I had to jack it up off the rock slab it was hung up on and was able to back off the hill and drive home without issue. A couple weeks later I welded a new section of OEM size .120 DOM tubing in figuring the driveshaft had to be weakened from age or the tree incident with the PO. Also threw in a new front axle u-joint that no longer used needle bearings and used rust instead of grease.

    Took it to the club picnic this spring and had a blast on Bishops land putting around with the top/doors off. Then the torque beast reared its head again when I tried the brake gas thing a 2nd time in the lower ravine. It resulted in twisted driveshaft #2 and getting pulled back out of there. I have since fixed the driveshaft again but used 1.5" .120 wall DOM as the tube instead of the 1.24" used from the factory. Hopefully its a 1/4" where it counts or Ill just move the fuse down the line.

    Not much wheeling has happened since and the jeep has been an occasional DD on my 60 mile commute and the weekend ice cream runner. With our move it has been hauling scrap/trash around the property and currently resides down in NC waiting for me to get down there. By virtue of being over 35yrs old it is exempt from safety or emissions testing when I transfer plates. I do have the 2nd new fender to hang and have been eye balling the new 33x10.50 BFG KM3 tires so I can keep the original rims with some spacers added. I'd like to throw some 2.5" lift springs for a YJ under it to fit the bigger rubber and try to gain some flex. Don't know what the 2 piece AMC 20 shafts will say about it but time will tell.
    Last edited by mtnbiker4evr13; 08-01-2018 at 03:18 PM. Reason: Formatting
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    i have seen a Amc say by by to the hub splines with and open diff 33's at barkcamp while being driven easy.......................... am sure they will be fine
    1988 Suzuki Samurai,SPOA, 31x12.50 boggers, 15x10 Eagle 589s, 6.5:1 T-case gears, H shift pattern in t case. F/R lockers, diff guards, rocksliders, custom bumper w/ 5500LB winch, power steering, rear disc brakes, Sony CD player and 6.5" speakers, 300 watt amp, and 10" sub.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ernie View Post
    i have seen a Amc say by by to the hub splines with and open diff 33's at barkcamp while being driven easy.......................... am sure they will be fine
    Hope to have this solved with my latest 2nd hand treasure hunt. Found some brothers parting out their late model CJ7 that at one time was someone's offroader. I scored a wide track Dana 30/AMC 20 combo but wait there's more! The 30 has 3.73 gears and a lunchbox locker, the 20 has a warn full float kit with lockouts a trak loc diff and 3.73 gears plus they come with 4in BDS springs. I was planning on YJ OME 2.5 springs but the BDS will be fine for now. I also pulled the power steering and power brake setups as well. With all those changes I figure it'll hold 33in skinny tires for mild rides.

    Those brother's tried their best with bald 35s to blow up the axles with liquid courage to no avail so they are either strong or trash now... everything feels tight but I'll go through bearings and brakes to make sure. Will also carry my 6 bolt lockout hubs from my older 30 or track down some ford internal hubs for an "ultimate 30".

    I really wanted Toyota axles but my current renting situation does not allow for fabrication so the bolt on ability was a big draw. Plus it'll still be all CJ which is cool.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    looking for "group think" on ideas to get slightly lower lift out of the BDS springs. I'm worried about driveline issues at the full 4" and wanted to keep it low for the "modified stock" look. Also l want to keep the ride as nice as possible since its supposed to be a mild offroader and family ice cream getter. I figure there are 3 options.

    1. Sell springs and get the ones I want for more money.
    2. Remove 1-2 leaves to lower and soften springs, would also help shackle angle that most lifts have at 90 or less.
    3. Go all 90's lowrider with a small zero rate block on top of spring to drop the height 1/2"-1".
    4. Run 35s with full 4" or oem springs spring over

    I cannot afford #1 at this time so we'll take it off the table. #2 has been done with toyota stock and lift springs many times, I did this to the front springs on the 4runner to get it sitting the way I wanted. Just dont want to get into increased axle wrap but supposedly the BDS springs have a lifetime warranty if stuff happens. #3 has the obvious drawback of increasing axle wrap and pulling away some ground clearance under the ubolts. #4 is what I usually do...

    May be able to do a mix of 2 and 3 by pulling the smallest leaf and sticking it on top of the main leaf so it still has the anti-axle wrap tendencies of an original pack but lowers the spring rate and the thickness of the spring would be on top of the main leaf. My trail gear springs have an offset spring on top of the pack to fight axle wrap and seems to work great without a wrap bar.

    Hopefully in the next couple weeks I can start swapping axles and see how it sits.
    Last edited by mtnbiker4evr13; 10-29-2018 at 08:45 AM.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    I would start with option 4 and see how it does, then maybe mess with option 2 some. Always a little leery about pulling leaves because of concerns with axle wrap and/or fatiguing the springs. Kind of curious about the comment on pulling the short leave and placing it on top of the leaf pack, or the small block, since it is a spring under setup.
    Brad
    '90 Blazer - 6.2 diesel, 700r4, Dana 60, 14 bolt, locked, 39.5" Super Swamper TSLs, winch, rollcage, yada, yada, yada......

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    The leaf removal and placing it on top is the way I'm leaning if I need to drop it down some. I have basically zero experience with sprung under setups except seeing Ron's YJ which is why I want to stay sprung under, his rig stays stable and is all around super cool. My goal has been to keep it simple so having to remake driveshafts/convert the rear to a CV is not in my fantasy.

    I wonder if the 4" lift free arch with the lower spring rate would allow it to sit like a 2-3" lift but droop out the full amount the 4" spring wants to. But the leaf added back on top can fight axle wrap and gain an additional 1/4" of lowering. I am a little heavy front and back with the steel doors/hardtop and 8274 hung off the front so it should be able to push the springs around pretty well.

    Will try to get some pictures posted so the thread is less of a novel but I did get the manual steering box pulled without ruining the weld nuts inside the frame. WIN! I do need to find a pre-1980 2 row 258 2 row water pump pulley to power the new power steering setup. I can find late model cj/yj pulleys all day but they are not deep enough for the long water pump I have. Should be 2-1/2" to 2-9/16" over all for my pump or I could throw a later model water pump on to run the shallow pulleys.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    I feel like I would be likely left concerned about removing Springs due to it being spring under generally it has less axle rap. I know that I would start with all great thoughts of small buggies it would end up putting 35's on it
    Tyler
    1988 Suzuki Samurai,SPOA, 31x12.50 boggers, 15x10 Eagle 589s, 6.5:1 T-case gears, H shift pattern in t case. F/R lockers, diff guards, rocksliders, custom bumper w/ 5500LB winch, power steering, rear disc brakes, Sony CD player and 6.5" speakers, 300 watt amp, and 10" sub.

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    Spring under leaves should have way less axle wrap then a spring over setup because there is less leverage on the spring. That is why guys running stock springs in the factory spring under setup will have no axle wrap, and then they convert to spring over using the exact same stock springs and now have issues. Same reason you get more flex in a spring over setup vs. spring under using the same springs.......more leverage on the springs so you are forcing them to flex more.

    I would be interested in seeing pictures with removing the bottom leaf and placing it on top. Having a hard top visualizing what that would do on a spring under setup, unless the that bottom leaf has a drastically different free arch than rest of the leaves.

    In any case I would still recommend at least trying the 4" lift spring as-is and see what the angles look like. Also keep in mind that if the springs are brand new they will likely settle down some after a short period of time. I know there have been a lot of CJ's with 4" lifts over the years running around without expensive CV driveshafts. For a primarily off-road or weekend toy I don't think you need fancy driveshafts as long as you are not binding up the u-joints from over travel. Sure, they won't last as long and may have a little vibration on the road but usually cheaper to slap in a new u-joint every once in awhile versus spending big $$ on custom driveshafts.
    Brad
    '90 Blazer - 6.2 diesel, 700r4, Dana 60, 14 bolt, locked, 39.5" Super Swamper TSLs, winch, rollcage, yada, yada, yada......

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad View Post
    Sure, they won't last as long and may have a little vibration on the road but usually cheaper to slap in a new u-joint every once in awhile versus spending big $$ on custom driveshafts.
    That's what I'm worried about. Trailer queen would be fine but I tend to use this thing like I do my 4runner and drive/wheel/drive home. Plus no trailer for the next year means it'll be driven 2+hrs each way or flat towed.

    The springs are used so hopefully they have sagged to their hearts delight. My first look was at 35s and would make things easy if I just got new tires for the 4runner and pulled the 35" MTRs over to the jeep but it will be wide track Dana 30 with the 260(small) ujoints and external hubs. Rear will be fine with the full float setup with internal D44 style hubs, I think the AMC 20 with those upgrades and a truss is considered stronger than a D44 with its larger gearset. Ive ran 35s on samurai axles before without any front breakage but that was an anemic 1.3L on Ohio trails.

    In other news I ordered new bushings for the springs and all the brake parts for the new axle since it uses a different caliper than my 79 I already went through.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    Updates over the past couple weeks.

    Started working on power brakes, found my used booster to be bad so I ordered an 8in dual diaphragm unit from Summit that had a similar bolt pattern to the stock CJ booster. Still required the holes to be opened up and the pedal rod is a 3/8" rod instead of a loop so I am working on an adapter so I can use the factory bracket. The factory bracket changes the pedal throw with a small lever arm that swings unlike a straight through YJ bracket. Some people who do not use the factory bracket complain of pedal throw/location so I figured retaining the CJ bracket would be good. Plus with the adapter from the rod to the clevis loop will allow some adjustment for pedal height if needed.

    I tracked down the last power steering pump bracket I needed, mine was missing the large bracket on the back side of the pump that bolts to the block and intake manifold. Also got a new power steering pump pulley since the original was mangled in an effort to remove the swing adjust bolt by the PO. Should be able to start bolting parts back on finally but am on the fence about the steering box bracket. I know the OEM CJ brackets are weak since the one I pulled from the donor jeep was cracked, but my manual box bracket looks fine. I am thinking about either buying an HD plate steel bracket or using my manual bracket with a brace that ties to the passenger side frame rail.

    Also was able to source the 2 row pulley for the water pump I needed from craigslist to run a power steering belt. Since I needed the pre-1980 "long" pulley that was a rare find!


    And a picture of the WT axles and springs since I have been lacking pictures.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    Brakes and steering should make that a much nicer ride!
    1988 Suzuki Samurai,SPOA, 31x12.50 boggers, 15x10 Eagle 589s, 6.5:1 T-case gears, H shift pattern in t case. F/R lockers, diff guards, rocksliders, custom bumper w/ 5500LB winch, power steering, rear disc brakes, Sony CD player and 6.5" speakers, 300 watt amp, and 10" sub.

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    Got power steering pump mounted and bought one of those thick steel plate steering box mounts from Advanced Frame Works to avoid cracking the weak OE mount. For some reason both of the belts from Napa are too short so still working on that.

    URL=https://beta.photobucket.com/u/mtnbiker4evr13/p/e99feb42-a509-4a64-b2cf-d0ffa338a3a2][/URL]

    Brake booster is mounted with 1/8" clearance to the non power brake air cleaner housing. Waiting on the axle swap to bleed them.


    Ordered new tires! Decided to try the new BFG KM3s in a 33x10.50 size so I can keep my 15x6 steelies. I'm going to keep them rusty patina for now #ratrod. Might do a couple wraps of gorilla tape for bead security.



    And final order was for my Christmas present from my awesome wife. Full family 6 point pre bent and notched roll cage from Poison Spyder Customs. Majorly lame on my part for not fabbing from scratch but it's hard to beat assembling like legos and not having to calculate bends.

    All this is to pseudo prepare for a far away event. The event I'm trying to prep for isn't until July of next year. Every year a group of CJs meet in Colorado and run trails out there. Seemed like something fun to drag my dad into and see what our jeep is like on the big mountains for a week.

    Fun factoid, engine is a 1976 1 barrel 232!

    Last edited by mtnbiker4evr13; 11-28-2018 at 10:18 PM.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    That would be a fun adventure. I feel like the km3 sidewall lugs and the little bit more broken up tread block would improve the couple spots I think my km2's lack
    1988 Suzuki Samurai,SPOA, 31x12.50 boggers, 15x10 Eagle 589s, 6.5:1 T-case gears, H shift pattern in t case. F/R lockers, diff guards, rocksliders, custom bumper w/ 5500LB winch, power steering, rear disc brakes, Sony CD player and 6.5" speakers, 300 watt amp, and 10" sub.

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    That was my thought too, plus the 33x10.50 size is really limited in options. The other one I was looking at was the Maxxis Razr MT but there is such limited information on them it was hard to take the chance. While the KM2s were a compromise in a few areas they seemed to work really well on lighter rigs. If only the MTRs came in a skinny 33... I would be all over it.

    Considered 35s for that aired down "snow rig" look but my self control is limited at best so keeping the fuse in my setup traction is a bit better than driveline.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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    That's also a big reason why I run them on little blue is I like that size. I have harrased some good year guys about making them in my size
    1988 Suzuki Samurai,SPOA, 31x12.50 boggers, 15x10 Eagle 589s, 6.5:1 T-case gears, H shift pattern in t case. F/R lockers, diff guards, rocksliders, custom bumper w/ 5500LB winch, power steering, rear disc brakes, Sony CD player and 6.5" speakers, 300 watt amp, and 10" sub.

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    Got the steering all finished up and started the Jeep for the first time in a long while. No leaks so far but the linkage to the axle wasn't hooked up so no real pressure test yet. Also have the front axle sitting on the floor waiting for me to clean a path to roll it out and roll the "new" axle back in. We have a 2 car garage down here but 1.5 cars worth of stuff is still piled in there from moving.

    While the new axle is still out I will probably do the 6 bolt hub swap, rebuild the brakes and swap the pinion yoke for the ubolt style instead of the straps on the newer D30. I always feel like you can spin a driveshaft on a rock without breaking the ubolts but have seen a couple of the strap style fail doing that.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7

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