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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 01:05 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 02:18 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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