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Thread: Install Assistance Needed!- CJ-7

  1. #1
    Junior Member Forum Newbie
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    Install Assistance Needed!- CJ-7

    Hi, I'm new to this forum and was hoping to get some advice and/or assistance.

    After previously owning 2 CJ7's, a Grand Wagoneer, and 2 Wranglers, the Jeep bug bit me hard recently after after having a couple of kids. I just picked up a very clean 1980 CJ7 Laredo 304 with 96K original miles. I got caught up in the thrill of the hunt and purchase without much regard for the cost of making it the CJ I'd like to own and drive. I spent a fair amount more than I originally intended and am trying to find a way to save $$.

    Here are some of the things I'd like to do:

    -2.5"- 3" suspension lift (enough for new 32-33"x12.50 tires to fit (have original wheels)
    -power steering conversion (V8)
    -power brake conversion
    -add 3 point seat belts
    -install side steps

    After talking to a local 4x4 shop, the labor alone to do these is incredibly high. I also learned that the lift kit and steering components would be pricey as well. I should mention that the Jeep is a 3rd car to drive with the family and will only be driven around town, maybe a couple hour highway trips here and there, and maybe some light offroading.

    I'm in Columbus and am curious if there are members out there that work on other members rigs or other alternatives that I'm not aware of for doing this type of work well, but at much lower labor rates than $90/hr.

    First, let me say, I possess very little mechanical skills. More importantly, I possess even less time, so doing any of this work myself isn't an option. (Plus when it comes to safety concerns, the wife says no way since my young kids ride in it). I know Jeeps are fairly easy to work on, but due to everything being original, work can be sometimes slow going.

    Also, myself and the mechanic missed some patchwork that was done on the Jeep about 20 years ago. The driver's floor was patched and the rear fender panels were patched (very smooth, can't see original spot welds, failed magnet test). After this work, the CJ was painted perfectly and redecaled at a Jeep dealership 20 years ago. The seller either didn't know about it or didn't tell me. Mechanically, it is great, drives great, and looks beautiful. But, if I decide to sell it in a year or 2, should I not waste my money on some of these upgrades?

    If anyone has any ideas, opinions, etc about possible service options as well as steering/brake component sources, that would be incredibly helpful as well.

    Thanks!! David

  2. #2
    Junior Member Forum Newbie
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    While I can't help you directly with the work, I can offer you a little advice on modding in general:

    Rule 1. Never modify a vehicle if it is your sole means of transportation, or if it is the primary means of transportation for your family. If you've got a toy, or if you have an extra vehicle, or if you can easily replace it, go at it with gusto.

    Rule 2. Never modify ANYTHING with plansto sell it. You NEVER get your money back. The only way to make money modding is to be the guy getting paid to modify other people's stuff.

    That's it for negative advice.

    As to doing the work, doing bolt-on work like springs, steering, brakes, yada, yada, is actually pretty easy. As long as you have a basic knowledge of how to use the tools, and a good shop manual for your vehicle, you should be able to muddle your way through just about anything. If you need help, well, the internet provides. If you're really that uncertain, throw out a call for help and see if someone is willing to come and do a work day or two with you. Even if they want a bit of cash, I guarantee it'll be cheaper than going to a shop. Plus, you're going to need to know your rig, and how to work on it, if you're going to do any real wheeling. Busting an axle shaft on the trail is a routine occurence, and if you can't fix it on the spot, you're SOL and a dead weight that someone else will have to tow out.

  3. #3
    Junior Member Forum Newbie
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    Thanks, Ascender,

    Your remarks make perfect sense. My thinking is that I wouldn't get my money back but selling it would be faster and easier to get a little more money for it. I love the Jeep but had a Jeep shop owner in Ohio tell me I bought a complete pile of junk just because it had some patchwork done and it was used a couple times to plow a driveway. I was worried I over paid for it based on those comments but I realized after searching for Jeeps around the country for a month that I didn't.

    As far as doing the work, again, it's just not an option for me with my work and family schedule. It would be great to find someone who loves to do this type of work for $, beverages, tools, etc!

    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    LifeMember Ohio 4x4 Member
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    My opinion is good luck finding a CJ7 in the midwest without patchwork or a fiberglass tub on a rusty frame... they just don't exist for reasonable money. Sadly you see the variables that are at hand with modifying a vehicle, it costs money for parts and LOTS to have it put on if you can't do the work. On top of that anything like a CJ takes alot of tinkering and will probably still leave you stranded if you can't tinker.

    To the jeep shop owner that told you that you bought junk... he must be used to JK's and makes money hand over fist from those guys. Any CJ is cool, some are just more affordable than others and require different work. My interpretation of what you are trying to do with it is that you don't need any modifications. Just enjoy it as is, light offroading is well... light, no need for lift or tires, powersteering... debatable. A stock CJ will get you further than you are probably comfortable with so worry about the upgrades later, just drive it, or sell it, up to you.
    94 4runner SAS Elocked 35's "Fiona"
    97 F350 Powerstroke CCLB "Marge"
    79 CJ7 Rustomod

  5. #5
    Moderator / Life Member Moderator
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    First I will say that I think older vehicles like the CJ-7 are cool and grab my attention more than any of the carbon copy mail order JK's running around with $15k in bolt on stuff. However I will also say that I typically do not recommend an old CJ-7 for somebody that wants a Jeep in your situation......that is somebody that can't work on it and wants a safe and reliable vehicle to cruise down the road with the family. As you already found out it will cost a fortune to have shop just do the basics like power steering and brakes, not to mention any modifications to it. In the end you will still have an old technology vehicle with a crappy ride, crappy handling, requires regular tinkering, and mediocre safety compared to newer models....but you will look good cruising around town! I'm in the same boat with my old Toyota FJ-40 Landcruiser. Always had dreams of building a cool trail rig that I could drive to work every once in awhile, do light trails, and cruise into town but have come to conclusion that it will require way more time and money than available right now, and I do all of the work myself.

    Really don't mean to scare you away from the old CJ-7 but just being the devil's advocate on this and providing what I think is some realistic feedback on it. There is a reason you see so many carbon copy TJ's and JK's on the road.....slap a mild lift and some tires on it and you have a reliable daily driver that handles mild trails easily and all you have to do is wash it off on Sunday and then drive to work on Monday.
    '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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