1981 CJ-8 - Some Assembly Required

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#1
I finally got my Scrambler! I found this one here on CJ-8.com in the "For Sale" section.

A little background on the Jeep... It's currently titled in Nebraska. I live in Texas. Apparently it sat out in a field, weathering a hail storm or two, before being disassembled, presumably for a frame off job. But, it didn't get finished and was sold to a guy in TX. Then that guy sold it to another guy. Then that guy sold it to me. All the while totally disassembled.

So, this is how I brought her home...



The frame is in great shape. The body is in pretty good shape with a solid tub. It has some rust... floor pans, rocker panel, but in places that shouldn't be to hard too fix and no serious rot. The fenders and hood have hail damage. Not sure what I'm going to do about that just yet. The windshield and the full hard doors are pretty much rust free. The doors have the infamous crack near the window that I intend to fix and reinforce. I chose to buy it without the engine and transmission. I've got boxes and piles of parts. It looks like most of it is there... won't know what's missing until I need it, I suppose.

This is going to be my daily driver and play toy. So, not a crazy trail rig. This is what I've got planned...
UPDATES: 6/1/2016


  • <strike>LS engine... probably an LM7 5.3 L Vortec</strike> UPDATE: 5.7L HEMI Prepping for installation.
  • NV4500 transmission (Still TBD)
  • Original Dana 300
  • 35x12.5 BFG All Terrains on old school white wagon wheels (DONE)
  • Dana 44 front axle (Cut, shortened, turned and rebuilt from a <strike>1989</strike> 1984 Ramcharger) (MOSTLY DONE, PENDING WELDOUT FOR CASTER/PINION ANGLE)
  • Rear Dana 44 from a Scout (MOSTLY DONE, PENDING WELDOUT FOR PINION ANGLE)
  • Limited slip front and rear with 3.73 gears (AUBURN GEAR DIFFERENTIALS INSTALLED)
  • Disc brakes front and rear (DISC CONVERSION MOSTLY DONE, LINES PENDING, CONSIDERING HYDRABOOST)
  • Spring over suspension (MOSTLY DONE)
  • <strike>Shackle reversal</strike> DECIDED TO STAY WITH FORWARD SHACKLES
  • High steer setup (PENDING NEW DRAG LINK AND TIE ROD)
  • For the body work... patched and straightened and painted, nothing fancy... color TBD (taking suggestions)
  • Family seating with third row bench (I've got a family of 5) CORBEAU MOAB FRONT SEATS, NO REAR SEATS YET
  • Full hard top
  • Full roll cage

I plan on doing it all myself, so it'll take a while. My time frame is simply do as much as I can as quickly as I can while still having fun doing it. I'm basically starting at the ground and working my way up.

This place has been a great source of information and inspiration. I'm doing this thread because I know I'll need some help along the way and hopefully so it can encourage others in their build, too.

Thanks in advance!
 
Last edited:

Randyzzz

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
SOA Member
City
Redmond
State
OR
#5
Very nice! Looks like some healthy axles were part of the deal...
 

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#6
Good eye. I'm actually not going to be using either of those. I have those and some other parts I'll be selling soon. The front axle is a dana 44 with 8 lug outers. I was told it's been recently rebuilt. The other is a corporate rear end. I haven't dug into it yet to see what's actually there. Also those 8 lug wheels and (slightly dry rotted) tires, a 1 inch body lift, maybe some new 2.5" YJ Procomp springs and a new poison spyder shackle reversal kit.

I'll get that stuff organized and offer it up here first.


 

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#8
Well, when I got the Jeep home, I didn’t have room for all the pieces in my garage so I got a small storage unit for the piles of parts and the body. I brought the frame home because it didn’t fit in the storage unit. I also brought the grill just so I could have something that normal people could recognize as a Jeep.



The first thing on the to-do list was building the axles. I got a Dana 44 from a 1989 Dodge Ramcharger from my dad to go on the front, and I bought a Scout Dana 44 rear off of Craigslist. The plan is to strip them both down and rebuild them, shortening the front axle. As you can see I’ve been using the frame as my workbench for this.

After a lot of beating with a hammer and a lot of penetrating oil, I have them both disassembled down to the bare housings. The hard parts were getting the drums off the rear axle and one of the spindles off of the front. The rear axle was pretty rusty, but I got it cleaned up and looking pretty good. Except… when I got the pinion bearing and seal out I found the surfaces were pretty questionable.



If you can see it in the picture, It’s got some pitting where the bearing race seats and is scored where the seal goes. I’ve gotten some differing opinions… what do you think? Is this a disaster waiting to happen or no big deal?
 

Randyzzz

Scrambler Junkie
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
SOA Member
City
Redmond
State
OR
#9
Hmmm...hard to tell from the picture. If the bearing race seats solidly and the seal does too, I'd have to say it's usable.
 

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#10
Not too much progress, but today I cleared out the storage unit and brought the rest to my garage. It resembles a jeep now.





The tub is just set in place because I don't really have anywhere else to put it.

About the pinion seal and bearing... I got my front axle apart and it has the exact same score around the seal surface. I guess it'll be fine. I'm just going with it.

A couple of questions... It came with a set of Procomp 2.5" lift YJ springs. And I'm going SOA. So, that'll put me at about 8" or so over stock. I know it's personal preference, but, with 35s, is that too much lift? I was planning on YJ springs. Should I use these or sell them and get stock height springs?

Also, anybody had a tub blasted and primed recently? How much did it cost you?
 
Last edited:

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#11
Well, it's time to revive this thread. I've been pretty absent for a while, but I'm going to try to bring things up to speed. Progress has been slow... mostly we bought a house and that has sucked up all of my jeep money. Recently I'd had enough and came up with a plan to get things moving again. That's changed my plans a little, I bought an engine! Well, actually, I bought a car with an engine in it. Through an online auction, I bought a 2006 Charger police car. The plan is to part out the rest of the car to pay for the engine and put the 5.7 HEMI in the jeep. There's a lot to cover before we get to there, but here's a teaser.



Part of actually keeping this thread alive is going to be to not try to do too much. So, I'm going to go through the pics I've taken and give a brief run down up to date. Let me know if you want more details on anything. More to come soon.
 

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#13
Well, the last post was from November 2014. The next pics I have are from the following February. I started working out he back axle and off and on doing body work. For the body work I started in the passenger side below the door, the base of the door post and the rear wheel well.

This was my first attempt at both of these jobs, so cut me some slack. I cut out the base of the post including the seat belt bracket and started by fabbing up a patch for the floor. This is somewhere along the way to getting that in.

[[url]https://flic.kr/p/H6ebcb/IMG][/url]

I had some spring perches that came along with the jeep. They were cut for an axle with a bigger diameter than my scout axle, but they were close enough.

[IMG]https://flic.kr/p/GjcHop


 

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#15
It's always fun to get a bunch of parts in the mail.



I ordered a bunch of axle parts including bearings and seals as well as some YJ springs and new bushings, a bunch of brake parts and two front seats.



Obviously the seats wouldn't be used for a while, but they are good for morale. Sometimes you just need to sit in your seat and pretend. This is my littlest, he approves.

I was anxious to test out something so I mocked my springs into place, even if I didn't have any axles for them yet.



I had some beefy shackles that came with the jeep.



Here one is in place. Also, you can see some of my sheet metal work in this pic.



With parts I could actually get to work on the axles.
 

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#16
I built me an axle cart/stand out of scrap I had laying around. Axles are heavy.



For the disc conversion on the rear, I went with some Dodge Ram rotors that fit nicely. Then I match that with Cadillac caliper assembly with the integrated emergency brake.



In this setup the rotors aren't self centering, so I made some centering studs that threaded into the axle flange and put holes in the rotor. I haven't tested any of this yet, but I think it'll work fine.





For mounting the caliper on the axle, I first mocked everything up in place and created a cardboard pattern from which I fabbed some brackets.







I didn't really get any good pictures of the rebuilding of the internals, but I replaced all of the bearings and seals and installed the new Auburn Gear limited slip differential with 3.73 gears. Time will tell if I made a good choice there, but for what I want, it I think it's a good combination. After getting it all put together, next step: some shackle hangers and plates for the u-bolts to get the rear axle under the frame.
 

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#17
I had the jeep like this for a while... sitting on some old pipe stands with the tires in the wheel wells so I could imagine what it'd look like with axles.



I pulled off the old shackle hangers and fabbed some new ones with some DOM tubing and pieces of flat bar. I also made some new plates for the U-bolts I ordered from Rock Auto. I need a drill press.



Everything in order I went ahead and put the rear axle in place. Nothing is really nailed down here, the brake brackets and the spring perches are tacked in place to be sure I get the right pinion angle and that everything lines up properly. This won't get welded out until theres a drivetrain.





Finally, I have some idea of where it's going to sit, how tall it's going to be. The shackles that came with the jeep are pretty long. If need be, I think I can modify them to adjust the stance/ride height a little bit later on.

 

ungringo

Basic User
CJ-8.com Member
City
College Station
State
TX
#19
After getting as far as I could on the rear axle, on to the front. This one is obviously more involved. Not only is it a front axle, it has to be shortened to match my rear axle.

First, everything gets completely disassembled.





I started just getting everything cleaned up.



In general, I prefer to buy as little as possible. If I can make it myself or refurbish the old, then I will. My high steer arms are one place I bought something nice. I bought these high steer arms from Northwest Fab. I like them a lot. They are higher than most and give me plenty of clearance and are really well made.



I blasted all the parts that fit in my blasting cabinet.



Shortening the axle was a little scary. This wasn't a measure twice cut once situation. I measured many many times. You want to get it right, but it's not rocket science. First I marked things so I could put the C back on at the same angle. Then just cut the tube. I made 2 cuts, one where I want the outer end of the tube to be and then right against the C. The section of tube left in there then gets cut and beat out.



After cleaning it up, it just goes back on. You can see my punch marks I used to line things up.





Again, I didn't get pictures of the reassembly process. Pretty much just put it back together the way it was with cleaned up and new components. The diff assembly is just like the rear. Here you can see the tool I made for torquing the pinion nuts.



All assembled and painted, ready to go under the jeep. Though it looks good, again I didn't weld things out. I want to make sure I get the pinion angle right for my drivetrain and set the caster right. I'll do this at the same time as the rear axle. A roller is not far off.

 

Jeeped

Jeep Crazed and Broke
City
Sapulpa
State
Ok
#20
Intere3sting build...I brought mine home in pieces too...though you've made more progress than I have...but I'm starting now... :)
 
Top