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2tall's Scrambler Ownership Journey

2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Back in May of 2019 I got the itch for another project vehicle, something different, classic, and just plain fun to drive around in. At the time I didn't have anything in particular in mind outside of those previous mentioned requirements. I began scrolling Facebook Marketplace pretty heavily and found myself looking at CJs and FJ40s more and more frequently. I stumbled across an ad for something that I completely forgot existed, the CJ-8. After reaching out and getting some initial questions answered, I went to go check it out in person. Needless to say I was hooked as soon as I laid eyes on it and a deal was reached. Not long after buying my new to me Scrambler, I started lurking on this forum for all the information I could find when I begun sorting out my latest project. Sometime passed and I eventually joined, made an introduction post, and mostly just continued to browse for info, ideas, and admire everyone else's builds. More time passed and today I logged back on for the first time in a long while. I decided since one of things I miss most about forums are good build/restoration/progress threads, I needed to make one of my own. So I'll start off with catching up what went on the last few years.

The first time I laid eyes on the rig and the screenshot of the brief description from marketplace ad. I later found out not all the info was accurate and true, but you live and learn I guess. The axles are from a much earlier K20, it doesn't have Corvette style fuel system, none of the springs listed matched what it actually had, and the rust was/is definitely there like most all old Jeeps.
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The evening after handing over the cash and getting the title, parked in front of my shop for the first time. Notice the poor choice in rear leaf springs has the wheelbase off and awful shackle angles. Followed by pics I took for the insurance company, just to see what I started with. She wasn't perfect, but she was mine.
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2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Cruised the old girl around as is for most of Summer 2019 with a big smile on my face every time I got behind the wheel. Posted up at a beachfront Casino after dinner with the family, Father's Day if I recall correctly.
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Around the end of summer, I put the included full Bestop soft top on minus the windows. I really like this look and it gives my 6'6" self more headroom compared to the sagging bikini top that was on it.
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The sale also included a mismatched but similar colored rear seat. So I ordered up a set of lap belts and mounting hardware. Broke out the tap and die set to get all the mounting holes tapped for the seat mounting hardware and belt mounts. It was around this time I realized the center console wasn't bolted down, just wedged between the front seats. Now my cruises turned into group outings which was ok with me.
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Around October of 2019, I had finally picked out a solid replacement for the hideous plasti dipped chrome wheels that were on it. I considered these a bit of a birthday gift to myself.

18x9 Method 305
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Swapped them around using the existing 37x13.50-18 Cooper Discoverer STTs which had loads of tread left and zero cracking despite their age.
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Completely happy with the improved looks, it was time to catch up on a little maintenance on the old girl.
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The fairly reliable LS based Vortec 6.0 one of the previous owners swapped in, power brake booster, a dual battery tray ironically only holding a single battery.
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Plugs weren't terrible but they gave me piece of mind knowing they were fresh. Along with a fresh oil change.
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One of the things I noticed after lurking on here for a while was the fuel tank wasn't stock. It's a custom tabbed unit made of steel, so it was sort expected but still surprising when I back flushed the fuel filter.
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xatu40

CJ-8 Member
Gold Member
City
Port Orange
State
FL
Nice looking 8! I had to laugh at the cardboard. Here's mine:

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Before the teardown started. Hopefully it will not longer be needed or at least a lot smaller.
 

2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
All caught up on maintenance, she was ready for fall weather in south Mississippi. Hit up a local get together one of the local guys put on, Crawlers and Coffee. Got lots of compliments from the newer Jeep guys, and enter a raffle and got pulled for a free wash/detail. The detailer is actually an old friend of mine, so that was pretty cool.
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October on the Mississippi Coast means it time for Cruising the Coast. If you don't know what it is look it up. It's basically a week long car show/cruise-in that takes place along the coast with thousands of classic vehicles of all types. I've been going a checking out classics during this event since 2001 when I was in 6th grade, 2019 was my first year to participate. I was a blast, even though I don't have many pics from that year saved.
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Cruising the Coast wrapped up and winter setting in meant it was time to start more projects and improvements. As stated earlier in my opening post, the rear leaf springs were completely wrong, had poor shackle geometry and jarringly stiff. I had been searching for a solution to this issue for a couple months. I finally figured out that when they outboarded the front springs for the full width axle they used XJ Cherokee springs, specifically Pro Comp 3.5" lift springs(this is when I began to realize how much of a Frankenstein's monster this jeep is). The front rode great it's just the rear end that wasn't working. So going over the measurements, the front eye to center pin length is nearly identical to the CJ spring, but the pin to rear is drastically longer. I took a gamble and ordered a set to try out along with new u-bolts and spring plate from Barnes 4WD.
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The gamble paid off! The new XJ lift springs centered the wheels in the rear arch, gave me the appropriate ride height, and rode like a dream with the JK spec Fox 2.0 shocks.
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Post spring swap test drive to a cool spot in historic Logtown, Mississippi.
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2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Around December 2019, decided it was time for some interior improvements. Initially I planned on just a few small things to clean it up and make it more comfortable. Ordered up a Tuffy locking center console, got it installed, and was happy for a little while.
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That made me realized how dingy, worn, and torn the seat were. I started researching options on replacement seats, looking at everything from Smittybilts to Mastercraft suspension seats. The more I looked the more I leaned towards Corbeau for the quality and value they seamed to provide. I was just about ready to pull the trigger on some of their Moab buckets in black and gray and the matching rear bench, but I found an amazing deal on some tan Corbeau Sport buckets and bench on eBay. They were blemished returns, they all had small nick in the vinyl thats completely hidden once installed. They were significantly cheaper than buying new. The only downside was they raised the seat height, so I eventually ordered the brackets from Corbeau. They unfortunately don't fold forward like the original brackets, so rear entry requires sliding the seat forward and tilting the seat back up. But they lowered the seat to the right height.
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FLCJ8

Legacy Registered User
City
Palm Bay
State
FL
Judging by some of the pictures/area code of the seller, are you down around south MS like me ? :thumbsup:
Looks like Pass Christian...
Brings back old memories of when we spent some time up there (and Long Beach) helping out after Katrina. :(
(At least it looks like businesses have recovered well.)
 

2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Looks like Pass Christian...
Brings back old memories of when we spent some time up there (and Long Beach) helping out after Katrina. :(
(At least it looks like businesses have recovered well.)
That was an awful time for the coast, something I'd never wish on anyone. The beach pic is over in Bay St. Louis and the rest are either Gulfport or Biloxi. It's certainly made a comeback since then, much different than Pre-Katrina.
 

2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Started cruising the old girl around again now that spring had come back around in 2020. During one of those Saturday afternoon cruises, I hit a back stretch of pavement and got hit with a violent case of death wobble. So once again I searched the forum for things to check being that this was my first solid front axles rig. Everything I checked without really tearing anything down seemed to be okay.
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It wasn't until I began the disassembly of the front end. The passenger front balljoints were completely shot and the driver side weren't far behind. So new balljoints, wheel bearings, and brake pads went in. Hindsight, I probably should've replaced the u-joints in the axles shafts while I was that far in, but I was still learning.
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The previous repairs cured the death wobble, but I still had some slack in the steering. The Jeep already had a Borgensen style steering shaft and heim joints for all the steering. So all that was left was the steering box. I had great luck with the Red Head steering box on my previous project truck, a 1995 Ford Lightning seen hiding in some other pictures. Sourced a replacement from them tapped for ram assist, but I decided to leave off the previously installed ram for the time being.
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Next spring cleaning project involved cleaning up the poorly exacuted engine wiring harness. It originally had way more electrical tape, butt splices, and wire nuts than anyone should use in a vehicle. A factory style battery tray was sourced from Kentrol since I had no plans of ever running a dual battery set up. Then I found a pre-wired fuse/relay box from Current Performance Wiring for the LS harness. While I was in there, I cut up a eBay special intake tube to get the filter and MAF from being mounted directly to the throttle body. It's not the prettiest, but much improved from before. I wish I had more pics from before during to show how bad it was.
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Tried out the completely naked look for a short time, but it wasn't for me. I enjoy the shade of the top and place to rest my arm on the half door.
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Spent the remaining spring and summer of 2020 just enjoying the ride.
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2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Fall 2020 came around and I started getting here ready for another year of Cruisin the Coast. I'd been wanting to pick up a full size spare but knew the factory carrier wouldn't support an 8 lug 37" tire without reinforcement. I broke out the tape measure and surprisingly had room behind the rear seat for one to lay flat.
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Unfortunately the 37" Coopers I was running were long discontinued and replaced by a new model. Found a deal on a 37x13.50-18 BFG KM3 and ordered up a matching wheel. It got laid down in the bed and ratch strapped down. This still left some space on the sides for tools and a cooler.
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The free detail I won in raffle way back in October 2019 finally got cashed in a year later in October 2020. John my old friend and his helper did what they could to shine her up for the week long event, so I could show her off.
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Turned out better than I ever expected for the poor body work and old paint she has on her.
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Someone with a better camera and way better editing skills than I have caught her parked at one of the many events during Cruisin. She almost looks like a show rig in his edit.
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Cruised around with some friends in their classic pick-ups and checked everyone else's rides out.
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2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Didn't do much to her of the winter into 2021 except a new set of KM3s to match the previously acquired spare. It helped cure my annoyance at mismatched tires and nervousness on running older tires on the highway. Also picked up some tube doors.
Then Spring came around and I started hitting some of the local shows and Saturday night cruise-in's.
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Picked up a top 3 at the first show I entered.
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Picked up this awesome plaque at the next show, winning best Jeep. But that high was short lived.
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The drive home from that last show resulted in a severe trans failure. I had to get rescued by a friend and trailered home. Tried flushing the fluid out, but it was too far gone. Getting the 4l80e out took minimal effort, and it was dropped off at a shop down the road from me.
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As a pick me, I started looking for a new rear bumper with a swing out tire mount. I'd always seen people use Throttle Down Kustoms frames, but never realized they did more than frames. Their rear bumper fit the bill on what I was looking for.
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It did require a little modification to support the 8 lug wheel. I believe this piece came from Barnes 4WD. I enjoyed this little fab project as simple as it was.
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A couple weeks later, the trans was ready for me to pick up freshly rebuilt and a new converter. I got it put back in, everything bolted back in, and got ready to start topping it off with fluid.
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Also mounted a new cooler to hopefully help the rebuilt trans survive longer than before. I also bypassed the radiator cooler, due to fear of failure also causing issues.
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2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
After starting her up and beginning to start topping off the trans fluid, I noticed an awful sight on the dash. The oil pressure gauge was sitting on the 0 peg. It's mechanical aftermarket gauge so i believed it to be accurate but I verified with another gauge to be sure. The engine had always had kinda low oil pressure since it bought it. A little more checking and I decided to just pull it out for a rebuild. I guess it was jealous of the freshly rebuilt trans and wanted so attention too.
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The machine shop got it back to me in record time. They found a spun cam bearing and one of the intake valves bent. We discussed how the Jeep was used and what I wanted from the rebuild. A Summit Racing LS truck cam and matching springs was picked due to the stock converter, besides the cam swap the rest remained stock for reliability.

Link to cam- https://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-8719r1
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New water pump, pulleys, tensioner, and belt were installed when the engine went back in.
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While it was down for the engine, I had the bumpers powder coated satin black to match the wheel. They turned out great, but I probably should've just painted them for easier future touch-ups.
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Finally got everything buttoned back up and fired her up for the first time in a while in mid summer 2021.
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To celebrate finally having her back rode worthy, brought her out to a cruise night at a local casino. I brought home a trophy for best Jeep and 2 free buffet passes. I was sure the blue Renegade parked beside me was going to win it. This small win helped bring back my spirits after the summer's disaster of mechanical failures.
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2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Getting her ready for Cruisin the Coast 2021 after an expensive summer of rebuilds I kept it simple. Caught up on maintenance with oils and filters as required. Found an engine cover at the local pull-a-part to hide the ugly truck intake on the 6.0 vortec.
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A friend gave me some speakers after he used my shop to upgrade the ones in his TJ. Turns out they were the right size for the center pod, so I order one. They also matched the dash speakers the previous owner installed. It helped out the sound greatly compared to have just the small speakers bolted in the dash.
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2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Enjoyed putting lots of miles on her during Cruisin the Coast 2021. She never missed a beat other than getting a little warm in the early October heat in south Mississippi.
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Had fellow Scrambler owner cruise behind be for a little while on Highway 90. I didn't get a name or anything just a friendly wave and thumbs up.
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Awesome built linked/coilover/tons/LS CJ I ran across
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Another cool old Jeep we spotted. I believe it was 4.3 swapped.
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2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
The winter of 2021/2022 was uneventful for the Scrambler, but spring 2022 came around and took her out for another Crawlers and Coffee at a BBQ place in Ocean Springs. Ran to the built CJ7 I spotted last year at Cruisin' and got to chat with the owner for a while. It was quite the build, custom done by a shop in North Alabama.
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Summer came, we attended a local Jeep event down on the coast. They open up a couple spots on the beach to allow some "off-road" sand driving. I've fully embraced the fact my Scrambler is basically a mall crawler by now.
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Parked beside my good buddy's clean 1998 Sahara. Most of my winter was spent putting lift and redoing steering on this rig.
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Spotted a couple other Scramblers during the weekend. I missed getting a shot of a really clean and well built black one. I actually passed him during the beach drive.
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2tall

Active member
Silver Member
City
Pass Christian
State
MS
Summer of 2022 was pretty busy with work, vacations, and family stuff. The scrambler didn't get much attention besides the occasional cruise. Fall came so that means another year of Cruisin the Coast for me, you're probably seeing a trend if you're still reading along. Picked up some new diff covers from Barnes, hit them with some stainless steel spray paint and refilled the diff with fresh fluid. Below I was rotating the tires and checking over the suspension and steering hardware.
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Cruisin kicked off and as usual it was a blast. I suggest everyone make this event if possible at least once.
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If you watch Motor Trend/Roadkill and have seen Faster with Finnegan. You know these guys, Mike Cotton on the right and Dave Newbern on the left.
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Made the trip from home all the way over to Ocean Springs with my Friends/Neighbors in their fleet of Fords
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Ran across the super clean Scrambler, complete with a third row of seating.
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Several other cool old Jeeps I ran across that week.
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That wrapped up 2022 for the Jeep. Most of the winter months was spent traveling/family times and working on my good friend's 1966 Mustang. Almost all my time in the shop was spent on it. It got all new stainless hard lines, Wilwood disc conversion front and rear, Wilwood master cylinder, front lowering springs, balljoints and steering, and new wheels and tires. We finally rolled it out of my shop last week for it's first real shake down, took it out to lunch and I followed in the scrambler.
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bigwalton

Alaskan Postal nutjob
FORUM MANAGER
SOA Member
City
Dexter
State
MI
Getting her ready for Cruisin the Coast 2021 after an expensive summer of rebuilds I kept it simple. Caught up on maintenance with oils and filters as required. Found an engine cover at the local pull-a-part to hide the ugly truck intake on the 6.0 vortec.
View attachment 107693
Maybe I'm the only one, but I always liked these better without that cover :shrug: The way it's so rounded just looks wrong to my eye.
I was looking through this thread thinking about how nice it was that someone WASN'T running that cover :rotfl:
 
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