Retitled: 83 Scrambler resto-mod finally gaining momentum

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#1
was thinking along the lines of "My tale of woe and procrastination: how to own a CJ8 for five years and never drive it" or "why buying into a specialty car at the height of the market can lead to many personal dilemas"...

by way of introduction, just know that while I'm capable of grasping basic mechanical repairs, reading manuals, and getting my hands dirty, I have little to no experience in any of this as we go along.. literally every project, repair, or piece of routine maintenance that I do is usually the FIRST time I've tried it.. but I dig it, and love the potential of older vehicles so.. I often toss myself into projects and have no idea just how far I'm in over my head

..off we go. Idea was to introduce my truck to the group, show a few highly un-technical pics of what I've done to it so far, show some pics of what I was doing that kept me from working on it, and then use this as motivation to gain and maintain some momentum on this thing and finally get it roadworthy.

Background.. have had a pretty nice 86 CJ7 since 1999, bought it in Savannah GA and did a few projects over the years (MC2150, DUI ignition, then a Howell TBI, herculined the tub, replaced some sheet metal.. not by myself as I don't know how to weld) but it's mostly stock. Here's some pics from back in about 2000-2001.




Always wanted a CJ8 but they were hard to find, I had fewer funds, and I'd had my eye on this particular CJ7 before it came up for sale. More pics on that later.

Moved to New Orleans in 2002.. bought a CJ8 from VA from a guy on eBay, had it shipped there to discover it was a basket case (let's just say dude was less than forthright in his descriptions but, my lesson learned). Ended up dragging it to TX and selling it again on EBay at a loss (I was forthright).. looking back I should've kept it for parts but.. another lesson learned.

Here's that one..


 
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Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#2
on to Texas

so I moved to Texas (military) in 2005.. there was a little used car and truck shop near Ft Hood that always has a few CJs on the lot.. saw a few Scrams there over the year and finally saw mine (the one I eventually bought), pursued and bought it.. I knew it needed some love but, unlike my red 8, it had what appeared to be very straight sheet metal and frame.

Here's a few pics at the time I bought it:









 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#3
initial diagnosis

I bought it knowing it needed some love, just not quite how much.. blinded by my desire I figured I could fix anything that bolted on to it so, as long as the frame and body were good 9and relativley speaking they were, and still are, exceptionally good), I was optimistic... some of the stuff I knew as I bought it or figured out:

  • it wandered all over the road, so I figured it needed some suspension and/or steering replacement
  • it made a considerable amount of gear train noise out of the transmission tunnel, sounded like a small power generator was under there, my hope was that it was a u-joint or simple bearing or something
  • it has a salvage title, suppossedly from an engine/electrical fire which consumed the engine bay wiring harness, along with alot of the paint on the oil pan and under the hood
  • the in-cab wiring was a rat's nest.. much like the engine bay, it had been Farmer Bob-ed back into working condition with a mish-mash of multi-colored and multi-gauged connections, often in the same line
  • it had a general "patina" from what I'd guess was sitting still on a Central Texas farm and not going very far for a loooong time

more pics..




 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#4
start the bloodletting

if I sound pessimistic.. I'm not (well, okay, I do lean on the pessimistic side while calling myself a "realist").. I've learned alot from this process.. in my early ownership, not really knowing what/how to prioritize my efforts, I was a bit "all over the map" figuring out what systems or fixes to get after first..

more pics

good indicator of the rest of the suspension..


UPS man to the rescue.. that Painless would stay in that box for 2 more years


mouse poop at no additional charge.. didn't get a shot of the spider webs.. let's just say the dealer prep shop at C+B trucks wasn't too detail oriented..


don't panic.. the bricks are only supporting the axle.. there are jackstands back there somewhere under the frame


among what were probably multiple reasons for my "sloppy" steering
 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#5
the goal at this point

back in 2005 I was getting ready for my 1st OIF tour, and just wanted to get this thing running to an acceptable standard that wifey could use it to run to Home Depot on weekends.. it was really suppossed to be her truck in the first place.. with that endstate in mind..

  • do a basic check on operating systems (like brakes) and update as necessary
  • fix the steering/alignment issue
  • figure out what that whine in the drivetrain was
  • get some miles on it to make sure it worked

took it to a shop to get alignment checked.. dude gets it up on lift and the front wheels have lots of free play.. you need wheel bearings.. so I decide to do that myself first.. which turns into
  • replace wheel bearings
  • in a new set of rotors
  • with new pads
  • removed and sand and spray paint the drag link and tie rod
  • with new tie rod ends

since I have the new suspension, decided to go ahead and install before any alignments so, did that job..

it's a Superlift product, 2.5" lift, which looking back now I wouldn't have bought (probably would've converted to wider YJ springs up front or gone with one of those bolt on shackle reversal lifts).. it also didn't come with new shackles so they're still on my future "to do" list.. as the old ones look like sh-t, are flimsy, and the upper bushings remaind dryrotted..



one odd problem I had with the Superlift.. the u-bolts didn't line up with the holes in the spring plates? I had to compress the u-bolts to get them through the four holes in the spring plates and get the nuts on.. not sure what the deal on that was but managed through it..


also discovered that one of the rear shock mounting shafts on the rear spring plate was bent about 45 degrees off straight.. got the shock on it but still needs replacing..
pic with the lift installed
 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#6
so I get a hair up my arse to do the clutch..

actually, shortly after I bought it, the starter started making this god-awful noise and wouldn't engage, to the point that I had to pop start it at the alignment shop and each time I moved it in or out of my driveway/garage..

yours truly assesses "must need a flywheel or ring gear, and it probably makes sense to go ahead and get a new one since everything else on this b-tch is worn out".. makes perfect(ly incompetent) sense, right?

and since I'm going to pull the flywheel I figure I'll do the clutch and have the tranny checked out at the same time.. because of that pesky gear whine..

there's a long painful comedy of errors that I've partially dumped from my memory, but in some sequence I
  • pulled the tranny
  • paid too too much to have it rebuilt
  • didn't know a T5 wasn't worth that much effort, or money
  • did my first ever clutch and flywheel job
  • had the newly rebuilt tranny fail
  • had it rebuilt again under warranty
  • continued to have huge issues with the starter
  • get closer and closer to going to Iraq
  • spend too much time on this POS and not my wife

this sparks the first of several bouts of CJ-induced depresseion that make me wonder why I don't buy an Accord and play golf for a hobby like I used to..

If only I'd know I was about to move to Colorado, where finding used jeep parts is as easy as spotting people wearing Columbia brand jackets, Tevas, and something made out of microfiber..

here's a random pic to placate Big Walton

got a free seat from a friend and CJ owner in the neighborhood

 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#7
so I go to Iraq

and the truck sits in the garage a year..

and then I get orders to move to Ft Carson about 4 months after I get home..

so the truck gets nothing done in that time..

so to summarize my time in TX:
  • drag a POS CJ8 there and sell it at a loss
  • buy another POS CJ8 at the height of an inflated market for too much dough
  • replace suspension
  • replace front brakes and rotors
  • replace flywheel and clutch
  • pay too much to rebuild a T5
  • replace some steering components
  • fail to figure out why I can't get the starter to engage properly
  • bought a new house, got married, spent a hell of alot of time at work, and went to Iraq for a year, so in my defense, in addition to my technical incompetence, I was pretty busy
  • did a MC2150 conversion and a new exhaust on my CJ7, which works faithfully EVERY time while I devote time and money to my CJ8

and we drag the 8 behind a U-Haul to CO..

and CO... is AWESOME (nothing to do with my CJ8, it is just AWESOME)..

A few shots from one of my early jeep adventures there..


mosquito pass.. got up to about 13k feet on this one.. inspiration to convert to a TBI, which I did shortly after arrival.. put the MC2150 on the Scram for now..






got my Dad out on one.. cold bumpy ride that day, he didn't complain..
 
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Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#8
shorter summary of time in CO

big Army decided my stay in CO would be relatively short... had to leave but not by choice.. in my three years there we:

  • bought another house, this one more of a fixer-upper, and did alot of fixin-uppin'
  • spent even MORE time at work
  • found out wife was pregnant... HUH?:huh:
  • repainted wifey's Ford Probe to learn how to paint
  • installed painless harness on CJ8 (almost..haven't quite finished all the bugs yet)
  • went to Iraq, again
  • son was born while I was in Iraq :D
  • bought a Landcruiser (FZJ80) :evil:, sold my Audi and wifey's painted Probe
  • repainted my CJ7
  • got ready to move
  • moved, again, this time to FL.. dragging the CJ8 again

Painless install intimidated the hell out of me, especially since it wasn't a "one for one" swap.. I was cutting a filthy confusing rat's nest out of the engine compartment and installing something new.. and wiring/electricity aren't my strong suit but I was determined to learn.. so I hacked into it.. bottom line: it's a good product, especially for a dope like me..

so, why won't the truck start and why is that ceramic fuse block about a thousand degrees?


oh.. i wired the ignition module backwards..


which brings up a lesson.. it's nice having a fully functional similar year jeep in the driveway as a point of reference when you're working on your POS in the garage..
 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#9
and I sort of figured out the starter thing

tried to figure out a way to shim my starter to get the teeth lined up with what I knew was a good/new ring gear with no luck.. it would NOT engage properly no matter what I did, and I was starting to strip out the threads in the bell housing by uninstalling and reinstalling over and over.. :eek:

after finding nothing online, finally called a mechanic (at Collins Brothers... I know I know) but the guy helped me out and said he's seen it a few rare times, he said I had to actually "clock" the starter.. the two mounting holes between the block and the bell housing were off by just a bit..

solution.. I bored out the mounting hole in the starter, which rotated the starter gear inward and upward, and then backfilled the original hole wall with a glob of JB Weld (put a pencil where the new hold should be, filled JB Weld around it, let it set up, then cut the ends of the pencil off and drilled out the wood, leaving the new offest hole).. so basically I offset the mounting bolt hole in the starter itself, backfilled it to keep it from slipping and not having to over-torque it in the bellhousing to keep it tight, and so far.. while not perfect (still noisier than it should be), it's worked.. :shrug:
 
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Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#10
in a sign of my completely random approach to this truck

while I had the truck partially disassembled to do the wiring harness, when ahead and pulled the doors, roof, bulk head and roll bar.. just digging in a bit deeper to make sure there weren't some rust turds lurking for me.. did a good pressure wash on the frame and engine bay.. you can see the flaking under the hood from the engine fire years ago..

good news was.. got truck started (still working out some issues with lights and windshield wiper harness (spliced to a mess my PO).. and only had a little bit of rust signs under the roll bar mount.. otherwise frame and body are in damn good shape..

cleaned up the wiring in the engine bay nicely.. Painless = good product




I think one day my personalized plate will read "IH8TORX"


had soem leaky old hoses so did a full radiator hose and thermostat swap.. and I tend to get a little spray paint happy.. did the radiator in hammertone (not on the fins).. looks pretty good


 

Randyzzz

Blown Budget
LIFETIME
CJ-8.com Member
SOA Member
City
Redmond
State
OR
#11
This is a really cool thread! Thanks for sharing and I look forward towards the next chapter!

Oh- for a thread title- "Typical Scrambler Ownership". Just kidding...although having small projects turn huge is normal for anything Jeep related.
 
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Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#12
I'm warming up to the more philosophical portion

... thanks Randy.. if I had half the talent or experience or initiative of guys like you on the board, I might be done by now..

eventually I'll get to "where I am today" and "where I'd like to go.. I think".. and hopefully get some feedback..
 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#13
some of those distractions along the way

among others.. my wife was the original owner on a 94 Ford Probe.. which she absolutely loved.. and to be honest, these things were great cars.. I hauled home enough sh-t to build an 8x8 deck in my back yard with this thing.. it swallows cargo.. it ran pretty much flawlessly with almost no maintenance upkeep for 16 years.. but had the typical baked off clear coat that turned it from dark red to a sort of pink.. so, as a "gift" to her and as a chance to learn for me.. I painted it for her..

one cool benefit in the military is access (depends on where you are) to on post "craft shops".. Ft Carson happens to have a good one, and that's where I did this..

they say it's all in the prep work.. and it is a LOT of work.. I actually enjoyed this type of automotive work for a change.. it's hard to overstate the number of man hours of very tedious labour your'e looking at





 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#14
more Probe

sanded it, filled the door dings, masked it primed it.. then guide coat.. then wet sanding for-evvvvverrrr..





wife did alot of it with me.. she dug the project too




 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#15
results

again, I was really intimidated by this project.. went into the booth on the big day thinking "if this comes out bad, we just wasted two weeks of time and alot of money sanding and painting this thing"..

I was really happy with the results, especially for a first timer.. the shop guy was impressed and I've had a few other folks say it looked like a pro job.. definitely gratifying and a project I still remember fondly for the good results..









nice deep reflections..


we ended up spray painting the wheels (Duplicolor product which worked really well) and used plasti-dip on the black trim that had been baked off over time.. worked reasonably well for a cheap solution..

After we had our boy, the car became excess.. wife has an Avant and we just weren't using it so.. sold it on CL for a fair price.. it was a great car though.
 
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Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#16
then there was this..

kind of puts a wrench in Scrambler fixin' time.. or at least 40% of the last 5 years

didn't have any good action shots so here's me holding some cereal in front of al Faw palace.. (there are man-sized fish in the lake around that place and they'll eat anything you throw in there.. tonight's menu included Lucky Charms).. scary.



the 9 months or so before you you leave are also a complete wash.. you're training hard to get ready, so the deployment demand is much greater than just the time between your flight to/from..

not complaining.. this is the career I've chosen and I do love the Army..
 

MarknessMonster

Amiable Jeeper
City
Western
State
CO
#17
Thanks for the interesting post. Remember, Torx bolts are one of the unique items to a CJ, and it wouldn't be a CJ without them. :) Good luck on your tour, and stay safe. Also remember that there are a lot of folks whom envy what you do for a living. I wish you Godspeed.
 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#18
thanks

MM, but I'm not downrange now, nor should I be soon, as I just got home last AUG and then moved to a new assignment in FLA (PNS/FWB area)... which brings the hope of getting something done on the Scram since I stand to have some "hometime"..

will start posting some pics of my CJ7 body save and the paint job..
 

Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#19
CJ7 before

bought the CJ7 in 99... used to leave it with no top or doors all summer in Savannah and I think the constant moisture and the exposure to salty coastal air just instantly ran through it.. by the time I moved to New Orleans it had some obvious rust problems started.. so it was time to try and salvage it before it got too bad.. and it was worse than I thought when I pulled the roll bar..

what was amazing was how much worse it looked once I pulled it apart..







 
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Bushmaster6

Legacy Registered User
City
the Springs
State
CO
#20
more



after I got the tub cleaned up, welded, spot ground, surface scratched, and cleaned again... did a herculiner, which I"ve been reasonably happy with for the price..



the grill/front clip had tons of paint chips from travelling (I think) on Alaskan highways, where the Jeep was orginally purchased, which eventually became pock marks of rust all over.. similar to a smaller extent all over the tub.. you can also see the dead clearcoat on the hood.. it baked off fast in GA..

 
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