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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So some of you may be familiar with “The Keeper” ‘92 YJ I have owned for about three years. The Keeper was aptly named by my amazing girlfriend, whom every one of my friends and family also aptly named The Keeper.

I have been implored a few times to do a build thread (most recently by moderator “Blue Baby Sound”... thanks for the kind words about the old YJ Jeff!), and so I am going to kick it off slowly, and add to it as I find all the pics. I am also going to start a build thread in the CJ forum, for the ‘78 CJ-7 I am doing a frame off resto-mod for a good friend, so both of the threads will be added to as time permits.

I have owned numerous Jeep vehicles over the years, beginning when I was 15 (40 years ago) with an early CJ, with the love of Jeeps and 4WD vehicles starting long before that during our many camping forays into the California deserts and mountains when I was growing up.

Of the 11-12 YJ’s I have owned over the years, this is only the second that could be termed a keeper. I originally bought this one to do what I had done many times before... turn it and make a couple bucks.

When I first laid eyes on this one, it had been sitting untouched in a garage for nine years. Nine years of drying up and rotting, one day at a time. It had so much dust on it, you could only tell it was blue by wiping off the fenders and hood. The original white top was folded up and laying inside the interior, which was even dustier than the interior.

I was initially told it was a 4 cyl. (Which, I later learned, was believed to be correct due to the ‘4.0’ on the rear of the tub), it appeared to be leaking every conceivable fluid it once held, and was just a complete mess up close. There were selling points though... it was non-oped, which for everyone from California knows, is hugely important; the owner was only the second, it was originally sold, and lived the majority of its life in California, it was in all actuality a 4.0/AX-15, and, the best part of all: 46k on the clock with Mopar service records to validate.

So.... I trailered it home and started taking stock. The ENTIRE Jeep was covered in dirt and dust, in, out, and under. It leaked coolant, oil, ATF from the transfer case, brake fluid from the master cylinder, rear wheel cylinders, and clutch master, as well as gear oil from both diffs. The lock assemblies (including the ignition tumbler) were so full of crap the key wouldn’t work.

Even with a fresh battery nothing worked electrically. When I finally got some of the bugs worked out and got it to crank, the fuel pump wouldn’t run. I was in for a treat.

So, for starters... just a couple pics of it sitting in the garage where I got it in May of 2016 (after we had moved the drywall surrounding it, aired up the tires, and knocked the dust off of the windshield frame and cowl as I looked for rust, and the grille and fenders to actually see what the paint looked like), and of the fuel pump (which looked like it had been immersed in salt water for the nine years it sat). It was pretty indicative of the way things were going to go for the next several months.

More to come!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

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'89 YJ 4.2 with MC-2150 Carb & HEI, 2-1/2" Ex. AX-15, NP231 SYE, Adams shafts, F&R ARB, 3
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Pics 3&4 should be an example on where to start looking at fuel delivery issues.

Hard to believe what you started with compared to where you are now. The only thing I recognize is the winch and the color, LOL

More Pics Please.
 

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Cheaper to "keepHer"

:winner:

Gotta love the women in our lives!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Cheaper to "keepHer"

:winner:

Gotta love the women in our lives!!
J it is far cheaper to keep this one, she has bought me more Jeep parts than I can remember!!
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So my friend Jose (we affectionately call him Hose B) has been my friend for almost 37 years. We have built A LOT of cars, trucks, 4WD vehicles, boats, and motorcycles together. We dragged the Jeep from my house to an indy shop I used to run many years ago (I have known the owner since I was 9 years old, when my brother worked there). Jose worked there for me, and I always had the run of the place, even 20+ years after leaving. The only inconvenience, was the shop was 20+ miles from my house, and after we built the shop at my friend Glen’s, I used the Indy shop less and less...

The first thing we did was vacuum about five pounds of sand and dust out of the interior of the Keeper. We then pressure washed every mechanical piece. The engine; trans; transfer case, differentials, brake and steering components, and everything else that could leak, did. It literally sat in that garage for nine years with sand, dirt, and crap piled in and on it.

A lot of degreaser, simple green, and compressed air. The paint was oxidized a tad, but when it was wet it looked good. I knew I could bring it back. Unfortunately, the previous owner had installed a bug deflector on the hood (as seen in post #1), and years of sand and other abrasive material had effectively been sandpaper to the leading edge of the hood. Yes, The Keeper has battle scars here and there, but overall I knew it would clean up well. After I removed the bug deflector and those air horns under the hood, of course!

And the thing that really got me is like I always say, “You can buy anything, except miles”. Documented 46k on the clock. The last “Keeper” YJ I had, read 71k on the clock when I got it, 105k when I sold it. I always vowed, if I found another nice, low mile, 4.0, AX-15 example, I wouldn’t let it get away easily.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
While we were cleaning it up, I had the ORIGINAL (dated 1-92) top laid out on a trailer in the sun. It was dirty and stiff, but the windows were in remarkable condition, even the zippers worked decent. I pressure washed it, and lubed up the zippers. According to the previous owner, the top had not been on it since 2004. This was now August of 2016, the top was almost 25 years old. Since I had just discovered the fuel pump looking simply fantastic, we installed the top, and pushed it off the rack into the storage building so I could start ordering parts.
 

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Pics are great! Keep 'em coming!

Good Luck, L.M.
 
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Was a nice find and I am sure it was a lot of fun and a lot of work..... but look at it now....
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
So... the fuel tank looked exactly like the fuel pump up there in the original post ⬆. I have cleaned numerous fuel tanks over the years, even sending steel ones to the radiator shop for boiling and coating.

Unfortunately, there was no way I was going to use this tank. I ordered up a new Crown 20 Gal. tank (surprisingly made in the U.S.A.), a new fuel pump/sending unit assembly, filter, rollover valves, and hoses. The little L hose on the filter that is two different sizes (PN 53004014) literally crumbled when I touched it. I always keep a spare on hand as they are getting more expensive all the time.

While I was waiting on parts arrival, I hooked up the fuel injector cleaning machine, and actually got it to light. On the fuel infection cleaner (keep in mind there was no tank or pump), it ran on three cylinders, then four, then after about a minute it hit on all six. It sounded good from the start, without excessive Chrysler Clatter, and not a hint of smoke. The latter was a concern as I was pondering whether the valve stem seals would be dried up with the rest of the rubber on the entire Jeep.

I was convinced the injector nozzles would all be junk, but after the cleaner, and Seafoam in the first couple tanks of fuel, it became apparent they would live.

The engine compartment was a mess, it leaked everywhere.... coolant, oil, brake fluid from everywhere including the brake and clutch masters, and... while we were pressure washing I noted it leaked water into the passenger compartment in a major way. I definitely had my work cut out for me.

I ordered up a three core copper and brass radiator, thermostat and housing, radiator and heater hoses, rear main seal, oil pan and valve cover gaskets, tune up parts, brake and clutch masters, serpentine, idler, fan clutch, and of course all the fluids. I also took the junk Optima battery that came in another truck that I bought, and got a brand new one under warranty.

While I was at it I thoroughly cleaned the engine, trans. & transfer case, and cleaned up some wiring and vacuum harness issues, including OEM vacuum harnesses and grommets.

I didn’t take a bunch of pics during the engine work (sorry dukcaln), but this is shortly after I completed it....
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The new tank and straps....
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The Crown tanks are slightly oversize externally in some areas of the tank. A couple pics of rear crossmember, where trimming of the body mounts, and sanding of the trailing edge above the tank is necessary to prevent wearing a hole in the tank at those locations....
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
After the tank install, it lit right up and idled. After I checked for leaks, gave all the safety related parts the once over (had not been on the road for nine years!), and, my one weirdness (ok there might be more!), prior to the first “real” drive on any Jeep I own: I installed a fresh pair of clutch and brake pedal pads. I then put about 20 shakedown miles on it (had to remove the upper doors, still not an A/C Jeep at this time!), then parked it back at the shop for another day.

Thing ran strong, shifted good (I use Redline), clutch hooked up hard, and it appeared I had slowed a bunch of fluid leakage. I had also given it the first bath it had had in a long while, and gave it a quick wax job.

Also, while it sat, I replaced the ignition switch (which was filled with sand), as well as purchased an NOS ignition tumbler and blank keys, and keyed the tumbler to match the door and tailgate locks. I also disassembled the locks, replaced the tumblers in the left door, and lubed everything up with Lubriplate. They work as new.

It was beginning to shape up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So as I was taking stock, I was also making a mental list:

The Jeep rode like crap with the Fabtech 2.5” springs (looked identical to RC, and rode just as bad), open diffs. with 3.07’s, 32x11.50’s that felt work hardened in every sense of the word, early Mastercrafts that had been exposed to the weather for a few years and never cleaned, and OE carpet that would never be grey again.

Additionally, the windshield, cowl to windshield frame, and various grommets on the firewall that had been haphazardly hacked with completely inferior wire routing, all leaked at the rate of about 100 GPH, and that was just cleaning the engine and washing the exterior.

Also, the archaic Smittybilt front bumper and tubular steps were period correct with the wheels, but not exactly my cup of tea.

It did have its merits though. The winch is a Warn 9.5 (which I had owned twice previously, never a failure), and the rear bumper was a Garvin (whom I had been dealing with for many years). So, A LOT of stuff was getting replaced, a couple things were going to stay...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Put a few hundred miles on the Jeep, minor ‘wheeling in the local mountains, breakfast on weekends, etc. I liked it, but it was going to take a LOT of work to get me to REALLY like it.

As nice as it was, I am not into white tops. If it had been grey, I would have left it. I gave the OE top to someone in need, and installed a new Bestop Replace-a-Top in black denim. The only hardware that needed replacement were the spreader bars, and the slider snaps above doors.

While I was at it, I laid the windshield down and replaced the windshield frame to cowl seal. I also removed the windshield, replaced the inner and outer seals, and sealed up all the holes in the firewall.

I did a semi-thorough detail job of the majority of the Jeep, and started ordering parts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
One of the first things to arrive were five 15x8 Mammoth Boulders from Extreme Terrain. The wheels are inexpensive and fairly strong for an imported cast wheel. I wrapped them with 5 BFG 33x12.50 KO2’s. I knew I wouldn’t have a bunch of tire clearance, but if I didn’t get out and ‘wheel it too hard, it would at least be able to be driven.

While I had the wheels and tires off, I replaced the front pads and rotors, rear shoes, wheel cylinders, and hardware, and turned the drums. I had already replaced the brake master, so at least it had solid, leak free brakes now for the first time in years.

The Garvin rack had the old school threaded “Prerunner” style spare tire mount. The 33” tire wouldn’t fit conventionally, so I had to flip it to make it work initially, as seen in the second pic. Sourced a new style spare tire mount from Garvin to retrofit my existing one, and flipped the spare.

I knew I was never going to get the thing in 5th gear with the 3.07’s and 33’s, but I was knee deep in two builds, a TJ and an XJ for one of my very best friends and his son, so the diff. swap, gears and suspension were going to have to wait a bit.
 

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You going to be in my neck of the woods anytime soon with the Keeper!
 
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So after a detailed conversation with the other “Keeper”, she reminded me of a couple of important dates, one of which was when we first met! So I stand corrected on the month of purchase for this one. I actually bought it at the end of August in 2016. I had purchased a ‘93 4.0/AX-15 in May, and a ‘94 4.0 AX-15 in June of that year, so I was confused about which one was bought and went where, as I sold both of them fairly quickly.

It was now December of ‘16. The first decent snowfall of the season in the Big Bear area started the previous night, and Teresa and I headed for the hills, and a few of my favorite non-gated fire roads. She had never been ‘wheeling in the snow. Oh boy!

Obviously, with the 3.07’s, the open diffs; and the amount of snowfall, there was a possibility the winch cable (or at least the shovel) would come out. I never mentioned that fact to her!

We followed a group of Fast and Furious style Subaru’s up the hill for a while. Watching them attempt to drive was almost comedy, with a couple of them nearly in the ditch. It was snowing pretty good, with a lot of fresh powder, and eventually they pulled into a large turnout, probably to let their girlfriends drive.

About 10 miles from the fire road I was planning on hitting, we came upon a “Chains Required” sign by a large turnout, manned by a CalTrans dude and a CHP officer. I pulled off to the side, and a chained up 4WD International Edison truck that had been following us up the hill for 10-12 miles stopped to talk to the keepers of they key.

Teresa noted the Edison guy talking to the CHP officer, and motion toward us a couple times. I was like, “Great, what did I do?”

Teresa and I have these three little words we say in a variety of situations, this day was no different, I just looked at her and said “Here we go”....

I idled up to the two amigos... CHP: “You have chains?” Me: “Yep” CHP: “You need ‘em?” Me: “Certainly not yet, if I get in trouble, I will chain it up, I promise”. The CHP officer and CalTrans dude kind of looked at each other, and divulged that the Edison guy basically snitched on the “idiots in the Subaru’s”, but mentioned that the guy in the Jeep “seems to know what he is doing”. Yes!!!!! Keep in mind I had only known Teresa for about 6 months, and I just scored some major points!

The two amigos told us to have fun, be safe, and off we motored. I was already laughing to myself, as: 1) There was no way chains would clear the fenders, and: 2) I didn’t have any chains with us anyway!

I aired the old YJ down, and about 3 miles up the fire road in virgin snow, it was getting pretty deep. With the lack of gear, I was of course running it in 4 Low, with a lot of clutch work, and the synchros in 2nd and 3rd were earning their money. We got about 5 miles in, and I was getting a little concerned. The open diffs. didn’t exactly instill confidence in me, and I didn’t want to have to winch it out either.

Teresa had never been in snow in a 4WD vehicle, and she didn’t understand how much work it was. Plus, it was still snowing pretty good, and I didn’t want to get caught in a bad situation with someone that had never experienced one!

We turned around and headed back down the hill. It was snowing hard enough that the tracks we left just prior were almost indiscernible. We got to a clearing about a 1/4 mile from the highway, I stopped and told her she had to clean the snow out of the tires before we hit the highway, the pic of her was right after she figured out I was BSng her, and she started throwing snowballs in my direction.

Anyway, we had a good day, and I taught Teresa a lot about tires, gears, lockers, and other important necessities. It was the start of a good relationship, between me and both “Keepers”.
 

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