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Discussion Starter #1
So for those of you who do not know me (I lurk around the YJ Forums primarily, and to a lesser extent the JL, JK, and TJ Forums), 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, as well as Mexico, when I was growing up.

So I have a long time friend (20+ years) who works for our corporation, although he now resides in Texas. Over the years he has seen me build or modify a couple dozen Jeep vehicles of every variety. Occasionally Jeff would remind me of the ‘78 CJ-7 that his wife basically grew up in (it belonged to her father for the majority of its life), in the deserts of California and Arizona.

I hadn’t seen the Jeep in close to 20 years, and from my recollection was pretty rough even back then. It had been stored in Arizona until 2016, when it went to Texas after his father-in-law passed away. Jeff hit me up about taking a look and seeing what it would take to get it dialed in. So, after he assured me that rust was minimal, I told him where our starting point would be, and we arranged for transport to So Cal.

Holy F was this thing ROUGH!!! It had the crappy yellow repaint over the original red, bondo over the rust, and the rust was expanding the bondo from the inside out. There wasn’t a straight, rust/bondo/dent free panel on the entire Jeep, except the grille. The tub, windshield frame, fenders, hood, and tailgate were all junk.

It had the original 304, Turbo 400, Quadratrac, Dana 30, and AMC Model 20. It had junk headers and exhaust, junk suspension (with welded on double shock mounts up front), holes torched in the frame rails to access blind nuts long broken free, and a host of other issues. I ran the compression and was not exactly encouraged by the 75-125 PSI spread.

So, in my opinion this poor thing was scrap. I told them that with a tub swap and starting from square one, the monetary expense was going to be huge. I told them to set aside $12-$15k, and we would find them a nice, turn key CJ that would fit the bill.

Well, after talking it over with his wife, it was determined that the sentimental value was too great, and we were going to do it up. I gave them a starting figure and told them it would only climb from there, they never get cheaper.

It was going to take a tub swap, fenders, hood, tailgate, complete body and paint, engine, trans; transfer case, diffs; suspension, tires, wheels, interior, top, bumpers, etc; etc; etc. It was going to get real in hurry.

So, a few pics of the carnage, and I will do my best to document along the way.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
A few more pics...

Thing was such a mess, I decided to pressure wash and begin the disassembly where it sat, as opposed to making a huge mess in the shop.

Had to be expedient, as they just moved a little mobile office to the land next door, and started grading the lot across the street to build a house. After 12 years of only having 2 houses on a 35 acre plot, they were going to start selling off the other 33 lots.

The quiet little dead end street will someday be a cul-de-sac with far more vehicular traffic.
 

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Dissassembly begins...

I used an entire can of Aerokroil, which I consider to be one of the best rust dissolving agents available, and a can of PB Blaster, and still had to use a torch and a Sawzall.
 

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What. A. Freaking. Mess.

Got it down to the roller. Found someone who needed a free tub. Theirs must have been complete junk, if they wanted this one!
 

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A little progress...

So about this time I was getting ready to do Metalcloak front and rear fenders on my YJ. I already had it occupying space in the shop, along with a couple other projects, so I loaded up the CJ roller and took it to my friend Mike’s, where we could disassemble at our leisure without impeding progress on our other projects.
 

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The search was on...

I was back to the grind at my real career, so at every opportunity I was looking for a nice CJ tub. After looking at 5 or 6 that people considered “nice”, I began looking for a nice YJ tub. I had done the conversions before, and upon completion no one except another serious Jeep person would know. I sourced a nice one from Sgt. Jeep in Rosamond, CA; and trailered it to Mike’s where I would do some frame work on the roller to get the mounts right.
 

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So the frame on this thing was a mess. Although it was relatively solid as frames go that have been abused and neglected for 30 or 40 years, I had a bunch of things to clean up.

The frame had holes torched in the side of it to access blind nuts for the skid plate that had broken loose, it had an extra pair of OEM style upper shock mounts crudely welded on for a dual shock mount set up, blind nuts broken loose on the spring hangers, plus, due to the body mount changes made between ‘86 CJ’s and ‘87 YJ’s, I had to open up some of the mount holes on the CJ frame, whack the rear-most outside mounts and fabricate new ones, weld up the holes on the rear crossmember and cut new ones with a hole saw, and a few other things to do before I could blast it and either powder coat or spray it with enamel.
 

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boy o boy!!!!! will be a good following this thread T!
 
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The frame work begins...

So the first thing was to open up the existing CJ mounts to match the O.D. of the YJ mounts, as I plan on using a YJ mount kit. You can either open them carefully with a hole saw, or scribe a line the proper O.D. and open with a carbide burr in a die grinder.
 

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Frame work continued (Part 2)...

Next up I cut some round plugs and welded up the existing holes in the rear crossmember. Some people elect to elongate the holes, which works fine, but I think the fill and drill method results in a cleaner overall end game.
 

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Frame work continued (Part 3)...

Next up I carefully blew off the secondary dual shock upper mounts (which appeared hacked on with a too cold stick welder), and cleaned up the rails.
 

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Frame work continued (Part 4)...

Next up, I whacked the rear outer OEM mounts, and fabricated new ones out of 3”x4”, .187 wall rectangular tubing. Mounting holes are moved forward approximately 4.050”, and the overall center to center width is just under 1.75” wider than the OE CJ mount dimension at that location.

Again, there are options here, as some people choose to leave the OE CJ Mount, and just drill a hole through the tub. Not an option for me, however, as although this is more work, the end result is far cleaner in my opinion.
 

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Frame work continued (Part 5)...

I pulled the tub off, then burned in the top of the mounts (inaccessible with the tub on) to the frame.
 

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Frame work continued (Part 6)...

Next I removed the diffs; leaves, spring hangers, brake lines, everything down to the bare frame. I then flipped it over and drilled out both the remaining welded nuts inside the frame for the skid plate, as well as the holes where the nuts had broken free (this is where a previous “fabricator” had torched holes in the frame to install nuts), and I installed 1/2” nutserts in the six locations.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited by Moderator)
Frame work continued (Part 7)...

It was about this time that I discovered not only a bunch of nuts and other junk hardware rattling around inside the frame rails, but an enormous amount of sand from river crossings during its life in Arizona, traversing around the Colorado River for a couple decades. I cut a couple square holes in the rear crossmember in line with the frame rails, inserted a 12’ cable with a collet attached, and ran it down the inside of the rails. We then stood the frame on end and whacked the rails with a dead blow hammer.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited by Moderator)
Frame work continued (Part 8)...

After blowing out the the rails with an improvised 12’ blowgun, I welded some nuts to some 1/4” steel plate to repair two missing spring hangers nuts, then welded the plate inside the rear of the frame rail. I also cut all the existing torched holes for the skid plate clean, and made patches for each one. I already had the square holes I had cut out of the rear crossmember. Had my work cut out for me, no pun intended. Note the pile of sand, it was about 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket. No way would I have left that in the frame.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited by Moderator)
Frame work continued (Part 8, continued)...

Cleaning it up...
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited by Moderator)
Frame work continued (Part 9)...

With all the holes filled, I quadruple checked the fit of the new spring hangers, and tapped every existing blind nut by hand.
 

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