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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My beloved TJ named "Carl" had fallen victim to severe rust issues, not surprising given it has lived in Michigan its whole life. I've owned it for 4 years and it's been a reliable daily for its first few years with me, exploring and northern Michigan forest service road (2 tracks) companion. What happened to be some simple rust repair (floor pans) turned into tub replacement and frame repair.

Items already completed by the time of this restoring included a rebuilt AX-15 transmission, u-joints, interior cleanup, top replacements, Rancho 9000 shocks, Hella H4's, 2" BB, 31" Duratracs on steelies, brake lines, many interior parts, etc. Yes, it has stock axles but they haven't let me down and I don't have the desire or extra cash (after this project!) for major upgrades--already suits my exploring perfectly.

I knew that two body mount spots on the torque boxes had rusted through. Lots of scale on the inside and outside of the frame.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Continuing with images. I already knew the previous owner tried replacing the passenger's side floorpan but did an absolutely horrible job.

He also shot expandable foam into the torque boxes and holes in the tub's rocker panels. I had not known the scale of this terror until taking apart more and more pieces... the previous owner had a cloth TOWEL stuffed into the passenger's side torque box right below the rollbar. This was, as you can image, horrible.

At this point, it took some beer and sitting contemplating the next steps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Onto body removal. Quite the Mickey Mouse operation, but it worked pretty efficiently and with relative ease. The rotted body would remain in the yard for a few weeks.

A replacement body from Jeeps Unlimited in Colorado was ordered. Really lucked out with this one, more on that later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Onto chassis work (the fun stuff). I purchased full length Safe-T-Caps for both left and right sides of the frame. These are every bit as stout as I imagined.

Chassis was completed gone over with wire wheels and degreased prior to major plasma cutting, welding and painting.

Can anyone tell me what this sensor in my hand is? Sits on top of the transmission.
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Plasma cutting and welding was fun but definitely time consuming. Working with another mechanically inclined friend for this project, the disclaimer is that we are very novice welders.. but I must say, my friend doing most of the welding is pretty good for a novice.

The bastard roll bar was so rotted onto the body, no way any bolts were coming out. With a lot of plasma cutting and some persuasion, it was removed. Then, all bolts were cut off.

A common theme to Jeep fixing is new hardware.... a lot of trips to the hardware store(s)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
This frame work would not be complete without some serious rust-inhibiting, courtesy of POR15 (base and top coats) and Eastwood internal frame coat.

A new roll bar mount was necessary because the metal was shot (remember that cotton towel stuffed into the Jeep?). This went extremely well.

Going on in the background, is 8 new control arms and control arm bushings. A complete new front end was also done--the ZJ conversion using Moog parts, upper and lower ball joints, front and rear track bars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Forgot to mention, the rear track bar mount was patched up using some heavy sheet metal, the plasma cutter, etc.

After the chassis was painted, I did a rear drum brake rebuild (all internals), rear outer axle seals and bearings. We welded the exhaust properly too.

Worth noting, I have replaced all brake lines prior to this restoring overhaul, so those were in great shape. The powertrain is also up to date on all possible maintenance and the Jeep has been running like a champ. The Rancho shocks are less than a year old too.

Onto the beautiful body! Completely rust free torque boxes, rocker panels, ALL edges of the tub, floor pans. It is beautiful :worthy: used all brand new Crown rubber body mounts.

We also fabbed up some aluminum spacers for the transfer case skid plate., they look pretty decent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sanding/paint prep is where I am today. This is taking forever, even with the help of a good dual action sander. The hood had severe "crow's footing" and we've spent six hours on this alone...

The front fenders were trashed so I ordered some new ones. Same story for the tailgate, it is also getting a new seal.

At this point, I have also painted most of the exterior plastics (mirrors, door handles) and just painted the sway bar in the same exterior color as original (Forest Green). Images to follow.

JKS quicker discos for the front, Teraflex longer sway links for the rear and new rear carpet with mass backing has been ordered too. The windshield to cowl seal is a year old, wiper motor, I've also replaced the heater core about two years ago.

We'll see how much farther we can get this week, it's hot here in Michigan.
 

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Respect to you for taking on that much rust. Great job keeping it on the road!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Wow, big job! Looks like you are making good progress.
Respect to you for taking on that much rust. Great job keeping it on the road!
Thanks, it was quite saddening to initially see the rust and corrosion but that's the natural progression of life for Michigan vehicles. The goal is to keep this Jeep forever (knock on wood). Couldn't be happier with the condition of the replacement tub
 

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Good work on all that rust. I thought my Jeep was bad when I started stripping it down, but Michigan winters are definitely worse for Jeeps than NJ winters. The Autorust stuff is great, I have them running control arm to control arm on both sides. Also wish I had a plasma cutter, using a grinder and a cut off wheel took forever.

That connector you asked about looks like the torque converter lockup connector I have on my 32RH auto trans. Maybe the AT/MT harnesses are the same so it's not used on yours?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Some progress over the past week (not much, as it was very hot and humid in Michigan). EVERYTHING IS SANDED, including the windshield frame, new fenders, new tailgate, fender flares, etc... Ready for paint!

Been scuffing / repainting most of the exterior plastics, below are some example images. They came out very nice, just painted the sound bar and a few other pieces (battery tray, fender supports) today as well. Did a decent job at grinding down and painting the sway bar too.

Going to try out these Black Magic Brakes and Centric rotors... the rotors were cheaper on Rock Auto, hoping for great results.

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Good work on all that rust. I thought my Jeep was bad when I started stripping it down, but Michigan winters are definitely worse for Jeeps than NJ winters. The Autorust stuff is great, I have them running control arm to control arm on both sides. Also wish I had a plasma cutter, using a grinder and a cut off wheel took forever.

That connector you asked about looks like the torque converter lockup connector I have on my 32RH auto trans. Maybe the AT/MT harnesses are the same so it's not used on yours?
Plasma cutter was a blessing, not sure I would've attempted this project without it. Very pleased with the Autorust parts, they're a savior for us!

Ahhh that makes sense, I thought it could be for an automatic trans because it appears to just be a dummy sensor for another provision if equipped
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Windshield hinges, hood hinges, wiper arms in primer after being sandblasted. Battery tray / fender support, other miscellaneous plastics sanded/primered/painted.

Damn exhaust is hitting the rear track bar. The muffler was replaced with another stock TJ muffler off Craigslist and when it was welded, there was extra length of pipe added to make it easier on the welder... time to fix this issue.

Paint arrives Monday...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Picked up some Warn rock sliders brand new on Craigslist for a hell of a deal. Scuffed them up and are going to paint them same as the body. Also picked up an LED 3rd brake light and some new hood catches to use with my Daystar rubber tie downs.

Paint arrived, hopefully painting Saturday. Got an image of the retired body tech instructor "Guru" checking out our novice prep work... we did OK for novice's
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Update: painted with Forest Green Pearl. Came out really well for a garage job. Had the freshly retired autobody instructor paint it.

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
It's been a while since my last update--to my satisfaction, the project was back on the road! 1 day shy of 3 months of work. Here are some more pictures

The new carpet is great, extremely glad I did that. It turns a lot different now (all the new bushings and longer sway bar links I think are to play here. The Forest Green Pearl looks fantastic too.

It's a pity I've never figured out how to rotate images. But the tailgate was a pain in the ass. Had to modify mounting holes, drill other holes for electrical, etc. At least the LED CHMSL looks great


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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It fired up the first try and no engine codes. Exhaust was re-welded and no longer leaks (for now).

When I was getting the A/C charged, I replaced the engine fan clutch, as it was always freewheeling. Now temps are ALWAYS good and the A/C works like a charm, consistently 38-45deg.

We undercoated the hell out of it with some Tectyl undercoating compound my good friend researched, it worked beautifully with the undercoating gun and will truly protect this beast from rust for a few years before I consider reapplying. This stuff goes a long ways. Link:http://petroleumservicecompany.com/content/pdfs/TECTYL_506_PI_SHEET.pdf

Finally, the steering gear box I noticed was weeping fluid after about two weeks back on the road. Decided to replace the unit and power steering hoses (pressure and return). No more leaks.

The Black Magic Breaks (front pads w/ Centric rotors) definitely stop better than before. Biggest difference is in repeated use in hot weather with traffic, which is exactly what I needed.

Been on several long trips with it, the first being 250 miles away, on its second day back on the road. No strange buzzes, shakes, rattles, even at highway speeds. Incredibly, the gas mileage has improved, I saw over 18 on a tank. So happy, had to take pictures at a wedding with it

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