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  #1  
Old 10-31-2017, 06:46 PM
daddyusmaximus daddyusmaximus is offline
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Default My $120 1980 Jeep CJ7 build

Ever see a $120 Jeep CJ7? Well, don't expect it to run, but here she is...




Of course, a couple of years, and thousands of dollars from now, she'll be looking way better, oh and running too.

Here's the story. I picked up a 1980 Jeep CJ7 over the summer that I intend to build as an adventure/overland rig. My skills are limited, so I will have to hire some of the work done, but I want to do as much of it as I can myself. As we all know, there is great satisfaction in standing back and looking at something you built with your own hands. A thing America is losing these days, as is so accurately reported by public figure Mike Rowe. I like him... he's cool in my book.

Anyway, she isn't running now, but she is very complete, and near as I can tell, almost 100% stock, (except added fog lights) so that gives me a known starting point. That itself is something lacking in so many old Jeeps, including my current CJ5. (I am tearing that one down now for it's drive train) The "new": CJ7 has a 258 I-6 and the TF999 auto trans. The shifter is on the tilt column with a very nice Lecarra wheel. The dash, seats, everything about the interior and hardtop is complete and in pretty nice shape. The hardtop even has a defroster in the back glass, and a rear wiper. The doors are great, and the roll up windows work perfectly. The windshield, however, is a goner, and there are some panels on the tub that will require attention. Quite a bit of attention.

So I met a fellow combat vet at a 4x4 meet. He also has 3 tours. He also drives a '79 CJ5. (way nicer than mine) He was trying to get out of paying storage on two old Jeeps he was going to build, and he sold me one, and a buddy one. I got mine for $120. Yeah, that's right. $120. I didn't miss a zero. He just wanted me to cover the last months storage fee. He's younger, still in, and single. I'm old, fat, crippled, retired, wife is a teachers aid that has no paychecks in the summer, and we have two kids in college, but man he hooked me up!

Now the CJ5 I already have just happens to have a very strong powertrain, all from a Dodge truck. It has a well built Dodge 360 (Holley 4V, headers, cam, MSD ignition...) , a TF 727 and full width Dana 44 front, and Chrysler 9.25 rear axles with 4 wheel discs. This is on a spring over axle lift that allows for a 35" or 37" tires on the CJ5 tub.

Do I really need to go that high? No.

Is it a bit of a pain to climb in and out of with my injuries? Yes.

Is it fun, and cool? Yes.

The CJ7 has a much more sensible straight six that would be plenty for adventuring around this beautiful nation of ours and I do like how easy it is to climb into and out of as it sits now in stock form. However, she isn't running at the moment and who knows what it would take to get it that way... Besides, I may be old enough to complain about stuff, but I still enjoy the roar of a good old American V-8. That Mopar 360 sounds awesome.

I'll be using the power train from the CJ5. I'll duplicate the spring over setup on the CJ7 as well, but go with YJ springs that are known to soften up the ride and allow for more flex. The Hardtop will give me a more secure vehicle in bad weather travels. It still allows for the normal door off Jeep driving on nice days. I have found Jeep facebook pages in my area that will make it easy to sell off remaining parts from either vehicle I don't use. Of course, I also love Jeep forums like this, and have learned a lot from these places. I hope to learn (and share) more as I go. I will probably need to ask questions when I get stuck on something. Thanks in advance people.

I started a while back with cleaning out the garage a bit getting ready for teardown of the CJ5. I picked up a couple commercial grade steel shelving units from a college that went under. I'm also under the typical buy a part or two each month budget of a retired disabled soldier. This will probably be a 2 year project as I'm taking two vehicles down to the frames.. to build one back up.

I will build the inside up to be user friendly as an adventure/overland vehicle with stuff I've learned traveling on my own, in groups, with the Army, and on sites like this. The outside of the Jeep will be a tribute to my time in the military. (and to my brothers and sisters who serve now) I will do it up in desert sand much like the trucks we had on my last tour in Iraq, but with the bumper numbers from my first tank I had in West Germany back in 1981.

Wish me luck...
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Last edited by daddyusmaximus; 10-31-2017 at 07:02 PM.
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  #2  
Old 10-31-2017, 06:49 PM
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This will be my power plant...

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Old 10-31-2017, 07:01 PM
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Tear down on the CJ5 is under way. Today was exhaust and the almost full fuel tank. Must have got at least a half gallon on the garage floor. I need to get the drivetrain out and the tub and frame out of the garage so I can get the CJ7 inside before bad weather sets in.

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Old 11-01-2017, 05:07 AM
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Great deal! Keep us posted
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Old 11-08-2017, 10:12 PM
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Spent 4 hrs getting ready to the pull engine only to find out my cherry picker was short on hydraulic oil and wouldn't go high enough to take the slack out of the chain on the leveler...
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Old 11-13-2017, 08:01 PM
daddyusmaximus daddyusmaximus is offline
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Going better. Got the engine, trans, T-case, and front axle out. Rear axle will come out tomorrow and the carcass of the CJ5 can be hauled out of the garage to make room for the CJ7 that will be built using this engine, and these axles. Looking forward to getting the CJ7 in the garage before snow hits.
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Old 11-27-2017, 07:52 PM
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Teardown of CJ5 is complete, frame and tub is sold, and CJ7 has been rolled into the garage.

THIS is my true starting point. The CJ5 was for parts I will use on the build of this (the $120 CJ7)... that first has to come down to the frame.




Step one, Remove the hard top.




Step two, Had my son helping me work on the Jeep. Im trying to pry an electric connector off the rear window wiper, and I need something to lift the clip up to unlock it...

Me to son: Go get me a screwdriver. Never mind, I can pry with my pocket knife.

Famous last words of a fool.

Took about a quarter inch off the tip of my left thumb.... I guess I'll take a break on the Jeep for a while.

My wife will confirm that having patience is not my greatest strength. Gotta take care of the wife anyhow, she just had a hysterectomy this morning.

Side note, I had installed new LED lighting in the garage to cope with cold weather lighting problems the stupid ballasts were giving me in the old lights. Much better.
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Old 11-29-2017, 09:38 PM
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Doors, hood, windshield off, and rear seat out. Real hard to do anything with only one thumb in working order.




Got a buddy coming over to help see if we can get the 258 running tomorrow. Don't really care, I'm not using it, and I'm not putting a single dollar in it, but it would be nice to know when I go to sell it later. Hell, I'll be happy if it's not froze up seeing as it's been sitting about 4 years.
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Old 12-09-2017, 05:23 PM
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Turns out the engine has a knock in either the front or second cylinder. It will barely run, but it should be rebuildable. Knowing something is better than knowing nothing.

Thumb is healing very slowly, and the cold weather not helping, but a few more things have come off under Brandy's watchful eye. Brandy is my 96 lb German Shepherd who works as a PTSD/TBI/ service dog. She is with me pretty much 24/7.

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