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Freebie 1976 Jeep CJ-5 Rolling Chassis


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#1 Rocket Doctor

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 05:19 AM

Hi All!  My cousin stopped by for a visit a couple of days back, and we got to talking about projects.  He said that he was just finishing up his wife's driver, a mid-70's CJ-5 that they'd swapped a 300 cid Ford straight six and four speed truck transmission into.  Apparently, the tub was beat, bashed and abused, and he bought a 76 CJ-5, complete, for the tub and seats.

 

 He said that the (now) rolling chassis was cluttering his yard, and was I interested in having it for hauling it off?  Said he got a clear title for the thing when he bought it, also, it had a freshly overhauled AMC 304, 3 speed, unknown transfer case, and didn't recall if it had the AMC 20 or D44 rearend.  It does have the Saginaw power steering box and pump on the engine with the plumbing and the steering wheel and shaft ass'y.  He didn't recall if the D30 up front had discs on it, but I don't recall that discs were available in 76.

  

I'm headed over to pick it up with the car hauler the end of the month, can't pass this up!  I have the 49 CJ2A out back with the Pinto 2300 4 cylinder conversion, but the remainder of the drivetrain is still stock, so of course, I'm thinking of parting out the CJ-5 chassis and updating everything that I can into the 2A.  

 

Is this going to be worth the effort, or should I just part the thing out?



#2 Moses Ludel

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Posted 24 May 2014 - 07:20 AM

Rocket Doctor...A '76 CJ-5 should be drum front brakes, the chassis is the first year for a boxed frame, a big plus, the 304 V-8 would be great power for a flatfender CJ-2A chassis. The transfer case is a Spicer 20, rear axle an AMC 20 with the Dana 30 open knuckle up front.

 

All of the these parts have merit.  The transfer case is a through-drive, so it would not line up with the 2A's offset rear axle center section.  You could swap the AMC 20 into the early Jeep or install a D44 with a centered diff from a '72-'75 CJ. 

 

The Saginaw gear retrofit would be a real plus over the Ross cam-and-lever steering gear in the 2A.  You'd go to a one-piece knuckle-to-knuckle tie-rod and a one-piece draglink ("short tie-rod"), eliminating the 2A's bell crank and twin tie-rods.  The D30 front axle, even with drum brakes, is an improvement over the CJ-2A's Spicer 25 closed knuckle.  

 

1976 drum brakes all around would be a major improvement over the 2A's 9" drums.  I'd do a dual master cylinder conversion with this brake upgrade, you can maintain the OE through-the-floor pedals if desired.

 

If you're okay with the AMC Model 20 rear axle (which I like a lot, see my forum topic/post on how to tighten the hub flange-to-axle shaft nuts), you could swap both axles from the '76 chassis into the CJ-2A.  There would be adjustments to the spring perch locations and for spring widths in this process;  measure the front axle carefully to center it up properly.

 

I'd want to confirm the degree and caliber of the 304 V-8 rebuild and verify the condition of other pieces (power steering pump, alternator, etc.).  The transmission, if the original 1976 unit, is likely a T150, a decent all synchromesh 3-speed that is just "okay" ratio wise with the 2.0:1 low range of the Spicer 20.  The 5.38 axle gears in the CJ-2A help offset the crawl ratio limitations and should work with 31"-33" diameter tires. 

 

Of course, you could do a T18 four-speed swap, but this means a conversion and adapter parts if you use the common Ford truck version to get the 6.32:1 compound low gear.  This 6.32 ratio was only available with some Jeep CJ T18 units.  Most were 4.02:1 first gear.

 

You'd have the cooling/radiator, 12V electrics, exhaust (rear exit, please, whether single or dual, find a safe way!), fuel supply and other issues to tackle.  This is straightforward on a vintage Jeep, though, as each component is simple and easy to access.

 

If you're willing to do all of this, and if the CJ-2A was not earmarked for a stock restoration, you have a lot of "stuff" here.  This buildup would be a time hungry "project", as you know.  The result would be a Jeep CJ-2A with much better drivability, handling and highway performance.

 

Moses



#3 Rocket Doctor

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 05:41 PM

Long time waiting, but this afternoon, Clyde pulled up on his way through with a trailer in-tow, and the rolling CJ5 chassis onboard.  We rolled it off into one of the stalls in the old horse barn (the one stall with a still-good steel roof!), and took a very quick look see.  This chassis does indeed have a center-diff AMC rear axle, open knuckle D30 up front, with the big drums.  Steering isn't what I thought he said it was, but is still a manual Saginaw box with cross steering.  T case is through type, centered driveshaft, three speed manual, all behind a 304.  

 

Still raining hard, so I didn't unwrap the motor to even get a sense of what it is, except it's an AMC V8.  The fuel tank is mounted between the frame rails, under-body, with a skid plate (of sorts).  A box of parts came with it, including a Carter AFB four barrel in pretty tough shape, two p/s pumps with hoses, extra distributor, two starter motors, extra water pump, and other 'stuff' that I didn't take the time to pull out.

 

Total expenditure so far was enough components to load five boxes of .308 Winchester hunting ammunition.  I had the components on hand from past projects, and had bought them back when Hornady 165 boat tail .30 caliber bullets were around $6.00 per hundred.

 

I'll get some photos of what's here, if you're interested.  As you mentioned, there is a BUNCH of conversion material in this thing, which should make upgrading the 2A a bit more interesting!



#4 Moses Ludel

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Posted 28 September 2014 - 07:32 PM

'76 indeed, the two tip-offs would be the AMC centered rear differential and Spicer 20 transfer case.  This is a much better frame than AMC/Jeep '72-'75 CJ.  1976 is fully boxed rails like up through '86.  You might want to work with this rolling chassis and the CJ-2A body, although the wheelbase length of the '76 is 84 inches, and your flat fender 2A is 80 inches.  Can be fitted, with your talent, though not a "bolt-on", for sure.  You'd be balancing the wheelbase versus body sections length.

 

Posting some photos would be helpful, I'm curious!

 

Moses



#5 Rocket Doctor

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 01:00 PM

Photos coming, just got to wait for the camera's batteries to charge.   In the meantime, a few other observations.  The block, and cylinder heads, at least the exterior surfaces give the impression that they came out of the hot tank, were assembled, the engine sealed up, and not much more done to it.  All exposed metal on the engine exhibits a coat of rust.  The intake manifold, at some point, was swapped out for an Offenhauser 360, and a Carter AFB, what size AFB is unknown, but it IS there, and, with what seems to be an original 'sorta' triangle shaped data tag under one of the top cover screws.  IIRC, the 304's were all 2V's, weren't they?  Doesn't mean that a wrecking yard carb couldn't have been sorced.  I hate to say it, but I believe that I'm going to attempt to beat the weather, and get this engine onto a stand, and into the garage where I can at least sacrifice some gaskets to see what the internals look like.  I'm thinking top end coming off, and the oil pan to see what the bearings look like.  That'll let me get a better idea of what, if anything, was done to the AMC v8.

The bellhousing is mated up to the transmission solidly, but there are no bolts securing it to the engine block.  One less thing to do prior to hoisting the engine out.  

Other accessories that were in the "box-o-stuff" are, 2 alternators, one is a Delco, the other an Autolite.  2 starters, condition unknown.  2 complete power steering pumps with brackets installed, though the chassis wears a "manual" steering box.  

Single shift lever for the transfer case, and the trans is indeed a three speed, though so covered with grease, mud, and grime that it might take awhile before a really good positive ID can be made, but I have my suspicions.  

Boxed frame, that is widened at the rear,and appears to be rust-free (really, really unusual for a Utah-titled vehicle!!!), and damage free.

I'm going to look long and very very hard at utilizing this frame with the 2A tub.  The difference between an 80 and an 81 inch wheelbase might not be near as tough to do as going from 80 to 84, but, as the 2A's tub is coming off, anyway, why not give it a trial fit?



#6 Rocket Doctor

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 01:56 PM

Sorry 'bout the poor quality. Condition about what you'd expect for a vehicle stored for several seasons outside with only the body, and some duct tape for protection. The transmission sure does look like a tiny thing. My hand isn't all that big, and it isn't but about a quarter inch or so longer than my hand is spread.

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#7 60Bubba

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 02:47 PM

Looks like a heck of a restoration job, no matter which direction you go.  I had an old CJ-5 when I was stationed in Puerto Rico.  It had spent much of it's life in the canal zone in Panama, then down to PR.  I know all about rusty Jeeps.  That frame really does look pretty good considering.  I wonder if they put any preservation oil in that engine before storing it...



#8 Rocket Doctor

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 03:06 PM

I put a socket and ratchet on the front of the crankshaft, and the motor will turn over, but is very, very stiff. The dipstick is in the box-o-stuff, so I don't know right now if there's anything in the crankcase.
I'm not terribly familiar with AMC V8's, and have to ask how to prime the oil system on these.

I uncovered the spark plug holes, the hole where the distributor mounts, the intake manifold, and noticed that what I can see of the inside appears to be clean, dry, and devoid of nastiness. Also pulled the crankcase drain plug, and noted that there is no oil, and what I could see of the inside was again, nice and clean, and dry. Also took a close look, and all of the exposed gasket ends, especially the intake manifold, cylinder heads, valve covers, oil pan, and timing cover/water pump/oil pump gaskets appear to be spanky new. Or at least, haven't been warm, hot, or exposed to liquids.

While looking down through the spark plug holes, I noted that the tops of the pistons that I could see were sparkling clean, with no evidence of having been cleaned, at least not by mechanical means. I couldn't make out anything to indicate an oversized piston, but also, that the cylinder walls were fairly smooth, with nothing to show any crosshatch.

I'll pull the exhaust manifolds tomorrow, and take a look at the back side of the exhaust valves, and open up the valve covers. I'm waiting to hear back from a friend who has a compression gauge, though turning this motor over is a ways down the road.

In any event, things look promising, but I'm also NOT holding my breath hoping that it had a thorough overhaul until I see something different.



#9 Moses Ludel

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Posted 29 September 2014 - 05:48 PM

From the photos, I've seen far worse places to start, Rocket Doctor.  There's plenty of potential here...The engine sounds like a mixed bag.  New pistons without crosshatch visible?  That's a bit unnerving.  If the heads come off soon, you'll get the answers.  Maybe fresh crosshatch will appear once the heads are off.  If you're curious, you can always run a cylinder leakdown test on a stationary engine.  For those curious, see my video on running a cylinder leakdown test:  
 

 
As for priming, there are several oil gallery pipe plugs on this engine.  One thing to consider is the AMC oil pump design: in the timing cover like a pushrod Buick V-8 or the V-6.  I always prime these pumps with petroleum jelly packed into the pump cavity before startup.  You can then prime the oil system in the usual manner:  the distributor drives from the camshaft, the oil pump shaft runs from the base of the distributor.  A priming tool (similar to Ford or Chevy V-8 applications) can spin the oil pump's driveshaft once the distributor has been removed.  Cavity packed around the oil pump gears, the pump should pick up oil and circulate it through the galleries and passageways to the valvetrain and so forth.  This will provide a wet first start.
 
Moses

#10 Rocket Doctor

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Posted 30 September 2014 - 03:38 AM

Great information! I appreciate it. I must be suffering from a mental block of some sort, and didn't even consider a leak-down, rather than a mere compression check. As you mentioned, when the top end and oil pan come off, most of my questions will be answered.

#11 Moses Ludel

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Posted 30 September 2014 - 10:30 AM

All the cylinder leakdown test requires is the engine's firing order and finding TDC on the compression stroke for each cylinder tested. 

 

Might be worth running this test.  If you don't have the leakdown tester, see my post about making a facsimile that puts cylinder seal into perspective (albeit without the benefit of leak percentage readings):  http://forums.4wdmec...er-leak-tester/

 

Moses




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