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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.



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