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Wife's Favorite FSJ of All Time!

Jeep Grand Wagoneer Jeep Wagoneer Jeep FSJ Jeep forum

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#1 Moses Ludel

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Posted 23 June 2013 - 09:36 AM

So, you're considering a Jeep FSJ restoration, maybe a multipurpose, family-oriented vehicle? While the quintessential off-pavement build is a 2-door, full-size Cherokee from the AMC/Jeep era, the Wagoneer finds begin with the 1968 models. The first Buick 350 V-8 offering, loaded with accessories and power option content, epitomized the true "luxury class" Wagoneer. 

 

In fairness, we could push that date back to the AMC 327 Vigilante V-8 models of the mid-'sixties, certainly the groundbreaking Super Wagoneer. Despite the truck-based ranching culture of Carson Valley, I remember Super Wagoneers on the showroom floor at C.O.D. Garage, Minden, Nevada, when I was a high school student.

 

The Super Wagoneer looked impressive at the Carson Valley Country Club parking lot in those years...Paradoxical that this advanced design, luxurious 4WD vehicle sold alongside F-head four-cylinder CJ-5 and CJ-6 models in 1965! The last, traditional Willys-style Pickup and Station Wagon had recently rolled off the assembly line, replaced by the modern Gladiator J-trucks and Wagoneer. If you know Jeep technology, the Willys era models could trace their design origins to the 1941 Model MB. By contrast, the Wagoneer led the industry in new 4WD technology. Imagine the Jeep Corporation assembly lines and drawing boards of the 1962-65 era!

 

AMC's acquisition of Jeep Corporation took the Wagoneer to the next level, eventually evolving into the Grand Wagoneer. This cult classic has been a regular movie star, appearing in motion pictures from its inception. The Grand Wagoneer became the middle- to upper-middle class icon of American 4WD transportation, popular in Hollywood's depiction of suburban and upscale country life...Pay attention to the movies and television, count the number of Grand Wagoneer stars and props!

 

That brings me to one of our family's favorite vehicles. Just prior to the unsettled shift in American culture to a post-9/11 mindset, we stumbled onto our 1987 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Dark blue, wood-trimmed and glistening in the morning sunlight at a Carson City supermarket parking lot, the 4x4 sported a "For Sale" sign with phone number. I combed the Jeep topside and bottom, confirming that the vehicle was a truly original, well-maintained J-model. It took two minutes to decide that a phone call was warranted, and by that afternoon, we were the happy owners at a purchase price of $6200.

 

A two-owner, documented Jeep Grand Wagoneer, the vehicle ran and handled flawlessly. With it came the famous ride quality with the factory sway bar and compliant spring rates. Donna immediately seized on the vehicle's agility, a bona fide J-truck chassis with a wide wheel track for stability, a shortened wheelbase, all adding up to a superb ride:

 

Some dimensions—1987 Grand Wagoneer overall length is 186.4 inches, width 74.8 inches, wheelbase of 108.7 inches. 37.1 inches of front headroom, 36.8 inches of rear headroom, 40.5 inches of front legroom and 37 inches of rear legroom. Curb weight around 6,200 pounds—hefty!

Your wife, like Donna, would be enchanted with the Grand Wagoneer. Step on the gas, the 360 V-8 and 727 Torqueflite respond immediately. Brakes are larger power disc/drum, 1/2-ton J-truck grade, outstanding stopping power. Wide, Dana 44 axles front and rear, open knuckle front with 5-degrees positive caster for a tight turning radius and ease of parking. Solid, easy entry and exit from the four doors, a tailgate with power window, generous leather upholstered seats, power everything for the era, what's not to like? 

 

Behind the scenes, I did the PM (preventive maintenance) on this Grand. AMC made sure there were inherent weaknesses and quirks, like the embrittlement-prone nylon window lift tracks, touchy tailgate window mechanism and the vacuum shifting mechanism for the 229 transfer case.

 

While Donna enjoyed the driving time, I kept the AMC issues at bay: changing the oil pump gears to a high volume kit (timing cover/oil pump housing was still functional, most unusual); rolled in new rod and main bearings while changing out the leaking rear main seal; restored the tired emission controls, changed the A/C system over to R134a (system virtually 'spit out ice cubes' following the recharge, amazing York compressor!); rebuilt the 2150 series Motorcraft carburetor.

 

My "blueprint" rebuild of the 2150 and careful adjustment of its altitude device produced extraordinary results!  This engine started like an EFI motor, accelerated likewise, and performed flawlessly year 'round, even with sub-freezing starts when parked in winter. The fundamental simplicity of the 2100/2150 Motorcraft carburetor is a joy, and if you simply remember to depress the accelerator to set the choke and provide a small shot of fuel to the cold engine, this wonderful carburetor and the conventional Motorcraft distributor perform much like EFI. The Grand Wagoneer retained Motorcraft 2150 carburetion and a conventional distributor though the last, 1991 model built.

 

I watched the front track bar frame attachment point carefully, as many Grand Wagoneers have broken these brackets loose, but our '87 stayed intact. The A727 transmission and even the 229 transfer case worked flawlessly—well past the century mark on the odometer.

 

When we purchased a new 2002 Liberty, our mistaken notion was that the era of the Grand Wagoneer had passed. We imagined that consistent 14-15 highway mpg was no longer sustainable at "foreign oil" fuel prices, and we talked ourselves into selling the Grand Wagoneer...What a mistake. 

 

I tolerated the Liberty and its best-ever 19 mpg for two years, lamenting the whole time about the loss of the 'Grand.  Donna was a bit kinder about the Liberty than I was, although she wasn't the one to change spark plugs on the 3.7L V-6—using a piece of fuel hose to carefully hold and work the new plugs into their out of reach spark plug positions—and start them into the soft, aluminum cylinder head spark plug threads...Curious about the fuel hose trick? Post the question, I'll reply!

 

When asked about her favorite vehicle, Donna still responds promptly, "My favorite car ever was the Grand Wagoneer..."  Funny that she still insists it was a "car". Motorheads know the Jeep Grand Wagoneer as the most rugged SUV truck ever built...That's the mystique of the Jeep FSJ models, especially the now classic Grand Wagoneer...

 

Moses



#2 biggman100

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 09:46 PM

Moses, you mentioned upgrading the A/C to 134a, what all was involved in the upgrade?



#3 Moses Ludel

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Posted 21 August 2013 - 10:14 PM

Need to change the fittings to accept the R134a charge couplings.  I vacuum pumped down the entire system first.  A new expansion valve is recommended (anticipated moisture damage).  This is your call if you think the system is thoroughly clean and will function properly without a new valve, you'll find out soon enough.

 

O-rings must be changed to R134a compatible material.  I bought all pieces, adapters, O-rings, etc., from NAPA at the time, this is common A/C stuff and part of a "conversion".  Purchased an R134a gauge set with couplers, did the whole thing.  There are less costly solutions now, including manageable cans of R134a and "better" (new chemistry) refrigerants that have the correct coupler attached to the can.  You still need the adapter fittings for the under hood high and low hookups on the system.

 

From here, I did a "textbook" AMC/Jeep fill of the system, using the gauges and a thermometer to determine the right amount of refrigerant.  The end result, with the York compressor, was very impressive.  This was the chilliest A/C system we've had in any car or truck when set to full cold mode!  I've always considered this proof of how well R134a can work, the chemistry took a lot of flack when first introduced.  Of course, this also says a lot about a York compressor!

 

I will do a recharge on either the Dodge Ram 3500 or the XJ Cherokee soon.  Each has its original A/C refrigerant, both are R134a, and I'll do a step-by-step how-to for the magazine...

 

Moses



#4 ssgtandy

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 04:01 PM

Moses,

I just got back from test driving a '91 Grand Wagoneer. It definitely needs some TLC but I think it is going to be a great project and family hauler. Luckily it has not spent all of its life in Iowa. Its body is solid with only a few rust bubbles. My older two children may be upset, but I may have to sell the CJ7. For the whole family being able to enjoy it together, it may be worth it. It definitely has more room and style than my former XJ. Our tech exchanges may soon go from CJ to Wagoneer!

I've moved our conversations to the forums, like what you've done!

Take care,

Chad A.



#5 Moses Ludel

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Posted 26 October 2013 - 10:35 PM

Hi, Chad, and welcome to the forums!  Lots of J-Wagoneer talk recently about donor axles for CJs in particular, would like to see some of these classic Jeep FSJ models stay intact ...Wife Donna still talks about the '87 Grand Wagoneer...If you plunge here, I'm ready to talk! 

 

The 1991 is classic J-truck stamina with a silky ride, having special cache as the "last" Grand...Check out the 229 transfer case and vacuum shift mechanism carefully, make sure the 4WD system works.  Check the frame where the front track bar attaches, these brackets were vulnerable to cracking...The 360 V-8 is subject to the same scrutiny as any other engine, watch the oil pressure, though, it should be plenty high like any AMC engine;  otherwise, suspect a worn timing cover, it doubles as the aluminum housing for the oil pump...Much to share, much to talk about here.

 

Keep us posted, Chad!

 

Moses



#6 ssgtandy

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 03:34 PM

Well, I am getting ready for the plunge.  My CJ7 and my nearly second CJ in parts are for sale.  I just put them on craigslist this morning and already had a guy from Southern Wisconsin make the drive and buy a set of fenders.  

 

After I get the Wagoneer mechanically sound, I want to put in a tasteful lift that flows with the Wagoneer.  I think for my driving style and 4 seasons of Iowa, I am looking at 4 inches of lift and 31s.  Part of me is even considering a 6 inch lift but, I believe I need to repress this side of me.  I've been doing some research and from what I can see Rustys and BJs Offroad offer 4 inch lifts.  Rustys is economically better and has good reviews.  BJs is not so economical but everyone seems be very satisfied with BJs quality and customer service.

 

Hopefully lifting a Wagoneer is not considered sacrilegious.  I want to I want to keep its grace yet brute style intact.  

 

I always appreciate your expertise and guidance.

 

Thank you,

Chad



#7 Moses Ludel

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Posted 27 October 2013 - 05:49 PM

Lifting a Grand is much like a J-truck pickup.  The track bar is the wild card, curious to see if an aftermarket lift accounts for the track bar with a drop bracket or not.  You'll likely get a dropped pitman arm with the kit.  (See my new post on installing a pitman arm at the 'How-to Tips' forum.)  Let us know what the lift kits include. 

 

4" lift should get 33" tires under that vehicle, surely 32" tires.  Consult with the lift kit makers.  33" would be fairly tall gearing with the stock 3.31 axle ratios, though the 360 V-8 might like the overdrive effect with that 727 3-speed automatic and no OEM overdrive.  You'll have the usual driveline concerns and so forth.  2" of lift would accommodate 31" tires, I would think...

 

When you've taken possession of this Grand Wagoneer, it would make a great unfolding project at the 4WD Mechanix 'Tech and Travel' Forums Photo Gallery.  Explore the Images and Modifications options for posting photos...It's easy and a good way to share your vehicle's transformation or restorative work.

 

Moses





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