Re: Thinking about a CJ
You're young, you've got a lot to learn. That's the bad part, the good part is you've got lots of time to do the learning. It's going to require patience and time to work out the bugs. You may as well start to do that now.
So, If I could give advice, formulate a policy for buying, repair and upgrading before you buy. Plan now... and buy accrodingly. A plan is a good thing! As example here's miy policy for upgrades:
1. It cannot be so complex the average shadetree mechanic could not understand the upgrade.
2. It cannot be so complex the average shadetree mechanic could not fix it.
3. It cannot be so expensive it consumes your resources.
4. Looking Cool has nothing to do with an upgrade.
6. It has to enhance the peformance of the Jeep.
7. It has to add value.
8. It cannot be something that cannot be fixed in the field.
9. It must use common, avaliable parts, used or new.
10. It must be field fixable without a huge manual.
11. One must not have to call a help line to order parts.
12. It must be able to be able to be fixed with common tools, nothing exotic like computer operated scopes, etc.
13. It must have good reputation in the marketplace.
14. It must be sturdy and easily maintained.
Here's a little advice on how to buy and then work on your Jeep... and believe me, you're going to work on it so you might as well do EACH repair right.. the first time!
1. You will need room. A parking place ain't gonna cut it. Have plenty of room to work, or area where you can store parts. You’ll need lots of room to spread parts from hell to breakfast. There’s nothing worse than working in an area where you have to adjust, move or work around something else. The Jeept has to have a priority in the space. If you buy the Jeep you WILL have to work on it... or pay someone else to do the job. If you work on it, it requires space... and that may be for an extended time.
2. Plan ahead on Paper, you’ll see more of this “plan” revealed as you read down.
3. Establish a budget. This CJ you're contemplatin' is old, and WILL require lots and lots of your money... aside from the purchase price. You may not meet the budget, but it will act as an “official” guideline to meet, or exceed. As an example, the lowly CJ fan control switch, it’s taken apart with 4 tabs... pretty easy to clean, refurbish and reinstall... Or you can buy a new one and install it... it all affects the budget.
4. Establish a time line to get this CJ back into shape. It will NOT be reliable the minute you drive it from the present owners drive. Look at the forums and papers where someone has started a project only to become discouraged, disinterested, or broke. They sell it for about half what they have into the project. That’s not my idea of a good investment. Though you're not buying a "Project," most used Jeeps quickly become that.. some survive and become the greatest vehicle you ever owned... and some just become parts for the rest of us.
5. If you can fix the part for the cost of a tool, buy the tool. A good example would be rust repair. You could buy a fiberglass tub, or repair the old tub. Buy a good wire feed welder and learn to weld. You take away the skill, knowledge and bragging rights as well as the job when it’s finished. No one can every take those things away from you.
6. Buy quality tools, buy the best and buy it once and be done with it. Only the rich can afford poor quality. I bought tools when I was 13 that I still have them 40 years later. They’ve become my friends, and they’ve never let me down.
7. Learn, in your area who to deal with, and who not to. Don’t get taken to the cleaners. That includes who to buy the initial Jeep from. A local Jeep Club is a good place to start.
8. Have an “Authority” on hand to critique your purchase, and then your work. Don’t go it alone, it’s an uphill battle as it is. You need someone who can step back and look at the project and give good solid advice. Then take the advice. If that authority says run as fast as you can from the purchase... then run!
9. Buy a digital camera, or lots of disposable cameras. IMHO a cheap digital is the way to go. You can document how things came apart, and in what state they came off the vehicle. That’s the way you’ll have to get the part back on... hopefully in better shape. The camera also documents what you’ve done. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees. This way you can step back and say: “WOW, I guess I have really been making progress!” It prevents you from selling out in times of discouragement. You buy a Jeep and you should be in it for the long haul....
10. There is no shame in using quality used parts if their serviceable and if the price is right.
11. Define if this is a JEEP... <font color="red"> just every body else’s parts </font color> , or a JEEP with all OEM parts. As example, I love my Front Fierro seats, but their not strictly AMC so they’d offend the Restoration crowd. Now, me I don’t give a tinker’s dam for a restoration, as I value function. You’ll have to make the same choice.
12. When refurbishing a part do it in a professional quality manner. If not, you’ll be doing it again and agian. That costs time and money.
13. Break the work into Sub-systems you can tackle easily. As example if you're working on the electricts, that's a subsystem. Get that subsystem working before you move onto something else... and there will always be something else! As example.... Perhaps you're a natural at metal work. The tub repair would be no problem. On the other hand anything electric is a mystery known only to the gods. You’ll have to stretch, grow and learn a little to effect any electric repair. Build a little education, books, helps, hints, and time into your purchase budget and plan.
14. Look over that CJ REAL GOOD to determine which parts need replacement.
15.Look at the interior of the tub. Is it rusted? Examine every seam and ripple inside and out for Rust. See what needs attention. If it does, mark it down on a 3X5 card. When I looked at my CJ before I bought it I took my HUGE pile of file cards into the computer room and entered them into simple database... the simpler the better. I could very easily run a report to see what had to be done, and plan accordingly. The parameters of the database are up to you, but I’d strongly suggest you do it....
16. Get as full a view of the frame, running gear, and drive train. Poke around them and see what's rusted, missing, etc. A bad foundation is not a good buy. Look at the tail section of the frame. If it's rusted... be prepared to do frame work or repalce the frame. Pay a full time mechanic to look a the Jeep if you need to... it will be worth the money for the apprisial.
17. Examine the engine for leaks, compression, etc. Look in the radiator for oil in the coolant. Look in the oil for gas or debris.
18. Examine the transmission and transfer case for leaks.
19. Examine the brake lines, gas lines, vapor return lines, and gas tank. Are the lines rusted, or the flexible lines decaying? If so, be prepared to replace them. Look at the seam on the gas tank. If it's rusted... you'll be replacing it soon and it's cloggin up the inside of the fule filter with rust particles.
20. Pull each wheel’s brake assembly. Are the drums in good shape? Does everyghing look good? Does the wheel assembly "wiggle" when it's off the ground... bad wheel bearings or axle.
21. When were the U-Joints and Joint straps last replaced?
22. Look closely at the drive shafts, are they dinged, bent, bowed, Slip joint’s loose? Well, now’s a that's a good inidcator of poor maintance by the owner..
23. Do the hubs work... make the Onwer drive it in 4WD to make sure!.
So as yo can see, when you buy a used Jeep there's "Some assembly required." It's just like eating an elephant, one bite at a time seems best. Think real hard about a Jeep... that little Zuki may just get a little cuter. IMHO... If you're not willing to commit to a lot of work, an unreliable vechile for a while, and some parts money... don't buy a Jeep.