Cannibalizing two CJ-7’s
Bought this Jeep before I knew much, just wanted to get started in off-roading. A buddy in Texas is responsible for getting me into this! Thanks alot, Gordon.
Starting with an '83 CJ-7 (body, frame, axles) the previous owner installed a '78 CJ-7, 258 c.i.-1 bbl, T-150 3-speed & Dana 20 T/C drivetrain. The Jeep looked good, body & frame in real nice shape, but what did I know?
This Jeep has total nosebleed gears, so I've got a lot of work to do. It came with a six-point roll cage (not yet attached to the frame in front), four-inch spring lift, long homemade shackles & 31x10.5” tires on ‘stock?’ rims. It also has stock Dana 30 front & AMC 20 rear axle housings.
With the combination of 80’s tall rear-ends & 70’s tall shifting gears, this thing will barely climb a curb. ‘Crawl?’ ratio = 2.99*2.03*2.73 = 16.57 ... Oh well.
I’ve just purchased a ’77 CJ-7 with a 360 V-8 (1972 from a J-20), Headman fenderwell headers, Flowmaster mufflers, a T-18 with 6.32 first gear, newer driveshafts & recent total brake jobs. It has narrow axles with 3.54 gears. Finally, the body is partially (fenders, hood & windshield) on its way to being repaired but is generally in Very Rough shape. Yet to be determined if it is salvageable at my body repair skill level.
I’m interested in tips for cannibalizing the two CJ-7’s.
I’ve replaced the homemade shackles with stock ones and bought a drop pitman arm to re-align the steering geometry. Both Jeeps have power steering-neither has power brakes.
My plan is to pull both bodies, remove the entire drivetrain from the ’83. Transfer the complete V-8 setup/T-18/Dana 20/driveshafts (& right side engine mount) from the ’77 to the ’83. Then reinstall the ’83 body on 1” lift polyurethane mounts & attach the cage in front with a ¼” plate steel, angled, gussetted brackets. (A computer rack stabilizer foot cut in two pieces, one for each side.) Yet to figure out the bushing requirements for this.
Next considered step is to pull the larger front disk brakes with 6 bolt hubs from the narrow ’77 axles along with the 11x2” rear drums and stainless steel brake lines. My calculations yield about 25% more actual braking surface with the older (rebuilt) brakes. I just don’t know if they’ll fit on the axle ends of the ‘83. I don’t think it would be good to change the entire axle housings as they are narrower & the 3.54 gears aren’t enough incentive.
Can anyone tell if there is a difference in the two frames? Seems I read somewhere that the newer 80’s frames were boxed? If not (and the ’77 frame is in good shape-yet to be determined) then maybe it would be easier to transfer the axles between frames instead of the entire u-joint to u-joint drivetrain between frames? The body’s got to come off either way due to new mounts.
The ’77 also has a new wiring harness (the ‘83’s is all screwed up). Any opinions on pulling it out of the one jeep or just coughing up the cash for a new harness?
Finally, I’m open to suggestions on improving the gears. I’ve had an offer from a 4x4 shop locally to do 4.56 gears & lockers, front & rear for ~$1500. This should accommodate larger tires (maybe up to 35”) & seems more useful than going through the expense of modifying the transfer case. I know the tires will put a load on the stock axles, but I’m looking down the road, don’t have to go that big now!
I’m sure I left out critical pieces of the puzzle. I’m in Atlanta for the next two days, and then on my way to pick up the ’77 CJ so I don’t have access to either Jeep.
All inputs on this operation are welcome, Thanks