1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    My $120 CJ7 build thread

    Ever see a $120 Jeep CJ7?

    My 0 CJ7 build thread-blrvhg4.jpg

    Well, you have now. Just rolled her into the garage yesterday for a frame off build.

    Of course, it will take a year and a half, and thousands of dollars from now, but she'll be looking way better, and running too.

    Here's the story. I picked up a 1980 Jeep CJ7 back in Aug that I intend to build as an adventure/overland rig. My skills are limited, so I will have to hire some of the work done, but I want to do as much of it as I can myself. As we all know, there is great satisfaction in standing back and looking at something you built with your own hands. A thing America is losing these days, as is so accurately reported by public figure Mike Rowe. I like him... he's cool in my book.

    Anyway, She isn't running now, but she is complete, and near as I can tell, almost 100% stock, (except added fog lights) so that gives me a known starting point. That itself is something lacking in so many old Jeeps, including my previous CJ5s. The "new": CJ7 has a 258 I-6 and the auto trans. The shifter is on the tilt column with a very nice Lecarra wheel. The dash, seats, everything about the interior and hardtop is complete and in nice shape. The hardtop even has a defroster in the back glass and a rear wiper. The doors are great and the roll up windows work perfectly. The windshield is a goner, and there are some panels on the tub that will require attention, possibly a new tub.

    So I met a fellow combat vet at a 4x4 meet. He also has 3 tours. He also drives a '79 CJ5. (I had one at the time) He's trying to get out of paying storage on two old Jeeps he was going to build, and he sells me one, and a buddy one. I got mine for $120. Yeah, that's right. $120. I didn't miss a zero. He just wanted me to cover the last months storage fee. He's younger, still in, and single. I'm old, fat, crippled, retired, wife is a teachers aid that has no paychecks in the summer, and we have two kids in college, but man he hooked me up!

    Now the CJ5 I already had just happens to have a very strong powertrain from a Dodge truck. It had a built Dodge 360 (Holley 4V, headers, cam, MSD ignition...) , a TF 727 and full width Dana 44 front, and Chrysler 9.25 rear axles with 4 wheel discs. This is on a spring over axle lift that allows for a 35" or 37" tires on the CJ5 tub.

    I have since stripped the CJ5 for the drive train, and other spare parts (to be used in the CJ7) and sold the frame and tub.

    Do I really need to go that high? No.

    Is it a bit of a pain to climb in and out of with my injuries? Yes.

    Is it fun, and cool? Yes.

    The CJ7 has a much more sensible straight six that would be plenty for adventuring around this beautiful nation of ours and I do like how easy it is to climb into and out of as it sits now in stock form. However, she isn't running at the moment and who knows what it would take to get it that way... Besides, I may be old enough to complain about stuff, but I'm still young enough to enjoy the roar of a good old American V-8. That Mopar 360 sounds awesome.

    I'll be using the power train from the CJ5. I'll duplicate the spring over setup on the CJ7 as well, but go with YJ springs that are known to soften up the ride and allow for more flex. The Hardtop will give me a more secure vehicle in bad weather travels. It still allows for the normal door off Jeep driving on nice days. I have found Jeep facebook pages in my area that will make it easy to sell off remaining parts from either vehicle I don't use. Of course, I also love Jeep forums like this, and have learned a lot from these places. I hope to learn (and share) more as I go. I will probably need to ask questions when I get stuck on something. Thanks in advance people.

    I will build the inside up to be user friendly as an adventure/overland vehicle with stuff I've learned traveling on my own, in groups, with the Army, and on sites like this. The outside of the Jeep will be a tribute to my time in the military. (and to my brothers and sisters who serve now) I will do it up in desert sand much like the trucks we had on my last tour in Iraq, but with the bumper numbers from my first tank I had in West Germany back in 1981.

    Wish me luck...
    Last edited by TerryMason; 11-27-2017 at 09:35 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    THIS is my true starting point. The CJ5 was for parts I will use on the build of this (the $120 CJ7)... that first has to come down to the frame.

    Step one, Remove the hard top.

    My 0 CJ7 build thread-svfhrbh.jpg

    Step two, injure self. Had my son helping me work on the Jeep. I’m trying to pry an electric connector off the rear window wiper, and I need something to lift the clip up to unlock it...

    Me to son: “Go get me a screwdriver. Never mind, I can pry with my pocket knife.”

    Famous last words of a fool.

    Took about a quarter inch off the tip of my left thumb.... I guess I'll take a break on the Jeep for a while.

    My wife will confirm that having patience is not my greatest strength. Gotta take care of the wife anyhow, she just had a hysterectomy this morning.

    Side note, I had installed new LED lighting in the garage to cope with cold weather lighting problems the stupid ballasts were giving me in the old lights. Much better.
    Last edited by daddyusmaximus; 11-27-2017 at 08:17 PM.

  3. #3
    TerryMason's Avatar
    TerryMason is offline Administrator
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Virginia Beach VA

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    Awesome score on the Jeep! I'd really love to have the shifter on the column - very cool.

    Post more pictures as your build comes along.

  4. #4
    JK in SC's Avatar
    JK in SC is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2017

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    That totally sucks about your injury, but it definitely sounds familiar. The patience part does too. ☹️

    Canít wait to follow your build. Very cool.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    Doors, hood, windshield off, and rear seat out. Real hard to do anything with only one thumb in working order.

    Got a buddy coming over to help see if we can get the 258 running tomorrow. Don't really care, I'm not using it, and I'm not putting a single dollar in it, but it would be nice to know when I go to sell it later. Hell, I'll be happy if it's not froze up seeing as it's been sitting about 4 years.

  6. #6
    southtj's Avatar
    southtj is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Memphis, TN

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    Wow, what a bargain. I look forward to the progress

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    Turns out the engine has a knock in either the front or second cylinder. It will barely run, but it should be rebuildable. Knowing something is better than knowing nothing. I'll pass it on when I go to sell it.

    Thumb is healing very slowly, and the cold weather not helping, but a few more things have come off under Brandy's watchful eye. Brandy is my 96 lb German Shepherd who works as a PTSD/TBI/ service dog. She is with me pretty much 24/7.

    My 0 CJ7 build thread-1e-fenders-grill-off.jpg

  8. #8
    mark sr's Avatar
    mark sr is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    east tenn

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    If you could only get her to hold/turn a wrench

    Years ago I sawed the tip off of my right thumb. I don't remember how long it took to heal but other than a little less dexterity with that thumb it healed well. Hope everything goes well!

  9. #9
    JPNinPA's Avatar
    JPNinPA is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Dayton Ohio Area

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    Is it a true knock or an exhaust/intake leak?

    Using Jeepz.com app
    "Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up" - Jesse Jackson

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2016

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    Can't tell, I'm not a very good mechanic, but it sounded like a knock from inside like a rod is loose, or a lifter not full of oil.

  11. #11
    Allen's Offroad's Avatar
    Allen's Offroad is offline Official Vendor
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Mount Aukum, CA

    Re: My $120 CJ7 build thread

    Could be the lifter. However, that would sound more like a clack than a knock. Nice score on the Cj7. I built one a while back with custom frame and Corvette motor. I used a YJ tub (galvanized for better rust protection) and the CJ front clip with full width D60s. Looking forward to your progress.


    My 0 CJ7 build thread-side_all4.jpg
    Allen's Offroad - 530-620-1100
    Email me at: sales@allensoffroad.com

    Be careful what you wish for. It will come true!
    Never miss a good chance to shut up! - Will Rogers

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