My $120 CJ7 build

Got the springs painted, and on, hopefully for the last time. I'm pretty sure they won't be coming off any more so I went ahead, and did a final red Locktite, and proper torque on them. PLEASE GOD... don't make me have to take them off again. The hope is to move on from here. I'll give her a few days for the paint to cure up, then I'll flip her over and test fit the axles to see if I should have waited on the Locktite or not... lol. They'll come off later for a full rebuild, all new seals, and bearings, and what not. Air lockers if I can swing it.

Motor mounts are ordered, and on the way for the Mopar 360. I'll need to get some brake and fuel line stuff. This should be interesting. Never bent hard line before. There's shock mounts, steering box, and a few other things to get taken care of before I start in on the tub. Fun winter ahead...


Today I started out with one goal, but completely changed gears. My Eastwood Internal Frame Coating came in the other day. I didn’t want my frame to rust from the inside out, so I set to getting as much of the debris out of it as I could to ready it for the coating. Not fun holding the shop vac up to one hole, while blowing the air compressor into another… all the while having to quickly shut down the shop vac every time the air compressor kicked in to keep from blowing the garage circuit breaker. Yeah, everything is on one breaker. 120 year old house, 50 year old garage…

Realizing the coating would settle as it dries, and that water and mud also settle… I figured the frame should be right side up for this process. This is where everything changed. Once I got the frame flipped, I remembered how much I was looking forward to setting her on her axles… So I figured I could coat the inside of the frame later… with her sitting on her axles.

I used the cherrypicker to lift the frame high enough to wheel the rear axle under it.


I had remembered that I needed to put anti-seize on all the shackle bolts, so I needed to take them off anyway, even though I had got a bit ahead of myself torqueing them down. Thankfully, I thought of this before I went to bolt the axle in, and loosened them. I was so damn pleased with myself. My short term memory is totally shot with my TBI, (Lots of long term stuff missing too) and this really saved me a lot of frustration today. The amount of cussing I would have done had I tried to line up the leaf pins with them torqued would have been great. Also, someone else had pointed out (rightly so) you torque them with the weight of the vehicle on them…

I forgot to get a photo of the front going in, but she’s a roller.

Here’s a shot of the front Dodge truck Dana 44 axle.


This isn’t the one that was in the Jeep I got the drive train from. I was driving that CJ5 up until I blew a hub at The Badlands offroad park in Attica, IN. I still have that axle, and will have to use it for parts to rebuild this one. Scrapyards being what they are these days, I couldn’t get one to sell me parts. Had to buy an axle, but that’s no biggie, as the other one had a slightly tweeked long tube anyhow.



I’ll have to use the outer from the old axle as it has the proper crossover high steer conversion done to it that was being used on the CJ5. Those components will come over to the CJ7.

Here is the rear Dodge truck Chrisler 9.25 axle.


Here you can see both the good, and the bad. It’s been converted to 4 wheel discs, and they worked very well on the CJ5. I kept the Wilwood propotion valve to use on this, but I will add power brakes. Cool thing is whoever did the conversion used the same calipers as the front. You can hardly see them inthis shot, but the builder mounted new spring pads, without cutting off the old truck pads. They are behind the leafs. The towers were for home made traction bars, but they didn’t allow for spring movement, and kinds put the suspension in a bind. They were just single arms with heim joints at the ends. You can also see how long Napa U-bolts are…


After making the bottom and sides of the frame look nice, the top of it needs the same treatment now. I still have to do the internal coating as well.


My Advance Adaptors motor mounts came in too. (the CJ5 had a homemade set welded in with no rubber to absorb the vibrations) Now I’ll be able to place the Mopar 360 in it’s new home sometime over the winter.

Finally able to get out to do some stuff on the Jeep again today. Shoulder giving me fits pretty bad. VA may be doing surgery again. VFW busy as hell with fish fry season, and losing one bartender after another... Family vacation in a rental house in Florida with 17 people was overwhelming...

ANYWAY... I cut the stock shock mounts off today. I'm doing the Ford truck shock tower thing I read about. Seems like a good inexpensive way to get longer shocks on there.



Here is one of the new shock towers held in front of the stock shock location.


I noticed that the factory shock locations are off center. They are slightly towards the pivot side of the spring. (both front and rear) Is there any significant reason I need to mount the new ones in the same place? I was wanting to mount the new towers straight over the axles. For some reason, that seams to make more sense to me, though I know the axles will move slightly towards the shackle end as the springs compress.

Side note: I took Brandy to a dog park in Destin, FL while we were down there over Thanksgiving. It was the first time she had ever been to one. She didn't even know how to act with the other dogs. Being a service dog, she was trained to ignore other animals. She can get along, but it took 3 trips for her to relax enough to just play with them all, and just act like a dog. They had a sign that reminded people to pick up dog poop, but the wording just seemed funny to me. A long time ago, I remember seeing a funny photo on David Letterman, or Jay Leno, of a shopping cart upside down on a sign that reads "return carts here". It gave me an idea, so I had my son snap a funny photo of Brandy and I by the poop sign. I posted it on a German Shepherd facebook page. Someone made a meme out of it, and now it on several other pages and been shared like 30,000 times... Brandy has gone viral... lol.

The original my son took.


The meme somebody made of us.

Seeing as how I'm getting ready to get the shock towers welded on the frame, and the tabs on the axles, I figured I'd go ahead, and get the motor mounts, and trans mount on as well.


Finances continue to be a stumbling block, and I have decided to forego the idea of swapping to the Dana 300. The Dana 20 was working when I pulled it, I'll just keep using it, and save the expense of having to buy new output shafts, and adapters... Either way, I want to get both the trans and T-case gone through to make sure everything is 100%. Just because I was driving the CJ5 before I tore it down, doesn't mean I won't put these same components in the CJ7, only to have them go south in 6 months...

Upon closer inspection, I noticed that there are signs of abuse... Somebody has been beating on the shift rails.


Then I remember even though it did work, it was difficult to shift at times. It had a twin stick cable shifter (supposedly newly installed) but I never could get it to work independently. Just regular 4 high, or 4 low. Something for the trans guy to check on. I'll be dropping it off Tuesday, along with a spare Dana 20 that came with the CJ5 back when I first got it. The "spare" has a broken rear output shaft, but most of the other parts should be good, including the shift rails.



I'm going to try to have a transmission mount fabbed up using the stock skidplate as the base, but if need be I can have a new crossmember built. The one it was mounted with in the CJ5 had to be cut out. I was a huge piece, welded in, hung real low, and the engine & trans were both mounted solid, with no rubber mounts. Not how I want it done.

Once I get these back I can get the welder over here. That should be all the welding I'll need til it's time for the cage.

But of course something will come up...

Transmission, and 2 Dana 20s off to the trans guy. Hopefully he won't take too long to freshen them up, and they can get put in their new home... He said he was busy as hell, but I'm not too worried. Wife already reminded me that Christmas is coming, so I probably won't get much (if any) money this month for Jeep parts... or gun parts... or ammo... or anything cool.

I forgot to take in the converter when I dropped off the trans, and t-cases, but I can drop it off next time I'm down in Lafayette. I may just spring for a new converter anyhow since that's what you normally do when you get a rebuild...

Anyway, I went out to see if I could get the mount off the old trans. I had a thought that with the 999, and 727 being from the same family, I just might be able to use the same mount that came on the Jeep originally. I'll take it with me next time I go, and see if the holes line up. The gunk on it was in places a good 1/4 inch thick. I had to scrape it off with a putty knife before taking a brush, and rag to it.


Then I decided to test fit the tub. I don't have any new parts that bolt on easily (nor money to buy any) at the moment. I have to wait to get the trans back, so I can have the motor mounts, and shock towers welded in place. I discovered two things.

1. Just setting it on the frame is a great motivator.


2. I won't be placing the rear towers forward leaning, like from the factory.


There isn't enough room without getting into the fenderwell. If I go straight up, I've plenty of room. The wide full size axles give me the room I need outside the frame rails.



I think with the shock towers you are out boarding the shocks. There may be some brake hardware needed for e brake. Check currie enterprises for the needed parts.

Sent from my iPhone using mobile app
I think with the shock towers you are out boarding the shocks. There may be some brake hardware needed for e brake. Check currie enterprises for the needed parts.

Sent from my iPhone using mobile app

Whoever did the conversion to 4 wheel discs, didn't include a parking brake. There is a caliper bracket welded on the axle, and it uses the same calipers as the front. No clue what rotor. Ought to be fun figuring that one out...
With the wife taking most of our money for Christmas, I decided to do some more test fitting, and planning. Stuff that doesn't require new parts. I put one of the front fenders on to check how centered the front axle is. Not bad, plus still no weight on it... I think I will spring for new ones though. the rust damage on the sides is pretty bad.


I noticed a bulge in the inner fender right where the shocks went, and there is room in the pocket for the Super Duty shock towers to go in the stock position. In fact, they have to to avoid inner fender mods.


I lined up the shock with my new tabs, and noticed something. The spring plates have a nice mount where the stock shocks went. I bolted up the sway bar to see where it lined up. It's inline, but pointing the wrong direction.


I went to the other side and flipped the plate around. Bingo. I can use the factory sway bar. I'll get longer, adjustable, quick disconnect links to make the fit right, and allow for better trail riding. I can't flip the other side because of the way it bolts to the pumpkin. I'll get that mount cut off the plate, and welded back on pointing the other way.


I can also keep the stock bump stops, if they have something to hit. I got the spring plates from the CJ5 the drivetrain came out of. If I hog out the holes a bit, and cut one of them in half, I'll have two nice bump stop plates. Rather than bump right off the axles, now they will bump off these plates. It should be just high enough to make up for the difference in tires. I'll be running 35s. Recycle baby...


I dropped off the front right spring plate at the welder to have him cut off and turn around that shock bracket, that will now be my sway bar link mount.

I also dropped off the fuel tank at another shop (they have a huge brake) to have a skidplate bent up to match.

When I got home it was just too nice a day not to spend some time on the Jeep, so I headed for the garage to tinker for a bit. I found some stuff out. The fenders on both the green CJ5, and the brown CJ7 were all rusty.


I was hoping to save them since the rust is all in the same spot on all four... the flat side piece. However, I happened on a almost new set for sale on facebook the other day. I had to drive 2 hrs to get them, but I got both for $150. Not a dent or scratch on them. Of course I had to test fit them.



This is when I fount out that my replacement tub (a 1976) is a bit different. There is no place to mount the top fender brace. I'll have to drill a hole for a bolt when the time comes.


Next I decided to open the box to the tire carrier that goes on the bumper. Sadly I couldn't put it on the spindle. Apparently they sized the bushings just perfect, but now I have the spindle painted. I'll have to get some sand paper and take off the paint. While I was in the back of the tub, I decided to fit up my Army truck tail lights. Had to drill some new holes, and slightly enlarge two existing ones, but they will work just fine.


I got to thinking... 1980 frame, '76 tub, '77 CJ5 fenders, '79 CJ5 windshield, Dodge truck drivetrain, YJ springs, Ford Super Duty shock towers, Army truck lights... I think it has to be named Frankenstein.