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Jeep CJ7 Rehab

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  • Jeep CJ7 Rehab

    Back in the mid-90's I daily drove a '86 CJ7 - it was a neat factory setup with the wide-track Dana axles (30 front and 44 rear) with 5.38 factory gearing (rare option) and the standard Dana 300 transfer case. Trans was the weaker SR4 Ford unit behind the venerable 258 AMC straight-6, never had a problem with the trans even though it has a somewhat bad reputation. Tons of fun and many adventures later, the body was getting pretty rusty as CJs tend to do. I made the trip over to Columbiana Ohio to pick up a new fiberglass body from 4WD Hardware's factory, and had the start on a new lease on lilfe for the '86.

    Then 2 weeks later I happened on one of those deals just too good to pass up. Yeah, famous last words, I know.

    A '79 CJ7 popped up within 1/4 mile..........pretty ratty, body made my '86 look like a showroom queen in comparison. But it was complete, unmolested and actually ran and drove pretty nicely.

    Thinking it would be a good trial run at putting a 'glass tub on a CJ7 I grabbed it, bagged and tagged all the bits and pieces from the body, and proceeded to put them all on the new tub I had just picked up for the '86. Hey, I could just go get another new body after this '79 was sold, right?

    Then marriage/kids/moving twice/etc all took place, moving both CJ7s to the back burner. Just last fall I sold the '86 to a good friend of mine - who was amazed that a splash of gas and a good battery were all it took to revive it after 7 years in the barn. One stuck rear brake drum was quickly dealt with (with the skid loader bucket) and he drove it home. Even more amazingly, he has driven it all over the place, 140 mile road trips with the occasional trip to a local mud pit and some massive snowdrift busting, and all it has needed was one rear axle bearing replaced. Great vehicle.

    Kinda has me inspired to get the '79 out and finish it.

    Now the '79 isn't quite as awesome underneath. It has the (upgraded option at the time) TH400 backed with the Quadra-Trac transfer case. While these were tough units they were new technology to the mechanics of the era, requiring special fluid and periodic chain stretch checking and replacement when that stretch reached a certain point, usually at 60,000 miles. The basic design was a chain drive down to a passenger-side drop with offset axles front and rear, reminiscent with the Dana 18 transfer cases that the military and civilian CJ2-CJ3-MB-JPW all used. In fact, the Dana 18 can be subsituted for the Quadra-Trac inasmuch as the driveshafts and axles are concerned. Adapting to the transmission and engine is the technical side of that swap.

    The '79 also has the same front axle as the '86 (Dana 30) but instead of the Dana 44 the '79 has the AMC 20 rear, due to the offset pumpkin matching up with the Quadra-Trac rear output. These axles are the narrow-track versions, not quite as cool or good-looking as the wide-track stuff, but the AMC 20 rear is fairly tough and a 29 spline unit. Strong enough for our purposes.

    Now as far as the TH400/Quadra-Trac transfer case is concerned.....we all know the TH400 is the strongest auto out there, right? This particular unit is a BOP case with the weirdo Quadra-Trac output shaft, very long course 10-spline shaft that of course can only be changed by completely tearing down the transmission as it is the first piece to go in the case. This particular transfer case seems to be in good condition, chain seems servicable and the clutch cones seem to be in good condition. You can kinda tell if they are shot, as the vehicle will not move unless the "Emergency-Lock" vacuum switch in the glovebox is engaged. What happens is the chain drives a cone-style posi-traction differential, which instead of outputs to left/right wheels, outputs to the front/rear driveshafts. If the cones are badly worn, the vehicle has trouble moving in the loose stuff. Engaging the "Emergency-Lock" is like an air-locker in a axle differential, it locks the differential in the transfer case making the front and rear driveshafts output match exactly. Not a good thing on pavement as severe binding will occur.

    As long as the chain is in good condition, its a good unit. When the chain stretches beyond tolerances, it can slip over the teeth on the hubs it is supposed to drive, making a "popping" sound. Too much of this is obviously a bad thing......the real trouble is when too much slack occurs and the chain is jumping over the teeth, the chain can actually try to double-up and - due to lack of clearance - then blows a big hole in the side of the case.

    Obviously, keeping the chain stretch with in tolerance is important. However, there is no adjustment or tensioner, only replacement. And new chains are no longer made by Morse, only option is China-sourced with a reputation for failing within 100 miles of use. Funny part is supposedly the same width/pitch of chain is still being used by the OEMs, but in a different length....might have to look into the option of how to shorten one of those?

    All this makes the '79 somewhat undesirable in its current configuration.......so last week we brought home a T90/Dana Spicer 18 combination from a '47 CJ2A that was being parted out. Underneath the 2" of crud that made it an almost unidentifiable lump is a pretty nice unit internally. The model 18 transfer case is a gear drive and every part is available for them, likewise the T90 transmission is pretty bulletproof and compact. A nice surprise was finding an aluminum adapter on the front of the trans that I believe is to adapt a Ford 2000/2300cc 4-banger....further research is needed to be sure.

    Anyways, the plan is to run the Quadra-trac setup until it dies, then decide which trans/engine to put in front of the Dana 18. Possible contenders on hand are TH400, SM420, T90 transmission. Engines could go anywhere from the 258 currently in there, to either a 2000 Pinto or 2300 pinto or a 2300 from a Ranger (if I can find a 7" deep bellhousing), or even to adapting something more modern.
    Last edited by STINEY; January 26, 2018, 10:43 AM.
    Of all the paths you take in life - make sure a few of them are dirt.

  • #2
    Mod motor? Since you listed a series of Ford engines.
    Last edited by 68scott385; June 10, 2014, 10:34 AM.



    • #3
      nice flowers

      ummmm, not that I would ever question your sanity - but, there are soooo many better options out there for the long-wheelbase CJ that are cheaper and more robust.... why not them? and before you tell me center transfer case - I'd point out that Exploder rear differentials are made to fix all that ails the 44.

      then a tasty SBC and a SM465 and a 205 transfer case from a Ford pickup... and life is pretty good.
      Doing it all wrong since 1966


      • #4
        You know, that's the craigslist picture I "borrowed", and I scrutinized it intently making sure it was a D18 before I was brave enough to venture into the world of calling a craigslist poster.......

        And I never even noticed the flowers. Not sure what that means, maybe indicative of my intense powers of focus?

        I try to build something low-key without dropping a V8 into it, and you just HAVE to get all logical on me. Any idea how hard it was to talk myself away from that angle? There are currently residing on the premises a 283, 327, 350, and 400 sbc and a bellhousing for mating them to a SM420 AND CJ7 sbc swap headers. All I'm missing is the SM420 to Transfer case adapter. Aaaagggghhh!!

        NP205 in a CJ frame? Really? That transfer case is a large-by-huge heavy beast! Who makes an adapter to a SM420 or SM465 for them? I've only seen them adapted to 207s and 208s?

        On another note, it appears that adapter plate is NOT for a 2300 ford banger. Compare pictures, definitely different animals. Any ideas on what I have?

        Of all the paths you take in life - make sure a few of them are dirt.


        • #5
          no need for an adapter - lots of 205s (and 203s for that matter) had 4 speeds in front of them.
          as for the adapter - I'm betting it's a dual pattern, Ford and Chevy bellhousings.

          boy, it sure would be easy to toss a V8 in front of that...
          Last edited by SuperBuickGuy; June 10, 2014, 03:35 PM.
          Doing it all wrong since 1966


          • #6
            The big 'ol cast-iron adaptor between an SM465 and an NP205 (there, I could'a said "big-'ol cast-iron two more times) is common seventies stuff, also commonly cracked when people didn't use a strut between the rt. side motor mount and the transfer case (or something like it). Those GM cases have more "drop" to the front than Jeep stuff which could be handy, but...yeah, the weight. Rock crawler territory.
            Last edited by Loren; June 10, 2014, 05:03 PM.


            • #7
              So what you're saying is that combo is pretty heavy? simply because you'd double the weight of the frame, axles, motor, and tub by using that stuff - doesn't mean it'd not be stout - best of all, if he needs a land anchor to pull his bobcat out; he'd be dialed.

              were it me, I'd use a NP 208 and NV 4500 - but I suspect that such things haven't made it out the farm.
              Last edited by SuperBuickGuy; June 10, 2014, 05:39 PM.
              Doing it all wrong since 1966


              • #8
                Originally posted by STINEY View Post
                On another note, it appears that adapter plate is NOT for a 2300 ford banger. Compare pictures, definitely different animals. Any ideas on what I have?

                That is a Transdapt adapter is for a small block ford motor...


                • #9
                  Eric for the win!

                  I took better pictures this morning..... definitely a match.

                  I'm fresh outta small-block Ford engines too...
                  Of all the paths you take in life - make sure a few of them are dirt.


                  • #10
                    need a small block ford? I still have a few.... For that matter - I have a twin plug 2.3 from a mustang v8 swap with about 80k original miles on it.... including the bellhousing for a manual trans (probably the small input T5 but not sure on that)
                    There's always something new to learn.


                    • #11
                      now this is a way to get a real 4x4..
                      Previously boxer3main
                      the death rate and fairy tales cannot kill the nature left behind.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by milner351 View Post
                        need a small block ford? I still have a few.... For that matter - I have a twin plug 2.3 from a mustang v8 swap with about 80k original miles on it.... including the bellhousing for a manual trans (probably the small input T5 but not sure on that)
                        Your going to have to give me Ford bell housing 101.......all I know for sure is that Ford had a bunch of different patterns and depths.....would that 2.3 bell bolt to this?
                        Of all the paths you take in life - make sure a few of them are dirt.


                        • #13
                          $300 with bell and flywheel...



                          • #14
                            Tardis has you fixed up - if you want the smog era 302 in the van out back - you'll have to come and help me part it out.... the one in Tardis link is older, but 2v equipped so probably still cast pistons and peanut heads. E7 heads would help. Or just spend about the same money and get a HO 302 with the forged TRW already in it - and already prepped for a roller cam.

                            I'm sure there's a bell housing / trans bolt pattern measurement sheet available with some googling - I can measure the 2.3 and the lakewood and iron ford ones I have - next time I'm over there.

                            I forgot Marco's 260 is still sitting on a stand behind the shop - ran when pulled.... I'm sure he'd make you a deal on that if you want to stay flat tappet cam old school.
                            Last edited by milner351; June 13, 2014, 06:53 AM.
                            There's always something new to learn.


                            • #15
                              Hmmm....260 sounds interesting. Would it happen to have a flywheel and bellhousing?
                              Of all the paths you take in life - make sure a few of them are dirt.