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September 2006 Readers' Rebuilds

Posted in Features on September 18, 2007 Comment (0)
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September 2006 Readers' Rebuilds
Contributors: Pete Trasborg

Either you get sucked into the "Jeep Thing" or you don't. For those of you nodding your heads, the next 13 pages of Garage Projects are for you. For those of you who are clueless as to what we are talking about, go bolt something else onto your TJ.

We requested that you send in pictures and stories of your garage projects - you know, those Jeeps that come home on a killer deal and soon take over your garage and years of your life. And you, our faithful (if not cantankerous) readers, responded in a big way. We received so many pictures and stories that two of us had to write this.

What better way to start an intro into a story such as this but with our own life-draining garage project. For five years, Trasborg's M-715 dominated his tiny garage. With only an inch of clearance between the hubs and the sides of the door and a few inches between the tailgate and the garage door when it was down, the 715 ruled the garage. No space for parts or working on anything else, no room for anything but the 715. He gave up the non-running engine to knock $500 off the $1,400 asking price and scored a truck that hadn't seen pavement (or likely any usage) in a decade for only $900.

There it sat for five years. He bought it on a whim after reading one of former Jp Editor Rick Pw's stories and had big plans for it. However, a parade of CJs got in the way, and it wasn't until the tail end of 2004 - with four and a half years of parts gathering - that the 715 got the first wrench on it. A year later, with all-new and rebuilt everything, the thing was drivable.

With more man hours on it than the complete assembly of a new Jeep, the 715 is now on (and off) road. For some reason, Trasborg thinks that is an accomplishment. For the same wacky reason, all the Jeep owners featured in this story, and many more of you who didn't send anything in, know that feeling too. Without further ado, here's our blowout of Readers' Garage Projects.

Beautiful (For a Bullnose)
Lee Tidwell of Bowie, Maryland, sent us in a ton of pictures featuring his son's '73 Jeepster Commando. Looking at the pictures of when it was dragged home, we thought it looked pretty good. Then we got to the pictures that showed the extent of the rust. One thing led to another, and soon Lee and his son, Jason, had the whole thing torn apart. They rebuilt it with an AMC 360, TH400 trans, wide-track AMC-20 rear and Dana 30 axles. They set it up for spring-over, put a full cage in it, and added onboard air. To top it off, they added a killer paint job, which made this three-year project really stand out.

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Backyard Flatfender
Mike Gardner of Baltimore, Maryland, submitted this CJ-abomination. It isn't actually a garage project because he lives in an apartment. Rather, the frame and motor hide behind his parents' pool, while the body is on the side of the house. All the separate parts are kept covered with tarps until Mike gets a weekend off so he can work on it. He scored two Jeeps off eBay, a '45 CJ-2A and a '46 CJ-2A. He is working on the '45 and using the '46 as a parts-Jeep right now.

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Long Nose Five
This '74 CJ-5 comes to us from Live Oak, Florida. There is a lot to be said when someone sees a Jeep, knows that it is a piece of crap, and still buys it. Such is the case with Dan Oxford, who is a glutton for punishment and poverty; the frame was straight, but that was about it. All the mechanical parts needed attention, and the body was totally shot. Using a Novak Adapters rebuild kit, he was able to rebuild the Dana 20 transfer case with no problem. That went so well that Dan decided to get an SM-420 adapter kit from Novak for the Jeep, which then necessitated a custom crossmember. He tells us that the body and front axle are still junk, but he loves every minute of owning this Jeep, poorhouse and all.

CJ in Wrangler's Clothing
Jamie Quisenberry is originally from somewhere-rust-eats-Jeeps sent us a few pictures of his YJ-bodied '76 CJ-7. The Jeep originally came from Oklahoma, moved to Ohio, and finally wound up in Las Vegas, where the rebuild took place. With all the rust on the original body, he found it easier to relocate the body mounts and swap stuff over. He put the YJ tub, fenders, and windshield frame on the CJ frame, then added a new rollcage, paint, and top to make a completely new-looking CJ.


Caged J-10
OK, so it isn't really caged, there is way more space in Randy Stanley's garage than there was in Trasborg's with his 715. Nonetheless, there aren't that many J-Truck projects out there, and it looks like he's doing all he can to keep it the legal height in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. This '79 J-10 still has the 258ci inline-six but is sporting an SM-420 between the engine and the Dana 20 T-case. The front and rear Dana 44s are suspended by a 6-inch BJ's Off Road lift while front and rear Dutchman shafts turn the Allied bead locks and 37-inch Baja Claws. Stanley estimates a total of two years to get his J-10 on the road with the M-715 front clip and bed.

CJ-What?
This '48 CJ-something or other belongs to Geoff Fritzges of Hatfield, Pennsylvania, and he just got it in February of 2006. He doesn't know much about it, but what he does know is contradictory. There is no tailgate where there should be, the gas filler is in the rear for the rear-mounted gas tank, and the windshield has one piece of glass in it where there should be two. In short, it's got the normal mish-mash of flatfender mixing and matching, with a smidge of DSPO thrown in for good measure. Geoff is just curious as to what it might be, but since he only plans to four-wheel it, he isn't too concerned.

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A Fleet of Five
Eric Hancock hails from "the big mitten state" which we can only assume is the lower peninsula of Michigan. He sent us in pictures of his many ongoing projects. Pictured here is his '81 CJ-8, which was his first 4x4 vehicle and got him hooked on the whole thing. It has sat since he blew the last engine back in 1996, but he's got big plans, including a fuel-injected stroker engine and, hopefully, a late-model six-speed. The Comanche is another project that is detailed to become a daily driver. He is going to put a 2.5L out of a '95 XJ in it, which he's already got, but since the picture was taken, the MJ has taken on a deer and lost. Not pictured are a pair of fullsize Cherokees, and God only knows what else Eric has in his fleet.

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Nadda Truck
To be perfectly honest, Roy didn't send us pictures of his '51 Willys pickup for this article, he sent in a mess of pictures of his '61 CJ-5. But because we were just tired of looking at CJ-5s, we chose to run his truck instead. While he didn't tell us much about it at all, we can see how it was converted for a flatbed at some point in its life and has a tweaked passenger-side fender, but the pickup is mostly stock otherwise. If any of the other pictures included are any indication, Roy will be basically restoring this truck to like-new condition, with a few minor improvements. That is, if he can ever get his CJ-5 out of the garage.

Garage-Built Lift
And we don't mean the springs and shocks, either. This '81 CJ-5 was sent to us by Rob of Atomic 4x4, and it received a 5.7L Vortec V-8 backed by a NV4500 and Dana 300 transfer case. The rear axle (not pictured) is a Dana 60, while the Dana 44 front came out of a '78 Dodge military truck. The tires are 39.5-inch Super Swamper Boggers on 16.5-inch black steel wheels. We have no idea where the Jeep is from or who it belongs to because Rob only tells us it's his employee's Jeep. What we do know is that they've got a very unique home-built shop lift for doing all that work (note the 55-gallon drums).

M715-M725 projects
OK, so it isn't in a garage. It isn't one project. Heck, most of the picture is of a running, driving truck. Adam Smith of Zanesville, Ohio, sent us this picture of his military fullsize Jeeps. The 715 is from Pennsylvania and got a 6.2L diesel, while the M-725 is slated for a gas V-8. The 725 is a basket case, with the frontend just propped up for show. There are dents in the cab, the axle has run away, and being from the coast of Virginia, has a fair amount of rust as well. What keeps the 725 a project is the 715's jealousy. Whenever Smith works on the 725, the 715 breaks down, necessitating more care and feeding.

Work In Regress
Richard Buchanan of Fort McCoy, Florida, sent us photos of his unimproved '78 CJ-7. Richard scored it "as a mess" for $450. He's since dumped $1,500 into it to get it running by rebuilding the suspension, wiring, and so on. Still on the table are new ring and pinions, fixing the four-wheel drive, and a ton of other stuff that places this Jeep smack in the realm of project vehicle.

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Organ Donor
Milton Bree of Godley, Texas, seems to share Cappa and Hazel's unemotional view of rare Jeeps because he dismantled a one-of-1,200 Super Wagoneer to upgrade other members of his fleet. The Buick 350/TH400/Dana 20 drivetrain is slated for Milton's FC-170 project. The hood, glass, and steering wheel are destined for Milton's M-715. And finally, the Wagoneer's dash-mounted A/C and center console with shifter have a date with Milton's super-sano '71 J-4000.

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