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June 2012 Your Jeep

Posted in How To on June 1, 2012
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Formula 409 Interior?
I could swear that in a previous issue (1 to 2 years ago?) Editor Hazel said the best way to clean old vinyl Jeep seats was with Formula 409.

Am I remembering this correctly?
David Schmidt
Via email

Hazel used Formula 409 and a stiff nylon brush to clean up a seriously skunked ’97 Wrangler center console and other interior plastics a few years back on his “Project Steal-J” Wrangler. Vinyl is a bit different. I think I would start with some dish soap mixed with water and a rag, nylon srub brush, or even toothbrush. If that does not work I would try a commercially available fabric and vinyl cleaner from the parts store. If that still won’t cut it I would try something harsher like Formula 409 or Simple Green, but it’s hard to know if these cleaners will attack the vinyl seats, especially if they have been sitting out in the sun. You don’t want to turn dirty seats into holey seats! Just make sure to try it in an inconspicuous area of the seat first to make sure it won’t attack and damage the vinyl. If that does get your stain off I would then step up to something called Motsenbocker’s Lift Off. This stuff will remove paint from many surfaces and is non-toxic, so you can get a little on your skin. Again use a test area. If all else fails my last result is to use brake parts cleaner. Just be careful, as it probably will eat or bleach the vinyl a little bit, but in my experience it will basically clean anything off anything and it dries fast! I have used brake parts cleaner to remove crappy spray paint and graffiti from factory Jeep paint, sticky residue from stickers, duct tape, electrical tape, tree sap, bugs, blood, urine, feces … uh, I’ve said too much. As you probably know, brake and parts cleaner will also burn your skin and hurts like hell if you get even a little in your eyes, so be careful. Whatever works for you I would hit the vinyl with some Armor All or something similar afterwards to protect the vinyl in the future and to keep it from getting dry and brittle from one of these cleaners.

Oh Canada!
I have decided it’s about time to refresh my ’94 ZJ Limited with a 5.2L. I have access to some good Jeep parts and I am looking for some advice. Would the Dana 44 rear axle from a 5.9L ZJ Limited be a good upgrade? I know it would bolt in and has factory limited-slip, but how is the parts availability for it? I seriously want a five-speed manual swap, but am at a loss on where to find the clutch pedal and bellhousing. Would a clutch pedal from an XJ fit? What bellhousing would work for my application? Am I just better off sending the 42RE to be rebuilt? I hear the NP242 transfer case is a great swap the replace my NP249. Should I look for one from the same year Grand as mine? Any advice you could give would be appreciated.
Giovanni De Cicco
Quebec, Canada

Ah yes, Canada! Man, what a beautiful country! Cool Jeep, and yep, your ZJ is ripe for modification. You have tons of options and are only limited by time, money and ideas, eh! A Dana 44A from a ’98 5.9L ZJ might be an upgrade for your Jeep (unless you already have one under your ZJ … which you could), and may be more than adequate for your Grand depending on what you want to do with it. And unless you already have one, I would spend my money on another axle since the D44A has a weak-ish aluminum centersection and limited aftermarket gearing and differential options. Depending on your budget I’d look for an all-steel Dana 44 from a late ’80s XJ Cherokee, but a Ford 8.8 will do as a sloppy second if you can’t score the prized Dana 44. Plus, it has the correct bolt pattern. Both axles would require some fabrication and suspension brackets welded on to fit your ZJ, but would be the best bang-for-your-buck upgrade. If you want to aggressively run 35s or bigger with lockers and wheel your ZJ with impunity, you will need a JK Dana 44, Dana 60, or big-spline Ford 9-inch from Dynatrac or Currie (for example). These are gonna cost lots more, but will hold up to your 5.2L V-8 and massive abuse.

You should be able to get almost all the hard parts for a manual conversion in your ZJ from a similar-year 4x4 Dodge truck with the 5.2L V-8, including the bellhousing and transmission. An XJ pedal assembly is a great place to start, and probably could be easily adapted, cut, and spliced back together to work with your ZJ. If not, you may luck into finding one of the rare pedal setups from a factory ’93 manual-transmission ZJ. Your Jeep’s ECU will be the biggest problem since it will throw a check engine light from no longer getting a signal from the torque converter. There’s a chance you could run the engine computer from a Dodge truck with a 5.2L and five-speed manual, but check the pin connections first. You will probably want a copy of the factory service manual for your ZJ and the truck you pull the tranny and engine computer from incase there are any wiring differences between the two.

You could swap a NP242 into your ZJ if you want to retain the full-time 4WD option, or you could look into an NP231J, which would be best if you plan on lifting the Grand more than about 3 inches. This will let you run a stronger 32-spline slip yoke eliminator. If you keep your automatic, the T-case input shaft stick-out length of your new T-case must be the same as the NP249 that came out of your Grand. If you go the five-speed route, just use the T-case that came behind the manual.

Our Pete, Our Pete, Our Pete Is on Fire!
Thanks for taking the time to read this. I have a ’00 Wrangler Sahara and I am having the HVAC switch meltdown issue. I found your article online about splicing in relays to stop this from happening. Is there any other info available (other pics, wiring diagrams, other articles) that will help me do this? I have the gist of what you are saying, but I want to make sure I get the wiring right since I have limited wiring experience.

I usually have to read the directions three or four times for anything I attempt, as I don’t want to mess anything else up. Also, would replacing the blower motor also help prevent this issue from happening? I know your way is more cost-effective, but was just wondering. Any advice or guidance would be greatly appreciated.
Eric Herring
Via email

Trasborg replies: Funny the timing on this, Eric. This week I am going back into the ’01 Wrangler I used in that story because the wiring melted again. Look for the follow-up story to this in the May ’12 issue of Jp.

The underlying cause is most likely a bad blower motor. We got about 120,000 miles and six or seven years out of the original blower motor. I put a questionable parts-store motor in it right after that article, and got about two more years. Test your blower motor with an ammeter. If it is good, it should draw right around 15 amps when on high. If it is bad, it will draw much more. If yours is drawing more than 20 amps, you might need to replace it, or it will melt the wiring—even with the relays. On our Wrangler, the relays I put in it are fine, as is the new relay wiring. The speed selector switch is OK, but now the wiring and the actual mode selector switch fried. Both wiring and switch melted.

I got wiring and plugs (junkyard take-out stuff), a new switch panel, new resistor, and a new blower motor from Collins Brothers Jeep ( this time around. I’m less-than-impressed with the two years I got out of the parts store motor and I’m replacing everything possible with original Mopar parts in an effort to get another 120,000 miles (or more) out of it. My plan going forward is to keep an eye on the blower motor and how much amperage it draws. Every time it hits 20 amps, I will replace it. We’ll see how long that will take.

Dumb Brakes!
I would like to change the rear drum brakes on my ’79 Cherokee to discs. I do a lot of muddy wheeling and tired of chewing through brake drums and shoes from the mud. Any leads as to a rotor and caliper bracket assembly that might be close? I can weld and fabricate most anything, I’m just looking to get a parts arrangement idea to start with. I have heard that when changing from drum to disk the proportioning valve needs to be switched. Any truth to that?
Via forums

I have been thinking about how you would add discs to a FSJ Dana 44 (or maybe AMC 20) with a couple of new parts and some junkyard parts for a while. I think you could do the following, but it’s not something I have tried yet; you may have to find other parts and or do some research and be ready for trial and error. It depends on how much time you have to invest in researching what will work together. First look for some aftermarket weld-on caliper mounting brackets that would work with ’72-’87 Chevy ½-ton 4x4 trucks and ’72-’91 ½-ton Blazer and Suburban front calipers (you’ll need those too). You can also find a set of ’79 Cadillac Eldorado rear calipers if you need to rig up a parking brake, but these calipers are hard to find and expensive compared to the ½-ton Chevy versions. Weld-on caliper mounting brackets should be made out of ¼-inch plate steel at least. As for rotors, use Chevy ½-ton 4WD front rotors from a similar year as the calipers. These rotors may require some machining and will have to be mounted to the back of your axle flanges with new, longer press-in studs. You could then reassemble the axle without the drum brake backing plate (You’d also have to add a spacer to compensate for the difference without the drum backing plate between the bearing retainer plate and the axle housing). You could then loosely bolt (loaded) calipers to the caliper mounting brackets, slide the calipers over the rotor, and slide the rotor on the axle. This should give you the placement of the caliper-mounting bracket on the axle. Weld the bracket to axle and you are done—well, kind of. You will need to find flexible brake lines for each caliper, banjo bolts, slider bolts, and maybe one or two other little items I forgot.

Another easier, less-custom option is a rear disc brake kit from BJ’s Off-Road. This kit looks pretty comprehensive in terms of parts (

You also may need an adjustable proportioning valve plumbed in the rear circuit to adjust rear-braking bias (so your rear tires don’t lock up on the road every time you hit the pedal). I have used the older model Wilwood Brakes adjustable proportioning valve (PN 260-10922) on a couple of projects.

M38A1 or CJ-5?
While reading my Oct. ’11 issue of Jp, I came across a photo on page 94 that confused me. The picture is of two Jeeps, one an ’05 Wrangler and the other a ’62 M38A1. I also own a ’62 Jeep and have always called it a CJ-5. They look the same to me. Are they?
Larry B.
Weed, CA

Larry, they are very similar and basically Jeep sisters. The M38A1 was first produced as far back as 1952 for the military. The CJ-5 was first sold in 1955 as an addition to the civilian Jeep offering. To the untrained eye, it looks identical to the M38A1 with the same door openings, same body look, and so on. The CJ-5 was basically a civilian version of the M38A1. There are a few differences when looking at the M38A1 and the CJ-5 from the outside, assuming both are original and not a hideous mixture of M38A1 and CJ-5 parts.

First the M38A1 should have a two-piece windshield; the CJ-5 does not. Also, the M38A1 has headlights sunk into the grille, while the CJ-5s have surface-mounted headlights. The M38A1 has the batteries in a removable box built into the cowl, visibly referenced by a long rectangular removable access panel with a latch on the cowl on the passenger side of the Jeep. Early CJ-5s until ’66 (like our ’56 Project Ground-Up) also have a cover plate in this area, but it’s closed from the factory with a non-opening cap that is welded in place and there is no battery box below it. The M38A1s also have a glovebox door on the left of the steering wheel and a generally taller dash (pictured) while even the early CJ-5s have a glovebox on the right side of the dash near the passenger’s seat. The M38A1 came from the factory with a front shackle reversal. That is, the shackles were attached to the back of the front springs. The CJ-5 is the opposite, with shackles up front under the bumper. The M38A1 also has hinges that allow the grille to be folded down for easy access to the engine in the field. The M38A1 frame has a strange crossmember that hides under the “bed” of the body tub. This crossmember was used as a gun mount. The M38A1 tubs also have a dog-dish indent on passenger-side cowl to house a power outlet in the radio-equipped versions. Lastly, early CJ-5 tubs have a tailgate opening, while M38A1s do not. Unfortunately, to continue with the confusion, some people cut tailgate openings in M38A1 tubs and weld the tailgates shut on early CJ-5s. And to add even more confusion, later ’70s and ’80s CJ-5s have no tailgate opening—unless someone along the way cut it out and added one from an older CJ-5 or newer CJ-7. Oh boy. Confused? We are!

Caged Bird
I have an ’83 CJ-7 that I am planning on putting a full rollcage into. I read that your first car was a CJ-7. I have a few questions regarding some of the options that I could go with. My Jeep now has a Dana 60 front axle, GM 14-bolt rear axle, and some BIG tires, so I need as much strength as possible. I want to go with a tie-into-frame kit for strength, but I can’t find a cage kit with a lower A-pillar kit for the front, and I’ve heard that the bars that go to the floor interfere with pedals. Most kits I see have the windshield bars welded to a bracket bolted to the dash. It looks clean, but I’m concerned about the strength of this design. Would it be able to hold up to the weight of the big tires and axles if I had it on its top, or would the sheetmetal crumble under the weight? Are there any options for a lower A-pillar kit for a CJ? Am I going to have to just deal with the rollbar going to the floor and the limited foot space? And how much will I be looking at spending on the kit? I have a buddy who is a proficient welder, so installation isn’t a problem. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!
Heath Stapley
Via email

Heath, you read correctly my first Jeep (and first car) was a CJ-7 given to me by my awesome big sister. Best sister ever! Oddly, my CJ-7 was also an ’83! Your Jeep needs a cage for sure. I think what you are referring to when you talk about the parts of some cages that bolt to the dash is called a stanchion…not sure exactly what that term means or how to say it properly, but they are usually built for TJs that have a big bulging dash relative to your CJ. There is also a debate as to their strength relative to good ol’ tubing. I am gonna dance around that debate and say that almost any cage with an A-pillar, A-pillar-to-A-pillar spreader (top of the windshield), dash spreader, and downbars connected to the floor via a stanchion or tubing with the foot tied into the frame is way better than none. Also see Cage Kit vs. DIY in this issue for tips and tricks on a kit or do-it-yourself cage. Personally I look for fully a tubular cage and deal with the intrusion to the foot/pedal space. The only pedal that is usually somewhat blocked is the CJ-7’s e-brake pedal; it’s still usable, just harder to get at. If I were you I would go with a weld-in kit for your CJ-7 from one of the major off-road aftermarket companies like GenRight, Synergy Suspensions, Poison Spyder and so on. There are kits with full tubing A-pillars or stanchions available for your CJ-7 so it’s your choice. Given the scale of your Jeep I would tie the foot of the A-, B-, and maybe C-pillars to the frame with tubing. Either way, having an experienced welder you trust do the install is very important. If the welds are no good, then the cage is just a waste of steel. As for price, most of these kits should be priced pretty competitively, but honestly it’s hard to put a value on a good cage that may save a life.

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