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Your Jeep Tech Questions Answered

Posted in How To: Tech Qa on February 21, 2015
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Shoehorn Flattie
I recently read “Low Rider” in the June ’14 issue. I have a ‘48 CJ-2A. I am in the middle of a fix-up. I’m keeping it as stock as I can, and I want to be able to reverse any alterations (there is a growing box of original parts, just in case). I am 6 foot, 2 inches tall and need a revised driver seat. Looking over the windshield is an issue, but a bigger issue is legroom. I cannot drive the Jeep, because my feet cannot work the pedals. It looked like the driver’s legs in the photo were able to function. Can you send me more information about how it was done? Did the revised fuel tank help? I’m getting a hip replacement next week, and when I heal, I plan to go off-roading in Arizona. I’d like to have this resolved by then.
Jess Moore
Via email

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of room in a flatfender Jeep. Anyone over about 5 foot, 11 inches tall will have a tough time being comfortable and working the pedals of a stock flatfender. The owner/builder of the featured Jeep in that story is less than 5 foot, 10 inches tall. He fits, but it’s tight. I actually sat in his Jeep and wondered how he was able to work everything, and I’m average sized (5 foot, 11 inches).

Having owned several flatfenders, I can tell you there is not a simple, easily reversible modification that you can make for more legroom. Some taller owners will lengthen the center portion of the body to allow the seats to move rearward. It’s a significant undertaking, even if you have a background in bodywork. The other option is to modify the rear wheelwells, this will provide up to a few additional inches of legroom depending on the size of the tires under your Jeep. In my experience, the factory original seats provide the most legroom. You may be able to modify the seat cushions to make them thinner, but you won’t be doing your backside any favors.

Ultimately, at 6 foot, 2 inches tall, you probably are not going to enjoy being behind the wheel of a flatfender. Even getting in and out is a contortionist’s nightmare. I’m sure you don’t want to hear this, but a CJ-6 would offer a ton more legroom.

Steering Rebuild
I am rebuilding a ’65 Jeep Gladiator 4x4 from the frame up. It has the Ross manual steering box (#SE55010XL). I have not found a source for a rebuild kit. Any suggestions?

The truck will eventually have a new GM 350ci crate engine (290 hp) with a TH700R4 transmission mated to a Dana 20 transfer case.
Richard Nuttall
Via email

The steering box on your truck should similar to, if not completely identical to, the manual steering box found on the military M715 of the same era. If that is the case, there are some rebuild components available from places such as Surplus City Jeep Parts (surplusjeep.com). However, if your steering box is completely wasted, you may be better off finding a good used unit. Montana Overland (montanaoverland.com) usually has lots of older Jeep truck parts that still have plenty of miles left on them. You could also try contacting Borgeson (borgeson.com). The company may be able to rebuild your box or supply you with a viable replacement. If all else fails, you still have other options. A Saginaw manual box or even a Saginaw power steering box from a later model FSJ is a relatively simple swap on your Gladiator. A GM power steering pump will easily mate to your GM engine and provide the fluid needs for the FSJ power steering box. You would need to use a CJ pitman arm on the FSJ box and may need to modify the draglink for this to all work. A new steering shaft with splines that match the steering box will also be needed for this particular swap.

Doomed Dana 35
I have an ’89 Jeep YJ sitting on 33-inch Cooper SST tires thanks to the 31⁄2-inch Superlift suspension. It’s all pushed by a hard-to-kill 2.5L four-banger. I just purchased an Eaton Detroit Truetrac limited slip for the front and rear axles, 27-spline G2 4340 axleshafts for the rear, and a new hardware kit with all the goodies to replace all the bearings and seals for the assemblies. I know I still have the Dana 35, and I’m sure you or someone else will say its junk and should be replaced. But what I’m wondering is why Jeep changed the Dana 35. Mine has no C-clips. The axleshafts are bolted in place. I’ve had no issues with the axle, and it seems to be holding up fine. I’m thinking that the people who complain about the Dana 35 must have the C-clip version. Why would Jeep make this switch? Just so you know. I use my Jeep for trail riding, hunting, mudding, and going to the beach. I don’t rockcrawl.
Sean
Via email

The Dana 35 axle gets a lot of bad press. Pretty much anyone that has been on trails regularly over the last two decades has seen, and probably taken a photo of, a broken Dana 35 holding up a pack of Jeeps. On a stock Jeep, a Dana 35 could last nearly forever on the street. On a modified Jeep, it might only make it two minutes on the trail. Whether a Dana 35 axle survives or not has a lot to do with how you modify your Jeep, how you modify the axle, and how you drive it.

The ’87-’89 Jeep Wrangler YJ Dana 35 rear axles feature flanged semi-float axleshafts. In most cases, this design is considered to be more durable than the later C-clip design. If you do bust a flanged semi-float axleshaft, the wheel and tire generally won’t remove themselves from the vehicle like they would with a broken C-clip axle. So, in a way, you are right, most of the Dana 35 issues that we all see are related to the C-clip axles. However, keep in mind that the non–C-clip Dana 35 was only used from 1984 through 1990-ish, and the C-clip version went on for many more years. There are far more C-clip Dana 35 axles out there than non– C-clip Dana 35 axles.

Unfortunately, the Dana 35 has other issues besides the axleshafts. I believe that the root of most Dana 35 problems (C-clip and non C-clip versions alike) stem from the weak housing. Any type of off-roading can be hard on a Dana 35. I have seen the Dana 35 housings bend and even flex significantly. This can cause issues inside the differential. Most aftermarket lockers and limited slips do not work well with the Dana 35 because of the housing flex. For this reason, I don’t recommend adding a locker or limited slip to any Dana 35. Adding larger tires, such as your 33-inch tires, will increase the leverage and the force on the axle assembly. I generally recommend sticking with 31 to 32-inch tires if you plan to do any kind of off-road travel with a Dana 35 axle. If you get to the point where a locker, limited-slip, or aftermarket axleshafts are needed, I think you will be better off swapping out the Dana 35 for a stronger axle assembly.

Why would Jeep switch to a C-clip axle assembly? I suspect that it is less expensive to manufacture than the non C-clip axle. Pressing an axle bearing into a housing, sliding an axleshaft into place, and inserting a C-clip is far less labor intensive than pressing a bearing on an axle shaft and then installing and tightening axleshaft retaining bolts. If the manufacturers can cut assembly costs by even a few cents, the savings makes sense over the production cycle of a vehicle, potentially adding up to thousands of dollars in bottom-line profit. Ultimately, most Jeeps are never taken off-road, so making a change like this really only affects a small number of new Jeep customers that would even get into a situation where a C-clip axle could fail.

Overheated TJ HVAC
The blower motor resistor in my ’04 TJ is blown again. Is there any better fix than the obviously poorly engineered OEM part?
Brian
Via email

Unfortunately, almost all Jeep Wrangler TJ HVAC systems leave a lot to be desired. If your ’99-’04 Jeep Wrangler has more than 100,000 miles on it, the blower motor likely needs to be replaced. We’ve burned up a few of the stock control panels, resistors, and blower motors over the years. If you have only lost one or two of the fan speeds, you might be able to get by with a new resistor for a little while. However, it’s been our experience that if one component is failing, the rest are not far behind. A toasted motor, or one that’s on its way to Valhalla, usually damages the dash switch and sometimes the plugs and wiring. If you replace the dash switch or resistor, they could quickly smoke again because the motor is worn and drawing more amps through the system than it should. So, in order to make the system reliable and working like new, you’ll need to replace all three components. Get your hands on a new control panel switch assembly, a new quality blower motor, and a new resistor. Omix (omix-ada.com) offers most of the parts you need to rebuild your HVAC system. When you get in there, be sure to replace any melted and damaged wires and plugs.

How To Funnel Jeep Funds
What is the best way to conceal the checking account balance while stockpiling parts for a new build?
SeanZJ
Via facebook.com/JohnCappa4x4

Interestingly enough, no one has ever asked me this sort of question, but I have answers. Hiding money is not all that difficult. Most women have these techniques mastered and have been doing it to you, unnoticed, for years. Ever wonder where the cash for those fancy Jimmy Choo shoes or Prada purse came from? Are you even aware how much these items cost? Wonder no more and read on.

The most important rule to remember when secretly compiling funds is that cash is king. The second most important rule to remember is to never, ever spend your cash. More belligerent and uneducated Jeep owners will take the risky route of stealing cash directly from the significant other’s purse when she isn’t looking. This is a dangerous activity that should be avoided at all costs. That is unless it has been well documented that your significant other misplaces money on a regular basis. Don’t be fooled though, this could be a tactic that she is using to hide money herself. Use the same scheme if possible. It wouldn’t be unusual for a $20 bill to fall out of your pocket now and then, right? Make it more believable by occasionally “finding” some of your misplaced money. You can also plant a few dollars in the sofa for your significant other to “find,” further increasing your chances of her believing you are simply careless with your cash.

Obviously, if you move a couple hundred bucks out of a joint account, someone is bound to notice. The trick is to move only small, expected amounts out of the account. The easiest way to do this is to follow rule number two and never spend your cash. Always use your debit card at stores and take a few extra bucks as cash back with each purchase. Hide this and any other money you acquire immediately! Don’t leave it at home or in your pants pocket. It will surely get snatched up. Leave the cash stowed away in a safe place, such as in a locker at work, in a safe deposit box, or with a trustworthy single buddy. You could also open your own bank account, but make sure the statement is sent anywhere but to your home address or email.

Don’t pay your bills via snail mail or online. Go directly to the businesses to pay your bills. Many of these companies will let you pay with a check or debit card and get cash back. Toss a twenty or two on top of the cable, electric, water, trash, cell phone, and any other bills you can think of. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the money will add up. The monthly bank statement will cover your cash-grabbing tracks.

Side jobs are your savior. Take on whatever paying side jobs you can find. Be sure to tell the little lady you are simply helping a buddy out. You don’t want her to know you are getting paid. If she catches a whiff of extra cash, she’ll surely want to pay down a credit card or add it to the kids’ college fund. Hey, the world needs ditch diggers too, maybe your kid doesn’t really need college anyway!

When you come home at the end of the day, you should have zero cash in your pockets. Ideally, you should even have a safe place to keep loose change. Although, if you are following the rules correctly, you will never spend your cash, so you shouldn’t have any coins jingling in your pocket to begin with.

Now, once you have saved enough money to purchase your Jeep parts, how do you explain a shiny lift kit or brand-new knobby tires? This is where it can get tricky. It’s best to deal in only used parts. She’ll have no clue what a used lift kit costs. It’s also a good idea to have a lot of worthless parts around the house that you claim are valuable to trade. If you tell her you’re trading parts, she won’t catch on that you’re actually spending real money. She’ll never know that the “expensive, high-output” alternator you “traded” for a winch bumper was just a core for an ’83 Ford Escort. Just make sure that the rube alternator doesn’t show up at the house again.

Internal components like lockers and gears are easy to disguise. Most women can’t tell the difference between a 3.73 and a 5.13 gearset or a Detroit Locker and a stock open differential. For items like these, you can tell her that the Jeep broke. Here’s the best part, she’ll need to loosen up the purse strings to give you a few bucks for repairs. You tell her you’ll go to the junkyard for an inexpensive stock replacement part, but what you really do is take your hidden funds and buy the new parts you want. Word of caution here, never come home with receipts, new product boxes, or instruction manuals.

If you follow these tips, you’ll have your Jeep all built up badder than a magazine editor in no time. And if you’re still wondering what a Prada purse or Jimmy Choo shoes cost, I suggest you Google it. Keep those numbers in mind when she says “her friend bought them as a gift” for her.

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