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1978 CJ-7 - Lime-Green monster

Posted in Project Vehicles on June 12, 2008
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If you've never had a chance to get out and do some serious snow wheeling- like pushing your Jeep through 3-foot snow fields with 5- to 6-foot drifts using only your engine, your driving skills, and plenty of go pedal-then you've never lived.

Snow wheeling like that requires a combination of builds and a particular set of ingredients: big tires that clear out easily to maintain forward progress; big, bulletproof axles that will withstand any rock hits; and a motor to get that big, heavy Jeep through the powder.

We found Dave meisner, a computer engineer from Longmont, colorado, in some snow-covered dunes on the Wyoming- colorado border with all those ingredients in abundance, cooked together in his garage in a matter of four months, to make an awesome snow-wheeling and rockcrawling Jeep.

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This Jeep rides on a frame from an '83 cJ-7 with outboarded springs, a wheelbase that was stretched to 100 inches using the offset center pin of some seven-leaf Wagoneer springs, and a custom rear crossmember was added (to which the antiwrap bar is attached).

The axles are a custom hodgepodge of parts, as well, put together with the precision only an engineer has. The Dana 60 front axle was swiped from a cUcv and narrowed 5 inches. it then got 35-spline moser inner axleshafts and 35-spline Spicer outers with Warn premium locking hubs. The rear axle, meanwhile, is a more unique blend of parts. a '98 Ford F-350 high-pinion front Dana 60 centersection was mated to some '97 F-350 rear full-float axletubes and then stuffed with moser 35-spline shafts. Both front and rear axles received 5.38 gears and Detroit Lockers that help crank the 15/39.5-16.5LT Super Swamper TSL tires on 16.5x10 TnT customs double bead locks through just about anything.

The engine was yanked from a '71 Jeep and started life as a 401ci. Then Dave got it, bored it 0.040 over, and stuffed it with some Federal mogul pistons for a 9.5:1 compression ratio. The crank and rods were turned 0.010 undersized, and the heads got 7.16-inch rocker studs and some porting work. an edelbrock Performer intake tops the engine along with a holley 4di, 750-cfm Projection system, which sucks gas from a TnT customs 21-gallon fuel cell mounted in the stock location

The mixture is lit by an mSD 6aL ignition system with a Blaster coil and then exits through the stock manifolds, a bunchof 3-inch-diameter tubing, and a Flowmaster muffler. Finishing off the engine is a Bulltear nickel-plated timing cover and oil pump with a Performance american Style antiwalk cam button.

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Power goes from there through a locally sourced custom 2,000-rpm stall torque converter and into a TF727 automatic transmission. The internals of the transmission are really neat. it has a cheetah full manual valvebody with a reverse shift pattern, a billet steel servo, straight-cut planetaries from a '70s dump truck (which provide a 3.11:1 First gear), a heavy-duty rear sprag, high-performance Kevlar bands, a 4.2:1 ratio billet Second gear lever, a larger drum with an additional friction plate, and a Jeep output shaft and tailhousing. a B&m ratchet-style shifter rows the gears while a SPaL 50,000-pound GvWr cooler keeps the slushbox fluid cool.

A short rear-output Dana 300 from an '80 cJ-5 then splits power front and rear with a front rockstomper driveshaft and a shortened Ford "exploder" rear cv shaft.

In a strange marriage, an XJ steering box was bolted to a custom 3.8-inch plate Dave made to form a unit that has lasted surprisingly long. many XJ guys are tripping over themselves to ditch the threebolt steering box that came with their XJs, and here is one swapped into a Jeep with big tires, a decent motor, and no problems with the box ripping off the frame. From there, directional suggestion travels through a rockstomper rock rod steering setup with high-steer arms and a rear-mounted tie rod with a 2-inch hydroassist ram.

Braking duties fall to a '76 cadillac master cylinder, a hydroboost booster, a Jeg's adjustable proportioning valve, stock cUcv discs and calipers on the front axle, and Wagoneer calipers with Ford rotors on the rear axle.

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This '78 cJ-7 consists of a yJ body, yJ doors, yJ fenders, a cJ dashboard and windshield frame, a cJ hood, a TJ fuel-filler neck, TJ hood latches, a postal DJ grille, TJ fender flares, and a yJ-spec aftermarket soft top. We couldn't help but notice all the Jp different parts on the Jeep, and when Dave told us he built this one because his old cJ-7 was rusted out, it made perfect sense.

Inside, the black-cloth seats are Steel horse units, while the six-point 'cage was another Dave-made item. The a- and B-pillar downtubes tie into the TnT customs rock sliders and then the frame. The gauges are auto meter Ultralite 25.8-inch units, accented by a Grant steering wheel, an alpine cD head unit, and bicycle water bottle holders mounted to the 'cage for cupholders. a race-inspired switch panel provides the vital controls for the Jeep, a homemade rear-mounted lock box keeps tools and parts secure, and a layer of Line-X in the tub helps to keep rust at bay from dirty feet and water.

Most guys swap the XJ box out because it only has three bolts retaining it, but with the extra-dare we say, "overkill mount"- it has worked out really well. also, the parts swapped into the 727 provide a nice low First gear, and it has managed to stand up to Dave's 401 with no problems to date. We aren't a big fan of the DJ grille, but on this Jeep, it just isn't offensive for some reason.

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Dave is a real nice, down-to-earth kind of guy who happens to have a Jeep he built 90 percent on his own, and it works really well. he's not out on the trails to impress anyone. he's just there to have a good time. if you ask him about any part of his Jeep, he knows more than you might want to hear and is happy to share the information with you.

So often we find guys with Jeeps that work so well, but they don't know the first thing about it when they're asked. With Dave and his Lime-Green monster, the attention to detail is in the Jeep and all the little details work really well together.-Pete Trasborg

'78 cJ-7

'71 amc 401 v-8

'83 Wagoneer TF727

Transfer case:
'80 cJ-5 Dana 300

Custom SOA on Wagoneer springs

Cucv Dana 60 (front), modified '98 Ford F-350 Dana 60 (rear)

TNT customs 16.5x10 double bead locks

15/39.5-16.5LT Super Swamper TSL

Built For:
Snow and rocks

Estimated Cost:

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