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Jeepster Resurrection Part 2

Posted in Project Vehicles on September 1, 2009
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Last installment we told this grand story of how Trasborg was going to take a Jeepster that hadn't run in five years, get it running,make it safe, and then wheel it for a week in Moab for the Easter Jeep Safari.

Let's just say that didn't work out quite as planned-but not from lack of effort.

After the Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari (TDS) in Southern California, there was roughly three weeks before Trasborg headed out to the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah. Among the list of things to do: replace torn-off rear crossmember from a failed rescue, fix brake lights, fix parking lights, fix dash/turn signal lights, replace all four leaking shock absorbers, fix speedometer, find leak in brake system, replace dry-rotted brake lines, do something about balky 4WD shifter, make doors parallel to body, find and repair gas tank leak, and fix hard-to-turn steering column. Should be a piece of cake for three whole weeks, right?

Well, OK, maybe not a piece of cake, but certainly by wrenching during the daylight hours (and a night where needed) every day until EJS, it would be possible, right?

Riiiiight...what started as merely tinkering during daylight hours quickly turned into 16-hour-per-day wrench fests with up to five guys working on stuff and then we got to do wiring.

The Jeep made it to Utah with everything done, except for a decent bleeding of the brakes. However, in both the last story and this one, the carburetor wasn't addressed before going on the trip. The carburetor was rebuilt before Trasborg got it, and it ran great, so why bother? Read on about pulling the Jeepster's other foot out of the grave before dragging it 750 miles to the biggest event of the year, only to find out it needed a heart transplant. Here's the highlight reel and be sure to read the riot act of everything that was done to this Jeep in the three weeks before dragging it to Moab.

The Riot Act
As they say, hindsight is 20/20. The carburetor would have been rebuilt, if there was more time and the "simple" hoop build didn't eat five very full days. Nonetheless, here's all that was done to the Jeepster up to and including the week of Easter Jeep Safari.

sand contacts and generally clean instrument
cluster printed board
replace all lights in instrument cluster
rebuild rear taillight housings
fabricate new rear crossmember and receiver/recovery hitch
clean, patch, and resolder gas tank
repair battery hold down
fabricate gas tank skid with late CJ/Wrangler style mounts

weld rear bumper to new crossmember
replace brake lines
install new fuel filter and add pre-fuel-pump filter.
Later in Moab, replace both filters due to contamination
add actual fuel line to fuel filler (replacing radiator and garden hoses)
weld cracks in body between front floor and rear floor
build hoop and use to pull body together
swap bent stock fan for flex-fan off spare engine
swap/rebuild steering column
adjust/rebuild clutch linkage
adjust steering

build spare tire mount
install interior fuel filler cover
fabricate new metal rear body mounts
replace body mount rubber
cut off/re-weld a spring mount that was poorly "fixed" before - one inch too high and one inch too far from other spring eye
build bastard leaf pack
grease/replace speedometer cable
remove/reinstall seats and carpeting
cut access panels for B-pillar hoop feet
clean out bolt holes in top/replace broken bolts
have brakes power bled (in Moab)
replace upper and lower door seals (in Moab)
compound/wax Jeep (in Moab)
compound rear light lenses (in Moab)
fabricate front towhook mounts/install towhooks (in Moab)
replace fuel pump (in Moab)
rebuild carburetor (in Moab)
replace fuel pump again (in Moab)

Since Trasborg didn't have a bender, he went to a friend's place to build a simple hoop. Removal of the seats and carpet revealed a rusted floor from years of sitting near the beach and taking on water. Thanks to the shot floors, the top corner of the cab near the doors had bowed out about 11/4 inches from what it should be. So the tub was pulled back together and a bar was welded across to hold it while we cut out the floor and built the hoop.

A simple hoop install turned into new floors, new body mount rubber, adjusted clutch linkage, and these new rear body mounts. The stock body-side metal hat channels were crushed and ripped off the body. We built these from some scrap 1/8-inch-wall tube and the stock nutserts.

Four long days later, around 3 a.m., we finally had a hoop in the Jeep. It was designed to be reminiscent of the optional stock unit but provide more room. The hoop was tied in to the sides of the body to keep everything parallel. Note the new floors welded in with seat mounts relocated 2 inches farther back.

The gas tank leaked everywhere. There was radiator and garden hose for filler and vent hose. Someone thought it'd be a good idea to try to snot-solder the neck back to a rusty tank. End game was a lot of sheetmetal welding, coupled with some soldering, and some fuel-rated rubber for leak-free fuel storage.

It turned out the steering column issue was a failure of the top bearing. The parts Jeep had a good bearing, but a bad four-way switch, so the column was swapped in and the blinker switch soldered to the four-way switch for an easier-to-turn column with working blinkers.

After making the gas tank leak-proof, we built a skidplate for it with 1x2 tube and 1/8-inch plate. Also note the new 2 by 3 by 3/16-inch tube rear crossmember and the receiver that doubles as a recovery point and a stock bumper guard. We extended it out under the bumper to save the stock bumper when coming off ledges. For the few trails that the Jeepster ran for, it worked very well.

By the end of TDS, the Jeepster still stopped, but we aren't sure how. One side of the master cylinder was completely devoid of fluid. We refilled it and cleaned it, but couldn't tell where the leak was (it seemed like it was coming through the metal-there was fluid everywhere). We found the major leak right after a panic stop-from the stripped-out threads for the brake light switch. We got a new switch from Omix, PN 17238.02, but had to get the master cylinder from NAPA.

Now that we had the Jeep stopping, we needed to level it out. The extra metal, spare tire, and tools all conspired to drop the rear end about two inches, even with the multi-leaf springs. We robbed leafs from an XJ spring pack and created a five leaf bastard pack to level it out. It still rides great, too.

We aren't going full gonzo on this thing just yet-we are shooting to keep it stock looking, if nothing else. The best way we could figure to get back to stock was to replace the dry-rotted rubber Omix Ada brake lines, PN 16732.03 (front), PN 16733.01 (rear-it worked, but if you do this, ask for a longer one), S-shaped steel lines, PN 16732.03 and leaking and bent shocks, PN 18203.02 (front) and PN 18203.05 (rear).

Even after rebuilding the column and replacing the brake light switch, we still had no rear brake/turn lights. So we went out back and found cracked insulators shorting to ground, frayed wires, and busted taillight sockets. We used a new plastic piece from another light and swapped it in. Then we shattered the old insulation and re-soldered and heat shrank the connections.

When we got the Jeep, the speedometer worked, but by the end of TDS it didn't. We pulled the cable and found this, so we swapped in a freshly-greased cable from the parts Jeep. The speedometer worked for about half of Moab, and then died.

After running great for TDS and for two days in Moab through rain, sleet, and snow, the first sunny day on the first official day of Easter Jeep Safari the Jeep died. We never touched the carburetor (it ran good, so why bother?) and for the duration of Jeep Safari we regretted that fact. This rag was white when we started. The swapped-in fuel filters were bad too.

Now that we could stop and had lights so the Moab fuzz wouldn't pick us up, we turned our attention to the steering. There was a half-turn in the steering wheel before the tires turned, and a lot of that was in the bellcrank. We pulled the nut off of it, put a hogged-out washer on, and cranked it down. Steering wheel slop went down to quarter-turn either way. We are planning on going to a Saginaw setup in the future, so that is likely as good as it gets for now.

Damage, Inc
Trasborg is not known to accept failure. Even with the accelerator pump coming on after half-throttle, the Jeep not starting, and a dodgy fuel pump, he still wheeled this thing as best as he could, until the clutch fried. So, here's the list of injured Jeepster parts by the last day of Easter Jeep Safari.

leaking radiator thanks to much overheating (boiled 5-gallons out in two days)stripped fuel pump hole in block from many late-night fuel pump swapspoor running carburetor from quickie rebuild louder than ever valve tap from over-revving thanks to no power from poor running engine (altitude sickness)burned clutch thanks to lots of clutch slippage on an already weak clutch due to 23:1 crawl ratiosquealing throwout bearing

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