With the Freefender able to start and run, presumably reliably, I set to work on some other areas that needed attention along with some off-road-worthy improvements. Between the two free Jeeps that I started out with, I had four decent 30x9.50 tires mounted on 15x8 wheels. So I put the Uniroyal Laredo MTs mounted on Jackman wheels out back for extra traction and the BFG All-Terrains mounted on stock CJ-7 wheels up front. The front and rear wheels don't match in design or backspacing, but they're close. Hey, at least all four are white spoke-style wheels!
I knew the brakes were bad, but it wasn't until I got the Jeep going a few miles an hour that I realized I couldn't stop at all. The pedal seemed almost frozen. At some point someone hacked-in what looked like an early CJ-5 master cylinder in the stock location on the framerail. It kinda worked, but the linkage was binding. I ordered up the correct master cylinder from Tellico 4x4, which just so happened to have the lowest prices for all the vintage parts I've needed for this Jeep. I slapped in the new part and attempted to bleed the brakes all around. The bleeder screws were plugged so I had to clean them out with a small drill bit. This worked on the rear brakes, but for some reason no fluid would come out of the front wheel cylinders, even with the bleeder screws removed. It's possible they are simply rusted solid. But I got rear brakes, and for me that's good enough for this off-road competition that Christian is concocting. Maybe I can win for the longest stopping distance.
Of course the engine started making some strange noises just as I got the brakes working a little better. It sounded like a squealing belt, but even with the single fan belt removed the engine still sounded like a cat in a blender. I was sure there was a spun crank bearing or something else really bad. Upon further investigation, it seemed that the squeal was coming from the front crank seal area. I hosed it down with Justice Brothers JB80 and miraculously the noise went away. I still have no idea what it was, but it's no longer a problem. I'm ready to hit the desert.