As for fixing it, well, that depends on just how much money you want to put into the engine. It may be cheaper in the long run, once you get the engine apart and find the problem, to just say the heck with it and find a better engine, even if you have to pay for it. A reasonable quality rebuild will start around $1,200 and go up from there.
Now as to putting it into your Wrangler: The AX15 transmission you have is a light- to medium-duty transmission, but if you have a light right foot and don't build the V-8 to high horsepower levels, the trans should hold up OK. It wouldn't be my first choice of transmission, but it is usable. Novak Enterprises (435/753-2513, www.novak-adapt.com) has a great adapter, and when used with Novak's optional hydraulic-clutch slave-retrofit system, you can maintain your present clutch linkage.
The TH400 is a much stronger transmission and is an option that you should explore. The adapter to the transfer case is about the same price as the engine-to-AX15 adapter. However, the transmission is a bit long, making a combined transmission and adapter length of 25.9 inches (the manual trans/bellhousing combination, I believe, is about 19 inches long), so I would think a short shaft/slip-yoke eliminator kit would be a necessity.
S-Truck IFS to Solid Axle SwapQ I have a '99 Chevy S-10 4x4 (non ZR-2) with a 2-inch IFS lift and fiberglass fenders. I am dissatisfied with the current front suspension, and wish to do a solid front axle swap. I have been doing research and haven't come up with much of a plan yet as to how I'm going to tackle this project. In the end, I wish to lift it enough to clear 35s. The axle would need to have a driver-side differential. What axle would you recommend, and what model, year and/or vehicle would I be able to salvage such an axle from? Could you outline everything else necessary to do the axle swap? I wish to use a leaf-spring setup and keep the axle somewhat narrow if possible.Curtvia fourwheeler.com
A Well, that is a pretty big undertaking, one that you will have to spend a lot of time thinking about before you even begin. Leaf springs, coil springs, or coilover setups are going to require a lot of fabrication. Undoubtedly, leaf springs will be the easiest way to go and the less expensive method. The present track on your S-10, I believe, is 57 inches. The only driver-side front axles that I can think of that are close to those measurements are axles from early-model Broncos and fullsize Jeep Wagoneers (from the last few years of production). These were Dana 44s, something you will need if you're planning on running 35-inch tires. Sure, there are some other axles that were the right width, but they had passenger-side differential housings or were only Dana 30s.
Having never done such a swap-or, to be honest with you, never looked at one closely-I can't tell you exactly what is involved in the way of frame or steering modifications. What I will tell you is that it is very important that you keep things straight and true as possible. And when it comes to steering, make sure that the modifications you make will never fail, or the results may just mean your-or someone else's-life. You might want to consider using the complete Bronco suspension system-even the coil-spring towers-as it seems to be an easy way to go. I did some searching on this subject and found out that Ems Offroad (570/644-9151, www.emsoffroad.com) has done this same conversion. You might want to visit the company's Web site, and perhaps they can help you out with the proper brackets and such.