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Six to Eight Swap - Catching Up (with Katie)

Engine Swap Plans

Levi JansmaPhotographerKatie JansmaWriter

This is the beginning of a lot of work. Well, for me it is at least. I think I’m going to do an engine and transmission swap on my ’86 CJ-7. The reason I say think is because, well, I’m a woman and I can’t make up my damn mind.

We (my family) will, of course, start with the engine. I want more power, but still would like decent mileage. Then again, it is a Jeep, and I’m not sure fuel economy is that much of a concern. At the moment, it has the trusty old 258ci inline-six. But, I want to turn the CJ-7 into a hard-core off-road vehicle.

I want to go wheeling with the big boys. I have my JK for family trails, going fishing, hiking, or taking a shortcut through that grocery store snow bank, which is more than fine with me. At this moment, I have an extra 360ci V-8 sitting in my garage. It was pulled out of an ’80s Wagoneer, along with the automatic transmission. If you are asking why I don’t take the easy road and just grab a Chevy small block, here is your answer: I personally think that an AMC CJ should have American Motors power. I will never go with a Chevrolet engine in this Jeep.

Back to the extra 360. I’m hoping to get this under the hood soon. Depends on how much I’m going to need to work on it first. Heck, I’m not even sure if it runs yet, so a compression test is needed. If it doesn’t pass, then a rebuild is in order, and a copy of Verne’s Piggy truck build will be done. However, the engine has one new freeze plug, which may be nothing but may be a bad thing. It’s like asking your buddy, who is walking a little bow-legged after the New Year’s party, how their night went. It could be harmless or could be the result of a string of events that leaves you scarred for life and you wishing you never asked the question.

After I figure out if the engine is OK or if it needs a rebuild, I will need to decide on a fuel-injection system. Maybe I’m too young or don’t have enough hair growing out of my ears, but to love carburetors, I think you need to be an old man. I really don’t like dealing with them. Which EFI system I will get will depend on cost truthfully. It will most likely be another F.A.S.T. system like the inline-six has now. Not much of the existing system will switch over, which really kind of blows.

The torqueflight 727 was scavenged from the same Wagoneer. I don’t know if it works. If it doesn’t, should I put a TH400 in it? Either way, I will be re-using the current Dana 300 T-case. It needs a bit of beefing but is already stuffed with a 4:1 gearset, so it just makes sense to keep it. Some are asking why I am turning this CJ-7 into a hard-core off-road rig. One reason is that it’s mine and I can. Another is that there is more rust than can be replaced. The tub and frame both have cancer, so there is really no point in trying save either one. Yeah, it’s an ’86, but since I have to rebuild it, I’m going to make it the way I want!