Yes, ANOTHER Jeep build!

Posts tagged “Full Size Jeep

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

If you have read any of this, or the write up about FrankenJeep, you will know that I have an affinity for Jeeps. I love Jeeps of all shapes and sizes. Okay, many of these new ones are crap, but anyway – I love Jeeps.

I really love Jeep trucks! I have the J20, Hyde, that I write about here, and at last posting I told you that Hyde was not doing so well. Over the last week, he did get a new pair of shoes (the good) but we knew he still had engine problems, and I told you the clutch was going out. He broke down again shortly after I put on the new tires, and I lost my brakes when I was pulling into my driveway (the bad).

You may, or may not, know that I own another Jeep truck (if you pay extra attention in my picture posting of the hot rod Jeep known as FrankenJeep, you could have guessed it). Yep, some time ago, I bought a Jeep Comanche. It is like the little XJ Cherokee, only a pickup truck.


I got it from a Navy veteran in Tucson, and he told me that he used it to go from there to Deming, New Mexico for hatch chilies. He explained that it got pretty good mileage and that his son also used it for some light construction, and industrial yard work jobs. I knew I was not getting a pristine truck here (the ugly). Both doors creaked when you opened them and it looked like someone put bubblegum on the hinges to keep them in place. I had intended on buying an XJ Cherokee and using most of it to build me a new Little Big Jeep Parts Hauler.

Between Hyde and Frank, I never really got to give much love to this little Mighty Mac. The old man said it had been sitting for over a year, and I bought it quite some time ago – the truck was nearing two years, or more, sitting and never getting the attention it deserves.

I met Gary, and he happened to be looking for such a Comanche (short bed/manual/4×4). He figured that he and his son might be interested in it, so they came over today and looked at the little truck. We spoke numbers and agreed it was not really worth a whole lot of greenbacks. He asked me what I had into it, and what I wanted out of it. I told him outright, “Look, I do not really think I can get much money out this; and to be honest, I do not need money. I need my J20 fixed.”

He asked me what was wrong with my J20, and I told him. He gave me the numbers on what he would normally charge someone to do those jobs and it tallied out to be greater than the worth of the little MJ. I countered with “What if you only helped me do the jobs? You did not do them yourself. You take the little truck, and you help me get my J20 running.” He liked the sound of that, and we shook on a deal.

What does this all mean? It means that I will not get to build a little Mighty Mac right now. It means someone is taking off with my little Comanche. It means that I can get the J20 fixed up some more and have a truck again. It means I have put a reprieve on Hyde’s death sentence. He will be put on life support so he will live long enough to kill him and resurrect him to be the truck he was destined to be. Haha! See what I did there, with a Phoenix reference… and I live in Arizona? Never mind.

We each have our own business to attend to, but we have a date in late September to transfer the truck for mechanical labor. I will let you know what happens then!

Hyde Gets New Shoes

Why does that sound like a children’s book? I imagine LeVar Burton reading me this story on Reading Rainbow. WOW! That dated me and showed how very American I am, all in one short statement. So be it. Both are true.

Anyhow. Hmm. Do I present the shoes? Or tell the story of “why” first?


You all know I got “new” tires for Hyde some time ago. I have been holding off installation for one reason or another. Well, sometimes life gives you a little push, and you are forced to do something about it.


Yep. Good ol’ Mother Nature told me it was time to put on Hyde’s new shoes. Off to Craig’s we go! Craig is my specialty mechanic and I take the things I cannot do at home, to him. He love/hates me for it. Okay, usually the things I bring to him are things that not even he likes to do. But he is a good mechanic, and a damn good guy! So, Hyde is my truck; how do I get four 37″ tires to Craig?

The Camry of course! “The Little Big Jeep Parts Hauler” is hard at work again!


HAHAHAHA! That picture always makes me laugh! The other tire was sitting in the back seat. Do not fret. I have retired the “Little Big Jeep Parts Hauler” and sold it to the teenager. Is it a reprieve, or an expedition of its death sentence? We will find out, in due time.

I drove the Camry to Craig’s but had to make a stop at the parts store, which is on the way. Good thing I did too, because I met Brad. He and Rat Rod Addiction have given me some very good ideas, both for Hyde and the FrankenJeep.

I dropped off the tires and told Craig I would be back with the others, the ones that had the rims on them. He agreed, and I lost track of time, getting to his shop just moments after he shut down. Oh well. I got the tires dropped off and called the shop explaining the situation. When I came back out to pay, he figured it would be just a few hours. Um yeah. NO SIMPLE TASK LEFT UNCOMPLICATED!!

Craig has a mechanic’s shop. In that shop he has a tire machine and a balancer too. One would suspect that removing 31″ tires from a 16.5″ rim and mounting 37″ tires onto said rim would be an easy enough task. As it turns out, I gave Craig my bad juju, and he had a hell of a time mounting these tires. So much that I paid him a bit extra and bought the shop lunch. I felt really bad for the guy. Nonetheless, greatness will prevail and Craig did, indeed get all four tires mounted on those rims! It only took about 10 hours or so to get it done. But was it ever worth it!


I know. Fenders. Where are they Mac? That is a bit of a sore subject. Do not get me wrong, I am still getting them, as well as my originals too; but I was to get them on my way home this last time, and the Louisiana weather screwed me out of that.

Normally, I take a 1 hour chopper ride inland and then I spend the next 26 hours in the car driving home. I usually stop and see Cherokee Jim before I head home, but instead of leaving on Thursday, we left on Saturday. This meant he was not on his normal schedule. That meant I was unable to get in touch with him. Because of that, I could not get my fenders. Stupid Louisiana weather.

Anyhow, I should be getting them this next time home. I know – how many times has that already been said?

At the very least, I should be able to get my stockers back on, and look like a complete truck again.

How do they fit? I mean, you went through all of this trouble. How does this chapter end?

Well, I drove it to the wrecking yard the next day. 25 miles, with half of that on the freeway. Prior to the new shoes, my speedometer tracked off, I knew that it needed larger tires in order to track correctly. I was right. 37″ tires seems to be what that speedo was calibrated for. I checked it against the GPS and up to about 60 mph (97 kph) it was nearly dead-nuts on. At about 60, it started to lag against what I was actually driving.

Oh, I passed someone on the freeway! Did you tell them it was a senior citizen’s livery cab? Hey, I will take any victory, no matter how small or under what circumstances.

The truck drove very well, all the way to Mesa, where I was getting a new lower intake manifold for another vehicle. (You gearheads out there should be able to read between those lines!)

I was hoping that new tires was going to help with some of my issues – I know I have 3.56 gears on it, and I was hoping that maybe some of my chug-a-lug problems were gear related, that maybe I was running the wrong tire size. It turned out to be the case. For a little while. In the end, big tires did not fix my problem, because my problem is not gears. It goes back to a tired engine.

Why don’t you just fix the damn thing and be done with it? OR, why not just rebuild the SBC 400 and install it?

Both are valid points. Number one: if I rebuild the AMC 360, at the end of the day, I am still stuck with an AMC 360. We have had this conversation before. Number two: if I rebuild the SBC 400, yes I have Chevy now and can get parts for it, but I am using money and energy where it need not be. I should be expending all that on a diesel. I will just keep this alive, ensuring I do not injure the body, and continue on working toward that diesel truck so I can body swap and call it a day. Agree or disagree, it is what I have left – I believe my clutch is slipping, and my brakes went out on me as I pulled into my driveway today… Hyde is in need of some serious work.

I do not fret. Even though it is very apparent that there is still much to do on this truck, I have made some new contacts; and I believe that with them, I am making way to a better ride. It is just something that will take time.

Hang in there, just because I do not have this truck up and dieseled right now, does not mean it won’t happen. I still have the FrankenJeep build going on; that is sharing time and money, but is making good progress. Mad Mac’s will have something to show for at the end of all of this. Don’t you worry about that!

Extension Cord Escapades

I apologize for not writing sooner. The last I wrote, it was 2Jun16, it is now 26Aug16. It has been awhile, and much has gone on here both in the world of Hyde as well as over there in the world of FrankenJeep.

So, what has gone on in the past few weeks?

Let us start out with the Extension Cord Escapades. I thought I was going to get a 6ga wire and use it as an extension cord. Well, let me tell you a little story about that.

It turns out that the 6ga was only two cord, I need at least three cord wire – hot, negative and ground. I might have been able to cut the 6ga wire in half, splice it and create a four cord, or simply use only one of those for a three cord wire, but then I am spending quite a bit of time creating a wire when I could have just spent a little more money and bought one.

I started looking on the line for a new extension cord: 600 Volt Cord

I found a 12ga extension cord that was three wire and 50′ long on the eBay for, well it was a bid war. They wanted $14.99 for processing and handling. Since I was not about to spend more than $100 to get this thing in my grubby paws, I put a max bid at $85.01 and waited. It was not too long before I got a message – “You have been outbid”

Oh well, on to the next thing. I kept searching, and I found a 10ga three cord, 50′ generator extension cord that came from the military surplus and it had a “buy it now” price of $50. After the processing and handling, plus the fees and whatnot, I think I paid right around $68 to have that cord in my hands. SCORE!!

Next, I had to rewire the j-box outside to accept this wire. We cut the female end of the wire off and connected it to the j-box, placing it on its own breaker and switch. Then we bought a new gang box to use on the end of the wire we just cut and wired that into a secure connection with its own plug outlets. Vi-ola! I have a new 50′ extension cord that will hold up to 600V. Now I can plug the welder into the extension cord, and it will not know that it is so far away from the supplied electricity.

Now I just need to fix my regulator gauges on the welder.

The Correct Answer Was “Get Rid of That Ford Crap!!”

But Thank You For Playing “HOW TO FIX MY TRUCK”

That is right ladies and gentlemen, I was having some electrical gremlins that were keeping the truck from being roadworthy.

We troubleshot. We tested. We fixed and tweaked. We horse traded and swapped (no horses were actually traded during any transactions of Jeep parts)…

In the end, it was a matter of replacing the carburetor, the coil and the ignition control module, getting rid of that Motorcraft stuff and replacing it with an Edelbrock 650, an MSD Blaster 2 and a 6al. I realize that most of that might have been jibberish to some of you, but think of it like this – I replaced the bad stuff with much better stuff, and now so far, the truck has been running better and is much happier. I still need to mess with the timing some, but it is definitely getting closer to trustworthy. I will take it out of the immediate ten mile radius of my house, and may even venture to seek freeway speeds. Oh my!

Now, you may be wondering what the next step is. Well, now that I have a working truck, I can get that Chevy small block 400 and rebuild it to put into the truck. But, you just spent all that time on the 360, why would you replace it now?

The answer is simple – It is an AMC 360! If you have read my FrankenJeep musings, you will remember that conversation at the parts store. The one where Tommy Partslinger looked at me blankly when I asked about AMC engine parts?

Parts Store Woes

Yeah, that sort of thing does not happen as often when you ask for Chevy parts. Those commercials crack me up because I deal with that pain often; unfortunately, they are unable to help me out too.

Do not fret; I am still on the hunt for “that” truck. It is just not as easy to find a ’94-02 one ton diesel Ram that is 4×4, manual, and a single cab/long bed. That is not to say they do not exist, I just did not think it was going to be this difficult to find one.

Now we can get the bead bags and have Craig install my 37” tires! I have been talking with Cherokee Jim, and I hope to have my fenders soon. If I do get my fenders, that means I can start body work on the bed. WHAT!?!? Yep, that is right. I am going to start body work on the bed as soon as my fenders are installed.

What could you possibly do to an M101-A1 trailer bed to make it any more badass than it already is?!?

I am glad you asked. I am going to widen the rear fenders six inches. You heard me! Who could not make use out of another six inches?

Cherokee Jim did such a great job on my fenders, that it makes my rear end seem a bit anemic. So, we are going to remedy that with SIZE! I am going to add six inches to the rear fenders so that they match the fronts. I will only be adding size to the actual fender, they will then be faired into the respective end corners. I will have the fender well come out six, and then taper forwards to the cab, and aft towards the tailgate, this will give me triangle steps that I can utilize in order to help get things situated in the bed. I am also going to side mount a 37” tire on the driver’s side, and install a small crane that will assist with that.

We think we might have found a way to deal with my crappy electricity issue – 6ga wire is cheaper than I thought it was, because 98’ (yes, one tick means FEET) goes for $35 on the eBay! I thought for sure I was going to be at least $120 into a fifty foot extension cord. Now I get twice the length for nearly a third of the cost!

I will be grabbing that and the other pieces required to make myself a 50’ 6ga extension cord.  This way, the welder does not know it is as far from the j-box as it really is; it will think it is plugged right into the wall.

The J20 Build: The Jekyll and Hyde Experience

Last time I was here, I mentioned that I drove down to Tucson to get a lift kit from Tad, and that I may be getting power doors. That was all true, I still have the lift kit (uninstalled, but I will explain that a bit later) and I did get power doors. I bought two power doors and a dashboard while I was in Amarillo. I managed to stuff all of that into the parts runner and drove it to Ft. Hood, TX and then home.




I was going to install the lift and the doors when I had an overheating issue sneak up on me. Now that I was done making it photo ready, I was driving it more, and I found out that the truck has no issues idling, but when I put it in gear and drove it, the radiator would heat the engine to temperatures I did not approve of.

I checked the oil/water mixes, and they remained separate, so that pretty much ruled out a blown head gasket. Phew! I know Chris would not let me live that down if I blew another head gasket.

I witnessed the radiator flow, and it drained as fast as the garden hose could fill it. I checked the water pump, which looked new and flowed through just as well. I replaced the thermostat, then removed it. I bought a new lower radiator hose and then stole an old Chevy hose spring and shoved it inside, hoping that would help out. Nothing. All of this brought me to the conclusion that… I have no idea why my radiator is pressurizing and spitting out the coolant!

It was nearing my time to get back to work, so I turned it over to the professionals. I took it to Craig, at KNI Automotive and let him have a looksee at it while I was at work. I bought a head gasket set and a new radiator for it. You never know, and it is better to be over prepared than to be underprepared. Off went the truck to the doctor, and off I went to work.


I got home and called Craig.

“How is the truck?” I asked.

“It does not overheat, but it runs like shit.” he said.

I’ll take it! I test drove it before taking it home and sure enough, it no longer overheats. Craig was right, it did not run very well at all. Do not twist it; the truck went from A to B and back, it was just extremely cold blooded – Arctic cold blooded. And due to the lack of weight in the rear it was very squirrely. It definitely needed a proper tune up, and something had to be done about the weight distribution.

The overheating issue was a bad radiator. Evidently, there was enough flow for it to work at idle, but once the truck was in gear and on the move, the radiator could not keep up. Craig replaced the radiator and the thermostat housing, putting in a new thermostat. Seeing as he did not need the gasket kit, I took it back to the parts store and returned it for the parts needed for a tune up and an oil change.

I tuned it up, changed the oil, and also installed a proper set of eyes for a Jeep. That is correct, while I was in Texas, I caught up with Cherokee Jim and he had a razor grille for me. Round headlights at last!


After the tune up was complete and the oil was changed, I took the truck on another test drive. It drove much better this time. It still needs a proper carburetor tune up, and it is leaking oil pretty severely, but it drives much better now.

What was to be done about the lack of weight in the rear, you ask?

When you are a gearhead for long enough, you start to know people. Good people. Sometimes these good people have bad situations that fall to your advantage. Take Ziggy for example, Christian’s dad. Ziggy likes to go to the government auctions and get military trucks and trailers. One of his trailers did not pan out as a trailer, so I offered to take it off his hands and, well just look for yourself…

– The Truck –


– The Trailer –


Getting the truck ready for its new bed –


I even got the teenager to help out!


Placing the bed onto the truck –


Spotting potential problem areas –


After cutting off the lip and hooks of the trailer and relocating the breather hose, we got a direct fit –


I did some simple, yet highly effective fabbing and relocating –


This went from reflector to gas filler –


End result –


. . .

Your truck looks bad ass, but did you address the carburetor problem? No.

Did you fix the oil leaks? No.

As I mentioned, those were problems that I could temporarily deal with, as this truck does not yet see a lot of drive time and it is still under construction. I am still getting it there, and seeing as I have work coming up, I will again drop off the truck to Craig to have him address those issues.

I am sure you are aware of my other Jeep build, FrankenJeep

If you follow it, or have even read it, you understand the things of that nature seem to take a bit longer for me. Not to say that I never get them done, but I do have a bit of an ADHD quality about me when some things are concerned. Good news is that Craig also is a fabricator. I have already spoken with him, and he has agreed to check out my front axle project for the hot rod. That means the little Jeep might see some attention here very soon, as I need the axle made before I can set the suspension. And now that I have a functioning truck, I can bring home the engine and the rear axle, making the hot rod closer to ready for more fab work. But all of this is for the other page.

This page is about a Jekyll and Hyde build of a truck.

What is in store for this truck next time around?

Oh boy, are we in for a treat here! You see, my buddy Cherokee Jim has a few tricks up his sleeve. Let us put it this way – the lift kit, that dash pad and my fenders are going to him.

Why, you ask? For trade.

First of all, I still owe him for the razor grille, but secondly, I am making partial trade on a set of stretch fenders, and these things are bad to the bone!

Now, this is not his fender. I believe this one is fiberglass and I know that his are metal, but it still gives you an idea of what he does.


For reference, this is where a normal FSJ fender sits.

80 J 10 [2] 005-20141216-143543869 (2)

This is one of his fenders. It is just a production picture, and not a finished product, but it also kind of shows you how he does it. These metal fender flares are removable and he takes them off, stretches them and welds them back into place, per customer’s specifications.


And if you need to see where my fenders sit, as a reference to my particular circumstances…


Haha! Remember, they are in the parts runner and will be going to Cherokee Jim as trade.

Why would anyone want those?

They are bad ass, of course! Plus, I can put bigger tires on the truck without lifting it, and that is a big thing for me right now, as I do not want to spend obscene amounts of money on this driving chassis.

But you already spent money on a lift kit, why not just install that and be normal?

You see, my plans are to get a Cummins Ram and do a body swap with it. The aftermarket support is better for the Ram, and not to mention that I will get better suspension out of it. Also, the diesel is already in the frame, and it will have matched components. This, opposed to trying to figure out how to put a bunch of diesel parts into a Jeep frame that was never built to handle that sort of torque.

I know it has been done before. There are plenty of Full Size Jeeps that have been converted, and with good results. But for my application, I see this as being the best and most effective route to convert my J20 to diesel.

All of this is still down the road, as I have yet to acquire a diesel Ram, so we will just have to stay tuned and wait to see how that all plays out later.

For now, we can keep watch for the next body mods that are to come shortly. To start off with, those include the stretch fenders and bigger tires. If I come across a rhino grille, I will be installing that and running a quad light set up too. I am also in the process of converting all lighting to LED. These are all quick modifications that show instant results, and these days, that is what we all want, right?

I will let you know how it all pans out next time.

On the Next Episode of “The J20 Build”

Well, it is getting close for me to go back to work. I did manage to get a lift kit bracket set from Tad; I drove down to Tucson to get it. I have not been down there in a very long time. So long in fact, that I forgot how to get around, but I guess that is a good thing.

What does that all mean? It means that Jerry has the other parts I need, so that next time I come home from work, I will get to pick up my goodies and come home to lift this thing! I have heard rumors that it might also be getting power windows/power door locks.

We will have to tune in next time…

. . .

Oh, just a little tidbit of information – I found out this used to be a military/government contract truck, check it out.



The last sentence says it all “Contact nearest distributor or dealer, Jeep CORPORATION for warranty replacements or contact AM General Corp.

For those of you that are unaware, AM General is the military sector of motor vehicles.

Phase One – Project: Beautify the Beast

I called my insurance and asked about putting classic car insurance on the truck. They told me that would not be a problem, that I could get full insurance for $113 a year. “We just need a few pictures of the truck” they said.

Hmm. I am going to have to do something about that. I know I cannot send in pictures of the truck looking like this!


It was very clear to us that we had much work to do. So, with my trusty little sidekick, Jaiden, we gutted the interior in preparations for making it all pretty. We pulled out the headliner, removed the crusty dash pad, and got rid of the old door panels.

Just like on the infomercials!

In just minutes, you can go from nasty old interior to brand new interior! Just spray on and let soak, wipe dry and viola!


*and then you read the little itty bitty text that says it was all elapsed time, and that there was a whole crew of people cleaning, fixing, and replacing things.

This was no magic potion. It took us a good five hours to get these doors to look this good. I have some old shelf backings that are made of sheet metal. Tony and I used the old door panels as a template and cut those out to make the new ones. Then we sprayed Rustoleum Hammered black paint and followed it with a mist of Rustoleum American Accents stone. Tony and I got both sides done in this timeframe, but the other door looks quite the same, and it gets to be a bit redundant. The door handle is off a ’68 Fairlane that Chris and I took parts off while we were at the wrecking yard in Flagstaff.

I started working the dash, too. I ripped off the pad and welded up the bolt holes to smooth it all out.


It is okay, you can laugh at my crappy welds. The fact of the matter is that I was using flux core on a MIG welder trying to tack weld slots shut on sheet metal. Not the easiest thing to do. I did manage to fix it. It only took me about three days of chasing welds and burning holes, but I finally got it figured out.


This picture was taken right after the first coat went on. This was a cover coat, so I needed something sort of thick.


I turned to As Seen on TV: Flex Seal – it will transform and protect virtually everything!

This is what I learned here. Had I just made my welds good, I could have used this stuff and it would have covered them perfectly. Instead I had to go around “fixing” everything and then grinding it down and fixing it again until I was forced to weld two soda cans together with a 110v MIG welder. Not fun. But, lesson learned.

I was able to make it all work out, in the end.


I still need to do something with that windshield, but otherwise, I think I have a decent interior.


The outside also got a bit of attention over this period of time. I was fortunate enough to have the original Pig Nose grille delivered with the truck. As much as I hate square lights on a Jeep, this was all about getting the truck ready for its photo op for the insurance company.


That looks better! Sort of, it still has square headlights; that is something we will be changing very soon!

The J20 Build

Sorry, no code names here; just a simple, no-nonsense truck build. I admit it is another Jeep build, but you probably know me well enough by now to expect that if I am building something, it will most likely be a Jeep. (Click to see the FrankenJeep build.)

So, what do we have this time? As the title states, we have ourselves here a J20. Actually, we have a 1979 J20 that does everything a truck should do, but it needs love.

Haha! Where are my manners? I have yet to formally introduce you to the newest addition to Mad Mac’s.



This is a 1979 J20 ¾ ton truck with Dana 44 and Dana 60 axles, front and rear. It sports the AMC 360 (for now) and has a T-18 4 speed transmission. It starts up, stops, shifts and steers exactly how it is supposed to – and for $2800, I could not pass it up. As you can see, it has a flatbed. I have never thought to myself, “Self. Let’s get a flatbed truck. Imagine the possibilities!”, but on the flipside, I have also never been against owning a flatbed either. It is true that before I acquired the truck, I was looking to trade it out for townside bed (a regular truck bed), but as I looked at the truck and searched for the possibilities for a flat bed four wheeler, it quickly grew on me.

If you scroll to the bottom of this page, just below all of the “share” information, (you know – the buttons for the FaceBox, Pictanow, and the Twerking machine…) you will find two little tabs, one on each side of the page. You can click on the right tab to navigate forward to see the next post, or you can click on the left tab to navigate backward to see the previous post. Ain’t technology grand?!