We have the clean Jeep truck body. We have a workable Suburban that happens to be an oil burner. Now we just need to figure out how to make the two into one. That is still in progress, I will not get into all of the details about everything going on, but I will give you the bare essentials and highlight the important things you need to know.
First off, obviously you need both a Full Size Jeep truck and (hopefully) a running Suburban.
Here you can see that Hyde got new doors. The old ones were giving me window problems and seeing as we are going with a totally new paint scheme, I decided it did not matter what color the new ones were.
Pay no attention to the fact this particular truck is only 2WD. That will be addressed soon enough, and I realize I told you this would be a twin turbo setup, but pay no attention to the single turbo on there. In good time… You can see this 1988 Suburban is a good candidate for the body swap, and we have everything coming along here.
You can also see that I had the luxury of not one, but two lifts. That really makes the difference; I would not try and do this in my driveway.
The HOA would just LOVE that!!
We stripped down the two vehicles to get them ready for transplant. The idea is to put the J20 body onto the Suburban frame and see what it takes to bolt it up.
In these photos, the truck is on the Suburban frame and you can see that the J20 frame widens in the rear. We will definitely need to do something about this, but no worries; this is actually one of the easier things to fix. We had already chiseled the Suburban body mounts off and we were prepared to bolt up mounts to the J20 and see where they sat before tack welding them into place.
In true build fashion, we found that somebody had broken the welder gun on the MIG machine the night before. Classic! Needless to say, I was again without a welder. Still, we carried on!
This photo shows the clearance between the 6BT and the J20 firewall, tight quarters there! The last valve cover is removed, but I have it on hand.
Unfortunately, I had taken the grinder to my stock fenders when I figured I was going to need them to work on the FrankenJeep bed. Bad idea, as I now needed a set of fenders. I had one of my custom fenders on hand to see how the front clip lines up, but it did not give me a good enough representation of how this was really going to work. The reason I could not get a full looksee is the fact that one fender will not support the weight of the front clip and I needed to know where the core support and the grille were going to fit.
It did look like the tire was fairly centered to the wheel well, but again, this was a custom fender that had been stretched, so I was not 100% sure on how this was going to work with stock fenders. We did some brainstorming and figured out that we could build a brace to act as the aft part of the fender and that would make for a stock positioning of the core support and whatnot.
You can see here that the front tire lines up very nicely with the wheel well. From this point, we were able to complete the front clip and get the measurements for where things needed to be.
This is going to be an EXCELLENT fit! Tony and I installed the hood to see what the height clearance was.
A little too tight for my comfort. We have figured out how to fix this too; I cut out metal body mounts and we decided that the best thing to do would be to set the mounts up higher at about 1-1.5” so when we put on the OEM rubber or poly mounts, I would end up with a 2-2.5” body lift. A lift like that would be more than enough to clear everything there.
These are the body mounts I fabricated to work for this. This set is for the rear of the truck, we realized that the rear Suburban mounts work perfectly for the front mounts of the J20.
That takes care of most of that!
There is still a very tight up front. I have a lot of fabrication figuring on what to do with this part.
You can see that the fan has all but taken over the radiator placement. We decided that we could use the radiator mounts to house the fan shroud, and we will be doing some custom mounting of the radiator, the intercooler, the A/C condenser, plus the oil and transmission coolers. 20 pounds of crap in a five pound bag! We are pretty certain we can get this all to work out, planning and preparation is all that is needed.
I also came across a killer deal on axles, plus another sweet deal on wheels and tires. Chris had traded the Suburban body metal plus some of his own parts to a neighbor of his for a set of HD Dodge one ton axles – a Dana 44 front with kingpins and a single wheel Dana 60 rear. All he wanted was the money for his parts he used. It was such a great deal, I doubled it; after all, Chris has been there to help me out on so many different levels, I always like to help out when I can.
I was a little bit disappointed when I saw the rear had drum brakes, but I quickly got over that when I found out the axles were positive traction. We put wheels and tires onto the axles and lifted them high enough to spin; both tires went the same direction! Score!
I also found out that I will need spacers for the HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle [Humvee]) wheels to fit these axles.
These H1 two-piece wheels are going to look bitchin’ on Hyde, I cannot wait!! Cal totally hooked me up here!
You can see where the wheel will rub on the end of the tie rod. No need to worry; I am on it, and am on the prowl for 2.5” and 3” spacers as I need those for the front and rear.
After we got the front clip all worked out, we found that the core support needs to go about five inches back and four inches higher, but we got this! Custom mounts are being made to fit the core support right where it needs to be.
I still have a lot of work to do here, but you can see that it is coming along very well! I will keep you up to date on how this build goes.
Until next time…
If you read the FrankenJeep stories, you know that I no longer work in the oilfield. Not a big deal, as I am much happier these days, and I am now working with a really cool dude named Jack Reigelsperger. He has sort of taken me under his wing, teaching me the ways of custom car building and this has been good on multiple fronts – I am happy with my job again, I get to work with really cool cars, I am learning new things every day I am working, and I have been given a huge hookup when it comes to obtaining auto parts.
Jack hooked me up when we started wheeling and dealing over a project he had sitting in the yard. He had figured out a bolt on kit to put a 5.9L Cummins engine into a square body Chevy truck (1973-1991). He happened to have an ‘88 Suburban that was converted over and we got to talking about it, then we talked about wheelbase measurements. It turned out that the Suburban had a 131.5” wheelbase; Hyde has a 131” even. I already knew that the frame rails were close, as Chris ended up using the flatbed from my J20 to put on his CUCV and it bolted right up…
Do you see where I am going with this yet?
Let me run you through it again:
- I have an untrustworthy Jeep J20 with a clean body
- I have access to a Cummins powered square body with measurements similar to my J20
- I know a guy that has the knowledge, means, and desire to help marry the two
All of this adds up to one thing – a twin turbo Cummins powered Hyde!
Oh, did I forget to mention that? Yes, not one but TWO turbos!! We figure we should net around 600hp and 1400ftlbs of torque, making for a very fun 4×4.
Last we talked, I spoke of the tales of Hyde and how he was in dire straits. There was no “money for nothing”, nor were there “chicks for free”, Hyde was in trouble. We thought there may be salvation for him, even if it was only temporary, but that was not exactly to be the case.
The plan was to trade my little Comanche for work on the J20. That all fell through, Hyde never got the new clutch and was still plagued by engine problems. Whatever would we do?!
Someone once said, “If you have a problem, ignore it. It will eventually go away.” That is TERRIBLE advice!! But, between work and the FrankenJeep, I was neglecting the Hyde truck, and guess what? The problems got worse! Imagine that!
It has been nine months since we were last here, what has gone on!
Well, that is a long story. If you read the FrankenJeep chronicles, much of the story was told there. But I will do my best to convey the story here, as it pertains to Hyde.
I did buy a clutch for the truck, but we never installed it due to the fact that I do not have a transmission jack and we would either be doing the work on a sloped driveway or on the side of the street; either way, it would have been in the Home Owner’s Association and I would have most likely had gotten into trouble.
I still had engine problems and I did not know what to do next, but we will get to that later.
I did get the brakes fixed; it just was a matter of buying a new brake booster and bleeding them.
Now, I believe that takes care of those questions. The little Comanche is still in my possession and we have big plans for that too, but let us get these trucks going first.
So, why are we here again, if you have nothing for us?
And that is where you would be mistaken…
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!
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!