Yes, ANOTHER Jeep build!

Posts tagged “J20 Build

Why Worry?

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…

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!

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?!

And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

William Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)