Build Thread 81 CJ5 "build"

Build Thread 81 CJ5 "build"


Fort Pierce, FL
1981 CJ5, 258 w/ clifford intake and holley 4bbl/T-176/D300. 32x11.50s
Going to give a little background on this "build" before I get started. I'm out to sea and have been wanting to start this thread for a long time, now i have the time. (your tax dollars hard at work). this will be a long first post as I'm 2+ years behind. but promise to keep it entertaining.

I bought the CJ about 2 1/2 years ago. I gave $3000 for it because I really wanted one and was impatient in my search. I had jeep fever and it hasn't gone away since.

On my drive home(highway), the rear drive shaft came apart. My wife was following me in her NEW Mercedes:censored:, and the shaft decided to put a hole in her bumper... So now I hate this thing and I'm cursing the PO. I limped it to the next exit with the front wheels in 4H and then pulled it home the rest of the way with the tow bar that the PO so generously threw in... (btw, i was running lane to lane like frogger on I-95 in south Florida picking up drive shaft parts)

So I get the driveshaft rebuilt with about an extra inch of length as it was riding short, also did the U-bolt conversion while i was there. The guy at the shop was a jeep guy so he only charged me for the parts. this can only happen amongst jeep guys.

It had 33x12.50s on the back and 32x11.50s on the front on a stock suspension. fronts were dry-rotted, the backs were too big. Went to a flea market and found a set of what appeared to be brand new Falken A/T 32x11.50s, got them mounted up for $400. I was pretty happy about this purchase knowing retail on these were about 180 a piece along with a huge improvement in ride quality. steel wheels got the primer black rattle treatment.

the windshield frame was falling off. No matter how many times I blew this thing out, I still had rust all over me every time I drove it. So my first weekend off, just so happened to be thanksgiving, I put in a new frame and all new seals/gaskets. there is a picture of me eating thanksgiving dinner in the front seat of my CJ with no windshield on. the wife was pleased.

while I'm doing the windshield I sand down the dash, tape everything off, rattle can it flat black(I'm an old school hot rodder, everything starts off primer black). the dash and the tub to windshield surface is in good shape. replaced that rubber seal as well. naturally, the factory fuel/water temp gauges don't work and still don't. i plan on installing all mechanical gauges in a custom dash.

The drivers side A-pillar is rusted, from the windshield hinge down about 6 inches. just the surface metal, the supports underneath are solid, it got cut away and rattled. Along with a few other rust spots. The tub itself i would say is in overall FAIR condition. salvageable by all means for what i intend on using this jeep for. A few small spots on the hood around the hinges and hold downs. a corner of the floor by drivers feet where water used to be able to pool up. I'll do some quick cut/replace/grind on the rust spots and coat over everything. Want to stop the rust from spreading but not too worried about making it "pretty".

Now, the good stuff.

The interior is perfect. all nice black vinyl, wouldn't trade it for anything.

258 was rebuilt about 2000 miles before I bought it. w/ clifford 4 bbl intake and holley 390 cfm carb. serpentine setup
I rebuilt the carb after it sat for most of a 15 month Afghan deployment.

T-176, new clutch, Dana 300 t-case. all work excellent.

frame is straight, very little rust, surprising for a FL jeep. will be doing some boxing when I'm upgrading axle/suspension.

Most recent work:
4" skyjacker lift, installed and removed within a week when i decided i wanted to do an axle swap.
front and rear bumpers from poison spyder
8000 lb winch
new exhaust w/ glass pack (needed a quick cheap fix after i ripped the old exhaust off bottoming out on a trail)

Future plans:(in no particular order)
Waggy 44s, locker, 4.27 or 4.56 haven't decided yet
4.5" Rubicon springs
stretch rear axle back 6"
fuel cell
tube fenders
cut rear fenders (not comp-cuts)
full cage
custom dash w/ Mech. gauges
HEI distributor
4.0 head swap
power brakes
and all the odds and ends

this list could go on and on, as you all know. This has been my daily driver when not deployed. Have only put about 3,000 miles on it in 2 1/2 years. ready to take it off the road and do some work on her.

picture is about 6 months old, no lift, no bumpers, no winch. unfortunately the only one i have right now.

just got a lead on a set of axles out of a 79 power wagon, 44HD front, 60 rear. $250.

i think they will be mine.
What are the reason for stretching it 6 inches? You might as well buy a CJ7 that is ten inches longer. The beauty of the lines on that 5 will be ruined IMO and 6 inches will force a comp cut and gas tank move to inside the Jeep.
it may not end up being a full 6 inches. but i think 4-6" is doable without comp cuts. will be fairly easy to incorporate into the axle swap as i'll be changing spring perches, drive shaft, and spring/shackle hangers anyhow. that and i like the way they look stretched some.
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well after another deployment i'm home again and working on the jeep finally. I added a little cosmetic appeal as well as functionality with a poison spyder stinger front bumper, poison spyder rear bumper, and a smittybilt XRC8 winch.

I just ordered a Summit HEI distributor and new plug wires. Should have those installed this weekend, en shallah.

April is going to bring a power brake conversion
May will be a big month with a 4.0 head swap
Welcome home and thank you for your service. As a fellow '81 CJ5 owner, I am going to be keeping an eye on this one.
Wow this story and jeep are very familiar. Mine was black when I brought it home. My driveshaft also fell out! Here it is today
Welcome home and thank you for your service to this country.

I have a nephew on delayed entry Navy that heads out in May.
Well the HEI install is complete.

Parts List

Summit HEI Distributor
1980 F-150 300ci plug wires (8mm)
AutoLite Platinum 985 plugs gapped to .050
some 10 ga wire and connectors
5 Miller Lites

cost - $200

Overall it wasnt too hard of a project even for a rookie like me. I'm not so sure i did it the text book way, but it runs a heck of alot better than it did before so i guess mission accomplished! It did make me realize how much unnecessary wiring i have under my hood.

I was actually shocked at the difference it made. Starts easy, idles super smooth, and it feels like it accelerates a bit better. It could just be a mental thing. i'll give it a few weeks to settle in.

I havent put a timing light on it yet as I do not have one but I'm going to take it to a shop tomorrow and have them check it. I think the recommended is like 8 degrees advanced(before tdc)? any suggestions on this? Also, i gapped the plugs to .050 as the articles i've been reading were suggesting going anywhere from .045 to .055, so i figured .050 would be a good start.

also an updated picture of the jeep with the newer front bumper and winch. I just attached the winch and have not had time to finish wiring it up and needed longer bolts for the fairlead. It sure is nice to have some time to work on her though. Now if i could only stay home for longer than a few weeks at a time.
The distributor was the biggest difference I did to my jeep. I rebuilt the carb and she purrs now. By the way I have an 81 CJ7. Thanks for your service. I did 27 years myself.
The jeep had an interesting weekend. I got the winch hooked up and headed to a friends house for a cookout. upon arrival, i must show off new winch. about 4 hours and 2 cases of beer later friend says "pull your jeep up in the yard, we're pulling this palm tree down with your winch." so we did.

Then this morning i get in to drive it and the starter makes that hell of a racket that we all know so well. But it wasnt from a worn gear, the top bolt of the starter was GONE. not broke off, gone and the bottom one was finger tight. So i got 2 new bolts and torqued them down, all is right in the world again.

This month going to see if i cant free up the extra money to do the head swap.
Well i think i may have just hit a jackpot on the holy grail of rear ends. The axle gods were shining down on me. I just picked up a DISC BRAKE DANA 60 FULL FLOAT POSI REAR END!!!!!!

Guy was going to scrap it, I gladly gave him $100. now to find a matching front.
Well i think i may have just hit a jackpot on the holy grail of rear ends. The axle gods were shining down on me. I just picked up a DISC BRAKE DANA 60 FULL FLOAT POSI REAR END!!!!!!

Guy was going to scrap it, I gladly gave him $100. now to find a matching front.

Congrats man! Great find!

This won't be too expensive Dear! That's what I keep saying. Over and over again.
well another set back for the jeep. was flat towing behind my buddies truck, got cut off, he slammed on the brakes, jeep jack knifed at 70 mph, bounced off truck and guard rail, front fenders are bent up, rear drivers quarter panel and inner fenderwell are toast, blew out the front passenger tire, and power steering lines are leaking like hell.

got a new tire, front tube fenders and power steering lines on order as well as a 1" body lift so i can install the clocking ring i got from great lakes offroad. while the t-case is down, going to do the twin stick setup with 2 big *** wrenches.

The $25 Dana 300 Twin Stick Mod
Thats what I used was two big wrenches, I used to deep well sockets for the knobs
scored a chevy kingpin 35 spline dana 60 front axle last night, guy gave me brand new calipers and rotors with it too.

been soaking my body mounts with PB blaster all week in hopes of making it a bit easier on myself come time to do the body lift this weekend. i see my sawzall/cutting wheel doing some work this weekend.
DISCLOSURE: this post involves me teaching myself how to weld with a $100 welder from harbor freight.

somewhat productive weekend. started with a 250 mile roadtrip. averaged 15.7 mpg at 70+ mph. over 1+ mpg increase with the HEI. Great to be able to improve performance AND fuel efficiency. what a great upgrade.

got my half doors built. always wanted a set but never wanted to spend the 200-400 to get a set. so i took my old canvas full doors, cut them up, made a template, got some 16 ga skins water jetted at a local sheet metal shop, tacked em on, primed, painted, and they're ready to go. not totally thrilled with how they turned out, mainly due to my laziness with my template. i traced the door frame instead of the jeep intself. doesnt really flow nicely like her natural curves, but everyone but me says they turned out great, lol.

in the one picture you can see how much i cut down on the front angle so the door comes to where the windshield frame and tub meet. i dont like that tall angle they had them stock, came way up into the windshield frame.

oh ya, and i have the latches installed on the doors now, just didnt take a picture.
got quite a bit done on the jeep past few weekends. I did the 1" daystar body mount lift. it wasnt too bad after soaking the body mounts in PB blaster every day for 2 weeks. i will list the issues i had so others may be aware:

1. the nut on the grill mount was busted so it just spun. i cut a hole in the top of the mount so i could grab it with a pliers. to replace i just used a new nut and washer. i left the hole because my bumper covers it anyhow.
2. a 1" body lift will cause your fan shroud to hit the fan. nothing a die grinder can't fix
3. make sure you place the jack on something very solid, not the middle of the floor pan, it will bend.:bang:
4. rusted body mount bolts suck, impact wrench is your friend

having done this once, i feel it would be much easier the second time around. learning curve.

replaced both power steering lines. found it was much easier to take 5 minutes to remove the grill/radiator for easy access to the steering box than it was to get carpal tunnel trying to work in that tiny space. first time in 4 years of owning jeep that i havent had a power steering leak

installed a toggle switch under dash to cut off ignition. my version of an anti-theft device seeing how my jeep doesn't require a key to turn the ignition.

finally figured out my windshield wiper wiring and for the first time i have wipers. comes in quite handy seeing how it rains every afternoon here in florida.

next up:
clocking and twin sticking. possibly get it done today. we'll see

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