1980 CJ7 build


So, I jumped on the cragslist, and facebook sale groups in my area last night looking for a hatch for a CJ7 hard top. I figured I could sell my YJ top later to make up for buying one. Hell, I don't even remember how I got sidetracked into looking into tops, when I'm supposed to be buying parts for the front axle... I guess my TBI gave me some ADHD, but it's in my head now.

Never did find one, but I stumbled on something that made me think I may not need a CJ7 hatch... a YJ tub. This was 3 hrs away, but it was in way better shape than the CJ7 tub I went 3 states away to get. With the YJ style tailgate, I can just use my YJ top that came on my CJ, AND not have all those rust holes to fix. There's one issue, the trans tunnel has a little section missing because he was running a 700 HP big block Ford, C6, and 1 tons, but everything else is solid. Oh, and the glass is cracked in the windshield, but I have a 2 CJ windshields.

Talked to the guy, and he took it off the frame last night. I went down today and picked it up, along with the gas tank, since it feeds from the drivers side. Got the roll bar, power brake upgrade... and the chance to take apart, and clean a tub all over again.

Now I will be selling my CJ7 tub, and some associated parts to help offset what I just spent. (new kitchen roof money) In the end, I thing this will work out a lot better. I suppose I could still use the freebie CJ hard top. Seeing as the hatch is FUBAR, I could take it off, and the side glass out, and have a hard bikini top for the summer. Gotta have my shade.



I hear you on made in USA stuff, it's hard to find. Timken seems to be about the best bet but you can't find it everywhere because it does cost more. I usually use a bearing house in Spokane that has more seals and bearings than you can count.
Even a lot of Timken stuff is made overseas these days... I ordered from NAPA. Some of them from Spain, and such, but that has to be better than china or mexico,and they have a 3 year warranty.


I'm still missing 1 seal, and 1 race, (both on order) and the rotors are still getting new studs pressed in, but I've just about got what I need to reassemble the main axle. I ran out of money, so no new brake pads or calipers... yet. Not like I'm going anywhere in it soon. Down in the back pretty bad though right now, so probably take some time off before I get to cleaning, and prepping the housing anyway.


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Well, still waiting... A friend who has set up gears before is going to show me how to do it, but he's been working a lot of hrs these days, so the axles hasn't been put back together as of yet. I have decided to spend some time working on the new tub. Looked real nice online... Looked good when I went to pick it up too.

Now keep in mind, when I say "good" I mean "not rusted all to hell". It was, however, used as a mud toy. An open top... mud toy. Yeah, it's gonna take some cleaning...

This thing has so much mud in it, I was finding mud inside the windshield frame all around the wiper arms... In fact, I found 2 Bic lighters in there, and one still worked.

On the plus side, the tub has been bed lined, so it's in good shape for the most part.

Oh, by the way, I also had to fix the trailer too. Got home with the tub, and discovered this... Lucky I made it home...



Next up. Lets see if I can make the old doors fit.

They do, sort of.

Bit of a gap at the front...

Not gonna be rain tight... Great, now I have to mess with those stupid star drive door hinge screws. Broke 2 bits so far...

I've used this old B&D Workmate as a portable work station, but it's not really the best solution. A bit too low, doesn't roll around, fluids soak in the top.

Found this cool steel table in the facebook classifieds that holds storage bins. It only came with 6 bins, but I had a bunch, so good deal for me.

This bad boy should come in real handy.


Things busy as hell at the VFW. Trying to hire new bartenders to replace ones that didn't come back... Putting in a new outdoor patio... Can't get fencing because those companies are all shut down... Both HVAC systems ******** the bed in the last 6 months... Now I'm hitting the gun show circuit selling raffle tickets trying to raise money every weekend...

BUT... I went out to try to prep the front axle for re-assembly today some. got the housing primed, and the first coat of color on. Also got the knuckles, and brake caliper brackets primed. Lot of cleaning and scrubbing...


Heading Out

Just stumbled on your build, Nice too see another old Jeep being revived.
is that your Merauder? almost picked up a silver one when I bought my Grand Marquis


Yes, the Marauder is my daily. She's got just over 200K on her.

Haven't had much luck getting my buddy (who was supposed to help me set up the gears) get with me all summer. He works as a big rig tow truck driver, and is busy all the time, plus he had covid for a few weeks, plus I've been busy at the VFW, plus I've had some issues with my back and hip... Today I took the axle, diff, and gears to 4 Wheel Parts in Indy to have them set it up for me. Once they're done, I can put the rest of it together myself. They did everything on my old truck (F-250 Super Duty) years ago, and it never gave me any problems. Dying to get back to working on this thing. Also, we spend a lot of money putting a new roof on the house just now, so that took everything we had.


Seeing as how I'm waiting on somebody else to do the gear install, I needed to do something to keep busy, so I started in on the stereo system. It's gonna be a military tribute, looking very much like a military vehicle, so it can't have a big flashy stereo system... but I still want to be able to have my music. It has to be hidden, or disguised. Well, lucky for me military radios are huge bulky things, and the Army used to just bolt them on the fenders right behind the passenger seats.

A little playing around on ebay, and I got myself a mount, a replacement faceplate, and some new knobs. I probably should have taken it to the local machine shop to have it milled flat, but that's extra time, and extra money. Besides, even with my nerve damaged unsteady hands, I can make quick work of any protruding things on the back of this soft aluminum plate.

Yes, it was butchery, but the end result was it now lays flat...

A little bit of left over plywood, and bingo... one sub enclosure. It's a bit small. The sub calls for a min of .5 cubic ft, and this comes to .4 cubic ft, so it may not be optimal, but it should do fine for what I need. I'm not a complete bass head anyhow. Once it comes in, I'll get the hole cut, and get it glued together, and finished up so it can sit there and wait to be installed.



Little more tinkering with the stereo tonight. Working on the speakers. I've been a user of JL products for a while now, and the entire system in my Marauder save the head unit, is JL audio, but decided to try something new for the CJ7. I found an audio shop in Indy where the guy will bargain with you pretty good, and hoping it's not factory seconds, picked up a set of Infinity Kappa Perfect 6.5" components, and the 3" midrange that can go with to make it a 3 way system. The sub is still gonna be a JL Audio. I need their shallow mount one to fit in my fake radio enclosure.

Build quality looks to be very good, and all the reviews I've read, and videos I've seen say they are, so we'll see...

Now, where to put them in a military looking CJ. The tweeters, like all tweeters are small, so I'm not really worried about them. The midrange speakers, I have a plan for. The mid bass are a bit big for that same plan, but I may be able to custom duplicate something along the same lines that will keep them from looking out of place. In the meantime... the mids... something I can do right now. To go with my Look-alike military radio sub enclosure... I have several military radio LS-454/U loudspeakers. These are the ones that were mounted in military vehicles for us to listen to the radio with when we weren't using a CVC helmet.

First thing... gut the housing.

Now build a baffle so that the 3" Kappa Perfect mid will fit.

Starting to get the idea?

Once in place they will look like military radio speakers, but sound like a nice stereo.


Sub came in today. Went out to start the assembly of the enclosure. Got most of it glued, and screwed. Cut the hole for the driver, and test fit it. Don't have the right size hole saw for the terminal cup, so back to the hardware store tomorrow... I'll have to modify the radio mount. The sub mounts on the surface of the baffle, so the bottom tray of the mount will need to have clearance for it. The center rear isolator mount will have to go, but I think 4 is enough for this application.

Ain't she purty?

Nice looking from the rear too...

Here you can she how she mounts on the surface, and how shallow she is on the inside.



Remember those front spring plates where I had a machine shop modify one so I could use the factory swaybar? Well, that wasn't gonna work. It did bolt up right, but on the passenger side that made it in the way of where the U-bolt comes up. Dodge truck Dana 44 too different. Had the shop weld tabs on them to move the mounting spot a bit forward, then painted them. Want to be able to mount them up once the axle comes back and goes together.

Also trying to think ahead for once, and get ready for winter, so I took the tub out to the car wash to spray off the mud so I can work on it. Once home I set it up on my horses rather than down low on blocks. Cage almost hits the rafters... I'll be rolling it out on rims with no tires when I get done... lol.



4 Wheel Parts is taking forever to get my stupid gears set up in my axle, and it really starting to piss me off. I called them LAST Friday, they say they've been trying to work on it in between jobs, and it should be done by Mon, or Tues. I don't hear nothing... I call today, the next Friday... guy says let me check, and I'll call you back. So... two and a half hrs later, I end up calling them wondering why it takes so damn long to go in the back and find out... They don't have enough shims. They claim they can't get any... unless they order an entire new install kit. Guess who would be on the hook for the cost of that? The **************** already hit me for new gears claiming they will not install customer provided gears... Gears were good, it's a damn front axle from a stock truck... It probably never got used, and they never bothered to inspect them anyhow. Well, I have a shim kit, just didn't leave it with them, because I gave them a bran new never opened install kit I had ordered from Summit Racing when I dropped off the axle... didn't figured they'd need it with the new gears they made me buy...

SO... I'm driving 2 hrs to Indy tomorrow morning to take them the shim kit, they're gonna finish the axle, and I'm bringing it home. In fact, one way or the other, it's coming home tomorrow.

I did, however do a bit more on the sub enclosure. The sub will be down firing, and sit like this...

That means that the center rear isolator mount had to go. the 10" sub is so big, it overlaps where the mount is. The RT 524A that goes in the mount in a military application is like a 65 pound radio, so my little sub enclosure will do fine with 4 of the isolator mounts.

I did have to replace one of the others however. The left rear one was bad. The new one has green isolators, but no one will care. This kind of replacement happens all the time. I do have 3 more of the green, but not enough of the new bolts to do them all with. Debating if I should do them, and just have some of them with hardware store bolts...

I also had to cut a rather large portion out of the bottom of the mount for the sub to have clearance. Starting to think I should have went with an 8" sub, but she'll fit now.

Got some more bits coming for the outside of it, knobs, antenna hook up, speaker & mike plugs, handles top cover... should look very convincing when it's done. (Not that it will be going in for a while.)

Started planning with how I wanted to layout the dash. Nothing set yet though. It's still a fresh, uncut panel.

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Got the shim pack delivered. Got the axle home. Also got a new yoke. Seems mine was a bit boogered up, so there's an extra $50...

Started in on assembly. Did the long side spindle twice seeing as I stood up to find the thrust washer on the floor behind me... Oh joy. Didn't go any farther. was getting too sore. Called it a night.



Ordered the Tru Trac for the rear today. I also found a veteran owned shop that will do the rear axle for me for quite a bit less, so I'm dropping it off there next week. I gave Summit Racing the shop address to ship the Tru Trac directly there. I'll be set to do stuff like work on the tub, brake lines, fuel lines, and the like over the winter.