1990 Comanche Build - The Wilderbeest

agamble

Member
In the next month I’m having 4.11s and an E-locker installed in the Dana 44 to match the front Dana 30 currently under the Jeep.
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With a bit of research I decided on a method for painting the Dana 44 that I’d sourced a year or so back. I ultimately went with paint verses powder coating for the simple reason of as the paint gets messed up all I need to do is run to Home Depot or Ace and pick a couple cans of paint and recast the axle where the paint is damaged.

Previous experience with powder coating has shown that as it becomes damaged you can’t repair it. As it starts to peel/strip you need to remove the entire coat and start over. Now while the paint won’t last as long it can be easily fixed, therefore I’m theory it should last longer and prevent rust with routine upkeep.

Here’s what I did to paint the axle over 3 days.

Day 1:
After removing the drum brakes and backing plates and axle shafts all the built up grease, dirt, flaking coating and rust with a wire cup brush. (This step took longer than anticipated as the there was much more grease than I originally thought.) Then I washed the axle housing to remove residual grease and dirt with Dawn dawn dish soap a scrub brush.

Day 2:
Sprayed on 3 coats of Rust-O-leum automotive primer and allowed it to cure for 24 hours.
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Day 3:
Applied 3 coats of Rust-O-leum appliance epoxy. With a 30-minute dry time between each coat. Where it now sits for the next week to allow the paint to fully cure. The appliance epoxy has become my go to for rattle can paints as I've found it to be more durable than the regular Rust-O-leum.
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It’s took awhile but it works well and is not costly. All told I’m $20 in to it. I’m hoping the that it will hold up well with the knowledge that it it’s going to scuff on the first impact and/or wear off with enough time.

Lastly; currently the Jeep has 30” BFGoodrich All Terrains. To bring the RPMs back down after the 4.11s are installed some new kicks in the flavor of 33x10.5x15 BFG KM3 were purchased during the 4WD holiday day. I’ve heard really good things regarding the KM3.
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I knew new I didn’t want to go any wider than 10.5 as I want to keep the tires tucked inside the fenders and the narrow tires will track better down the road. Where I really struggled was with which size to go with. I repeatedly went back and forth between 31s and 33s. Both were practical and eventually the aesthetics won out. I’ve always thought the LWB Comanches looked better with a little bigger tire size.
 

borison

Adventurer
Seems like a good tire choice, I’ve always like “pizza cutters”. Will the 33s clear ok? Did I miss something about a lift?
 

agamble

Member
Seems like a good tire choice, I’ve always like “pizza cutters”. Will the 33s clear ok? Did I miss something about a lift?
Tires should clear. If there is rubbing it would be minimal. The jeep currently sits on a sagging 4" lift with the plan of replacing the worn coil springs and leaves. If the new suspension components still doesn't eliminate the rub I'll add a coil spacer and some shackles to give another 1".
 

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billiebob

Well-known member
4.11s and 31s, might be a bit short. 4.11s and 33s I think are a better mix.
I drive a TJR so 4.10s with 33s, I wish I had 3.73s.

I think you made a good choice. Always loved the MJ, one of the few Jeeps I have never driven.
 

agamble

Member
Awesome build thread. Can’t wait to see the new shoes on
Thanks for the love maxboxa. I am hoping to have the new tires mounted in the month once the axle is swapped in.

4.11s and 31s, might be a bit short. 4.11s and 33s I think are a better mix.
I drive a TJR so 4.10s with 33s, I wish I had 3.73s.

I think you made a good choice. Always loved the MJ, one of the few Jeeps I have never driven.
The 4.11s and 33s should get the ratio closer to the stock configuration. I've ran this combo in the past on an XJ and had no complaints.
 

agamble

Member
When driving around I had metallic hollow clunk from the sway bar end link contacting the passenger coil when ever the suspension would cycle up and down.
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The result of the sway bar end link rubbing on the coil. I didn't want this to happen to the new coils going on the Jeep.
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As I was replacing the worn old coils with some new ones, I took the opportunity to add a set of Synergy rear sway bar relocation brackets. They brackets move the sway bar down 1" and forward 1-7/16" for added clearance. The hole spacing for the brackets line up perfectly with the MJ frame and and sway bar bushing brackets. The two main issuesI had/have with the brackets is the steering box brace from KevinsOffroad I have on the Jeep wouldn't allow the brackets to sit level. The simple solution was to use a few washers as a spacer front to level the brackets out.
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The second issue is the brackets overhang the front of the frame.
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However, the results speak for themselves. The benefits definitely outweigh the two cons that I found regarding the brackets. Plenty of clearance between the sway bar end links and the new IronRockOffroad 4" coils.
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agamble

Member
The other item of note is I got the new 33x10.5 BFG KM3s installed on the Jeep.
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I really went back and forth on which size (31" vs 33") to buy. I have always thought the LWB Comanches look better with a bit bigger tire. And I am not regretting the decision. The front is sitting higher as I've swapped new coil springs.
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The 4" lift gives plenty of clearance. The only rubbing that I have encountered is just on the passenger side. The tire rubs on the sway bar when backing up and the tires are turned left at full lock.
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agamble

Member
Looks great.
Thanks, I appreciate it.

Before I removed the rear axle with 3.07s to install the axle with 4.10s and the Eaton E-locker I took the Jeep to have an an alignment done. The front left Toe was out by a bit. After the alignment at the suggestion of someone on a different forum I rotated the upper shock mount adapters 90 degrees to be perpendicular to the lower shock mount.
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Having changed the gearing to 4.10s and the tire size to 33s on the Jeep the speedo cable was off by about 5 mph while driving around. Using the gear chart below I replaced the factory speedometer gear with the most correct tooth gear.
55-93 Long Shaft Cable Driven Speedometer Gear Chart
Tire Size 44" 42" 40" 38" 36" 35" 34" 33" 32" 31" 30" 29" 28" 27"
5.38 Ratio​
3436--4243--------
5.13 Ratio​
323436--414243------
4.88 Ratio​
-323436---4143-----
4.56 Ratio​
28-32343637---4243---
4.10 Ratio​
-2628--3334-3637---41
3.73 Ratio​
----2628--323334-3637
3.55 Ratio​
----2728---323334-36
3.07 Ratio​
--------262728---

The gear and tire combination that I am now running fell between a 34 and 36 toothed speedo gear. I went with the larger of the two.
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Swapping the gear was straight forward. Remove the bracket holding the assembly in place and pull it out of the transfer case. Swap the speedo gear and put it back in place. Make sure to "clock" the new gear to match the number range on the housing. You want the bottom bracket peg to line up with the range notch you need. Tighten it down and you should be good to go. If you don't get a reading, make sure the housing is turned correctly and the speedo cable or sensor peg is fully meshed with the speedometer cable gear shaft.
 

agamble

Member
Awhile back the axle was given a refresh before taking it to the guys at Just Differentials to have it regeared and a locker installed. The big questions were which gears and which locker? The Comanche started with 30" tires and the typical stock gearing of 3.07 gears. The 30" tires were robbing the power from the Comanche, and with the recent jump to 33" tires, without a reduction in gears, robbed even more power. Earlier in the build process I found a HP Dana 30 with 4.10 gears on Craigslist for a good price. The popular 4.10 ratio is a great ratio that will bring the ratio and tire size to almost stock. With the front already taken care of the rear really wasn't up for debate, 4.10 gears were on the menu.

The debate on which kind of locker is as hot as the debate of automatic vs manual transmissions. Everybody has an opinion. Some say the lunchbox style locker have the edge. Lunchbox lockers are locked when you need it to be locked, but can't be unlocked. While others swear by the selectable variety, with its open daily streetablilty being a strong lure. There truly is no right answer, it really boils down to what you need/want out of your vehicle. For my application I chose to go with a Eaton E-locker. I chose the E-locker for its simplicity and less components. While failure in the air system does not occur frequently, it will render the ARB useless. With more components there are more areas for failure. My thoughts are as long as there is power and the wiring is connected there should be a locker. Then comes the question of front, rear, or both. For this moment, only the rear is being done. Only the rear axle is being worked on at this point and time since the front was already complete and is in the Jeep.

Before scheduling the appointment I already knew which direction I was going but their customer service rep, Scott, was double checking my selections and why and talked me through all the available options. With everything selected and scheduled the axle was dropped of for the install and back in my possession within the week. With the axle ready to go in the new rear suspension was installed to match the front. For rear leaves I purchased Rusty's 4" leaves. I've never had issues with Rusty's products and the height matched the 4" coils from Ironrock offroad.The disc brake conversion that was put on the previous axle was swapped over to this axle. The last iteration the stock bolts that hold the retaining plate to the housing were used. The only drawback was that they were almost too short.
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This time around longer bolts were used. The only needed modification is to grind down one side of the bolt so it can sit again the axle tube.
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The weight of the Wildernest was causing the previous leaves to sag prematurely. Airlift airbags were put on to help carry the weight of the Wildernest (~300 lbs). When it was first installed the lower mounting brackets were not compatible with the Comanche's suspension. To make it work at the time the lower mounting brackets were welded directly to the axle tube. This made it so the bolts securing the airbag to the lower bracket were inaccessible and the u-bolts virtually unremovable. Not good on either account. This time around some modifications were made to make airbag lower mounting bracket removable, allowing for access to the lower airbag bolts and removal of the u-bolts. 3/8" plate was welding to the sides of lower mounting brackets. With a few test fits the plate was trimmed down to allow for clearance of the shocks/shock mounting tabs and the backing plates. Then holes for u-bolts were measured and drilled into the 3/8' plate.
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With the airbags removed for the first time in years the fittings, hoses and hardware were replaced.
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For the outer axle tube 3" u-bolts were used for diameter increase as you go towards the outer axle tube. U-bolts were used for the outer mounts on both sides. The u-bolts didn't have enough thread engagement without the leaf pack, so a large stack of washers was used as a spacer to compensate.
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The original plan was to use u-bolts for the inner mounts as well. However, the airbag sat to far inboard to allow the u-bolts to be used. An alternative plan was devise using bolts to hold the inner bracket to the axle tube.
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agamble

Member
While it's been more of an inconvenience than a problem, I became tired of not having operating windows over the summer. Both windows would roll down but I was unable to get them back up without applying power directly to the motors. So for the summer months I drove around with the vent windows as the only way to get air moving through the cab. The replacement doors that came from an XJ came equipped with power windows and locks. After the install the locks and windows worked.......for about a day. At first I thought the passenger window regulator died on me while I was testing it out. It would go down with no problems. Going back up I would have to flick the switch on both the master control switch and passenger switch multiple times to get it to go back up. However, I couldn't hear the motor running. I traced the the issue to the wiring harness connection in the master control switch. The wire pins (located inside the resin) were not making good contact with the window switches. I couldn't address the problem without destroying the wiring harnesses. Several runs to different junkyards provided plenty of donors for a replacement wiring harness, none gave confidence of lasting long term. There was one 86' - 96' XJ that had manual window regulators. After giving it some thought, the manual windows would better meet my needs and eliminate unneeded electrical issues.

Swapping the regulators was easy. With the rivets holding the electrical window regulator and door braces in place removed, with a bit of finagling the regulator and motor can be removed from the door.
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The manual window regulator was then bolted into place.
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The panels currently in the Jeep didn't have the hole necessary for the regulator cranks. I grabbed the panels from window donor as a replacement, but they were not in as good of condition. I ended up modifying the nicer ones to allow for the window cranks.
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A 1" hole saw was used to make the window crank opening.
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With the window regulators swapped and the window crank hole made the door panels were reinstalled on the doors. Bye, bye window problems.
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agamble

Member
Wanting to keep the cab looking as stock as possible I bought the '84 - '96 Jeep Cherokee and Comanche In-Dash DIY Carling Style 4 Switch Panel from Prime4x4 that replaces the factory clock. I went with the Prime4x4 switch panel as it is a steel construction vs being plastic that other manufacturers offer. After installing the Eaton E-locker wiring harness, the supplied rocker switch was too large to mount into the Prime4x4 switch panel. Rather than enlarging the opening of the panel I purchased a Contura V rocker switch at otrattw.net (wanting to have all the switches match I bought additional switches for accessories to be added at a future date) for the locker.
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