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'81 CJ7 complete rebuild

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  • '81 CJ7 complete rebuild

    I've been working on tearing down my CJ for the past couple months and I'm finally almost to the point where I will start putting parts back on, rather than take them off. Once I'm finished this will be an almost entirely new CJ. The only original parts that I've kept are the body, frame, D300 (rebuilt by Novak), tailgate, and hard doors. I'm almost finished re-welding the frame (I'm shocked at the poor welds that came from the factory) and I'll take it to a place in Baltimore to be galvanized. Once the frame is back, I should be finished with the minor body work I've been messing with (front floor pans, and two small bubble spots. I've also replaced a few under body braces and body mounting points, the originals would have worked but I feel better with them being replaced).

    I don't plan on painting the body at all, but it will be linexed inside and out, including the new hardtop. It will be black on black with only the grill being chrome.

  • #2
    I dropped off the frame at Baltimore Galvanizing on Wednesday and it should be ready for pick up next week. My new axles from East Coast Gear Supply should be here by then and the work will really begin. I talked with Kevin at Axis Industries this morning and he's getting together some more parts that I'll need when installing the intercooler, radiator, and AC. They have a lot of products for an install that isn't on their website just yet. If you are looking for things to make your install easier, give them a call.

    Last week I mated the engine to the new AX15 from Novak and did a test fit in order to weld in the frame side mounts.


    • #3
      That's going to be awesome. Does Axis have any skid plates yet? I'm gonna talk to them when my warranty is out for a tune and EGR delete.

      What dash are you going with? Keep up the pics and the progress. I do wish I had more time to completely tear my Jeep apart to rebuild it. If they can keep this program going, maybe I can afford to do another install in like a decade.


      • #4
        Right now, I'm lucky to have the time to work on the CJ. I'm a teacher but unfortunately summer break is in the summer, and it's so freakin' hot right now. I plan on keeping as much of the CJ as stock as I can, even though I'm changing almost everything on the Jeep. I am planning on having several different gauges for the different readings from the engine. I know having more gauges in the dash won't be stock, but I'll find the closest matching gauges that I can. I will definitely keep this thread updates as work progresses.


        • #5
          What kind of ratio will/does your D300 have? The one thing I've noticed that's hard with diesel is that the low range isn't low enough when off-road.


          • #6
            I don't recall the ratio for the D300 off the top of my head, I'll have to look it up.

            Yesterday the axles were delivered. They look great and it will be tough waiting until Monday to pick up the frame. I'm hoping to have a rolling chassis by Wed afternoon.


            • #7
              Your rig is going to be awesome. I was thinking there's a 4:1 option for the D300 and that's what I'd put in there personally. At one point I could get 4:1 on the NP-231s, but I haven't been able to find that for awhile and the 4:1 NP 241s are very high and I still want lower.

              I think stock TJ Rubicons were like mid-60s crawl ratio and people seem to be happy with that unless they rock crawl. I'm leaning toward 5:1 and 3.55s coupled with my AX-15 1st gear. I've been trying to find a slightly over 4 1st gear for my AX-15, but I don't how that would work. My truck has a crawl ratio of mid-60s and I like it so much more than what my Jeep has. I hate having to use a lot of braking to crawl through stuff, it's hard to control, but it's necessary with the 2.72 low range mixed with gear ratios more appropriate for a diesel torque curve.


              • #8
                While fitting the stock transmission skid plate this weekend, I believe I have an issue. Since I went with a new transmission, the skid plate won't really work. As you can see in the pics, the transmission and transfer case are sitting too high. The distance between the bottom of the D300 and the skid plate is enormous. Can anyone share their solutions for this?


                • #9
                  Personally I'd temporarily add a spacer plate. Later I'd do a tummy tuck. My worry would be with interference with the tub up top.

                  Either way, I'd make sure I had a nice cushy piece of rubber to isolate the drivetrain to the frame.


                  • #10
                    Excellent build! For what it's worth on the T-case gearing, the factory Dana 300 has a 2.62:1 low range I believe. A factory 231 has 2.72:1. The diesel torque curve makes for a very friendly off-road experience with less than ideal gearing so depending on where you land in your axle gears and tire size, you may be fine. We have taken our TJ with stock 231 t-case and 31-32's with 3.73's out to Moab and elsewhere for years now with zero issues in low range.

                    The Dana 300 isn't hard to remove after the fact to regear if you change your mind.

                    With one of my former Cummins conversions, I was running 37" tires with 4.10's and a Dana 300 with a Tera-Lo 4:1 kit left over from when the Jeep was a 4.0L. I used 3rd-5th 99% of the time off-road.

                    I vote to save the money until you know you need/want it