So, sorta progress, er, ish.
Stock Dodge tranny crossmember...
I spent a bunch of time looking at it, and hating its stamped metal formification, and how screwed up Dodge made removing it. The sides aren't straight, they taper, it wedges itself into the frame. I'm guessing this is actually a fairly legit design in regards to ease of assembly at the factory, and overall toughness in service, along with low cost. But it hung down way farther than it needed to, and just wasn't suitable for modification. So I tossed it.
Took a piece of 2x2x.188 HSS and threw some 1/2" XHS sleeves into/onto it:
Pretty weld thread? Nope. But they're not gonna fall out.
And then after much fiddling around I got this all tacked up.
That way the crossmember can actually be dropped, rather than having to go UP to get out (like Dodge intended). Dodge did nothing to make this easier, the area on the frame it bolts to isn't even flat, so I had to stack up/weld together pieces of flat bar just to get it to sit correct. Am I totally happy with this? No, not really, but I bet it will be fine.
It all has to come back out for final welding/cleanup and a few more braces pieces on where the actual mount attached to the crossmember.
Then I wanted to figure out seats, and the brake booster, and such. Which meant putting the steering column I actually intend to use in.
Guess what? An XJ column doesn't fit the 66 dash. I probably should have known that. Hell, I'm probably the only person here that didn't know that. So, the tossup now is if I should swap my 73 dash in, or cut the 66 dash. I'm leaning towards cutting the 66 dash, as I'd rather keep 'more' of the original parts and character of the truck, since I'm using precious little as is. Plus my 73 dash isn't in great shape anyways. Comments?
Also, I ruined that XJ column because I cut it the wrong way. Yay me. Cut the flange off where it bulges out, not at the weld. Luckily that column was a freebie that was out in the shed and didn't have the steering wheel I wanted, but now I'm actually going to have to go buy a column. IF I can find one, pre-96 XJs are actually getting harder to find, being something of an early XJ/MJ fan myself.