1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

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Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:47 pm

Howdy FSJers,

I've been putting this off for some time now but it's time to start documenting the madness. Hehehehe.

I've been thinking about buying a Jeep for some time now. I used to have a 2001 GC that was slightly modified with 2" lift, air lift in back for carrying heavy loads and trailering, 31" tires, and a few other goodies to make it a long distance rig that can handle some moderate off road. I did many trips in this rig to Big Bend, South Padre, CO, UT, AR, and deep in Mexico. It had the venerable 4.0 and Select Trac 4x4. It was a great rig. I'm also heavy into dirt biking so I'd throw my XR650R on the back and go for a ride.

Fast forward a few years and I've sold the Jeep and now wanting to get another. I wanted a project my son (12) and I can work on together...yeah it's a ploy to get him off devices. I thought about a JK, TJ, LJ as base for a build and started looking for a candidate when I came across a 1978 Jeep Cherokee Chief in SoCal. I've always like Chiefs. My cousin had one when I was a kid and we'd go hunting/camping in that thing. I like the extra room of the FSJs. So what the hell. I pulled the trigger, rented a trailer and me and the boy took off from Texas to SoCal to pick it up. I've been talking with the PO and he kept sending me pictures and letting me know all the issues...which were mostly dry rot, steering, and some rust on rear fender. He was totally up front and when we got there I told my son if it's bad, we are not going to get it. There will be another. However, it was in fact as he described so we loaded it on the trailer and headed back to TX. My son, decided to name the Jeep Gerald. Did I mention he's 12.

This is my first car project of this size. I've helped replace engines, transmissions, and wiring on friends projects and have some body work but not much rust repair. I was avionic tech in military and worked as a tech when I got out for another 6 years. I've also done frame off restorations of old motorcycles. Most of my body work experience is fixing dented/rusted tanks and fenders. I'm a bit worried but I've got a few buddies here to help me out.

What am I going to build? I want a Jeep that will be a daily driver and explorer. The latest term that is thrown around is an overlander. I've been 'overlanding' for almost 20 years now...just not splattering it all over the internets...well there was none back then. I'm not looking to build a crazy rock crawler but I wanted more performance and ability than the GC. It has to carry enough gear for camping, tow a dirt bike trailer, have a somewhat quiet and comfortable interior and be user friendly. Long term I plan on giving it to my son when he graduates high school. What I'm not going to do is keep it stock. The engine, tranny, and anything else I deem not up to par will be replaced.

After a couple months of research and reading a LOT of threads here and IFSJA, I've decided on the following:
  • LS Swap with modern tranny. I thought about a Cummins 2.8 swap that I saw at Expo West last year but the cost is high.
  • 241c transfer case
  • 4" lift with at least 33" tires
  • Creature comfort for long trips
  • Replace rack with something that can carry more than a loaf of bread
  • Swing out bumper with spare and add ons
  • Dual battery
  • On board air
I've started a smugmug account to store all the pictures. You can check it out here but I'll be posting pics here as I move along.

https://irondawg.smugmug.com/Jeep-Cherokee-Chief/

If you've already looked...I'm almost done with the deconstruction. As a matter of fact the body is ready to come off the frame now. It's completely stripped down except for the rack. My son calls it phase one - demolish Gerald. I'll post comments on particular things that I thought were interesting. I've also sourced and engine. But I'll hold off on that for a bit.

There is no timeline to complete. But there is pressure to get it done. Most of the work is done in my garage and there's always friends/neighbors dropping by to check on my progress. I can't let them down or my kid. He's already got a lot of hours helping me with the demo.

I'll do my best to post here but like any resto of this magnitude, there may be some downtime. And as always time and money will determine how fast things go.

I hope y'all enjoy. Any and all feedback is most welcome.
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee


ScramblerCJ8
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:08 pm

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by ScramblerCJ8 » Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:03 pm

Yes sir, I can relate to the time and money dilema. When I have time, no money and vice versa.


ScramblerCJ8
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:08 pm

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by ScramblerCJ8 » Fri Mar 15, 2019 5:03 pm

Yes sir, I can relate to the time and money dilema. When I have time, no money and vice versa.


Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:17 am

Isn't that the truth...always time and money.

Here's a few shots of the Jeep when we picked it up in January. Like I said, it's pretty dry rotted and there is barely any paint left.
The driver's side is in really good shape. The fender has a slight bend where the door swung open.
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The back looks good.
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Passenger side has most issues with the rust and some body waves on back quarter. The door and fender are straight an no rust.
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The PO lost the grill, headlights and buckets. But it's straight an no rust again.
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So far this is the worst of it.
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Tailgate is in good shape. The bumper has a dent but I'll be replacing it.
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The PO tried to rewire the tailgate...failed and left it all apart. I do have the cover.
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This is how I bought it. With a bunch of junk and A/C taken out. There were other boxes of crap as well.
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Some interior shots.
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Next we start deconstruction.
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee


will e
Posts: 3762
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:21 am

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by will e » Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:49 pm

Greeting! This looks like a fun project for you and your son. I have been working on mine for about 10 years now, it's a bit of a trail rig/camping rig. Some might call it a bit of an 'overlander' since I have a fridge, carry crazy spare parts, tote a small oven and generally could last a while living out of the jeep. The biggest decision you have is if you want to keep the rear seat. I ditched mine and it gave me so much more room. I even carry a 37" spare inside the cab. I won't hijack your build thread with pics but if you want some ideas on storage, roof racks and such, send me a PM.


If you are going to beef up the roof rack look at getting a set of these:

http://www.ttsfabworks.com/ttimages/sto ... races.html
81 Waggy 'WILL E' Retired
82 Cherokee WT - SOA/SF/high steer/Alcan springs/agr box/Borgeson steering shaft/AMC 401/performer/holley TA/HEI/BeCool/727/ALTAS (2.0/2.72/5.44)/D60 Snofighter(Yukon Zip,hubs,stubs,4.56)/14 Bolt (FF,BF shave, Discs, ARB,Artec Truss)/MTR 37X12.5/Corbeau XRS Baja & 5 point retractable harness/Hella Aux lights/tuffy console/killer32 sliders/Evil Twin bumpers, rack and roll cage/WARN 8000/TT Fabworks steering brace/dual batts/custom TC skid plate/ARB fridge


Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:58 am

Hi Will e. Sounds like your build is similar to what I have in mind. I'll definitely ping you when I get there.
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee


1979bettywhite
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:14 am

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by 1979bettywhite » Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:28 am

OOhhh - can you post pics of your storage Will? I am planning on starting to build my rear storage soon. Going to be leaving out the rear seat and making a modular unit that can bolt to the rear floor where the seat belts do. Planning to probably do two drawers, and maybe separate tool storage compartments in the real foot wells. Planning to do it all modular so I can remove it pretty easily and put the rear seat back in. You can pm me pics if you don't want to post here.

Sorry for the thread hijack Iron. Looks like you and your son have a cool project. For the roof rack, I ditched mine from the factor and plugged the holes with some stainless buttons with a little silicone around the edges, in case I want to put it back on in the future. I went with cross bars for my setup, but doing a full rack is also an option with Rhino Rack. Their pioneer rack is awesome but a bit pricey. Here are the parts I used to assemble mine, and I think these gutter legs are the perfect height for our FSJs. All others were too short or too high IMO:

https://www.etrailer.com/Roof-Rack/Rhin ... 150S2.html#/
https://www.etrailer.com/Accessories-an ... FK1-2.html#/
https://www.etrailer.com/Roof-Rack/Rhin ... 37B-2.html#/

I went with the 49" cross bars I believe. I think the 54" would actually come out about even with the gutter, but I wanted mine in a little tighter.


SJTD
Posts: 1179
Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 12:02 pm
Location: Lompoc, Sunland or somewhere between

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by SJTD » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:29 am

A hundred bones for a pair of the plastic mounts?

Seems a little expensive.
Sic friatur crustulum

'84 GW with Nissan SD33T, early Chev NV4500, 300, narrowed Ford reverse 44, narrowed Ford 60, SOA/reversed shackle in fornt, lowered mount/flipped shackle in rear.


Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:41 am

Thanks for the source. I've been looking at the rain gutter setup and like those. Pricey...but what's not these days!!
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee


1979bettywhite
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:14 am

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by 1979bettywhite » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:52 am

Yes, they are a little pricey, but not really more than you would pay for Yakima and Thule:

https://www.etrailer.com/Roof-Rack/Thule/TH387.html#/

The vortex bars are a bit more aero and don't make as much noise as the square bars as well. They seem to be well made and Rhino Rack's customer service has been great so far. I have my 180lb roof top tent up there and they don't even budge when we are up there. But the pioneer rack is another story. Thing pushes $1000, plus the cost of the mounts for it:

https://www.etrailer.com/Roof-Rack/Rhin ... A9328.html#/


1979bettywhite
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:14 am

1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by 1979bettywhite » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:56 am

irondawg wrote:
Thanks for the source. I've been looking at the rain gutter setup and like those. Pricey...but what's not these days!!
Yes, and I tried both Yakima and Thule as well as a cheap no name brand (which was very flimsy). The RTT was of course not cheap, so I choose not to go cheap on the rack that it attaches too, lol! But plan to have this up there for years to come. And I fashioned a system mounted to the ceiling of my carport for pulling the tent off the rack and storing it when not in use. Takes about 10 min to put it on and take it off:

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I have three 4" lag bolts attaching the 2x4s to the ceiling joists in my attic. Pretty rock solid. Have eye bolts on all four corners and 500lb rated cam straps on each corner. Have another couple ratchet straps running corner to corner under the tent as well for support.


Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Fri Mar 22, 2019 9:02 am

Here's process of stripping the Jeep down. We are doing a frame off resto so everything is coming off. We've been taking many pictures and bagging/tagging everything and keeping subsystems in their own boxes as best we can.

I mentioned earlier that the tailgate was a 'worked on' by the PO. Here's what we found.

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I hot wired the motor and got the window to move and got the guts out of the tailgate.

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Once that was done we started on the back section of the headliner.

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Then the nasty carpet.

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After a lot of vacuuming and cleaning this is what we found. Not bad.

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Passenger wheel well was full of tools, rags, and junk but only a little surface rust.

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Driver's side was clean.

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Next the back panels and front carpet. There was LOT of cleaning. The front was coated with the old crusty black underlay. I used a heat gun and scrapper to get it all off. Since we were so dirty not much pictures until we got it all cleaned up.

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That's not rust but the black underlay.

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Here's after a couple hours of work. Super clean and again...no rust!!

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Next was the doors. They came off easy but we did find a bit of rust at the bottom front from where water got stuck in the dried out weatherstripping.

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The door itself is in good shape.

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We had the usual cracks at the vent window I'll have to fix.

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On to the driver side. I should point out that it took a good hour or so to pry out all the dried weather stripping from the channels. I used a small pry bar that fit just right in the channels. I wound up using that small prybar for many things.

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Same rust issue on the drivers side lower front. I'm guessing the weatherstrip was never removed.

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That's about it for now. Next update will be a trip to Heritage Jeep to pickup some parts.
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee


will e
Posts: 3762
Joined: Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:21 am

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by will e » Sat Mar 23, 2019 6:51 am

Not bad at all. Those floors look solid.
81 Waggy 'WILL E' Retired
82 Cherokee WT - SOA/SF/high steer/Alcan springs/agr box/Borgeson steering shaft/AMC 401/performer/holley TA/HEI/BeCool/727/ALTAS (2.0/2.72/5.44)/D60 Snofighter(Yukon Zip,hubs,stubs,4.56)/14 Bolt (FF,BF shave, Discs, ARB,Artec Truss)/MTR 37X12.5/Corbeau XRS Baja & 5 point retractable harness/Hella Aux lights/tuffy console/killer32 sliders/Evil Twin bumpers, rack and roll cage/WARN 8000/TT Fabworks steering brace/dual batts/custom TC skid plate/ARB fridge


1979bettywhite
Posts: 482
Joined: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:14 am

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by 1979bettywhite » Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:19 am

Can I have that horseshoe you have in your pocket? You got a nice condition chief there! I had the same issues in the corners of the doors. I used POR 15 as well as some fiberglass to patch the hole and rebuild the saddle that the weatherstrips sits on. This is a ways off for you, but I used this weatherstripping for the doors:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ameriseal-Si ... LMQAvD_BwE

It's 10ft per package, so you will need about 3 packages to do both doors.

Also, looks like your headliner is in decent shape, which is another perk as well. I used some sound deadning as well as some reflectix on my roof. Painted my headliner with some exterior paint and re-installed. You can also cover it with cloth if you want. But a decent stock headliner is a good item to have.

And it looks like you were able to unbolt and remove all the hardware. Even the rear seat belts. Wish I could say that for myself. Still have a couple to drill out.

Nice work so far, and rewarded with a great almost rust free Chief!


Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Mon Mar 25, 2019 1:19 pm

As I've mentioned before, when I bought the Jeep I did not get the grill or headlights. I've been looking around and there were a few options by private sellers for a razor grill. As I was searching, I ran across Heritage Jeep. I checked out their website and they had some cool Jeeps they were working on. I hit the Contact link and found out they are right down the road from me. Well...an hour and a half but that's nothing in Texas. So I called and spoke to Daniel, unfortunately he was out of town but gave me Daniel's number, yep there's two Daniels there. So after a nice chat with Daniel #2, we set up a time to meet and I headed over there with a buddy.

All I can say is WOW! The place was not much to look at until you got inside. There was loads of parts some ready for reconditioning and some completely restored and ready to be installed. There were a number of projects going on and I asked if it was okay to take some shots. Here is a J20 frame that came back from powder coating and in process of getting new suspension.

Look at the wall on the right...full of reconditioned parts!! I got to pick a few that I needed.

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Here's another frame getting built up.

Brand new Bilstiens, brake lines and proportioning valve.

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Now here is something else. A customer commissioned a 1978 Chief WT in original blue. The frame and suspension were completed and they just dropped the body, tailgate and front clip on. The work was nothing more than perfection. But when you pay the kind of dollars they are asking, only the best will do.

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That's Daniel #2 next to the Jeep. He was great. We spent 3 hours talking Jeeps and walking all over the yard.

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Next up is a Jeepster. Not sure what year but it was beautiful.

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And was hiding a some bling under the hood.

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Here's a shot of a completed project that was restored 10 years ago and still looks brand new. This one had a 401 in it.

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Golden Eagle and with a 401. In the background was a nice Waggy. I didn't get any pictures cause I was drooling too much over the two Chiefs.

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The beast! I should point out that mostly what they are doing is total restoration back to factory. They do swap out some items such as radiators and batteries but 99% is back to factory correct parts.

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I took this shot to give me some idea what to do with the hood. All the pieces and hinges get sent off for blasting and powder coating. I like the contrast and plan on doing the same.

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This shot is out in the yard. As we were loading up parts I bought, he pulled out the Honcho.

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If you can see here under the bumper, they add a deflector similar to what the Waggy's have. Nice touch and I'll be copying this too.

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Closer shot.

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It was a good day and like I said Daniel #2 was great. He gave me a fair deal on all the parts I bought and plan to come back once I'm further along with my project.

Thank you Daniel...see you soon.

Up next is more tear down.
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee


Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Wed Apr 10, 2019 3:58 pm

It's been a while since I posted. Work and family have been taking up more of my time now that spring is here and my daughter and son soccer league has started. But, I've still been plugging away at the Jeep whenever I get some free time.

The tear down mode is just about complete. I removed the back windows. That was a bit of a pucker factor as nervous about breaking the glass and/or damaging the gasket. So I took many precautions. Here's what I used to pull the glass...

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First was to lube everything up really well. I used a lot of lithium grease and rubbed it in so the rubber was more pliable. I then took out the pop out windows. The screws were a bit rusty and I don't like the way they push on the gasket. I'll most likely replace them with some sort of countersunk screws.

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With a little persuasion it popped out.

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Next was the main glass. I started by loosening the weatherstripping caulk with a hammer and putty knife. This worked really well as I was able to push the glass away from the body.

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Once that was done, I levered the window away from the bottom inside.

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This was enough to push the glass and gasket out where I could gently pull and get another tool under and work my way around. It didn't take long and the window popped out.

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Next was the rain gutter trim. Using may favorite tool, a small prybar, I carefully pried the trim from underneath and it all popped off easily without any damage. I'll most likely put it back on since it's in such good shape.

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Little surface rust but nothing drastic.

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The windshield was removed and we were able to get at the dash and start taking that apart.

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Next the front clip came off. No issues except a few broken nut clips which made things a bit tricky. I didn't take pictures since it's pretty straight forward except for the shear amount of hardware!! 14 bolts for each outer fender...really?

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With the front off, I got to removing the heater parts and that's when we found a couple more issues. Taking the fresh air vents off was a bit of a shocker. Both sides were full of leave, critters, and crap.

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And what I thought were bones.

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Turns out it was big runs of seam sealer that fell off in the air vents. After a good cleaning, there's was rust that will have to be fixed. Worse on the drivers side.

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Next up was removing the TC and getting ready to pull the motor.
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But first, I loaded up all the body parts and took them to get blasted. Here they are ready to go.

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Next up pulling the engine.
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee


Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Fri Apr 19, 2019 3:35 pm

Hello again. A lot of work has been completed in the last couple weeks. We got the motor/tranny pulled out. My daughter was in charge of pictures and she missed quite a few good ones of getting the engine up and cleared of the garage door. A lot of lift...move...lower...repeat until we cleared the frame, then the garage door but here's the result.

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that's me behind the motor bossing my buddy around.

Success!
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this is Bob who's been helping with the heavy lifting whilst the boy-child is off to soccer.

I went a bought some furniture movers at harbor freight and setup the engine/tranny on a few so I can move it around. Works really good. I ended up strapping it down with motorcycle tie downs.

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The wiring harness is still attached. I didn't cut any wires. I plan on selling the whole drive train including the transfer case.
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During this time I got a delivery. The replacement engine!

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It's a Gen V 5.3 out of a 2014 Silverado. Before I bought it, I called Novak about a Gen V swap as I didn't see motor mounts for it or if a 6L80 tranny would work. Turns out they do have mounts but haven't put them on the website yet. They've been working on a testbed for a while now and using a 6L80 transmission as well. The Gen Vs are programmed to mate up with the 6L80 so I didn't have much choice unless I wanted a custom setup which would have required custom software to the engine and transmission as the control module is built into the tranny.

I've got the mounts ordered and waiting on the transmission to show up and a 241C transfer case. In the meantime I've been taking pictures and pulling off the wire harness (I got the engine, wire harness, PCM, and throttle in the package).

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Found this on the right side.

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The original plan was to swap to an LS motor either a Gen 3 or 4 but I got a really good deal on this package so I took the plunge with understanding that if I wanted a standalone engine wiring harness, I'd have to send it off since there's no data that I could find and LT1 site didn't have Gen V yet. I contacted Swap Time and will be sending him the harness and PCM for a rebuild and flash. He'll also wire in a new fuse block.

I've been working pulling off the intake so I can get to the harness.
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Putting it on the engine stand.
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Tucked away for now.
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This week was a major milestone. Not only have I caught up with this thread, but the body work is underway.

Getting ready to lift the body off the frame.
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Success!!
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Looks pretty good for 41 years old. Better than me!!
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At the right corner rear I had to cut out a body mount bolt. The nut rusted loose and started spinning. This corner of the body had the most issues.
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Driver rear looks good.
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Passenger side not so much but I've seen a lot worse.
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Front passenger.
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Front driver.
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Driver side fresh air box.
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Marking what holes to weld. The big holes will get plates that can be removed just in case. I'll be installing a vintage air kit so leaving the most bottom hole for a/c and heater hoses.
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Shot of the tailgate hinge plate. Lot of surface rust. And you can see that the factory had the access plates installed before painting leaving bare metal.
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Frame back on the trailer headed home.
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Next up cleaning up the frame and axle rebuild.
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee


Runcible_Spoon
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:29 am

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by Runcible_Spoon » Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:32 pm

you lucked into a good one...that body is pretty cherry,and the frame is excellent as well.

needless to say...I think were all jelly over your lift :)


Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Thu Apr 25, 2019 7:52 am

Hey Gang,

I've started the disassembly of the axles and gathering up parts for the gearing change, and rebuild of brakes, ball joints, and pretty much everything else related to axles. I've been trying to find an axle build sheet that I've used in the past to document the different measurements for ring/pinion clearances but I cannot find it any longer. Anyone have a source?
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee


Topic author
irondawg
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2019 1:13 pm
Location: Leander, TX

Re: 1978 Chief WT - Code Name Gerald

Post by irondawg » Mon May 06, 2019 4:48 pm

It's been a while but many things are under way.

First off all the body parts minus the body have been blasted. The body was put on a rotisserie and the firewall holes have been welded. I also got a call that they have epoxy sealed the body pieces and I should come down and check things out. I need to pickup the rad support and inner fenders to start the LS motor mount install. The body was picked up on Thursday and is now at the blaster. It'll be about 3 weeks before it's scheduled to get done.

I've been working on the axles, brakes and frame. I don't have many pictures cause it's dirty work and I think most of us here know what's required.

With the axles on a couple of saw horses I opened up the diffs and took account on the parts to order. For the front it's a major overhaul kit, axle u-joints (which is done) and I'm also trying out a set of Factory 10 axle seals. They may not fit but I've got access to a lathe to turn them down if I need too. The rear axle was in really good shape so I'm doing a pinion seal and new axle bearing/seal kits.

Rear diff
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Front diff
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The diffs have 3:54 gearing and with my engine/tranny combo and type of driving (overlanding...no rock crawling), they should be fine. If I need to replace I'll go to 4:10 with lockers.

The brakes will get full rebuilds front and rear with new discs and drums as they were in bad shape. The drums look like someone took a big hammer as there were fractures in the sides. So full rebuild kits front and rear.

Since the boy child and I were stripping everything down, we wire wheeled the backing plates and planned on POR-15 for them since I had a kit.

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I kept one of the rear brakes in tack to use as an example to rebuild. Man that is one crazy puzzle to put back together. I also bought new rear parking brake cables as I broke the retainers when taking them off. Oh well...they were pretty nasty anyway.

Next up was cleaning/prepping the frame. I don't have many pictures cause it's a dirty job. We de-greased and power washed to get ready for POR-15. I took a bunch of picts to track where hardware went. These are picts after power wash.

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For all the complicated angle areas, we sand blasted those spots. For the rest of the frame we used a combination of wire wheels, wire brushes and finally orbital sander with 80 grit to knock down any remaining paint and weld buggers. This took about 8 hours over two days. We got only one picture because we didn't want to mess up our phones.

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After blasting and wire wheeling, we soaked the frame and axles with POR-15 prep and sprayed down everything with water, we moved everything into the garage as it was getting hot and started painting.

From here all cameras, keys, wallets, kids, dogs, you name it were kicked out. If you have ever painted with POR-15, getting this stuff on you DOES NOT COME OFF!! But because it was so hot, we wore shorts and t-shirts which was a bad idea. We managed to get a bit of it on us...mostly legs and arms. I did drop a good size drip on my sock and got a nice big black smudge on my ankle.

Anyway it didn't take long to paint everything. We put two coats on the axles and one on the frame. We let that cure overnight and flipped the frame to get the other side and put a second coat. We got this done by noon today. We took off for lunch and errands for a couple hours and came back to check on things.

Major task complete!! It's not perfect but the point of this is to kill any current rust and stop rust in the future.

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I gotta say that this frame must have been welded on a Friday afternoon right before fourth of July or a guy who didn't know how to weld was given a crash course and told to have fun. We found weld buggers all over the place. Bits and pieces of welding core and splatter everywhere. I did grind down anything I thought might be an issue with new body mounts, engine mounts or suspension.

All in all I'm satisfied with the results. I do have some Eastwood internal frame paint ordered and once the engine mounts are burned in, I'll shoot that every place we could not reach.

I'm waiting on parts for axles, brakes, motor mounts, and suspension. Suspension should be here before the weekend. I went with a Rough Country 3" lift. It was on sale at Amazon and was hard to pass up. Not sure how much work I'll get done with Mother's Day this week.

I did buy a new media blasting cabinet so I'll get that built and sealed up so I can start blasting parts this week as I'm waiting for parts.

I'll be headed over to the body and blasting shops this week to check on things. I might pick up the inner fenders and rad support as well for some pre-assembly for the motor mounts.
1978 Cherokee Chief WT in a thousand pieces
Previous Jeep: 2001 Grand Cherokee

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