Where would you start with the Chief project…

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Jwillis
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Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Jwillis » Sat May 01, 2021 2:45 pm

I bought this 79 Chief from out of state a few months ago and my dad is trailering it out to me in CA next week. I put a CJ5 back together in High School but I have a lot to relearn and learn for the first time! I wanted to ask what order you’d do everything with this project. I’m giving myself 3-5 years to tackle it. It runs very rough but I’m planing on doing the v8 Vortec swap. I’m not sure how the automatic transmission is. Would you just plan on replacing the transmission? I am not planning to do extreme off roading but want it to be able to handle the type of things you’d take the family on. Not sure if I’d do 33s or 35s but I know re-gearing is in the future as well. I’m also wanting it to be pretty as well so I’ll be doing the exterior and interior along the way.

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Renodemona
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Location: Sparks, NV

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Renodemona » Sat May 01, 2021 3:43 pm

If you're going to replace the motor, replace the trans too. Vortec with 700R4 probably. You can get the parts to swap out the tail shaft on the transmission to fit onto the Qtrack transfer case. 3-4" lift with 33s will get you pretty much anywhere you'd want to go. How is the rust though? I'd be more concerned with rust on the structure. Fender Flare rust is fine, when it starts to get into the roof by the rain gutters...not fine.
I'd always say mechanical before cosmetic. BJs Offroad is your friend ;)
"Wait, what's on fire!?"
--------------------------------------------------------------
1976 Cherokee w/t 'Susan' 401/TH400/QT(PT)
FiTech Go EFI, Edelbrock Performer intake
3" Rough Country Springs, HEI Dizzy
-------------------------------------------------------------
1972 Wagoneer 'Meredith' 360/TH400/D20
Hamilton Fuel Injection
4" Alcan Springs, HEI Dizzy
-------------------------------------------------------------
2018 Cherokee Trailhawk V6 'Sedna'


Topic author
Jwillis
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:57 pm

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Jwillis » Sat May 01, 2021 5:37 pm

Renodemona wrote:If you're going to replace the motor, replace the trans too. Vortec with 700R4 probably. You can get the parts to swap out the tail shaft on the transmission to fit onto the Qtrack transfer case. 3-4" lift with 33s will get you pretty much anywhere you'd want to go. How is the rust though? I'd be more concerned with rust on the structure. Fender Flare rust is fine, when it starts to get into the roof by the rain gutters...not fine.
I'd always say mechanical before cosmetic. BJs Offroad is your friend ;)
Thanks for the reply! All great advice. The rust is supposed to be minimal. One floor pan and the fender flares. I don’t think there is any up by the roof but I won’t know till I see it in person this week. I took a bit of a risk buying it sight unseen. Hoping for the best!


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will e
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Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by will e » Sun May 02, 2021 3:34 pm

Welcome to the club! It's a great site with lots of helpful folks.

That rig looks pretty solid overall. Buying site unseen is exciting.

The general rule when doing a restoration is first drive train, then body then interior. Poking around to fix rust issues while doing the drive train is good but don't paint it until you have all of the mechanicals worked out.

There is a lot of info on doing various drive train swaps on this site. You are only limited by your budget. ;)

I stubbornly held onto the AMC/TF727 combo but my rig isn't a daily driver and most trips it takes are to and from the trail. I've focused a bit more on making it a reliable trail rig.

Have fun with your build! It sounds like you have a realistic time frame to work with. We are looking forward to reading about the progress along with seeing more pics!
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


letank
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Joined: Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:16 pm
Location: SF bay area

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by letank » Sun May 02, 2021 11:19 pm

welcome, CA is not a very friendly place for our older rigs... the smog check is fairly strict... so check with the diagrams to make sure that you have everything lined up, or that your swap can pass the smog visual. In doubt find the nearest smog referee for advice on accepted swaps... the BAR is a good start, Bureau of Automotive Repair

https://www.bar.ca.gov/Consumer/Smog_Check_Program/FAQ
Michel
74 wag (349 Kmiles... parked, next step is a rust free body)
85 Gwag (227 Kmiles... the running test lab)
See Engine bits , Fuel and brake lines, Body work, Trany and TC


Topic author
Jwillis
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:57 pm

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Jwillis » Wed May 05, 2021 9:12 pm

letank wrote:welcome, CA is not a very friendly place for our older rigs... the smog check is fairly strict... so check with the diagrams to make sure that you have everything lined up, or that your swap can pass the smog visual. In doubt find the nearest smog referee for advice on accepted swaps... the BAR is a good start, Bureau of Automotive Repair

https://www.bar.ca.gov/Consumer/Smog_Check_Program/FAQ
Thanks for the advice! I’ll read up on what it takes to pass and hope for the best!


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Topic author
Jwillis
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:57 pm

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Jwillis » Wed May 05, 2021 9:13 pm

will e wrote:Welcome to the club! It's a great site with lots of helpful folks.

That rig looks pretty solid overall. Buying site unseen is exciting.

The general rule when doing a restoration is first drive train, then body then interior. Poking around to fix rust issues while doing the drive train is good but don't paint it until you have all of the mechanicals worked out.

There is a lot of info on doing various drive train swaps on this site. You are only limited by your budget. ;)

I stubbornly held onto the AMC/TF727 combo but my rig isn't a daily driver and most trips it takes are to and from the trail. I've focused a bit more on making it a reliable trail rig.

Have fun with your build! It sounds like you have a realistic time frame to work with. We are looking forward to reading about the progress along with seeing more pics!
Thanks! I just got it delivered yesterday so once I get to dive into it I’m sure I’ll have 1000 questions!


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SJTD
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Location: Lompoc, Sunland or somewhere between

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by SJTD » Thu May 06, 2021 7:13 am

Start your odyssey with the DMV sooner rather than later. Put it on Non Op if you aren't going to drive it. Save you much hassle when you go to register it.

I'd do the body and interior before the drivetrain.
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
Jwillis
Posts: 45
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2021 6:57 pm

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Jwillis » Thu May 06, 2021 8:06 am

SJTD wrote:Start your odyssey with the DMV sooner rather than later. Put it on Non Op if you aren't going to drive it. Save you much hassle when you go to register it.

I'd do the body and interior before the drivetrain.
I’m going to non op it for a while. I think I’m going to start tinkering with the body and interior to get my feet wet and start to tackle mechanical as I get acquainted with it.


letank
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Location: SF bay area

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by letank » Thu May 06, 2021 5:29 pm

Rechecking the picts... you do not have the part time hubs... so your transfer case, aka quadra track is OEM and you are 4x4 all the time, which is a better or easier to pass smog check because it will be idle and 2500 rpm test... as long as you have all the goodies.

You may still have to pass a visual before putting it non-op... you can still bring it to the DMV on the trailer if needed. I did it years ago with a motorcycle for the vin check...

Plz post pict of the engine bay so we can see what is missing.
Michel
74 wag (349 Kmiles... parked, next step is a rust free body)
85 Gwag (227 Kmiles... the running test lab)
See Engine bits , Fuel and brake lines, Body work, Trany and TC


Srdayflyer
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:08 pm

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Srdayflyer » Thu May 06, 2021 10:22 pm

i would pull the floor coverings back and check the drivers and passengerside floors for rust thru, very problematic area,i would also drop the fuel tank,and check the frame rail, i found my cherokee frame rail packed completely with mud and dirt,also the parking brake cable runs in the space between therail and the gas tank also the fuel lines {metal} run thru that area also,. if you need to replace the springs either for sag ,broken,or spring lift the driver side rear spring eye bolt passes thru the frame rail to a nut spotwelded to the rail, easy to install and remove when origionally built but they break the welds and you end up having to drop the tank, also there are 2 vent check valves on the top of the tank and mine were broken and the sealgaskets cracked so when i filled the tank to full fuel leaked all over,or when 4 wheeling fuel sloshed it leaked badly,, not being in cali [az] i would see what you need to have for emissions ,or what you plan on doing with the power plant old style emissions parts are hard to come by fortunately im exempt from emissions due to the fact the vehicle is over 30 years old. there are a lot more items i would check im ready for paint now but the ones i recommended are the ones i would check as the frame rail has been known to fail in the tank area and the driver/pax floors due to either the a/c evaperator drain line missing and dumping water inside pax side and the freshair vent behind the parking brake peddle as leafs and debris clog that up and water starts to collect and rust thru that side of the floor , hope this is a start areas to inspect


Srdayflyer
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:08 pm

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Srdayflyer » Thu May 06, 2021 10:22 pm

i would pull the floor coverings back and check the drivers and passengerside floors for rust thru, very problematic area,i would also drop the fuel tank,and check the frame rail, i found my cherokee frame rail packed completely with mud and dirt,also the parking brake cable runs in the space between therail and the gas tank also the fuel lines {metal} run thru that area also,. if you need to replace the springs either for sag ,broken,or spring lift the driver side rear spring eye bolt passes thru the frame rail to a nut spotwelded to the rail, easy to install and remove when origionally built but they break the welds and you end up having to drop the tank, also there are 2 vent check valves on the top of the tank and mine were broken and the sealgaskets cracked so when i filled the tank to full fuel leaked all over,or when 4 wheeling fuel sloshed it leaked badly,, not being in cali [az] i would see what you need to have for emissions ,or what you plan on doing with the power plant old style emissions parts are hard to come by fortunately im exempt from emissions due to the fact the vehicle is over 30 years old. there are a lot more items i would check im ready for paint now but the ones i recommended are the ones i would check as the frame rail has been known to fail in the tank area and the driver/pax floors due to either the a/c evaperator drain line missing and dumping water inside pax side and the freshair vent behind the parking brake peddle as leafs and debris clog that up and water starts to collect and rust thru that side of the floor , hope this is a start areas to inspect


Srdayflyer
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Mar 18, 2019 2:08 pm

Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Srdayflyer » Thu May 06, 2021 10:23 pm

i would pull the floor coverings back and check the drivers and passengerside floors for rust thru, very problematic area,i would also drop the fuel tank,and check the frame rail, i found my cherokee frame rail packed completely with mud and dirt,also the parking brake cable runs in the space between therail and the gas tank also the fuel lines {metal} run thru that area also,. if you need to replace the springs either for sag ,broken,or spring lift the driver side rear spring eye bolt passes thru the frame rail to a nut spotwelded to the rail, easy to install and remove when origionally built but they break the welds and you end up having to drop the tank, also there are 2 vent check valves on the top of the tank and mine were broken and the sealgaskets cracked so when i filled the tank to full fuel leaked all over,or when 4 wheeling fuel sloshed it leaked badly,, not being in cali [az] i would see what you need to have for emissions ,or what you plan on doing with the power plant old style emissions parts are hard to come by fortunately im exempt from emissions due to the fact the vehicle is over 30 years old. there are a lot more items i would check im ready for paint now but the ones i recommended are the ones i would check as the frame rail has been known to fail in the tank area and the driver/pax floors due to either the a/c evaperator drain line missing and dumping water inside pax side and the freshair vent behind the parking brake peddle as leafs and debris clog that up and water starts to collect and rust thru that side of the floor , hope this is a start areas to inspect


rocklaurence
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Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by rocklaurence » Fri May 07, 2021 5:24 am

IMO, get it running and start enjoying it. Build it in steps and use the vehicle. Discovering new options and desires. Its easy to loose interest in a Project that is only a pile of parts but if it becomes part of your life-develop a relationship it will get built. I love driving my projects

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tgreese
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Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by tgreese » Fri May 07, 2021 6:34 am

If I went SBC/700R4, the Quadratrac would be history. I think the obvious choice would be a NP241C which came in a passenger drop version.

Following rocklaurence's comments, a pile of parts sells for pennies on the dollar. The cheapest way to get a project car is to buy someone else's incomplete project. It would be wise to stage your restoration/conversion so that you have a complete and running/driving Jeep as often as possible. In the long run, life can interfere with your ambitious project.

Regarding the drivetrain, the main issues will be the condition of the Quadratrac transfer case, and smog cert. California has both a tailpipe test and a visual test, and your out-of-state purchase likely is missing most of the emissions parts that you need. It may be worthwhile to go with the Howell TBI kit, which has a CARB cert when installed correctly. This will eliminate most of the factory smog plumbing and make emissions certification easier.

The engine and transmission are straightforward; the 360 is a good engine for its day, and the TH400 is famously durable and reliable. Easy to fix or patch-up.

Regarding frame rust, that's a problem with the '80-up fuel tank design. A '79 won't have that issue. Still worthwhile to inspect for rust, but rot in the frame at that specific location is not an issue with a '79. 1980 was a watershed year for these vehicles, and a lot changes.

The '79 TSM is free to read and download on the Tom Collins site. https://oljeep.com/edge_parts_man.html
Tim Reese
Maine beekeeper's truck: '77 J10 LWB, 258/T15/D20/3.54 bone stock, low options (delete radio), PS/PDB, hubcaps.
Browless and proud: '82 J20 360/T18/NP208/3.73, Destination A/Ts, 7600 GVWR
Copper Polly: '75 CJ-6, 304/T15, PS, BFG KM2s, soft top
GTI without the badges: '95 VW Golf Sport 2000cc 2D
Dual Everything: '15 FCA Jeep Cherokee KL Trailhawk, ECO Green
Blockchain the vote.


SJTD
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Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by SJTD » Fri May 07, 2021 8:16 am

Srdayflyer wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 10:22 pm
i would pull the floor coverings back and check the drivers and passengerside floors for rust thru, very problematic area,i would also drop the fuel tank,and check the frame rail, i found my cherokee frame rail packed completely with mud and dirt,also the parking brake cable runs in the space between therail and the gas tank also the fuel lines {metal} run thru that area also,. if you need to replace the springs either for sag ,broken,or spring lift the driver side rear spring eye bolt passes thru the frame rail to a nut spotwelded to the rail, easy to install and remove when origionally built but they break the welds and you end up having to drop the tank, also there are 2 vent check valves on the top of the tank and mine were broken and the sealgaskets cracked so when i filled the tank to full fuel leaked all over,or when 4 wheeling fuel sloshed it leaked badly,, not being in cali [az] i would see what you need to have for emissions ,or what you plan on doing with the power plant old style emissions parts are hard to come by fortunately im exempt from emissions due to the fact the vehicle is over 30 years old. there are a lot more items i would check im ready for paint now but the ones i recommended are the ones i would check as the frame rail has been known to fail in the tank area and the driver/pax floors due to either the a/c evaperator drain line missing and dumping water inside pax side and the freshair vent behind the parking brake peddle as leafs and debris clog that up and water starts to collect and rust thru that side of the floor , hope this is a start areas to inspect
I would have used three paragraphs rather than posting the same thing three times. :lol:
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
Jwillis
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Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Jwillis » Sat May 08, 2021 9:37 pm

I gutted the interior today. Both driver and passenger floor pans are toast. All the way back until where the rear seat sits. I read some other posts on this and it sounds like it is a tedious but doable job. I’m not a metal smith at all, should I just get the BJ floor plans? It’s gonna be around $575 for everything I need. I want to learn how to weld so I’ll probably pick up a welder. Any recommendations?

I think the underside of the Jeep looks good. No major rust just some rust coloring here and there.

Also, see pictures of the engine bay. I’m planning to do a vortec swap.

Let me know what you think! I’m thinking I will tackle the floor boards as my next project.

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rocklaurence
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Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by rocklaurence » Fri May 14, 2021 6:59 am

OK, everyone is going to Shame me for saying this. :D IMO [Ive done it], regarding the floors. Patch any hole larger than a Nickle and then removed the surface rust, treat the area with Rust Converter and then coat the floor with Bed Liner. Small pin holes/ holes use Duct tape under Neath-from the bottom, so that the Liner doesnt drip through. the Bed Liner is strong and very durable. Ive never had this fail and Ive also used a layer of Fiber Glass mat for added strength/durability. Laying the mat over wet bed liner and then coating over it.


Topic author
Jwillis
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Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by Jwillis » Fri May 14, 2021 7:05 am

rocklaurence wrote:OK, everyone is going to Shame me for saying this. :D IMO [Ive done it], regarding the floors. Patch any hole larger than a Nickle and then removed the surface rust, treat the area with Rust Converter and then coat the floor with Bed Liner. Small pin holes/ holes use Duct tape under Neath-from the bottom, so that the Liner doesnt drip through. the Bed Liner is strong and very durable. Ive never had this fail and Ive also used a layer of Fiber Glass mat for added strength/durability. Laying the mat over wet bed liner and then coating over it.
Wow! Thanks for the reply. I’ve been trying to research my options and have been hesitant on spending the $600 on the BJ pans. I’ll wait to hear what all the nay sayers say but this sounds like a good option!


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tgreese
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Re: Where would you start with the Chief project…

Post by tgreese » Fri May 14, 2021 7:11 am

Actually I was going to write something like that, but it's been covered sooo many times before.

In my part of the country, this does not look too bad. Actually, it looks pretty good. Lots of dirt mixed with some flaky rust, but the structure looks all there. The longest lasting repair will be all new steel, which will last another 50 years before it's back to the state you see... unless the owner is more effective at keeping the floor dry. Then it will last longer.

Patching it up won't last as long, maybe 20 or 30 years? Especially if the floor is kept dry.

Instead of fiberglass, you can pop-rivet patches over the holes. Use something like the bed liner suggested above or urethane cement or an MCU paint or whatever. Won't last forever, and the better you seal it up and neutralize the rust, the longer it will last. But it will probably last long enough.
Tim Reese
Maine beekeeper's truck: '77 J10 LWB, 258/T15/D20/3.54 bone stock, low options (delete radio), PS/PDB, hubcaps.
Browless and proud: '82 J20 360/T18/NP208/3.73, Destination A/Ts, 7600 GVWR
Copper Polly: '75 CJ-6, 304/T15, PS, BFG KM2s, soft top
GTI without the badges: '95 VW Golf Sport 2000cc 2D
Dual Everything: '15 FCA Jeep Cherokee KL Trailhawk, ECO Green
Blockchain the vote.

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