So there's this guy I know at Texas Instruments (the place
I work on co-op.) He's Joe's supervisor. His
name - Dave Kreml. Using my excellent conning techniques,
I talk Dave into letting me use his garage to do my jeep
restoration. After I conned Dave, I also conned my Dad. I got
my loving father to tow my jeep down to Houston on a trailer
using his '97 Dodge Ram 4x4.
Next, I tell my roomy that I'm not gonna be around for a while and I drive my jeep over to Dave's house. At this point in time I had no idea what I was in for. I started by basically just trying to take stuff off. I'd worry about the details later and just try to put bolts and stuff in marked baggies for when everything had to go back together.
Removing the axles was the first step. Next the tranny. While doing this, I began ordering stuff that I needed from a place called 4wd hardware and buying most of my other stuff from Autozone. I decided that I wanted to have a fresh engine so I got one through Autozone (they had the best price of the chain stores I tried) and bam, I'm already out just over a $1000. Time to refinance the truck. Got $5000 out of this and then I started doing some serious buying. New seats, a 4" spring lift kit, brake system, complete wiring kit, and so on and so on.
As tear down continued, I started looking into getting a new frame. Can't have a Jeep without a frame. After looking around, I settle on buying a rolling chassis for $450 from a guy named Tom. Seemed like a good deal (notice the word "seemed.") This '79 rolling chassis included an engine (that I sold for $150,) a quadratrac system (an auto tranny and transfer case that I sold for $100,) axles (sold them for $100 - would have got more, but the the front axle had a chipped ring gear,) and wheels (still have the rims - they were better than the ones that I had plus wider and capable of handling the 33" tires that I wanted.)
It was Super Bowl Sunday '98 and I had rented an engine lift for the weekend. I had already stripped down my old engine and lifted it out on Saturday so it seemed like a good idea to get the rolling chassis over to Dave's garage. Time for AAA. Abusing my AAA membership, I call AAA and tell them I need a car towed. They ask me what it is and I say a Jeep. They ask me what year, I say '79. They ask me what color and I say... black. Soon my newly purchased rolling chassis arrives and while everybody is enjoying Dave's Super Bowl party, I begin working on getting the engine off the rolling chassis so that I could use it's frame. It was getting late, I was tired, but I had the engine and tranny out within an hour.
Now there was this slight problem that Dave didn't like. Dave always wanted to pull his beautiful Blazer back into his garage everyday when I was done working (he has a two car garage and my Jeep and all my crap was to stay on one side of the garage - not much room to work.) Because I now had this new rolling chassis and my old jeep in the garage, there was just no room for Dave's Blazer. Dave's not happy. The solution... Sawzall!!! I proceeded to cut my jeep tub into 3 pieces (it was in really bad shape and not worth saving) and my old frame into a couple pieces Next, Dave and I moved all the cut up stuff out of the way, put the new rolling chassis on my side of the garage, then piled all the cut up stuff back onto the rolling chassis until I had time to get rid of it. Now I had a real mess.
Most of the smaller stuff I just pitched, but there was one particularly large section of the tub I decided to take to a scrap yard. Dave throw's out his back helping me load it into my truck (I still have the Ram at this time) and I get a whopping $16 for it.) Oh well, better than nothing.
I go and get my newly purchased frame sandblasted and through on a coat of black rustoleum. Cool. Finally I can start reassembling stuff. Nothing goes smoothly, but I get my axles back on and use the the wheels off the rolling chassis. Now we're looking good. Project Jeep has wheels. Parts continued to go on the jeep, but for some darn reason the gas tank doesn't seem to want to line up with it's holes. No problem, I'll drill new ones. Then I noticed something uncool. Actually I think Dave noticed it. The Planet, a radio station, kept playing the same songs over and over - but for some reason I liked "Kiss the Rain." Ok, there was something even more disturbing... my new '79 frame looked crooked. Oh well, how bad can it be? I continued to put stuff on like fuel lines, brake lines, the engine... Ah yes, the engine. So I go rent the engine lift for the second time, put the engine in, install my new clutch, and put the tranny and transfer case in. After doing this, I put some other engine parts on (like the intake manifold and valve covers) and finally the oil pan. Did I mention this was the first time I'd ever done anything like this? The next day I go to work and talk to Al. Al is not too excited that I put the oil pan on after I put the engine in. He says "Ben, you really need to have the engine upside to make sure the oil pan gaskets sit right." Uh... OK. So the next weekend I got rent the engine lift for the 3rd time. This time, I get to employ the help of Al. We pull out the engine, put it upside down, and do the job right. Put the engine back in and we're good to go. Not that this went smoothly (nothing ever does,) but my power train was back in.