A fool and his money: An '84 Grand Wagoneer's tale.

kirk Jan 2, 2019

  1. kirk

    kirk I once rented two prostitutes at the same time Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    I have long been a fan of Full Size Jeeps and have owned two before. I had been looking at projects all over, when one fell in my lap, locally. It was priced below everything else I could find, so I took a chance and went to have a look.


    The guy claimed it had been "stored inside" and was "running when parked" and every other old car cliche you can think of. I got my directions, nabbed a buddy (because most times he has a more critical eye than I, is the voice of reason and can talk me down. Sometimes he isn't and we end up driving to Phoenix for a baja bug, but that's a story for another time), and we headed out. It was waaaaaaaay out on the lake, down a dirt road and back into some trees with some storage containers and other dead cars. Once we hiked through the magical forest, we found it, sitting out wet, smelly and neglected. It was bad enough that even though they were asking half of what the next cheapest complete Wagoneer I had found, I wasn't going to pay that for it. Also, it may have been stored inside at one point, but it had clearly been outside quite sometime when I finally got to it. But there she was, one blow out, three nearly flat tires and all.

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    Overall, it was pretty straight. No rot, no major damage. I mean it is 34+ years old so I don't expect perfection. Oddly, it has a vinyl roof and sunroof, which I have never seen on a FSJ. I hate vinyl tops. Read that as REALLY REALLY HATE vinyl tops. But, again, she was as cheap as I am stupid, so here we go. Summoning the low baller within, I offer him half of his asking price. Not flinching, he comes back up just a couple hundred bucks to a three digit price we could agree on and a deal was made on the spot, with him also agreeing to pull the front wheel (blowout) and put a used tire on so I can move it.

    Three days, three inches of rain and one used tire later, I return for it. This time armed with my trusty F150, and a glaring lack of common sense, I drug the trailer down through the trees, around two brush piles and through a mini pond. Then I backed it down into where the jeep was. Other than nearly getting stuck, nearly jack knifing the trailer twice by sliding, and a small tree I bent over springing back into the cab and slapping me in the face, it was uneventful. When I finally got back to the Jeep, I got it hooked up and the winch drug it forward easily. That harbor freight winch has absolutely been worth its weight in gold. Previously having visions of a wet dead Jeep struggle, I prematurely celebrate. Then I notice the rear wheel aint movin.

    Great.

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    Also of note is the guy who met us was letting his little girl climb all over everything. On the trailer, behind the Jeep, over the river and through the woods, to grandmothers house she goes. And he didn't care. His kid playing daredevil and being in the way, and all this guy wants to do is bitch about his ex wife and how she wanted child support he didn't want to pay. Classy. I off hand mention that if his kid keeps ducking under two and one half tons of dead jeep hanging off a trailer supported by one thin steel cable, any minute we can simultaneously put whats left of her in a garbage bag AND cut his child support in half. He wasn't impressed with my wit but did yell at her to "git her ass in the truck".

    Dad of the year material for sure.

    Dragging the jeep up, wheel slides. Let it roll back (move you stupid kid) it rolls fine. Back and forth and back. Finally (the kid gets out of the way) we drag the jeep to the ramps with me beating on the rear wheel, and it starts to roll as soon as it hits the ramps.

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    One extended 36 point trailer turn involving me crushing yet another brush pile later, I take a hard left out of the Jeeps burial ground, drive out through a soft, recently tilled pasture slinging muddy goo and some form of plant from all four wheels at a frantic pace and out on to the road. My truck, with its quarter of a million miles, was very openly and vocally unhappy about having to haul this whale through a mud pit but we are on the road and rolling.
     
    Fromfrontier2Xterra likes this.
  2. kirk

    kirk I once rented two prostitutes at the same time Supporting Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Once loaded, I go directly to the car wash. This is pig is BEYOND nasty. It's damp and smelly and its moistness makes my skin crawl. If you aren’t familiar with big ass jeeps, one thing you should know is, their fancy asses came with the shaggiest of carpet. It holds everything. And is nasty to the touch. Also, the mice in this bitch are pissed. He can try and lie and say it wasn’t outside long, but the mouse kingdom that used to be an AMC 360 v-8 is now been overtaken in part by mice and their mousey ways. What? You think I'm exaggerating? Cool. You're right. No mouse houses at all.

    Or:
    All your mouses are belong to me.

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    The windshield washer bottle, (lower right) is fulla rat poop. Pretty sure that is going right into the garbage.

    I knew this was bad, so I brought a whole roll of quarters. I spray and scrub and wash and such, just to try and knock down some of the funk before it goes inside the shop with the other cars. Opening the hood, I cover my eyes/face and hit the mouse house with all 2000psi or whatever this car wash has, and watched hay, poop, mice, mouse ass, poop and more hay go flying around.

    PRO TIP: Chose unattended car washes off the beaten path to clean your rodent infested projects. That way no one sees you use their vacuums which are much better at sucking up mouse sh*t than your personal shop vacs. All the vacuum, none of the clean up.

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    Its not even remotely clean enough yet, but at least I got the bulk out. I later used the vaccum to get other large chunks off the intake not pictured. So if the thick carpet wasn’t bad enough, the interior comes with another one two punch of disgusting by way of thick lamb wool style seat covers, and a mostly duct taped closed albeit massive sunroof. The sunroof I found was good for exactly two things.

    • Allowing free and easy passage of enough water into the interior to make things stink and mildew
    • Having absolutely no parts remanufactured for it. A cursory glance at several FSJ pages return such witticisms as "Weld that bitch closed" and "sell it, and run away".

    A distant third would be to install a pop up sunroof in its place. I'm thinking suggestion one or three, but who knows.

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    Uncovering the seats revealed a pair that are pretty worn, but not destroyed, and a pretty bent up arm rest. I'll get a battery on it next week and see if they still move.

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    Under the front seats was this, and they are original signatures. Kinda cool. Associated article:

    http://www.off-road.com/jeep/tech/cherokee-americacamp-jeep-1997-19718.html


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    New Carpet kits: $375
    Not catching AIDS: Priceless

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    After spending all my quarters getting it passably clean, I get back to the shop with it. I immediately nearly get stuck again:

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    But manage to get it unloaded and into the shop, while sliding around trying to not rub up against the dumpster and the wall of the office across from me. I make it, but barely.

    First thing I plan to do is remove that vinyl top and all the associated foam. If I uncover a boat load of rust, this will be the shortest build thread in history, ending with an ad on CL for someone else to take over. Otherwise, I am excited about this old soldier, and plan to see what I can do for/with it.

    I mean really. Who wants extra money and free time?

    Stay tuned Constant Reader, more to come.

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  3. Prime

    Prime Some Kind of In Charge? Admin

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    Wait.....it has power seats!?

    Looks like an awesome project.

    And as usual, your prose is fun to read.
     
  4. JeffPro4x

    JeffPro4x Hot Pipe Moderator Supporting Member

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    Location:
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    That thing is gorgeous in it's hideousness
     
  5. Fromfrontier2Xterra

    Fromfrontier2Xterra I spend more money on comic books than my X Super Moderator Supporting Member

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  6. BEEFY

    BEEFY Lockers Installed

    Messages:
    1,685
    Location:
    Prince George, BC, Canada
    That interior is fabulous. Looking forward to this
     
  7. kirk

    kirk I once rented two prostitutes at the same time Supporting Member

    Messages:
    15,931
    Location:
    Allen, Texas
    First and foremost, I wanted to remove all the vinyl top so i could see if the roof was rotted. If it is, sayonara jeep. So before anything else, we start that.

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    So first warm weather day, prior to all this cold weather and missing wisdom tooth crap, I open up the doors, take out my tools and go to work. First step up is to remove this roof rack. Four of these, and the whole chrome peeling, hand biting roof rack comes off.

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    After the rack is off, you have to remove four metal strips, with four Phillips screws each.This vinyl roof sucks. Why did someone consider this a good idea?

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    This is straight forward. Peel the rotted vinyl, scrape the rotted foam. This sh*t is still wet from the car wash days ago, so no telling what would have happened had the Jeep stayed outside much longer. So i peel and scrape. The smaller the scraper, the better the results. I use the wide ones to drag along the foam after i chip off as much as i can to knock off a little more. What you can see in this pic is there is basically heavy strapping tape over the roof ridges. Foam comes right off it, but not anywhere else. CHIP CHIP CHIP CHIP peel peel CHIP CHIP. Repeat, ad nauseum.

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    And then my scraper sunk in a bit more than usual nearly immediately in the drip rail. Can I get an aw sh*t from the congregation? Because I gave it a healthy aw sh*t right away. That's one hole, lets see what the future brings.

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    After about an hour and a half, I got the passenger side "done." If by done you mean I scraped the roof down to a tennis ball like fuzz, while wearing most of the discarded foam. I'll get the whole roof that low and then come back over with some chemical or something. Dunno, yet but that's my plan. Anywhoo, I then came across a problem, because of the proximity of this dead wood sided wonder to the next nearest VW behind it, I couldn't get a good angle on scraping the rear roof. What to do what to do. Ah! Lets abort this roof scraping project and see if I can lower the rear window. You see if I can lower the window, I can lower the tail gate and stand on it. Problem is, the tailgate windows/motors/electrics are an immense weak spot on these, and nearly always fail. So if its failed I wont be able to do anything else till I fix it, because I cant access the rear to replace the carpet or anything. So, with my right arm and shoulder agreeing that a break was in order, I put the scraper down and instead focus my attention on the electrics. I scrounge a battery off the shelf, and throw it on the charger while I dust off and sweep up. In short order I have a decent charge (and a moderately clean floor, that foams a nasty mess) and after a cursory look at the battery cables, (finding them remarkably undamaged) I install the battery where the rat condo previously resided.

    Immediately upon connecting power, the wipers begin to swing slowly from side to side, then stopped suddenly, then swung at a frenzied pace before settling back into a slow hypnotic sweep across the gargantuan windshield. I was unable to look away, and slowly slipped under the spell of this smelly fur lined behemoth from days long gone. "Give me all your money" it seemed to say, and I am finding my self powerless to to resist. Climbing inside, I check the door locks. They make a locking noise, and shudder the lock pulls, but nothing happens. Try the windows. Nothing at all other than the rear passenger window that was previously down a crack, went up a crack and stopped. It then immediately acted like it never moved at all, refusing to come back down or even act like it had ever moved at all. Fine, be that way, I'll get to your ass eventually. Hopefully, I trigger the sunroof mechanism. Laughing, the switch crumbles in my hand immediately and falls into my lap bringing with it a chunk of headliner. Alright then, I'll get to your ass later too. Triggering the headlight switch grants me the privilege of headlights and front marker lights. Nothing in the rear. No brake lights, no tail lights, and certainly no blinkers. I mean the very nerve of you to even ask for blinkers! Turning of the lights and stopping the hypnotic wipers, I notice one thing other (that also doesn't work, oh BTW) THIS SUMMABITCH HAS A DAMN PULL OUT RADIO!

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    Rewind to Freshman year. I had a half mullet/half afro combo and a burning desire to play my mix tapes in my Buick Regal. So what do I spend my hard earned coins on? A pull out radio of course. So I could carry it into school secure that no one was going to steal my Journey tapes. Seeing this one made me a kid again. For a brief shining second I was broke and dateless wearing a Powell Peralta shirt and a pointless grin all over again.

    Triggering the rear window with very little hope, I get about six inches of movement before it freezes up. Nonplussed by my luck, I roll it up, and climb into the rear to inspect. The tailgate has an access panel you have to remove 10 screws from which gives you an all access pass to the inner workings of your tailgate.

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    Once inside, I lube the sh*t out of everything. The tracks, the gears, every single moving part, and roll it up. Then i lube it again while its up and roll it down.

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    10" this time. Progress! I inspect closer, and find two dirt dobber nests on the tracks, which i remove and chunk towards the heavens outside.

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    After that I lube it all again, and this time using the key in the tailgate (but still not expecting much) I trigger the glass mechanism one more time, and it goes all the way in. Success! I have now been granted a full access pass to the rear of my jeep!

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    Rebuilding the tailgate just got promoted up on the list, as the crunching, grinding and clunking noises associated with the glass retracting tells me I am just about out of luck with it. That's fine, as this is a looooong term project. (Edit: Fckin rebuild kit is $300. Damn)
     
  8. kirk

    kirk I once rented two prostitutes at the same time Supporting Member

    Messages:
    15,931
    Location:
    Allen, Texas
    Now I can return to the task at hand, scraping the roof.

    BUT I DONT!

    Instead I scrape purple tint off the windows, because I hate it and its existence is an affront to me in every way. Luckily it comes off pretty easily.

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    That menial task done, I decide to fill the radiator and see if the motor turns over. I drop nearly a gallon and a half of water in the radiator, and then look inside. I expect to see spongebob and other sea creatures in the radiator, as junky as it is. I mean its totally fcked.

    *adds radiator and hoses and such to the list*

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    I mostly wanted to see if it turned over. I twist the key and groaning, the motor reluctantly turns over four or five times building speed before the battery tells me to kiss its entire ass and quit. I walk back around to the nose, and notice I am standing in a puddle of water. Looking down, I notice the radiator is holding water about as well as a colander.

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    Fine fine. I just wanted to see it turn over myself and I did. Everything on this bitch is resistant to change apparently. Ill get back to that later as I have extensive experience in rebuilding cooling systems (see also: BMW) even though I never wanted said experience. At least now I can stand on my tail gate to work on the roof, so that counts for something.

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    So I get back to work on the roof. After several hours more, I have the whole thing down to the aforementioned tennis ball fuzz all over.

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    In doing so, I find two more holes, all about the same size for a total of four.

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    Which isnt nearly as bad as I was thinking. There is rust (not through) around the mounting points for the strips on the roof, but I think I will be able to wire brush and paint/treat those just fine. This drip rail will probably get a heavy coat of POR15 after I patch the holes and I bet I wont have to worry about it.

    So tennis ball fuzz looks like this:

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    So on a whim I poured this on it:

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    Then scraped with my wide scraper and got this:

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    It pretty well dissolves the foam, and leaves the glue, that you can quickly scrape most (not all) off.

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    I'm wondering if there is a tool I can put on a drill that will erase the rest of the glue off. About this point I got tired and was done scraping, rubbing soaking and scraping again, so I stopped here. The plus side is that the roof isn't nearly as bad as i thought, and all its vinyl and foam are now resting comfortably at the bottom of the dumpster (and all over me and in my hair and etc etc). The downside is that this still needs two of everything, including newly discovered electrical work, but that's basically what I get for trying to convert a mouse house back to a vehicle.

    Time to put together the first of what I believe will be many parts orders. Damn you hypnotic wipers and automotive ADD. Damn you right to hell.

    Next up, finish the roof, and drop the fuel tank.

    • Radiator
    • Upper Rad Hose
    • Lower Rad hose
    • Thermostat and gasket
    • Plugs
    • Wires
    • Fuel Pump
    • Fuel Line
    • All belts
    • Oil and Filter
     
  9. BEEFY

    BEEFY Lockers Installed

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Prince George, BC, Canada
    Making progress. So you will get it running and worry about the rest later, road kill style.

    And is that 3 vw vans you have hidden away in there with the jeep?
     
  10. kirk

    kirk I once rented two prostitutes at the same time Supporting Member

    Messages:
    15,931
    Location:
    Allen, Texas

    No!


    But also yes. And yes right now my work is fairly sporadic (weather) but I'll get it running, lift it, and start working on basic cosmetics.
     

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