Oct 6 2015

A Different Kind of Jeep Project

It’s been a while. It’s been a LONG while. Turns out having a kid not only takes a lot of the time I used to have, but also the money that would be necessary for me to continue working on Ike.

That’s not to say it’s been without Jeep-related fun. In fact, today marked the start of a new Jeep project. No, it won’t take the place of Ike, but it will let me have a little Jeep fun while also passing the torch to Hayden.

What could I possibly be going on and on about? Well, here’s the start of the new project:


Yeah, it’s a little …. different than my normal projects. It’s got a LONG way to go. First things first, I had to tear the whole thing down. Part of this felt very much like my tear down of Ike. I will say though that the screws were FAR less rusted and in need of brute force than the 1950’s version.


There was quite a bit of muck, grime, mud, grass, and what I can only hope was anything but animal poop. After disassembly, the first step was the initial wash. It looks better than it did, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.


I’ve got some big plans for this little Jeep. It’s not quite the same as Ike, but it’ll do for now.

Nov 17 2013

Double K *beep* *beep* U-R-T-I-S

In what has turned out to be the most difficult portion of the rebuild so far, I’ve actually completed my T90 transmission rebuild. A few weeks ago, I got the lower end of the transmission rebuilt, getting 44 needle bearings in place and fighting with trust washers to get the cluster gear into place. The other problem was reverse idler shaft and countershaft not going in at the right angle. To keep the shafts from spinning and working their way out, a plate slides between two keyed slots in each shaft. As you can imagine, getting the a flat slot on two round shafts that are press-fit into a cast iron case is not easy. Especially when the reverse idler is installed after the input shaft is installed and the cluster gear is installed, but in order to get it out, you have to remove the input shaft which gets held in place by an oil collector complicating everything.

After the third attempt, it all worked out and the plate and shafts were installed in a satisfactory way. Building the second/third and output shaft cluster was an adventure. The synchronization assembly that makes moving from second to third smooth and non-grindy utilizes a central clutch hub sandwiched between two blocking rings that catch little springy keys to line up the hub sleeve and the second and third gear when shifting between the two. The rebuild kit I bought came with two new springs for the clutch, but they were WAY too stiff and didn’t allow the keys to depress enough to allow the sleeve to transition without digging into the keys themselves. The old ones were still fairly springy and seemed to provide just enough resistance to keep things together without hindering the sleeve, so I had to build the assembly twice. If that wasn’t enough, there were – you guessed it – more needle bearings!

One thing that is interesting about the T90 is that the input shaft is fixed in place in the front of the case, but the output shaft is essentially free floating and requires that the transfer case sandwich it into place against the needle bearings inside the input shaft. To keep things together I used a length of safety wire behind the second gear and tied up against some bolts that I entered into the front. I think I might change this and put the safety wire through the output shaft and string it through the transfer case mounting holes to allow me to finish assembling the top end shifter.

For now, I’ve got the shifter temporarily held on with some washers and wire between the top of the case and the shifter platform, but it’ll do for now. I’ve got to find an alternative to the crushed roll pins that kept the shifting forks into the rails. I removed (and probably shouldn’t have) the shifting forks and had to un-damage roll pins to remove them. Unfortunately, that left the end of the roll pins too brittle to put back, especially dangling over the spinning gears. Once the shift forks are installed, I’m ready to bolt up the top slightly more permanently to wait for final installation behind a newly rebuilt engine.

Next step, finish up the shift cane assembly, then turn my attention to finishing the frame stuff that I’ve skipped or need to go back and finish. I’ll get the knuckles torn apart again and then put back together with proper sealing. Steering will be installed, brake lines filled and bled, suspension greased up, and the rear engine crossmember and draw bar will need to be prepped and painted before installation. Should be just enough to keep me more than busy while I wait for Hayden to get here.

Oct 14 2013

Oh yeah, I have a Jeep

A lot has happened since I last worked on Ike. The weather got unbearably hot. I got really into reloading ammunition. I found out I was going to be a father. I installed more storage in the garage. Oh yeah, and I’m going to be a father. That actually might have something to do with me not giving the Jeep any attention.

I’ve spent the last few months not working on the Jeep and instead focusing on other endeavors. Until today, and now I feel like I really missed out on the last few months of Jeep building time.

On top of getting paint on the transmission case, shifter cane, drive shafts, and other small parts, I started rebuilding the actual transmission. Using a few guides online, the way this thing goes back together is actually starting to come back to me. The task that seemed the most daunting was putting back the cluster gear and bearings. Rather than use caged bearings like the transfer case, the transmission uses free-floating needle bearings around a central shaft. That means that I had to build bearing packs, all four of them with 22 needle bearings each, inside a solid piece of metal that has a shaft and multiple thrust washers all holding it in place. It only took a few hours, but I have the whole bottom end of the transmission (the cluster gear, reverse idler, input shaft, and oil slinger) all set in the case.

The next step will be building the second and third gear cluster which I’m sure will take just as long if not longer to put together. Hopefully I didn’t lose any parts from the rebuild kit in the time that has passed since I bought it.

Apr 22 2013

Shifting to high (and low) gear

With the exception of a missed spring on the last part order (sucks that the $4 spring prevents a $300 rebuild from being completed), the final setting of the rear drum, and the front yolk, the transfer case has been completely rebuilt. The front yolk will require that I borrow the impact wrench from my dad again to get the appropriate 100-120 ft. lbs. of torque on the nut. The rear companion flange and drum will get pressed on once the spring has been replaced and the shoes adjusted. Since the output shaft of the transmission runs through the input opening of the case, and the input gear is bolted to it, I’ve left the rear inspection cover loosely seated for now.

Luckily, the shift from 2W high to 4W high and from 4W high to 4W low all work just as expected. Once everything is mated up, and filled with oil, it should operate even better than before.

After a small digression to the bell crank installation (I still can’t get the oil retention seals to seat properly), I pulled the transmission up onto the work bench. It’s not only lighter than the transfer case, but isn’t nearly as odd shaped either (if I ever meet one of the engineers that designed that case, I think I’ll punch him in the nose). The output shaft already became dislodged during the removal of the transfer case way back when. That not only necessitates a rebuild to “fix” but also helps remind me to make sure I secure that shaft once I get done to prevent me from having to do it all over again.

Removing the top case revealed far less going on inside than I anticipated. I expected a labyrinth of gears and bearings, especially after working on the much simpler transfer case. Instead, there is a lower gear cluster that is more or less a single piece with a complicated mounting scheme, a reverse idler gear off to one side, and the direct/second gear cluster up top. Taking everything apart makes me glad I didn’t place an order earlier in the weekend to get that spring. I need a new second speed gear, a new pair of blocking rings, and I’m slightly iffy on my reverse gear. Since reverse and first speed aren’t synchronized, a lot of grinding happens. I also need to take a second look at the clutch sleeve and decide if that needs to be replaced also. Aside from those replaced gears and a fresh set of bearings and seals, I’ll be ready to start rebuilding the transmission. I’m going to try and get a few more parts tore down and then get a box of parts down to the parts store to get them cleaned up nice. I’ll be sure to include the supporting crossmember as well as the two drive shafts.

Which brings me to a slight conundrum. I’ve done so much work so quickly on the gear boxes, that I need to decide what I’ll be doing next. I’ve gone far enough that I can go back and finish some small odds and ends. For instance, I could tow the thing down to the driveline place to get the pinon seals replaced on the front and rear. The brake system still needs to be filled with fluid and the air evacuated. I should also consider fixing the leak on the front knuckles since I neglected to properly seal the bottom kingpin caps (not looking forward to that and the 600W oil that’s inside).

All that will surely keep me busy for a few weeks, but the very next thing I need to work on to finish the chassis is going to be getting the engine rebuilt. I honestly didn’t think I’d get to this point this soon after having a rolling chassis. I’m happy that I’m to this point, and even more happy that I’ve been putting away Jeep money for such a big cost. I think I’ll likely spend a few weeks getting the rest of the small stuff done before getting the engine done, like finally lubricating all the zerk joints.

For now, it’s time to focus on the gear box.


Apr 14 2013

Prepping the T-Case

It just so happens that when you work all day on what is supposed to be your off Friday, getting a transfer case put back together is nearly impossible to accomplish. On top of that, hunting for a baby brother for Ike certainly spent what little extra time I had left. Especially when that hunt comes up short.

That being said, I was able to get all of the various transfer case parts cleaned, prepped, and painted. In fact, I got all the way to starting to put the output gear cluster together and then realized that I hadn’t bought any safety wire to hold the shift fork bolt in place. Without safety wire, the very first step of putting this thing back together can’t take place. For now, I guess my garage will just sit strewn about with parts while I wait for the safety wire I ordered to get here.

Apr 7 2013

Starting year 3 with Ike

I can hardly believe that it’s been just a little over three years since I first brought Ike home from Temecula. It’s been a great three years, and now that I’m nearing 2.5 years in restoring him, my efforts are starting to actually look like something that can and will drive again.

After last weeks success in getting the intermediate gear and shaft pulled from the transfer case, it was time to get that pesky output gear cluster out. As I mentioned last time, the problem with continuing the removal is that the gear cluster is held together with a snap ring that prevents the whole thing from sliding apart. In order to get to said snap ring, I had to pull a bearing off of the front part of the shaft to expose the snap ring for removal. I was unlucky enough to have a bearing that didn’t want to just slide off, and instead required the creation of a special tool. Using a Chinese made hatchet and a 4″ grinder, I cut out an opening notch so that it could gently pry the bearing from the shaft. Shocker of shock, it actually worked like it should have!

With the output gear cluster out, and the final bearing race removed, the case was ready to be cleaned. Using a little degreaser and the pressure washer just about all the grease and most of the paint came right off. Unfortunately, the inside is showing quite a bit of buildup of some sort, so I’ll be looking at potentially taking it down to get dipped if I can find a machine/engine shop that will do it without charging me too much. While the case was drying, I used the wire wheel to clean the shifters, transfer case oil pan, inspection cover, and the parking brake lever. Due to the amount of build up on the front output cap, it’s getting a nice soak (as well as the front yolk) in the ammonia fumes over night to see if it can clean up a bit. If I get the main case dipped, I’ll take those parts with it to get done.

I’ve gone so quickly through this process, that I’m actually ready to put my next parts order in. I’ll replace a bunch of the parking brake parts, as well as the bearings, intermediate shaft, thrust washers, oil seals, and gaskets. I’m also going to need a new brake pedal since both of my candidates have actually worn through and resemble a neutral country’s namesake cheese then a solid brake petal. If I can get the case cleaned up, hopefully I can get it painted on Saturday and start putting it back together on Sunday. Don’t know if it will work out that way, but we’ll see.


Apr 5 2013

Splitting some gears

After getting much of the errata off of the transfer case nearly two weeks ago, it was time to flip the thing all over and remove the innards. Following a couple of guides online (one even based on the other with a few more pointers), I was able figure out that I needed two things – first a brass hammer with a brass drift, and second a MUCH better impact wrench. This last weekend I had my dad come by with an electric impact wrench with far more torque then my cheapy Chinese-made weekend special. With the more torquey wrench, the front yolk nut came (almost) right off.

The more difficult thing to find was the brass drift. A certain Chinese tool distributor had a 2 pound brass hammer available for sale, but not a single place I checked actually had a brass drift, let alone one that was at least a half inch diameter and 7-ish inches long. So what’s a guy to do on a four day weekend with no place to get a brass drift? In this case, it was spending 3 days looking for the tool locally only to give up on Sunday and stop working on the t-case. Instead, I just ordered one (and a hammer) on Amazon which I received on Wednesday.

Since I was in class again on Wednesday, Thursday night was banging metal against metal with metal in between night.  As you can see in the picture below, the brass hammer did what it was designed to do and sacrificed itself and its shape to prevent damage to that pesky intermediate shaft. Luckily, there is a whole lot of banging left in it for putting this thing back together.

While reading the rebuild guides, there was one part in particular that had me hoping that I would not need to make (or rent/borrow) a special tool for separating the output gear cluster. Unfortunately, it looks like I’m not lucky enough to have an easy-ish to remove front bearing. Since it would appear your typical pickle fork doesn’t have a wide enough opening, it’s time to head to the Chinese tool depot and grab a cheap hatchet and some grinding wheels to make what you see below.

So without that tool, I’m somewhat stuck. The main gear cluster needs to be separated in order for it to come out of the case so I can begin cleaning the case. Speaking of cleaning greasy parts, ammonia is a magical cleaning liquid. As you can see below, I stuck a bunch of greasy parts in a pretty pink tub, covered with plastic wrap, and then sealed in so that the fumes would go to work on the thick grease. Letting the parts sit overnight, and with a pressure washer the next morning, the results were astonishingly good for how little elbow grease (pun!) went into the parts. Even the paint came off of a few parts, which is just one less layer I’ll have to worry about when it comes time to wire wheel them before painting. Can’t wait to do the same for the actual transfer case and related parts.

That’s it for now. This weekend is going to be a bit hectic, but I’m going to try and get out and get that hatchet to hack up for splitting the gear cluster. Let’s hope there is something worth posting next week.

Mar 18 2013

Starting the transfer case

As this quarter of school winds down, I decided to take a break from studying (read: I neglected to study for my finals at all and instead went outside to play in grease) and work on Ike a bit. Being the late afternoon/early evening, I knew I wouldn’t have much time to play. Unfortunately, the work bench was covered in oily cardboard, bits and pieces of previous rebuilding, crumbs of old grease, basically all kinds of old nasties.

This of course led to a chain of events. While clearing out the bottom shelf of the work bench, I needed something to sit on, so I grabbed my trusty (but VERY cheap) Harbor Freight short stool. When I rolled around to the other side of the bench, crossing over the seams in the concrete, one of the wheels broke right off. Not one to be discouraged about a broken piece, I took to fixing it (instead of Ike). About an hour later I decided to use my new-found welding skills and forced all the parts together with a washer welded on the end of the stud to keep things together. Apparently, when you have a welder, all your problems look like a weld can solve it. I also pretty much think that a welder is necessary if you plan on keeping much from Harbor Freight past the first 30 days in working order.

After accomplishing that, I set on to getting the transfer case up and on the bench to start tearing it down. Not only is this thing far heavier than it looks, it’s also very ungainly and has all kinds of dinguses sticking out that love to get caught on anything and everything. By this time, I had wasted most of the daylight and also was cutting too far into my study time, so I only got the first couple of pieces removed and photographed for eventual re-assmbly. One other thing to note, my garage once again smells like rancid gear oil. Like a gentleman.

Mar 3 2013

Ike gets a column

Being an active full time MBA student has its ups and its downs. One BIG down is that the time I have available to me on the weekends is dramatically cut short. Add in the normal stuff that needs to be done while off work, some quality time with the wife (which I enjoy more than working on the Jeep the vast majority of the time-Love ya Kim!), and the time available for the Jeep becomes far smaller. That being said, over the last two months, I’ve done some work off and on. From masking parts, to putting a few coats of paint on them, the scraping off some and re-doing it because it wasn’t up to my standards. Unfortunately, none of it makes for good blog posts, since so little is actually changing for all the time spent on doing the work.

Three day weekends work out great for getting Jeep stuff done. I spent Friday over at my buddy Joe’s dad’s house learning how to weld with the new welder my wife and family got me for Christmas this past year. That of course means that now I’m looking out for scrap metal to get a little more practice in, but after a few tries I started understanding the process and what I should be listening and looking for.

This weekend, a lot of that work came together with some major structures put back on Ike. While waiting for paint to dry on parts, I finished putting the washers and cotter pins on the shocks. I also got all the various brake lines lined up and temporarily mounted the master cylinder while I waited for the tie-in bracket to finish drying. Once the steering box finished drying, I started assembling it all. Getting all the little ball bearings in place was actually far easier than I thought it was going to be. I’ll also say that I’m happy I bought a new steering column to go with everything. It was one of those things I decided to throw into my cart at the last minute because I ended up not needing a new master cylinder since I found a new one in a pile of parts. Not having to clean, blast, and paint that long tube saved me a lot of time and trouble.

Once all the parts dried enough for me to handle them, I put the newly painted tie-in bracket, crossover tube, brake and clutch arm, steering box, steering column, and even through the steering wheel and the clutch and brake pedals on for a few glamor shots. The pedals still need to stripped, primed, and painted, but they added a certain look that makes this post a little easier to see. This also reminded me that I need to get the outriggers painted and installed since the return spring for the clutch arm mounts to one of the outriggers. Since my sector shaft doesn’t have an alignment mark on the end for the pitman arm, I didn’t finish putting the steering box together until I get that issue resolved. Once that’s figured out, I’ll seal the box and fill it with oil.

The next few steps will depend on what I feel like doing and what I can get someone to help me with. I’d like to work on the brakes and getting the brake system filled with fluid, but you really need two people and a lot of patience to get it done right. Since I’m not going to be driving it any time soon, it’s not too high of a priority. The other things I’ll be looking at is the transfer case rebuild, transmission rebuild, transfer case cross member, and also starting on the engine rebuild. That of course will bring out a whole lot more money and parts, such as the exhaust system, wiring, and many other systems. That being said, Ike is really starting to shape up into a nice looking Jeep again, and I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s turning out (except maybe if it was going a bit faster).

Dec 28 2012

Rolling Chassis Complete

It was a little over 2 years ago (2 years and 5 days ago to be exact) that I started tearing down Ike. After only a few months, the Jeep was little more than a rolling chassis, until both of the axles were dropped.

Now, after all that time, 18 months of which the axles not attached to the frame, I now have not only a rolling chassis, but something that actually resembles a Jeep. As has become custom when I’m out working in the garage, I’ll occasionally get a neighbor that pokes in their head to see the Jeep. The question usually starts with “what are you working on?” and today was “Is that a Jeep that you’re working on?” I guess that means that it is resembling more of a Jeep than a pile of parts, which is kinda cool.

Today was all about getting the chassis back to a rolling state. After draining a quart of fresh gear oil out of the front axle differential (less what leaked through the pinion seal), and after tightening the driver’s side lower king pin cap to hopefully stop a leak there, I lowered the axle from the work bench. As with the pinion seal, I also forgot just how ungainly the front axle was to move around with the cherry picker. With the differential so far off to one side, it’s nearly impossible to move easily from a single lift point. Looking back now at some pictures I took when lifting it up to the bench, I should have positioned the chain in a different way, but it’s too late now. I even have the wounds to show for it.

After getting the front end bolted nicely to the suspension and frame, I replaced the brake lines on the rear axle with the new ones I purchased and ran the frame lines as well. All that’s needed now is my new master cylinder and a few other odds and ends and I’ll be ready to complete the brake system. I’ll be tearing apart the steering box before I place my next order to make sure I don’t need to add any other small parts to the order that will further delay me getting even more done. Hopefully I’ll have the brakes and steering done soon enough to start working on the transfer case and transmission rebuild before it gets too hot to stay in the garage.