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1973 J-Truck (J-4800): Agnes

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Hello all! :)
This is my first post, and hopefully FAR from my last! Haha!
My name is Shaine - but my friends have called me Keymo since I was 12 or 13 years old. Now I'm 23. I've lived in Iowa all of my life (originally from Jewell, Iowa - currently located in Ames, Iowa) and had a Jeep (YJ) since I was 14. I LOVE Jeeps! So this year I decided to get rid of my crappy 2000 Chevy s-10 truck and get a hold of a good old, tough and reliable, J-series pickup truck! ;D

The s-10 CONSTANTLY needed something done to it and thanks to all the computer-related B.S. I was unable to do most of the work. The cost of all the parts and paying a mechanic to do all the repairs (I HAAAATE paying someone else to work on my vehicles) were starting to make me want to just sell the stupid thing. I was looking around for a replacement when I stumbled across FSJs - and it was love at first sight.

After searching around for about a month I'd almost given up as the FSJ selection (at least the ones for sale at a resonable price) in the mid-west was pretty poor. Finally, I decided to broaden my search and found quite a few, but finally decided on this beasty gem in Sabina, Ohio:
(pictures from the ad)

A 1973 Jeep J-series Pickup Truck. 360 V-8 Engine. 8-lug 33" tires. 20gallon tank - I get about 8-10MPG (city/highway average).

Shes my daily driver, so I'm slowly working on her as time allows... Almost everything about the truck was stock when I got her except for a CB, CD player and speakers, a cheap center console that replaced center armrest (though the arm rest DID come with the truck as well), some aftermarket gauges and a poorly done (well at least in the prep-work)  paintjob.

I had her hauled to me and when I went to start her for the first time - nothing... Come to find out the PO had accidently left the interior lights on when they pulled it onto the trailer... Busted out my jumper pack and she fired right up!  ;D

I had some difficulty getting her in gear initially... I found this out by trying to take her on a test run around Ames - not a good idea... Haha! It was almost impossible to get her into 3rd (and would, and still kind of (but rarely) does, want to skip into reverse) and ABSOLUTELY would NOT go into 4th... After driving about 4 blocks I decided to take her back home and try and see what was going on. The PO told me she had been sitting around for about a year without being driven at all - so I figured the tranny was just a bit sticky. Finally got her pulled into my driveway and then sat and worked through the gears for about 30 minutes or so - basically until she would smoothly go into all of the gears.

I then checked all of the fluids - everything was perfect. Took her for another test drive later that night with the GF and found that if I wasn't EXTREMELY light on the pedal the truck would want to stall out and would stumble a lot. I also had a herd time keeping her idling regularly - she wouldn't die ever, but the RPMs would bounce around and would often SOUND like she was going to die when we would be stopped at lights. We got home that night and I started doing some research. The next day I messed with the carb ALL day and nothing changed. Then I got to thinking about the points distributor and decided I wanted to switch her over to electronic...

After some messing around and talking with my Dad I finally decided to just go the MSD route and get one of those "Ready-to-run" Distributors so that I wouldn't have to get/wire in a ignition module in addition to a new distributor and coil...

I got it all installed pretty easily but then spent the next WEEK just trying to get her to start. Turned out the wire I had running to the Coil + was a resistor wire inside of the loom and therefor wasn't getting enough voltage to the coil... Cut it about 2" from the block on the firewall and rewired it (the last attechment still had the old wiring hooked up - still need to get another picture with the new wiring...) And I have gotten a "cut-to-fit" coil wire so that the coil has been rotated back into it's original position - not so close to the oil cap...

I plan on keeping my truck and my YJ for the rest of my life. If I'm lucky...
Nothing against the newer model Wrangler-style Jeeps... But I don't think I would ever buy one unless both of my Jeeps got totalled or something and I couldn't find another YJ or J-truck...  ::) I LOVE YJ JEEPS! And having this J-truck has definitely made me fall in love with FSJs (J-trucks specifically).  ;D Plus I think I kind of have an affinity for "Old" vehicles... They're simple, easy(or easier) to work on, TOUGH, modifiable (without costing a fortune), the list could go on and on... Anyways, back to the topic of this post:

Soooo, in keeping longevity in mind, I decided to get a hold of some "Chassis Saver" paint from Magnet Paints to cover my ENTIRE truck with before Monstalining the bed (and maybe the body) and the final paintjob...

With the single Gallon I managed to get the bed (top picture - bottom picture is how it looked when I got her), ceiling (had no headliner and it was getting a little rusty up there), all 4 wheel wells, the front (behind the grill), inside the engine bay (including the under-side of the hood), fender flares, rear driveshaft, around the tail lights, most of the rear bumper and a "skirt" around the bottom... I managed to get some body work done on her before I applied the Chassis Saver... Some of which still stuck above the paint... Though I plan on getting some more of it soon (within a week). 

Oh! I also Plasti-dipped the hubcaps and grill (so I could see what it'd look like black) and re-sprayed my rims white (were getting a little nasty). After Plasti-dipping, I decided to touch up the Jeep emblem on the grill... It looks MUCH better!

I ordered new window cranks as well from "Team Grand Wagoneer" because the PO must've broken the handles off the cranks and then replaced them with some ghetto-rigged bolt and nut operation which left the door panels all tore up... The screws they sent with the cranks WOULD NOT go in far enough to hold the cranks onto the gears... Neither would the ones that had held the previous handles in. Maybe the cranks were different on the inside...? I managed to find some similar screws (with the same style head) at a local hardware store that were a little shorter (like 1/8 - 1/4in) and they worked like a charm! :D

So my gauges hadn't been working the entire time I'd owned the truck. This whole time I've been troubleshooting them between "projects" and still have not come up with exactly what's wrong...
I discovered that the Speedo cable wasn't connected - hooked it up - and the speedo still (today) doesn't work completely right. It will initially work for me, but after sustaining ANY speed for a few block or a little longer (never more than a mile) the needle will slowly start to drop... At first I was using the "Ear and Gear" technique (what I've always heard it called) - where you figure out what RPMs in which gears are equivilant to certain speeds and then monitor yourself that way... But recently I've been using my GPS to monitor my speed. None of the other instruments work(ed).

I pulled off the cluster to clean it and discovered multiple pins missing from the back - so I decided to order a new one. The only resonably priced, brand new, cluster I could find was an NOS one from Canada (speedo = km/h). I figured that would be an easy swap with the speedo and I could be certain that the other gauges would be in working order (fresh, out of the box - new).

While waiting for it to come in the mail I checked ALL of the wiring behind the dash and found a few wires that had appeared to short out... Though none of them were SUPPOSED to have anything to do with the actual gauges... But I patched (small spots that looked like the wire itself hadn't been affected) and replaced the wires with the same gauge wires and marked on a piece of tape what wires corresponded to what since they were different colors than the original factory ones and I didn't want to get messed up in the future if I lost my wiring diagram (also marked the wires I replaced on the diagram). I started her up and drove around. The Temp gauge and ammeter actually worked, though the fuel and oil gauges still didn't do anything. I was half-expecting the oil gauge not to work, but the fuel one has been upsetting me... I'd really like to know how much fuel is in my tank... It just makes me feel more comfortable... With the speedo not working (Odometer isn't either) it's really hard to try and keep track of mileage to get an idea of how much fuel is in my tank. I've just been filling up every time I make a trip out of town and then about once a week. I've only ran out of fuel ONCE and that was on a 300 mile (round trip) where at about 140miles into the trip my Dad filled me up via his AUX tank in the back of his truck. Well, there was a kink in the hose and we weren't paying attention... So when we saw it was "done" filling up I pulled the handle a few times and it popped back out like it was full - it hadn't even gotten a gallon in there... I got about 20-30 miles down the road and ran out. LUCKILY I keep a 5gallon gas tank in the back on long trips like that just to be safe (even if my gauge was working) and was able to put some gas in and make it to the next gas station.  ;)

Back to the topic - I have a feeling that the problem with the fuel gauge has something to do with the sender unit in the tank... I'm getting voltage to everything and everything I troubleshoot seems fine... Though I haven't done anything with the tank/unit... Yet. Also, this shouldn't have anything to do with the problem (I don't think) but I can't seem to find a fuel filter ANYWHERE "in-line"... So I have a feeling the filter has got to be in the tank as well... Which is kind of annoying.  :P

In addition - this whole time I'd been noticing my coolant/anti-freeze would keep dropping at a MUCH faster than normal rate. Though when I'd park I couldn't see anywhere that there would've been a leak. Then, one day while I was crawling around under her I noticed that there was a drip coming off my lower radiator hose. Sure enough when I'd squeeze it the drip would get faster - there was a small crack in it. I replaced ALL of my radiator hoses and completely flushed my radiator. The coolant that came out was REALLY NASTY! It basically looked like muddy/rusty water. Also, this strange coil of wire came out of my bottom radiator hose when I pulled it off (attached a picture)... Probably not a good thing. Haha!

My most recent modification to my Agnes was a manual choke cable.  :D

One night, the first night the temperature got below freezing, I was trying to leave for work and she just would NOT start! I pumped the gas like crazy and could get here to fire a few times and then die. I even tried keeping my foot on the pedal and keeping the idle around 1,500RPM for a little bit, but as soon as I took my foot off the pedal she'd chug down and die. I was pressed for time, so I just jumped into my s-10 (still haven't sold it) and drove to work. In the morning when I got off work I immediately went to troubleshooting... I couldn't find anything wrong engine-wise, so I figured I'd check out the carb. After removing the air cleaner I noticed the wire running to the electric choke was cut. After checking in the loom I found that the wire that ran from the firewall to the choke was burnt up and melted from where it came out of the loom until the frayed end where it had appeared to have been cut or something. I decided that since this was the case I might as well just go with a manual choke and never have to worry about the choke failing on me again.

I got the kit from NAPA for something like $19 and some change. It had everything I needed for the conversion. I ended up needing to cut off about a foot of the cable to get it to fit though I probably coul've gone with cutting off about 1.5 feet to fit "properly" but I wanted to run it with two brackets holding the cable in place so I needed to run it a little out of the way so I could bolt down one of the brackets without having to create a new hole...

I think there was a manual choke (or something) installed previously because there were two holes already drilled under the dash that fit the bracket supplied for mounting the handle PERFECTLY.


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