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1955 Cj5 Project

Discussion in 'Builds and Fabricators Forum' started by Valentino84, Sep 23, 2018.

  1. Sep 23, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    Hello everyone, and thanks for all of the awesome content on this site! It's been very helpful in my adventure to get this old CJ running.

    Before i get into the Jeep, a little background....
    My father-in-law drove this jeep through the 80s and it was parked in 1991 for "mechanical issues" only to be moved around the property and eventually almost forgotten under overgrowth/nature. Sadly, he passed away a couple years ago so i was never able to ask him what was going on with his CJ but finding his notes all over the Jeep make me smile. Other family members have looked at the jeep and just gave up saying it's not worth it. So it's sitting at the cabin, about 40 minutes drive out of town, and my wife and i go work on it every other weekend or so. Little by little!

    I'm not new to mechanic work; i had a Porsche 944 as a project car and spent hundreds of hours trying to get it running (never did) and my Honda CRX got an engine swap and turbo kit installed by my hands and i maintained a 91 turbo Supra after that.

    You can imagine how happy the simplicity of the F134 engine has made me! With all that said, let me bring everyone up to date and make sure i'm doing this right...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Not bad on the outside, New Mexico is fortunate to not get much rust! Then i saw the inside....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    It's been the home of generations of field mice! There hasn't been much attention given to the inside.
    Taking inventory of the back, i found a lot of extra parts and two F heads at the bottom of the stack. SWEET!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Taking everything into account, we set our goals. #1 Get it running, #2 make sure it stops, #3 Electrical sorted and finally #4 clean up the inside and get non mice-scented seats. Starting with the basics i was completely lost.... how can i tell if this is a 6V or a 12V CJ5??? I spent hours reading on this and other forums; putting together a list to check light bulbs, distributor, wiring location etc... then i showed this picture to the guy at my local battery/starter rebuild shop
    [​IMG]
    "yeah, no doubt. that's an Alternator, 12V system for sure" Whew!

    Since it's been sitting for so long i didn't even try to get it to start, i wanted to see if there was a clear indication of why it was parked so i pulled the plugs.
    [​IMG]
    These were the darkest, nastiest plugs i had ever seen but there wasn't a ton of variation so i didn't think it was something too obvious. Around this time is when i noticed the notes on the inside of the hood...
    [​IMG]
    It wasn't until i got my manual that i started to understand what most of it meant, but my heart dropped when i realized what those last four sets of numbers must be... So i ran a compression test!
    [​IMG]
    Well... damn. At least i have a pretty good idea why it was parked. Progress is good! Removing the head turned into a two-trip adventure. I couldn't get the tiny oil line on the back-driver-side of the engine to come off and after 2 hours of fighting with it i cut it and ordered the $20 replacement part. The head bolts came out almost too easy (no washers either) but they were very dirty and some were really rusted, i think someone forgot thread sealer at some point sadly. Either way, adventure success!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    This is all new territory to me... I've never been inside an engine that i need to reassemble (i took apart a few blown lawn mower/go kart engines as a kid) and seeing that much caked on build up got me worried. I'm trying to do this all without having to pull the block and it got me worried enough that i kinda put this on hold and did a lot more reading.
    After a few weekends passing with no reason to head out of town to work on the CJ, i sent the two heads i had in the back (not the one pulled from the engine) to a shop to have them cleaned up and use the best parts and best head to assemble one good one i can drop on once i have a better plan of attack.
    [​IMG]
    Seeing that shiny, new looking head gave me the motivation to make the next move. I figured it'll go one of two ways, A) i can do it all myself and it turns out easier and cheaper or B) i mess up or get to a point i have to figure out how to pull the block in the "field" and somehow get it to the machine shop. No pressure lol.

    Two and a half hours to get off the exhaust manifold to let me get access to the valves. It was seriously the most physically intense thing i've done in car work EVER. Best part? I only broke off one of the studs, on the middle section so i might just try and go without for initial reassembly and re-compression testing.
    [​IMG]
    I'm glad i got a new set of valves, it wasn't until today's trip i saw the 3rd valve has a couple chips in it and more concerning... there are a pair of cracks in the block. At the bottom-center of the picture, head bolt hole connects to the nearby water channels. I only saw it today after reviewing pictures so i won't be able to check in person until the next CJ visit
    [​IMG]

    If you made it this far, thanks so much for following my CJ Project! I wish i had a garage so i could flat tow the jeep home and work on it more often, but this works out pretty well since it's beautiful and quiet where it's parked for now.
    [​IMG]
    I ran into a snag and couldn't make much more progress today other than wire brushing the head and pistons to be cleaner than they were. I got the regular Autozone value spring compressor and it was useless in compressing the exhaust springs. Based on searching other people's posts, it looks like i need to get something more like this>> https://www.autozone.com/test-scan-...em-parallel-lift-spring-compressor/516515_0_0
    ...but some other people have said NAPA has something available too. Before i buy i want to make sure i'm getting something that will work for sure (especially since i only get to work on the CJ every other weekend or so)
    .... But, does that even matter? Is the crack in the block more serious than i'm thinking and this is the time where i need to pull the block and take it to a shop? My end goal isn't a perfectly restored CJ, i really just want to get it running/driving and i can work on the little things. (if that makes sense) So dropping $1200 on a new block won't really be an option for a long while if that's what i need to do, but i also don't want to put this "new" head on if it'll just have problems in the near future. HALP!!! lol

    Thanks for any opinions or help!

    TLDR: 1955 CJ5- parked since '91, bad compression (maybe more), goal to get running/driving
     
    dane71, melvinm, Hellion and 7 others like this.
  2. Sep 23, 2018
    73 cj5

    73 cj5 Heavy Metal Sponsor

    MS
    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2014
    Messages:
    971
    Nice project. The cracks could be fixed by pinning.
     
  3. Sep 23, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    I had never heard of this before and just looked it up, looks like that should work! I'll have to take a better look next trip and get more pictures. Thanks!
     
    73 cj5 likes this.
  4. Sep 23, 2018
    Fly Navy

    Fly Navy Member

    Emerson, IA
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2014
    Messages:
    303
    That is a VERY common place for those engines to crack. Thirty years or so ago when I was in High School, it took my Dad and I several tries to find a good block to replace my original. Usually they are not repairable because they crack into those two exhaust seats but from your picture, as long as the seats are good, it looks like that may be repairable. Ultimately however, it may be cheaper, and you may get it running faster, if you just repower it. What ever you decide, just take it one step at a time and don't get discouraged!
     
    Valentino84 likes this.
  5. Sep 25, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    Reading through other people's posts i'm definitely leaning towards a v6 if i get to that point and just swap the engine out. I haven't called the local google listing for jeep junkyard, but they might have something too. After showing a few coworker/friends the pictures, a Jeep guy said his old hurricane had the same cracks but way worse. He put extra thread sealer on that bolt and didn't have any issues for the rest of the time he owned it. Another buddy suggested JB weld, but i'd rather do it right if i have to patch it and do the cool pinning-stitch. Another person suggested grinding it out and welding it, but i know cast isn't so good at holding welds in general.

    I've got other plans this weekend but i'll get a valve compressor tool i can hopefully get those exhaust springs out with and i can see if the seats look decent. Speaking of valves....

    When i get the new valves in the engine, should i use the valve lapping compound/suction cup spinner thing? Do the springs need to stay with the same location they came off? i don't have a way to check their compression/rebound, but they move the valves!

    Thanks for the help and encouragement! I'm thinking i'm going to do the "heavy" thread sealer application and see if it has compression across all cylinders after reassembly. Just being able to get it running will be a huge accomplishment, even if it only lasts a couple hundred miles while i sort out a replacement block/engine. I haven't even touched on the wiring and the fact the fabric stuff just crumbles when i touch it :( Yet, if i understand correctly, the simplicity of these older engines means i don't need much in the line of wiring and i could make a replacement! But i'll leave that for future me to worry about, compression first!
     
  6. Oct 7, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    Hello again! Got the tool at NAPA, and it turned out to work pretty well! Took a little bit of playing with it and moving wires and stuff out of my way, but i got all the valves out, WOOOHOOO!!!

    [​IMG]

    Hand sanded the block surface with some 220 grit > 500 grit> 1K grit and got it feeling nice and smooth. Everything cleaned with carb/brake cleaner. Rotated the engine to clean off the piston walls as well.

    [​IMG]

    It took a few times to get the feel for it, but once i realized the grinding compound works better with less cleaned off more often and listen for the change in tone, it went much better! I had read some people use a marking paint to ensure it's making complete contact... i had a sharpie, so i scribbled all over the valve seat and hand lapped until there was a solid shiny line.

    [​IMG]

    This is about the time the weather started to turn so i just finished up the lapping on all 4 valves, next time i'll have to do the valve install and set the clearance... My awesome wife took the time to clear out all the head bolt holes, some were really rusty and i'm glad she took the time to get it done!

    [​IMG]

    House plans next weekend and vacation the following means i won't have another update until the last week of October at the earliest... but, fully ignoring the crack in the water jacket/head bolt hole, the next major step will be putting the rebuilt head on and re-checking compression!

    I found a small chip on the #3 piston, but the ring under it seems to be ok so i'm not too worried. Didn't get any good pictures of it either (you can sorta see it in the valve lapping picture) so i'm just going to test with it like that unless someone tells me that's a horrible idea lol.
     
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  7. Oct 7, 2018
    homersdog

    homersdog Tulsa, Ok Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

    Tulsa, OK
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2012
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    1,487
    I'm glad you decided your FIL's jeep is worth saving, gives me hope for future generations!
     
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  8. Oct 28, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    We made a ton of progress on today's trip! Some fine adjustments on the valve compressor tool made replacing the valves go much quicker!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Now that i'm looking at it... did the springs need to go in a certain way up? I REALLY don't want to take it all apart again...

    Super fresh head gasket, ready to be put on. You leave the second layer of plastic on there...right? (JK! We were joking about this since it was under 3 different plastic layers)
    [​IMG]

    And cut this out of the bag from the machinist ... so impressive how clean they got it! I dropped off a pair of really dirty/rusty heads and got one good one (previously posted)
    [​IMG]

    And then came the hawkward standing over the engine while trying to drop the head down perfectly without any studs for alignment. If i ever have to do it again i'll probably get a couple just to keep things lined up and make it easier.
    This was about the normal two hour mark where we pack everything up, but after telling my wife i really wanted to get the head bolts in and torqued she agreed we can do that step before heading back to town...

    55ish lbs on each of the bolts and followed the guide i found from the tech posts (basically working inside>out) and thread sealer on every bolt! (most of them have washers now too!)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    This was everything i wanted to accomplish this trip so all we have to do next time is compression test after setting the valves. Finally i can install the carb i cleaned up a few weeks ago and see if it works!
     
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  9. Oct 28, 2018
    73 cj5

    73 cj5 Heavy Metal Sponsor

    MS
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    I see one spring upside down but I doubt the engine will notice :D
     
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  10. Oct 28, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
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    HAHA, thanks! My wife had commented as well "It looks upside down, i don't know if i've got it in me to do it all again" so we're both very relieved!
     
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  11. Oct 29, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    So looking over pics with my work/Jeep friend he pointed out something i'm very glad he spotted....

    [​IMG]

    Looks like the valve retainers didn't set down in there all the way, so i'll have to make sure to try and get those in with some needle nose pliers wrapped in electrical tape... Or i'll be forced to backtrack and remove the head (at which point i'll flip that valve spring lol)
    Fingers crossed its a quick fix!
     
  12. Oct 30, 2018
    Hellion

    Hellion Rust covered & junky

    Eastern TN
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2016
    Messages:
    445
    Fabulous story! Missed it the first go around. Seems some here are shy about posting pics but not you--you can't have too many. Nice, big and crisp (in focus).

    It's a quasi-flathead so yeah, it's like doing a valve job on a flat head Briggs & Stratton engine. [​IMG]
     
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  13. Oct 30, 2018
    Dave Deyton

    Dave Deyton Member

    Fuquay-Varina, NC
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2003
    Messages:
    229
    Got to love those New Mexicp Jeeps. We have rust, you have patina. Great post. You got it looking good/

    Dave
     
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  14. Oct 30, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
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    27
    Right? I'm reading through the Land Rover build and completely shocked by how much rust some places have! Thanks!
     
  15. Oct 30, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    Thanks! Sometimes i get too caught up and forget to take pictures, but my wife is really good about snapping a few when she sees we're changing steps. I'll be sure to get some video when we're on to the compression testing!
     
    Hellion likes this.
  16. Nov 4, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
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    Another Sunday update and this is a big one!

    So I tried for about ten minutes with needle nose pliers (wrapped in electrical tape) to get those valve retainers seated and it just wasn't having it. Boom! Engage our NASCAR inspired plan to have me crack loose the head bolts and my wife will then remove all the head bolts and put them on a cardboard marker to ensure they go back in the same spot. We pulled the head inside of 15 minutes! I got the retainers out and saw they were just too tight, so onto plan A... i hit them each on 220 sand paper on a hard rubber block for a good 5 minutes each, tested fitting and worked off more. They fit perfectly! Seeing the first valve retainers weren't sitting all the way i completed the same steps and got them sitting in there nicely as well...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    damn it... forgot to flip that spring. Oh well, the engine won't notice ;)

    Other places might get rain often and they know the predictability of mud... let me tell you. As a New Mexico person who doesn't see much rain, mud is something i'm not familiar with. I bring this up because somehow, without a drop of rain today (rained almost two full days last week), as the day went on it actually got more muddy as we worked. And it wasn't the thick, sloppy mud... no, this was some demon mix of clay and personal lube. it was so horribly slippery, i almost fell a dozen times just walking to get tools and grab parts. Same for my wife who was amazing enough to lay on a bit of plywood and rotate the engine while i set the valves, it made it go much quicker than i expected.

    We ended the day running a compression check!!! So... SPOILER... it's looking better! Some of the numbers could be that it was 45* and that block was pretty damn cold, but i'm happy enough that we will be moving forward and installing the carb next visit and possibly running a wire to the coil to see if i can get spark directly.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Nov 4, 2018
    Dphillip

    Dphillip Sponsor Sponsor

    Omaha NE
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    Nov 25, 2008
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    Good stuff, stay after it!
     
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  18. Nov 5, 2018
    sterlclan

    sterlclan Member Sponsor

    exploring the...
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    Feb 21, 2009
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    The clay holds moisture as you pack the dirt with your feet the water comes up. Just like floating a slab.
     
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  19. Nov 5, 2018
    Valentino84

    Valentino84 New Member

    Albuquerque NM
    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2018
    Messages:
    27
    This makes so much sense now, good to know! So will my normal fix of "throw some gravel on it" work to improve it? Also going to bring a shovel to get run off flowing away from the work area as it's downhill from a gravel road.

    Future me will appreciate this i'm confident as it looks like all the gear boxes need to be refilled with oil and it looks like all the brakes leak (probably dry rotted rubber)... so lots of time on the ground.

    I thought of a question this morning and wasn't sure how to phrase it, but i want to try...

    Concerning the transmission; in a normal car (i've only driven 5 and 4 speed standard cars) i would describe the shifting pattern always as an inverted "N" and the oddest being my first car, a Volvo with Reverse being in the "1st" gear spot with a push. Before running the compressing i instinctively went to check for Neutral and on the longest, closest shifter (lol there are x3 in there) has only 3 "clicks" which i would assume are gears. It's very odd though as they are straight up and down from one another and i couldn't feel anything to tell me it's in Neutral. Either i got it right by just putting it in what i guessed is the middle or the drive shaft is removed, thankfully it didn't move when we tested compression!

    How should the 3 speed CJ5 transmission feel? There's a Reverse in there i'm sure, but i couldn't find it or maybe my transmission has an issue? Thanks for any help!
     
  20. Nov 5, 2018
    FinoCJ

    FinoCJ 1970 CJ5 Staff Member Sponsor

    Denver, CO
    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2013
    Messages:
    2,187
    H - pattern. left (driver) and forward (up) is reverse. left and rearward (down) is 1st. 2nd is over to right and up and 3rd is over to right and down.

    from what I can see from the interior pics and from the vintage - would expect a t90 3 speed transmission with D18 transfer case that is twin stick (2 shifters). One of the shifters works gearing (high range to low range), and one shifter works 2wd to 4wd.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
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