Last: The Current State of the Jeep
Here we are, February 2002. I've owned the jeep for almost 9 years, and it's time to pass it on to someone else to use, enjoy, and care for. If you are coming to this page directly and have not read the full story of this jeep, you might want to start from the beginning.
OK, you are back now (or you didn't want to read it all yet). Here are the basics:
1952 Willys M38 (CJ-3A), V6 vortech, T18 trany, Dana 44 rear, Dana 25 front, 5:38 gears....
OK, lets stop there, because listing out what this jeep is all about like that would be a run-on sentence at best. As with any vehicle this age, there are bound to be hidden problems, so I'm going to be up front with you here and start with the bad news. Stick with me here, because the good news to follow more than cancels out any of the bad news, and if you have read the whole "jeep adventures", you know that I have dealt with, and fixed, more bad news than you can imagine.
Things that need attention (the bad)
Brakes - This jeep doesn't have the stock 9" drums, but instead normal 11" drums. They don't do very well when wet, and several times I have looked into converting the front brakes to disks. This is possible, but in the mean time, the brakes need bleeding, adjusting and possible replacement of pads.
Leaks - As with any old jeep, there are leaks. The transfer case leaks a bit and as much as I've tried to seal it up, it's just won't stay sealed. The rear end leaks a bit to, but nothing major. One of the outside axle seals needs replacing and gear oil has probably gotten on the brake pad (see Brakes above), but this is an easy thing and I have the seals.
Front kingpin bearings - I replaced the kingpin bearings on one of the front wheels, but didn't get to the other yet. I have the bearings, it's just a matter of replacing the other one (if you jack up the front wheels you can feel which one needs replacing).
Gas tanks - The jeep has two gas tanks, one under the driver seat and other in the back. I had both hooked up at one point with a very expensive switch between them (which is still there), but I was having some fuel pump problems and in the course of trying to fix that, I went back to only using the driver seat tank. All the switches, tubes and eletrical is still there, it will just take a bit of tinkering to set it all back up again.
Gauges - The instrument panel needs a little bit of attention. I haven't been able to figure out how to get the electrical oil pressure guage to work with the Chevy Vortech engine. Best bet might be to go back to a mechanical guage. Same goes for the water temp.
Wipers - At one point I had the wipers working with a custom central motor, not the individual jeep wiper motors. I had some "mechanical issues" at one point and disconnected them. Again, a minor project, unless you don't take it out in the rain. For a while I was just using Rain-X which worked better than wipers.
Overdrive - There is no overdrive in this jeep. This means with the 5:38 gears, the top speed is really only about 45mph. The jeep has a tow bar so you can tow it (or flatbed it) to your local trail. I used to have an overdrive, and if you want to get one, you can attach one to the Transfer case. Another option is to replace the 5:38 gears with 4:10 gears.
Things that don't need attention (the good)
Engine - The engine in this jeep rocks. It's a 1995 4.3L V6 Port Fuel injected Chevy Vortech with 30,000 miles. It's the third engine the jeep has had since I got it and the biggest project I managed, but this engine is what makes this jeep so great. Ever been on a side hill, down hill, or uphill, where your carb "flooded out". Not with this engine. I think in theory, you could run it upside down.
Transmission - Quite a while ago, I replaced the stock T-90 transmission with a Ford T-18 truck transmission. The T-90 was slowly being eatten up by the V-8 I had before. The T-18 will never get eatten up. It has a 6:1 "granny" first gear and along with the 5:38 gears and the Dana 18 transfer case in low range, you get an 84:1 final drive. You can put this jeep in low, low gear, get out and it will crawl over almost anything at idle by itself.
Transfercase - Aside from the leaks, the transfer case is in good shape. The intermediate gear doesn't have the "roller pin" bearings that tended to wear out, it has normal "cone bearing" (see Transfer Case). It's also the type of transfer case that you can put in neutral and still has gears that throw oil around if you are flat towing the jeep and allows lubrication of the transmission. In other types of transfer cases, to flat tow them, you need to take the drivelines or axles out.
Rear end - After having some axle problems with the original 44 limited slip rear end, I upgraded to a full floating setup and a Trac-Lock (see Rear End). Unless you are doing something really stupid, breaking these axles would be hard to do.
Front end - Though the front end is only a Dana 25, I have never had any problems with it. It is the weak point of the whole jeep and if anything is apt to break, its a front axle. There is no locker in the front end. Upgrading to a 30, or 44 front end is possible, but they are a little bit wider than the 25, which means you might not be able to fit in those tigher trails ;)
Tires - 32x11.5x15 BF Goodrich mud terrains with LOTS of tread left. Not great on the highway, but without an overdrive you really won't be going that fast. They are great in mud (Elbe Hills), and great on rocks. What more do you need.
Clutch - The clutch was getting "grabby", so I replaced both the old '3 arm lever' style pressure plate with a new diaphram pressure plate and replaced the clutch disk at the same time.
Suspension - I replaced the stock "stiff" 10 leaf springs in the jeep quite a while ago with some more flexible 3 left springs. The frame actually twists a bit to provide even more flexibility (see Springs and Crossed Up).
Body - The body is in pretty good shape (for being 50 years old). No major "rot" and for the past 6 years it's been in a garage. The rollbar is powder coated.
Sorry, you are all to late ;) The jeep has found a new home.
Next: The End