So now that I think I have figured out photo posting I think it's time I can tell you guys all about my truck. I wasn't sure if I should post it here or in the build section but think it probably falls in the category of prissy for sure.
It's going to take a couple of posts to get the full story in so it is a bit of a long read but hopefully you enjoy it.
I used to have a '66 Gladiator that I bought when I lived in Minnesota. When I bought it it had a Chevy 283 engine and a 3 speed stick. The gear shifter had been moved from the column to the floor but was not correct and shifted upside down and backwards and poorly at that. It also had bucket seats. Of course from spending most of it's life in Minnesota it had the usual rust issues like ventilated floorboards and the bed seams were a bit rusty. It also had an in bed "tool box" that was actually only 6 inches of tool box with the rest being a 50 gallon fuel tank. I drove that truck for a year or two in northern Minnesota before I decided it could be the perfect truck to pursue a dream I had of moving to Alaska. Somewhere along the line 2nd gear stripped out but I don't really care for stick shift anyway and figured I could change it out for an automatic since it already had a Chevy engine.
When the time came to leave Minnesota I drove the truck to Oklahoma where my family happened to own a salvage yard. I worked for them for a couple months and in my spare time worked on the truck. Having an entire salvage yard at your disposal is a real advantage when modifying a vehicle. I got a 350 transmission and transfer case out of a blazer and with a tape measure figured out that a Monza drive shaft was the right length for the rear driveshaft and an S-10 front drive shaft was correct for the front. I think the floor shifter also came out of a Monza but may have come from a Vega or any number of other cars.
Since I was planning on sleeping in the truck for who knows how long while driving up there and looking for a job I secured a set of nice cushy front seats out of a Cadillac.
All that sorted out I loaded my toolbox, 4 spare tires, and assorted other spare parts and set off for the last frontier.
I drove that truck all the way to Anchorage and only threw the driveshaft once, blew up the radiator once, had that repaired but it also sprung a leak somewhere after Whithorse Yukon. It threw a fan belt 100 miles from the nearest parts store and used all 4 of those spare tires before I got there but it was a wonderful trip. I continued driving that truck all over Alaska and Anchorage for some time until I was driving it down the busiest street in Anchorage and somebody going the other way hit a curb, lost control, crossed 3 lanes of traffic, jumped a median, crossed 2 more lanes of traffic and hit me square in the rear axle breaking the transmission mount and drivers door latch, bending the wheel and messing up the brakes and I think cracked the rear brake drum.
His insurance company picked up my truck then called me a week later. They told me they valued my truck at $800 and were willing to pay me $800 for it provided I agree to take it back.
I was more than happy to oblige so they paid me the money and dropped my truck off at the house I was renting but that left me with a truck I couldn't drive to work. So most of the money from the truck went into a car I could drive while fixing the truck.
As is often the case, things happened, I got married, never got around to fixing my beloved truck and had to leave it behind when we left Alaska.
Fast forward many many years. I now had a good job, was financially stable and actually had a little money to spare. We even had 2 cars, although one of them was now a 16 year old Taurus that we had owned for 15 of those years. As we upgraded other cars the Taurus became my work car. It was used pretty much the same way a pickup would be used. It hauled home lots of lumber, sheetrock, firewood, and thousands of pounds of apples but it was beginning to get tired. Eventually it was costing about $1,000 every six months to fix whatever the latest problem was and I decided to pull the plug on it.
This left us with only one vehicle and my wife hated it when I hauled stuff home with it. So I started looking for a proper pickup. At this time a Jeep wasn't even on my radar. I didn't need anything that was 4WD but I wanted something that was easy to work on, unlike the Taurus, and didn't have to pass emissions. So I started looking at trucks made before 1970. What I was looking for was a simple basic truck that is easy to work on with a reliable engine that hopefully didn't get too bad a gas mileage. I preferred a half ton, short wide bed and auto transmission. I was pretty flexible on the rest. I actually started out looking at 1955-59 Chevys but the owners of these trucks don't seem to actually want to sell them because if you try to contact them they never get back with you. I eventually expanded my search to go all the way up to 1970. By this time I was thinking mid 60s, Chevy or even GMC because I actually like the quirkiness of a big GMC V-6 but I also looked at and test drove a Ford or two and even considered a Dodge sweptline.
Then since I was now in the area of 1966 I started reminiscing about my old truck. I missed my old truck in spite of it's issues but no Jeep trucks were showing up in my searches. In fact very little of what I was finding in my price range was actually acceptable. Then I expanded my search to include 1972 and that's when a '72 J-4000 popped up. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for because it was a long bed but it had an auto trans. The AMC 360 engine was larger than I wanted but I figured it should be a good engine and the truck just spoke to me. Best of all the seller responded within minutes of contacting him, so in spite of it being more than an hour drive away I made arrangements to go have a look at it.
When I got there the first thing I noticed was the new tires, that was a good sign. Looking underneath the truck I also saw a brand new exhaust system. The guy showing me the truck also had the documentation where the owner had the work done, including the statement " Advised customer repair costs exceed value of the vehicle but she said do the work anyway". The invoice was for new tires, new brakes, new exhaust, including headers, a new gas tank and some other miscellaneous repairs totaling $3,000 which was considerably more than the asking price of the truck. The basic story was her father bought the truck new and drove it many years racking up a total of 105,000 miles. Then the truck was put away in a barn for a number of years until he began getting ill. The daughter had the truck repaired so she could drive him around for the last year or so of his life. After he passed it went back to the barn for another 2 years until it was decided it was time to sell. A new battery was purchased for it, a flat lifter replaced and a tailgate was located in a scrap yard because the original one was stolen while it was in the barn and it was put up for sale.
That's where I came along. I absolutely fell in love with this truck. I love the round taillights, the old hook side tailgate, the old school Gladiator gauge cluster similar to my old "66 with that cool green glow at night, the Cheesy wood grain stripe that screams 1970's and even the "Keep On Truckin" mud flaps that have been on it since the early 70s. I even liked the sound and feel of that old AMC engine and there was zero rust on the floorboards. So we made a deal, I called a truck to haul it home for me since I didn't want to drive an unknown truck more than an hour through Seattle traffic.
I now had a new old truck.
After getting it home and being happy with pretty much everything my wife thought it would be a good idea to have the seat recovered and while we were at it may as well do the door cards too. So I pulled the seat and door cards out and took them to a guy nearby to have the upholstery redone. While the seat was out I pulled the nasty old carpet out and cleaned up and painted the floorboards.
My plan is to eventually bedliner the floor so this was a temporary measure.
Two weeks later my seat was done.
I put it back in and continued driving it to work and back.
So far it had been no trouble at all but I decided to replace the points ignition with a more reliable electronic ignition. I started researching ignitions for the AMC and decided to go with an HEI because the Chevy system is just so reliable. My old '66 had points and was so low geared it at 60 MPH it was pretty much redlined and would eat a set of points every week. When I was at the salvage I grabbed an HEI out of an engine in the junk engine pile and never had to do that again. So my plan was to repeat that with this engine since HEI is readily available for the AMC. So I bought a new distributor, swapped the gear on it for the original gear and dropped it in, timed it and never had an issue.
Then Just at the beginning of apple season, just when I needed a truck the most the engine began to backfire. I pulled the valve covers off and found a flat exhaust lifter and a broken intake pushrod.
That's when my engine got a bad case of the may as wells.
I pulled the intake off, pulled the 2 lifters out and checked the cam. It seemed ok on those 2 lifters but I figured I may as well replace all of them since I have the intake manifold off. As I pulled the lifters out I checked the cam lobes and they seemed to be fine, until I got to the #1 lobe. It had some pretty heavy wear. So I figured I may as well replace the cam.
So I took the whole front end of the engine apart. The timing chain actually looked brand new and tight so I was thinking all I need to do is pull the cam out and swap in a new one. So I pulled the cam out and found the front cam bearing had big pieces missing. I figured I could probably change that one bearing out and make due but may as well change all the bearings.
Well as most of you know, changing the cam bearings requires removing the engine and even though it didn't really have that many miles on it I figured because it is 45 years old I may as well have the engine rebuilt and make sure it is good to go another 45 years.
That's when the real trouble started. I called around to various shops and most of them didn't want to mess with an AMC engine or were just covered up with other work, mostly on Chevy engines. Since everything in this truck is all original I really wanted to keep it that way so I didn't want to just swap it out for another engine. Eventually I found a local shop who said they would do it and even better it would only take a week to ten days. So I loaded up my engine in a truck I borrowed from work and hauled it down there. Before I left I wanted to reconfirm how long it would take. They told me "End of the month, there are two 454s ahead of you." This was the first of August, I figured, well it's more than 10 days but I can live with 3-4 weeks as long as it stays my engine and not an exchange. Then as I was leaving he said "Don't call us, we'll call you"
In retrospect that should have been a red flag but I figured ok, I don't like people bothering me when I'm working so I'll wait.
Then the end of the month came and went and I never received any call, so I called him and was once again told the "end of the month" Now I was getting worried but I once again patiently waited until the end of the month came and went again.
I am guessing you probably see where this is going. Eventually I got tired of waiting and started calling every week or two. He got tired of putting me off and actually did the work and called me a couple days before Christmas and said my "short block and heads" were ready. I should have asked him what he meant by that because he was supposed to be giving me back a long block but by that time I didn't care, I just wanted it back. I once again borrowed a work truck and went over there to pick up my engine and found he hadn't reinstalled the heads but they were rebuilt and had hardened seats so I figured screw it, I'll put them on myself.
I took my engine and heads back home, bought a cheap Harbor Freight engine stand and went to work putting my engine back together. It was now cold, wet and rainy but I was determined to get my truck up and running and after nearly a month of reinstalling everything, which included 2 whole days of fighting with that damn cast iron intake to get it on, I had the engine ready to reinstall.
So my next weekend I pushed the engine out to the driveway, pulled the hood off by myself, hoisted the engine into place and stabbed it and bolted it in place, then reinstalled the hood all by myself. I mention that it is all by myself because the whole time 2 of my neighbors stood outside one of their houses and watched me do it. The next day one of them came over and offered to help, now that the hard part was done.
It wasn't a biggie, everything actually wasn't that hard and I really don't like to ask for help. The real problem was that before I could get the wiring and stuff hooked up it started raining, and showed no signs that it was going to let up until July.
My solution was to go to Harbor Freight and buy a pop up canopy, put that over the front of the truck and press on.
Eventually I got the engine all hooked up and ready to go and I fired it up.
It took a bit of tweaking but eventually it started, I got the timing where I thought it was right and began the cam break in process. During the cam break in I noticed the exhaust started to get hot and glow, then the engine started to get a bit warm so I shut it off. I should have took my foot off the gas and let it wind down a bit but I didn't and it started dieseling a bit, then there was a loud BOOM! and the whole truck was engulfed in a cloud of steam... then the fire started. I have 8 fire extinguishers in my garage but didn't think I needed one when I was starting the truck, which was in the driveway. I also didn't know that when a lower radiator hose blows off and sprays the exhaust with antifreeze, the antifreeze catches on fire! :eek:
I managed to get the fire out and there was no real damage done and I learned a valuable lesson, always keep a fire extinguisher handy when working on a truck because even at a 50-50 mix antifreeze is flammable. Apparently what happened was somehow the timing got retarded and that caused the exhaust to heat up and when I connected the lower radiator hose I got the clamp on the bead instead of over it. It was nothing $30 in new antifreeze and connecting the hose right couldn't fix.
While the engine was out I decided to install a tachometer and oil pressure gauge as a temporary measure so I have an idea of what's going on during the break in process. I still wanted them to look good so I bent up some aluminum, cut some holes for the gauges and mounted them where I can easily see them while driving and still be removed when I feel I don't need them. I chose digital gauges because they are easy for me to see even with my bifocals and when the truck is off they are just black so they don't just look like cheap gauges stuck to the dash.
Then with everything finished I began driving the truck again. I now have about 2,000 miles on it since engine overhaul and have made it through an entire apple season without incident. I have even driven it on the freeway and gotten it up to 68 MPH. 68 is 3,000 RPM in this truck rather than the million RPM my old truck required and it drove straight and smooth like it was a new truck.
Eventually I got tired of only having one radio station to listen to so the next thing I did was have the original AM radio converted to AM/FM with an aux jack.
How's that for Prissy :)
While the radio was out I also went ahead and repainted the dash
My future plans are to fix the little bit of rust in the bed and front fenders and repaint it, or have it repainted. My brother actually has a body shop near Duluth Mn and I am thinking about shipping it to him for a winter project. I want the copper lower half changed to a nice burgundy / black cherry color with a cream on top. I hope to be able to have the cheesy wood grain stripe painted on but may have to see if I can actually find one as a decal. I do plan on keeping the Keep On Truckin mud flaps just as they are because I think they are pretty darn cool.
I think I will probably need to locate a tailgate that's in better shape
and would like to give it a rhino grill as well.
I also plan on someday upgrading the front brakes to disk and converting from carburetor to fuel injection. Hopefully I can figure out how to do that without replacing the intake because I never want to ever remove that intake again. If you don't know, the '72 intake is different from later intakes because it was made with a small carburetor bolt pattern and an aluminum adaptor plate was added to allow use of the 2100.
It's one of those goofy quirky things about the '72 and I hope I can buy or make another adapter / spacer plate to allow me to use the fuel injection without replacing the intake.
Once all that is done my truck will bet perfect in my eyes.
Beautiful truck. Love the tutones. :thumbsup: I like you're keeping it mostly stock. 72 was a capable and reliable truck year straight off the showroom floor. I had a 72 J-4500 but with the T18A trans and it was great truck. The inline fuse electrics can be a bit trying at times but overall a good solid truck. Be glad it's a 4500 rather than the 4600 or 4700. You won't have any issues finding rear D44 parts compared to finding D60-2 parts especially the non-existant 12" brake drums that came on the heavier GVWR models.
It was fun reading your story, thanks for posting it.
You have an awesome truck and I agree with Joe, keep it mostly stock. Glad you're on the forum! Looking forward to hearing some more stories and seeing more pictures!
Wow, that is EXACTLY like my first rig I bought when I was 15 in 1977. I bought it from my uncle who bought it new in 1971. same colors and everything, identical.
I wish I had it back.
I'm not sure about that engine color but you're doing a nice restoration.
The engine color is not technically correct for a true restoration. Technically it should be a metallic turquoise that AMC stopped using in '73 or '74. There were actually still remnants of the original color on the engine when I got it.The color I used was actually an Oldsmobile color which matches the exterior of the truck and I personally like much better.
I do have another story about the truck if you would like to read it.
Just about the same time I bought the truck one of the guys I work with bought a brand new $75,000 Corvette. One day I parked next to him in the parking lot and he freaked out! He actually told me I'd better hope my door doesn't fall off and damage his car! :eek: I told him I like parking next to him so I don't have to worry about door dings.
From that day on whenever possible I would always park my truck next to his Vette. If the space wasn't open when I got there it was usually occupied by someone from another shift so I would go out after they left and move my truck to be right next to him :p I even looked into buying a door from a salvage yard to attach to a stand that would make it look like it was leaning against his car without actually touching it but the cheapest one I could find was $150 and I thought that was a bit too much to pay for a 2 minute practical joke. :D
1970-1972 are the weird orphan FSJ years. Basically the only thing AMC about them is the engine, some of the paint colors, and sometimes the interior upholstery materials.
The electrical system is horrible. It's the original 1963 wiring with 1970s options added onto it. Things like backup lights, A/C, TCS system, auto transmission electrical system....all just tacked on. Of course that only matters if you have those options. Everything uses inline fuses, not an actual fuse panel.
They are also filled with adapters. The AMC engines bolts to the GM transmission with an adapter plate....which bolts to the Dana transfer case with another adapter...
The adapter under your carburetor is because that intake manifold was originally designed for the AMC 290 and 343 V8s in 1966-67 which used the Holley 2209 carburetor with a smaller bolt pattern. What is even more fun is putting another adapter on top of that adapter to mount a later Motorcraft 2150 like I have.
Sorry FSJunkie, I haven't been around much and missed your post
That's what I like about it it's quirky and different and just a little bit goofy...a bit like me I suppose :D and it even has a factory Willys badge under the hood. I really like the dash and the old style instrument cluster and big oval steering wheel. I even like the original AM radio, although I had it modified to be AM/FM and it has an aux jack but looking at it you wouldn't know it.
I'm really not sure it's all that different than anything else from that era. I remember in my youth messing with all kinds of different similar systems. It really could use a proper fuse panel and that may be something for the future, I also plan on adding a bigger alternator, 30 amps is really just too small.
I don't mind the goofy adapters, after all my understanding is that's the way Kaiser did it as well. I know it's probably a mistake but I'm actually considering adding a 2 to 4 barrel adapter plate to put a FiTech fuel injection on it because I really want to try fuel injection but bodywork and a paint job come first.
It's just a very basic 1962 wiring harness that was originally designed for a simple truck with no options. This was when even a heater was optional. They kept adding to the list of optional equipment over the next 10 years, and they just crudely plugged those options into the original 1962 harness if those options were ordered. By 1972, a fully-loaded Jeep was a mess of wires under the dash and stressed the original harness nearly to its limits without enough fuses or circuit breakers.
It was just due for revision. AMC updated the Jeeps in 1973-1974 to the same system that AMC cars had used since 1963. This system was designed from the start to handle every possible option and had a fuse panel with a labeled connection for every option. If the option was not ordered, that connection was simply left blank.
You don't have A/C. A 35A alternator is plenty for you unless you tow. In that case the optional 55A unit will drop right in place of your current one and be plenty sufficient for most trailers. I tow a 21-foot RV with tandem axle electric brakes using my 1972 Wagoneer with a 55A alt.
The original 2100 on these is a 1.08", 287 CFM version and is undersized. Later 360's use a 2150 of 1.21" and 351 CFM that is ideal size and also compensates its fuel mixture automatically depending on altitude (like EFI).
Installing it requires the thick phenolic spacer and gasket originally used on the 2150. The electric choke on the 2150 must be converted to a hot air choke using the choke assembly from the 2100. The external bowl vent, PCV fitting, and EGR fitting on the 2150 must be capped off and the external power valve vacuum connection hooked to a manifold vacuum source. The external bowl vent fitting on the 2150 sits too high for the 2100 air cleaner, so grind it down until the air cleaner clears.
Between replacing my 2100 with a 2150 and replacing my original 2" exhaust with a 2.5", I picked up about 20 horsepower on my 360 and run a 17.6 @ 76 MPH at my local drag strip. Not shabby for a 4200 pound box.
Can't wait to see the cream over cherry paint:thumbsup:
Thanks FSJunkie, When I eventually go to fuel injection I figure I will need a bigger alternator and some wiring improvements just to handle the electric fuel pump. I don't have a lot of hope about it but I do hope FI will increase my gas mileage a bit. Last summer I discovered a simple device that actually increased my mileage by 2 miles per gallon... A locking gas cap :). It seems someone was stealing a gallon per week which probably isn't that noticeable to most people but I only drive 50-60 miles most weeks so it was noticeable to me. I think the the alternator may be a bit taxed when the electric fan is running also. I added the electric fan when the original fan clutch went bad and I was having trouble finding another one that was short enough to fit. Autozone said they had one that fit but it was 1/4 inch too long so I installed an electric fan until I could find a clutch that would fit. Fortunately the one from BJs worked fine and once I installed that I moved the electric fan to the front as an auxiliary fan. It almost never comes on though but I like having it as a backup. Someday I also hope to add air conditioning but it's pretty low on the priority list.
LOVE your truck,....
if the outside turns out as good as the inside
it will surely be awesome.
thanx for posting photos
dave in NC:drivin:
Nice looking J4000 you've got there. I applaud your choice in keeping the original motor. Who ever did your seat did a very nice job. It looks great, and could pass for stock.
Thank you SOLSAKS
When I wanted to get the seat redone I shopped around, I was quoted $2500 from one shop, $1500 from another and $700 or $800 from some guy in a little hole in the wall place in Federal Way I thought even the $700 was high but my wife felt it was fair and he showed us some stuff he had been working on so I could see he did good work. He actually would have been cheaper if I had chosen materials he already had in stock. I wanted to keep it looking stock but wanted a cloth insert instead of all vinyl. He did the seat, made the door cards from scratch and the sun visors, although the sun visors didn't really need done my wife insisted they match the rest perfectly. I am very happy with the upholstery and have actually referred other people to him.
I had an identical pickup to this when I was a kid. and I put those exact mud flaps on a month after I bought it from my uncle. he bought it new it had 22,000 miles when I bought it from him in 1977. I sold it to another uncle in 1980 and he sold it about 20 years ago and I never saw it again.
Is there a few holes in the front of the bed on each where I had brackets for my whip CB antennas ? that would tell for sure.
Sure would be neat to know what happened to it. I sold it to by a '78 CJ5 Renegade, that was a big mistake I hated it.
The other day I was looking under my hood and noticed the special order tag. To be honest even though I took pictures of this tag 2 years ago I never really noticed what it said until a couple days ago. This also got me thinking I might post pix of the various tags and placards my truck has.
So this first one is the special order tag
It's a shame you can't get a build sheet for one of these to find out what that means.
Next is the Willys tag and paint and trim code
I like the Willys tag, I think I read somewhere once that '72 was the last year that used that Willys name. The color code tells me the lower body color is "Copper Tan" I'm pretty sure the top half is "Champagne White" I'm not exactly sure of the trim package code.
Now here are interior placards. This first one was on the outside of the glove box door. When I repainted the dash I carefully removed and preserved it. I don't think I am going to reinstall it on the outside but might put it on the inside of the glove box.
these other 2 are inside the glove box
You would think that second one would have been on the outside of the glove box rather than inside. It also reminds me of an incident that happened with my '66.
When I lived in Minnesota I was at my brother's house in Proctor, which is up the hill from Duluth. We needed to get some groceries with a big snow storm going on, no big deal in my Gladiator. That is until we were on the way home. Going back up the hill I had it in 4WD and it was doing fine until we hit a patch of dry pavement. As soon as that happened there was a loud BANG! and the front driveshaft came through the passengers floorboard :mad: It also broke the bracket that held the transfer case shifter. I think I took some wire or something and wired the drive shaft up and drove on back to my brother's place. It was a real lesson about 4WD that's for sure.
I just found out that both Holley and FiTech have now come out with 2 barrel fuel injection. This actually helps me out tremendously since I never want to remove that heavy intake manifold ever again. The problem now is deciding which one to go with. The Holley says it mounts in place of the 2300, which I think is the same as the motorcraft 2100 bolt pattern I have the FiTech doesn't state the pattern but I assume it is probably the same but will look into it before I decide. One of the advantages to the Holley over the FiTech is timing control, that's something that would be nice to have but isn't really all that important to me. I also need to figure out that fittings and things I will need to make this work. My plan is to get a Novak in tank fuel pump so I will have to figure out the fittings and stuff and save up the rest of the money to buy it all.
The holes were right on the front of the box either on top of the bed rail or inside of it I don't recall.
No holes up front when I had it, if this is it.
I don't recall a SO tag but I'm not sure I would have looked or cared at that time.
In any event it's a pretty rare rig I've only seen one exactly like it in my life besides yours.
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