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  • New member in PNW - 1985 J20 survivor

    First post here. I just thought I should introduce myself and do the show and tell routine before I bust in on any ongoing conversations.

    Basic background: I've never had a pickup before. I've always driven sports cars and the wife has had station wagons (I'm counting our '95 Grand Cherokee as a station wagon) for utility, but we really need something to haul typical homeowner junk around and I don't really need two MR2s. I wanted four wheel drive, something with enough character to be interesting, and capable enough to keep around for at least a decade or maybe forever. I always like obscure and unique stuff and for that reason have been drawn to full size Jeep pickups. I was also interested in Comanches, since they are newer, much more modern (though still very dated), easier to feed, drive, and park, potentially easier to maintain and modify than an FSJ.

    I found a couple of J20s on our local craigslist. One had rust in the body and needed a few repairs right away, and since it had Quadra-Trac (potentially more trouble than I wanted to deal with), I skipped it. The other one was advertised as an '84. The description indicated it ran, but would not idle, and it sounded relatively promising. The seller was asking $2000. Here are the photos from the CL ad. They're tiny, but that's all the seller had.



    Friday, I posted on www.garagejournal.com asking for guidance on FSJs and Comanches and got a tremendous response. A few suspected or confirmed IFSJA members (frank_c, ArkTinkerer, Strode182, and someone posting as Toulson on GJ) as well as some others were kind enough to chime in with tons of helpful hints and guidance. Armed with that and plenty of warnings about the many places I was likely to find rust, I went out yesterday morning to meet the seller of the red '84. Here is what I found.

    Powertrain is as expected: 360/727/208 with Dana 44 front and 60 rear, both tags showing 3.73 41 11 (assuming this means 41 tooth ring and 11 tooth pinion, which is of course 3.73:1). Looks like a base model with vinyl bench seat and AM radio, though it does have cruise control and factory air conditioning. The engine compartment and undercarriage appeared totally unmolested. All the smog equipment is there. A/C compressor and lines are all intact. Even the air cleaner is stock.

    The seller borrowed the battery out of his Dodge pickup and the Jeep fired right up. There was some blue smoke out of the tailpipe for the first few minutes, some noise from the smog pump, a few rattles from the exhaust system, but nothing gruesome. It did not want to idle until we played with the idle speed screw a little. Still sounds a little choppy, and I'm sure it is long overdue for a tune-up and carburetor rebuild. I heard an intermittent tap or rattle but it was very sporadic. I'm assuming that a flattened cam, loose valve, etc would be steadier. The big transmission cooler was present.

    After it warmed up, we drove it around the neighborhood a little. The tires are heavily cracked and there are no license plates so we kept it to nearby streets. No real play in the steering, which is absurdly over-boosted. Brakes need freshening up and it probably wants some shocks, but it shifted well enough. Hubs (Warn on passenger side, something else on the left) engaged as they should and 4-Hi went in without difficulty. 4-Lo was a grind going in or out whether in gear or not. We tried both sitting still and driving slowly and it just didn't want to play. It did go in with the engine off, but still a bit of a hassle.

    There are minor problems with the body. The seat has had some goofy repair involving a few inches of rebar. The driver's door cannot be opened from the outside unless the lock plunger is also held upward from inside the door. There was some water under the floormat, and I don't know if this is due to the door window having been left down or due to a leak somewhere else. The headliner is sagging. There are of course little battle scars around the doors and bed, but nothing catastrophic. The grille bars are broken and removed, so only the surround remains on the truck. Door mirrors had been removed.

    Front and rear bumpers appear to be factory stock. There's a Class III hitch, an aftermarket intermittent wiper control pod, some ribbed aluminum running boards, and and two auxiliary fuel tanks in the bed (approximately 13 gal left and 15 gallons on the right) that are pretty rusty on the inside. Other than that, stock as a rock.

    Speaking of rust, I went over and under this thing pretty carefully.

    Checked the inner fenders. No rust.
    Checked the cowl. No rust.
    Checked the seam around the bed floor as well as I could from the outside. No rust.
    Checked the bottom edge of the doors. No rust.
    Checked the floor under the rubber mat. No rust.
    Checked the tailgate. No rust.
    Checked the floor from below. No rust.
    Checked the fuel tank, skid plate, and frame area. No rust. Not even any debris.

    So I bought it. As the seller handed me the title, I noticed that it was an '85, not an '84 as advertised.
    Last edited by DarkMonohue; 04-13-2020, 01:19 AM.
    '85 J20 Old Man Truck, bought @ 65K miles - not great, but better than walking.
    Member, FSJ Prissy Restoration Association
    High quality junk here: intro thread and slow build thread

    Did you know? Willys is just Willis spelled differently, but pronounced the same. Neither Willy nor his apostrophe are involved.

  • #2
    Here are the pics I took at the seller's house to show first impressions. There are a few cuts and bruises but apparently nothing terminal. Try to remember that beauty is only skin deep. If you must make disparaging remarks, do so under your breath so as not to hurt the old battleaxe's feelings.













    Last edited by DarkMonohue; 04-13-2020, 12:55 AM.
    '85 J20 Old Man Truck, bought @ 65K miles - not great, but better than walking.
    Member, FSJ Prissy Restoration Association
    High quality junk here: intro thread and slow build thread

    Did you know? Willys is just Willis spelled differently, but pronounced the same. Neither Willy nor his apostrophe are involved.

    Comment


    • #3
      Time for some closer investigation. If there was rust, I wanted to find it. The floor on both sides looks perfectly solid. Front inner fenders show no signs of corrosion. Doesn't seem to be anything eating away at the tailgate or the bed floor, either. So far, so good!













      Last edited by DarkMonohue; 04-13-2020, 01:03 AM.
      '85 J20 Old Man Truck, bought @ 65K miles - not great, but better than walking.
      Member, FSJ Prissy Restoration Association
      High quality junk here: intro thread and slow build thread

      Did you know? Willys is just Willis spelled differently, but pronounced the same. Neither Willy nor his apostrophe are involved.

      Comment


      • #4
        Here are the guts and feathers. As mentioned, all the mechanical bits appear to be completely stock. There's some grease and grime on the engine but nothing that can't be dealt with, and a bit of smoke on cold startup after sitting for who knows how long.












        I've seen uglier vehicles, but I guess cheapskates like me can't afford to be choosy.

        It needs tires quite badly. I may be able to pick up some lightly used Cooper S/T Maxx in LT285/75R16 and chuck them on some (Ford?) 16" steel wheels. Hopefully those would fit for the time being, and not look undersized if I manage to swing a 4"-ish lift later on.

        Well, what do you all think?
        Last edited by DarkMonohue; 04-13-2020, 01:07 AM.
        '85 J20 Old Man Truck, bought @ 65K miles - not great, but better than walking.
        Member, FSJ Prissy Restoration Association
        High quality junk here: intro thread and slow build thread

        Did you know? Willys is just Willis spelled differently, but pronounced the same. Neither Willy nor his apostrophe are involved.

        Comment


        • #5
          worth every penny. you cant find a body that good around here for any price. congrats on a great truck. now put a razor on that effer and get rollin!
          FSJless for now
          Looking for an M715

          Comment


          • #6
            Nice truck... good one there. Congrats
            Daniel
            I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I always allow each student one free pass in my classes. The bad news is that you have now used yours for this class. Doug

            Comment


            • #7
              Nice truck for 2 grand. For your idle issue; I start with letting it run for a bit then shut it down and remove the vacuum line from the power valve housing under front of carb. give it a good smell. If theres fuel getting into vac hose the power valve is bad. A leaking PV will give you a really rough idle and too rich running condition.
              joe
              "Don't mind me. I'm just here for the alibi"

              Comment


              • #8
                Good deal you did alright.

                Dark Monahue huh

                80 Cherokee
                360 ci 727 with
                Comp cams 270 h
                NP208
                Edlebrock performer intake
                Holley 4180
                Msd total multi spark.
                4" rusty's springs
                Member, FSJ Prissy Restoration Association

                If you can't make it better why waste your time. No use repeating the orignal mistakes. I'm to old to push it that's why.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Where abouts the PNW are you? And welcome to fun!
                  2012 Winner of the Prestigious Ouray Cast Iron Butt Award
                  79 J-10 - The Money Badger!
                  304/T18/D20/D44s
                  What's been did:
                  Holley 4160/Ede' S.P.2.P.
                  MSD Streetfire based TFI
                  Custom-hack gauge cluster
                  Razor swap
                  Fancy exhaust (Thrush Muffler)
                  2 knob tape deck!
                  3" homebuilt lift
                  Half a hillbilly paint job

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That is one clean truck! I would have been all over that one. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.
                    Andy
                    '81 Cherokee Laredo W/T 258/Weber 32/36 DGEV/HEI/176/208 AMC 20/Dana 44 3.31 gears
                    Status: Work in progress Miles: Less than 140K (as of the talk with the original/previous owner) "The Jeffrey"

                    Build Thread: http://www.ifsja.org/forums/vb/showthread.php?t=151814 New pics: 5/18/12

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Welcome to the land of empty pockets and unfinished projects...

                      Looks like you found a sweet one, congrats.
                      Jeff


                      43 cj2a

                      51 Willys p/u
                      '51 Willys Parkway Conversion
                      '74 CJ5
                      '75 J-20 Wrecker
                      '75 J-20 Cummins service bed
                      '77 J-10 p/u
                      '79 Cherokee
                      '88 Grand Wagoneer
                      http://s252.photobucket.com/albums/hh14/jeffaber/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the warm welcome! I'm pretty excited about getting started on his thing, but I do have to sell one of the MR2s and make some room before I can spend much time on the truck.


                        Originally posted by InfiniteWisdumb
                        now put a razor on that effer and get rollin!
                        Not sure yet which grill to use, but I may keep the muscle grille.


                        Originally posted by serehill
                        Dark Monahue huh
                        Yeah. You know, I didn't even think of the AMC connection when I chose that screen name. This is my first AMC product!


                        Originally posted by REDONE
                        Where abouts the PNW are you? And welcome to fun!
                        Thanks! I am near Eugene, Oregon.


                        Originally posted by bruner1981jpce
                        That is one clean truck! I would have been all over that one. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.
                        Thank you! It's not quite as pretty in real life as the photos suggest, but it's pretty much unmolested, which is exactly what I wanted. I move pretty slowly and usually work on a shoestring budget so there may not be much to share for a while. Just the same, here are my initial thoughts.

                        Plans are modest. We need to address tires before it can be safely driven any distance. It still has the 16.5" wheels, so I will probably look for a set of 16s (Ford steel wheels apparently work well, or period-appropriate aftermarket) and go to LT285/75R16. Looking at something like the Cooper S/T Maxx.

                        I will probably perform a quick refresh of the hydraulics for peace of mind and find out why the parking brake is not working. The fuel filter is new, but I'd like to strip the carb down to make sure it's clean inside and set up correctly (possibly jet a little richer since we are now on E10 and it was probably set extra-lean for emissions), tune it up, and change fluids as necessary. At that point it should be solid and roadworthy, though still a little inconvenient to use.

                        Those awful running boards will come off, which seems a shame as they are clearly application-specific and fit very well, but I don't want them on there. Need to repair the driver's door handle and lock linkage, probably clean and lube the regulators while I'm there, find a grille and floor mat, replace door window wipes, make sure there are no water leaks.

                        The cowl should be cleaned out and a screen added over the top to prevent debris building up and blocking the drains, which is apparently common. That would be a good time to clean out the HVAC system as well. If I get ambitious I could add some cabin insulation, a new hood blanket, and maybe try to tidy up the interior. The seat looks good - mostly - but a good bump has me feeling the floor with my backside. So that will probably require a rebuild of some kind. Buckets are nice but I may try to keep the bench if I can correct PO's shoddy repair and replace whatever is failing to support me. Or maybe that's the truck's way of telling me to step away from the buffet for a while.

                        The extra fuel tanks are hard to see into, but there's some pretty hairy stuff going on inside. I will not mess with them until other issues are sorted out. I think they'd be a prime candidate for electrolysis.

                        My brother wants to see it lifted right away. I cannot deny that they look great with about 4" of lift and 33s (which is about what a LT285/75R16 measures), but that might be a down-the-road thing. I'm not sure what the spring rates are on BJ's (or anyone else's) list. Stock should be 260 lb/in front and 340 lb/in rear or thereabouts according to a 1982 brochure (assuming they are the same in the '85). It's not clear whether the lift springs are specific to half-ton or 3/4 ton models. Depending on what we are doing, softer springs might not be a bad thing anyway.

                        Pretty sure the factory A/C compressor is a York, popular for onboard air conversions. No doubt my brother would like to see that implemented as well.

                        I would like to see I can get rid of those silver stripes, though I believe they are painted on. If I get VERY ambitious, I might try to straighten the body damage and get some paint. Might get rid of the many tie-downs sprinkled around the bed. There's a local body shop we do business with and I have a feeling they'd spray it cheaply as a favor. I do not look for red vehicles but they sure seem to look for me. That said, this truck is original enough it might be worth retaining the color. Anyway, a repaint is so far down the road it's just not worth worrying about. By the time we get there it may have Megasquirt EFI and distributorless ignition...if I'm going to dream, might as well dream big.
                        Last edited by DarkMonohue; 12-14-2012, 09:42 AM.
                        '85 J20 Old Man Truck, bought @ 65K miles - not great, but better than walking.
                        Member, FSJ Prissy Restoration Association
                        High quality junk here: intro thread and slow build thread

                        Did you know? Willys is just Willis spelled differently, but pronounced the same. Neither Willy nor his apostrophe are involved.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Welcome from CO

                          Welcome aboard, off to a good start.
                          1981 Jeep J10 Laredo, 401-V8, 625 Carter, Lunati 262/268, Edelbrock Performer, MSD Ign., Hydroboost, Hyd. Clutch, Flow Cooler WP, Be Cool Aluminum Radiator, Doug Thorley, NV4500 5-Spd, NP-231D, 3.73 F/R Trac-Locs, Rustys 4" Lift, Vintage Red Metallic, Black Interior and 33X10.50X15 BFG, FiTech400 to come - IN PROCESS Bling Bling Cha-Ching

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I think you did quite well on that.
                            2000 Infinity QX4, 3.3L, MPFI, 4 speed auto, 2 speed Nissan tcase, Unibody, IFS front, 4 link rear solid axle with 255-70/16s

                            IFSJA WMS PROJECT
                            EARLY WAG LIFT SEARCH

                            ...Pay no attention to these heathen barbarians with their cutting torches and 8" lift kits!...
                            Self Inflicted Flesh Wound

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DarkMonohue
                              but we really need something to haul typical homeowner junk around and I don't really need two MR2s. I wanted four wheel drive, something with enough character to be interesting, and capable enough to keep around for at least a decade or maybe forever.
                              Sounds perfect. Screw your brothers lift/big tires BS plans. Let him molest/butcher his own dayum truck. Though red isn't my favorite color that paint will rub out beautifully. I doubt Ford wheels will bolt up but 33" tires will fit fine on a stock truck and rims. I've run 33x9.5's on both my J-4000's with stock good condition suspension. If you get bogged down with your and your brothers dream plans and get buyers remorse BEFORE you modify anything. email or PM and I'll add a quick grand profit to your purchase price. All I ask is have a current title IN YOUR NAME(not a signed off title from the guy you bought it from) and pick me up at the Amtrak station and I'll drive it home.
                              joe
                              "Don't mind me. I'm just here for the alibi"

                              Comment

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