Productive Saturday

My friend Jimmy and I finally got to work on Freya this weekend. It was rather productive. :D

Freya, for those who don't know, is a 1983 AMC Jeep Wagoneer, that's been neglected, abused, and finally has been getting some much needed work done, if not TLC. I used her to tow my trusty Escort back from ID when I moved down here, and while she did the job admirably, the engine was on it's last legs. It overheated all of the way across the country (Thank God for rest stations with water. It had become ritual to fill about 6 gallons every few hundred miles, or after every hill, whichever came first), and used oil almost as fast at it used gasoline, (14 quarts of oil IIRC) a feat in itself.

When Freya made it to FL, she got parked, while I mulled what to do with her. I hated to turn it around, as I picked it up for such a steal ($400 purchase + some coin to get her running "right", which it never really did), and it was kinda unique. I liked the look (I have a thing for square vehicles. I don't understand it either), and had some friends who had started looking at off roading as a hobby. It seemed like a fun thing to at least try, and why not, since I had something that would be capable with a little bit of work.

I had talked to Jimmy (my boss, at the time) about Freya, and he said he'd think about it. While he was thinking about it, I discovered that the tired AMC 360 was getting "difficult" to get parts for. This is completely understandable, as the engine hasn't been produced in almost 20 years. Chrysler basically killed AMC when they bought the brand, taking the good bits such as the Jeep name and the inline 4 liter 6 cylinder, which are both still being used today. There are still some people who use the engine, and there are a small collection of parts *available*, but most of them are for racer types (AMC Javelin, AMX, and The Machine), and not well suited for offroad use. The rest of the parts that *are* available for offroad use (a small collection) are for those who have more coin than I do. :)

So anyway, I tossed rebuilding and repairing the AMC motor right out the window after my research, Jimmy agreeing with the findings. He mentioned using a GM smallblock, but after seeing the price of transmissions (large coin. Local short track racers almost exclusively use GM smallblock stuff because of the same reason Jimmy had suggested it: Parts are generally easy to come by), I dismissed that as well. I wanted a budget build, since I wasn't even shure I was going to enjoy off roading.

I had decided that I wanted to move away from carburetors, as I feel that carbs are more voodoo than science, so I was looking at fuel injection. The Dodge motors with the Multiport EFI seemed like a great idea to me. Jimmy mulled it, and agreed, as the electronics for the trucks were *all* in the engine bay, allowing us to just find a complete harness that we don't have to worry about getting through the firewall. I decided that I wanted to use a Chrysler 360 instead of the more common 318, just to kinda keep in the spirit of the vehicle. Plus, it has a curb weight of over 4000 pounds, so anything to help the vehicle move a little better would be a welcome thing.

Jimmy and I found an engine that had been in an electrical fire that was on it's way to the scrap bin because the engine couldn't be tested. We pulled the info on the truck it came from (a 1997 D1500 HD w/ Automatic Transmission) and discovered that the vehicle was a higher mileage unit (106k, IIRC), but was owned by a business. This is a good thing, as these people who use the truck to work with will usually keep up with the maintenance. I pulled the valve covers and discovered no sludge, and then put the engine on a stand while we located other parts.

The 5 speed transmission that we found for the vehicle came out of an 1999 Cherokee with 6000 miles. We also found the matching transfer case. These were on the way to the scrap bin because they had simply been on the shelf too long. The shop would cull that kind of stuff for the simple fact that if it's been on the shelf for over a year, (these had been on there for more than 3) it's probably not going to sell. These both went into the back of Freya awaiting more parts.

Jimmy's been scrounging stuff ever since then (a little over 2 years now) since then. He's come up with about 90% of it... engine management computer, wire harness, other under hood bits like the alternator, power steering pump, AC compressor (hey, if you're going to do it, do it with style. Besides, Freya came with factory air, so all of the other bits are already there), and such. I've been purchasing the stuff we can't get from junk vehicles, or are just easier to get over the counter new, rather than relying on a used bit. This has been mostly sensors and such. The engine went in about 2 years ago. We cut the engine perches from a Dodge Dakota frame and welded them in with some 2"x2" square steel tube to get the distance right. I'm using the factory engine mounts on the engine, so I don't have to worry about replacements being hard to come by.

Last Saturday, we finally got the transmission and transfer case in. Getting a flywheel for the 360 engine was a bit more difficult than I had expected, taking almost 2 months by itself. Chrysler wanted $560 for one, and being the cheap bastard that I am, I went looking for a used one. I had to get one from a dealer in New York, shipped from a scrapyard in Arizona. I certainly hope that I don't have to replace this at any point in the foreseeable future.

We've still got some technical hurdles to jump through for shure. The transmission mount doesn't hit the AMC crossmember anywhere we can stick it on there easily, so we're going to have to do some drilling or fabbing there. We haven't decided which. Also there's no clutch pedal in Freya, but Jimmy thinks he has that one hammered out, using a bit out of a newer Ford pickup that has a brake pedal, clutch pedal, and both master cylinders as a unit. The power steering pump wasn't an issue, as it's already mounted in the truck, hooked up using the Dodge hoses on the AMC steering rack. We have the wire loom already laid out in the truck, so that's not a problem. The AMC accelerator cable is too short, but that shouldn't be a problem. It looks like we're going to have to relocate where it comes through the firewall anyway. The driveshafts aren't going to work either. We know the front shaft is about 3" too short. The rear driveshaft on the AMC had 2 u joints, while the Jeep transfer case has a slip yoke on it. We didn't check it for length, but I suspect that it will be wrong as well. We're far from out of the woods, but the heavy lifting (literally and figuratively) is done.

I'll quit blabbing now.

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