ASSESSING THE DAMAGE.
How do you get a feel for the project ahead when you are 6000 miles away?
So, as I mentioned in my previous post regarding my Grand Wagoneer, I bought it effectively sight unseen and it is now stored until I can return to the states and begin some repair work.
What I thought I might do for now is run through the list of things that I know are an issue, and get prices and sources together to start making a plan and assessing the damage to the wallet. So here is what I know it needs so far.
1. 4 new tires: Factory tires are 225/75 R 15. I’ll probably pick up a pair of Goodyear wrangler trailrunner AT's. They can be had for $124 a piece on Tirerack. All told that’s about $496.00 I’m sure with balance and mounting that price will hit $600.
2. Rear brake lines: These will have to be made and hand shaped since pre shaped ones are not available. I am quite practiced at making brake lines, so this should not be an expensive endeavor. Jegs has the line for $34, and the fittings for $7. With shipping, we are probably talking $61.
** There is a good chance that the rear brakes will require a rebuild, so let’s throw another $200 at the total for that**
not sure where this one goes, but I'm betting it's important.
3. Rubber Body Mounts: I will likely need the bolts as well since I am sure a few will break. Team Grand Wagoneer has an entire Poly Urethane kit for $450, and the bolts for $45.00. I’m willing to bet that I can find the bolts for cheaper at a hardware store, so we will just stick with the $450 price (Free Shipping). While I am doing this, I will be stripping away as much rust as possible with an air hammer, wire brushes, grinders, and krud Kutter. I plan to coat the cleaned up rusty areas (including the frame and anything that I can do safely) with tractor implement paint and rust converter to protect against future rust. This should put another $500 on top of the rubber mount replacement.
A well ventilated floor is advantageous in the summer
the passenger side may be salvageable.
4. Floor Pans: I know that the driver side front floor pan is rusted through in a few places. There are also some rust holes in both rear floor pans. There is one good one though, So I have a bit of hope. I can either buy sheet metal and shape it to fit, then cut away the bad stuff and weld in the new. Or, I can buy ready made floor pans, and replace them wholesale. Team Grand Wagoneer has the floor pans for $260 for all three. 16 Gauge steel sheets at 5’ x 10’ can be had for $115. I’ll have to make that decision once I see how bad the rust is in person.
5. Rocker Panels: I know that there is a large hole in the right side rocker panel, and a smaller one in the driver side. Team Grand Wagoneer has both of them for $110. Again, the sheet metal patch option may come in to play here depending on how much good metal is left.
Rockin' (Rotten) Rockers.
6. Fuel Tank Skid Plate: The fuel tank skid plate is rusted through, leaving a very large hole in the bottom. I’m thinking it would be best just to replace it with a complete new one. It is a complex shape to fabricate. Total cost with the tank support bracket from Team Grand Wagoneer is $410.
7. Dead Gauges: This one will require some electrical troubleshooting, but since it’s pre-OBD I even, It won’t be difficult to do. I figure if all gauges, wires, and sensors are dead, the grand total cost will be about $150 including the speedo cable as well.
8. Carburetor Repair: I know that the old Motorcraft 2-barrel carburetor is functioning. It starts and runs decently well. After 13 years of sitting, I will rebuild and clean it up. A rebuild kit from Autozone for $42 .
Lean back, lean back...
9. Driver’s Seat. The Driver’s seat has a permanent backward lean on it at present. When I remove the seats and carpet to repair the floor panels, I will need to repair this issue. I have done some research and it appears I can likely repair this with a small amount of angle iron and a welder. I will put that price around $100, though I probably already have the angle iron.
10. Shock Absorbers: It looks like they all still work at present, but daily use will likely put them in their graves very quickly. Those can be had from Rock Auto for $84 with shipping. These are OEM ride height replacements.
These are all the things needed to get it to pass New York’s vehicle safety inspections. So far, that puts me into it for $2967. After that comes the creature comforts, long term reliability, beautification, and proper interval maintenance.
So the plan here is a rebuild. I like the stout, torquey AMC 360, so I plan to bring it back to some of it’s former glory rather than do an engine swap. Apparently, it has excellent compression, so I probably won’t have to do a complete tear down and rebuild. I’ll likely stick to seals and probably do the valves, rockers, lifters, pushrods, etc. I also plan to do the water pump gasket, thermostat, and a complete cooling system flush. I’m expecting to spend about $600 to do this.
Fuel and Air:
I am planning to rebuild the carb and see how this thing runs, but I don’t know if I want to stick with that. I am very seriously considering a Howell 2 barrel throttle body injection system. It’s a popular upgrade done to these. There is also an Edelbrock multiport fuel injection system available that replaces the intake and carburetor. The final option is the Holley Sniper kit. All of these are within a few hundred dollars of each other, so I expect to put about $2000 into this upgrade (includes ignition, electric fuel pump, etc).
So here is an area that I think I want to make some changes. Factory ignition on this is motorcraft, and it not known for it’s reliability. For any fuel injection upgrade to work, I will need to upgrade the ignition system. I am looking at the Dewey DUI system for the Howell, or the hyperspark distributer for the sniper EFI and the Edelbrock system. All told, I expect this to cost around $350.
The transmission does not appear to be problematic. My friend drove it and said that it shifts well. With this knowledge, I will start by doing a fluid and filter change, and also a band adjustment. 727s tend to be pretty reliable, so I’ll stick with it for now. I expect to spend about $100 here in fluids, filter, and gaskets. Down the road, I may consider an upgrade in this department.
Differentials and Transfer Case:
For these, I will pop the covers off and see what kind of condition I am up against. Chances are, there is not much damage in there since Dana 44's tend to be stout. I’ll likely drain, fill, and replace the gaskets and seals for starters. I expect to do much the same for the transfer case. Hopefully, it is not leaking and requiring a tear down and rebuild. I’m expecting about another $150 here.
Well... At least it's cleaner than Motel 6 carpet...
The carpet all looks fine until you reach the cargo area. There, some rodents made a nest and ruined a portion of it. I am thinking since I am sure the rodents have urinated throughout the vehicle, that I will likely do a complete carpet replacement. This can be had from Team Grand Wagoneer for $495 with shipping. To me, this is a worthwhile purchase. They do sell it in pieces if you don’t need the whole thing, so seeing, cleaning, and getting to work will be the deciding factor.
I prefer a stock appearance, but this is also an area where I am considering some improvements. The stock headliner is gone, including the backing cardboard that held it vaguely in place. This means to replace it with a stock one will require either fabricating the original cardboard backing, or finding a shop that sells them together. There is a complete option at BJ’S Off-Road for $490 with free shipping. I can also just track down the fabric, a strong adhesive, sound insulation material, and perhaps some foam board for backing material and make it myself. Either way, I expect to spend about $500 to do the job.
This is an area where I plan to make some upgrades as well. The original lights were not terrible, but are not quite up to the standards of today. I am not interested in going full LED or anything like that, but certainly halogen would be worthwhile. These are sealed beam bulbs, so I will look at some that allow for halogen bulb replacements rather than full sealed beam units. I found a few on Team Grand Wagoneer for $105 with shipping. I will have to do some wiring improvements to get the most out of them, so I’m expecting to be all in about $160.
I have been told that it works well, so that's a good start.
This has the factory Mitsubishi made X-161 Radio. I want to keep this as stock looking as possible on the dashboard, so I am thinking I will either modify the radio to accept Bluetooth (Which will mean losing the cassette player function), or do one of those hidden radios that I have seen. With speakers, better wiring, etc, I expect to be in this for another $500.
I will likely have it professionally painted after I have done all of the rust repair and prep work. I don’t want to lose the wood paneling (Vinyl) on the sides, so I will keep that as long as I can before having to replace them. When it is replacement time, that will be roughly $1000. The paint job will likely be about $2500.
I am certain every piece of rubber will need replaced, and the window regulators and such will need some repairs. There are probably hundreds of things I am missing here, so lets keep a $1500 buffer in the math just in case.
Lets add it all up:
NYS Safety Repairs: $2967
So, in a optimistic, perfect world of no unexpected costs, no catastrophic repair needs, and a lot of luck, I’m expecting to invest just shy of $13K all in. That is still less than 1/5th of the price of the supposed new one. My initial hypothesis still stands, however. I might be an Idiot. Anyways, I can’t wait to get started. Any ideas, suggestions, or comments you have, I am all ears.