Home » I’m Buying A Second Jeep Because I Forgot How To Put My First Jeep Together

I’m Buying A Second Jeep Because I Forgot How To Put My First Jeep Together

David Easter Jeep Cherokee Ts New (2)
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Life has gotten complicated over the last two years; whereas prior to founding The Autopian fixing cars was my number one priority, I’ve now moved to California, assumed a lot more responsibility as part of my position, and miraculously started dating someone. Plus I own cats. As a result, wrenching on Jeeps has dropped from number one to number seven or eight on my priority list. This means my beloved 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee five-speed “Holy Grail” has suffered, languishing in my Michigan driveway and then in a hot California parking lot for a combined two years. But starting on Wednesday, that changes. Only one problem: I kinda forgot how the whole thing goes together.

To be fair, I can reassemble most of a ZJ or XJ or really any Jeep with my eyes closed, but some things can get tricky. For one, I have no clue where my starter motor bolts are, I have no clue where the screws are that fasten the transmission cover to the floorboard, I don’t know where my power steering pump bolts are, I really don’t remember how to install the headliner, and I can go on and on. Much of this I could figure out via service manuals and YouTube videos and studying various internet sources, but I don’t have time. This ZJ has to go back together ASAP — ddeally before the Easter Jeep Safari, though I have so much going on these days that I can’t say I care that much that I make that event. But I do want this Jeep fixed; it’s wearing on my psyche.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

For reasons that are hard to explain to a normal person, I find the manual transmission ZJ to be the best Jeep of all time (not the “greatest”; that would be the World War II Jeep). I’m lucky enough to have found two that were heading to a junkyard simultaneously, and I’ve now amassed their parts into a big pile in a Van Nuys parking lot. I want to turn that pile into a running machine before too much time elapses:

 

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The truth is: Too. much time has already elapsed. Look at the date on this Jalopnik story about when I bought the red Jeep (it was $250 plus $100 for the transfer case; so really it was $350):

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Screenshot: Jalopnik

And here’s the story about me trying to merge a rusty green Jeep’s parts with that incomplete red Jeep, thus completing the aforementioned “pile” that’s been sitting in a parking lot forever:

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Jlp Grab 2
Screenshot: Jalopnik

Those stories are from 2-3 years years ago. I’ve been dragging ass! And that kind of thing isn’t good for the soul. I need to get going, but since so much of my red Jeep — which I towed all the way to California from Michigan — is incomplete, I’ve decided to take a big step: I’m buying another parts car.

The Jeep ZJ below is for sale for $1,200 (I’ll offer $800), and it’s nearby. It’s got, predictably, a failed transmission (which is why the manual in mine is so important to its grail-hood). It’s two-wheel drive, so any of the four-wheel drive bits like the front driveshaft, front axle, and transfer case won’t be there, but the interior is exactly the same, the engine bay should be exactly the same, and the basic suspension layout should be the same.

Screen Shot 2024 03 05 At 1.30.29 Pm

My plan is to park this parts Jeep next to my red kitten-birthing-center (see below), and just use it as a template and also swap parts/fasteners over to make my life easier.

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This may seem a bit excessive. I’ve already merged two Jeeps into one; why use a third?

The truth is that this Jeep is doomed. Nobody’s rebuilding this 246,000 mile Jeep’s transmission, which is why the vehicle has been for sale for 19 weeks. It’s destined for a junkyard, and if I can use it as a template and snag a few parts, why not? It will bring life to my Jeep.

Screen Shot 2024 03 05 At 2.26.40 Pm

But the real reason why this is actually a smart move and not excessive is: It’s got a running engine and a catalytic converter.

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Knowing that this Jeep has recently made it through California emissions testing is a huge deal, as my Jeep has pretty much no exhaust system. Being able to swap the exhaust and catalytic converter over will save me hundreds of dollars. If my red Jeep’s engine doesn’t end up running (I have no clue), I could swap this parts Jeep’s mill over assuming I find it to be running well and making good compression. I have another spare 4.0-engine, but I could just sell that. Or I could use that spare and sell this part’s Jeep engine.

In any case, the parts Jeep will likely cost me at least $800, but if you factor in the running motor and catalytic converter and all the other parts I’ll need, plus the fact that I can use it as a template to vastly expedite my red Jeep’s reassembly, then this is a total no brainer.

Honestly, I’m excited for it. This is the fun type of wrenching. It begins tomorrow, Wednesday, and Dustin from Wisconsin (he’s the former owner of the green Jeep, and his was the very first “Holy Grail” Grand Cherokee I ever wrote about almost five years ago) is flying in to lend me a hand. He’s here from Wednesday to Sunday; I’ve already ordered a bunch of parts that I don’t want to swap from the used Jeep:

Screen Shot 2024 03 05 At 2.23.00 Pm

Oddly, I was unable to buy a fuel pump from Amazon or Rock Auto, as I received this from the latter:

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Part # PN3073 cannot ship to California because we do not have documentation required by Proposition 65 from SPARTA. Please choose a different brand.

Oh, California. Luckily, Autozone had a coupon, so I snagged one for about $110 (see below). Still double the Amazon price, but alas, California and its rules…

Screen Shot 2024 03 05 At 2.24.25 Pm

I’m excited.

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The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
The Artist Formerly Known as the Uncouth Sloth
1 month ago

THE RUST GOD IS BAAAACK

BoneBrothOutback
BoneBrothOutback
1 month ago

LONG MAY FE(2O3) REIGN

James Colangelo
James Colangelo
1 month ago

If I’m you.. I’m using that parts Jeep as the runner and swapping the appropriate bits into it. That chassis is rust-free assuming it’s been in California for its whole life, and a lot better than the crusty rusty Michigan-based unit you brought over. z

Like others – I’m waiting for this plot twist. I think as soon as you start turning wrenches on that nice and clean Jeep you won’t want to go back.

Framed
Framed
1 month ago

Waiting for the plot twist where the parts Jeep becomes the runner and vice versa.

Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
28 days ago
Reply to  Framed

It might be easier to swap the trans and the 4×4 bit from the cat den into the new one… or a complete nightmare. I’ll be here for it regardless!

James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

Enjoy while you can, once the progeny arrive, the jeeps will be demoted to 20th or so and you’ll be too tired and broke to even dream of working on them. You might be able to work on models.

Spikersaurusrex
Spikersaurusrex
1 month ago

Just remember: The project isn’t finished until you’ve cleaned up the mess and disposed of the unneeded parts car(s).

InTheBackround
InTheBackround
1 month ago

Now this is the content im here for. Not the 6 out of 9 EV articles above it. Don’t listen to the naysayers David, this kind of stuff is what made you famous enough on the internet to be a very important part of starting this website.

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago

DUDE! Just buy a good one. These have to be a dine-a-dozen out there, no? Just get a decent one and start the modding from there. I know it’s not your style, but you have SO MANY projects.

Also, sounds like your life has been great since the move. People hate on CA, but it’s such a wonderful place. I wish I did something that would allow me to support myself out there. The traffic is garbage, but the weather and all the outdoor activities would vastly improve my QOL.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
1 month ago

He’s back!

Strangek
Strangek
1 month ago

Seems like you already have two running Jeeps that go to the Jeep Safari? The white one and the truck? Right? Right?

Patrick Cook
Patrick Cook
1 month ago

I request a Kitten Update (Cat Update by this time) after the ZJ is done post-Easter.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
1 month ago

Just curious, what breaks on the transmission? (I assume the Calif spare parts Jeep is also a manual trans?)

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
1 month ago
Reply to  Speedway Sammy

Cali Jeep is an auto. Most grands ended up with a Chrysler made 4 speed auto that has abysmal reliability. XJ’s and very early ZJ’s got the AW4 from Aisin Warner for the auto, and Aisin manual transmissions.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
1 month ago
Reply to  TXJeepGuy

Thanks, this makes sense now.

B P
B P
1 month ago

You’ve got this!

I hear you on the time. I’m slowly working on repairing a hard-sided pop-up camper we acquired last year. Between kids and everything else, it’s 30 minutes at a time here and there. But we are making progress!

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 month ago

You are the only person who would think the best way to fix 2 broken Jeeps is to buy a third broken Jeep. I absolutely love it.

Speedway Sammy
Speedway Sammy
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

This is what happens when given essentially unlimited storage in a temperate climate LOL.

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Especially when ZJ’s are still relatively cheap and are going to be in good condition due to the climate. I know it’s not DT’s style, but just buy a good one and mod it from there.

I miss my 97 ZJ, but good ones are basically extinct in the Northeast.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike B

I had a 99 XJ 5 speed. I loved it but the rust took it (I lived in Upstate NY). I would love to find a ZJ or even a WJ cheap.

Tim Beamer
Tim Beamer
1 month ago

This is worth 10X my subscription cost just to see what actually happens. I hear the announcer’s voice in the background, Next week on “Dave tries to fix a Jeep by buying another Jeep”, we’ll see how much PB’laster he’ll need to use, and get a final count on the number of cylinders that actually hold compression across three different blocks. Will Dave ever get one Jeep running from a total of three he started with? Stay tuned to find out!

Dumb Shadetree
Dumb Shadetree
1 month ago

If my red Jeep’s engine doesn’t end up running (I have no clue)

Buying a parts car before even assessing the scope of your project? Sure buddy, you just needed a reason to buy more jeeps.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
1 month ago

Oh god. It’s happening again. I thought/hoped we were past all this.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

As the lights go out in the universe, David will be there saying “wait, I’ve almost got it running.”

Outofstep
Outofstep
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

This was legit my response. It’s time for an intervention! That is if the Autopians can actually make it to him with their cars in various states of functionality. The Autopian mobile command center really needs to be a thing for situations like this.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
1 month ago
Reply to  Outofstep

The trouble is Matt, myself and maybe Thomas are the only sane ones. Everyone else is an enabler.

Outofstep
Outofstep
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

Good point. They’d probably give him more cars just to clear up their growing collection of questionably functional automobiles.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
1 month ago
Reply to  Outofstep

I cannot in good conscience give David an unreliable German car.

…Yet, I gave my wife one of those cars.

Outofstep
Outofstep
1 month ago

So do you love DT more? This is a safe space, you can tell us.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

There’s no substitute for good drugs and therapy.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

On the contrary, I’m pleased to see signs of the ‘old’ David. Great content incoming!! (Also, I really, really want to see what he does with that headliner…I’ve seen great examples of XJ headliner restoration, but maybe one example for a ZJ headliner).

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago
Reply to  PlatinumZJ

Random, but are you in CT or thereabouts? I knew a “Platinum ZJ” on the Jeep boards back in the early ’00s. If so, you still got that thing? It was niiiiice.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike B

Not me unfortunately, but I do have a Platinum ZJ.

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago
Reply to  PlatinumZJ

Well, I’m jealous. I had a black ZJ, I miss it a lot, but New England corrosion got the best of it about ten years ago. I periodically check FB for one, they’re all in terrible condition. Maybe I should look out west for a Niner.

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike B

I’m in the southeast; salt isn’t nearly as big a concern here, although my state’s DOT has developed a fondness for spraying brine all over the place. Most of the ZJs around here seem to succumb to pure neglect.

Mike B
Mike B
1 month ago
Reply to  PlatinumZJ

Oh that brine is just as bad if not worse. If there’s even a hint of it being near freezing or going to snow, they completely saturate the roads with it here. Then when there IS an actual freeze or precipitation, they cover all that with a layer of salt.

The neglect is odd, I’ve noticed that with the remaining ones here. They were a more expensive vehicle than the XJ, yet they seem to have been treated worse.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mike B
PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike B

I haven’t seen salt spread on the road here in years; it’s always brine, and whenever it’s sprayed the anticipated weather event almost always begins with rain, so most of it gets washed away.

Yeah, most of the XJs I’ve seen are either heavily modified are patina’d, but otherwise seem fine. The ZJs are missing pieces and have heavy amounts of rust (usually on the roof or hood). There’s one exception that I’ve seen near my workplace; it’s clearly being maintained well, and is always heavily waxed and polished.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  PlatinumZJ

Does a moab jeep need a headliner?

PlatinumZJ
PlatinumZJ
1 month ago

Probably not, but this is an excellent opportunity to see one restored. (Mine isn’t quite bad enough to justify the trouble of pulling it, otherwise I would give it a try myself.)

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
1 month ago
Reply to  Adrian Clarke

You must be new here

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
1 month ago

I’m so old I remember Jalopnik Gold.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
1 month ago

I love following David’s Jeep addiction. It keeps me from buying more Jeeps. Also, It is good to see someone journal about their addiction.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jim Stock
Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim Stock

Aren’t they traditionally supposed to also try NOT to feed the addiction and make amends to the folk around them that it’s affected, etc.? Because buying yet another b0rked jeep, well…

Tim R
Tim R
1 month ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

Yes, but that is not fun for the rest of us

MaximillianMeen
MaximillianMeen
1 month ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

We’re enablers, not interventionists.

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
1 month ago

Fair.

Jim Stock
Jim Stock
1 month ago
Reply to  Gilbert Wham

All I know is that his “adventures” have kept me from buying another old Jeep for many years. I will be eternally grateful.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
1 month ago

Its not the weirdest thing you’ve done, but its definitely different. I’m not sure how you plan to injure yourself with this one as it seems fairly straightforward and you won’t be sleeping in a car or bathing in an ocean or anything strange.

Please proceed sir, I shall make myself some popcorn.

Taco Shackleford
Taco Shackleford
1 month ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

There could always be time for a him to stop for a bath in the Great Salt Lake. He is planning to go to Utah after all.

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