Hey welcome to Gearz. You know one of the biggest challenges that you can face on a project is when you start out with a plan or an idea and then something happens that completely blows that out of the water! You know maybe the frame is rusted, maybe the vehicle is not what you thought it was... and now you have to re-evaluate the whole project and maybe even change directions. Yeah, it's a dilemma and it's something that we get questions about all the time. So, today we're going to address that exact scenario, and show you how to make make the right decisions and hopefully still come out ahead on your project.
Okay what we have here is a 1967 Jeepster convertible that I found in a garage where it had been pretty much sleeping for a couple of decades. Now I took a quick look at the odometer, it looked like it had just a hair over 100,000 miles on it which makes it the perfect candidate for a custom build. And that was the plan. I was going to do a motor swap and put in bigger axles and wheels and tires and do all kinds of cool "Jeepy" stuff to it. So I was looking at a level three resto-mod style project... until I got it back to the shop here and started looking at it closely.
Looking past the cheap repaint that somebody did years ago, the old Jeep started to reveal some secrets. First of all a quick look at the VIN tag showed it was an ultra rare 8701 Deluxe convertible that had the factory continental kit in back, along with the short fiberglass shelf and the non-functional tailgate as well as the aluminum side trim. The Buick V6 engine and the turbo 400 transmission with the console were also top options for the Jeepster in 67, as was the power top. However it was the tightness in the original door hinges and the steering and the lack of arm and foot wear on the doors and the floors that made me start to suspect that this was not the old beater that we originally thought it was. The final clue was the original wiring under the hood, and the assembly marks on the firewall put on by the workers as it rolled down the assembly line in 1967. Yep, there's no doubt about it... that's not 108,000 miles on the odometer... it's 8,000 original miles on the clock.
Now we got a problem. A first year Jeepster with only 8,000 original miles on it is not only rare, but it also has the potential to be very valuable in original condition. So, there's the dilemma: what do you do? Well I always say it's ultimately your vehicle, you can do what you want with it, but to cut something like this up into a trail rig would just be crazy. So, if you are bound and determined to have a trail rig out of a Jeepster, your best bet would be to sell this to a restorer... take the money that you make, buy yourself an old beat up body and build your trail rig. However, if you decide to keep the project, your next decision is how do you plan on restoring it? And you basically have two choices here: number one, keep it all original. Number two, do some modifications to it that don't detract from the originality, but make it more drivable. If you're a collector, the first way is probably the way to go. If you want to enjoy the vehicle and drive it, the second way is how you want to go. That's what we're going to do on this one.
Okay once you've assessed your project and decided what direction you're going to go with it,
The next step is to decide what level of restoration you're going to do and on this we're going to do a level one; get it running and driving safely. Fortunately the old V6 seems to be relatively untouched. But... somebody did add an electric fuel pump on the firewall, and there's evidence of an electrical fire with burnt and bare wires everywhere... which is a mess. And that'll all need to be fixed before we even think about putting a battery in and trying to crank this thing. So the first step is to start tearing things apart and remove anything that we're going to replace. This includes all the hoses, the alternator, the fuel pumps, the wires and the distributor, and the carburetor.
Now this is a great example of why it's a good idea to replace gaskets on a vehicle that's been sitting for a long time. Even if it has low miles like this one. Look at this old gasket, how it's turned to dust... this would leak like crazy! So now's the time to fix it.
Now the last step is to pull the intake and the valve covers and on an 8,000 mile engine, should have no sludge and be super clean. Ha ha ha! Look at that! That is like right out of the machine shop, and that is awesome! Can't wait to see under the intake. Oh, look at that super clean. Look at the cam and everything in there. Man those ports are just perfect.
Hey, welcome back to Gearz where you can see we're up to our elbows in a level one restoration on a '67 Jeepster that has just a hair over 8,000 miles on it. Yeah! Now I know some of you guys are probably looking at this going man that is a lot of stuff; I thought a level one was easier than that. No, a level one is: get it running and driving safely... which is a lot more involved than just pouring gas down it and trying to start the engine. So we're not messing with the paint, we're not doing anything with the top, the interior, no fabrication. None of that kind of stuff. That all comes in levels 2, 3, 4, and 5. A level one is all mechanical. So it's fuel system, electrical, cooling system, brakes, suspension... that kind of thing. So, as you can see we pulled off everything that's old and crusty that either needs to be replaced or rebuilt, including the intake and the valve covers so we can replace the gaskets.
Of course even on a level one you can expect to have some challenges in the project. For example this original intake manifold originally used two studs and two bolts to hold the the carburetor in place. But if you look closely at that stud, you see how that's rusted and tiny right there? That's just waiting to break! Fortunately we were able to get it out without breaking it off, but the second one... not so lucky. So we eventually had to put in a helicoil so we had metal threads back into the intake. Now, this may not seem like a big deal, but that little guy right there can absolutely ruin your afternoon. It's going to take all of the tools on this table just to fix that problem because first of all, you need need to take a grinder... grind off the broken piece so everything is flat with the flange. Then take your punch... punch down in the center of the stud. Then take a drill... drill down in the center of the broken stud. And then take your easy out... stick it down in there and hopefully you'll be able to work the broken piece out. Now, if it comes out, ah! You're good to go! If it doesn't, you're going to have to drill it out and put in some new threads. Now, how do you do that? Well, you pick up a helicoil kit, and then you take a drill bit in the proper size and drill out all the nastiness. Then you take the tap that's supplied with the kit and tap the new hole. Then you take the threaded metal helicoil insert and put it down in the hole which will then give you threads in metal... where they belong. Now this kind of surprise can absolutely drive you crazy if you're not prepared for it. But, that's the point of these kind of projects... to help you solve problems so you can move on to the next levels.
Okay with everything cleaned up and painted we are ready to start putting stuff back together. But, that broken bolt should be a good reminder of not to reuse your old hardware. Look at this old stuff! That one there I thought was going to break in the head. That would have been a bad day. So there's no reason to reuse this, especially when companies like ARP have all kinds of kits to completely change all the hardware in whatever engine you're working on. And the quality is far better than what you're going to find down at the local hardware store.
Now, if you're working on a project like this... especially something that's a little odd, it is extremely important that you find a company that specializes in parts for your specific vehicle. And for the Jeepster, we went to a place called JeepsterMan... because they carry everything that you can imagine for those Jeepster vehicles. But not just those... any kind of Jeeps from Willys to Kaisers to AMC's. And the the reason that that's important is that they will have every kind of option that you can do to that kind of vehicle, so you can choose how you want to put it together. Whether you're doing an original restoration, or slapping a V8 in it, they'll be able to help you. Let me show you what I'm talking about.
For the carburetor you can take your original carburetor... buy yourself a rebuild kit and rebuild your original carburetor. If you don't want to do that, you can buy a completely rebuilt carburetor from JeepsterMan and just bolt it on. If you don't want to do that, maybe you want something a little more performance oriented, you can jump up to this Weber two Barrel conversion. Now this bolts right in place of those Rochesters and even has its own special air cleaner. So, out of the three, this is the route that we're going to go... But we will keep our original carburetor just in case we ever want to take it back original, which I'm sure we won't. Now just because this is a bolt-on carburetor does not mean it's a bolt-on deal. Mm-mm. Check this out. You're going to need all these extra parts: going to need another throttle cable, you're going to need a fuel filter, you're going to need a fuel pressure regulator, and all kinds of hoses and fittings to make this fit. So bear that in mind when you're doing this kind of conversion.
The fuel tank is also something that you shouldn't overlook because they were prone to rusting problems even back in the day. So rather than mess with an old rusty tank, we got a replacement tank from JeepsterMan that's designed to bolt right in place of that original tank. Now it comes with the the filler neck, and the vent tubes, and the hardware, and the brackets... everything that you're going to need to bolt it in. A replacement tank is one of the best investments you can make on an older vehicle. Okay with a fuel system laid out and going together, we're one step closer to driving this thing down the road.
Hey welcome to Gearz where we have a '67 Jeepster convertible in the shop. We've got it torn apart and we're doing some upgrades on it. Now if you're not familiar with this project let me bring you up to speed on it. I basically found this thing sitting in a garage where it had been for decades. And my original plan was to do a motor swap, axle swap, a bunch of cool off-road stuff. So we're talking like a level three or level four resto-mod or frame off build. And then, we dug a little deeper and found out that this was a first year... super rare survivor with only 8,000 original miles on it! Yeah! So, that is too rare, too valuable, and just too cool to cut up into a trail rig. There's plenty of rusty Commandos out there for that. A much better approach on this kind of vehicle is a level one or level two restoration. So, we are in the middle of a level one restoration, which involves get it running and driving safely. And the first thing we did was basically disassemble everything under the hood and clean it up. This involved painting the motor in the original Buick green, using some engine paint from POR. And then we also replaced the valve cover gaskets, intake gaskets, thermostat gasket to prevent any leaks. And replace some hoses. Then we bolted in a new fuel pump and took care of some problems down there. And then finally we upgraded from this old Rochester two barrel to a far superior Weber two barrel setup.
And that brings us up to where we are today. I've got a whole table of parts here from the JeepsterMan who specializes in original and upgrade parts for all kinds of early Jeep Vehicles. So let's get to work! Starting with the engine electrical system. Now obviously we could just bolt in this old points distributor, but we're not going to do that because we're going to upgrade to this big HEI distributor. Now there's several reasons for that: first of all this gets rid of the points. Second of all it has a much hotter spark, and third it puts the coil right on top so it's all in one nice little package. Now, as you can see there is a considerable size difference in these two distributors. But, they've designed this in such a way that this distributor will actually fit in that odd fire V6 and clear everything. Just barely!... But it will clear.
To install a distributor, set the number one cylinder on top dead center of the compression stroke. Then slide the distributor in place. Make sure that it seats all the way down so it engages the oil pump. Once it's seated, the rotor should be pointing at the number one spark plug.
The next piece is the alternator, and just like the distributor we could reuse this all original alternator, but remember... there was a fire under the hood of this vehicle, so you know this thing is toasted. Also, it was a five wire hookup man that is a pain in the butt. So, we're not going to use that. We're going to upgrade to a GM style one wire alternator. Look at that big boy! Now in spite of the size difference this will actually bolt right in place of this original alternator. It's going to give us way more power, and it is a single wire hookup. This is one of the best upgrades that you can do to any vehicle to simplify your wiring and get you the power you need.
Now you're probably wondering where I got all of these nice new brackets here. I didn't! That's the original brackets just cleaned up and painted with a coat of Rustoleum paint. I did the same thing with the valve covers, the thermostat housing, the fan all of this stuff. As you can see you don't have to spend a lot of money when you're doing a project like this. Just take the time to clean things up and detail it, cuz when you start putting it all back together this makes a huge difference.
The last electrical component to upgrade is the wiring harness. Now as you can see this original harness is a mess. It- Not only was it burnt but if you look closely you can see that somebody used an old extension cord to wire something up... which is just crazy! No wonder there was a fire under here. So when you have something this bad, you can't fix it. You just need to cut it all out and replace it... which is what we're going to do with this 21 circuit customizable harness from Painless. Now this is a universal kit and it's going to do several things for us. Number one, it's going to give us a real fuse block, which the original Jeepster did not have. Also, you can see it's got wiring that runs under the hood, in the interior, to the back of the vehicle, so that's all laid out for you. And it's 21 circuits so you can add other accessories and all that other stuff if you want to. The best part though, is you've got all of these instructions to wire up all of these accessories we're putting in. There's your HEI distributor... It'll have instructions in here for the one wire alternator... because remember, we're getting rid of all of this stuff: Voltage Regulators, ballast resistors, all of this... and putting on new things. So we need to be able to wire that up. This is one of the best upgrades you can do for this kind of a project. Now obviously this needs to go on after all the components are on, so we're going to set this aside for now and move on to the next upgrade. And that is the cooling system. Now you have a couple of options here. You can always try your luck with the original radiator, but if the vehicle's been sitting for a long time you probably want to upgrade it... Which is what we're going to do with this all aluminum radiator from Champion. Now this is a three row high performance radiator that is designed to bolt right in place of that stock radiator. So that's awesome. But we're not just going to do this. We're also going to add a fiberglass fan shroud to make sure the air is pulled through the radiator properly. So you should be using a shroud whether you're keeping the original radiator or not this will take care of any cooling problems.
Hey welcome back to Gearz and our Jeepster convertible project where we're showing you some of the best upgrades that you can do to a vehicle to make it a reliable driver without losing the originality or the value. Now we're pretty much done under the hood here. Got the fuel system upgraded, the cooling system upgraded, the electrical upgraded. Now we're ready to turn our attention to the suspension and the brakes because, keep in mind the goal of a level one project is to make it a reliable driver that you can drive anywhere that you want anytime. And as you can see this thing is a little tired. It needs some help. Fortunately there's a whole bunch of parts from JeepsterMan over there on the table that's going to take care of these problems.
Now the brakes on any old Jeep were questionable at best so we're going to fix all that with this front disc brake conversion for the old Jeeps. Now look at this. It includes these massive 12 and 1/4 in. rotors. You get the brackets to bolt on the calipers, and all the hardware you're going to need to give you front disc brakes. Now the rear brakes we're going to keep the stock brakes but we're going to rebuild all of the original drums using all new hardware. And then we also stepped up to these 2 in. spacers... that's going to widen out the track of that Jeep and fill out those wheel wells better. For suspension we picked up a 2-in. lift kit because that's as high as you can go on these early Jeepsters that have that early Ross style steering. Now it includes new leaf springs front and rear, shackles, U-bolts, and even new shocks. Now what this is going to do is stiffen up the suspension considerably. It's going to raise it up, and it's going to get rid of that saggy butt look that we got going back here. Now obviously we need to get this thing in the air, get the wheels off so we can get to work.
Okay the first thing we need to do is take things apart. Starting with the locking hubs. Next comes the hub and drum assembly. now these will need to be separated because we want to reuse the hub but not the drum.
Next remove the six bolts holding the backing plate on and remove the whole brake assembly and put it in the swap meat pile. While you're cleaning things up make sure you take the time to look for any worn parts because now is the time to replace them. All right after some much needed cleanup, you can start putting things back together. So on goes the caliper bracket using the supplied spindle bolts, followed by the old hub with newly packed bearings. And then the locking hub assembly. Next comes that massive rotor. And finally the new caliper and the brake hose.
And that's it. That's how simple it is to put disc brakes on the front of an old classic Jeep. Pretty awesome huh? Yeah! Now a couple of things... while you're deep in here now's the time to check your steering linkage, your drag links, your tie rod ends. If they're bad, replace them. If your U joints are bad, replace them. Change the differential fluid. Fix any leaks... Because you know you're going to need to. Another thing, disc brakes work great if they're power assisted. Now remember this Jeep came with the powered brake option, but that old booster is shot. And so was a master cylinder. So we're going to replace it with that new one from JeepsterMan so we can get the full benefit out of those disc brakes.
Hey welcome back to Gearz and our level one restoration of a 1967 Jeepster convertible. Now if you're wondering what a level one is... that involves getting something up and running and driving safely and reliably. So it's all mechanical, which makes it much simpler, much easier than like a level three Resto mod or a level four and five ground-up frame off build. And a level one is the first sort of project that everybody should tackle because you got to understand this stuff before you can move on to a more advanced project.
Now so far we've done upgrades on the electrical system, the cooling system, the fuel system, the brakes. Now we're moving on to suspension, and we're going to put on this 2-in lift that we showed you earlier.
To replace leaf springs you'll need to put a jack under the axle for support and then unbolt the old springs and shocks and toss them in the scrap heap.
Then install the new shackles and springs using the original brackets...and the new U-bolts. Follow that up with the shocks.
In the rear it's a same thing. Pull off the old single leaf leaf springs and shocks and replace them with the new multi-leaf springs and gas shocks. It's also a good time to put on our wheel spacers. This is going to widen out the stance and make those original wheels fit the wheel well better. They're also necessary to get a 15-in wheel to clear those new front disc brakes.
Okay while you're under here, now is a good time to check and see if there's anything else you need to repair. Now keep in mind we're going to replace this fuel tank so that's good, but look at this... there's dirt dobber nests all over the back of the rear end and the down the frame, so that'll all need to be cleaned up. Also as you can see there's some leaks in the rear end, so we'll have to take care of that. And then if you look forward, there's some leaks in the transmission and the transfer case, so we got to fix those. And then if you look to your right, we found some rust holes in the rockers which is to be expected... but we're not going to do anything with those right now because that is a level two and we'll talk about that later. All right let's get this thing down on the ground see what we have.
Okay with the original tires back on you can see what a difference this lift makes on this whole Jeepster. It's finally sitting level for probably the first time in 40 years! And now we've got room to put up to a 30 in. tall tire. Yeah. Now you got options here... you can do the original hubcap thing, or you can put a custom wheel on. Anything that you want to do! And options are a good thing with any project.