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budojeepr 11-19-2010 08:00 PM

Swapping '72 body onto '81 diesel-powered chassis
Well, I've gone and done it...started the body swap.

Last year I bought a non-running '72 Wagoneer (thread link). I figure that since I've had so much trouble (thread link) trying to register the '81 diesel Wagoneer (thread link) in California (ultimately failing), I'd rather switch than fight. Check out Dr Teeth's work (thread link) to see how the body swap should be done. I'll do my best, but I don't hold out a lot of hope that I can match that kind of quality. :eek:

I've been taking body parts off the '72 (sold a few bits and pieces here, more to come), and last weekend did some floorboard work. Today I moved the hulk into the garage (my poor ol' VW diesel has to spend the next few months in the cold, waaaa).

Old carpet, saved to use as a template. Check out the outline of a wrench that was left there for years an' years.

Opened the tailgate, removed the seats, removed all the carpet.

Here's the tailgate hinge area. Some work to be done here...

Fuel tank fillers. Stock one is at the rear, auxiliary next to it. Dig the PVC pipe. :thumbsup:

Driver's side front floorboard shows the expected, but hoped-against rust damage:

Removed the accelerator pedal by ripping it out along with the rusty floorboard it was attached to:

Removed the chunk of floorboard. I banged on it with a screwdriver's tip until I found the division between solid and flaky steel, then cut around it.

Hole in the floorboard:

Hole and floorboard, cleaned and painted with rust shield. (I used this product instead of POR-15 at the paint guy's suggestion. Replacing the panel lets me just paint and line it.)

Cut and bent a piece of aluminum diamond-plate to fit. I used a torch to heat the aluminum up, then cooled it slowly, making it ductile. I'm going to epoxy the piece in. On my Gladiator I used a piece of steel and rosette-welded it in. Member Metal Twister suggested epoxy (post link), which seemed like a great idea. There's a bit of a hole in the corner. I'm going to adjust the replacement plate a bit, then fill what's left of the hole with some spray-in expandable foam. Once the bedliner is on, we'll never see or notice it again.

This weekend is supposed to be rainy, so I'll spend a lot of the time in the garage prepping the floorboard for rust shield and/or primer. Then next week sometime I'll coat it with black bedliner.

After that I'm going to rewire it with a 16-circuit aftermarket harness, along with Dakota Digital gauges. A bit of dash paint, then it's ready to accept the newer chassis (which I haven't even begun working on).

Gotta love a new project!

letank 11-19-2010 10:30 PM


Originally Posted by budojeepr
Well, I've gone and done it...started the body swap.

then fill what's left of the hole with some spray-in expandable foam.

Great project, the expandable foam is more like a sponge and will absorb and retain water..... beside welding, the fast way is some 5min epoxy with or without fiberglass.

budojeepr 11-19-2010 11:24 PM


Originally Posted by letank
Great project, the expandable foam is more like a sponge and will absorb and retain water..... beside welding, the fast way is some 5min epoxy with or without fiberglass.

Good info, that could have been a fairly costly mistake. I'll use the epoxy, then. Thanks for the tip! :thumbsup:

budojeepr 11-27-2010 10:24 AM

Almost ready for bedliner
Well, I got it all wire-brushed and cleaned out. While I was at it I took the vent grilles off and found that (as usual) they were packed with decomposed leaves and other detritus.

The shop-vac's short fitting went in easily and in less than 5 minutes per side it was all cleaned out. When I get to that stage, I'll remove the grille by the windshield wipers and fit some screen in there, then put it back. No more leaves!

I've got it all painted with the rust-stopper stuff. In the main floor area I used the rust-shield. For some of the worst areas I used a rust converter paint. That stuff is stinky! On the plus side, I think the fumes must have killed all the black widows in the Jeep.

Today is too cold and wet to paint in the bedliner, so tomorrow is the day, hopefully.

For the wiring, coming up after the bedliner task, I think I'll get a 21-circuit harness from eBay:

I've read about the EZ Wiring kits and they seem ok.

I'll also get a Dakota Digital gauge set from BJs Offroad:

If BJs is paying attention: Please get one on hand! I'm ordering within the week! :D

budojeepr 11-27-2010 07:31 PM

Inside spare tire mount detail
Hey, anybody wanting ideas for an inside-the-car spare tire mount, here's one. I took this off the '72 today. Of course, it'll only work for smaller tire sizes, but:

jaber 11-27-2010 07:41 PM

Subscribed to watch. :thumbsup:

budojeepr 11-28-2010 10:14 PM

Bedliner done
I used EZ Liner from the local Paint Mart.

Open the can with a chisel (yes, even though it looked like a regular paint can it didn't pry apart, I had to cut it open).

Stir while pouring in the black powdered resin.

Add 18 drops of the accelerant (they said 24 drops would give me 50 minutes of work time; I figured I'd need somewhat more).

Try the ... ahem ... peenchy roller they gave me. It didn't I just called the EZ Liner people's cumulative ancestry into question and used the biggest brush I had.

Used only 2/3 of a gallon on the entire floor while putting down 2 coats.

Next we address the I have to get the wiring harness and gauges on order, then prep and paint the dash. I'm going to try to repair the damage wrought by people installing stereos. Don' know if it's possible, but I'll try. I'm thinking a bit of fiberglass work and it'll be usable.

Dr Teeth 11-28-2010 10:58 PM

You're off to a heck of a start! Looking good. You've inspired me to get mine back to driveable condition.

Let me know if you need any parts off my 73 parts rig (free of course).


budojeepr 12-06-2010 12:16 AM


Originally Posted by Dr Teeth
You're off to a heck of a start! Looking good. You've inspired me to get mine back to driveable condition.

Aha, you haven't yet? :D Get busy!

Let me know if you need any parts off my 73 parts rig (free of course).
Maybe between the two of us we could come up with a complete third rig.

Anyway, I worked on the dash this weekend. Took the pad off, removed the speaker, glove box door and ash tray mounts, then sanded and derustificated what I could. I also removed the heater core and fan from the engine compartment, cleaned and painted the firewall.

Also the place where the PO had put the radio was quite the hack job, so bad that even I (with my usual low standards of workmanship) couldn't abide. I crimped the jagged edges with my vise grips to flatten them, then ground the whole cutout and knob holes smooth, then covered the area with fiberglass. It was setting up this afternoon, and I'll sand it this week and see if it'll work. I figure I could re-mount a stereo or CB there if necessary, or perhaps some gauges.


Dash with the pad still on:

What a dash pad clip looks like from the back:

The dash pad, removed. I wore mechanic's gloves because I've learned over the year the working with sheetmetal requires blood sacrifice. It's easiest to remove each clip using all three of your hands. Pinch the clip so it'll fit back through the hole. Push it using the flat area of the needlenose pliers. Pull outward (toward the back of the vehicle) at the same time. POP-n-CRUNCH and it's out.

Dash with pad removed. Note the speaker in the center of the top of the dash. Also not easy to see but it's there - the windshield weatherstrip separates from the dash at either end, by about 1/2 inch.

Here's the speaker. It looks Original Equipment. Kewl.

Dash sans speaker. Those silver bolt thingies that held the speaker in are a very cool design. They're designed to go in a large end of a slotted hole, then you slide them to the small end, and a spring pops up into the large end holding the bolt in place. These Jeeps are contradictions sometimes. Crappy workmanship and excellent design.

Here's a closeup of the hacked-up radio mount. Hopefully soon I'll be able to show a nice pic of the same area all glassed in.

jaber 12-06-2010 07:30 AM

Your radio hole looks good compared to a couple of mine. I have one that I swear the guy used a hatchet to make a DIN stereo fit... :rolleyes:

Lookin good, keep up the great work...:thumbsup:

budojeepr 12-06-2010 07:53 AM


Originally Posted by jaber
Your radio hole looks good compared to a couple of mine. I have one that I swear the guy used a hatchet to make a DIN stereo fit... :rolleyes:

Yeah, this one looks like someone used a P-38 can opener on it.

budojeepr 12-17-2010 11:48 PM

Ordered the Dakota Digital dash (with dimmer knob and tach sender) today, and from a separate vendor the 21-circuit GM wiring harness.

Gonna try to finish smoothing the dash and painting it this weekend, torrential rain notwithstanding.

budojeepr 07-09-2011 09:57 AM

It's been a while since I posted about this. I basically took the winter off of Jeep work. I'm back at it now.

I've got the '72 body ready to come off, and the '81 is about ready. I have lotsa experience getting the body mount bolts undone. The '81 was much worse than the '72. I ended up making holes in the floorboard and ripping out the spotwelded sheetmetal that keeps (or should I say "is supposed to keep") the big square nuts from turning. Then I clamped a visegrip on the nut, then put a big ol' crescent wrench on the visegrip. Using my 1/2" breaker bar I was able to get the bolts turning. They don't unscrew, they slip - BANG BANG BANG - then finally start unscrewing. Wow, the Loctite that was on them really works.

Nothing really to take pics of yet. But when I start lifting bodies off, I'll post up.

budojeepr 07-17-2011 06:35 PM

Body off - trial run
I'm almost ready to remove the body from the '81. Today I did a trial run, lifting the rear of the body clear. I think it will work! Thanks to instructions from Dr Teeth on this forum.

Big bolts (with large washers) run through body mount holes in the body. The 2x4 has been drilled so that the bolts run straight up through to be pulled by the chain attached to the engine hoist. The 2x4 keeps the bolts from bending the body to the angle of the chains.

Here is a view from the rear of the passenger side body mount. It's being lifted free...

Just a couple more things to detach before liftoff - wiring, fuel filter, etc.

budojeepr 07-31-2011 07:30 PM

30-year-old frame sees light of day
Got the body off the frame today! Borrowed a friend's cherry picker to augment mine, removed the front doors, and lifted it. While it was a job with a large exposure to danger, it wasn't hard nor too complicated.

OK, here we go. Got bolts through the motor mounts selected for balance. 2x4s drilled so the chain or bolts can go through. The 2x4 will keep the chain from bending the floorboard (although this body will be scrapped so I don't know why I'm doing this).

Here she comes..

Oops. Need a better design, including LONGER BOLTS! D'oh.

Lifted the body, then slid it to the left. The only way I could figure to clear the legs of the cherry-pickers.

Dropping the body onto jackstands.

Chassis blinking in the light of day.

So ya wanna see the hookups on a '81 Wagoneer gas tank?

Boy that engine looks like a rat's nest. Good thing I'm rewiring the whole thing...

Luckily my GF had the good sense to stay away from the house until later this afternoon. She told me later that she'd done it on purpose, since she didn't want to see me doing the work (it freaks her out). :rolleyes:

budojeepr 08-02-2011 07:39 AM

Fuel tank out
Got the fuel tank out last night.

First: To all of you who have done that with the body on the frame, post up and I'll hoist a wee cup in your honor. You have my respect.

Second: To those of you who have not, put it on your to-do list (esp. if you're east of the Rockies). My Cali car's skid plate was nearly rusted through.

Question: should I stick with the poly tank/skid plate, or put in the metal tank I took out of the '72?

Pics to follow later today.

budojeepr 08-02-2011 11:15 PM

Gas tank removal pics
Here's the tank, still inside the skidplate, cemented in there with oily rust-gunk:

Oily rust-gunk detail:

Section of frame where tank was mounted:

Horribly rusted skidplate:

I ordered a 2" body lift from BJs Offroad tonight. I'm going to have another look at the skidplate and see if I need to buy a new one (close to $400!!! :eek: ).

letank 08-12-2011 06:07 PM

Late find about your swap.

Definitively an eye opener on the rusted gas tank skid plate.... I have a cali 85..... need to check it out.

budojeepr 08-13-2011 10:06 AM


Originally Posted by letank
Late find about your swap.

Welcome! :thumbsup:

Definitively an eye opener on the rusted gas tank skid plate.... I have a cali 85..... need to check it out.
I took about an hour to clean the skid plate. I chipped the crud and rust out with an old wood chisel, then used a drill motor and wire brush. Turns out most of the rust seems to have been from somewhere else than the skid plate. I hope.

Yes, the plate was rusty and there were two places where it was pinholed, but all in all it was pretty solid. It was all galvanized metal and seemed to have lasted fairly well. I don't have the scratch to put up $400-ish for a new skid plate, so I think I'll try to re-use it while hedging my bets.

I drilled drain holes in strategic (I hope) places, cleaned it out really well (Dawn dish soap and a wheel brush), dried it, then painted it with Rust Mort (cha-ching!). Last night I sprayed it with a coat of hammered black. Looks great!

I also ordered a rubber mat and support bracket from Team Grand Wagoneer. The original support bracket was not galvanized. Interesting...

Also yesterday I cleaned off the poly tank and then removed the fuel sender and cleaned all that off. I drained as much of the old fuel as I could (not easy, must have looked like I was playing WWE - smackdown! - with it). One of the nipples in the fuel sender assembly had come loose, so I did some JB Weldin' on it. The float had fuel in it, so I'm not sure what I can do about that. Coat it with rubber cement? Are replacements available? Time for some research.

Last week I tore out all the old wiring harness, labeling all the blinkers, headlight ends, etc. that I think I'll need for the new wiring harness. I ordered a bunch of relays and pigtails from MCM Electronics (online, Google them - good prices). I'm going to clean up the engine compartment wiring, using ideas from Alan Horvath's web site.

Aside: Mr Horvath seems to have been a good guy. RIP man.

JPSwapMohn 08-13-2011 04:03 PM

You can get replacement sending units. I ordered one from BJ's along with the poly tank that I put into the NT Cherokee that I gave my Dad. The top of my original metal tan had holes rusted through it, along with the area around the sending unit. Lots o rust inside as well..

Getting the contraption out from under the rig was no fun. Putting the new one in was not so bad..

Looks like you are having a good time!

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