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Old 12-06-2009, 09:05 PM
FSJhopeful FSJhopeful is offline
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Join Date: Dec 06, 2009
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
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Rebuilding 78 Cherokee Chief...HELP!!

Hi All, I am new to the forum and about to undertake a project which admittedly I am a bit underqualified for lol. My dad owned a 1978 Cherokee Chief which he bought brand new. Between 78 and 88 he put close to 300,000 miles on it then parked it behind his bar in central Alaska, where it still sits to this day. As a child I always loved the truck and planned to one day restore it, I have recently moved back to the state and to my surprise the jeep was still sitting back there. I have talked to the owner of the bar and he said I could take the jeep as long as I took the other one which is a 75 Cherokee. Now that I have bored everyone with the details of how I acquired this gem I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction as to where to start with this project? It currently has a 360 in it with I believe the TH400 automatic transmission..Many parts have been stollen out of the truck over the years but the drive train is still there..The body is in decent shape and the interior is about shot but at this point thats the least of my concern as I plan on this truck becoming a life long project..My plans as of right now are to drop a 401 in it since Im sure the current 360 is shot anyway might as well upgrade right? Eventually I would like to lift it, put lockers on and a laundry list of other upgrades but at this point I am only worried about getting it running.. Can the TH400 handle that torque put out by the larger motor? I am sure I will have to rebuilt the transmission as well due to miles and 20 years of sitting..My main question at this point is does resurecting this jeep from the dead after 20 years of sitting sound like it could be a possibility or just a pipe dream? Any help would be greatly appreciated..Thanks to everyone in advance!
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  #2  
Old 12-06-2009, 09:46 PM
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HOOT HOOT is offline
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Join Date: Mar 28, 2003
Location: Taylor Mill,KY 41015
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First off anything is possible..

I'd check the frames out and see what shape they are in. If they check out OK and aren't rotted in half or looking like it then drag them home.
From there check the engine.Look for any holes in the block or cracks. Pull the spark plugs and put some oil in the holes. I like to let them soak down at least overnight. Try turning it over by hand. Are you going to try and use this motor for a while? If so you will just about rebuild it replacing gaskets. Or go get that 401 and have at it.
The TH400 will handle it no problem as will the quadratrack if it has one still. It's going to need all new seals as well,so rebuilt it for good.
Same with every component on it and you'll have a nice Jeep in the end. Try and put it on the road as is after sitting for 21 years and good luck,keep a good set of walking boots and a cell phone handy.
You can almost bet every seal in that thing will be leaking or will leak very soon after sitting that long. Worth it in the end and it sounds like you get a practice Cherokee as well.
I'd be real careful with the wiring as well. It is old and likely messed up. Don't burn it down trying to fire it up. You can get just about anything you need for it still.
and by the way...........................
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Tom Gibson
1980 J20 Utility bed truck. Factory cab and chassis truck. Many new mods for it but it will look all stock.
1985 J10 nothing special just a nice clean stock truck.
1977 Honcho "Blue" 401/400/quad. Under going major upgrades.."This is Not Your Fathers Honcho", it may not even be a Honcho anymore when done.
2017 Challenger. Very jealous of the Jeeps.
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  #3  
Old 12-06-2009, 09:57 PM
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PompadourAMC PompadourAMC is offline
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Location: Nampa,IDAHO
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wow thats alot of miles.. x2 on everything above... but dont be discouraged. parts are available and even with remedial knowlegde a everything is rebuildable. Its all relative to upkeep and how deep your pockets can be... our jeeps that have been diving around for 20 years are (if nothing but driven) not far from where your starting! I know I do my share of walking and mine only sat for 3 years. If youve never driven one before, even when its running, bring a gas can!

AND owning a rig of your dads is awesome! keep the components you can and make it a legacy!

PS pipe dreams are fun anyway
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65 Waggy - pulled the 327 for my Rambler *gone*
82 limited -rear ended by some *&#!@ oh well *gone*

ANOTHER 82 limited - stock, 31s and my DD. It even still has all of the original AMC underhood nonsense.

Just picked up a 71 waggy with vw buckets, hurst shifter, SOA!!! and the saggiest springs Ive ever seen!

Last edited by PompadourAMC : 12-06-2009 at 09:59 PM.
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:03 PM
FSJhopeful FSJhopeful is offline
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Join Date: Dec 06, 2009
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
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Thanks Hoot, I needed to hear someone with more knowledge than me tell me this was a possible project I feel alot better about getting going now..This weekend I am going to get under the truck and really get a good look at everything..Glad to hear the quadratrack will hold upto the extra power of a 401 as I think thats the route I am going to go since everything is so much more expensive to either have done in Alaska or have shipped here the cost of rebuilding this motor vs purchasing a crate 401 are very comparible..I have one cell phone picture of the truck as it sits which I am trying to figure out how to post I will take my digital out this weekend and get higher quality pictures of everything..our short days and cold temps make that a bit difficult this time of year..again thank you for the reply and vote of confidence.
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  #5  
Old 12-06-2009, 10:04 PM
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PompadourAMC PompadourAMC is offline
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Ha! If you havent came up with one... a name can add a sense of endearment ... and if it hasnt missed a day at that bar in 20 yrs,

Id call it The Regular
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65 Waggy - pulled the 327 for my Rambler *gone*
82 limited -rear ended by some *&#!@ oh well *gone*

ANOTHER 82 limited - stock, 31s and my DD. It even still has all of the original AMC underhood nonsense.

Just picked up a 71 waggy with vw buckets, hurst shifter, SOA!!! and the saggiest springs Ive ever seen!
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  #6  
Old 12-06-2009, 10:06 PM
FSJhopeful FSJhopeful is offline
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Join Date: Dec 06, 2009
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
Posts: 9
thanks pompadour, my dad passed away in 2001 which really makes this jeep an important project to me..I never intend it to be a daily driver just a keepsake and of course a fun rig to bust out on certain days..and definitly at all times I intend to have a gas can and comfortable pair of walking shoes in the back haha
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  #7  
Old 12-06-2009, 10:09 PM
FSJhopeful FSJhopeful is offline
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Join Date: Dec 06, 2009
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
Posts: 9
great name man thanks! I have been trying to think of one..since I have been talking about rebuilding this truck for so many years all my buddies back in the states just affectionatly refer to her as "the chief" but I need a new one and "The Regular" sounds like a great start

Last edited by FSJhopeful : 12-06-2009 at 10:22 PM.
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  #8  
Old 12-06-2009, 10:40 PM
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MMinMN MMinMN is offline
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Location: Lake Wobegon, Minnesota
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Naming the Jeep

Or pehaps taking a line from cheers, you could call the jeep "NORM!!!!"

Good luck
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  #9  
Old 12-06-2009, 10:45 PM
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PompadourAMC PompadourAMC is offline
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Location: Nampa,IDAHO
Posts: 74
Whats shakin norm?
two chins and all four cheeks
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65 Waggy - pulled the 327 for my Rambler *gone*
82 limited -rear ended by some *&#!@ oh well *gone*

ANOTHER 82 limited - stock, 31s and my DD. It even still has all of the original AMC underhood nonsense.

Just picked up a 71 waggy with vw buckets, hurst shifter, SOA!!! and the saggiest springs Ive ever seen!
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