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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
To my dear ROF family, welcome to the build of my 1986 Jeep Comanche Custom. Hopefully you will find this entertaining at the very least.

I drove half way through Iowa on December 3rd, 2011 to take a look at this “destined for scrap” truck. The poor truck had been sitting, untouched since 2004 and was sporting a completely mismatched set of wheels with flat tires. There was a transmission and transfercase sitting in the bed, the faded blue interior had that putrid moldy fabric smell and it was clear the truck was doing it’s Jeeply duty by rusting away.

This is what I brought home:


You might be asking yourself why anybody would waste a day driving 14 hours to retrieve a rusty Jeep. Sometime I ask myself that same question. The truck was advertised as having a solid frame and good long bed cap, which to my surprise, it did. What I paid for the entire truck is usually the going rate for a hard to find long bed cap.

What exactly did this truck come with?
  • 2.5L throttle body injection, 165K miles
  • Dana 30 front axle, 3.55 gears with CAD
  • Dana 35 rear axle, 3.55 gears
  • AX5 transmission I believe this was sourced from a YJ due to the transfer case linkage setup
  • NP207 transfer case
I wont bore you with the details and steps I took to get the truck roadworthy, but if you are so inclined feel free to skim my build on Comanche Club. Over the past couple of years I have been upgrading and replacing worn out parts and known weak points on the truck. This effort was done to establish reliability, improve driveability and increase off road capability.




The truck now sports the following
Engine:
Stock 2.5L with aluminum valve cover swap, EGR elimination, rerouted and rebuilt vacuum lines
New radiator, Mopar thermostat, radiator hoses, heater hoses, Oxygen sensor, IAT sensor and Crankshaft position sensor.​

Transmission:
YJ AX5 with resurfaced flywheel (the 2.5 does not have a curved surface like the 4.0), LUK clutch, 94 XJ external slave cylinder bellhousing, Mopar release bearing, with a NAPA master cylinder.​

Front Axle:
1993 Dana 30, 4.10 gears rebuilt with Spicer ball joints, NAPA wheel bearings, new rotors/calipers/pads, Chevy 1500 brake lines and new V8 ZJ tie rod and draglink.​

Rear Axle:
1998 Ford Explorer 8.8, 4.10 gears and limited slip with RuffStuff swap kit, NAPA rotor, loaded Centric caliper, Dorman brake lines, SpiderTrax wheel spacer and a Spicer companion flange.​

Suspension:
The front suspension utilizes the factory control arms with new Moog bushings, a set of used RE 3.5” TJ coil springs, Monroe YJ shocks, JKS swaybar disconnects and a used RE 1600 trackbar with Moog tie rod end at the frame.

The rear suspension maintains the factory leaf springs that have been rebuilt with an extra MJ main leaf, Bilstein 5125 shocks and Chevy drop shackles.​

Body:
The rockers were disappearing due to rust so they were replaced with ¼” 2x4 box. I installed a Fey rear bumper and a Valley 2” hitch.​

Tires:
Cooper Discoverer AT3, 265/75R15 on stock Jeep wheels​

Interior:
Since the interior of the truck was subpar, I removed the failing bench seat and carpet then replaced them with a set of seats and center console from a 1999 XJ.​

I am sure you are thinking ‘big deal’ at this point. The truck maybe ugly, but it is rock solid, extremely comfortable and is a great base to start experimenting with overland gear. Let me explain. I am also building a 1992 Comanche from the ground up. It is a dream of mine to drive the ‘92 to and through Alaska, taking as much dirt as possible. This ‘86 will be used as a test mule for overland gear in an effort to fine tune it and find weaknesses before the big trip. Any and all projects devoted to surviving off the grid will need to be removeable and able to be installed on the ‘92 with minimal effort.

My intention is to equip the truck with basic overland gear, starting with the truck cap. It needs new struts, gaskets and seals. The cap will be topped off with LED lights: interior, porch, and yard. Powering the lights will be a single house battery charged via solar and possibly the $50 Isolator. I would like to develop light weight gear storage solutions in the bed of the truck and explore sleeping options under the cap.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
The first trip for this rusty wonder is set for late Spring, destination: Ozark National Forest. This post highlights two improvements to the truck, a raised air intake (because the it rides relatively low) and an improve departure angle.

First step: Raising the intake. In my opinion, there are really only two options at raising the intake on theses trucks, a cowl intake or a snorkel. Since I am building this truck on the cheap, I opted to give the China made Amazon snorkel a try.
http://amzn.com/B00B90NGBK

Measure, measure, measure. Then drill! My measurements were vastly different than the template provided with the snorkel kit. Test fit the snorkel body, crossing your fingers that you measured correctly. Not pictured is the a-pillar bracket riveted to the windshield frame. I used my own stainless rivets not the provided rivets.


I opted to use a 4.0 HO airbox in the truck since the filters are easily found at the parts stores (unlike the 86 air filters which are a different shape) and it eliminates the vacuum doors in the airbox. I fastened the snorkel adapter to the front of the airbox with button head bolts with lock washers and sealer. Here you can see the HO airbox plumbed in to the 2.5 TBI unit. I am not crazy about the twist in the intake tube, but I haven't noticed any change in the 2.5's performance.


Installed and ready for action.


Next step. Increase departure angle by replacing the Fey bumper and Valley hitch with a DIY bumper I bought in 2012. The bumper comes to you in a small, unassuming, box. Once unpackaged you have to figure out how to bend metal to specific angles in an under-equipped garage. This was extremely challenging since this was my first true fabrication project.

Bumper starting to take shape.


I did purchase a real Curt receiver hitch to replace the piece of box tube that was sold to me in the bumper kit that was intended to be used as a receiver.

Finished:


Believe it or not, this heavy duty bumper weighs less than the Fey bumper + Hitch combo I pulled from the truck. Weight savings, an unforeseen upgrade!
 

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I love the Commanche's, I keep looking for one but they are hard to find the right model these days.
 

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Commanche's are cool!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hey guys, there is only one 'M' in Comanche :) I agree, they are super cool!

Greenbean - My advise is to buy the straightest, rust free truck you can find, regardless of model/trim/2wd or 4wd/is it running... Motor and drive train swaps from XJs are nearly 'bolt-in'. The body is always the most expensive to repair. We won't talk about my total investment in my '92 that I haven't touched in 8 months :(

John - I will be doing very little to the body rust. In typical MJ fashion the rust started at seams that have long since disappeared. The only feasible way to repair the rust would be replacement parts. Bed, tailgate, doors and fenders. That gets expensive fast. I did replace the rotted rocker panels with 1/4" 2x4 box and welded new floor pans in. I have discovered another hole in the floor that needs patched as well as some rust treatment on the windshield frame.

This beauty is my daily driver in the winter to keep my Rubi out of the salt spray. It gets 20mpg @ 180k miles and nobody parks next to me in busy parking lots. It's a Win-Win-Win! I took it in to get an alignment after the AT3's where mounted and the service guy had a look terror on his face when he saw the truck. I can only imagine what he expected to see under there. Once it was done he told me the trucks chassis was in better shape than the newer cars that come in.

My next three projects are: Riddler 8.8 diff cover, Warn transfercase skid, and a new exhaust manifold (which will involve pulling the head and having it rebuilt).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Even though I haven't done anything exciting to the truck, I did visit Teeterville, KS during the burn season. It is one of those lesser known mounuments only a few locals know about.


The truck has been running well and is sitting at about 182k miles. I am having an issue with the fuel gauge that I have yet to solve. The tailgate started to get difficult to open and close so I disassembled the latch mechanism, cleaned up the handle and pins and treated them with graphite. Now it is silky smooth! I also had an annoying exhaust rattle that required a new clamp.

The Cooper AT3's are at 6k miles and are due for a rotation. These tires continue to impress me on this truck.



I am not sure if I can convince my wife to let us take the truck to Woodland Park, CO this July for a wedding we are to attend. It would be a long drive in the HOT plains without A/C, but I'd like to do it :) You see, I'd like to do some exploring the few days she helps prepare for the ceremony and I don't think my Rubi would have enough cargo space to get all of the decorations out there...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I took this truck to Colorado over the weekend of the 4th. It ran great and even rode smoother than my Rubi on the trails. The little 2.5 TBI even maintained speed over Monarch Pass better than my fathers Rubi! It did struggle starting above 11,000' but never failed to do so.

Here I am on Mt. Antero at 13,200'. I did not climb to the very top as a thunderstorm was rolling in.


Another noteworthy location was reaching the top of American Flag Mountain at 12,700'. Fitting for the 4th of July weekend.




Proud of my truck! It is a real trooper!






We did clear a large diameter 60' pine from the road on the Cement Creek side of the Reno Divide road. Don't worry USFS, the Kansans did your job with nothing more than a snatch block a few straps and a winch. There was no way our group could have followed the ATV trail around the tree as we had a 3/4ton Dodge bringing up the rear. As a bonus, the illegal route around the fallen tree is now blocked by said fallen tree.


I did learn that I need to get a NP231 tcase. The dang NP207 whines like a cat with its tail in a blender while in 4lo.
 

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