You’ve probably noticed that progress on the JeepMonster has been glacially slow. It’s mostly been due to higher-priority projects around home and a lot of travel (about 50% of our time since mid-June), but there’s also been a big unknown: How should I set up the brakes?
It’s fairly obvious to me that six disc brakes will use more fluid than four, but how to size the master cylinder and adjust the fluid flow to each axle has flummoxed me for the longest time. And because I couldn’t figure out the brakes, everything else ground to a halt, as well.
But I now have a solution! It comes with a trade-off, but I think it’ll work. (Actually, it *has* to work!)
While I was researching the clutch parts, I asked Wilwood what they’d recommend for the brakes – cylinder size, proportioning, compatibility with power assist, and so forth. I was hoping they’d have a power brake solution that would look the same as the clutch solution, but, alas, they don’t. The pedal assemblies they make aren’t compatible with any kind of power assist – but then I found a pedal that will activate TWO single-outlet master cylinders. It even comes with a balance bar that can be adjusted to provide more force (which I hope translates into more fluid flow) to one master than the other.
So I ordered this pedal, and two identical single-outlet master brake cylinders, one of which will work the front axle and one of which will work the center and rear axles – I hope.
It *seems* to be a simple, straightforward solution to my braking challenge. I may need a proportioning valve between the two rear axles, but that’s still simpler than trying to get all the braking out of one master cylinder – even if it *does* have two outlets. I also might have to get a different-size bore for one or the other (I’m starting with 3/4-inch bore for both), but that’s a cost I’m willing to bear if necessary. I don’t *think* I’ll have to re-engineer the complete system!
The trade-off I mentioned is that I don’t have power assist on the brakes. But the pedals are both 7:1 ratios, so I should be able to stomp on the brakes hard enough to stop the ‘Monster. I hear disc brakes are pretty grabby…
(Note: All photos are from the Wilwood site. Links to each photo/catalog item are included.)
A couple of months ago I showed you the following photo, which includes more than 60 different hues, tints, surface textures, and so on—all “red” in some way, shape, or form.
I’m pleased to announce the winner in the “JeepMonster Color” sweepstakes: “Suddenly Red”, Number PSB 1748 in the Prismatic Powders universe. It’s a deep, burgundy (or maybe maroon) type of red that appears different in different types of light:
We think it’ll go well with black accents (roll cage, windshield frame, etc.) and a grey bedliner interior.
I (sort of) have a color scheme for the JeepMonster!
Anyone who has been around 1971 and earlier CJ-5s and -6s knows that there were some parts that you could have in any color, as long as they were black. Specifically, the windshield frame wasn’t painted the body color until after AMC acquired the brand. Before then, windshield frames were black. Because the ‘Monster is registered as a ‘57 CJ-6, it’ll have a (gloss or semi-gloss) black windshield frame and hinges. Other black items will include the roll cage, the frame, and most of the running gear (axles, tie rod/drag link, etc.). Most of the black will be powdercoating; the rest will be some sort of durable (?!?) black paint.
The interior, the underside, and the engine bay will be coated with several layers. The first will be a LizardSkin product for heat reflection, followed by a different LizardSkin product for sound dampening. On top of those will be a bedliner product (such as Rhino Lining, Line-X, or something similar) for skid resistance and to protect the LizardSkin layers. The bedliner will be grey (perhaps Durabak light-grey-textured), as a compromise between black (too much heat retention) and white (shows the dirt too easily).
The “public” surfaces (tub, cowl, hood, fenders, tailgate, etc.) will be powdercoated red—at least, until I actually price the powdercoating. I reserve the right to change my mind on the coating material, but it will be red. The question then becomes, *which* red? When I went to North American Powder Coating here in Tucson, they gave me a company to look at for colors: Prismatic Powders. It turns out that Prismatic Powders has more than 6,500 combinations of color, product type, and finish! By narrowing the finish to gloss, and the color to red, I narrowed the choices down to about 65 (see photo). Now all we have to do is pick one!
Once upon a time, many moons ago, I brought the JeepMonster home from the builder’s shop. You can read all about that here. I was newly involved with the wonderful woman who is now my wife and, as a result, not much happened for the next almost-six-years. (Well, not much happened on the ‘Monster. A *LOT* happened in my life!)
In my last blog post I described the work we did in 2021 to make a new home for the beast.
I’m VERY proud of the fact that, as of this past Friday (April 15, 2022), the JeepMonster now lives at the same address as we do! (In fact, this date marks the first time in my wife’s and my relationship that ALL of our possessions are at one address.)
Here’s what we started with: A JeepMonster in a rented space, and a sort-of-empty shop at home.
When we moved the ‘Monster from my house to the JeepHouse in 2018, we used Eastside Towing, a small towing company that had been recommended to us. We liked them well enough that we asked them to move it again, which they were happy to do.
Eastside Towing is very small, very professional, and very friendly. We will be using them again, as the ‘Monster still needs a trip back to the fabricator for some finish work, and that has to happen WELL before it’s under its own power.
Here’s the happy owner, with a happy shop and a happy ‘Monster – and a happy wife. (The rope held the hood and windshield frame in place during the ride home.)
The space formerly known as the JeepHouse now holds only some leftover items that are for sale on Craigslist and a couple of brooms to sweep out all the accumulated out before I hand the keys back to the landlord.
You may have noticed that I’ve been VERY quiet for the past eleven months. I hadn’t even realized it was that long until I decided to update everyone on why I hadn’t written anything in a while…
Back in mid-2019 my wife and I began the long and tedious process of adding a shop and carport to our property. Because we were asking for city code variances on both structures, we split our application into two separate parts so that, if they weren’t both approved, we could build at least one. The first set of permits was issued in January 2020, but the second set wasn’t approved until January 2021 (due to the type of variance, the required review process, and the fact that everything was thrown for a loop by the COVID-19 pandemic). Then we had to renew the earlier, expired permits. Construction began in early February 2021.
And it was a whirlwind! For four solid months, people were arriving as early as 6 AM to start work for the day. This work included (as an add-on project) replacing our (perennially leaky) roof (and adding a peak to the flat section); digging sewer, water, and electrical trenches (at different times and in different places); upgrading our electrical service from 100 to 400 amps; replacing the falling-down wooden property-line fences with woven-steel fences; pouring concrete; and actually *building* an 18-by-25-foot workshop and a 14-by-25-foot carport (which morphed from a “truckport” for our F-350 to a “RAVport” for our RAV4).
By May 2021, everything under contract had been substantially completed. Shortages were beginning to appear, though, due to the ice storm in Texas the preceding February. Our garage doors, for instance, were delayed several weeks because we ordered one to be insulated and the insulating foam wasn’t available. We also had to change the surface sheen of the paint we were using because the base with the original sheen was out of stock – nation-wide! And we had decided to do much of the finishing work ourselves, due to the unexpected prices we were charged for the project.
Over the next nine months, we fitted work on the shop and RAVport around everything else we were doing. We had hoped to have the JeepHouse (the rented storage space cum workshop) emptied by December 31, but that day came and went and we were nowhere near ready to bring everything home. So work on that continues, with a hard deadline of May 31 (which is when my lease on the JeepHouse expires). We’re close – if we concentrated on this, and had nothing else to do, we could be out by the end of March – but probably won’t be completely out until sometime in April.
These two images from a year ago (above) show the street view before any major changes. The truck in the left photo is our 2017 F-350, affectionately known as the BAT (for “Big Ass Truck”). The car in the right photo just happened to be parked there at the time. The photo below, taken Christmas Eve 2021, is the current street view. About the only visible thing common to both (other than the street itself) is the top of our garden tool shed peeking over the fence at the right.
In addition to replacing the front (west) fence with a wall/fence, and building a carport where the truck sat, we also replaced the north fence with basketweave steel (like the panels and the gates) and built a workshop. The below left photo shows the original decrepit 10×10 shed that came with the house; the new building (below right) is our 18×25 shop, with a 14×8 garage door. It’s fully insulated, heated & cooled, and has an ADA-compliant 3/4 bathroom. The idea is that we can use it as a shop now, and if/when we need extra living space for us as we age in place, we can convert it to a “casita.”
The photo below shows the back (west) wall, with tools and parts. The bathroom door is to the right, and the garage door is behind me. The JeepMonster will be moved soon. That means we have to figure out, VERY CAREFULLY, where everything else goes.
There’s still a lot of work to do before the JeepMonster can come home, but at long last my wife and I know where all our tools are and can put our hands on what we need when we need it. That’s a HUGE improvement!
Stay tuned! It’s going to be fun getting all the remaining Jeep parts, the ‘Monster, and the other stuff out of the JeepHouse, home, and at least temporarily settled in. I suspect we’ll be doing a lot of rearranging and sorting before it’s all said and done.
You may remember my “one step back” from my last post, in which I lamented the need to *do something* about how the new engine’s valve cover prevented my using the custom compressor bracket I had built. Options included bashing in the valve cover corner, making do with three bolts to hold the air compressor to an altered bracket, and building a new bracket. I chose to build a new bracket, and ordered the parts I needed.
When the parts arrived, I took them to the JeepHouse, where I measured and fit, fit and measured, checked again, and finally cut one of the brackets to weld to the other – and IT DIDN’T FIT RIGHT! (I hate it when that happens…) So I cussed a bit, fiddled a bit, fudged a bit more, and finally decided that it Just. Wouldn’t. Work. Grrr!
That left me with two options: I could build a taller platform on the existing bracket, or I could accept a three-bolt mounting for the air compressor. To make a too-long story somewhat shorter, after trying several ways to make the taller platform, I opted to stay with what I had. I think three bolts will be fine – especially since they’re 3/8″ bolts! The York compressor on the left is for my compressed-air system, while the Sanden compressor on the right is for my air conditioning.
In other news, I finished building my air box! I showed you my snorkel / air intake last time; since then, I cut five pieces of steel and welded them together to make an almost-watertight enclosure for the air filter. The next photo shows the cardboard template I made:
In translating from cardboard to steel, I had to make a few adjustments, but here’s the final product:
The welds are ugly, it needs to be painted, and I have to seal the seams, the bolt holes, and the collar, but – hey, I did it all by myself! The top of the air box will be fitted with a linear gasket that the hood will rest on when it’s closed. I even checked to verify that actual air can get down the snorkel tube and to the filter:
So now I have all the air (sources) I need: engine air through the air box; compressed air through the York compressor; and cold air through the Sanden compressor.
I actually made time this week to *DO SOMETHING* on the JeepMonster!
Forward Step #1: In my last post I mentioned I had bought a Genesis Offroad dual-battery management system. I like it because it has all the “management” stuff mounted on a plate that also serves as the battery hold-down plate, meaning I don’t have to find other real estate in a crowded engine bay for all the electronic stuff. On the other hand, I don’t like it because the universal-mount battery tray has ZERO attachment points – no brackets, no bolt holes… nothing. I had to make my own. So I mocked it up, decided it would fit in the (almost) original battery location, and welded two pieces of 2×2 angle iron to the tray. The first piece holds the back of the tray to the firewall, while the second, smaller piece bolts the front of the tray to the inner fenderwell.
Forward Step #2: Once I had located the batteries, I started building the cold-air intake system. I’m using a FiTech EFI system which, obviously, needs air. I decided to build an air box that will fit on the fender in front of the batteries; the top of the box will be formed by the hood. To get air *into* the box, I therefore had to cut a hole in the hood. (This became the first major alteration I’ve made… It caused me great consternation to actually be cutting up a part of the ‘Monster!)
I bought a Hummer snorkel cap first, because I felt that would provide the best air flow without attaching the snorkel to the windshield (which I like to put down when I can). Then I looked for a pipe… and looked… and looked. It turns out that the base of the Hummer cap is 4.5 inches in diameter, and most of the pipes I found were either four inches or five inches. I finally found a four-foot length of 4.5-inch diameter chrome big-rig diesel exhaust pipe and decided to use that, because one end was already flared to fit over the other end. With the pipe in hand, I cut the hood:
I made the cut about a half-inch at a time and test-fitted the pipe repeatedly, because it wasn’t going to be a circular hole on the hood – it had to follow the hood’s contour and I wanted it to be a close fit so I could weld the two together. When I finished the hole, I figured out how long the pipe should be (about four inches) and cut it off the big piece. I then ground off all the chrome so the welding would be easier. Some very sloppy welding later, I had firmly attached the short piece to the hood:
Just to test the fit, I set the long piece over the short one:
I hope not to need the snorkel *too* often – first, because I live in the desert, and second, because the intake is almost five feet off the ground anyway – but it’s good insurance. And this way, the engine gets cool(er) and less-dusty air from outside the engine bay.
I haven’t built the air box yet, but I ordered an “air hat,” a conical air filter, and a universal air filter mount from Airaid. After I get the placement right and the air box built, I’ll figure out how to connect the filter with the air hat.
Now for the “one step back”: When I took the old engine to PV Auto for a checkup, I took the four accessories (alternator, Sanden a/c compressor, York air compressor, and power steering pump) off. You may remember from another earlier post that I built a custom mounting bracket for the two compressors. Well, that bracket doesn’t fit the new engine. The driver side fits fine, but the customized passenger side, where I cut the original bracket down and added a flat plate for the York, is too low – it doesn’t fit over the valve cover. The York is held to the plate with four bolts; even with the offending bolt removed, the plate itself is too low.
I toyed with several options – getting lower valve covers; smashing in the corner of the current valve cover with a hammer to make it fit; and cutting off the offending corner and making do with three bolts holding the York to the plate – but I surprised myself by being disappointed that I wouldn’t get to weld more stuff together. I don’t know if this sets a dangerous precedent or not, but this morning I ordered two new brackets and will build another custom one to hold both compressors.
On balance, the project has moved forward this week (figuratively, NOT literally!), but it would have been nicer if the new valve covers weren’t higher than the old ones.
I think (I HOPE!) I also have all the right pieces to reassemble the drivetrain. I had originally planned to use the existing clutch disc and pressure plate, but when I went with the new engine (which meant I needed a new flywheel), I decided I’d also get new clutch parts. My first order from Summit Racing was totally wrong – I didn’t bother to measure anything, so the 11-inch clutch disc and pressure plate didn’t fit either the 12-inch flywheel or the transmission input shaft. My second try was better – I got the right size clutch disc – but despite my best efforts (which included a call to Summit Racing) and the fact that I didn’t know what I didn’t know, the pressure plate I bought was apparently for a Ford. All my other parts are GM. Specifically, the pressure plate had eight mounting points while the flywheel has six. *sigh* Another call to Summit Racing, and a third pressure plate arrived a few days ago. It *looks* correct – it’s listed as 12 inches in diameter, and it has six boltholes to hold it to the flywheel, but I’m not going to relax until it’s actually all bolted together. (Side note: I won’t be reassembling the drivetrain as soon as I had originally thought. It’s going to be much easier to figure out the steering, clutch, and brakes if I can put the engine in and take it out relatively easily as I mock up pieces and parts and holes. Especially holes!)
Next up: The air box and the custom compressor bracket, followed by the steering column, the brake and clutch pedals, and the instrument panel. THAT should keep me busy for a while…
I really didn’t think it would take this long to get going (yet again) on the JeepMonster, but here it is – late February 2021, and I’ve finally made time to do some search (I hesitate to call it “research” because I’m doing it for the first time) and purchase.
Since listing my Dana Spicer Model 18 transfer case for sale (it’s still available, by the way), the only thing I’ve really done was take delivery of my new engine. I’ll never use most of its power and torque; the 345 max HP is at 5000 RPM and the max 425 lb-ft of torque is at 4400 RPM. While I hope I never rev much over 3000, there’s still a good amount of power (220 HP) and torque (390 lb-ft) at that speed, so I think I’m going to be all right. The new engine required a new flywheel and harmonic balancer, so I bought those in November, along with a new pilot bearing, clutch disc, pressure plate, and throwout bearing. Of course, the disc and pressure plate were the wrong size, so I had to exchange them. And the pressure plate assembly I want / need is on backorder, so I haven’t been able to reassemble my drivetrain yet. *sigh*
But all is not lost. The JeepMonster’s ultimate home is beginning to take shape on our property, so I’ve been looking at catalogs and websites to try to rebuild momentum on the ‘Monster itself. Just this weekend, for example, I purchased the following:
A 4.5-inch diameter length of big-rig exhaust pipe, from which I will build part of my cold-air intake system
I also started thinking about where to mount the batteries; how to build and where to place the air box; how to build one tall tailgate from two standard-height ‘gates (without warping them!); and how the instrument panel will look.
Now all I have to do is make the time to *WORK* on the ‘Monster.
…No, I haven’t given up on the JeepMonster, not by a long shot! But I *do* have this fantastic, probably-one-of-a-kind, highly customized Spicer Model 18 transfer case that’s looking for a good home. It was rebuilt in 2014, at the beginning of the ‘Monster project, and has zero miles on it since then.
1. 4.86:1 low range 2. Dana 20 front output cover and assembly 3. Twin-stick operation 4. Front and rear 1350-series strap-style U-joint yokes 5. Custom rear support for Dana 20-style input shaft 6. 31-spline spud shaft for NV4500 transmission
The transfer case was originally modified by O’Briens 4 Wheels West in Roseville, CA, with the 4.86:1 low range gearset and the custom Dana 20 input shaft rear support in 2003. At the time, it was installed into a 1961 CJ-5 with a GM SBC 350 crate motor and an early-GM NV4500 transmission. In late 2005 I rolled the CJ-5. While the drivetrain was undamaged (I drove out to the trailhead after the rollover), the Jeep sat untouched until 2014, when I began a rebuild. I took the transfer case back to O’Briens and asked them to go through it. Among other things, I asked them to upgrade the yokes from 1310-series to 1350, remove the parking-brake drum, and replace the Spicer 18 front output assembly with a modified Dana 20 assembly. They also replaced the intermediate shaft and its bearings.
The CJ-5 rebuild has since morphed into an ongoing customized 6WD CJ-6 project (you can read about that at https://gonzodave001.wordpress.com/). Because I now have a much heavier vehicle, I don’t think the Spicer 18 will hold up well. I was very happy with it while I used it and hope someone else will also be pleased with the super-low low range.
NOTE: Because of the different gear sizes for the 4.86:1 low range, a Saturn overdrive will not work with this transfer case. That wasn’t a problem for me, as I had overdrive in the transmission.
I want $1000. The price is firm. Over the years, I have put more than $4000 into the transfer case. You’re getting a good deal. In addition, I can ship anywhere in the U.S. I have a custom-built wooden shipping crate for it. I will ask you to pay the shipping cost, though, as the ‘case and box are overweight. I can deliver locally (meaning within 2 or 3 hours’ driving time of Tucson), or you can come pick it up.
Well, I’ve made my decision and plunked my credit card down on the counter. Thank you to everyone who made suggestions, ranging from “buy a basic 350” to “build the stroker” and beyond.
The guys at PV Auto took me under their wing and showed me some details on my two options: Build or buy. Rebuilding my engine could have run as much as $4,600 ($1,500 for pistons, bottom end, etc.; $1,500 for machining the block; $800 for top end (cam, etc.); and $800 for them to put it all together), without any warranty. Or I could buy a “new” Gen I SBC (350 or 383) from one of the myriad of builders and suppliers out there and get a reasonable warranty with it.
Specifically, we looked at the offerings from ATK High Performance Engines. ATK builds 350s from 290 HP up to 500 HP (with a blower), and 383 strokers from 320 HP to 525 HP. A lot of these are built for high-revving (more than 5,000 RPM) applications, though, and I hope NEVER to get mine above 3,500 RPM. Further, a lot of these are *way* out of my price range!
We narrowed the feasible options to two: The HP291P (325 HP and 375 lb-ft of torque) and the HP98 (345 HP and 400 lb-ft of torque). The engines are essentially the same; the primary physical difference between them is the camshaft: The HP291P has a “hydraulic flat tappet” cam and the HP98 has a “hydraulic roller” cam. There are also some differences in the duration and lift specs between the cams, which is what (I assume) provides the different HP and torque numbers.
Since they differed in price by only $360, I got the one with the bigger numbers. Even at the low RPM numbers I’ll see, it makes good power (at 3,000 RPM, where the dyno chart on the website starts, it shows about 220 HP and almost 390 lb-ft).
The next wrinkle involved delivery times. Going through the distributor that PV Auto commonly uses, who orders direct from the manufacturer (ATK in this case), gave me an estimated delivery around 7 weeks away. However, they would pay for the shipping on the returned core (e.g., my trashed engine). Summit Racing, on the other hand, had a couple in stock (for the exact same price!) and they could ship the same day. No brainer, right? Not so fast! To get the core back to the manufacturer, *I* would have to pay the shipping on it! What to do, what to do?… It ain’t cheap to ship a 400-pound boat anchor – er, engine. I would get the core charge of $310 back either way, but most of that would be eaten up by the shipping charges through Summit.
In the end, I decided to go with the Summit engine. I’m okay with leaving the core charge on the table so I can get the engine sooner. I can get a few dollars by taking my old one to a scrapyard, but I might also be able to sell it for a bit more to someone who wants a generally good block to build.
So Summit it is. PV Auto ordered the engine yesterday and it should arrive in 7 to 10 days. Woo-Hoo!
Again, thank you to everyone who took the time to comment and offer suggestions. I really appreciate your responses.