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Jeep Space - Coonass78

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Phillip Malbrough
43 years old
Join Date: 11-08-2012
Total Posts:
Last Activity 03-23-2016
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Year & Model  
1978 CJ5
AMC 304 V8
Borg-Warner T15
Transfer Case  
Spicer 20
Front Axle  
Dana 30
Rear Axle  
AMC 20
Gear Ratio  
Gabriel Ultra shocks, Rancho leaf springs and
steering stabilizer with a Skyjacker boot.
Courser OTD 33x12.5-R15LT
15" Dick Cepek's
Planning for a winch, 3 gallon air compressor,
and bed spare tire carrier.
Rugged Ridge front and rear bumpers, and fender
flares. (Got the side steps too. Still in the
Still have the original backseat/toolbox. Not
sure what to do with it, I don't keep it in the
Future Mods  
Aside from much-needed body work and paint,
thinking of adding a CB radio.
Audio, CB, & Electrical
Tires & Wheels
Transfer Case

This is my first Jeep. Always wanted one
for as long as I can remember, especially
since I was in the military. The Marines
had Hummers by then, but being stationed
in Hawaii everyone thought Jeeps were
awesome vehicles to take to the beach,
cruise around with the top and doors off,
trail riding, and other outdoor
activities. Opportunity finally came my
way in 2012, and in shopping around for
one I kinda knew what I wanted and settled
on a '78 AMC CJ5 for $4800. It's actually
kinda hard to find them in decent shape
under $5000, I guess 'cause with little
body and styling changes they hold their
value well sort of like Harley-Davidson's;
and I thought it was really cool 'cause
being '78 was the same year I was born. I
bought it from a guy in Crowley, Louisiana
who's newly-wed wife pretty much gave him
an ultimatum. He had it stored inside a
barn/garage/shop, not sure how many hands
it's went through before him, but he only
took it out for fun playing around in the
crawfish ponds and cruising those country
back roads out there. After completing the
purchase, I then drove it a little over
160 miles to get it home. In shopping
around for one I didn't really care too
much for the Chrysler-Wranglers, I did
find a few locally, and I'm mostly into
classic cars and trucks but early flat
fenders are very hard to find especially
where I'm from. When I traced the VIN #, I
learned that the 304 V8 wasn't the
original engine, originally it had a 258
I6. Subsequently the Borg-Warner T15
tranny isn't original either 'cause Jeeps
only used that particular transmission
from '72-'75, but I believe originally it
may have been a Tremec T150. (*More on
that later.) Another note on the 304 V8,
after doing a little research on the
engine block casting number, it's stamped
#3195527 just above the bell housing on
the driver side, the only information I've
found was that it was manufactured between
1970-1981. To get any more in depth I
would need the original valve cover tag
which it didn't have when I purchased it,
but the engine-transmission pairing does
sort of narrow it down a bit. I've also
made several modifications to the engine
since I got it. Added a 4-barrel Edelbrock
carborater and fuel intake, new Omix-Ada
valve covers (to replace the worn
after-market ones), DUI distributor, 140
amp East Coast Electric alternator, and
basic tune up stuff like new plugs, wires,
solenoid, and battery. Since the carb and
intake upgrades, all I run in it is 100%
89 octane gasoline. It might be a little
overkill and cost a little more, but all I
want in my Jeep is pure decayed dinosaur
gasoline, none of that 90/10 corn gas. I
like the peace of mind I get, and I
suppose it's not that big of a leap using
the Plus gas over the Regular 87 octane.
No sense in going to Super unleaded 93
octane that would be overdoing it and
likely doing more harm than good. The AMC
304 is a good engine, but I wish they
would've put the oil filter lower and
facing down instead of high and sideways
like they got it; just doesn't seem very
effective that way. I've also had to swap
out the AMC 20 rear axle assembly, after
the driver side tire with axle still
attached came out an passed me on the
highway doing 70 mph, also replaced the
drive shaft and U-joints after it left me
stranded on the highway on another
occasion, but that's another story. Went
back with the same AMC 20 rear end and
3.55 gears. After doing the axle swap I
found a problem in one of my locking hubs,
by way of changing them out to Warn
locking hubs, and it looks like I may have
to do a front axle swap as well. Wish I
would've known that when I changed the
rear 'cause I would've went with a better
gear ratio. One of these days I want to
reswap the rear for 4.11 gears and the
same in the front Dana 30 axle. Some say
the Dana 44 rear axle is better than the
AMC 20, but there's just a lot of debate
over that issue so I find it's just much
easier to work with what I got. And while
I'm at it I'd like to swap out the
Borg-Warner T15 tranny for a Ford NP435
T18. They say the T15 is the best 3-speed
ever made, but after doing a little
research I believe the only thing I'll
need to upgrade to a T18 4-speed, besides
the correct bell housing (*kinda wish it
had that T150 tranny in it), is a Novak
conversion kit #188 to the Spicer 20
transfer case. For cosmetic changes,
exterior I've changed the front and rear
bumpers, the fender flares, new rims, new
mirrors, new gas cap and tank filler
cover, added a Bestop bikini top and half
doors. I've also replaced the mufflers,
shocks, and steering stabilzer. When I
first purchased my Jeep it had Hedman
headers and Flowmaster mufflers. I kept
the headers, but put some new Flowmaster
mufflers with 45 turnouts and chrome tips
just before the rear tires. The original
plan was to run true dual pipes out the
back, but I found out I couldn't do that
being the gas tank is offset for an
original one tail pipe to pass leaving no
room on the right side for a second pipe,
I could modify that and center it but it's
probably not worth the effort. I've also
upgraded most of the exterior and interior
hardware to go with a mostly black and a
few chrome parts sort of theme. I tend to
order a lot of things off the internet, and Jeg's being the
most used sites. Another good one to
mention is Collins Bros. Jeep, they got a
lot of hard-to-find parts that I couldn't
get anywhere else, as was the case in
locating an AMC 20 rear axle assembly. For
the interior, I've rebuilt the floorpans
(welded new sheet metal in both passenger
and driver sides, and touched up a few
other spots), and had some kind of
knock-off Rhino-liner coating sprayed
throughout. I've also replaced the seats
with Procar rally seats from Jeg's, and
replaced the steering wheel. When I
purchased my Jeep it had the steering
column and wheel replaced with one from a
GMC truck, I know this 'cause the steering
wheel actually said "GMC Truck"
on it. So I replaced it with a generic one
I picked up at an O'reilly's auto parts
store. I've also upgraded the shifter boot
to a custom vinyl one I had made at a
local upholstery shop after I've replaced
it 3 times with the rubber ones that kept
ripping. I've also had my brother, the
best carpenter I know, help me with adding
cypress planks over the rear wheel wells,
and it's a theme that we're planning on
carrying throughout upcoming
modifications. Planning on
replacing/upgrading/modifying the
dashboard to cypress wood with new gauges,
and also making the center console and
tailgate out of cypress wood. Currently
there's also a cypress plank added between
the front bumper and grill. Another
daunting task I have ahead of me is
rewiring the entire Jeep. Currently the
wiring is a complete mess; wiring and
hoses that start nowhere and go nowhere,
splices all over, most of the gauges don't
work, no turn signals. So I've picked up
some new Equus gauges; I'll be running my
reverse lights, turn signal lights, high
beams, and wipers on toggles switches, and
added a new AM/FM and CB radios. After
that project is complete we'll be
fabricating a new tailgate from cypress
wood for a one-of-a-kind custom job. But
that's what I love about my Jeep, there's
no reason to keep things
"original" or stock; it's made
to modify/customize/personalize, and make
it your own. This one is "My Original



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