Category Archives: Car Stuff

Leaf Spring Rebuild for the Checker: Part 2

Worked on the rear leaf springs on the Checker today. This is what the brackets and leafs looked liked after coating with Metal Prep and using a brass wire wheel to remove the Metal Prep crust. Metal Prep is a zinc phosphate based solution that promotes adhesion to the primer and protects the surface by leaving a thin zinc coating behind. Primer can go directly over it if its not all flaky.

Here is all the parts hanging after I sprayed them with 2 coats of Mastercoat SPRAYABLE SLIM Ultimate Permanent Rust Sealer.

Now the rear leaf spring hangers have welded in bolts where the bushings ride. The bushings will just rub through the paint eventually so I am going to zinc plate the bolts and threads. Will zinc plate the leaf spring center bolt as well.

This is my simple zinc plating setup. Chemicals are from Caswell. I use inexpensive sous vide heaters to agitate and keep the chemical baths at proper temperatures.

Here is the leaf spring hangers and leaf spring center bolt before plating. These have been blasted with 220 grit in the vapor hone, treated with Metal Prep, and then wire wheeled.

Now I only want to plate the bolt and threaded section of the hangers and then paint the rest of it. I used a special 3M tape (3M 470 Electroplating tape) to mask off the sections I didn’t want to plate.

Here is one of the parts in the electroplating bath.

Here is the leaf spring center bolt after zinc plating and black chromating. The hangers are currently having the rust sealer painted on the none zinc’d parts.

Leaf Spring Rebuild for the Checker: Part 1

To get new leaf springs for the rear suspension on the Checker, I would have to get some custom made. For some reason, no one stocks leaf springs for a 1965 Checker! Instead of getting custom leaf springs made, I am going to rebuild the original set. If we are to believe the odometer, the Checker only has 56k miles on it which means these leaf springs have a lot of life in them yet.

First we need to disassemble the springs, I used a clamp to hold the pack together while I used an impact gun to remove the leaf spring center pin. Once the leaf spring clamps where removed, I slowly opened the clamp which allowed the pack to be taken apart without an explosion of energy.

Between some of the leafs, I found some old canvas like material that was soaked in a moly/graphite type grease. These are probably the original leaf spring sliders.

Removed the old bushings with probably one of the first tools I ever bought. A ball joint / u-joint removal clamp. This tool is about to kick the bucket ever since I replaced the ball joints on the wagoneer (will have to post that adventure in the future).

The leaf springs did not fit into my vapor hone machine but I decided to send it anyways.

Here is halfway done with the main leaf.

One leaf completely blasted.

The leaf will get painted with the AG111 chassis paint system.

To replace the bushings I found these parts that look to be correct.

I am looking into these, to replace the leaf clamps. Seems hard to find nice 2.5″ wide leaf spring clamps.

Custom Headliner for the Wagoneer

The original headliner for the Jeep Wagoneer was moldy and sagging. To fix this, I had to build my own complete headliner. I didn’t take any photos during the build but I will explain the process and materials I used.

Materials

  • Coroplast Plastic Sheeting
    • 2-4mm thickness, thinner is better
    • This is the new backer material for the headliner, it is the same material political yard signs are made out of
    • You can order this from a local sign shop
  • Foam-Backed Automotive Headliner
    • Try to find a Made in the USA material as the imported stuff tends to fall apart
  • DAP Products Weldwood Landau Top & Trim HHR Solvent Type Spray Grade Contact Adhesive
    • You want this stuff and not the kind already in spray cans
    • Need a spray gun that can handle the thick glue, I used an HVLP gun with a 2.0mm nozzle
    • You want a really good paint respirator when spraying this stuff
  • A high quality fabric you want to put over the foam
    • I went to my local fabric store and picked enough out to cover everything
    • Make sure its wide enough!

Process

  1. Take the old headliner out of the vehicle.
  2. Remove what is left of the foam material off the old backer material. Be careful to keep the original backer in tact, it will fall apart if you let it.
  3. Use the original backer as a pattern and trace it out on the Coroplast. Orientate the Coroplast’s corrugations so they go lengthwise (Front to Back) to the vehicle.
  4. Cut out the Coroplast with a utility knife.
  5. On the parts where the Coroplast needs to bend or curve, cut through only through the top side of the Coroplast. This way it can bend or curve downwards. You might need to make multiple cuts to get the curve to match the original.
  6. Lay out the headliner foam and cut it to match your Coroplast, leaving about an inch all around the border.
  7. Spray down the contact adhesive in sections and press the headliner foam into the Coroplast. I tried to do it without stretching material.
  8. Let the contact adhesive dry.
  9. Trim the headliner foam to match the Coroplast.
  10. Lay your fabric over and trace it out, again matching your headliner and leaving about an inch all around the border.
  11. Spray down the contact adhesive in sections and press the fabric into the headliner foam.
  12. On the edge of the fabric, glue this with the contact adhesive to the backside of the new Coroplast backer. You might not be able to fold over the edge if you are using thicker (4mm) Coroplast as it wont fit into your trim pieces.
  13. Wait 24 hours for full cure and install!

Checker Marathon “Butt” Cheek Delete

The “butt” cheek of the Checker is the spare tire well that is in the trunk. Mine was poorly repaired by a previous owner. Hammered metal to cover the rust holes and then slathered bondo over it. Bondo’d right over the dirt on the sheet metal as well. Awesome job previous owner.

I am not planning on carrying a spare tire (plug kit + tire inflator instead) so I want to remove this spare tire well and put the Checker’s battery and maybe a tool kit here.

Cut out the old shoddy repair.

While cutting this out I found out that the entire trunk is skimmed with bondo… Wonder how much of this car is bondo now D:

Then prep the area for welding.

Use the removed part as a template in some fresh 18 gauge steel.

Fitment is ok…. I don’t have a lot of experience doing sheet metal fitment. Kinda learning as I go.

Used 0.023 wire on my mig welder. Here is the bottom of it after grinding.

I haven’t finished the top side of the welding yet. Bottom side needs a bit more work as some parts a bit too then for me.

I definitely need more practice welding thin sheet metal.

Once I finish welding this patch in I will then design a “flush” mount battery box that I can put in this spot similar to this.

Rear End Work on the Checker

This post will be kinda in two parts: What I worked on with the rear end (suspension and axle stuff) on the Checker back around the time I bought it (2019/2020) and what I did today. Get caught up on documenting old work and then new progress!

The rear axle of the Checker is a older Dana 44 with taper rear axle shafts, 4.09 gearing, and none adjusting drum brakes.

First step, drain the fluid…

60 year old gear oil. Yup smells as good as it looks. Then remove the axle from the rear of the checker.

Then start stripping down the axle.

This is just nasty.

Removing the old brake parts.

Pulling the axle seals. Goopy old “gold” grease. There are two seals here.

An outer seal that seals on the hub spindle and then an inner seal to keep the bearing grease from mixing with the axle oil. Outer seal part number is TIMKEN 450083. Inner axle seal part number is TIMKEN 7245. Though Checker during this era was doing lots of mid year changes and my axle doesn’t quite line up with the engineering drawings. Best thing you can do is pull the seals and read the part numbers off them and measure them to find modern cross references.

Then I wire brushed the entire axle and looked at converting the axle from the original drums to discs. To separate the brake drum from the hub I put the old lug nuts on and pounded out the wheel studs with a hammer.

After all 5 studs are removed the hub falls out of the brake drum.

I measured the old studs knurl section and found some replacements that had a shorter knurl section and a longer threaded section. This is what you want to do for discs. You don’t want the knurl section of the wheel stud to go through the hub unless you want to press your discs to your hub!

Dorman 610-085 worked out great for my application.

Press them in with a socket and vise. I should really get a proper press someday!

Here is one of the hubs completed. Note that the knurled part of the studs don’t go through the hub.

Mocking up the discs. For the discs and calipers I went with the following parts. These are the kind of calipers that have a built in parking brake lever.

Discs: Speedway Motors #91031039

Calipers: Speedway Motors #91603059

Brackets: Speedway Motors #91641010

Seeing how the bracket will weld on.

Trimming the bracket to match the axle housing.

Prepping for welding.

Getting the bracket in the right spot by mounting the caliper and disc.

Tack the bracket in.

Before final welding I drilled out the bracket where the bearing retainer bolts had to pass through the bracket and then welded it up.

Routed some brake lines with p-clips.

Then gave it a nice coat of paint.

Then I reassembled the axle and put it back under the Checker… to forget about since I decided to work on my Red Jeep instead of the Checker.

Thus, the Checker sat for 3 years before I have been getting back to working on it.

Today, I pulled the axle back out to finish up the rear suspension and axle work. One of the problems with the axle was that the brake lines interfered with the shocks. Will have to move the brake line brackets…

Pulling the rear leaf springs out.

The front leaf spring bolt can’t come out without removing this body bolt… and the body bolt was rusted solid and just spun in place. Nothing a little application of a sawzall can solve!

Axle removed once again after 3 years. Amazing how dirty it became just sitting in the driveway!

Here is all the leaf spring hardware that I will be refurbishing. The plan is to vapor hone the parts and then zinc plate them. The U-bolts are “new” from 3 years ago. Part number: Calvert Racing U-Bolts UR275X70. I remember it being kind hard to find some u-bolts that matched the originals in size.

U-Bolt Length (in.): 7.000 in.
U-Bolt I.D. Width (in.): 2.750 in.
U-Bolt Diameter: 0.500 in.

These are the springs. Besides the bushing and appearance they are in good shape. I will try to refurbish these. Clean them up, new paint, new bushings. Should be good to go?

Air Dryer System for Shop Air

For my garage/shop air compressor (Ingersoll Rand SS5) I wanted to setup a inline dryer and hose reel so I could use it all around the garage and still use the same hose when I needed to spray paint and sand blast (these require dry air).

This is the air dryer system I ordered, an Arrow Pneumatics PC7612XXL. It has an oil separator, water separator, desiccant air dryer, then a pressure regulator.

Problem is mounting it. There isn’t a lot of room in the garage on the wall for the air dryer system. What about mounting it to the air compressor itself and use up some old scrap steel material in the process?

Mock up the main bracket out of some 2″ box tubing.
The bolts for the compressor unit has enough thread to put on a nut? Will attach the bracket here.
The large holes are so you can fit a socket from the bottom side of the bracket to attach a nut to the bolts on the compressor.

The air dryer system came with some little brackets that you can mount the desiccant dryer part of the system to for a wall mount. Welded these with the correct spacing to the bracket.
Add some black primer paint and bolted on.
Here is the entire air compressor system with the hose reel.

The hose reel is TEKTON 46878. The system is plumbed with Thermoid Flex-Loc hose and fittings. On the end of the hose reel I am running large Milton (S-224) G-Style couplers for maximum flow. Then I have two 3 foot long leaders that connector the G-Style Coupler and adapt them to the standard D-Style couplers.

Why two leaders? Or why leaders in general? One leader is just a straight pass through. Used for running tools that require clean, dry air like blow off guns, paint sprayers, sand blasting, and tire filler. The second leader has a Coilhose Pneumatics 40014 In-Line Lubricator for tools that require oil.

The leaders also reduce wear on the main 1/2″ hose in the reel. The last couple feet of the hose is where the hose gets twisted up and abused. Easier and cheaper to replace a leader then have to replace or splice the main hose.

AIR LIFT Rear Helper Air Springs for the Wagoneer

Part of rebuilding the suspension for the Jeep Wagoneer was adding air springs above the rear leaf springs to prevent it from sagging when loaded. Wagoneers suffer from “wag sag” when the leaf springs wear in and I wanted to prevent that and help keep the wagoneer level when loaded with fire wood or whatever I was hauling.

I choose the following AIR LIFT kits that seemed to work out ok for me.

AIR LIFT 59507
AIR LIFT 25980EZ

The AIR LIFT 59507 is the kit with all the brackets and air bags. AIR LIFT 25980EZ is a air compressor with controller that allows you to adjust how much pressure is in the air bags.

This is the typical install setup for the air bags. This didn’t work out for me though. The Lower Bracket is supposed to rest over the leaf spring retainer plate and bolt down with a u-bolt but I didn’t have clearance for the added u-bolt and the retainer plate was not shaped in a way that allowed the lower bracket to “hook” on to it.

First thing I did was modify the lower bracket by modifying it to be mounted under the retainer plate. Cut off the tab that is supposed to slip over the retainer plate.

Then welded on a new tab with a hole drilled in it. This hole locates on the leaf spring pack bolt. Spray with some paint to keep the rust away. Bolt up the u-bolts and lower bracket for the air ride so we can mock up the upper bracket. The kit comes with a plastic rod with threads on it so you can set the height of the upper bracket. It has some adjustment and I set it close to the longest it could be since the wagoneer has lots of up travel in the rear suspension. Make sure the suspension leafs are compressed and at ride height when you are doing this. The upper bracket also needs to be parallel with the lower bracket.

I decided to weld the brackets in when one of the bolt holes overlapped a hole in the frame. Wire brushed the paint off the upper bracket and the frame. Used a angle finder to make sure the upper bracket was parallel with the lower bracket and tacked and welded in the bracket. My upper bracket ended up being 7.5 degrees tilted downwards towards the front of the vehicle.

Coat it in paint and install the bag. Here you can see how the lower bracket wouldn’t mount onto the spring retainer plate in the normal way.

Then I mounted the AIR LIFT 25980EZ to the passenger side of the frame, about half way between the front and rear wheels.

Both air bags are plumbed up with a T to the output of the air controller on it. I put the inlet filter under the hood to keep it out of water.

I have been running this for over 4 years now and I really like how it turned out. I am planning on adding a T fitting and air line hookup so I can fill/refill tires with the system. Maybe this coming up spring?

Front and Rear JCR Bumpers

Time to get rid of the stock bumpers for the red jeep!

Every since I bought the Jeep I wanted offroad bumpers but never got around to it. I wanted some “simple” looking bumpers and I found a kit from JCR Offroad that would allow me to get some practice in with the welder! Front Bumper / Rear Bumper

What I really like is that they are cut out of 3/16″ steel, have a low profile look, tow rope hookups, and the rear has an integrated 2″ receiver which is perfect for pulling small trailers around.

For the rear, I added cutouts for rear back-up lights. These are the ones I bought on Amazon.

LED pods I bought on Amazon for the rear bumper

Wagoneer or AMC Chime Module Repair

Leave your keys in the ignition? (wait cars don’t have keys anymore….) Leave your headlights on? (wait cars have automatic headlights…) Well you don’t forget when your car beeps or chimes at you! Cept my Wagoneer doesn’t!

Stuffed up under the dash is this blue box which is the chime module AMC used in lots of there vehicles.

If you pop open this blue box you will get at the PCB inside.

If all the components look good and no obvious damage then either the solder has fractures or the electrolytic capacitors are bad.

The circuit uses the some of the capacitors to create a RC oscillator for the tone the metal can speaker uses.

To get mine working, I reflowed all the solder joints and added to leaded solder to the joints. Then I replaced all the electrolytic capacitors with new equivalents. The values and voltage ratings of the caps are printing on them.

The board is conformal coated but a soldering iron can “melt” right through it. I wasn’t successful at removing the coating with solvents.