Category Archives: Car Stuff

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

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.

Upgrading Fan Clutch to ‘Severe Duty’

The Wagoneer’s cooling system is just barely adequate for the hot Houston summer weather. To help improve cooling I am going to upgrade the fan clutch from the normal duty part to the severe duty. The severe duty kicks in and engages the fan at a lower temperature and “slips” less. This enables the radiator fan to spin faster.

You want part number Hayden 2797.

Old fan clutch on right. New Hayden 2797 already installed on the fan left.

Now the problem with the Hayden 2797 is that the bolt pattern does not exactly match what is needed on the AMC 360 water pump.

Solution? Cut out the smaller of the two bolt patterns into slots!

Not the best on job with the cut off wheel but it works.

Replacing Valve Seals

The Wagoneer’s AMC 360 engine is a bit worn out. The engine blows a bit of smoke on start up so I suspected it was the valve seals leaking down some oil into the cylinders when the engine isn’t running. The engine itself doesn’t burn much oil other wise.

The overview is: remove the valve covers, remove rockers and push rods, remove valve stem keepers and springs, install new seal.

Parts / Supplies Needed

  • Valve Cover Gaskets
    • FEL-PRO VS 50001 C
  • Valve Seals
    • EngineTech S2886
  • Sealant
    • Permatex 80062 High Tack Gasket Sealant

Tools Needed

  • Valve Spring Compressor
    • Proform 66784
  • Valve Holder
    • Lisle 19700
  • Air Compressor
    • Fittings to hook up to the valve holder
  • Spark Plug Socket
  • SAE Socket Set

First move everything out of the way of the valve covers. For me the spark plug wires and the fuel lines where in the way so I had to disconnect these and move them out of the way.

Remove the valve cover. Clean up any old valve cover gasket left on the engine and valve cover.

Remove all the spark plugs from the engine. Keep them in order if you are not replacing them.

Next we want to remove all the rockers and push rods. To remove the rockers you want both valves to be closed before removing the two bolts holding each rocker pair on. Rotate the crank with a socket and wrench till the valves close (valves up and push rods down) then remove the bolts. Repeat for all 8 of the pairs.

Make sure you keep the rockers and push rods paired up and organized so that the rockers and push rods can go back to the original location when reinstalling.

Ok next, thread in the valve holder into the spark plug hole and apply continuous air from the compressor into it. This will hold the valves up while we remove the valve keepers and springs to replace the seal.

Next, thread on the stem of the valve spring compressor tool into the rocker bolt.

Install the rest of the valve stem tool over the stem.


Pressing down on the valve stem will break the seal of the valve and then the valve will drop into the cylinder. If that happens…. Time to order head gaskets and bolts.

Pull on the valve compressor and it will press the top of the valve down. This will compress the spring around the valve stem. The valve keeper is two parts around the valve stem. Make sure you don’t loose them when they come loose from the valve stem.

Starting compression
Fully compressed with valve keepers removed

Once the valve keepers are removed, release the spring tension and remove the valve compressor tool. Then remove the valve spring.

Here, remove any of the valve seals that still exist. Mine where all cracked or missing.

I don’t know if the original valve seals where hard plastic or just the rubber hardened up over the years but all of mine where shattered.

Slip on the new valve seals which are silicon with a spring to keep them in place.

Replace the valve spring.

This is the most difficult part, use the valve spring compressor to compress that spring down and then with your other hand…. handle the two pieces of the valve keeper and hold them on the valve stem. Slowly release the compressor as the valve keepers set.

Do this 15 more times.

Then reinstall the pushrods and rocker arms back to the original locations. When installing the rocker arms, you need to make sure the valves are closed, just like when removing the rockers. What I like to do is to install the pushrods and rocker arms and then screw down the rocker arm bolts till I can tell what position the valves are in. Rotate the crank till both valves are closed and then torque to spec… which is 19ft lbs.

Then replace the valve covers. I like to use a high tack sealant to hold the cork to the valve covers while installing. Valve cover bolts are torqued to 45in lbs. Remember inch pounds!

Reinstall the spark plugs and send it!

Replacing a Grille on a 2022 QX55 Infiniti

A couple months ago, someone backed into my mother’s brand new QX55 Infiniti and cracked the front grille surround. There is not a lot of repair videos or information about the QX55 since it is in its second year of production. Lets figure out how to replace the grille!

Part Number T99G7-5VG1A is the “blacked” out version of the standard chrome grille. It is the color my mother wanted.

Damaged original grill. Less then 2000 miles on the car and some turd bucket backed into it.

Open the hood and remove the air scoop thingy with a 10mm socket. Then pull the scoop boot off the intake.

Now you will want to remove the plastic cover by removing a bunch of push pins.

Easiest way to remove these is with a plastic pry bar from an interior trim removal tool kit.

After removing all the push pins, the plastic cover will feel like it wants to pop out but there is one more fastener that we can’t get at. It is under the plastic cover near the caution sticker on the cover.

You can’t remove this without damaging either the plastic cover or the fastener. So you will have to pop the front side of the cover out and then slide the cover out of that fastener.

Pull the front grill outwards while using your plastic pry bar to pop the plastic around. The top plastic cover should come free now. Set it aside.

There are 4 10mm bolts that hold the grille to the rest of the body panels. They are in the corners of the grille. Here is a picture of the upper passenger side bolt that needs to be removed. A 10mm ratchet wrench is key here. Don’t drop the bolts.

After removing the 4 bolts, there is a wiring harness on the driver side of the grille for the front camera. Disconnect the connector and pop the connector off the mount. There is also a zip tie holding the cable to the bottom of the grille, cut the zip tie.

With the bolts and cables removed we can start unclipping the grille. There is 2 clips on both the driver and passenger side of the grille and then 8 along the bottom. If you get your finger on the outside of the clip and press in they should snap out. Doesn’t take a lot of force.

Here is a picture of the clips and that zip tie you need to cut. You want to press the clips inner part towards the center of the grille.

Another close up of the clips. Here you can see the inner “ramp” part of the clip you need to press in.

Grille removed!

Where the bolts and wiring harness is located at.

Here are the location of the clips.

We now need to pull of the logo and front camera. Logo unscrews from the back with two phillips screws and the camera requires a T10.

New grille with the camera and logo transferred over. You will need to pull the connector clip from the original grille as well.

Install is the exact opposite: pop the grill into all the clips on the body, reinstall those 4 10mm bolts in the corners, slide the top plastic cover into place. Pay attention to that one white plastic fastener that we couldn’t remove. The cover kinda just slides into place around that one. Reinstall all the push in clips and the air intake snorkel thing with the 2 10mm bolts and shut the hood!

Grille fixed and look updated!