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Lanlubber

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Mimbres, NM, USA
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Jim
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covey sr
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I LOVE those old Wagoneers, I had a 77 and loved it. Bad gas mileage, still loved it. The style is cool and very retro. I see those things going for stupid money now in good shape, glad you found one.

BIG HUGE WARNING!! Check the front drive shaft CV where it connects to the Transfercase. These are a known issue. Because they are "all wheel drive" the front drive shaft is always spinning. They will get worn out and you don't notice. Then on the hwy they will break and the driveshaft starts flailing around and it hits the transmission. The big issue is that it will always break the transmission case. This transmission is a GM THM400 but with a AMC 360 bellhousing, beyond rare, these things were hard to get 25 years ago when I worked at a transmission shop, I doubt you could find one today.
So, please help yourself and have the front shaft rebuild before it takes out the trans, or at a minimum check and grease it regularly. It will save you a lot of heartache.

Other than the above warning, these old waggies are Awesome.
I can confirm this story. In 1984 a neighbor of mine told me I could have his Wrangler if I just hauled it off. He told me the same story and said he just couldn't afford to have it fixed. I didn't take it because I already had 4 project cars in my back yard. I face the same sort of problem with my land rover discovery because the mfg didn't put u-joints w/ grease fittings on the front or rear drive shafts.
 
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Lanlubber

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I wonder if adding some sort of driveshaft loop would help mitigate a broken spinning/smashing shaft in the event of a failure saving the transmission, hmm
Seems likely to me.
 

Lanlubber

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With a one click no start and works well at others I would look first at both ends of both battery cables. I think you have a corrosion issue on one of them. I would recommend replacing both of them, cheap insurance you can do in your own driveway. I build my own using heavy welding cable and heavy duty crimp on ends.
Pretty common problem when you have a bad ground to the frame.
 

Lanlubber

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So, got word from the mechanic, it's going to take some work to get it up and passing smog, it'll be ~$2,200. That's to replace the exhaust from the manifolds back, some fuel lines replaced, vacuum system work, distributor needs to be taken off and the vacuum line put on correctly, and maybe a carburetor rebuild, but that isn't included in this quote, and replacing the thermostat.
I'd look for another mechanic. Take it to an exhaust shop yourself and get a quote from them, not a mechanic. All the other work is just his opinion and many things you should be able to do yourself, they are simple driveway mechanics that almost anyone can do. You could do the exhaust your self too because they make bolt on kits from places like JC Whitney catalog warehouse. If you don't know how it's a good time to learn. You can ask google and find videos from many utube jockeys.
 
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Lanlubber

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Did Cali change the laws? I thought if it was over 25 years old, there was no smog test required. Anyway, I would start with a full complete tune up. You will want it anyway and very often old plug wires and old plugs will cause smog fails. A new Cat will help, but on;y if everything else is good, it won't fix other issues.
I would do all new plugs, wires, cap rotor, check all vacuum hoses(replace all if you can), new air filter, and set timing to factory settings. Would not hurt to change the coil, they can get weak over time and may not cause a smog fail, but may contribute.
Do a compression test, make sure there are not weak cylinders. If all are strong, passing smog should not be an issue, if one is weak you need to figure out why before getting too deep. A head gasket or valve job is not too bad, bad rings means a full rebuild at this point.
So, do a compression test first, if it passes do a complete tune up and I bet that not only will it pass, but will run smoother and have more power. If the cat is still an issue for Cali, you have to fix it, but try the other stuff first.
In the end you will have a great rig, these are worth a little investment. Good ones are fetching crazy money, so this is one of those vehicles you really can't lose on.
All these things are very good advise, passing emissions on older cars are usually fixable with good maintenance. A smoking engine is not always a worn out one. Valve seals, old spark plugs, old distributor points and condenser, or just setting around for a long time unused with old gas in the tank can cause an emission test failure. After making sure my autos are mechanically up to date including air cleaner and oil change I take it on a high speed road outing to blow out all the carbon build up before I take it in to the inspection station.
 
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billiardspintail

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I'd look for another mechanic. Take it to an exhaust shop yourself and get a quote from them, not a mechanic. All the other work is just his opinion and many things you should be able to do yourself, they are simple driveway mechanics that almost anyone can do. You could do the exhaust your self too because they make bolt on kits from places like JC Whitney catalog warehouse. If you don't know how it's a good time to learn. You can ask google and find videos from many utube jockeys.
I particularly trust this mechanic. He had an exhaust shop do the exhaust, and showed me their invoice, and showed me the bad fuel lines.

As much as I would love to do driveway mechanics work, I don't have a driveway. I have a carport, and basically no time day to day .
 
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renodemona

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Ryan Hart (owner) is a FSJ nut himself so good for advice and suggestions on stuff.

You might get frustrated with how much money you can dump into a Wag when you can't work on things yourself. They are great vehicles to learn on, though I understand lack of space/time can be an issue. That said, it will never be a turn key always go rig without investment of time and/or money. It might say 1980-something on the year, but its a 1960s vehicle with all the good and bad from that. I'd replace EVERY piece of rubber you can..vacuum, fuel, air, belts, bushings, etc. Tracking down vacuum leaks will drive you insane but once you've got them all its a pretty basic setup. 2 barrel carb, only a couple accessories running off vacuum, maybe electric choke...super simple. Down the road I would highly recommend upgrading the ignition to HEI or TFI. Something like a DUI box or coil in cap distributor. You will be able to open up the gap on your plugs and help with emissions and running rich conditions at the same time.

Definitely seconds the recommendations about new plugs, wires, cap, rotor, coil. Throw in battery cables and clean the connection points. Make sure the ground strap is there, and not corroded, and the attachments are clean.
 

billiardspintail

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Ryan Hart (owner) is a FSJ nut himself so good for advice and suggestions on stuff.

You might get frustrated with how much money you can dump into a Wag when you can't work on things yourself. They are great vehicles to learn on, though I understand lack of space/time can be an issue. That said, it will never be a turn key always go rig without investment of time and/or money. It might say 1980-something on the year, but its a 1960s vehicle with all the good and bad from that. I'd replace EVERY piece of rubber you can..vacuum, fuel, air, belts, bushings, etc. Tracking down vacuum leaks will drive you insane but once you've got them all its a pretty basic setup. 2 barrel carb, only a couple accessories running off vacuum, maybe electric choke...super simple. Down the road I would highly recommend upgrading the ignition to HEI or TFI. Something like a DUI box or coil in cap distributor. You will be able to open up the gap on your plugs and help with emissions and running rich conditions at the same time.

Definitely seconds the recommendations about new plugs, wires, cap, rotor, coil. Throw in battery cables and clean the connection points. Make sure the ground strap is there, and not corroded, and the attachments are clean.
I have work I can do on it myself, mostly the smaller stuff like electrical, audio, new carpet (super needed), and outfitting for trips, it's the mechanical stuff that really hit's my time limits. Once I have a real garage and my own space for it, I'll be doing all the work then. It's a pretty turn-key-and-go for the most part now, just working on the starter issue next :).
 

billiardspintail

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Got the rear speakers replaced, after ordering 3.5" instead of the 5.25" ones that are called for. Previous owner installed 4x6 speakers in the front instead of the 5.25" rounds that go there too, so I yanked those and ordered a second matching set of speakers for the front, as well as speaker grills up front, 'cause they're missing. We also pulled the rotting carpet out of the trunk and tailgate, but couldn't get the metal slats and screws off the floor, they'll probably need to be drilled out. Retrosound speakers from Crutchfield, and an FM Modulator for behind the head unit so I can aux right in without getting an aftermarket head unit are coming up next.
 

billiardspintail

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Well, drove the truck around last weekend, and on the way home a I started hearing a squeak in the front end that correlates with the speed of the truck. It is either coming from the wheel, or the drive shaft, not sure which yet. Since the noise only happens when moving, and I don't have a lift, it's hard to diagnose. I'm worries it's the front driveshaft, like warned earlier in this thread. I'll be going in next week to be checked out.
 
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billiardspintail

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A few updates, and some questions. It looks like a cat knocked the ornament off the hood, which apparently was super glued in, so now I need to figure out how to repair and get that back installed.

I'm looking at getting my AC working, but the current system uses R12, and needs to be recharged -- I assume because of a leak. I would like to convert it over to R134(A?), but I can't seem to find definitive guides. I've found some "conversion kits" on Amazon and Napa Auto. and there are a few websites selling the same compressor -- one says it can be converted, one says it's already compatible. Not sure who to believe, but my question is: How do I convert my AC system to R134 for cheaper recharges, and to be better for the environment?

I know all the hoses need to be swapped, and some fittings, but curious if anyone has done it before.
 

DevilDodge

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With my older dodge trucks I always added an extra ground. One from battery to engine block. One from battery to frame. One from engine block to frame. And then a smaller one from battery to body.

Sounds like your starting issue and the other small electrical issues are definitely a ground issue.

Love the wagoneer. I owned 3 Ramchargers and 2 traildusters. My dad had a Cherokee chief and 2 grand wagoneer when I was a kid.

Love the Mopar Station wagons.
 

Lanlubber

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Wish I could assist with your AC question, but I'm just here to say that it's a super cool rig.

An easy fix for your smog would be to move to Arizona :)
Or Alaska for the ac problem. My 84 Dodge truck has same problem with ac. The ac shop told me they would fix it with the new R134? stuff for about $500. That was 8 years ago so no telling what they would want today. I went back to the old fashioned way of rolling down my windows. It's odd but I live in a majority Hispanic community. On the very hot days I see them driving down the road with their windows rolled down on brand new cars. They don't seem to need ac that much. I havent missed mine this past 8 years either but I dont drive in the hottest part of the day either. I'd rather spend my $$$$ on gear anyway.
 
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M Rose

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A few updates, and some questions. It looks like a cat knocked the ornament off the hood, which apparently was super glued in, so now I need to figure out how to repair and get that back installed.

I'm looking at getting my AC working, but the current system uses R12, and needs to be recharged -- I assume because of a leak. I would like to convert it over to R134(A?), but I can't seem to find definitive guides. I've found some "conversion kits" on Amazon and Napa Auto. and there are a few websites selling the same compressor -- one says it can be converted, one says it's already compatible. Not sure who to believe, but my question is: How do I convert my AC system to R134 for cheaper recharges, and to be better for the environment?

I know all the hoses need to be swapped, and some fittings, but curious if anyone has done it before.
The simple answer is “You” can’t convert “Your” rig to 134a refrigerant. Since your system had R12 in it, only an EPA certified a/c tech can. Now that being said... you will need to find out where the leak is usually the accumulator/drier rusts out along the bottom, or the hoses dry rot. The Evaporator and condensers don’t usually have issues unless there was catastrophic pump failure, or air was introduced to the system. If this were my rig, I would Look at the cost of getting a vintage air kit vs replacing the whole a/c system.
Once the system is replaced, it’s as easy as pulling a vacuum for 2 hours on the new system, while checking for leaks, then charging with 134a and appropriate a/c oil. Ohh and when getting new lines, make sure they have the 134a shrewder valves for the low and high side ports.... that’s the difference between R12/R134a the size of the poets and the type of o-rings.
 

Lanlubber

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Jim
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covey sr
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The simple answer is “You” can’t convert “Your” rig to 134a refrigerant. Since your system had R12 in it, only an EPA certified a/c tech can. Now that being said... you will need to find out where the leak is usually the accumulator/drier rusts out along the bottom, or the hoses dry rot. The Evaporator and condensers don’t usually have issues unless there was catastrophic pump failure, or air was introduced to the system. If this were my rig, I would Look at the cost of getting a vintage air kit vs replacing the whole a/c system.
Once the system is replaced, it’s as easy as pulling a vacuum for 2 hours on the new system, while checking for leaks, then charging with 134a and appropriate a/c oil. Ohh and when getting new lines, make sure they have the 134a shrewder valves for the low and high side ports.... that’s the difference between R12/R134a the size of the poets and the type of o-rings.
Good post. I don't know anything about a change over but my ac tech said it would cost around $500 several years ago. It could be that he can have his existing system repaired for less if he just needs a compress or evaporator I would think.
 
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billiardspintail

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Good post. I don't know anything about a change over but my ac tech said it would cost around $500 several years ago. It could be that he can have his existing system repaired for less if he just needs a compress or evaporator I would think.
I just spoke with a reputable AC shop near me, and he surely charges a premium -- $1,500 -- though he changes everything but the evap core, and says unless it's a low mileage vehicle, that's the only way to ensure we don't blow out the compressor or hoses after a few months. So I think I'm saving up a bit before that. Thankfully I have a few months at least before the heat comes.
 

Lanlubber

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I just spoke with a reputable AC shop near me, and he surely charges a premium -- $1,500 -- though he changes everything but the evap core, and says unless it's a low mileage vehicle, that's the only way to ensure we don't blow out the compressor or hoses after a few months. So I think I'm saving up a bit before that. Thankfully I have a few months at least before the heat comes.
I think they are all money hungry. I have nothing but detest for modern day service people. They do lousy work, they are never punctual, they could care less if they do a good job or get your work out timely, They are usually only half as knowledgeable as they claim, or should be. I'm pissed off for you. I think you are being lied to and you cant prove it because your not an expert yourself and they know it.

I'd find me a small garage mechanic who works mostly on older cars and see what he would charge to fix your existing system. All the BS about the environment was debunked 10 years ago. Freon had nothing to do with harming the environment according to recent science. It was all baloney.