Next a complete braking system overhaul was in order. All new lines,hoses, pads, calipers, wheel cylinders and hardware and naturally a new master cylinder. While the rear brakes were out I rebuilt the rear axle and changed the axle and carrier bearings. Fresh fluid and cleaned and repainted the diff housing / cover etc.
Replaced the Brass/Copper 3 row radiator that barely cooled on the freeway with a modern composite tank & aluminum core unit. The tube/fin density across the core is easily observed thus the cooling capacity is vastly improved over the brass unit despite the fact that its a 2 row core. A new 1995 Taurus Electric fan was massaged and added in with a thermostatic probe controller tied back to dual HD 40 AMP relays with a 24v Zener diode in the mix to provide automatic fan operation with the AC system. The end result? 180 Degree water temps no matter what!
As many are aware the Jeep ignition system is a low output oil filled coil that does not offer a great spark. Since the AMC 360 v8 uses a Ford Duraspark distributor you can easily swap in the later model Ford TFI distributor cap and rotor and convert the plug wires to an HEI 8mm setup. Along with this upgrade you add in a Ford TFI coil. In my case I used an MSD unit with a custom fabricated bracket to hold it in the stock location. The second weak link is the old Duraspark ignition controller on the drivers inner fender. These are prone to fail and after 24 years of use figured it was time to upgrade. I sourced a PC heatsink and set it up in the drill press and bolted an Accel HEI module to it. I then built my own harness to trigger the HEI off the Duraspark distributor and wired the HEI into a full 12v source from the factory fuse panel. The Duraspark systems utilized a resistance wire that lowered the voltage to prevent the module from overheating and failing. Providing a full 12v with longer dwell time to the coil allows for a spark in excess of 60,000v vs. the factory 20,000v affording a wider .045 plug gap without any issue. Noticeable increase in performance and response and gas mileage.
New leather seating front and rear was added. Replaced the steering wheel with a classic matching Jeep 3 spoke. Full audio system from JL,Hertz,Alpine and Focal. Power windows, locks were all rebuilt and work as they should.
With over 140k on the clock and 23 years on the factory leaf springs it was time to upgrade. We used a 4" lift kit from Rough Country.. it went in fine but the springs are really stiff. Next round will be Skyjacker soft-ride springs. We did the shocks,springs in the front and blocks and shocks in the back. Tires are 31x10.50 Goodyear Duratrac's on the stock 15x8 wheels. Next up the wheels will be stripped, repainted and re-cleared. Now it looks like a Jeep should and has great off road ability.
The factory 78 Amp alternator was barely adequate for the Big Jeep from day 1. This rig is loaded to the max with power windows, locks, mirrors,cruise, AC, decent amount of lighting etc. In preparation for the electric fan upgrades, hotter ignition system and ultimately electronic injection we wanted to ensure we had a solid heavy duty alternator that would maintain a full output even at idle. For this reason we chose a police/taxi CS 140 amp alternator. The case is slightly larger but the bolt holes are in the same location. Installation only required some light grinding to clearance the lower bracket to clear the AMC's external oil pump housing. Now no matter what the load is we have a full 14v even at idle. Nice strong AC always!
Its no secret that the 70;s-90's were terrible for performance for the old big v8's that lingered on from the 50's/60's. Automakers kept adding more and more miles of vacuum hoses, switches, ported and timed vacuum switches, smog pumps, air injection manifolds, catalytic converters, etc. Before the advent of fuel injection and high speed processors to control all these devices they virtually covered the engine bay with cluttering power robbing gadgets! Eventually we found an engine in there complete with valve covers. Immediate performance gains as well. While in there we re-wired the entire engine main harness and cleaned everything in sight.