Monday 19 June 2023

Gas Tank Skid Plate (aka Hopes and Prayers) Replacement.

Rust Never Sleeps, right? 

In the on-going saga of dealing with rust on a 24 year old Jeep, this project was dealing with a gas tank skid plate that had rust, no, rotted out completely. I have dubbed the skid plate "Hopes and Prayers", mostly because all that was holding my gas tank in the Jeep was hopes and prayers.
If you're reading this, you may be well aware that Jeep TJ gas tanks are all held in place by the very skid plate designed to protect them. Meaning that if the skid plate fails, the  tank falls out. I had noticed a crack in my plate last year, but it was minor and not something I was too concerned about at the time. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. I was sitting on the lawn waiting for my sons bus to arrive, and I see this under the Jeep. A quick Amazon search and I had a "Amazon Warehouse Deal" (aka - small scratch on it) skid plate and strap kit on my driveway. 

I became a bus rider to work for a few days while waiting for the weekend a some nice weather to tackle the "one hour job". Well, it took six, but you know how these things go. 

To start, up on jack stands the Jeep went - note to self and anyone reading, get taller jack stands. Both rear tires came off, and then the fuel filler cup to free the filler from the body. 




From the drivers side, you should be able to reach in and disconnect the fuel line, vent line, and electrical connections. I was lucky enough that the rust hadn't destroyed the lines, and I was  able to get everything apart relatively easy. For a great tutorial video I highly recommend this video from Taboo Customs on YouTube.

To start you will need to support the skid plate and tank using a jack of some sort. I built a quick jack adapter out of plywood and some two by fours. I had to create a flat surface to carry the weight. It should go without saying don't be like me and do this with a nearly full tank.

The Jeep TJ has seven bolts holding the skid plate on the Jeep. Three in front  over the track bar (rest assured they can be reached with a ratchet and long extension) and four in the back. The confusing part in the back is that there are six bolts. Two of those hold the tank straps in place, they're the longer ones, usually with rubber covers on them. The bolts coming down from the Jeep are carriage bolts, and should be captured by the mounting frame. I had to cut two off ultimately, but they were easily replaced with new hardware from the local hardware store. 

Now onto the "Hopes and Prayers". Once I had the tank sitting on the driveway, and had freed it from the straps (had to cut them off) I discovered just how bad the skid plate was. Basically the tank was being held up off the road by two flaps of rust. A solid bump may have dropped the tank out. 


Given my incredible intelligence (ha) I was stuck with a nearly full tank (about 45L/12gallons, or 73lbs of gas - give or take). I had to lighten that load or there was no way I was going to be able to manhandle it back into place under the Jeep. Fortunately I have a couple spare fuel pumps, and no fear of death (ha), so I "wired" up a pump with one of those lithium ion jumper boxes (you should get one they're handy). I ended up pumping the gas out into whatever spare gas cans I had to make putting the tank back as easy as possible.

Speaking of manhandling. Even empty it was a battle to get the tank and skid back in place. The new skid plate is thicker and has more protection than the stock one, so that added some weight. Not having taller jack stands made working under the Jeep with the tank and jack that much more difficult. I managed and now have a tank in place with a new skid that will last MANY years. If I ever have to drop the tank again, I'm just taking it to a shop.

Sunday 28 May 2023

Six weeks to install an alternator, seems reasonable

Way back in the early days of Spring (or is it late days of Winter?) I started to build a bracket to convert the m38 from a generator to an alternator. All was moving along quiet well with the lower adapter for the alternator, and I was ready to attach the upper bracket. This involved removing one water pump bolt to remove the old bracket, and replace it with the new one. 

And that's when things went south. The bolt broke off flush with the water pump. So now I had to move to remove the water pump. I drained out what was left of the coolant and and went to remove the other three bolts.... and broke another. Two did come out, so there's that. When I tried to get an extractor on the broken bolts, one did come out it was the other one that decided to break again flush with the block. 

Queue ordering reverse drill bits and a new water pump gasket. This lead to removing the grill and radiator from the Jeep. Fortunately, these old military rigs were built to be field serviced, and that only took about 20 minutes.

I centre punched the broken bolt and started with the smallest bit I had, slowly working up to 1/4". Once there, the remains were still firmly embedded in the threads. I managed to use a small punch to pull up an edge. With that done I moved up to regular bits (1/4" reverse was my largest) and managed to get the remains to release. Once that was done I was able to run a tap through. 


During reassembly I took the opportunity to finalize the alternator with the radiator out of the way, and while I did require a spacer to get it set, things went pretty smooth. I do need to add a 90 degree fitting to the bottom of my oil filter housing, and probably need a shorter belt. However, I can now finish off wiring for the charging system and continue on this marathon.

Sunday 12 February 2023

Electrical and Fuel (and I'm still alive)

First off... I'm still alive. It's been a bit, and while I've been working on the Willys, I also have been dealing with life and dealing with said life. It's all good. 

Once I got the Go Devil, er, going, I started work on making it permanent. Since the mechanical fuel pump was a bit of a no go, I made the call to move to an electric pump. I sourced out a low pressure pump and got to work pluming and wiring it in. 

I've also mounted up a proper universal fuse panel in the second battery bay on the cowl, and started into wiring the Jeep to keep it safe and modernized, at least under the hood. From 10' away, it's still going to look like a '52 m38. 

I made a decision early on that the wiring was going to be modern(ish) and ordered in weather pak like connectors. I want to make sure everything can be removed for service, and replacement, as well, should it ever come to it, return to stock. 
With the dash wired, I mounted it (temporarily) for testing, and so I can continue to plug away. 

Right now I have an alternator on order, I'll need to make up some brackets for that. I also have wiring in hand to start wiring the lights. Aside from that, there's a laundry list of things still to do ... brakes, tires, steering, wheel bearings, cooling system, windshield, seats cushions, and so on and so on. I figure if I can get the alternator and cooling buttoned up, plus the parking brake at least, I should be able to "drive" it up and down my driveway to make working on it, and in the garage, a little easier.