Engine: AMC 360
Transmission: TF 727
Transfer Case: Dana 300 w/ 4:1 Low
Front Axle: Dana 44 3.73:1 Powertrax Locker
Rear Axle: Dana 44 3.73:1 Powertrax Locker
Tires: 37×12.50×16.5 Goodyear MT/MTR
The Black Widow as I originally named it was Purchased in the summer 2002 a family that we met on the Rubicon Trail. Dad and I towed her back from California after. We had great things in mind for it then, and it has become most of them.
If you know anything about Jeeps, they hate rust. Its a natural predetor of the wild Jeep and it must be kept at bay. Here in Arizona it is not quite as common as elsewhere in the country, but as we said this Jeep came from Good Ole California. Land of Mudslides, Wildfires, Strange weather, and you betcha Rust! So the first thing to do was replace the Rusted out floor panels. Neat history lession… the old Jeeps had a reinforced subframe of wood. What is one of the things Wood does best? Well reatains water and moisture is one of them, and yes that aids to our problem of Rust. Here you can see the sub frame was replaced by 2″/1″ metal box to retain the strength of the floor. This also keeps the body from flexing as well if the frame of the vehicle wasn’t enough already
The frame as well needed some help. Which on hand hand was slightly a shame as it was nicely powder coated. The Front and rear crossmember needed some new metal to accomodate the new springs which were also sourced off the Grand Wagoneer. Here you can see the rear crossmember was mounted flat the metal here that makes a triangle to what would be the perfect place to mount a 2″ receiver hitch were removed to make room for the gas tank. At some point further mounts will needed to be added for a 2″ receiver hitch which will be added at some point and a rear bumper tire carrier.
Retaining the original axel and spring combo was nice however the spring perches on the axel were slightly wider than the frame of the CJ6 so a little bit of improvising was necessary. In this case improvisation is a 4x4inch piece of angle iron welded to the side of the frame. This allowed us to mount the springs at the natural width they wanted to be.
Our friend here the CJ6 comes stock from the Factory with a Buick V6. What is that you may ask, well I dont know either. In leui of the factory options we decided that the venerable AMC 360 would meet our needs nicely. More power, lots of torque and well its still was at one point in the history of Jeep a factory engine. This is actually an important fact as the goal is to stick to parts that were manufactured under the Jeep name. Why not the 304 that came stock in the CJ? Well more power! Why not a 401? Well truth be told it didnt come cheap in the Grand Wagoneer we bought as a donor vehicle which you can see in the background here.
With such an engine, clearly we needed a transmission that was up to the task. So since we bought the entire Grand Wagoneer why not use the TF 727 that the factory put behind the 360. Well, it wont fit. Clearly some modification was needed to allow the transmisison to fit in with the firewall. First thing to do. Find a CJ-7 tub that no one wants due to rusty floors or replacement with a spify fiberglass tub and steal the tunnel out of it, and this is of course exactly what we did. And here you can see it was lovingly crafted, stitched in weld by weld to the body of the old 6. This is a good place to mention… what about the transfercase? Good question. The Stock 6 came with the Dana 18 transfercase, and unline the engine and transmission of the stock 6. The transfercase was actually sold to us as well. It was sitting in the back in that picture at the top. Well we were not entirely fond of the Dana 18. it is good but does not enjoy as many options as say the tried and true CJ vet, the Dana 300. The Dana 300 is a natural choice for keeping the CJ right hand drop axel which was important to me at the time. I’m still happy about it. Additionally it allowed the use of the 4:1 gearset for low range which is somewhat essential for rockcrawling. So where to get a Dana 300. Well they are not cheap on the aftermarket as they are such a wonderful collection of steel. We were beyond fortunate to one day stroll into our favorite scrap yard in Phoenix, in which I had never once seen a CJ. And there in the yet to be picked over section that we were not allowed in…. was a CJ5. An 81 CJ5 by my guess, and do you know what they have. Thats right all the parts we needed including the Dana 300 transfercase. We politely approached the staff and inquired about our new found prize only to be told it was not ready to be thrown to the scrap yard vultures yet. We insisted only saying we wanted the transfercase. Surprisingly they agreed and there it was our CJ5 handed to us complete with everything still bolted on. Now the other really nice thing about our new found prize the Dana 300, is it directly bolts up to the TF 727 that we pulled from the Grand Wagoneer. The Aluminum NP 209 that came with the Selectrac drivetrain has the same 23 spline input shaft and an identical bolt pattern!
Another point of history for all the newer CJ, YJ and TJ owners. The old Jeeps had pedels that pushed through the floor onto a hinge that then allowed it to perform whatever function it was supposed to perform. Braking Clutching etc. Well since we are going with newer, and by newer I am refering to the 80s at this point, technology we needed to accomodate swing pedals. No sweat the fuze box, steering column and everything else is actually a direct cut and swap panel from our CJ donor tub to the original CJ6 firewall. This allows for the new tilt wheel steering column fuze box and power brakes to be taken directly off the Wagoneer or “newer” CJ and just like magic you have more “modern” conveniences!
At some point fenders and the Iconic Jeep grille are clearly necessary. These were sourced off yet 2 more Jeeps. Fenders from a guy across town and the grille was scavanged off the same CJ5 that gave us the transfercase. If I could go back I probably would have taken more of that CJ5 But it gave us an intact windshield, our grilled our Dana 300, the “newer” rear half of a CJ wire harness and some other accessories, and all for less than that Dana 300 alone would have cost us anywhere else! put them all together and what do you get. Well, something mostly resembling a CJ. So what are we still missing here? We have the windshield, just need to install it. OH! A hood. As you will see from later pictures it did take quite some time to get a hood.
So as of this point in the story the initial construction was complete and it was ready for it’s maiden voyage out into the world. Of all places to go we decided on lower woodpecker which is a trail out near Florence. Im not quite sure why we chose that trail but I guess at this point it was just the first one we came to. I was quite pleased with how well it did. We didnt try anything too crazy as we only had the one Jeep and the other vehicle at our disposal was a 2wd pickup truck with a tow bar just in case. At this point in the life span of the 6 it still needed a lot of work but most of it was auxiliary at this point. Still was in need of a hood, a proper bikini top, actual Jeep tailights and a front roll cage to name a few. Oh yes and seats that properly mounted to something as opposed to simply being placed and mostly secured. All these things came in good time though.
The maiden voyage to lower woodpecker was sadly the only documented trip The Black Widow made before the tranmission suffered from a fatal error. As part of the buildup we neglected to include the transmission cooler. Im not quite sure why this wasnt included as we had it from the original doner vehicle as well but either we figured the oil passthrough the radiator would be enough or from driving manual transmission vehicles the the entireity of our offroading lifes we simply just didnt know enough. The later is more likely. The poor Jeep suffered a horrible fate for any Jeep to see in its life. Storage. Packed away with an evap cooler and a canoe to keep in company it sat patiently for around 3 years without moving or even having the engine as much as turned over for the majority if not the entire duration. 🙁 Unfortunately apartment life is not very accomodating for an old Jeep that needs constant love and attention and it suffered in silence waiting for the end of its exile.
Rescue did come at last after the years of patiently waiting!
The Widow was given a garage to weave it’s web in and while still somewhat in storage had a new home where work on it could continue, uninterrupted by the unrelenting rule of Apartment complex dictators. Here the faulty transmission was removed and replaced with a different one of semi questionable nature but which looked and smelled promising. Its blood ran bright red and vibrant still hinting that life remained within. A new torque converter was sourced from the local parts store and the beast was reassembled. The transmission cooler was added and a transmission temperature gauge was also installed in hope that never again would the desert heat best the iron giant and it would yet reign supreme ore the rocks and dirt of the Arizona Desert. The gas tank was removed and cleaned of all the gasoline that had been left it in for several years as gas tends to not keep over any period of time, and here it stands… Proud as the day is long. Waiting on repairs to the rear drive shaft before it can once again romp free in the open desert.
Drive shafts repaired and 2 rear transmission seals later it ran again, taken out to the desert once again!
Unfortunately the aged tires didn’t hold up to wheeling. I guess 10 years in the dry Arizona Sun and heat was too much for them.
So if this had chapters this would be the next one. I spray painted the Jeep black with the red rollbar and I kinda liked it but overtime I decided it wasn’t really working for me anymore and I missed the Olive green. Thus started the painting efforts. This was two fold really. the roll cage was rusty and needed some attention so I got to work removing rust and paint. The decision to make it black was not a hard one. Here are the before and after pics of it. There is more detail on this in the posts section. When I find it Ill link it. I tore the Jeep down to the tub again to clean it all up. For now Ill just dump a bunch of pictures of the work I did on it. Maybe Ill write more later.