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Thread: 1973 Wagoneer - Full Size SHTF and camping goodness!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    721

    Default 1973 Wagoneer - Full Size Goodness!

    Greetings!I'm Dr. Marneaus (Andrew). Not sure how much cross-forum traffic there is, but you may have seen me over on Jeepforum or IFSJA.


    So, I have stopped in here in the past as a guest, just randomly viewing or if some search had lead me here through google or what have you. I decided to join up and start a log of the stuff I'm doing because a buddy of mine brought to my attention that pretty much everything I've been doing has been aimed towards making the vehicle better for long drives and camping trips, with a lot of trail riding and exploring....sounds like this is the place for me!


    A little back story:

    I got into jeeps about 5 or 6 years ago, I had a little 4cyl TJ that I built on a dime and it was actually pretty dern capable for what it was. I ended up selling it after a few years in vegas because of no AC, and the lack of power on highway drives, etc. I loved that lil thing tho!


    Ended up buying a 2005 Dodge Magnum R/T and drove that around for a good 3 years. Took it camping a lot, great for road trips, but not so much off-road haha. Plenty of dents under it when I sold it. Thing probably saw more dirt than a lot of jeeps!


    I liked to take it off-road at least....maybe not wheelin but still!


    Anyway, while I had the magnum I graduated from UNLV and figured I'd treat myself to another 4x4, but didn't need it to be a DD since I had an actual car. I started searching for CJ's, specifically CJ5's but checked out some 7's too. My only stipulations were that it be a CJ, and it be stick shift.

    I soon realized that being 6'3" was going to make a CJ5 uncomfortable, and also that CJ5's would be pretty bad for any extended highway driving, even the later models seemed pretty squirrley (not bad, but you know what I mean). Not to mention, in a CJ I figured I could have myself, and 1 other person, along with our camping gear. if that. I'd need a trailer or something most likely.

    Well, having the goals of a stick shift CJ, I somehow came home with this:


    That pic was from the first time I saw it, and I instantly fell in love....

    The story begins!
    Last edited by Dr. Marneaus; 08-27-2015 at 07:31 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Ft Myer, Va
    Posts
    1,654

    Default yummy

    Oh drool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Subscribed!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Las Vegas, NV
    Posts
    175
    'Bout time you showed up...we have a lot of work to do
    Clinging to my guns and my religion

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    721
    So, thats how it starts. I know that picture doesnt look like a whole lot, but the truck is solid. One tiny rust spot in the rear passenger wheel well (size of a silver dollar) that had been bondo-d' whenever the truck was repainted, and it ran strong.

    You can clearly see the drip spots under the truck, which is in typical FSJ fashion haha.

    One thing that drew me to this rig was that by sheer chance, it had the EXACT tire/wheels and lift setup that I planned to purchase for any given wagoneer/cherokee that I may have bought. It was already installed (at 4 wheel parts apparently) and was less than a year old. Tires had less than a few thousand miles on them. It was currently being daily driven by the owners live-in-nanny deal just to and from work down the street. Whatever.

    Other than that, it seemed original. Interior is okay, seats are clean and unripped. dash pad was mostly good, carpet is mostly there, headliner is falling. Some of the gauges work, some dont. All in all pretty good for a near 40 year old truck, a lot better than some of the basket cases I see out there!

    Specs:

    AMC 360 (thats 5.9l) V8
    GM TH400 3 speed Auto
    Dana 20 T-case
    D44 rear
    Closed knuckle D30 front end.
    Tow package with 3.31 gears
    And it even has AC! (not functioning at the moment, haha).

    As soon as I took it for a test drive and the next day when I drove it home I realized I had exactly what I wanted. I can power down the highway at 75mph and it feels like riding on a couch, along with having 4 people in the truck with all their gear. All while getting 13mpg!!! Weee!

    So, here's how it's sitting now, we'll get into the mods here in a few.


    Me and the love of my life..... Oh and my girlfriend too.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    721
    Before I get into all the mods and work I've done, I'd like to make a note that this thread is going to be chronicling the expedition style mods that have been done, and the trips I have taken with the jeep that have lead to those mods, problems I've had to overcome, etc.

    I've done a crap load of boring stuff to it too, from minor interior work like fixing gauges, to swapping in an engine from a 1987 grand wagoneer and rebuilding the transmission in my garage, brakes, steering, completely buffing out the paint and redoing the wood grain, etc etc etc. But unless it relates to expedition style stuff, i'm going to skip the nitty-gritty mechanical crap, and cosmetic crap too. Lets just say that literally the last thing that needs to be 'gone through' on this truck right now is the axles. I've had my hands in everything else pretty much, and I'm currently sourcing 1974+ D44's for a swap so i can have 6 lugs and disc brakes up front.

    If you'd like to see all the minor details and mechanical crap, as well as a ton of pictures of everything I've ever done, cruise on over to my thread on Jeepforum. Its long but everything is covered in detail.

    Click here for 'Marns 73 Wagoneer Thread' There's close to 1500 posts in there.


    So, lets get on to the fun stuff, shall we?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Ft Myer, Va
    Posts
    1,654
    Plans for it relating to expo type stuff? My last FSJ (83 F/S Cherokee) was great since I could sleep in the back in relative comfort but I'm only 6'. Looks like you have a nice ride but I bet you didn't tell the GF that lil slip of the tongue... haha! Can't wait to see where this goes. And remember... a 4bt will easily put you into good fuel numbers. Just saying.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    721
    Quote Originally Posted by jeepdreamer View Post
    Plans for it relating to expo type stuff? My last FSJ (83 F/S Cherokee) was great since I could sleep in the back in relative comfort but I'm only 6'. Looks like you have a nice ride but I bet you didn't tell the GF that lil slip of the tongue... haha! Can't wait to see where this goes. And remember... a 4bt will easily put you into good fuel numbers. Just saying.
    Thanks. I guess I can describe the overall plans for the rig and whatnot at this point. I got my rock crawling and more technical stuff out of the way with my TJ. I played on the rocks, in the mud a little, etc, and that was fun and all, but the fear of busting something on my DD was no fun. This rig is built for an entirely different purpose.

    I love the outdoors, I love camping, I love hiking, I love being away from crowds and cities, and getting out to areas that most people and most vehicles will never go. This vehicle is going to enable all of that. I'm not sure if 'expedition' is really the right term (I've never used it before now haha), but isn't that pretty much just long trips in remote areas? Maybe I don't go on month long trips or anything, but that's petty much my goal, trail riding (remote areas) and camping. Thats what i've been using it for since purchasing, and I've done several projects and mods to make it better suited for that, as well as making it more reliable/capable overall.

    I hate to admit it, but I plan to keep this truck looking as close to original as possible while doing the work to it. At least thats my goal for now. I've got a minor lift and tires, but thats about the only thing that separates it aesthetically from 100% stock. I also wanted to keep the drive train mostly stock, but with the new axles going in, I'm getting away from that a bit. I've got the original 360 sitting on a stand in my garage waiting for a rebuild, but I'm not sure if I want to go that route, or go diesel of some sort. It's always everybody's dream, isn't it? 4bt's are getting hard to come by and expensive. Maybe a GM diesel swap would be good, who knows, that's down the road though!

    The other MAJOR goal for it (now this may not be very expeditiony) is a period correct Pop-Up camper. Everybody does M101's and whatnot, and rooftop tents, but I'm planning on a compact pop-up likely with a mild lift and likely some other upgrades to make it more trail worthy. Again, this is down the road a bit. I've bounced back and forth between utility trailer build and camper build, but always land back on camper. Hey, it's a family station wagon after all!

    I realize that alof of the work (the majority) I have done is more refreshing/refurbishing/replacing and doesnt really belong on this forum, but below is the list of the related stuff I've done

    List of CURRENT mods relating to Expedition type stuff that I will touch on as we progress:
    1. Radiator Upgrade
    2. Engine swap/tranny rebuild (wont go into details with this, but it applies)
    3. Fuel system revamp
    4. Lighting Upgrades
    5. CB Radio
    6. Interior Upgrades
    7. Matching Pop-Up Camper
    8. Axle swap to later model D44's

    List of FUTURE Upgrades:
    1. Axle Swap (including upgrades) - Done
    2. Trailer of some sort - Done
    3. Shade Awning (coming soon actually!)
    4. Fuel delivery (EFI?)
    5. BIG MAYBE - Drivetrain swap?

    Also, just throwing it out there that I'm literally building this thing on the weekends, in my garage, with my hands and tools, as money allows (the woman and my gun collection often times cut into that, not to mention I don't have tons of money laying around anyway haha). Before buying this truck I had never even changed my own oil. The biggest project I had ever done was putting coil spacers and springs on my TJ (in an afternoon, with the help of a friend). I figured there's no better way to learn than to dive right in. Literally everything on this truck has been the 'first time' I've done it, and I've been learning as I go. It's been a ton of blood (16 stitches and countless band aids), sweat, and tears along the way, but it's been a ton of fun too!
    Last edited by Dr. Marneaus; 05-07-2013 at 06:39 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Reno, NV
    Posts
    721
    So, onto some mods, mostly in chronological order.

    After purchasing it and doing minor stuff (getting it smogged was a $600 endeavor) like your standard tune up and all that, I started to get it ready for the trail. I put the bumper back on that the PO had removed.

    Installed working mechanical gauges for everything so I could monitor my vital signs, and actually cleaned and refurbed my ammeter so I can keep an eye on the charging system and not have to rely on only a voltmeter.

    First actual mod: I went and picked up a Uniden CB. I like to be able to talk to fellow trucks in our group and on the trail, so this was literally the first mod I did. When I replaced the speaker for the stereo it was too deep to fit the stereo back in the slot on the dash so I slid the CB in there.



    Antenna in a pretty standard spot.


    One of the next things I had to take care of was not by choice. I was on my way to a halloween party and my radiator sprung a leak. I pulled into my buddy's driveway and he asked what was dripping. oh crap! Turned around and drove home.

    The issue:



    I had never had any actual overheating problems with the stock 40 year old radiator, but it ran warm sometimes. Living in vegas heat is definitely an issue. on more than one occasion I had pushed it up to about 240* in the 115* heat, which was not comfortable. The stock system used a 195* t-stat and normal operating temp was about 210*

    I picked up an el-cheapo chinese all aluminum 4-row unit on ebay and went to work.

    Not the prettiest welds, but looked like a quality unit. Here it is next to the old'n


    it went in with ZERO issues. Fit was spot on.


    I had to make new lines for the built-in transmission cooler because my old ones broke when being removed. Easy Peasy. This all got changed and cleaned up a little with the engine swap and tranny rebuild, totally new cooling lines are on my list.


    Anyway, it has worked great for almost 2 years. I ended up doing a 185* t-stat and with the new rad in place the truck runs at about 190. If it's 115* outside and I'm pushing up hill, it'll creep up to about 205. Highest I've had it is a slight grade uphill through loose gravel in 4wd, for about 3 miles @10mph in the 110* heat, and it only touched 215*. All in all, great upgrade that made a noticeable difference.

  9. #9
    Nice FSJ! IMO there's just something awesomely cool about these old jeeps!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Boulder, Colorado, United States
    Posts
    484
    fsj's are sweet. i have a 72 also. isent your a 73? with the newer style gauge cluster. just wondering. I have (very slowly) been gathering parts for a 5.3L/6l80E swap. i have pretty much all but the axles.
    2015 GMC 1500 CREW Z71 6.5'
    Roam'n Chariot pop up
    toy: 72' wagoneer 6in lift, 33" MTR, transplant in progress: lsx and 6l80e

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