Been a while since ive built up a new rig, and hence no build threads, however that all changed a few weeks ago when a friend posted up a 1979 DJ5. Better known as a postal jeep. These jeeps typically came in 2wd and so have been overlooked by offroaders for the most part. I've wanted one for a long time which i assume is due to our mail carrier driving one for a while when i was younger.
Whatever the reason for the fascination, it was piqued when i noticed in the fine print that my friend had swapped in a Chevy V8 with a powerglide. The engine was just the 283, but in a jeep this size it scoots like a hotrod. Sadly at the time i did not have the funds to buy the rig, but a few weeks later it was realized a possible trade for my rolling 48 Willys frame/drivetrain could be worked out. After driving to Ephraim, and hours of what was termed "horse trading", the DJ was loaded onto my trailer and taken home.
I enjoyed the next few weeks driving the rig, and started learning about carburetors which is something i have avoided for years. After some time i confidently was able to adjust the carb and had the beast running even better than before. I enjoyed racing around town in my "sleeper", taking cars by surprise and letting the pipes sing at full throttle. They were good days for sure.
But the fun had to come to an end. While driving home from a car show i heard an audible hiss and noticed a tire had a bad split in it. My friend had told me the tires were bad, but i had hoped they would hold out a little longer, although im sure my hot rodding did not help the situation. After further inspection i discovered all 4 tires were beginning to tear open in one form or another, so it was time to track down some tires.
I didnt have money to buy new, so i checked out KSL. Ideally some BFG Radial T/As would have fit my end goal nicely, but there were none to be found and wouldnt have been the best offroad. I ended up tracking down some BFG A/T tires, which gave the rig a more aggressive safari style look im not completely sold on but is growing on me. My good friends at Jacks Tire and Oil in Orem swaped me over, and i was back on the road.
For a short time unfortunately. The next day i experienced something terrifying as i pulled out of my driveway and started down the road, came to an intersection, and the vehicle wouldnt slow down. It was the first time i'd had a throttle stick open on me and was quite unpleasant. I fortunately was able to stop the vehicle by pulling the key out before barreling into traffic. Upon inspection of the motor i realized the throttle return spring was stretched out and not pulling the throttle back closed. Jumping online i was surprised to find that no one sold replacements. I ended up going with some universal springs that work ok, but im still not 100% satisfied with. At least the crisis was over and i could get back to driving around again. During this time i also replaced a very dirty air filter, which pepped up the motor a bit, and started looking online to order a HEI ignition system so i could get away from the points distributor.
Around that time is when i noticed the jeep getting harder to start in the mornings. It would fire up, run a second or 2, and die. After some digging around i assumed it was due to a fuel delivery problem, and replaced the fuel filter. The fuel filter is a see-through style and was hardly filling with gas when using the old filter. With the new filter in place it would quickly fill completely full and i thought i was in the clear yet again, but thats when i noticed the mechanical pump itself was leaking fuel out of the top.
Deciding i was done with mechanical pumps, i ordered up a Morosso pump block off plate, and Edelbrock electric fuel pump. My plan was to swap these items in, but first i wanted to attend a trunk-or-treat event up in Draper. I drove the rig up there on the freeway without issue, and left it idling while unloading some clothes out of the back for the donation drive when i heard a clicking coming from the vehicle. Upon inspection i noticed the oil pressure gauge had dropped to 0 so i quickly parked the rig and enjoyed the event with my postal service themed setup.
Afterwards i started the rig up and pressure was back to normal. I assumed maybe it was a faulty sending unit and started to drive home. About halfway home i noticed that the pressure gauge had dropped to 0 again, and as i started to pull over it jumped back up. It continued to drop to 0 for a second, then back up to 40 every 10 seconds or so. The vehicle was driving fine and i didnt hear any odd sounds so i continued on my way still assuming a faulty sending unit.
Unfortunately once i pulled off the freeway and stopped at a light near my home the engine started to make a loud clicking noise. Looking back i probably should have just stopped there and got my trailer, but seeing as the pressure gauge was still jumping up and down i assumed the engine would be ok to slowly drive the last couple blocks to my home. Unfortunately by the time i got home the engine was making a bit louder of a clack and i feared a spun bearing. Depressed i pulled it into my garage and the next day put it up on jack stands. I then ordered a new high volume oil pump and oil pan gasket in hopes that the noise is not as bad as i thought and the engine is still good enough to cruise around with even if it is a bit clicky.
I decided to replace the oil filter while i was at it, and pulled off the casing around the cartridge style filter. After draining out the casing i began cleaning it up and thats when i discovered quite a bit of sludge build up in it, and very interestingly a cigarette butt that i would love to know the story of how it came to be in there.
At this point im waiting on a few more parts, but my overall goal is to keep the 283 running, and only add parts that can later be transferred to a 350 block. The cool thing about Chevy/GM parts is many of them interchange over a large year spread, so things like carbs, fuel pumps, headers, etc... are all fair game to put into the motor without dedicating myself too much in building up the small 283.
And thats where im at today. My plan is to keep up on this thread as i go through my journey of bridging hot rod and jeeps while learning new things along the way. So far its been a fun experience despite all the setbacks. I also plan on being better at taking more pictures going forward to document the transformation.