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Builds: Brian gets his CJ-3B started & tests it out


Oh, I’m positive Brian is feeling good today!  I can hear the relief a 1000 + miles away!

Brian reports: “At last, after 2 years of work, I powered up my CJ-3B project and drove it down the driveway, around the yard and over a rock, putting 4 miles on it. More than likely, I was also driving everyone in the neighborhood nuts with the 3b’s untamed exhaust manifolds pattering away.


The beginning of the powering up process began Sunday.  I spent the day going over the jeep with wrenches, sockets and a torque wench, checking everything I thought vital. While it took most of my time on Sunday I had available, it turned out to be a smart move, because I found a few items I hadn’t tightened.

During my investigation, I found a small oil leak on the SM420 transmission from a bolt on the PTO cover. To fix it I will drop the oil level and use some RTV on it (OF ALL PLACES). About a week previously, I found the rear output shaft leaking. I ordered a new seal thinking I botched the seal job.  However, after inspecting the situation more closely, I realized the oil was coming down the spines and leaking under the washer. I reviewed the rebuild procedure and found I did not RTV the washer when it was installed. Oil leaks drive me nuts! Fortunately, I have found my leak has slowed down to the point it might not exist.

Back to Sunday, after filling the radiator I found water on the floor. I thought it was coming from the upper hose connection on the block, but then determined it was coming from the intake manifold right behind the hose. Not good! With some effort, I was able to get a wrench on the two bolts that hold down the lifting bracket and re-torque them.  It appears to have stopped. At worst, I will have to pull the intake and reinstall it this winter when the tub is off.

brian_cj3b_firstday_2Yesterday, Monday, I sat the 3b on jack stands in the garage.  I thought to do this because all of the parts and assembly’s are engineered well, but not necessarily designed to be used with each other.

With the Jeep on jack stands, I climbed in and started it up.  Nothing.  A quick review revealed a loose coil wire.  I quickly reattached it.  So, I climbed back in and tried again.  Within seconds it fired off and ran cold. At that point, I let the clutch out and the tires spun with no gut wrenching crunching sounds.

Whew! What a relief ALL THE PARTS WORKED!

I let the jeep warm up, then started running though the gears. I tested HI-low and then the overdrive in all gears. The only problem I found is that it pops out of third gear. I did take the transmission apart and thought all the synchronizers were in good shape but maybe they weren’t. One thing I did do was instal a top cover from a much later transmission with the backup switch in it. Possibly, this could have some effect on it. I will call Novak to see if there could be an issue with doing the top cover swap. I hope the problem is simply that the tower isn’t letting the gear shift all the way to it’s proper position.

Next, I tested the Brakes on the stands.  They stopped the tires, so I took that as a positive.

Now, it was time to head down the driveway.

During my first drive down the driveway, I reached 10 MPH and hit the brakes. “OH Crap!!” I never have stopped so fast in a jeep. With disks in the front and 11″ in the back I nearly bounced off the steering wheel. I might even consider removing the booster, because they are touchy.

Ergonomically, I am very happy with the seating/steering wheel.  My leg angles feel good, though I am having a hard time keeping my heal on the floor when braking. This compounds the braking problem, because when the jeep stops, my size 14 foot slams into the pedal even more!

With a successful venture down the driveway and back, I decided to try playing on the garden boulders. The tires on it are a set of 20 year old 31’s from my Cj7 with little tread. My first object was a large rock and and I climbed right up on it. Next, I picked a rock 3/4 of my tire height. The front quadrant contacted the 90 degree rock face and began to climb. The motor hardly missed a beat. Wow! It really crawls! The tire had to climb 6″ of vertical face before going forward! [Editor’s note:  I can imagine this — the last tranny dad had in his CJ-5 was a one of the granny T-18s.  It was a great jeeping tranny]

While in the middle of my garden adventure, my wife appeared. I thought maybe I was in trouble for playing among the garden boulders; instead, she had the camera in her hand and shot some video and pic’s.

Overall, I am very happy with the progress. The 3rd gear skipping out is the biggest problem, but will not stop me from further testing into the late summer. My next step is to work on the exhaust and get it quiet enough so that I will better know when to shift. LOL. I also need some small parts like a windshield pivot bolt and the bottom latch/hook that mounts on the dash for the windshield. Then, I’ll be ready to drive it down the road!”


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