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Which Frame To Use?

Discussion in 'Early CJ5 and CJ6 Tech' started by mbjeeper, Nov 27, 2017.

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  1. Nov 27, 2017
    mbjeeper

    mbjeeper New Member

    Moundsville, WV
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    I am going to build a Jeep for trail use, not a rock climber or mud bog jeep, but I plan to do some decent trails, and I want to take it to Colorado. I don't want to beat on my MB anymore, and my '48 truck is too long and heavy.
    I plan to use the body, with the full roof intact, from a DJ5, and I will hinge the doors and do away with the slliders, and trim the bottom corner for tire clearance. I want to be able to use it in the summer and winter, rain or snow. That's why I'm not using one of my MB tubs.
    I am going to do a 2 1/2" lift, probably a 31" or 32" tire, narrow. 5.38 gears (axles from the M38, probably with traction aids in each axle) , Buick V6, 3 speed, 18, and possibly an overdrive. Saginaw OR Ford reverse steering, power. I have done many frame offs, and I have the facilities and the ability to fabricate what is needed (motor mounts, crossmembers, steering mods, spring pads, body mounts, etc)
    I have 3 very good frames that I can start with; a 1950 M38, a 1967 CJ5, and a 1973 LH drive (normal) DJ5.
    All three frames are very good, with no problems. Which would be the best to start with?
    I have read that DJ frames are better, and worse, and about the same as CJ5. Benefits of using the DJ frame would be that it already has the Saginaw steering, and that the body will already fit it. Negatives are that I can't seem to find accurate information about the leaf springs. The rear springs are outboard of the frame, which would mean new spring pads on the M38 Dana 44, (not a problem). Will CJ lift leaf packs fit a DJ? The DJ also has a flanged limited slip Dana 44, but with a centered diff and 3.07 gears.
    The M38 frame is good, and pretty HD, but of course I would have to do the steering and V6 change. Again, no big deal.
    The 67 CJ5 already has the V6 mounts. But, the Ross steering would have to go.
    I have always been more into the restoration aspect of these old Jeeps, and this one will be an on purpose hodge-podge of mixed parts.
    I'd like to use the best of my available parts to create a good trail Jeep. I don't know if there would be a significant reason to start (or not start) with one frame over another.
    So, I'd like to hear the opinions of someone who knows more than I do, or who has, for instance, used a DJ frame before.
    Thanks in advance,
    Greg
    Moundsville, WV
     
  2. Nov 27, 2017
    gunner

    gunner Member

    Washington state...
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    I've always heard the DJ frame was a thicker gauge steel than other CJs, M-series jeeps.

    The outboarded springs use a 2 1/2" wide spring, but they are also spring over axle and are pretty flat (ie, not much of an arch). You might try going spring under with 2 1/2" springs- maybe you'll get the same lift.

    The DJ rear axle is 3.73 ratio

    Another thing about the DJs- they never got beat up off road and you are pretty unlikely to find cracks in them or signs of past bubba delusions.

    On my DJ, I ditched the doors altogether and put on old Sears-top aluminum doors. I had to fabricate the door sills. The body on my DJ needed lots of work but was salvageable. The frame was still excellent and required no repair.
     
  3. Nov 27, 2017
    ojgrsoi

    ojgrsoi Retired. 2020 Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

    Weatherford, TX
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    X2 and the front springs are the same dimensions as a CJ so you can use off the shelf for those.
     
  4. Nov 27, 2017
    Daryl

    Daryl Sponsor

    Bonney Lake, WA
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    DJ is the strongest of any universal Jeep frames. With YJ lift springs you can run spring under with factory mounts. The DJ frame with the outboard rear springs cuts down the Jeep lean quite a bit. As mentioned above, they usually don't have any cracks and Bubba hasn't worked on them. If you keep the rear end you won't have to deal with all the noise of an 18 transfer case also. I have built several Jeeps on DJ frames.
     
  5. Nov 27, 2017
    mbjeeper

    mbjeeper New Member

    Moundsville, WV
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    Thank you for the replies! Just the kind of stuff I need to know.
    So, if I understand correctly, using YJ 2 1/2" lift springs in the rear with stock spring under, and pre '76 CJ 2 1/2" lift front springs, I should be close to level?

    I would like to keep the flanged 44 in the DJ, but I think to get 5.38 gears it would have to have a new carrier? (It is a 3.07 rear, out of a 232 powered DJ. 4 cylinders were 3.73). Where is the breaking point for carriers, or are the 5.38 ring and pinions available now to fit the carrier I have?

    Again, thanks for the replies! I don't know much about post '40s Jeeps, and I appreciate the help. Got a lot to learn.
     
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2017
  6. Nov 27, 2017
    Warloch

    Warloch Did you say Flattie??? Staff Member

    Falcon, CO
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    So, from someone who lives out here I'll give you the benefit of the builds and wheeling I've done over the years.

    The Red '51 is what I built as my 'optimal' rig, and the Blue '49 is a close second - because I wanted to try a few different things.
    What I found I really like - 225 V6 that I now run EZ-EFI on with HEI - 4 speed trannies I like the SM465 ratios the best, but the T18 in the '49 fits good too - D18 with OD, gear splitting and ability to run highway speeds when needed - D30 Front, D44 Full Floater out back and I prefer 4.88s on 33s / if you stay with 31s you can keep the D27 up front if you like and I run the 5.38s in the '49 with this - OX Lockers front and rear, no substitute for select-able - Holbrook Long Leaf Springs and Rancho 9000s shocks, soft on the trails and firm up for the road - Saginaw Steering, Power on the '51 and Manual on the '49 - I also do swinging pedals and full cage - Disc on front 11" out back.

    This will get you to 90% of the trails and you only have issues with the 'lift - or long fall' trails due to wheel base.

    Frame - I usually strip mine and start from scratch with the mounts... box where it needs to be (front steering mostly). I've never broken one yet, but there is always a first.

    The '49 is just a body sitting on a '63 frame so I've mixed the shorter 3A and 5 setup there.

    Feel free to ask anything on the builds - I've done about 30 different jeep builds over my life time (my wife made me count them so I could justify 'looking' at a 3B since I've never done one of those).

    Should probably add - the current build from scratch is the '62 - it will have a 231, D27, D44 PowerLock, 4.88s, T18 (cause I had one), D18 OD, Saginaw and a hard top. Originally for my niece, but she has moved on and can't afford it now so I'll be selling it when its done.
     
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  7. Nov 27, 2017
    gunner

    gunner Member

    Washington state...
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    Daryl, I recently picked up a set of unused Old Man Emu YJ springs- 2 1/2" lift, w/ 3 sets of bushings. For the price, I couldn't pass them up and was thinking of where to use them- a new build or something I already have. One thought is to go spring under on the DJ- especially if it goes to 4wd someday. You're saying a 2.5 inch lift is about right if you go spring under? Or would it need a taller arch- say 3.5 or 4"?
     
  8. Nov 27, 2017
    gunner

    gunner Member

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    I believe if you go spring under with the 2.5" lift, it will basically bring you back to level in the rear. If so, then you'd want to use front springs with no lift. Sounds like Daryl can tell you for sure
     
  9. Nov 29, 2017
    mbjeeper

    mbjeeper New Member

    Moundsville, WV
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    Thanks very much for the replies. I really do appreciate it.
    It looks like I will probably use the DJ5 frame after all. I really like the idea that the outboard springs might help with the potential 'tippy' ness that I might get with this jeep, which will be more top heavy than a regular CJ. And the Saginaw conversion is already done.
    Warloch, I will almost certainly hit you up for info once I start the project, and I do like the idea of selectable traction aids.
    In the ice a posi rear can get you turned around in no time.
    My brother is building up his '49 CJ3A, and I'm going to try to get this together next summer, and the plan is to trailer them to Colorado.
    Thanks again,
    Greg
     
  10. Nov 29, 2017
    Warloch

    Warloch Did you say Flattie??? Staff Member

    Falcon, CO
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    I've not used a DJ frame in the past. Outboard Springs may cause an issue with standard axle fitment, especially if you are staying in the NT axle width. I keep the drive train set inside the frame rails and use the spring under Holbrooks to keep tip issues down. If you want stiffer due to the Hard top, I recommend the BDS. That is what I have on the '62 build for that reason.
     
  11. Nov 29, 2017
    Daryl

    Daryl Sponsor

    Bonney Lake, WA
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    The DJ springs are outside the frame stock. Very helpful with "Jeep lean"
     
  12. Jan 3, 2018
    mbjeeper

    mbjeeper New Member

    Moundsville, WV
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    I decided to use the DJ5 frame and body as as a start to this build.
    The main hangup was those awful sliding doors. They were heavy and presented a tire clearance problem. I decided to put CJ7/YJ full hard doors on there and I have one side finished. No more worries about too wide of a tire on the rear preventing the door from opening, plus they are easy to remove, seal up much better, and I will have the option of soft or half doors in the summer.
    Warloch, are you saying that you use an Ox locker in the front in a 27? I was under the impression that there were no selectable lockers for the 25 or 27, and I haven't found any. Am I wrong? I'd like to go selectable in the front at least for the steering issues. I have pretty much figured that I would have to go to a narrow track 6 bolt hub Dana 30 with discs in order to be able to get an air or cable locker setup.
    This jeep will have 31 or 32" tires, so I figure that will be adequate.
    I have the Dana 44, flanged, out of the mail jeep. It is centered. I have a 20, but I will run a model 18 transfer, because with the 5.38 gears I will need an overdrive.
    I have been reading about this in several places and forums and have come across several different answers, but I want to get an opinion here. The Jeep will have at most a 2" lift. Is there a way that I can use the centered 44 with the 18 and not have a problem? I have read that the early short wheelbase Land Rovers were built this way with no problems, but...
    If I can't use the flanged 44, I can keep the original M38 tapered 44 and upgrade the brakes. Offset 44s are very scarce around here, and I don't have the jack to install a Herms floater kit. I figure that I wouldn't really NEED the flanged axle, but I'd sure like to use it if I could.
    I'd appreciate your opinions.
     
  13. Jan 3, 2018
    Daryl

    Daryl Sponsor

    Bonney Lake, WA
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    You can't run a DJ centered 44 with an 18. If you are going to re-gear your diffs, why go with 5.38 and have to run an 18 and a overdrive? Save the cost of the overdrive, run a sensible gear like a 4.27 and keep the centered flanged 44 and not have to run an 18 transfer case. Win win win all the way around.
     
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  14. Jan 7, 2018
    mbjeeper

    mbjeeper New Member

    Moundsville, WV
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    I hear you, and I'm not wild about buying an overdrive, but I just don't think I'd be happy with 4.27 either on or off the road.
    I'll either find an offset flanged 44, or stick with the tapered 44 I've got.
    I did get a narrow track Dana 30 to be able to install a selectable in the front.
     
  15. Jan 8, 2018
    colojeepguy

    colojeepguy Colorado Springs 2019 Sponsor

    At the foot of...
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    You won't regret it. Best single mod you can do for a Jeep with 4.88 or 5.38 gears IMO
     
  16. Jan 8, 2018
    mbjeeper

    mbjeeper New Member

    Moundsville, WV
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    You won't regret it. Best single mod you can do for a Jeep with 4.88 or 5.38 gears IMO

    Oh, I don't doubt that a bit. I've installed and driven Flatfenders with Saturn Overdrives, and they are great. I just meant that it'd be nice if I didn't need to spend the $$ on an overdrive and could spend it on an E locker or EFI instead...
     
  17. Jan 8, 2018
    oldtime

    oldtime oldtime

    St. Charles,...
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    O/D/ decision has a lot to do with engine selection.
    If your building with Willys 134 engine then O.D. becomes a huge benefit.
    For larger engines like a Dauntless, the O.D. is not nearly as important.
    O.D. essentially turns your main gearbox into a close ratio transmission which allows you to better keep the RPM range with in engines power band.
     
  18. Oct 10, 2018
    mbjeeper

    mbjeeper New Member

    Moundsville, WV
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    Well, I've got pretty much everything fitted up and tacked in place. I'm ready to take the whole thing apart and sandblast and do the bodywork.
    I ended up with the DJ5 frame and body, installed CJ/YJ steel doors, and I have half doors, too.
    Buick 231, TH350 with a model 20 and the original DJ flanged 44. 3.73 gears. Got an early Bronco xfer and I'm going to swap in the low range from it. Twin stick shifter.
    Stock height YJ springs on all 4 corners. Body will be about an inch higher than stock to help clear the trans (plus had to build a tunnel)
    Slow ratio Saginaw PS box with the original column. Going to do a 14" steering wheel. Power brakes with '79 Camaro booster and M715 brake pedal.
    '78 Dana 30 (discs, 6 bolt hubs), going to do a tie rod flip. Have an Eaton E locker for it.
    Going to either rebuild the original trac loc in the rear or replace it with a lunchbox locker. I prefer the manners of a LS on the road, especially in a short Jeep. This is not going to be a rock crawler.
    As a bonus, I ended up with enough spares to build a decent fiberglass bodied '73CJ5 with a good 258. Like to find a t18 for it. Gotta finish this DJ first, though.
    Durango, Ouray/Teluride area bound July or August 2020.
    Greg
     
  19. Oct 10, 2018
    Twin2

    Twin2 not him 2020 Sponsor 2019 Sponsor

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  20. Oct 10, 2018
    mbjeeper

    mbjeeper New Member

    Moundsville, WV
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    I have tons of pics. I’ll have to see how to post them.
     

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