The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

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DustinLangston
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Location: Cedar City Utah

The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Sun Dec 13, 2015 8:54 am

About a month ago I came across a 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle out of Southern California. I've always wanted one so I went down and picked it up. Around this same time I had also picked up a 1981 Jeep Honcho sportside. So the wife said I had to decide which one I wanted more for myself, and the Honcho won. I put the Cherokee up for sale. I had a guy call me from North Carolina wanting it, but he wanted it built/restored. He had seen my previous Vortec swap/restoration and liked it. So we ran the numbers and made some decisions. It is now official. The restoration has begun!
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Here is what we are going to do. I know I will get some negative comments on this from the purists out there, but it is going to be awesome. This Golden Eagle was originally alpaca brown metallic. It will be repainted classic black, which is still a correct 1979 Jeep color available for the Golden Eagle.
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The interior was originally a tan Levi interior (the seats are pretty thrashed now). It will be replaced with a Honcho/Laredo style interior Similar to this.
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The alpaca brown paint color will stay on the interior as we are going with a "saddle" color scheme and the combination of gloss black exterior with the saddle brown interior is going to look amazing.

Now the exciting part. This Golden Eagle originally came with a 4.2 straight 6, a 3 speed manual transmission and a Dana 20 transfer case. Every piece of this is going. So if anyone wants some parts let me know. It is all there including the original AC system (which was still under pressure, assuming still worked) and even the smog system which was all still hooked up. I have purchased (it should arrive on Monday) a 5.3 Vortec mated to a 6L80E trans, out of a 2011 GMC Sierra. The assembly only has 40,000 miles on it. I found it at OK Auto out of Richland Mississippi. It is in great shape and will be perfect for this Jeep. It came with all accessories, gas pedal, ECU, wiring harness etc. I have purchased all of the motor mounts and trans adapters from Novak. They worked great on my last LS swap so there's no reason to change now. I have also found a nice rebuilt Dana 300 transfer case that I am going to use. It will be a rock solid drive train.
Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:18 pm, edited 5 times in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it

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DustinLangston
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Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:03 pm
Location: Cedar City Utah

Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:11 am

Time for inspection. Normally this would be done before a restoration price was agreed upon, but I had a good feeling this Golden Eagle was in great shape. And so far so good. A few findings.
First I confirmed gearing of 3.54 in Dana 44 axles front and back. Gears are in great shape. A full cleaning and new bearings/seals will have these in perfect condition again.
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Next I was excited to come across another Golden Eagle wheel as the full size spare tire.
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And even more excited to see that under the tire and the rest of the floor boards are in PERFECT condition. Not a spot of rust anywhere. The original undercoating is even in great condition.
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I will be going with a larger tire on this. Probably 33X12.50R15. Does anyone know if you can fit a 33X10.50R15 spare tire underneath? I'd hate to have to put the spare tire in the cab. Let me know if anyone has done a thinner 33" tire underneath. Thanks.
Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it

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Topic author
DustinLangston
Posts: 597
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:03 pm
Location: Cedar City Utah

Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Sun Dec 13, 2015 9:24 am

Tear down is going very fast so far. Exhaust is out. Drive shafts are out. Cooling system is out. Front grill/support is out. I stopped last night before pulling the wiring off of everything. I needed tape and a sharpie to label everything before I started unplugging clips. The motor/trans/tcase will be out today. Then it will be time for pressure washing.
Image
Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it

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CosmicRhino
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by CosmicRhino » Sun Dec 13, 2015 10:51 am

Subscribed - and I should be able to help you out with a few parts along the way! Plenty of quality stuff coming off my 79 Golden Eagle, same color scheme. Just have the taste for some alternatives (metal dash, rhino grill, etc.) so I've got some great parts for you.


will e
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by will e » Sun Dec 13, 2015 1:27 pm

Don't worry about the purists. There are not that many of them. Personally I am all for the upgrades. For me, there are only a few exceptions to this rule. For example, if I bought a real super wagoneer in good shape and original condition, I would find it difficult to do a drive train swap.

I am looking forward to following this build.
81 Waggy 'WILL E' Retired
82 Cherokee WT - SOA/SF/high steer/Alcan springs/agr box/Borgeson steering shaft/AMC 401/performer/holley TA/HEI/BeCool/727/ALTAS (2.0/2.72/5.44)/D60 Snofighter(Yukon Zip,hubs,stubs,4.56)/14 Bolt (FF,BF shave, Discs, ARB,Artec Truss)/MTR 37X12.5/Corbeau XRS Baja & 5 point retractable harness/Hella Aux lights/tuffy console/killer32 sliders/Evil Twin bumpers, rack and roll cage/WARN 8000/TT Fabworks steering brace/dual batts/custom TC skid plate/ARB fridge

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hutcho
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by hutcho » Sun Dec 13, 2015 2:28 pm

Following! !

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DustinLangston
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Sun Dec 13, 2015 11:06 pm

Made some good progress today. Removed and labeled the engine bay wiring harness. This is an extremely important step. This is the first step to easily integrating the Vortec engine wiring harness. If you look at all the LS swaps all over the internet wiring is easily the number 1 thing that confuses people with the swap. This is a simple first step to making your life a little easier.
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The engine/trans is ready to come out. It is just sitting ready to be pulled. I let a friend borrow my load leveler for my engine hoist a while back so I had to stop right here. Sooooo close. Oh well. 30 minutes of work tomorrow will have it out. Then on to pressure washing, which will be fun in the snow in December. :) More to come soon. I should have the new motor/trans assembly and mounts tomorrow. I took the last two weeks of the year off of work. So I will have lots of time to work on it. I am hoping to have the LS swap completed by the end of the year, running and driving. It may be wishful thinking but I think it's doable.
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Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it

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Topic author
DustinLangston
Posts: 597
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:03 pm
Location: Cedar City Utah

Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Mon Dec 14, 2015 1:18 pm

Some exciting news today. So far everything has gone so perfectly. Every part of the Jeep has come apart easily, and the motor showed up today. Those guys at OK Auto sure know how to properly package and ship a motor. This pallet was sturdy and the shrink wrap kept our new 12" of snow from ever getting to the motor.
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And today my biggest stroke of luck so far, the output shaft on the 6L80E has splines on the whole shaft! Come to find out a few of the 6L80E's had the same length shaft but only the last 3" had splines. Well to run a Dana 300 t-case that last 3" has to be cut off. So that would have left me with an output shaft with no splines.... But like I said. My lucky day.
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The wiring harness is now off the motor and being packaged and shipped off to Novak who will customize it for my exact application, re-tune the computer for this Jeep and send it all back to me ready to go.
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Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it

User avatar

Topic author
DustinLangston
Posts: 597
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:03 pm
Location: Cedar City Utah

Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Tue Dec 15, 2015 4:39 pm

I rarely gush over anything but I felt it required here. OK Auto takes the wiring harness off the motor before shipping it to keep it safe. It is seperately boxed. When I went to open that box I was very surprised. Not only did they remove the wiring harness and send it to me with the computer and fuse box, but they removed every hard and soft hose and line on the whole rig.
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I got every AC hose, power steering, trans cooler, fuel, evap, everything. Now granted a lot of these wont work in their current state but it at least gives me the opportunity to customize some of them. Amazing stuff guys I'm telling you. If anyone wants to do an LS/Vortec swap I highly recommend OK Auto out of Richland MS.

Gush over.

On to another company I absolutely love to work with and they are right here in my home state of Utah. Novak Adapters. I sent off the wiring harness to them and computer for customization and tuning. Hopefully I'll get it back in less than 2 weeks. I did receive some nice pieces from them yesterday as well. As always beautiful stuff from Novak.
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Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it


74cherokees1980
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Location: Ypsilanti, MI
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by 74cherokees1980 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 10:57 am

Is this the same golden eagle I was interested in??? I'm very curious as to see how this build comes out.


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DustinLangston
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Location: Cedar City Utah

Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:12 am

Ya it is.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it


74cherokees1980
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Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 8:39 pm
Location: Ypsilanti, MI
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by 74cherokees1980 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 11:17 am

Can't wait to see the end of the build!!!


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DustinLangston
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:21 am

So I usually have a pretty strict no automatic transmission work policy. I don't like digging into them. But come to find out the control module for the 6L80E trans is located on the valve body inside the trans, and it needs to be sent out for reprogramming as well. So I had to pull it apart. It was good though because I was able to see how clean everything is. It does only have 40,000 miles so it was to be expected. I'll ship out the TCM today.
I also removed the crossover exhaust pipe and the lower 02 sensors. I've deleted the lower 02 sensors in the wiring and ECM programming but I am going to try and keep the factory catalytic converters just because they are high flow and it eliminates a fuely exhaust smell. It also mellows out the exhaust tone. I'm not looking for this to sound like a race car.
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Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it

User avatar

Topic author
DustinLangston
Posts: 597
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:03 pm
Location: Cedar City Utah

Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Thu Dec 17, 2015 9:24 am

Image
Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:48 pm, edited 3 times in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it

User avatar

Topic author
DustinLangston
Posts: 597
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:03 pm
Location: Cedar City Utah

Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:02 am

Well we got the old motor out last night. Piece of cake. We also got all the old fuel/evap lines removed and dropped the fuel tank for cleaning etc. Today is pressure washing day. It is supposed to get into the mid 40's so that is plenty warm. :D
I also got the 2wd 6L80E trans all sealed up to become a 4wd trans. I will cut the output shaft today as well. There are few things that make me more nervous than cutting something in half that could be very expensive to fix if I cut it wrong. :)
I picked up my Dana 300 transfer case the other night too and will be replacing the input shaft today. Does anyone know if the shift linkage off the Dana 20 will work on the Dana 300? I'd like to put a new shifter on it but I don't like the look of the twin stick. But that's all I can find for aftermarket shifters. If anyone has any ideas I'd love to hear them.
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If anyone is looking for parts off this motor/trans/tcase combo let me know. I won't be keeping any of it.
Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it

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44bz
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by 44bz » Sat Dec 19, 2015 10:01 am

Interesting thread, I've been enjoying it. Is that a 4bbl 327 on your shop floor??


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1968 J2000 - AMC 327/T18/D20 (twin stick), stock D44s, 3" body lift, 35x12.50 Goodyear MTRs w/ Kevlar


74cherokees1980
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by 74cherokees1980 » Sat Dec 19, 2015 11:03 am

Keep the updates coming. I can't wait to see the finished product. Great work and enjoy that eagle. Very jealous I couldn't buy it from you


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DustinLangston
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Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Sat Dec 19, 2015 7:18 pm

44bz you have a good eye. It is a 327 but it's a 2 barrel. It's out of a 62 Rambler wagon. Let me know if yyou want anything off of it.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it

User avatar

Topic author
DustinLangston
Posts: 597
Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:03 pm
Location: Cedar City Utah

Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by DustinLangston » Thu Dec 24, 2015 1:22 am

Some exciting updates. I received my Golden Eagle decal set from Austin Jeeps out of Texas. It looks great!
Image

I have been dreading cutting out the old motor mounts all week. I swear the last set of these I cut out was no big deal. But these were welded in SOLID! Whoever originally did this better have gotten employee of the month at the AMC assembly plant. :) I wound up cutting through the mount and then ground down the leftover mount/weld. Not fun.
Image

Bolted the new mounts in from Novak. great fit just like last time.
Image
Last edited by DustinLangston on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
1982 Wagoneer Limited 5.3L Vortec 4L60E swap - finished/restored - sold - bought back - sold again
1979 Wagoneer 360 TH400 1339 QT - built into perfect daily driver - sold
1981 J10 Sportside Honcho - finished/restored - sold
1979 Cherokee Golden Eagle - 5.3L Vortec 6L80E swap - finished/restored - sold
1967 Super Wagoneer - sold, too much work
1978 J10 Golden Eagle - finished/restored - sold
1962 Rambler Classic Cross Country Wagon - current project, wife's daily driver - she'll never let me sell it


GaJeep94YJ
Posts: 313
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:00 pm

Re: The Perfect Storm-1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle-Vortec Swap

Post by GaJeep94YJ » Thu Dec 24, 2015 5:40 am

I'm a little confused. I am doing the exact same swap you are. 79 chief that original had a 4.2, 3 speed, Dana 20. When I called novak they said the motor mounts would not work if I original had a 4.2, they said only work when it was originally the 360 one the jeep.

Also their adapter that they sold me had a new main shaft for the transmission. They said that is the only one that worked with the 2wd version.

Have you tried placing the engine on those mounts?

Have you checked the adapter?

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