As you all know by now, I wrench 12 hours a day (the other 12, I surf Craigslist). As such, you’d think I’d have made tons of progress on my Jeep J10 since I first showed it to you three weeks ago. And I’m happy to say, I’ve taken two steps forward. And maybe one step back.

You see, I’ve actually done quite a bit of wrenchin’ on this ol’ truck, but in the process, I discovered a few problems. I also did some incredibly amateur stuff that I’m not ashamed to admit to. Feel free to laugh at me and call me mean things.

So, here it goes. The good, the bad, and the amateur.

The Good

There A Shiny New Carburetor Sittin’ On My Engine. And It Runs!


That’s the old Carter BBD carb on the left, and that shiny one on the right is a Motorcraft 2100. The new one is much simpler than the Carter, and more importantly, it runs much better and actually idles!

Unbolting the carter was no big deal — just disconnect the fuel hose, vacuum lines, electrical connectors, and throttle linkage, loosen four nuts, and yank it off. Installing the new one required the use of an adapter, but four bolts later, she was sitting proudly atop that AMC inline six.

I’ve Got New Ignition Parts


When you first buy a vehicle with a questionable service history, you’ve got to do a basic tune up. My distributor cap, rotor, wires, and plugs were actually not in terrible shape, but to properly baseline this truck, I had to replace them. The parts were cheap, too.

I Removed My Carpets


Tearing out my carpet revealed some pretty decent floorboards. Yes, there’s a bit of scaly rust, but this is no Flintstone Special; those floors will clean up just fine.

My Interior Is Clean(er)


There used to be tons of mold and many little mouse nests in my truck, but now there are no mouse nests and only a bit of mold. Who knows, maybe I’ll manage to avoid getting a disease after all.

I’ve Got New, Bigger Tires


I went from 29 inch tires to 31s, so the truck stands a bit prouder than before. But more importantly, the new tires aren’t dry rotted. The technicians at the shop told me they had a hell of a time yanking off the old shoes from their beads due to their floppy, rotten condition.

I Removed Quite A Few Vacuum Hoses


After extensive research, I determined which vacuum hoses were superfluous and just tore those out. Just look at how much more wrenching space I have in that engine bay.

My Headlight Bezels Are No Longer Gray


My headlight bezels were faded to gray, so I hit them with a bit of VHT roll bar paint, and voila! Looks much better, don’t you think?

My Headlights Work Now!


My old headlights were cloudy and didn’t work at all. A quick trip to O’Reilly and five minutes with a Phillips screwdriver and sweet, sweet lumens began pouring from the business end of my J10.

The Bad

My Transmission Was Bone Dry And Will Need A Rebuild


This really stinks. When I first introduced this truck on Jalopnik, I said it “shifted beautifully.” And it does, technically. The synchros seem fine. But I clearly hadn’t driven it enough, or I must have thought the noise was normal, because after driving the truck some more, it has become clear to me that the transmission is in dire straits.

On the maiden voyage under my ownership, I noticed some severe grinding coming from the transmission. Alarmed, I checked the transmission fluid. There wasn’t much in there. And what little was in the trans was the most disgusting brown diarrhea trans oil I’ve ever seen. I changed it right away in the Dairy Queen parking lot. In retrospect, I should have checked this before ever driving the truck.


My transmission is grinding in first through third gears, while the direct-drive fourth gear is much quieter. But the truck is also very loud while idling in neutral, only quieting when I depress the clutch and move the shifter a little. Also, when I start from a stop — whether in reverse or first — the truck shutters violently. I’m convinced it’s a bearing issue. This means I either have to rebuild the transmission or replace it with a used one. Freddy — or Tavarish as many of you know him — suggests I do the latter. I kind of want to rebuild it, though.

I’m undecided.

I’ve Got A Nasty Exhaust Leak


That air tube coming from my catalytic converter is broken off, pouring raw exhaust directly into my garage. I also used Seafoam Motor Treatment to track down exhaust leaks, and found that the manifold itself is leaking at the gasket. It’s very loud, and very dangerous. More on the “dangerous” part later.

Electrical Gremlins Out The Wazoo


See those wires dangling underneath my truck? Those probably have something to do with my taillights not functioning. The police weren’t too thrilled about that (more on that later).


Also, my running lights won’t turn off, so I have to disconnect the battery anytime I park. There are gremlins in this here electrical system, and I’m quakin’ in my boots! I’m still scarred from having to fix the wiring on that old $300 motorcycle project.

The Engine Won’t Stop Running


Listen here, inline six. I get it. You’ve been sitting in a barn for the last five or six years and you’re bored (pun intended). You just want to run for a million miles as the AMC gods intended. Still, when I turn the key to the “off” position, can you just take a little break?

That’s right, I recently discovered that sometimes, the inline six just doesn’t want to shut off. I turn the key to the “off” position, and the engine continues to sputter for quite a long time. I don’t think this issue is related to my electrical quirks; It probably has more to do with carburetor tuning and excessive carbon deposits on my pistons.

The Amateur

I’ve shown you the good stuff I got done this week, I showed you some of the problems I uncovered, and now it’s time to show you some wrenching mistakes and just generally questionable decisions I made. There were plenty.


There are many folks out there who haven’t gotten into wrenching because they’re worried they’ll make a mistake and break something. It’s a legitimate concern, but just realize that even experienced wrenchers make mistakes. I’ve been crankin’ that ratchet avidly for five or six years now, and I still do things that would make you think I had the I.Q. of a starfish.

I Drove A Car With A Major Carbon Monoxide Problem


Mom, if you’re reading this (I know you are), don’t worry! I’m going to be fine! Look, I have a carbon monoxide alarm right there on top of my dashboard!

All kidding aside, carbon monoxide is extremely dangerous, and driving my truck knowing full well that it has a severe exhaust leak is utterly stupid on my part. Don’t do it. Fix that right away, just as I will now.

I Sheared Off My Shift Knob


To remove the carpet, I had to remove the shift knobs from my transmission and transfer case. But instead of loosening the retaining nut on the trans shift knob, I tightened it and sheared off the threads. So now I have to use a Motrin bottle as a shift knob. Yes, I’m a colossal imbecile.

I Mixed Up My Spark Plug Wires


I’ve probably changed a million distributor caps by now, and yet I still managed to make the classic mistake of putting the wrong plug wire onto the wrong distributor cap post.

Despite my friend telling me to double check my wires, I stubbornly went ahead and cranked the engine. The backfire that ensued was shortly followed by a trip to the restroom and a fresh pair of drawers.

I Completely Forgot About This Vacuum Port


“Hey, the new Carb is on, let’s fire it up without double-checking vacuum ports.” Yes, that was me, and yes, the Jeep fired up. But it idled at probably 3,500 rpm, and old Jeep inline sixes don’t like being at 3,500 rpm. It was loud and the vibrations nearly shook my house from its foundation.

I Got Pulled Over On The Maiden Voyage And It Was Definitely My Fault


I knew my taillights didn’t work, but I thought I could get away with just a short drive on a well-lit street. It was a bad call on my part, though the officer was a complete Jeep nut and totally geeked out when he saw my truck. In fact, we talked about Jeeps for a solid half an hour before he gave me a ticket and told me to stop being a noob and get my crap in order.

From Pathetic To Less Pathetic, But Still Pathetic

So there you have it. The truck looks better now with new tires, new headlights, and painted headlight bezels. It even runs better with the new carburetor and tune-up. It’s also much cleaner inside, with hardly any flesh eating bacteria left over.


But I’ve got all sorts of electrical gremlins, I have an exhaust leak, and I don’t have a shift knob for my almost-certainly-blown transmission.

There’s clearly still tons of work to do, so stay tuned.

Here’s how this pathetic pile looked at the beginning of the weekend:


Here’s how it looks now: