Jeep® CJ Rebuilder's Manual:
1972 to 1986
by Moses Ludel
JeepsUnlimited.com ? February 19, 2004
by Jason Wenderoth
If there is one certainty in the Jeep community it is that if you buy a CJ you will eventually have to work on it. A common question that CJ owners ask is which manual they should buy to help them in the task of maintaining their rig. Up until this point the two standard answers were either a factory service manual or one of a couple different repair manuals available at your most parts stores for a reasonable amount. Both options had their pros and cons. On one hand the Factory service manuals were about as detailed as your could possibly get and would take nearly every option into account. Unfortunately the prices were often high and they were specific to only a single model year. If your CJ had components from another year there was a good chance the factory service manual would be of little use to you. The standard repair manuals on the other hand while very cost effective were often lacking information for some of the more difficult repairs. For what can only be assumed to be liability reasons the real meat and potatoes of axle repair and regearing as well as the more difficult aspects of suspension modifications and engine modifications are almost totally ignored. In addition the manuals covered many different years and often did not explain the differences that you might find between models.
I know that I for one could find no book to meet my needs. I have a 1970 CJ-6 that will be using about 10% stock components. I have a factory service manual that has proven to be a great help when I am working on components that originally came with my CJ but in light of the changes I am making my factory service manual usually sits on a shelf. I recently got my hands on copies Moses Ludel"s new Jeep CJ Rebuilders manuals and it looks like Mr. Ludel has brought us a one size fits all solution. I had heard a bit about these books before they came out. I knew that they were going to be a comprehensive repair and upgrade manual for CJs of all years from 46-86. What I didn"t realize was just how good these books would be. Mr. Ludel (of Jeep Owner"s Bible fame) broke his repair manual down into two volumes. One covers 46-71 CJs and the other covers 72-86 CJs. It is a fairly obvious division to make in light of the number of changes Jeep made to their vehicles once AMC implemented its revisions in 1972.
Each book follows the same format. There are introduction and closing sections that includes appendix, index and acknowledgment sections sandwiching the 10 tech chapters. The tech chapters follow a pretty logical progression in the steps that would be addressed in a frame up build up of a Jeep. The Chapters are as follows:
- Disassembling Your Jeep
- Engine Rebuilding
- Transmission and Clutch
- Transfercase and Overdrive
- Axle Rebuilding and Upgrades
- Frame, Suspension and Body Repair
- Steering and Brake Service
- Electrical and Ignition System Upgrades
- Fuel and Exhaust Systems
- Accessories and Safety equipment
While there is nothing really out of the ordinary about the format of these books there is definitely something extraordinary about the content. While the parts store service manuals are often lacking and the Factory Service manuals are often too model year specific the Repair Manuals that have been brought to us by Moses Ludel are perfect. They are a big improvement of the existing manuals for two reasons. One reason that really jumps out at you is the pictures. No other manual be it a FSM or other wise offers the number of illustrations found in these books. The inside pages are absolutely littered with illustrations. For example in the Engine Rebuilding section of the Repair Manual for 46-71 CJs there are 313 illustrations for the three different stock engines (the very rare Perkins Diesel is excluded however) offered in domestic CJs produced during that year range. While this is the highest number of pictures offered in any chapter of either book it should give you an idea of just how detailed the manuals are.
The standard repair information is not what makes these books so unique, it is the "upgrade" information. For example, one of the sections in the Engine Rebuild chapter for the 46-71 CJs talks about how to retrofit a V-6 into an earlier 4 cylinder CJ. In that same book in the chapter on axles you will find information about installing a Warn Full Floater Kit and a Detroit locker. Through out both books Moses Ludel not only tells you how to fix what you already have but also gives you some options to consider if you want to step up to something better. From Saginaw steering conversions to granny first four speeds the 46-71 book covers most of the popular and most beneficial upgrades available for that era of CJ. For 72-86 CJ owners there are plenty of upgrades discussed as well. From the ever popular NV4500 swap to installing an after market locker or fuel injection system again Mr. Ludel comes through with a host of beneficial upgrades for the average four wheeler and Jeep enthusiast.
These books are definitely the best all around service manual available to CJ owners today. They offer the concentrated and very technical information offered in factory service manuals while not focusing only on model year specific systems all at a price that falls some where between the high end factory service manuals and the standard parts store repair manuals. All types of repairs from something as simple as changing an exhaust to something as exotic as setting up a ring and pinion are covered in this manual. My only complaint is that Mr. Ludel has not written a volume for YJ and TJ Wranglers or perhaps the XJ Cherokees. These books do not contain step by step instructions on how to fabricate a coil over suspension for your CJ but they do provide you with all of the information you will need to get your CJ ready for dependable back country exploration whether it be in something that is lifted and locked or in a CJ that is bone stock. All I can say is thank you Mr. Ludel for finally giving the CJ community a manual that will do it all in one book!