1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

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The Dark Side of Will
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1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:13 pm

I bet you said "What the FUCK?" or maybe "What is Will smoking now?"
LOL!

So just before I went to Iraq, I snagged a 1985 Eagle Wagon. A blue one. For $500 it's not bad. I drove it to my parents' house and parked it in their back yard for a year.
The only option it has that I see is A/C.
It's a stickshift with a non-WC T5. That's ok, because those 258 cubic inches of AMC fury belt out 110 HP and 230 ftlbs. WOT upshift on the autotragic cars is 4200 RPM. And the engine sounds like it's about to come apart at the seams when you leave the pedal down that long.
My car has 2.73 gears, with a Dana 30 IFS front and the abortion known as the Dana 35 with 2 piece axles in the rear.

Plan is:
Gears: 2.73 -> something better
T-case: NP 219 -> NP 229 or similar
Engine: AMC 258 -> Jeep 4.0 HO with '7730 control using $8D set for 6 cylinders
Transmission: NWC T5 -> WC T5 or maybe even a TKO if I can score a good deal on a used one.

Stickshift cars came with 2.73 gears. The early autotragic cars also came with 2.73's. The later autotragics had two-freaking-thirty-five (2.35) gears. There was a towing package for the 6 cylinder cars that came with 3.07 gears.
However, the 4 cylinder Eagles (Iron Duke POWA!!) came with 3.54 gears... now that's starting to get somewhere.

I found a 3.54 front diff via http://www.car-parts.com in a junkyard a couple of states over. I had it shipped here.

After doing some research, I decided I wanted a Chrysler 8.25" axle for the rear. Those were available in Cherokees starting from '90 or '91 on. They had 27 spline shafts until '96. In '97 the got 29 spline shafts. The Cherokee leaf spring width, hub width and bolt pattern are the same as the Eagle's. The shock mounts appear identical and the u-joint ought to be the same. A Cherokee axle *should* just drop into an Eagle.
I located a '98 8.25 with 3.55 gears locally at a yard that was not on http://www.car-parts.com
The owner said he'd let me have the axle for $75 if I pulled it myself.
My dad and I went out there two weekends ago and pulled the axle along with three sets of disk brakes from late '90's Grand Cherokees with Dana 44's. The caliper brackets appear to just bolt on to Dana 35's and Chrysler 8.25's also.
(All of the above are C-clip axles)
However, right after I pulled the 8.25, I noticed an '87 Wagoneer in the crush row. I stuck my head under it and saw a Dana 44. I rubbed the caked mud off the tag and found it was a 3.54. I stretched the tape and the spring and hub distances were right, as was the bolt circle. The yard manager said he'd let me have that one for $75 also, because it's in the crush row. The crusher was setting up as we spoke, so even though it was 4 o'clock and I'd spent all of my Saturday in the junk yard, I had to pull it *that day* or it wouldn't be waiting for me when I came back.
So I did.
And now I have a *NON*-c-clip Dana 44 that should bolt right into my Eagle. I pulled the drum brakes off today so that I could have the older axle flange pattern machined into the caliper brackets I'd pulled from the GC's. I also took the axle across the street to the 1/4 car wash (only 1/4 or less of a car at a time) and pressure washed it. It's mostly clean but still has some tough grime. I'm going to hit it with a wire brush on an angle grinder before prepping and painting it with POR-15 and chassis coat.

Pics:

1987 Wagoneer Dana 44 axle after removal of the drum brakes, but before cleaning
Image

Axle after pressure washing in the quarter car wash
Image

Original drum brakes
Image

Dana 44 disk brake caliper brackets from late '90's Grand Cherokee
Image

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:21 pm

Also, here's a page about a guy doing exactly what I'm doing with the caliper brackets, so I know it can be done.

http://www.pirate4x4.com/tech/billavist ... index.html

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Sat Oct 23, 2010 11:33 pm

Also, here's what the battery currently looks like:

Image

But it cranks strong!! (After living on the charger for a week).

The car's decided to be a bitch and isn't giving me any spark after sitting for a year.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by Emc209i » Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:42 am

Hehe, this should be good.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:26 am

This isn't a pavement peeling build. I'm doing this as a mild off-road and winter beater. It will also be *CHEAP* (unless I find a TKO).

Eagles are unit-body cars. They drive like cars. They don't drive like sports cars, but they drive like cars. As I alluded above, Eagles have independent front suspension. Jeeps are body-on-frame vehicles with solid axles. I like unit body vehicles better.

Eagles have a buttload more ground clearance than Subarus. They are based on the AMC Concord (sedan, wagon) and AMC Spirit (SX/4) bodies. All of those chassis were at normal '70's car ride heights with spring-under axles. Eagles use spring over axles, taller front knuckles and specific front suspension crossmembers to sit 4-5 inches higher. Eagles were also available with *factory* skid plates in front of the front crossmember and under the transfer case, as well as gas tank shields.

As far as drivetrains go, Eagles are Jeeps. The drivetrains are incredibly modular. As I outlined above, I bought an extremely strong axle for cheap and it should bolt right in.
The stock Eagle T-case is an NP-219. It has selectable 2WD or AWD. It uses a center diff with viscous coupling when in AWD mode. The 219 does not have a low range. My dad has swapped NP-229 T-cases with 2.6x low range into his wagon and his SX. This T-case is the same as the 219, but is 4WD in lo-range (still viscous coupling AWD in hi-range) with the front and rear driveshafts locked together and no front/rear differentiation.

I have a T-5 transmission, which opens up a huge number of options for upgrading. My first thought was a Ford Z-box, and my second was the Camaro V8 box. Either way, i'd have to build the box, as I need the short 23 spline Jeep output shaft. WC T5's were never built with Jeep output shafts. However, I found in talking to http://www.5speeds.com that the NWC output shaft can be converted to a WC output shaft with a simple machining operation. In further discussion with them, I find it could cost several hundred to a thousand dollars to build such a box. If I'm spending that much money, a used TKO might not be a bad buy. Since this is an AWD stickshift car, I will ALWAYS be tempted to sidestep the clutch from the limiter. That would result in carnage with a T5, but a TKO would make it safe. But that's for down the road.

Once I get the 3.54 gears in the car, I'll keep the current drivetrain and swap in a Jeep 4.0 HO. That will take me from 110/230 to 190/220... not a bad increase for cheap. The Jeep EFI is almost totally unhacked, but I should be able to use the distributor from a Chevy blue flame six with the distribtor gear from an AMC V8 to have a large cap HEI dizzy for the engine (don't laugh, it works!). A that point it's not a big step to install a reluctor, 7 wire module and use the dizzy to trigger a '7730 with $8D code mask set for 6 cylinder operation.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by CincinnatiFiero » Tue Oct 26, 2010 8:08 pm

Excellent.

Following this one. I had the 4.0L DIS in my Jeep, it was a great motor. Horrendous on fuel, but awesome, gobs of torque too.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by Atilla the Fun » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:55 pm

'85 T5 with a 2.73:1 , probably the 3.76:1 first. But with your 3.54:1, probably ought to switch to the '89-up 3.35 first.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Sat Nov 06, 2010 7:26 pm

Atilla the Fun wrote:'85 T5 with a 2.73:1 , probably the 3.76:1 first. But with your 3.54:1, probably ought to switch to the '89-up 3.35 first.
The 2.95, first with eye toward eventual use of a 4.6 AMC/Jeep stroker, was my choice for on-road use. However for offroad use, lowest available gear (crawl ratio) is important. The 3.76 first with 2.62 low range and 3.54 axle makes a 34.9 crawl ratio. With the 2.95 first, it would only have a 27.4 crawl ratio.

Serious trail rigs go from 60:1 to over 100:1. A combo for about 120:1 be an SM-465 with 7.33:1 first, Atlas T-case with 4:1 low range and a 4.10+ axle ratio. With that much reduction, you'd better have Dana 60's or stronger. Obviously, I'm not even in that ball park.

While people believe that a heavy flywheel is good for off-road use, I will *definitely* go with the lightest flywheel I can find (or make?). I *hate* the way a heavy flywheel makes a car feel.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by allWorkNoPlay » Sun Nov 07, 2010 2:34 pm

Pictures of AMC Eagles for reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMC_Eagle

I dig the convertible one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1981_ ... ige_NJ.jpg

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Sun Nov 07, 2010 6:20 pm

Atilla will get a kick out of this...

My dad wants to put a Chevy V8 into his Eagle wagon. He has an '83 or '84 fully optioned (power windows & seats, leather, A/C, cruise), autotragic (Torqueflite 998), with copper colored paint and woodgrain vinyl.

The Iron Dukes used by AMC had the Chevy bolt pattern. AMC actually had Chrysler produce Torqueflite 904's with the Chevy bellhousing pattern for this application. The 904 is a slightly lighter duty version of the 998 used in the 6 cylinder Eagles. That would make the ideal way to bolt the Chevy up to the AMC drivetrain.

We actually hunted down one of these transmissions that wasn't too far away and went and snagged it a couple of years ago. It's not terribly useful, as it uses a tiny torque convertor (9 or 10") and the bellhousing is extremely shallow. It might be ok for a bracket racing environment, but it wouldn't work on the street behind a decent engine. Oh well.

Next lowest hanging fruit: Late model TH350 case with provisions for lockup convertor + early TH350 short 4WD output shaft and short T-case adapter (only abut 1/2" thick). That will squeeze a GM based transmission into the extremely short length of the Chrysler based transmission and allow the drivetrain to bolt together. The next fun step is figuring out the T-case interchanges, but we don't quite have that nailed down yet.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by Atilla the Fun » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:22 pm

What kind of driveshaft lengths are under there?
Probably best to use the T-case from a 4.3 S-10.
If stuck with a TH350, definitely swap to a 2.75:1 low ratio gearset, then use tall axle gearing to help keep the cruise rpm down while keeping adequate first gear reduction.
Advance Adapters is the first place to look if going with the AMC T-case. I'd go 700R-4 with S-10 T-case, then fiddle with the driveshafts.
For this build, I'd want to put LQ4 guts and LR4 / LM7 heads on a new bare LS2 block, if MPG isn't important, or that aluminum 5.3 ( L33? ) if crawling isn't important.
Maybe try to find a custom ultra tight converter for the AMC trans as a worst case scenario.
Is there room for the SBC? Brodix still makes aluminum heads for the 4.3

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:40 pm

Can't use a 700, 60 or 80, as much as we might like to, because the extra length of those transmissions will push the oil sump forward into the crossmember. The T-case and body cutout for it locate the drivetrain fore/aft.

Was there a production 2.75 first gear set? Or are they all aftermarket?

My dad has an LT1 in the shed he thinks would be an OK engine for this. I think the 400 TPI out of the Jag would be better.

The reality is that he's been talking about his for years and hasn't moved an inch on it, meanwhile refusing to put work into maintaining the 258's because he's "going to swap them out". Sigh. :roll: :crazy:

The function set of the 229 T-case is ideal for what we both want, but it was never used by GM. It may be necessary to swap a GM input gear from the same family into it and make a new T-case adapter with the Jeep T-case mounting pattern. The T-case adapter is something that can be turned on a lathe, then have the bolt circles milled. The only drawback to the 229 is that there's no 4:1 low range available... but that may be going a little too far for these cars.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Mon Nov 08, 2010 6:49 pm

allWorkNoPlay wrote:Pictures of AMC Eagles for reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMC_Eagle

I dig the convertible one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1981_ ... ige_NJ.jpg
Thanks, Howard. It is a touch of class, isn't it? :-D

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by Atilla the Fun » Mon Nov 08, 2010 7:05 pm

The 2.75:1 sets are all aftermarket.
The L98 long-tube intake is no advantage at crawling rpm. And the LT1 will get better MPG with too much cruise RPM. I say you can expect 20+ mpg from it. It's happy to do 1450 rpm at 65 mph, so the off-idle torque is good, yet it happily pulls 6200 rpm, pure stock except for a Hypertech flash. The TPI 400 can't equal it for MPG, and if you're too far from civilization, MPG will matter.
'95 was the first year for the more reliable opti-spark revision, with the improved vents and drains, but the last year before the stupid OBD2, so '95 is the only version worth having. Any year blocks and heads will do, but the electronics should be '94 or '95, and the opti should be '95-'97. '92 and '93 still used PROM chips, so that sucks.
If crawling and MPG are everything, and you're willing to burn premium with octane booster, then swap in the RamJet 350 cam. You can use 1.6:1 rockers with stock springs, so I would. also, if you buy an Accel base, you can run the long-runner L98 tubes and plenum on an LT1. This would require a custom tune with the RJ cam, but 450 ft-lbs from a 350 could happen. If you do a TPI LT1 with the LT1 cam, then L98 fuel and spark maps would be close enough, but an L98 chip won't run an opti even if you use '92-'93 electronics.
If the Accel base has the provision for clamping a rear dizzy, then you could turn an LT1 into a reverse-flow-cooling L98. But then you're back to stupid PROM chips.
And using the long runners means no more 6200 rpm. But the RJ cam, with 1.6:1, peaks at 5100, and at 2000 rpm is 40 ft-lbs better than the ZZ4 cam.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by Indy » Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:45 pm

Will gets -5 points for pics of the axle but NO PICS OF THE WAGON!

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Sun Nov 28, 2010 9:33 pm

Indy wrote:Will gets -5 points for pics of the axle but NO PICS OF THE WAGON!
Actually, that should be +5 because the wagon is ugly, while the axle is cool. :roll:

Wagon:

Image

Image


Modified caliper brackets:

Image

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:26 pm

I'm tracking down 15x7 lace/mesh Cherokee wheels to put on the thing.

Should I get blue, black, white or gold centers?

I also got it fired up and drove it around a little bit. It didn't pass inspection due to a number of minor issues + a rust hole I didn't see when I bought it. Rust hole is patchable, but requires time. I just got back from 2 weeks of annual training for the Navy. Went to Port Hueneme in CA.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by Shaun41178(2) » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:38 pm

if the car is staying blue then I say go with white
FieroPhrek working on that ls4 swap for 10 years and counting now. LOL

370 whp is greater than 312

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:25 pm

I was leaning toward black. I think blue might be too much blue (the interior is blue also). White wheels strike me as a rally car "thing".

However, my dad is about to buy an SX/4 that has been swapped from 258 to AMC 304. It's yellow and he thinks he'd like black wheels. I've only seen one set of blacks on http://www.car-parts.com so I may have to fight him for them.

Gold wheels with the blue would look good, too.

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Re: 1985 AMC Eagle wagon build

Post by The Dark Side of Will » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:34 pm

Here's are some pics of the D44 rear compared to the D30 front:

Image

Image

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