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FYI: I often have Automatic Converison packages available for $750. Includes CJ: Automatic Transmission, Steering column, linkage, driveshafts, hanging pedals, Trans tunnel cover and wiring.
It is a fairly common comment from interested parties to say " I love that Jeep but wish it was an automatic" or "I wish it was a stick shift". Ok, we can do that! :)
The following is a stock like conversion of a really nice 5 speed 86 CJ7 to an automatic. I highlighted 'stock like' because I really don't like floor shift auto conversions as the aftermarket floor shifters are usually race car pieces and not user friendly for us simple Jeep folks ;) We will be making this Jeep look as if it came from the factory with an automatic complete with a CJ automatic steering column and correct automatic hanging pedal assembly with the larger automatic brake pedal.
In the following days, we'll be showing this conversion take place.
From memory, the parts needed to do this swap (if you want to do this yourself are):
1) A parts Jeep! (very helpful). Once you see how complex the stock linkage is, you will see why people opt for the easy way out and put it on the floor.
1a) A stock transmission. In this case a CJ Auto trans. It is a 999 Torqueflight (which is a version of the 727)
2) Driveshafts. The length of the transmission is different so the front has to be longer and the rear shorter.
3) An automatic flexplate
4) An automatic steering column
5) A transmission shifter tunnel cover or Inspection plate
6) The hanging pedal assembly
7) The linkage for the carb to the kickdown or downshift mechanism to the transmission
8) The linkage from the steering column to the transmission
9) A radiator with a transmission cooler built into it
10) Transmission cooler lines
11) Appropriate transmission wiring harness
12) Automatic starter solenoid
We started on the job and realize that a lot of the work is sort of straightforward and documented in most repair manuals. For instance "How to change a clutch" so we are going to just show the unique parts and give some guidelines for the task.
Step one for us was to remove the front 6 bolts that hold the hardtop on and the row of hard top bolts along the windshield frame. Removing only the bolts mentioned allows the top to be tipped up far enough to make room for the frame to lay down. We have to lay the windshield frame down because we need to get to the screws that hold the dash pad on. We have to take the dash pad off because we have to get to two bolts shown below that hold the hanging pedal assembly.
Window frame tipped down so we can get to the dash pad screws on top of the windshield frame ledge.
Column and dash pad removed
In order to get the hanging pedals out, you must remove the 4 brake bolts that hold the booster or 2 that hold the master cylinder (if you have manual brakes). Note you can carefully move the assembly forward without opening the brakes to require needing to bleed them.
I had a nicer picture of this but... Anyhow, the key to getting the hanging pedals out without removing the whole dash is knowing which two screws to take out. It is always the two just about the column. If you look close at the above photo, it is where the red is in two places. Those two screws hold the dash AND the hanging pedals. Remove those two, the clutch linkage, master cylinder rod and the pedal assembly swings down. If it seems to snug, loosen the two vertical bolts near where the column bolted in as shown below.
The next popular question asked about this swap is what to do about the extra hole in the floor for the manual shifter. Of course we Jeep people know the inspection cover gets swapped. In this case, the Jeep had aftermarket carpet over the plate with two holes for the shifters. We will carefully cut away the carpet allowing overhang for the the old cover to be removed and the new one will lay on top of the carpet with the edges tucked in.
Shown with shifter knobs and boots removed
Carpet trimmed, plate removed and transmission shifter tower unbolted for ease of trans removing
The above shown hole is where the clutch rod linkage went thru the firewall which now needs a plate to cover it as shown in the next photo.
The item being held is what is left of the clutch rod boot. It makes for an excellent template to match the holes already in the firewall. We used a piece of hard plastic, cut to shape, drilled to the template and then covered in sealant on the sealing surface to fill the hole. This cover is similar to what the factory did.
Just an overview of the underside before it comes apart... Note, we left the crossmember in place for this process AND we unbolted the transmission from the bellhousing instead of taking the bellhousing out WITH the transmission. You can do it either way but in this case, I was working alone and everything is lighter and more manageable.
Transfer case out.. FYI, it weighs just under 100 pounds. You can usually pull the case without getting fluid dumped on you but you will want to drain the transmission.
Transmission out... About 75 pounds
You can see where the 4 bolts were that allowed the transmission to slide backwards and out.
It seems like a good idea but probably not necessary to remove the pilot bushing
It IS a good idea to grease the end of the crankshaft for the torque converter to ride in. I am pretty sure not doing this aids in the cracking of flexplates.
This is another part that may not be obvious. The Auto flexplate is a lot thinner than the Manual flywheel and therefore you need shorter bolts. If you use the longer bolts, they probably will stick out the back of the crankshaft and bad things will happen. Best case, the engine won't spin. Flywheel/flexplate bolts usually have heads as shown. Low profile for clearance and at least grade 8 for strength.
Flexplate installed with bolts torqued to factory spec. I'm going to let you read in your own manual what these should be as I've seen several different numbers but I do always use Loctite on these bolts.
The below are tools that make torqueing and holding a flywheel way easier than it can be. The torque wrench is very long for great leverage and the other item is a flywheel holder to keep the engine from spinning when you torque them.
This is my just received rebuilt 999 transmission and new torque converter. I use a shop in central Ohio called MD Transmission. I supplied them my transmission and they did whatever needed done including upgrades for longevity and performance. They have inspected and or rebuilt several Jeep manual transmissions for me so I had zero concerns about having them do this automatic. I trust them. Phone 740-363-0054.
The guys @ MD said it's a good idea to load 1/2" quart of ATF in the convertor so we did that and then worked on slipping it onto the transmission. This will be in the swap manual you use but the converter must drop 3 levels. It has to sit below the engine mounting surface on the bellhousing area as shown. You will also note we stood the transmission on end to aid in getting the convertor to drop.
I had mentioned having a parts vehicle in step one. The following should help anyone doing this job as I happen to have a frame off rolling chassis auto Scrambler to look at as a reference.
It is hard to see but the balance point of part of the shift linkage is a plate that sits over the brake proportioning valve.
This is a view front to back showing the other part of the mount which goes the same place as the mechanical clutch linkage but it considerably more complex.
This photo is shwoing you what the transmission mount looks like and how it skews forward. You can also see which set of holes is used on the crossmember as there are 3 to choose from.
This photo shows the crossmember itself sits in the rearward 6 holes leaving the front 2 open which is what I am pointing to. The left is the front of the Jeep.
Another picture from the bottom of which holes to use to mount the crossmember to. Left is the front of the Jeep.
Back to business. The mount for the Jeep being worked on was worn out as most are so we are putting in this poly unit which will hold up against the elements. The stock piece is almost always worn out due to twisting and leaks that deteriorate the rubber.
The above picture is of one of the 4 flexplate to torque convertor bolts you need. Like the flexplate bolts, these are also unique. High strength and low head.
I don't have a photo of this but we made sure the flexplate fit bolt pattern matched the torque convertor while everything was on the shop floor. The torque convertor has a non symetrical bolt pattern so you will have to to a little trial and error until you find the set of holes that lines up. If we had it do over again, we would have made a mark on the one hole that is different just to save a little time when we put it all together. Once everything is lined up, we use Loctite on the threads as these are bolts you don't want coming out. Start them all, then tighten and re-tighten.
Above painted transmission dipstick and tube. Always a good idea to grease the bottom of it and of course a new o-ring to ensure sealing
This is a needed transmission wiring harness to actuate the neutral safety switch and back up lights. The single plug off to the left is for the transfer case light. Each transmission has a unique one of these harnesses.
Everything installed shown above....
The below are over-exposed shots of which holes to use in the transmission crossmember. Both pictures have the front of the Jeep to the left. If I were to describe the use, I would say from left to right. Slotted hole, middle hole then slotted.
The below is the kickdown linkage. This attaches to the carb linkage and then to the other spot to the other point on the transmission shown earlier. This is another key piece that makes the on the column swap the only way to go.
The purpose of this linkage is that when you step further into the throttle and the rpms are low enough, the transmission will 'kick down' to the lower gear to get the engine back into it's power band.
This is hard to replicate without a donor vehicle supplying the oem parts.
We are now waiting on transmission lines to be delivered which we ordered new and prebent. I had initial plans of either bending lines or using rubber but the left side of the transmission is very busy and nothing will kill a transmission faster than a collapsed or kinked cooling line.
Cooler lines in! These are really nice prebent parts with the right flared fittings.
The radiator end of these and the stock lines require flexible rubber line so the engine can rock and torque. It is KEY to use transmission fluid specific rubber as typical fuel line rubber will leak and break down. I also suggest making the lines just a little longer than needed to allow movement but not so much that they dangle in the way of getting snagged.
Ok, everything is in place and the Jeep is running and shifting. We checked the back up lights and we're good BUT the neutral saftey still needed addressed. I spent a little time in the wiring skematics to be reminded that automatic starter solenoids are different than manual transmission solenoids. The auto version has the extra post shown back left. I assume it shorts out the connection if the shifter isn't in the right location.
Shown installed with the pre-existing black wire in the stock harness attached and now, the Jeep will not start in gear but only in neutral or park as it should. Many people don't realize that these vehicles generally have all of the wiring for every accessory that could be offered and therefore, even when a Jeep hasn't been fooled with, there are still wires dangling loose.
That is pretty much the overview of the swap excepting the general work of doing the common labor of a transmission replacement. Suggestions to improve this write up or correct it for better understanding are of course welcome!