1981 CJ7 Restoration - 2020.05.10

Hoping today is the day I finish the transfer case rebuild. One of the things I was procrastinating on was reconditioning the shifter assembly. I didn't take many photos of the process, but I soaked the shift rods in rust converter for a day then sanded and polished the rods and cleaned up the slotted ends so that the rest of the pieces would fit in there nicely. I did the same with the rest of the pieces that fit onto this sub-assembly and it all came together nicely.

Shifter assembly all back together.

It was interesting getting the shift rods back in. There are 2 interlocks that sit between the shift rods, I guess to keep them from coming out? They look like giant gel caps, like a horse pill, but made out of metal.

To get the rods in, the driver side goes in first since it has a bigger cut out to accommodate both interlocks. They you have to get the rod over the detent ball, which is loaded by a stiff spring. Next is the passenger side shift rod. I tried to do this one first, then the driver side, but it would not work for me in that order.

Shift rods installed and 4WD sensor and detent channel cover installed.

Next up was getting the tail housings for the front and rear output shafts on the main housing. It took a little finessing to get the shift rods through both shift forks while aligning the front output shaft assembly, but it worked out fine after a couple tries.

The plate behind the front output shaft assembly holds shims to set bearing preload and end-play. The goal is to have near zero end-play and some light resistance when hand turning the shaft.

Tail housings installed.

Once the input and output shaft gear assemblies were all set, I installed the set screws to secure the shift forks. Used some thread locker on the set screws.

Shift forks and set screws installed.

The last step for the internals to reinstall the idler gear and intermediate shaft. This gear assembly sits on the intermediate shaft and rolls on 48 needle bearings - 24 on each end with a spacer in the middle and ends, then thrust washers in the housing that pushes against it all. They say most rebuild kits come with 1 or 2 extra needle bearings in case you lose them, but my kit came with exactly 48 - thankfully, I didn't lose or damage any of them.

Ready-to-install idler gear assembly next to intermediate shaft with O-ring installed.

It took a few tries to get the idler gear assembly in the case and aligned. It's a tight fit, so when I was pushing the idler gear down, it would shift the thrust washers in the case, often knocking them off, but finally got it done. This is what it looks like. I then attached the bottom cover with some grade 8 bolts for required bling.

Transfer case is done!

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