We got the Jeep home the next day and once I got it in the garage where I could get a real good look at it, I determined that it was possible to repair it. The frame was still intact with not even a scratch on it. The suspension was the same. Only challenge would be the part of the uni-body that supports the outer fender on the driver's side would have to be cut away and a new piece welded in.
Last thing I pulled from the donor Jeep is the axles. I have already made a deal to trade the front axle for a set of wheels like Kermit had since one was broken in the wreck. The rear axle I plan to use in the '53 Chevy Wagon. It is the right size and being from a 4X4 Jeep, it is a pretty strong unit and should handle a small block with no problems.
My daughter Allison has a '97 Jeep Cherokee. For as long as she can remember she has always liked and wanted a Jeep, she never considered driving anything else. I guess she got my gear head genes, where my passion is with Street Rods, her's is with Jeeps. She has owned this '97 Jeep Cherokee since she was 15 years old. Like most of us, she named her Jeep. She calls it Kermit.
On Friday, 9 March 2012, she was on her way home for Spring Break when she was involved in a multi vehicle accident. There was an 18 wheeler, and four cars including her Jeep. We only have liability insurance on the Jeep due to the age and mileage - 212,000 miles. Since her Jeep did not come in contact with any of the other vehicles - she tried to avoid the others by going into the ditch but ended up on the cables that divides the freeway.
Here is a link to the original thread about that: Link
When we first saw the Jeep in the wrecker yard, it was more than Allison could take to see her friend - Kermit the Jeep - sitting there with the damage from the wreck. She looked at me like all daughters look at their Dad and asked if I could fix Kermit. She said she does not want something else, she just wanted Kermit back. I told her I would do the best I could, but to be prepared that it may not be able to be fixed.
I bought a donor Jeep for the mechanical things I need. This is a '99 Cherokee that was rolled to avoid a head-on collision. Amazing that the owner actually drove this home after the accident! He even drove it onto the trailer. There are no good body parts I can use but almost everything else I need I can get from this Jeep. I will be able to use the air bags, intake manifold, radiator, power steering pump.....etc
This is my daughter's first car. A 1997 Jeep Cherokee.
I have always wanted to buy a MIG welder. I can now justify one since I will need to weld the inner fender support assembly to the uniframe. I can also use the MIG to weld in the quarter panel on the bug once Kermit is finished. After shopping around and talking with friends who have MIGs I decided to buy a Hobart 140 which can weld MIG as well as flux core wire.
In dealing with the insurance, they paid for the towing and Alli's Dr. bills and closed the case since we only had liability. I asked them if I could go ahead and start the repair and they gave me the green light.
I moved the Jeep out where I would be working on it and started to tear it apart. Back in the mid 1970s, my brothers and I owned and operated a body shop. That was the last time I tore apart an accident vehicle. It is amazing how fast one can pull apart a vehicle.
Here I am trying out the new welder on some scrap metal.
Not much left on Chili Pepper.
In searching for information about how to work on a Jeep XJ (Cherokee) I joined a really good forum. This forum has a lot of good information specific to the XJs and great people involved. Here is a link:
This is going to be my challenge, the uni-body support for the fender. I will need to find a replacement and weld it in before I can add any of the other body parts.
I finished pulling the donor XJ apart today. Sort of sad in a way to see the end of a Jeep like this, but the parts pulled from the '99 will bring new life back to Kermit. I will now shift my focus to working on Kermit.
Kermit in the background ready to recieve some of Chili Pepper's parts. I have affectionately been calling the '99 donor XJ Chili Pepper. Not sure why, but it seem to fit.
I am saying all of this because as most of you know, I have several car projects but those have no deadlines and move along at the rapid pace of a glacier due to the lack of money. This project will be different. I have a deadline and the green light to spend money to finish the Jeep as soon as possible. The deadline is before next Fall when Allison goes back to school at Baylor. My plan is to find a donor Jeep that I can buy or find one that is being parted out to get everything I need. The search has just started on the donor Jeep.
I started ordering new parts for Kermit.
First to arrive is the front header panel, grill, signal lights and side marker lights.