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Renix AW-4 Transmission Swap into a YJ
'87 XJ AW-4 into '93 YJ
By Shad Ahlstrom


I moved the trans jack under the transmission and removed the ratchet strap.  I unbolted the transmission from the engine starting with those nasty little E12 reverse torx bolts.  I'm glad I bought that reverse torx socket set.  Those things were in there tight! I took off the two big bolts at the sides and the transmission didn't budge.  There were a couple smaller bolts around the perimeter of the plate that I didn't see.  Once those came off, the transmission still didn't budge.  I lightly pried on it with a pry bar and got nothing.  I wiggled and pushed and nothing happened.  I couldn't think of a single thing that could be holding it back.  I wrapped a ratchet strap around the rear axle and the other end to the transfer case.  I torqued down on that thing hard and it still didn't budge.  With a considerable amount of tension on the ratchet strap, I gave the transfer case a good, solid kick.  It popped out about an inch and sat a little cockeyed.  I guess I had the angle just a little bit off.  I used another floor jack to lift the back of the engine a little to improve the angle and the transmission slid out the rest of the way.  I unbolted the clutch plate and
the flywheel and slid the dust plate off. I pulled out the pilot bearing with a puller.  I tried to pull the bushing with the puller but no luck.  I ended up drilling it and punching it with a chisel.  I over drilled 2 of the holes and scored the crankshaft.  I really hope that doesn't come back to haunt me.

I placed the AX-15 next to the AW4 to compare the locations of the transmission mounts in relation to the skid plate.  It was a little too hard to do that with the transmission in the vehicle.  I decided to use the AX-15's trans mount(2 bolt) because it was simpler and didn't require modification of the skid plate.  The mounting plates were completely different but the bolts and holes lined up almost perfectly from front to back.  The AW4 mount had mounting holes that were about 2 inches wider than the AX-15.  I torched the AW4's trans mount to see if the AX-15's mount would slip inside it.  It didn't.  It would have required so much modification that I gave up on that idea pretty quickly.  The AW4's exhaust hanger bracket was made out of the same thickness metal as the trans mount and it was much wider.  I chopped the exhaust hanger off the bracket and drilled a few holes for the AX-15 mount.  I cut a little webbing out of the bottom of the AW4 to allow for the new bolt heads.  I cut the webbing close so they would prevent the bolt heads from turning.  I bolted a new AX-15 trans mount to the plate and painted it.  When it was dry, I bolted it to the transmission.  That's enough for one day.

The next morning, I placed the new dust shield over the pins and bolted the AW4 flexplate to the crankshaft.  I had the AW4 on an engine stand.  The plan was to tip it forward to balance it on the transfer case while I slowly lowered the bellhousing to the ground.  As I tipped it forward, the pin fell out of the engine stand and the transmission rotated on me.

Still holding the transfer case about 2 feet off the ground, the bell housing came crashing down on my foot while the transfer case took a chunk out of my fingertip.  I guess I was fortunate that my foot was there because I could have broken the bell housing if it hit the concrete.  The moral of this story is to have a buddy or a cherry picker to help you lift heavy things! Nothing slows down a project like an injury.  Luckily, it was my clutch foot and I wouldn't need it.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning parts and peeling plastic wire looms off the AW4 and replacing them with Powerbraid.  It was about all I could do with an icepack on my foot.  Heavy lifting was out!  I also swapped the speedo sensor, crank position sensor and TC selector lever.

More AW-4 Tranny Swap



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