High School Auto Mechanics Restore ’89 Jeep

Students in teacher Chad Spruyt’s auto mechanics classes recently restored and upgraded a 1989 Jeep Wrangler, gaining valuable practical experience.

The project began as a special project for Spruyt’s six advanced auto students at East Islip High School: Paul Brett, Joe Hammel, John Landy, Nick Palladinno, Gerard Rosand and Mike White. Aided by five additional auto students (Kerrigan Apacella, Tyler Ennis, Frank Fritz, Kain Lawrence and Anthony Mattera), the young mechanics completely disassembled the Jeep, then started the rebuild by fixing rotted spots in the frame and coating it with truck bed liner. They then installed a 3.5-inch lift with new suspension, and disassembled, cleaned, machined and rebuilt a 350 Chevy engine that had been recycled from an old boat. After installing new motor mounts for the engine swap and installing the rest of the drive train, the students began the bodywork process. Dents were pulled, new floorpans were cut and welded, the Jeep’s underbody and inside were coated with truck bed liner, and the outside was given a new coat of orange paint. In the most recent phase of the restoration, the Jeep’s main body was reinstalled on the frame and the fenders and front end are in the process of being reinstalled.

“With this Jeep restoration, my auto students have learned front-end work, how internal engine parts work and how to pull an engine and install a new one,” said Spruyt. “They’ve learned the reason for a transmission and transfer case, and the reason for gear oil and how to change it. They have also gained experience with electrical, cooling and braking systems.” He estimates the Jeep restoration project will be completed in late June.