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My call with Don Prine about Stainless Steel and More …

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Body Parts, Features, stainless/jewels This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

I spoke with Don Prine today (12/24/08).  Don lives and runs a shop outside of Tacoma, Washington.  I quickly learned that Don is quite the character.  If I remember correctly, Don said he’s 91 years old and it’s clear to me he has no plans to retire.  He’s at the shop regularly and he’ll be there on the 26th, he told me, snow permitting.

Don’s been in the jeep business for 40+ years.  He told me stories of purchasing surplus jeeps in lots (one time 80 m38a1s), or as he put it, ‘the bank and I purchased them’.  We talked about some of the other jeeps he had purchased and  we exchanged some names of people we both knew in the Jeeping world.  Then he kindly provided me several contacts of his own in the Boise area he said I should call.  It did not take me long to figure out that Don has friends  everywhere.

Jewels and Stainless Parts

Don confirmed what Brian had told me about the logging business owner in Shelton, Wa, who purchased a large number of stainless parts.  Don said that the guy in Shelton couldn’t sell them.  So, he sold them to a junkyard, but the junkyard couldn’t sell them.  So, Don bought them and has never had a problem selling them.  He said most, if not all, of the stuff he has left are Jewels, including a complete 3A kit that’s sitting on a toyota frame.

He told me the story of meeting the owner of the Jewels company.  Apparently the owner wanted Don to come work for him.  But that meant Don would have to travel and live in the Phillipines, as that is where Jewels was located.  The owner offered Don a significant amount of money to help him.  His plan was to build 200 Jewels flatfenders, but Don didn’t want to leave his young kids for that long of time, so he declined.

Don mention that even many years ago these stainless steel kits were expensive. He said he remembers paying upwards of $4500 for a full body Jewels kit, which was a good deal of money at the time.  He said the price has only gone upwards since Jewels shut down.

Phillipines and Parts

Of course, Jewels eventually went out of business.  Since then, another supplier filled the void making and providing parts out of the Phillipines, though they were of lesser quality.  According to Don, he  successfully brought in some of those parts.  However, when he and Brian tried to bring in a big shipment, it was blocked by customs.  He couldn’t remember why that was. Since then he’s had no luck importing stainless body parts (Mitch, you got any additional insights into why this might be?).

Don says he still has a GI friend in the Phillipines and that he could potentially get new stainless parts, but only if he could get them through customs.  He also mentioned there’s a guy not to far from me in Boise who works with stainless and was interested in making some stainless parts, but he needed some samples.  But, neither Brian nor Don had gotten a chance to get over here to meet with him.

Fiberglass Bodies

During our conversation, we turned to a discussion on fiberglass bodies.  Don mentioned he’s currently got several fiberglass body flatfender body kits.  I told him about the transformation of my bobcat body into a parkette-like body.  He then asked if I had ever met Parker, whom he had met, the maker of the Parkette bodies.  I said no (it was the first time I ever heard the owner’s name).  He said the Parkette bodies were manufactured out of Tacoma, Wa.  He said a gentleman named Bill Rice (spelling?) had purchased the molds from Parker, but has since sold them to someone else in the Seattle area.  He had told Bill Rice that he’d sell some of his fiberglass bodies, but he needed to see some good quality samples.  Apparently, the deal never came to fruition. (you can see the molds here, which popped up for sale in 2011)

Now, I don’t know about the other molds, but I did find a guy named Rick who may still have the CJ-3B  Parkette mold.  It certainly looks like the parkette body style (stripe along the sides and thicker rim around the back).  He’s somewhere near Tacoma, Wa.  You can see his fiberglass jeep here.   I created a post earlier this year about fiberglass CJ-3B bodies (I’ve only seen three fiberglass CJ-3b jeeps during the past two years looking on the web).

I meant to ask Don how many different fiberglass flat fender body manufacturers there were.  I know AJ built them, Parkette, and Bobcat.  I’m sure there were others, but I don’t know whom.  Bobcat seemed to have the largest number of differing designs and I’d love to see a brochure on the different kinds they produced.

Want to purchase stainless or fiberglass parts?

If you are shopping for Stainless or fiberglass flatfender parts, Don said to give him a call at his shop (Don Prine 253-584-6648).  Thanks again to Don for his information and Brian and Cody for making connections for me.

At some point in the future, I’ll take all the stainless steel info and synthesize it into a single post for easier reference.

Happy Holidays Everyone!


6 Comments on “My call with Don Prine about Stainless Steel and More …

  1. ED

    When you spoke with Brian and Don did they say anything about the prices of what items sell for/and did Don say what all stainless parts he has for sale and how much he has to sell ?

  2. deilers

    Hi Ed,

    I didn’t get any specific price or items lists. Brian and Don are good friends and if one doesn’t have what you are looking for they probably have a good idea whether the other one has it or not.


    – Dave

  3. Mitch

    The only reason I can think of why the parts would have been stopped at Customs is trademark infringements. If someone had a good supplier there is no reason why a trademark agreement couldn’t be worked out with “Jeep”. I know Omix-Ada must have something on file to be able to reproduce the steel grills and parts stamped “willys”. I know of no other restrictions for body parts steel or otherwise with customs.

  4. johnny

    I met Don 20 years ago + when I was drilling with the National Gaurd at Camp Murray, I recently visited Don again and spoke about his event, when He drove the first proto-type Jeep up the White House steps to show President Roosevelt.

    Don has been with Jeeps since day one ! and is a pleasure to chat with!


  5. Pingback: Fiberglass Flat Fender Bobcat Hood Puyallup, Wa $199 | eWillys

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