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Day 3 – Mar. 22nd: Old Bones and Old Jeeps

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

<– Day 2 – March 21st: From Salt Lake City To Vernal | OVERVIEW | Day 4 – Mar. 23rd: Hurray for Ouray –>


Dave shares his unique seat implementation, which will allow the seat to be tilted back or released entirely using the custom sliding seat attachments he’ll install for his seats.

We started our day planning to leave Vernal, Utah, and drive to Dinosaur National Monument, before heading for our final destination in Grand Junction, Colorado.


But, before we left our motel’s parking lot, we spotted our first ‘feral’ jeep of the trip, a CJ-5 that was right across the street from us. The snowplow on the front suggests this utility vehicle’s singular purpose.

2014-03-22-vernal-cj5Satisfied with a quick photo, we were on our way, but not before one final dinosaur bid us a farewell.

2014-03-22-vernalDinosaur National Monument is about a 20 minute drive east of Vernal. The monument was established in 1915 after Earl Douglas discovered a quarry of bones near the small town of Jensen, Utah. While known for the amazing dinosaur history, much of the Monument consists of over 200,000 acres of rugged canyons. Apart from exploring the Monument, there are many other day trips which could keep a person busy exploring. We plan on returning to the area at some future point and spent several days driving the backroads.



This is the Quarry building. No, this is not some cheap ploy to encourage Jeep Corp to sponsor our trips . . . unless it works.


The former river bed behind Ann is full of bones. It was cool 20 years ago when I saw it for the first time and is still cool today.


We made sure Henry had a great view.

After Dinosaur National Monument, we continued our trek east to Dinosaur, Colorado. There we found a town that looks every bit a dinosaur. To call it bleak would be a compliment. We felt this photo of a wagon we spotted properly sets the tone for everything we saw. The one bright spot we found was the local folks and the post office, who helped me ship off some shirts to Mike.


Traveling south from Dinosaur, we eventually entered Rangely, Colorado. This seemed like a vibrant small town out in the middle of nowhere. We saw a few jeeps and this cool mural painted on a wall.



Ann spotted these two jeeps in poor shape hiding behind a fence. I missed them completely:2014-03-22-rangley-flattie-1 2014-03-22-rangley-flattie-2

From Rangely we drove south through rain and some snow over “Doom Pass”, so named by Ann. She and her mother had been over it once before at night and had run into a landslide. They’d had to wait for a tractor to clear it before continuing forward. She was sure another slide would come down on top of us.


2014-03-22-pass-of-doom2Fortunately, none of Ann’s worries came to fruition and we made it to Grand Junction to meet with Dean and his friend Dave, both in the midst of rebuilding CJ-3As. Dean’s father John joined us as well. Dean blames his father for his Willys Sickness.

As we listened, Dave explained that he drove his CJ-3A all over Colorado when he was younger, but at some point he parked it and got busy with life. A couple years ago someone asked if he’d sell it. After getting it running and bringing it back home, Dave realized he didn’t want to sell it. Instead, he decided to rebuild it.

His goal was to update it and rust proof it so it would last another 65 years. The frame was sandblasted and powder coated. He replaced the sides with new panels and rebuilt the wheel wells. The hat channels are not full of wood, but insulation foam. All the bolts are stainless steel, as are the plates. He just happens to have access to a laser cutter capable of creating pretty much anything he can design.

There’s some real nice clean work and it was fun to look at it closely. Here are some photos:


That’s me with Dave, his wife Maria and their daughter. It’s a family project.


From left to right, Dave, Me and John.

2014-03-22-dave-cj3a-4 2014-03-22-dave-cj3a

From Dave’s house we all ran over to see Dean’s progress on his CJ-3A. As you can see in the photo, his chassis is already for his body. He told me he had the engine running, but has run into a vacuum problem of some kind.

2014-03-22-dean-cj3a-1While the chassis is stored in a shed, the body is in the garage in the midst of being restored. You might note the clever solution for a body rotisserie by connecting two engine stands together using a piece of channel. It worked great.


2014-03-22-dean-cj3a-4Finally it was time to go. I want to thank Dean for inviting me, and Dave, John, and everyone else for taking the time to make us feel welcome.

On Sunday we go to Colorado National Monument and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. From there, instead of camping at Gunnison, we will head south through Ouray. More on that tomorrow.

<– Day 2 – March 21st: From Salt Lake City To Vernal | OVERVIEW | Day 4 – Mar. 23rd: Hurray for Ouray –>


8 Comments on “Day 3 – Mar. 22nd: Old Bones and Old Jeeps

  1. Bill

    Dave’s mods are interesting – guess he is going to have his buddies push his jeep – Dave, that is where the gas tank goes!

  2. mmdeilers Post author


    Not on this trip. However, there’s a chance we’ll be in Colorado for a week this summer. Ann and her mother will be spending a week in Colorado Springs. If I’m not too deep into writing, I’ll come with them. I need to do some exploring of Leadville, Pueblo, Denver and see what history the University of Mines has for my Mining History Association paper submission.

    – Dave

  3. Joshua Wilson

    I would like to see more details and photos of Dave’s seat design. Very interesting concept.


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