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Rewind — September 5-7: Our “Rusty” Trip

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Lloyd’s modified GAZ. Pretty cool vehicle.

Normally, I’m good about updating our adventures daily, but we usually don’t do these hellacious long drives (which is by design). So, this post will cover the last few days …


Almost 2000 miles to bring home and store Rusty.

On Monday morning September 5th we left Missoula, bound for Billings. we arrived at Lloyd’s place near Billings, Montana. We drove a for a few hours, cresting the Continental Divide with temperatures of 34 degrees and some thick almost-snow-like rain, making it clear summer in Montana was near an end. Wanting to avoid putting on chains, I thought it best to avoid going back through in the dark, so I my goal was to sleep Monday night at Bozeman, where we could do all three passes (the divide and the two in Idaho) during daylight hours.

We arrived in Billings in the early afternoon. By then, the clouds that had dogged us since Idaho had given way to sun and warm temperatures. When we pulled in front of Lloyd’s shop, the cross-eyed DJ was parked out front. As soon as I saw it, I was convinced it was going home with us. We hopped out and Lloyd introduce himself.

A forest fire fighter by trade, the trim sixty-seven year old man still had plenty of bounce in his step. He explained that he spends much of the non-fire months restoring/refurbing vehicles. It was both a passion and a practical way to reduce his taxable income. He estimated he restored one automobile a year.

As I looked over the DJ I asked Lloyd if he’d originally planned to restore it. He said know. He’d seen this parked at a nearby house, but the owner wasn’t interested in selling. When the owner died, Lloyd purchased it at an estate sale. He told me he’d never seen a 2WD jeep and didn’t know anything about the Dispatchers. He just had a gut feeling about it and decided to pick it up (and probably make a few dollars in the process).


One of the first things I did was try shifting the transmission. I pushed in the clutch, which had good resistance, and awkwardly moved the column shifter about (my first time using one). After some testing, it seems to smoothly move between all the gears (at least that’s my impression). Next, we opened the hood. Lloyd demonstrated that the engine spun. That confirmed I was buying it.

2016-09-06-lloyds3Lloyd’s dog “Crazy” helping me survey the underside of the jeep.

It didn’t take much more looking to see the body wasn’t quite as solid as I’d hoped, with rust a the steps and in a couple spots on the floor. Having seen other save bodies far worse, I knew we were in good shape with this one.

Satisfied, I gave Lloyd his asking price. I felt is was a fair price and I told him that. Besides, not only had he held the jeep for me without a depost, but he was generous with his time. I also hoped he’d give me a tour of his projects.

With the deal done, we pushed “Rusty” onto the trailer. Lloyd helped secure it, even giving me a few heavy duty come-a-longs to help secure my back up chains. With the jeep secure, Lloyd asked us to follow him into his shop. He had a jeep he wanted to show us. Here are some photos of the vehicles we saw. This is a Gaz on a modern chassis. I thought it looked pretty cool!


This red and white wagon, which is also on a modern chassis (S-10 I think) is for sale. He’s only asking $5000. You can call him at (406) 208-3200 if interested. 2016-09-06-lloyds6 2016-09-06-lloyds7

He said this Jeepster ran really well. 2016-09-06-lloyds8

Lloyd’s wife bought this car at an auction. She thought it was selling or too little, so she kiddingly raised her hand. Next thing she knew, it was hers. She felt so bad, she sold one of her other cars.

Lloyd built this car carrying bus-turned-camper:2016-09-06-lloyds12

The wagon with the For Sale sign has sold. 2016-09-06-lloyds13

He built this funky trailer for fun to tow behind one of his other cars. He says he gets lots of looks.2016-09-06-lloyds14

After visiting Lloyd, we drove into Billings to meet with Robin Smith, a reader who was kind enough to check out the DJ for us initially. Over the years, Robin has also bought and shared a variety of documents with readers. So, I figured at the very least he deserved dinner on us.

Robin and I meeting for the first time. As we checked out the jeep, a storm was brewing in the background.

Robin and I meeting for the first time. As we checked out the jeep, a storm was brewing in the background.

After meeting up with Robin, we followed him to dinner. On our way, as Ann and I waited on a light, that storm we saw brewing suddenly let loose hail and rain, flooding the street in front of us. Poor Rusty didn’t have a chance. He was soaked.


Over dinner at the Montana Club we got to know Robin better. A Montana native, Robin served in the Air Force, then returned to Montana where he taught high school for several decades. About eight years ago he obtained a CJ-5. Apparently, that infected him with the dreaded Willys sickness. One jeep led to a couple, then a dozen, then a whole “garden”. He’s gathered many locally, some restorable and some for parts. He’s hoping to get the restorable ones under shelter at some point. Here are some photos of us looking them over.

This truck has a collapsable Canfield wrecker on the back and a Canfield push bumper on the front. It was used as a back drop for some of Robin’s daughter’s wedding photos. It sure was a picturesque setting!


Next we sauntered over to Robin’s “jeep Garden”:




The bottom half of this FC is a weasel.

2016-09-05-robin-david-jeep7 2016-09-05-robin-david-jeep8


Once we were through with his garden, we left for his house. There, he had a few more jeeps:


This was Robin’s daily driver.


He recently bought this trencher. He’d like to get tow work on this one soon.


This is a 1945 VEC CJ-2A that had been beat up before he got a hold of it.


Once again, here’s the fiberglass replica of a Ford Model D. The top is too short for me to fit without rubbing my head on the ceiling.

After thanking Robin for his time, we continued our return trip, landing in Bozeman for the night at the Days Inn. I mention that, because as part of our stay in the morning the place offered made-to-order eggs and browns that were pretty good. The room price was great, too, only $55 for two full-size beds (using Priceline that is). I later listened to a conversation between a guest and the hotel manager. She claimed they could offer no room for under $87.


As we left Bozeman, we were grateful for the sunny skies. It was a beautiful drive to our first stop, the Wheat Montana travel stop in Three-Forks. That place is particularly interesting to me, because I use their unbleached all-purpose flour to make my sourdough bread. Not only did thir travel stop have flour for sale, they had a variety of other baking products, along with some great looking baked products like almond bear claws (excellent!). If you are driving through there, it is worth a stop.


Ann is holding up two fingers, because this was actually our second time stopping here. The first time was the day before on our way through. However,we found the Labor Day Monday crowds made the place too busy. Since we knew we’d be coming back through on Tuesday, we returned. It was MUCH less crowded.




From there, we the drive was thankfully without surprises. We did run into rain as we drove out of Missoula, so Rusty got a thorough bath. By the time we hit Spokane, he got a chance to dry off. We arrived in Pasco, exhausted once again. It was good to sleep in our own bed.


On Wednesday morning, we pulled out the seats and windhsield, to leave them in Pasco. The seats were mounted on blocks to give them more height.


As you can see, they were trashed.


With the seats out, we discovered lots of mud underneath. It all got washed out.

Under the seats, we found this Bendix carb:

dj3a-carb-under-seat1 dj3a-carb-under-seat2

Once the seats were out, we cleaned out the mud and other debris, then gave the floors a good washing. We figured the floors would air dry nicely on the drive to Seattle.

In Seattle, we packed Rusty away in the newly cleaned section of the garage (now I’m REALLY glad I cleaned this place up):


With Rusty packed away, we left for Auburn to return the trailer to Mitch (Again, a big thanks to Mitch) and to Yelm to swap the truck for the motorhome. For dinner, it only seemed fitting that a weekend of jeep related stuff would end at Jeepers in Spanaway, Washington.


We finally returned home to Pasco at 11:30PM. It’s after midnight as I complete this update. What a long few days!!

Things will calm down for the next week, but around the 15th of September we head south for New Mexico with my mother-in-law in her motorhome. We have no idea where we are heading from there. It should be an interesting adventure.


14 Comments on “Rewind — September 5-7: Our “Rusty” Trip

  1. Glennstin

    Love that last Jeep Pix: STOCK vs. MODIFIED, a wonderful contrast. RUSTY meets Biscuit and a whole new chapter begins. Don’t despair about those seats. At least you have them. I own SEVEN DJ3A’s and NO 60/40 setups. You bought a bargain, and out here in Willys World we’re anxious to read as this story develops. No Hurry! Rusty is nice and comfortable. Rest up, Well Done.

  2. Idaho Todd

    Dave, I think your new dj is awesome! Holy moly, what a trip. Loydd seems like an interesting guy. He sure has a lot of cool rides. It looks like Robin has a great collection, too. I love Wheat, MT. We used to stop in there all the time when our kids were attending MSU in Bozeman. We stayed many a nights in that Days Inn. Keep us posted on your new jeep!

  3. Bill Shaw

    Even that navy one had its seats mounted on pipes. I don’t know you’re intended plans – me, that would be a to factory restore in its original color.

  4. John Simons

    Dave, I would be interested in that Red & White Wagon. What engine did it have? Was it in good shape? Did you notice any rust issues?

  5. Mom

    David sure did drive a lot for a rusty Jeep, no less. I think he spent more time “replacing” items in the garage and scuttling the rest as he did driving. Could be a toss up. Our 2 car garage now has 3 “cars” in it. David said he had a plan to snuggle Rusty into a spot he had opened up. Fortunately, for all of us, his plan worked. Now, as I see all those goodies in that case in Wheat, he could have at least bought me a bear claw…..

  6. Allan Knepper

    Just having my late morning coffee and my mouth is watering with memories of the almond bear claws from Harvest Montana !!! On a recent trip from Wisconsin to visit our daughter in Portland, we discovered Harvest Montana…….I was never without baked goods for the entire rest of the trip……please don’t tell my doctor ! Love the new project, love the color……most of all love the great coverage of another road trip.

  7. David Eilers Post author

    Ann and I slept in until noon this morning. Guess we were tired!

    Todd: My mother is wise, isn’t she? But don’t tell her I admitted it!

    Mom: Can I make it up to you by bringing some more loaves of bread?? Had we been heading straight to your place from Montana, I would have brought you some. But, you know how picky i get with stuff like that. I didn’t want to bring you day-old pastries! I guess we’ll just have to go back???? Or, I need one of my kids to enroll at Bozeman (well played strategy Todd).

    Bill: I’ll have to look more closely at how the seats are supposed to mount. I just assumed they raised them a couple inches with the wood.

    Allan: What the doctor doesn’t know, won’t hurt you 🙂 Also, I’ll be sending the Finding Virginia book this week.

    John: I sent you an email with some pics.

    Glenn: I’ll be emailing you and the other DJ guys later. I have, not surprisingly, more questions.

    – Dave

  8. Lew

    If He’s done a half way decent job, that wagon on an S10 is a deal. Hope it goes to a good home. Great adventure Dave.

  9. John H. in CT

    Dave, I found your pics of the Jeeps in the fields to be stunning. Do I sense a coffee table book in your future? Or perhaps a calendar?

    Enjoyed the story of your adventure as well.

  10. Eric Kalamaja

    Nice DJ score. That’s what Short Round started from. Someone had already converted him to 4 WD when I got him.

  11. David Eilers Post author

    John: That was my wife’s doing. The light truly was dreamy and she did a great job of capturing it. We do have gigabytes of high quality jeep photos from our four years of traveling together, so a book would be possible to do (and I have all the software to do it). But, would it sell enough to make the project worth it? That I don’t know.

    Lew: Thanks. Based on other projects he completed, his work appeared very good. But, I didn’t look under the frame to see how the bodies were attached, etc. I agree, it looked like a great price to me and I told him that.

    Eric: I didn’t know that was how Short Round started. I wanted to save this DJ from being modified. If the body were a little more solid and straight, I would leave the paint as is, but there will be enough work needed that a repaint (in the same Pine Tint color) will be necessary.

  12. Colin Peabody


    Great post with all the photos. We are all looking forward to progress reports and your questions. My mouth is watering over those bear claws. Do they ship overnight???
    The Jeeps that Lloyd has are awesome. I like the wagon and the Jeepster. I have a database n Jeepster VINs and would like to include that one also.

    Thanks for brightening my day!

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