Builds Research Archives

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David Tracy’s 1948 CJ-2A Update

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

David has run into problems with his starter and generator. Read more about the update on his build here:


Photo Credit: David Tracy

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David Tracy’s 1948 Project is Ruining Him

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

How many of us bought that first project flat fender knowing it would be an easy restoration. After all, they are such simple vehicles, right? Well, David Tracy got an introduction into the hazards of purchasing a “fixer-upper”. He documents some of his trials and tribulations on Jalopnick. It’s a reminder that when picking your first jeep, choose wisely!


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Maury’s Foot Pedal Cure For His CJ-5

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

Maury shared this cure for his foot pedal:

Like some others who have mid-60’s V6 CJs with the hanging (suspended) type accelerator pedal, I’ve found my ’67 CJ5 to be somewhat uncomfortable to drive over long, and even not-so-long distances due to the awkward placement and size of the original stock gas pedal. It’s no problem for me to reach the gas pedal with the front part of my foot when my heel is on the floor, as I wear a size 13 shoe. Even so, I’ve found that the muscles in the front of my shin frequently begin to ache from having to constantly hold my foot up at the angle necessary to depress the gas pedal.

Read more and see all the photos here:


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Paul’s Putting on Powder

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: .

Take it away Paul ….

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been disassembling, cleaning, bead blasting and repairing parts for the little Willys and the M100 trailer so they would be ready to be powder coated.  I still need to install new wheel studs in the hub flanges along with pressing in the new bearing races but that task should be finished tomorrow.  The driveshafts need one to be shortened and one to be lengthened before they’ll go to the powder coater but progress is being made.


The blast cabinet is 48 inches wide overall and the axle is slightly over 53 inches long so I had a bit of a problem fitting the axle in the blaster and still having room to clean the rusty steel.  My solution was to leave the side door open and block the opening with multiple layers of cardboard (taped to the cabinet)  with a hole cut slightly larger in diameter than the brake backing plate mount on the axle to allow movement of the axle during blasting.  

Before I began blasting I added two more pieces of cardboard (cut to fit snug around the axle tube) to cover the larger hole in the cardboard end cover.  With this cardboard and duct tape combination I was able to carefully blast two thirds of the axle without filling the air with glass bead dust.  Once the axle section in the cabinet was clean I removed the axle, turned it end for end and inserted the rusty end into the cabinet to finish cleaning the metal.  This photo shows the low tech cardboard and cheap duct tape alteration of the blast cabinet so the axle blasting could begin.


The air compressor was blowing lots of air but the glass beads still had to work pretty hard to clean all of the rust off this 65 year old axle.  The metal is lightly pitted (especially on the forward side) but I don’t feel the original strength of the axle has been weakened in any way.  I checked the axle and the spindles with a straight edge and a level every 90 degrees of rotation to see if it was bent but the axle tube and the spindles are straight.


Here’s the axle just out of the blast cabinet ready to visit the powder coaters where it will receive a nice satin black coating.


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Jason’s Dually Truck Project

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features, Willys Trucks

Jason Potts, out of Burnettsville, Indiana, shared a couple photos of his Willys Dually project, so I asked him where he found his adapters and how he got into jeeps.


Of the truck adapters he wrote, “The adapters came from Hank himself. With the original bed rusting out on me, I bought the flatbed knowing someday the original would go bad. I had a local welder cut the length of the bed down 22 inches. The black locust was cut out of my family’s woods and milled at a relatives mill. I live in an apartment and the truck is currently stored in an enclosed metal barn and will see a garage again in the spring to continue work. The motor is a 232 out of a 70’s CJ and is being rebuilt.”


Then he shared his jeep history. “Originally my dad bought a 63 Cj5 at an implement auction and we used it to get around on county roads for fishing, hunting, and for other adventures. I was in my early teens at the time. In the early spring of 2004 (Junior in high school) a culvert washed out down the road from our house forcing myself and my dad to find alternate ways to work and school. His route took him past a place that had the 54 Willys and knowing I wanted a truck he told me about it. I bought the truck for $1500 and had to buy an electrical kit for it as its wires were all the same color and no lights worked. After about 2 months it became road legal and I started driving it to school.

Senior year of high school I was still driving it. Ever since owning it, the truck always smoked and was burning through oil at such a fast rate I eventually had to put the hottest burning spark plugs and plug extensions on just to keep up, in the end I resorted to using used tractor oil. The truck got 27 miles to the quart of oil. For a long distance football game I burned through 9 quarts of oil and $27 in gas.

Through the years since I have owned/or still own a 92 Jeep Cherokee, 66 Cj5, 75 Cj5, and a 95 Wrangler. Not to be outdone my older and little brothers also bought Jeeps. Older brother bought an 88 Wrangler and little brother has bought 2 Cherokee Country’s (both were previously rolled and used as trail rigs), a 47 Cj2A and a 65 CJ5.”


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Ben & Lil’ Joe, an M-38A1

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

This is a great story form the Winston-Salem Journal about a teenager named Ben Zenger who began rebuilding an M-38A1 named Lil’ Joe at age eleven. Learn more here:


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Brian Hainer’s Restoration of Vince’s CJ-3A

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features, videos

Brian Hainer will be restoring Vince’s CJ-3A. In this video he is beginning the restoration. Tires are removed from their rims and a stubborn steering wheel is removed.

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Paul’s Restored 1963 FJ-3


UPDATE: Paul shared some additional pics.


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Paul bought this FJ-3 back in 2014. He’s restored it beautiful. He wrote: “Her new home is in Orange County, California. This FJ3 is now a daily driver and is used both in my business, and as a fun vehicle to take to shows and cruises. It is looking a little different now. It is still running the original engine and transmission. The rear end is now a freshly rebuilt Dana 44 with taller gears so it can do a decent highway. On the exterior, all the rusty metal has been replaced and the rear side windows have been removed. The rear door is still a wood roll-up, but it is now clad with aluminum sheet to make it maintenance free.”

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Teardown of a CJ-2A L-134 on Jalopnik

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

David Tracy wrote a story for Jalopnik, about his L-134 engine tear-down.


Photo by David Tracy

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The DJ-3A “Wire Gauze” or “Dry Air” Filter

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: .

A pretty correct looking dry air or wire gauze filter from a 1954 Kaiser Darrin. Not the diagonal wire mesh on the exterior and the two prominent lips on the lid. The rubber piece on the top is unique to the Darrins. The DJ-3A did not use the rubber top piece.

UPDATE: This modification of the Oil Bath system into a dry air system by installing an air filter inside the oil bath canister might interest some readers:

On DJ-3As, the stock air filter is a  “Wire Gauze” or “Dry Air” filter type. The oil bath filter commonly seen on earlier L-134 engines was an upgrade option on the DJ-3As. When I looked to see whether my firewall had the holes necessary to mount the oil bath filter, I found the firewall had not been drilled. So, Rusty must have been equipped with a dry air filter.

As far as we know, Willys Motors only installed the dry air filter on the DJ-3As. This same filter appeared chromed on some 1953 & 1954 Corvettes and some 1954 161 Darrins (perhaps other years, too). It’s likely that if someone has one of these lying around, they probably don’t know what it is. If you happen to have one, I’d be interested in it.

Below is one example of a filter about to be restored with a modern mesh in the middle. Charles explained how the NOS filter material can be reproduced: “A NOS corvette, Darrin, or DJ filter core is rare and expensive. Once in a couple of blue moons they show up on eBay. However, they can be made easily . The inner and outer ring are made of extremely thin expanded metal. Make the inner ring, wrap around some air filter grade copper mesh wrap (eBay) and then wrap the outer ring and secure. Unfortunately, the copper would deteriorate over the years and has been talked about badly. Even though they were called dry air filters they were supposed to be kept oiled.”

According to Bill Brown, there’s a K&N filter that can be used. He couldn’t remember the part number, but the “OD of it is 6 3/8″; the ID is 5 1/4″; and the height is 1 1/2”. This is a filter with an accordion fold all the way around with a molded “rubber” top an bottom. Molded into both the top and bottom are a pair of K & N marks the Identification AO62B4 and the words Oil Type.”


This photo shows some of the parts to build a custom dry air filter. The bottom is original. The mesh left and right should be criss cross in diamond shapes rather than circles. The air filter at the bottom is meant to replace the shredded copper originally between the circular mesh. The felt circle helps seal the top lid to the tops of the mesh. The item on the lower right compresses the felt onto the mesh.

Here are examples of the filter installed. The diameter of the top lid is about 6 3/4 inches:


This rebuilt unit has the incorrect mesh and an aftermarket filter.


This one could be original. I can’t tell what kind of mesh surrounds the shredded interior.

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Rusty / DJ-3A Questions & Needs

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: .

I’ve spent some time over the last couple of days assembling information on what I have/needwant for Rusty.  I’m throwing this info up for questions/answers/comments:

1. AIR CLEANER: Bill has hooked me up with an air cleaner. I just need the horn, seal, and tube – … cj3a looks the same to me? From 3A forum: Nice writeup on air cleaners here. Walcks has an air cleaner sticker, so that takes care of that.


2. IGNITION SWITCH: Early ignition switch I don’t know if this style was used on any other jeeps? It dishes inward with the word “START”on it.


3. PARKING BRAKE: I will need parking brake parts: Are the later 3B T-handle parking brake setups the same as the DJ cables and parts? I have a handle that is salvageable, but lack the rest. The image below is from a 1962 book. I’ve seen nothing to indicate this changed from early DJ-3As.


4. TRANNY CROSS MEMBER: I need a transmission cross member: (image Should be the same as a 3A/3B/CJ-5? Note the cross member does have the transfercase mounting hole (far bottom) so it may be the same as the typical cross member.


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Rick’s 1962 Wagon

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features, Willys Wagons

Rick built this nice looking wagon. I plan to see this in person the next time I’m in Spanaway, Washington.

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Rebuilt CJ-5 Camper

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Camping, CJ-6, CJ5, videos

Steve shared this video of Seth’s CJ-5 Camper that’s been updated with some modern, practical touches. You can see more pics of CJ-5 campers at Jeremy’s website:

This is what it looked like prior to its rebuild:


And more pics from 2011: Continue reading

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Alaska WWII Jeep Hardtops & the YL-15

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: , .

Paul from Alaska wrote, “Recently I was at the Alaska Aviation Museum helping a friend assemble his plane when I noticed a very large photo displayed on the wall of the hanger.  As you can see this photo was taken in 1947 at Adak but what really caught my attention were the numerous flat fender Jeeps with hardtops driving on the base.  I took a close up photo of a cluster of these Jeeps even though the image is rather grainy but I thought you’d like to see it anyway.”


Labeling these 1 – 5 starting from the left, jeeps #1 and #3 look to have the same top. #2’s top is extended in the rear. #4 has no side windows. #5 I can’t see as well.


There’s a jeep near the top, again with a hardtop.


The full photo is in the background above the rare Boeing YL-15, which Paul’s friend has restored. The plane was built to win a military contract. The wings, tail and flaps come off quickly so the plane can be carried by a 6 by or towed by a Jeep.

Here’s an mocked-up example of a jeep pulling the plane:


And this shows a truck carrying it:truck-hauling-yl-15-lores

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Paul’s M-100 Trailer Teardown

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: .

On another note, Paul has begun his tear down of an M-100 trailer, something he’ll rebuild in stainless:

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Steve’s Jeepney

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

UPDATE: Cody found this US Jeepney link.

Steve wrote me about a wagon that he transformed into a Jeepney. I wrote him for more info and am waiting for additional details. If you live near Port Angeles, Washington, you might have seen his Jeepney.



AFTER:jeepney-2 jeepney-3

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Michael’s 1953 M-38A1

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features, M-38A1


MIchael sent me an email about his 1953 M-38A1. He had it fully refurbed and it looks great! Thanks for sharing. Here is what Michael wrote:

The Willys is a 1953 M38A1. She was issued to the Marine Corps that year, according to the original data plates. I polished the data plates, had them clear-coated and riveted back into the dash.

My wife picked the paint color, she refused to let me use the OD green and white I had originally purchased.

I had the holes filled in the dash panel that would not be used for this build, refreshed the 12v conversion with an alternator, electric wipers, and converted the original front and rear blackout canisters for parking, turn signals and rear brake lights. I pulled the PTO and installed a Saturn overdrive, she now makes 55-60 mph on smooth roads on the flat.

I pulled the battery box and installed a marine hydronic heater/defroster. The switches for the heater fan, wipers, and the cell phone charger are tucked in the right side of the glove box.

I tried to keep most of her as original as I could while building her for my personal use..

I think she turned out well and she is quite usable and economical to maintain. For the purists, it is probably not right, but she is still mostly who and what she used to be, just a little more civilized and prettied up.


The jeep when he bought it.


Powder coating frame.


Beginning the reinstall.

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Todd & Chris’ Excellent Jeep Adventures

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

Chris’ all stock CJ-3B

(Idaho) Todd is visiting his brother (Minnesota) Chris this week. Apparently, they got talking about eWillys, which lead Todd to drop me a note with some pics of some their jeeps, which evolved into another email with more pics. If I weren’t so busy with the book, I might have kept sending emails until they ran out of photos to send me 🙂 Together they have owned over 70 jeeps, so they have plenty of photos to share, so check them out below. (I hope I got all the captions correct!)


While picking up a jeep, we literally stumbled upon the American Pickers shop in Iowa! Yup, we were lost…

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This is Todd’s Tuxedo Park IV. His son-in-law is driving, while Todd’s daughter’s enjoy the ride. He must REALLY like his son-in-law to let him behind the wheel!

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The Tale of Paul’s Steering Column

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

Paul shared the story behind his one-of-a-kind stainless steel steering column.


Paul writes, The steering column in my Willys has quite a story behind it, …….  About 10 years into the rebuild (1995) I began thinking about what kind of steering column and wheel I’d like to have for the Willys. I wanted a tilt column to make it easier for me to enter and exit the Willys, the steering column and steering wheel should be one of a kind and not some mass produced stuff that everyone has and if at all possible these components should be fabricated from stainless steel to match the rest of the vehicle. I wasn’t even aware of any aftermarket suppliers that made replacement steering columns for custom vehicles but if there was a company in America making replacement columns I figured they would be mentioned in the hot rod or custom car magazines. I began reading all the current car magazines I could get my hands on, searching for any mention of or advertisement from a company making replacement steering columns.

It wasn’t long before I saw an advertisement for a company called ididit and the primary focus of this company was to build replacement steering columns for custom vehicles. Their ad had their address listed along with their telephone number so I made a quick phone call to the state of Michigan and ordered a free catalog. About a week later their catalog arrived here at the house and it was full of information about the company, about how to correctly determine the angle of the steering column and the location of the steering wheel along with internal wiring specs and how to identify the correct column length for your vehicle. This catalog was full of step by step procedures to solve installation problems I hadn’t even thought of yet. According to the catalog, steering columns could be ordered in steel or aluminum (plain or polished) in either standard lengths or total custom units. I was happy.


After mocking up a column in the Willys (a sawed off broom handle with a plastic plate screwed to the upper end) I was able to find the column angle which would give me the least interference during entry and exit while still providing a reasonable position for the steering wheel and this information allowed me to get the total length of the column from steering wheel to column end in the engine compartment. With my calculations in hand I made another call to ididit and attempted to order a column. This is where things got a bit weird. Continue reading

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John’s “Woody” DJ-5A

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features, Wood bodies

John shared his neat DJ-5. If you live on Long Island, keep a watch for him during the summer.

He wrote, It was turned into a ‘Woody’ about 35 years ago. This one is a 69 DJ5 A. I bought it about 1980/81 or so. It’s got the original 2.5 in it and I use it about 4 months every year…..June to September. I have not made any changes except for putting in a radio and a glove box and I recently had the Seats recovered. I never met the original owner (the guy who did all the nice woodwork, glass etching and paint job) but recently ran into someone who recognized the Jeep and told me about the very creative guy to built it back in the 70s. About twenty years ago I had to take the motor out and and replace the main bearings. Last year I had to find an exhaust manifold which was not easy. Otherwise, it gives me good reliable service every year. It’s really been a fun vehicle. Every where I go people want to buy it and on the hiway I am always being photographed while driving.

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Another Update From Paul

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: .

If I ever step into Paul’s jeep, I’m going to bring some surgical scrub footies.

Paul wrote, I felt the gray marine carpet in the footwells was too dark so I installed some stainless steel scuff plates on top of the carpet. I put a brushed finish on the stainless plates before I screwed them to the carpet and I’m happy with the results. The carpet is still visible, the stainless makes the footwell area brighter and I think the cutout design goes well with the Willys.

Just another crazy thing I never imagined I’d want for this Willys rebuild.

left-side-scuff-plates right-side-scuff-plates


Those are some clear, blue skies!

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Leaks & Fenders

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: .

Two bits of good news from Paul. One, his jeep was NOT affected by Alaska’s recent earthquake. He had the sense to bolt things to the wall that could potentially fall onto his jeep. Two, he’s made some more updates to Knarly Rolls! So, read on . . .


Looking towards Anchorage and the mountains beyond, January 2016. This was pre-earthquake, though it pretty much looks the same after the earthquake.

Paul writes, the progress so far this winter season on the Willys has been a little weird. Things started to get strange when I decided to fill the cooling system for the first time in 30 years. I’m an optimist but I like to think I’m based in reality so I told myself there’s always the possibility of leaks in the cooling system and having a couple of empty buckets ready to catch dripping antifreeze might be a good idea. With the empty buckets cleaned and placed nearby I poured the first gallon of antifreeze into the radiator.

After a short pause to inspect the hoses and connections for system integrity I began pouring the second gallon of coolant into the radiator and I quickly noticed my feet were getting quite wet. I managed to wedge the empty but rapidly filling buckets under the front axle where most of the escaping antifreeze could be captured since the leak appeared to be from the front of the engine by  the timing chain cover. Oh well, it looks like yet another unexpected repair or modification needs my attention.

After the leak slowed down to a slight drip I repositioned one of the buckets directly below the radiator drain and began transferring the antifreeze from the cooling system into the bucket and then back into the gallon containers which is where this green fluid came from about 15 minutes earlier. When no more fluid flowed from the radiator drain and the recaptured antifreeze was safely back into the gallon containers I decided to call it a day and leave the heavy thinking for the tomorrow.

After having strange dreams throughout the night concerning the coolant leaks on the Willys, by the next morning I ready to start pulling components off the front of the engine so the timing cover could be removed for troubleshooting. Since the engine has never been run after being rebuilt this was a fairly quick and easy task.

Once the timing cover was out of the way and the front of the cylinder block could be inspected I learned an interesting bit of information about the Buick V-6 engine. The front of the block has 4 bolt holes (2 on the left and 2 on the right) for the timing cover to attach, BUT the timing cover is manufactured as either a 2 or a 4 bolt type.


The plugged bolt hole is the one closest to the right edge of the photo, it was left unplugged and partially exposed by the timing cover so the antifreeze flowed out quickly.

The timing cover on my engine is a 2 bolt type (where the coolant passage flows into the water pump) so the two unnecessary threaded holes in the block should’ve been plugged to prevent antifreeze from leaking. The unused threaded hole on the block is drilled into the coolant passage but the unused hole to the right is a blind hole and not open to the cooling system.

To prevent anymore leaks and to make me feel better I installed internal wrenching hex plugs in the unused holes . These plugs were screwed into position after the threads were cleaned and dried and the threads on the plugs were coated with gasket compound, then it was time for reassembly. Things were going pretty well until I noticed the rubber on the crank pulley damper was cracked and bulging out along the seam so this project came to a halt until the damper made a trip south to the Damper Doctor for a rebuild. 

[editors note. I *think* it was in one of those holes that, during my very first engine rebuild, I put too long of bolt into one of the holes. I tightened it down, though it got difficult near the end. Imagine my surprise when the #1 cylinder piston kept hitting something while i tried spinning the crank. OOPS, I’d damaged the cylinder wall!!]


Two pieces of 3/4 inch plywood spread the clamping pressure and prevent damage to the metal when installing the abrasion panels to the underside of the fender.

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Hugh’s Barn Find MB

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

Hugh wrote me a couple days ago. He was excited to share his barn find jeep, a 1943 MB that had sat for forty years.  Nick Oxender actually found the jeep and told Hugh about it. I wanted to share the jeep with everyone as evidence that barn finds still exist, even in the midwest!


Hugh wrote, The jeep is rust free and original and not too bubba-ed up. It has all three seat frames and four combat rims with almost new tires.  The switches and controls on the dash are present and it is only missing the parking brake handle.  


It runs and drives well, but has a post war engine. The original insulation is on the firewall and the filterette and it came with the original radiator with the horsehair insulation. The original crossover tube, air cleaner and fuel strainer are still there. It also has the original oilfilter and bracket. Someone just switched out the engine and left the T-84 trans and WW2 components alone.


I will be watching for an mb engine but it drives just fine right now.  i don’t plan on an extensive restoration, just paint markings, a canvas top and an engine swap. I plan to preserve it. There is a patch right over the transfer case that i believe covered a hole where it had a PTO operated generator.  Judging by the extra holes, ground straps and suppression devices, I believe it was a radio jeep. i am very pleased with this piece of history.  Oh yeah, it needs a front bumper and that crazy hitch on the back removed as well, but its a very original rust free example of a ww2 jeep.


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Update on Tom’s CJ-3A APU

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: .

Tom’s been working on the restoration of this CJ-3A APU. He’s wondering if anyone knows anything about the three-wheeled APUs that were auctioned in California about five years ago. He’s hoping to find some of the hard-to-find APU equipment.

Here are a few photos of the APUs sold a few years ago:

power unit 1 power unit 2 power unit 3 power unit 4 power unit 6

Here’s  how he started, with a jeep he didn’t know was an APU. Since then he’s been learning more about them.


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Update On Lee’s M-38

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features

Lee’s shared some updated photos on his M-38. His goal has been to restore it back to stock. Though he’s got a great deal of stock jeep to use, as he disassembled it he discovered a few more problems than he’d planned. Despite some unexpected issues, he’s been working all summer since Ann and I visited he and his family last April in San Saba, Texas. He doesn’t have a great deal of time, between his job, farm, kids and wife, but he’s been making the most of it. He tells me he is almost done.

Here’s the jeep before disassembly:


The body:


Some body work completed.


The Frame:


Plenty of scrubbing needed.


First coat of paint.


Partial assembly

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