I found this article titled “Jeep Mountaineers” by Henry Zuidema in the September 1950 issue of Motor News. The magazine was so Michigan focused that they had a list of Michigan-related football games for both college and pro teams.
UPDATE: A 1964 article in the Spokesman-Review highlights their speaking tour following the Indonesian trip.
In 1954, Helen and Frank Schreider drove a Ford GPA (amphibious jeep) named Tortuga from the Arctic Circle to the southern most town in South America, Ushuaia, Argentina. They published a book about their adventure called 20,000 Miles South: A Pan-American Adventure in a Seagoing Jeep from the Arctic Circle. It was a book I enjoyed.
In 1960, Helen and Frank began a new adventure in India. For unknown reasons, Tortuga was replaced by the Tortuga II (Amphibious Vehicle website has a great comparison information between Tortuga I and Tortuga II). Perhaps the original Tortuga was too damaged to undertake another long trek. The goal of their Indian adventure was to explore the Ganges river plain and write an article for National Geographic (which appeared in the October 1960 issue). I have the article, but have yet to read it.
In 1961, following their India adventure, the pair undertook an even longer expedition. They wanted to explore Indonesia’s Lesser Sundas, a chain of islands stretching 3000 miles from Bali to Timor. Their adventure filled two large articles for National Geographic (Indonesia: Young and Troubled Nation in the May 1961 issue and East from Bali by Seagoing Jeep in the August 1962 issue). They also published a book in 1963 called the Drums of Tonkin: An Adventure in Indonesia.
Both the National Geographic articles about Indonesia and their Drums of Tonkin book are dense with cultural references and photographs. Unfortunately, both the articles and the book over-burdened me with local references to such a degree that for me the story was less compelling than their 20,000 Miles book. This likely reflects a larger emphasis on anthropology, geography, and biology, a result of their funding by National Geographic.
Despite the compelling prose, there were plenty of photographs to enjoy. Here’s just a few. This first one is pretty self-explanatory.
According to the New York Times obituary for Frank, who died in 1994 in Crete, the couple joined National Geographic in 1967 and continued to have additional adventures by vehicle, foot and boat. However, there is no record that they ever traveled by GPA.
UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $700
(01/13/2010) “ac dc generator I have not use the generator but the welder works great.
it is powered by a gas powered by a willys hurricane F 134 engine
it’s a great machine I just don’t use it very much anymore
I would trade for a truck cab , fenders with title for a project
all trades will be considered
Please call or text anytime
a response by email will be delayed response as I do not check it often
if you call and do not get an answer please leave ”
Mathew spotted this. Available for sale in Monroe Center, Il, this unusual piece of Willys history is something I’d never seen. After some research, I discovered another one of these that sold for $4000 a couple years ago, though it was powered by a ford 2.3 liter engine.
“The sprayer was mfg in michigan byRotomist has not been used in several years. Model #100E Is equiped with a willys Jeep engine 4 cyl. THE UNIT SHOULD RUN AS EVERYTHING IS THERE ONTHE MOT0R PRICE IS 1250.00 PH 815-716-0224”
Brett spotted this Welder. These are usually priced between $800 – $1200, so this appears to be a good price (if the fix is easy).
“Hobart Welder. 250 Amp 40 Volt. Willys engine. Welder was not making power when machine was parked. But the Willys jeep engine still ran. no emails. Please call 435-632-2415”
These pop up everyone once in a while.
“Mounted on trailer ,good tires, ball coupler hitch, has Leads 250 Amp. with 110 volt Dc outlet. Lifting ring. Good sheet metal nice older machine working order. Willeys 4 cylinder gas motor. Complete unit ready to go ! Asking $850. or best offer Call Tom Konan for more info 603-352-5131 NO EMAIL DO – NOT – EMAIL ! Thank You”
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UPDATE: I recently ran across an article discussing a pre-war Topeka Hiway mower built from Ford truck parts: http://www.farmcollector.com/tractors/mowing-tractor-zmbz14octzkel.aspx I haven’t looked any deeper into this information.
One source argues that the Topeka Hiway Mowers were built by ‘Shorty’ Meinhardt, who founded Meinholt Machine and Welding in Topeka Kansas. Shorty’s grandson Dean Fechter now runs the business. According to Meinhardt’s cousin, the first mower they built rolled over and broke Shorty’s back. But, that didn’t stop them from building more tractors.
Yet, according to at least one data plate, the Topeka Hiway mower was produced out of Irwindale, California, a product of the American Hoist & Derrick Company. Can anyone clear up the discrepancy between producers of the mower?
According to Marty Henson in 2009 there were three versions of the mower:
I have kept records of all of the people I know who have these mowers and information about the style, age and attachments. So far I have found three distinct styles. The oldest style appears to date to the late 1930s and uses Ford-style sheet metal and running gear. Examples are owned by collectors near Seattle, Wash., and Hartsville, Tenn.
The second style closely follows a CJ Willys/Jeep and uses a Continental 4-cylinder flathead engine, 3- or 4-speed transmission, and Dana 18 transfer case. The mower attachments on these were either a sickle bar or rotary. I think later mowers of this style included a windshield. I have found two examples of the later style Topeka Hi Way mower. One was recently sold by the Montana Highway Dept., and the other is in Lyons, Colo.
Most, if not all, of the mowers were painted yellow. To date, I have recorded the names and addresses of 11 owners in eight states. Just today I added two more contacts. By including my previous letter in your magazine, you have generated many of my contacts. I’d like to receive information from your readers about anyone who has one of these mowers or knows where one might be found. Thank you for producing such a wonderful magazine and assisting me in researching the Topeka Hi Way mower.
Here are some examples of the jeep version of the Topeka Mower:
This was for sale in December of 2014:
This one was for sale on eBay in Ohio in 2009 (see more pics here):
From the CJ-3B Page. There’s a second pic here with the windshield up.
UPDATE: Was on eBay in 2009.
“RARE WILLYS TOPEKA MODEL. ASSEMBLED IN TOPEKA KANSAS. ALL HYDRAULIC WITH POWER STEERING. HAS A CONTINENTAL FOUR CYLINDER INDUSTRIAL ENGINE WITH ABOUT 1100 HUNDRED HOURS. FOUR WHEEL DRIVE, TWO WHEEL DRIVE, HIGH LOW RANGE, FOUR WHEEL IN AND OUT AND HAND THROTTLE FOR THE REAR HYDROLICS SUCH AS LOG SPLITTER, DISC ETC. FOUR WAY PLOW, HEATER, WITH DEFROST AND REMOVEABLE CAB. GREAT FOR THE SUMMER ALSO. A SICKLE BAR OR ROTARY MOWER CAN BE ADDED ON THE RIGHT SIDE. HAS REAR HYDRAULIC REMOTES FOR ATTACHMENTS. TITLE NOT NEEDED AS ITS CONSIDERED AS A MOWER OR YOU COULD GET ONE AS IT HAS ALL THE STREET LEGAL ITEMS. NEW TIRES AND RUNS AND DRIVES GREAT.”
View more pics
UPDATE: **SOLD** Was $3900
“FOUR WHEEL DRIVE ALL TERRAIN ROCK CLIMBING MACHINE 18 HP WISCONSIN WILLYS JEEP RUNNING GEAR TANDEM TRANSMISSIONS WITH A HIGH AND LOW TRANSFER CASE HAS BEEN SITTING AROUND FOR A FEW YEARS HAVE NOT REALLY USED IT. COME TAKE A LOOK. $1200.00 EMAIL ME WITH YOUR PHONE NUMBER AND I WILL CALL YOU BACK I DO NOT RESPOND TO EMAILS WITHOUT A PHONE NUMBER. ”
Brian also included an interesting discussion about dual trannys from the WillysTech board.
Well here’s something I didn’t know, submitted by a reader. Empire Tractors were built from parts that are also used by Willys, such as the transfercase (spicer 18), transmission (t-90), differential (spicer 25) and more. You can learn more about the specs for these tractors here. Note that the seller claims these were built out of surplus WWII jeeps, however the t-90 was a CJ-2A tranny, so it seems more likely to me that they shared parts with the CJ-2A rather than built from the MB.
“HERE WE HAVE A RARE 1947 EMPIRE TRACTOR. MODEL 88-90 MADE IN 11-47 SERAIL NUMBER 6352 IT WAS RESTORED ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO AND HAS BEEN KEPT INSIDE ALL IT’S LIFE. THIS HAS WILLYS JEEP ENGINE AND TRANS,AND ALOT OF OTHER JEEP PARTS IN IT,THAT ARE ORGINAL TO THE TRACTOR. THESE TRACTORS WERE BUILT AFTER WWII OUT OF SURPLUS ARMY JEEPS. THE PAINT SHOWS SOME WEAR . THE TIRES ON BACK ARE ORGINAL AND FRONTS HAVE BEEN REPALCED. COMES WITH ORGINAL LIGHTS AND GENERATOR IN A BOX. IT HAS HAD ONLY 3 OWNERS AND RUNS AND DRIVES LIKE IT SHOULD, READY TO USE OR SHOW. THIS COMES WITH A BELLY SICKLE MOWER,THAT HAS NOT BEEN USED IN 20 YEARS. 3500 FIRM. MY NUMBER IS 660-267-3282 THANKS FOR LOOKING”