Tips & Tricks Research Archives

Short Tips and Tricks

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Gus and the Model Garage: Gus and the Miracle Jeep

• CATEGORIES: Artists/Drawings, Books, Features, Tips & Tricks • TAGS: .

Buz pointed me to this story title “Gus and the Miracle Jeep”, publish in the August 1950 of Popular Science Monthly.  The story is part of the Gus and the Model Garage series.  I’d never read any Gus stories, and Buz didn’t tell me much, other than I should read it.  So, I didn’t know what to expect.

After reading it I suggest you read it too.  It just begs the question, what other things did the Army try?

That is just one of more than 500 stories about Gus and the Model Garage, written by Martin Bunn over the span of three decades.  Who was Martin Bunn?  That was a pen name for a variety of authors who churned out a monthly story designed to describe car problems in ways the average person would understand.  In a way, it’s like Encyclopedia Brown (which I loved reading as a kid) for people interested in automotive mechanics.

Thanks to Mike Hammerberg, there is an entire website devoted to Gus and the Model Garage stories.

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Update on Sam’s Bolt-on Rack and Pinion for early jeeps

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features, Tips & Tricks • TAGS: .

Since sam last reported about the prototype bolt-on rack and pinion system for early jeeps, he has made a few changes to improve the ability to install the system onto jeeps that have been lifted.  He reports that the system is installed on a number of jeeps without any issues.  The system dramatically improves steering at low speeds and at highway speeds.

Finished Install before New Exhaust:

Here is close up view of drag link end:

Arrows point to Borgston Joint and shaft support bearing:

Upper View of Rack and Partial View of New Steering shaft and joint. Arrow indicates new steering shaft and joint:

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Want to Ditch that Mechanical Speedometer?

• CATEGORIES: Features, How To, Tips & Tricks • TAGS: .

UPDATE: Paul forwarded a pic of the parts for the speedometer:

I’ve included a pic of Paul’s topside dash as an illustration of Paul’s dilemma/solution. You can read all of Paul’s adventures here.


Paul writes, “I recently hit a bit of a snag with the speedometer sending unit and I thought other Willys modifiers might be interested in the problem and solution.  Since I repositioned the instrument panel above the windshield (the hard top will not be removed and the windshield is not a folding unit) I realized there would be a problem with the mechanical speedometer.

The speedometer drive cable would have to have many tight bends as it snaked it’s way from the rear of the speedometer, down the windshield post, behind the dash and under the body where it would screw into the drive unit on the transfercase.  Taking into account the numerous tight bends, the length of the drive cable and the space necessary for the drive cable routing I figured it would be much easier to use an electric speedometer.  This way I’d only have to string some wires from the speedometer to the sending unit (a hall effect device) attached to the drive gear in the transfercase.

Really rather simple but I discovered the original Willys speedo drive unit was made for a flanged drive cable and the electrical sending unit was made for a square drive cable.  The stub cable supplied with the electrical sending unit is only two inches long but both ends are square so this wouldn’t work with the original shaft in the transfercase.

A friend of mine suggested I talk with the local marine diesel parts guys because he remembered the Detroit diesel engines used similar adapters as tach drives and they might have something which would work.  Less than five minutes after I explained my adapter problem and showed the items I wanted to connect, Jim (the parts guy) found a two inch long flex shaft with a square drive on one end and a round, flanged end on the other.  Not only was this the exact part I needed, the right length, and the right ends, but it was also the right price …FREE!

I realize most of the eWillys folks are keeping their Jeeps closer to stock when it comes to the instrument location, but it’s something to keep in mind if you do decide to go with an electrical speedometer.  Jim sure saved me hours of work since I won’t have to build what I need; I believe a few dozen donuts delivered early in the morning are necessary as a special thanks.  THANKS JIM !!!”

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Tips & Tricks: Sealing Body Seams

• CATEGORIES: Tips & Tricks

Frank suggested the following, “a suggestion, which I have done myself, is anyone who may be building a Jeep with a new metal body try sealing all the seams where the floor or rear fenders contact the body with urethane sealer (in the caulking tube). It’s about $10 or $15 a tube as I recall. Just make sure that all the surfaces you apply it to are clean and dry.

Since the main reason Jeeps rust (I believe) are all the seams and crevices that hold water, sealing out the water should help. Urethane is also sandable and paintable. It is used for installing windshields on late model cars and trucks which makes the glass an integral and structual part of the body in an accident.”

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Tips & Tricks: Bon Ami Windshield Cleaner

• CATEGORIES: Tips & Tricks

Frank provided this tip, “I’ve worked in Chevy dealers since 1971 and they used to carry Windshield Cleaner, Bon Ami cleaning powder part # 1050011. It was mainly used for windshields that had oily or greasy film on them from wax or what have you. It works very well (I’ve used it myself) just follow the instructions.

It may still be available at GM dealers. I still have a box at home and the seal on top reads ‘same formula as Bon Ami cake’. Now you would think that Bon Ami cleaner available today would be the same since there are no bleaches or chemicals listed in the ingredients. But the container reads ‘do not use on windows, glass or mirrors.’ Very puzzling….”

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Tips: Harmonic Balancers Can Go Bad on Willys Flatheads

• CATEGORIES: Tips & Tricks

I have received a variety of useful tidbits that Sam has been sharing with me, though either Sam or his employee Lee deserve credit.  Lee worked for many, many years in military motor pools (as did some of his family members) and now works with Sam to have some fun.

On to the tip …. One day Sam purchased and trucked a flattie to his shop with an engine that sounded problematic. In fact, he got a great deal on the jeep because both Sam and the Seller though the engine had a problem.

Now Sam, who is no stranger to engines of all types, suspected something inside the engine, but as soon as Lee heard the sound, he said it was the harmonic balancer. Sam looked at Lee and said, “really?”

Lee probably responded with something like, “you young whipper snappers don’t know anything!”  (Note that Sam and Lee are about the same age).  So, Sam proceeded to swap out the balancer with another one they had and, sure enough, within short order Sam had a perfect running flathead.

Lee told Sam that the harmonic balancers can go bad on a Willys flathead engine.  So, before you have that flathead rebuilt because it is making a noise, check out the harmonic balancer.