Popular-Science Research Archives

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The Free-Lock Corporation and Their Hubs

• CATEGORIES: Advertising & Brochures, Features • TAGS: , .

UPDATE: Thanks to Rob, we now have an “in-the-wild” photo of the slotted Free-Lock hub. I’ve also updated the post to indicate there were four slightly different designs and an additional patent that we’ve documented.

In 1952, Aurthur Warn filed a patent for an adjustable clutch front hub that would allow jeep owners to engage and disengage their front axles in and out of four wheel drive. Warn was awarded a patent for his work in July of 1954.

The problem with these Warn hubs was that the clutch design was complex. With this in mind,  a company called the Free-Lock Corporation developed an alternative hub. In December of 1954, only six months after Warn patented his hub, Rex Requa submitted his design to the patent office.


We have yet to document this exact design on a jeep. The reason for this might be because the face of the final hub may look different than the design shown in the patent. Perhaps Free-Lock found that in practice users needed a tool to switch the hubs in and out. However it happened, soon the first Free-Lock hub was born. It probably began selling in 1955.

It seems plausible that the main driver behind the hub was James R. Lloyd. In April of 1956 he received a copyright for the term “One million 4 wheel drive vehicles need Free-Lock hubs”. Later in the year he received a second copyright, “The world’s finest and safest, Free-Lock hubs”. (View both copyrights here)

1. The 1-screw Free-Lock Hub: By October of 1956, the Free-Lock Corporation had taken out ads for the hub in Popular Mechanics (and possibly Popular Science, in which they did publish later). In the case of this hub, there is only one screw along the outer radius.


This example hub from Willys Tech shows almost the exact hub that is advertised in the ad. The missing item is “patent pending”. In it’s place, the company stamped “Denver” (there may be “pat. pending” below the Denver). Hence, some referred to these as “Denver hubs”:


The company also produced a multiple page brochure. Unfortunately, I only have copies of photos that were posted to Craigslist (I welcome better scans if anyone has them): Continue reading

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1942 Popular Mechanics “Miracle on Wheels”

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine • TAGS: .

This November 1942 article from Popular Mechanics titled “Miracle on Wheels” featured the jeep and shared some of the success stories from its use internationally. You can read the entire issue on Google or purchase a cheap copy off of eBay

1942-11-pop-mechanics-miracle-on-wheels-pg82 1942-11-pop-mechanics-miracle-on-wheels-pg83 1942-11-pop-mechanics-miracle-on-wheels-pg84 1942-11-pop-mechanics-miracle-on-wheels-pg85 1942-11-pop-mechanics-miracle-on-wheels-pg86 1942-11-pop-mechanics-miracle-on-wheels-pg174

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Love Tractor and Hydraulic Lift System

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine • TAGS: , .

Speaking of Hydraulic Lifts, the Love Tractor Company (or perhaps more accurately Love Industries — I’m not clear on the difference) made a lift and also sold a willys-engine powered tractor.

According to the Standard Catalog of Farm Tractors 1890-1980, by C.H. Wendel, Love Tractor offered model J51 that was built around a Willys CJ-2A engine. This may have been a repurposed Empire Tractor, because at least one source suggests Love purchased eighteen Empire Tractors when Empire dissolved. Anyone know more about the ‘Willys’ Love Tractor?


Standard Catalog of Farm Tractors 1890-1980, by C.H. Wendel

Love Tractor also created a hydraulic three-point lift system. At CJ3a.info is a page devoted to the lift. At the Farm Jeep site is a scan of the brochure.


The February 1947 issue of Popular Science has an article on the Love Hydraulic Lift System distributed by Newgren.


There is also an article about the Love system and Newgren in a 1949 issue of Farm implement news – Volume 70 – Page 56.

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Leaping Lena Article from Popular Science

• CATEGORIES: Bantam-FordGP-WillysMA-EarlyJPs, Features, Magazine • TAGS: .

David Silberman pointed out the ‘Leaping Lena’ article from the October 1941 issue of Popular Science (I thought I’d purchased this issue to scan, but apparently I didn’t do that). It’s an interesting review of the prototype jeeps. You also can view the entire issue on Google.


Continue reading

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The Odograph: A Robot Mapper

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine • TAGS: .

An article about the Odograph was published in the December, 1944, issue of Popular Science. At 200 pounds, the Odograph auto-created maps as soldiers navigated towards some objective. I couldn’t locate any records that indicate how many were made (anyone know), but there it appears there are nine jeeps that still have them (based on the latest info I could find). I found a few different references about it over at G503.
1. G503.com Message Forums • View topic – JEEP MOUNTED ODOGRAPH
2. G503.com Message Forums • View topic – Odograph survey
3. 1944 Willys MB Unrestored Odograph Jeep – g503 …

Here’s a photograph of a diagram from an Australia site:

Here’s a copy of the Popular Science Magazine on eBay:
View all the information on ebay

Here’s a link to magazine on Google

1944-12-robot-navigator-popular-science1 1944-12-robot-navigator-popular-science2

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Jeep Sweep in Popular Science

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine • TAGS: .

The December 1949 issue of Popular Science highlighted this unique attachment for the jeep. You can view this article on Google books.

You can also buy the issue on eBay


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Jeep with 2000-Watt Searchlight for Border Patrol

• CATEGORIES: Features, International • TAGS: , .

The July 1956 Popular Science article doesn’t indicate which country ordered this special search light, but this mobile, self-contained spotlight put out some serious light.

You can find this issue for sale on eBay


Continue reading

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June 1943 Popular Science “This Jeep Can Swim” Article

• CATEGORIES: Features, GPA (SEEP), Magazine • TAGS: .

Popular Science published a January 1943 article with a variety of GPA / SEEP pictures, including a nice breakdown of the dashboard (handy for my description of a seep dashboard in my upcoming book).

You can also find this issue for sale on eBay




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Welders on the Battlefield from Popular Science

• CATEGORIES: Features, Industrial-Welder-Generator, Magazine • TAGS: .

Here’s an interesting article in the May 1945 issue of Popular Science about welding on the battlefield that includes several references to using jeeps as portable welding units. There is a copy on eBay for only $5.99. Here are a couple images from the article:



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The Last Chancer: A Jeep Train in Helena, MT

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine • TAGS: , .

The Last Chancer, a wooden train built on a jeep platform, is documented at the Helena History Museum.  You can view additional pictures at the Museum page.  A Last Chance Train still exists, but has been upgraded.

In this early picture taken in 1954 you can see what appears to be a CJ-3B peering out from it’s enclosure.


Here is the Train as of 1957.


The Last Chancer made an appearance in the 1956 issue of Popular Science on page 104:


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Photo of Truck Powering a PTO Saw

• CATEGORIES: Features, Magazine • TAGS: .

The September 1947 issue of Popular Science has this cool picture of a truck powering a saw.

Popular Science – Sep 1947 – Page 111