Out of barns: ramblings and links

This is a bit off of the usual Jeep and Willys posts.  I think all of us enjoy the mystique of barnfinds.  Whether it be a single car or the occasional horde that appears.  I am going to include links to a couple collections that have appeared in the last 20 years, and one that I can find no information on.  through my shop I often deal with barnfinds in a wide array of conditions.  (We rescued the Willys truck below a few years back and should have it finished this summer.)


The Model A Fords:  This first collection I have no photos of.  If you have heard anything about this collection please update me, it seems to have disappeared quietly.  I used to drive a Corvair panelvan (originally owned by the Pentagon)  One fellow I regularly purchased parts from, Mr. Rose, relayed this story to me.  Mr. Rose received a phone call about what he thought was some Corvairs filled with parts and headed to Pennsylvania with a van to see what might be useful.

corvair in snow 001

When Mr. Rose arrived he found a weathered farm with a battered farmhouse, a huge dilapidated looking barn, a field with rows of every model of Corvair and an extremely harried man dealing with the whole of it.  When Mr. Rose began sorting through the field of Corvairs he found the vans were filled with NOS parts in boxes.  This turned out to be a much larger haul than he expected.

In speaking to the fellow managing the estate Mr. Rose found there was much much more.  “My father hated me,” the man said,” I had to quit my job and move from Michigan to deal with the estate.”  Mr. Rose looked around confused and finally asked what there was to deal with besides the rows of Corvairs and a run down farm.  Then the real story came to light.

Inside the old barn was one of every type of Model A produced.  The father diligently collected each variation of Model A and, if I remember correctly, restored them all.  The harried man explained that Ford was offering around 3 million for the collection.  His siblings then fought over the amount, whether to sell to Ford etc.. etc..  and that was why he quit his job to deal with the estate.

If any reader knows anything about the Model A collection please update me.  I have been trying to track any information on that one for a while.

A.K. Miller:  The next one is the story of AK Miller, whom many barnfind enthusiasts know of.  When I first heard of the collection of Stutz Bearcats hidden in Vermont barns I wondered if it was just a legend (the internet was not as big as it is now).  I ended up talking with a museum curator who was there though, and confirmed not only the cars, but stashes of gold bars hidden under floorboards and such.  The AK Miller barnfind story is told and illustrated well on these web pages.  It could be a movie.


Automotive news & entertainment

And you can even purchase a book of beautiful photos with the full story here:

View The Stutz Stash of A.K. Miller by Nicholas Whitman

Hawkeye:  I found an Instagram page called Hawkeye Homestead containing old photos and beautiful quotes from a man named John, “Hawkeye” Hawkinson.  As many photos showed 1920s automobiles I started looking for more information and found quite a story.  Each photo below links to a different website with more of his story.  I wish I had met him.  Apparently there was even a Chasing Classic Cars episode on his collection.  When Hawkeye passed his belongings were sold as he wished and all money donated.  Look through the great articles and video below.

The Old Motor: great photos and story

Image result for hawkeye homestead cars restoration

Saranac Lake Wiki

A Story in Cars (Great video as well)




2018 Mason Dixon Willys Jeep Gathering Information Page

logo        Logo-Vector-BW-WILLYS  len_stoler_chrysler_dodge_jeep-pic-8045213434384495548-1600x1200offroadjoes     hanson_logo


Coming soon is the 12th annual Mason Dixon show.  This year promises to attract a wide array of vehicles.  Stay tuned to this page for updates, times and locations of the show and associated events, and much more.  Questions should be directed to Merlin Hanson at the following email: merlin AT hansonmechanical.com



The show will STILL be at Union Mills Homestead as in past years


What’s happening when and what day???

October 19th 6pm until ??  Open House at Hanson Mechanical Restorations at 40 North Queen St. Littlestown, PA.

Coming from Gettysburg drive South on 97. After you pass McDonald’s on right start watching for the fruit stand on the right.  Turn right at the fruit stand (Blue star) onto Locust St.  Park in the red star lot then walk across the lane down to our shop which is in a massive brown barn with red doors.

Coming from Westminster go North on 97. Pass through the light in the center of town where King and Queen Streets cross.  Then take your next left at the fruit stand (Blue star) onto Locust St.  Park in the red star lot then walk across the lane down to our shop which is in a massive brown barn with red doors.


October 20th 10am onwards.  Annual Gettysburg battlefield Drive lead by Dee Pierini.  We will meet at the Peace Light on Gettysburg Battlefield (maps and address at this link: Peace Light Memorial).  After our battlefield drive we will gather for beer and food at Appalachian Brewing Company.

October 21st 9am to 4pm:  SHOWTIME.  Stay tuned in case the location changes. Current plan is to remain at Union Mills Homestead, 3311 Littlestown Pike, Westminster, MD 21158.  website: Union Mills Homestead

Show Basics:

  • Cost: Free.  Entry and attendance are free. Donations are happily accepted and go towards show expenses and Union Mills Homestead.  Over the years we have donated over $10,000.00 to Union Mills Homestead.


  • All civilian Willys and Kaiser products are welcome.  No newer jeeps in the judged areas.


  • Military Jeeps from WW2 onwards are welcome, and we love to have any other vintage military vehicles on display.  Those with living history displays are welcome to set them up.


  • Parts fleamarket:  Those selling used parts the fee is $25.00  if you have an awesome day selling we ask you to be fair and throw a bit more towards the show as this is a not for profit event.


  • Vendors:  Jeep related commercial vendors are more than welcome.  We usually ask $250.00 towards the show, and if you sign on early enough we add you as a sponsor and place your logo on the t-shirt.


Sponsors (this section will be updated with logos and links shortly)


PA Jeeps


Len Stoler Chrysler Jeep


Kaiser Willys Auto Supply LLC


Offroad Consulting

Dash Custom Tee’s


Joe’s Jeep Jungle

Hanson Mechanical Restorations




2018 Willys Reunion, Aurora Ohio

This year was my first time attending the Willys Reunion in Ohio, largely due to scheduling conflicts I have never made it.  But when you find out most of the Alaska or Rust crew are attending and you have not seen them for ten months, you fix the schedule!



Alaska or Rust veterans at the Willys reunion

Joe, Emily and I headed out from Maryland late Thursday afternoon after Joe rescued a project car from a mudhole/ hoarder’s house.  First part of the drive was rainy as heck but eventually it dried up and we enjoyed clear roads without traffic for most of the run.  We pulled in to the Bertram Inn and Conference Center just shy of 1am.


Arrival at Bertram Inn and Conference Center


Joe and Emily set up camp

Friday we settled in, caught up with our Alaska or Rust jeep family and took a look at the vendors and vehicles on display.


There were many vendors with a wide array of parts


Three Empire tractors, quite rare and built with Willys drivetrains.


Nice patina CJ2A


Three FC’s gathered together.

Late afternoon the Willys vehicles lined up and we headed out for a BBQ at a local park.  For a bit it seemed like the blind leading the blind but we got there and enjoyed a great meal.


Willys lined up at the park


Mortimer had trouble starting after the BBQ, turned out his electrical contacts were pretty fouled up by sludge over the winter, cleaned em up and he was good again.

After the BBQ the Alaska or Rust gang debated our plan of action and decided to hang out for the evening under the eWillys tent in the show parking lot.  This involved stocking up on adult beverages.  Oddly, many local stores closed at 8 so we went about 20 miles up the road in the rubber duck (Russ’s jeepster) to find our beverages.


Myself, Joe and Russ returning from a successful mission…we even raced some Canada Geese while Joe shouted,” this duck’s got wheels B#$@hes!!  We are silly people.


Just some of Alaska or Rust crew hanging out. Dave, Anne, Kevin and Russ.

Saturday dawned and we had work to do,  The job was to build a brand new Allied engine block into a running engine by the end of the day.  Bob Christy, Scott Gilbert and I had pulled parts from all over (with extensive parts donations from Kaiser Willys, Allied Jeeps, a head gasket from Ron Fitzpatrick G503, and more).  Still, when you have this many over worked people trying to pull together all the right parts some things will come up missing or incorrect.  There was a scramble for correct bearings, nuts and bolts etc.. and by 11am we were rolling.


New Allied L134 engine block


Joe and a few of our helpers

Many folks scrambled to get things we needed and we were even given a donation for lunch.  By mid afternoon things were really coming together.


Rick (AKA Scoutpilot) of Old Jeep Carbs LLC wrenching on the engine

By the end of the day we were pretty well shot but the engine was almost all done.  by 5:30 it was time to quit and go in for the banquet.



The banquet was quite good and for us Alaska folks it was a great time to catch up for a bit and relax.  I managed to get the last of the Alaska or Rust books handed out by the end of dinner.  I still have a handful more to mail.


Cowboy reading his copy of the book


Selfies at the banquet (L to R Cowboy, Tracey, Bill, Anne)

And after dinner the “infamous” Dave Eilers gave his talk on the journey of last summer (and Bill started plotting our next jeep jaunt!)

20180519_204441[1]Despite inclement weather the Alaska or Rust veterans gathered under the eWillys tent after Dave’s presentation and spent the evening being silly, catching up, drunk video chatting our missing members and more.


Joe cooking up hotdogs and bacon around 1am

The show was fantastic, attendance was great with a really nice variety of Willys products at hand.  If you are into Willys this show is a must attend as they put a great amount of effort into organizing it with visible results.

Ordering the Alaska or Rust Book

It’s here!! It’s here!!  Read below to find your options for purchasing the book of the Alaska or Rust 2017 vintage jeep journey up the Alaska highway.

The book is 144 pages, hardcover, 6 by 9 inches, and has about 300 or more full color photos taken by the members of the Alaska or Rust trip.  The book covers the planning, jeep rebuilds and prep, travel from around the country to Dawson Creek, BC and follows the Alaska or Rust trek up to the Arctic Circle and all the way to an unexpected reunion at Teslin Lake when the Alaska Highway was shut down.  If you were not able to go this is your way to own a piece of the journey and peak into what the adventure was like!!

To order, follow this link: Alaska or Rust Blurb Bookstore

Currently the book is $42.00 online, and honestly I only make a couple bucks on it, most of the cost is the printing of it since it is a photo intensive book and is not a large production run.  I plan to have a paperback available by end of June 2018.








Throwing Wrenches Youtube show and Kaiser Willys article

As usual we have a million things going on at Hanson Mechanical (besides freezing to death in the shop.  Pretending you are on a polar expedition working on Jeeps is only so much fun before frostbite sets in……)

Please visit www.throwingwrenchesshow.com to see our new show, meet our sponsors and keep up with new episodes!!  Your hosts are myself, Mike Gardner, and Joe Beadenkopf.  Joe and I traveled with our significant others on the Alaska or Rust expedition this past summer, and Mike Gardner you probably know from vintage Jeep and wheeling circles.


Also visit www.kaiserwillys.com to request a free catalog and see their articles on Alaska or Rust and the full two page interview with myself about the new engines, vintage Willys Jeeps and more.


The Restoration Shop List

I have been meaning to do this for quite a while.  I receive job requests from all over North America due to our website and instagram account being well known.  I then refer those people who contact me to the closest shop.

One thing I love about the vintage Willys and military vehicle community is that all the shops play nice with each other, so I want to make sure those of you with work to be done get to and support your closest restoration shop. (and why pay to ship something a long distance if there is a shop nearby?)

I do not receive any payment for this. So here is a list of restoration shops around the US specializing in vintage Jeeps and military vehicles.

The shop list:

  • Army Jeep Parts. George Baxter.  Levittown, PA. (215) 269-5014 Not only are they my favorite parts supplier, but George has a restoration and repair shop as well.  They do work from highly detailed restorations to repairs.  www.armyjeepparts.com


  • Brian and Carl Cessna. Hanover, PA.  From big to small, if it’s OD green Brian and his father work on them all.  Email Brian at stingaroo499@yahoo.com




  • East Coast Vintage Vehicle, Jason Meade. New Brunswick, Canada.  +1 506-440-1266  Jeeps and other military vehicles. Parts sales and fabrication.  Fantastic sheet metal restoration work. https://eastcoastvintagevehicle.wordpress.com/


  • Hanson Mechanical Restorations. Merlin Hanson. Finksburg, MD. Willys and Kaiser Jeeps and related vehicles.  Aircooled VW Beetles. WW2 Dodge and Dodge M37.  Contact information and our websites are on the top menu of this blog.


  • Henry Welch. Lancaster PA. 717-285-3931 Civilian Willys vehicles, top notch restorations. Also makes parts that are available through Walcks 4wd. http://www.hwwelch.com/



  • Jim Lurba. Northern Neck, VA. 804-529-5192 From motorpool to show pieces he can do anything on wheels. He also has a large stock of parts. Jim has been doing this for well over 20 years and is one of the best out there.



  • Mil-Spec. Bob Rabino.  Belvidere, NJ. (908)-475-2799 Long standing top restoration shop doing everything from tanks to Jeeps.





  • Vintage Jeep Specialties. Brad Gates, York. PA. (717) 846-1963 Longstanding shop.



Turn signals on your WW2 Jeep

There are a variety of ways you can add turn signals to your WW2 jeep.  My favorite involves hiding them in the front marker lights and behind the rear reflectors. My next favorite method is to incorporate them into rear brakelights if you have one on each side (swapping out the passenger side blackout for another brakelight).


A customer recently wanted an entirely different design so we set out and came up with another style of turn signal, this will work only on WW2 Jeeps converted to 12 volts.


The parts we used were a standard 8 wire turn signal switch available from places like Walcks 4wd, bullet style motorcycle led turn signals that we found on ebay, and an led compatible flasher relay purchased from Napa. Make sure to ask for the flasher relay I photographed, standard flasher relays will not work with LED lights as LED do not draw enough current.



Wiring incorporated vintage style reproduction cotton wire where it would be visible, and standard modern wiring underneath and in areas not seen.  All connections were soldered and sealed with heat shrink tubing.  Alot of this  is available at almost any auto parts store.


The creation and installation of the system was simple but took a few hours.  With the turn signal switch comes a basic set of instructions that show you where all the wires and the fuse connect.  You need only to find a 12 volt source to connect to (like on the ignition switch) and the rest of the wiring is independent of anything else on the Jeep.


The nice thing about the motorcycle lights is their wiring runs through their threaded base, so once you drill mounting holes these lights are easily attached without having to make any brackets.



In the end the most difficult parts of this design were finding the right flasher relay and seeking out LED signal lights that looked vintage (ebay is the only place I can find these).  After that it was alot of soldering and running wire and voila, an unobtrusive turn signal system made from modern items.  This is a system simple enough for most folks to be able to install without any particular level of inventiveness required.