Wonders never cease, a new L-134 flathead has arrived

(Continue to check in for updates which will be posted and dated at the bottom of this article. Happy Jeeping! -Merlin)

We are not talking about a rebuilt engine here, we are talking about a brand new fresh out of the foundry L-134 engine block. Yes, really, they now exist. Commence celebrating.

In a story reminiscent of the old days of Jeep an enthusiast has done what he was told was impossible.  New L-134 flathead engines have left the foundry and the first prototype is undergoing testing.

L-Block - Prod - 1

A man with extensive manufacturing experience, John, began wondering a while back about the availability of the flathead engines that drive our ancient Jeeps.  From experience in our restoration shop I can say I often have concerns when a vehicle arrives with a questionable engine.  Many can be saved, but there are many with cracked blocks or issues that require extensive time with a machinist to bring them back to reliability. And I know we all have seen the bumps in the hoods where F heads were installed for lack of a flathead.

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Noting the lack of replacement engines, and the passion in the community for keeping these old flat fenders alive John used his experience and resources and set about doggedly pursuing the goal of making new L-134 blocks again. Having extensive experience with manufacturing overseas he set about looking for a foundry that had the capability to produce this engine in the quality that Jeepers need and expect.

Like any good adventure John was told that his quest was impossible (reminds me of many of our inventors back in the early 20th century!).  No foundry could make the quality engine needed in low numbers.  Factories said the same, they couldn’t do it.  But John worked on and convinced a foundry they could do what he wanted and then set about the backwards engineering of an L-134.

In this process John contacted me and told me of his plans.  To say I was initially incredulous is putting it lightly.  I have met so many people with great ideas but bringing them to fruition is rare.  John came by my shop with an old flathead compressor set up he bought for a testing bed for his engines and I could see he meant business. The result is in the video below.

Test results so far have been the following (from John’s test logs). The engine has been both run on its test bed, and tested under loads in Johns CJ5.

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So far things look good with the new engine!  Now we need to find people to sell it.  When we get enough orders then production can begin.  Pricing will be reasonable and should save you time going to a machine shop, finding out your block has hairline fractures and then searching for a new block.  Any parts dealers who are interested please contact me at merlin@hansonmechanical.com for more details.

To say this is exciting is an understatement.

Update 8/21/16: 

L4-134 Engine Block – READY TO ASSEMBLE – is cast in hardened gray iron. All machined surfaces are milled to original design specifications. Block includes: Valve guides; hardened valve seats for intake and exhaust valves; NPT threaded oil galley plugs, freeze plugs and camshaft expansion plug. Blocks are coated with a rust inhibitor wrapped in protective plastic and are packed with assembly preparation instructions. Each block is individually serialized with the number stamped into the machined deck surface.
– Cylinder Bore: 3.1255″ +/- .0005″
– Valve Guide  Bore Diameter (In & Ex): .374″ +/- .0005″
– Valve Seat Surface Width: .09375″ to .125″ +/- .0005
– Tappet Bore Diameter: .626″ +/- .0005″
– Oil Galley Taps/Plugs:  NPT 1/8″ & NPT 3/8″ – Oil Galley Taps – Tapered.
Update 2 8/21/16
On metallurgy.  The cast iron is upgraded grey iron with higher chromium and copper content and with higher grade iron than the original.  John had an original block sampled and tested.  New is harder and more durable. Seated intakes and exhaust. Nice tolerances on valves straight out of the crate.
On production location.  The engine is being produced in China.  Please note that there are high quality ways and cheap ways of making items in China.  This engine is made in a region that produces many engines for the Japanese auto industry.   Machining is done on CNC machines with tolerances of 10,000th of an inch.
On the process.  The development of this engine has been a hands on process, John has been to China 6 times in the last year working on development of this engine.
L-Block - Prod - 3

The M151 distributor mystery

In the 1970s and 80s my father worked for RCA in Massachusetts.  He started out in the “Jeep barn” designing testing equipment for Jeeps and other military vehicles.

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During this time the Army noticed discrepancies in the motorpool procedures for the M151 and M151 variants.  They ran a study that found an excessive amount of distributors were being replaced in the M151 vehicles.  There did not seem to be a flaw in the distributors though so they were in a quandry.

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My father was visiting a base motorpool one day and talking with a Sergeant.  Dad asked the Sgt. why so many distributors were replaced rather than just replacing the common wear items like the points.  The Sgt. asked my father to follow him to the supply desk.

When they reached the parts desk the Sgt. asked for points for an M151.  The soldier at the desk checked and said they did not have any.  Then the Sgt. asked for a distributor, the soldier ran back into the shelves and brought one up for him.  “This,” explained the Sgt. while holding the distributor,” is why so many distributors are replaced instead of points.”  The issue was not training or laziness, it was what parts were stocked at motorpools.

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(Images are of an M151A2 restored by Hanson Mechanical Restorations.)

April 22 Craigslist finds

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https://frederick.craigslist.org/cto/5470558852.html

1950 Willys Jeep Pickup Truck. $4,250 obo Has xx,xxx miles on the body. Engine has been swapped to more reliable Ford 302. Currently runs and drives. Body was recently resanded and prepped for Black Epoxy Primer. Bed has been done in “Rhino Liner” type material. Lift Kit. New gas tank. Brand new mud/snow tires. Great piece of history. Email me for pictures. I have title.

https://delaware.craigslist.org/cto/5532855164.html

1958 WILLYS CJ5 JEEP. $1,950.00 ALL NEW BRAKES (MASTER CYL., ALL LINES, WHEEL CYL’S AND SHOES). STARTS AND DRIVES GOOD. CURRENTLY USED AS A FARM JEEP, PULLING MANURE WAGON AND FETCHING FIREWOOD OUT OF THE WOODS. MATCHING SPARE TIRE AND CLEAN TITLE.

https://fredericksburg.craigslist.org/cto/5543674772.html

1963 Willys Pickup $2,900.00, has the original 262 6 cylinder super hurricane. Truck runs very good, no smoke, transmission, clutch and 4 wheel drive is good. Needs break work and need floor pans and rocker panels also need door handle mechanisms.

https://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/tls/5524237571.html

$400.00  Hobart gas Welder
300 amp dc welder 4 cylinder jeep engine
Runs great everything works as it should Willys Go Devil engine
NEW Welding leads included

April 18 East Coast Craigslist finds

See actual listings for more information.  Occasionally I will gather up Willys ads I spot on Craigslist from the Mid Atlantic through the North East and post them.

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https://maine.craigslist.org/cto/5510756916.html

1956 willys CJ 6 jeep, this is long wheelbase cj5. 4 cly, complete, runs good, first year of production, working original 6 volt electrical system, body is rough, frame is good, drive train is good. This is a rare, hard to find jeep. Asking $2800 obo. If the add is up it is available, first with cash takes it home.

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https://maine.craigslist.org/cto/5530716568.html

This is a late ’46 CJ-2A with an L-134 Go-Devil, T-90 Transmission and D18 Transfer case. Starts quickly. Runs, drives, shifts, and stops.

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https://providence.craigslist.org/cto/5519220427.html

1948 Willys CJ2A Jeep. Good condition. New wiring, fuel tank and lines, brakes, rebuilt carb, recored radiator, new thermostat, new rebuild transmission, new tires. Runs great. Great beach car or cruiser. All new body work on original body and new paint. Needs wipers if desired and possible brake light sensor. $9000 or best offer.

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https://hudsonvalley.craigslist.org/cto/5544488089.html

1952 Willys M38 Military Jeep Korean War Era
Overall in good condition, runs good.
Great cruiser and a lot of fun to drive.
Asking $9000 OBO
Please give a call if interested, I’m old fashioned please call no texts. Thanks for looking.

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https://jerseyshore.craigslist.org/cto/5543534662.html

Complete 4wd truck decent shape to run as is or restore , motor turns over freely . New distributor and carb , never finished it . Nj title

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https://newjersey.craigslist.org/cto/5544635854.html

This is a very original running Jeep Willys with a Meyer Snow Plow that is removable. Starts and runs nicely. Please call for any questions. Fast sale. See attached picture.

 

 

 

 

 

“For Pete’s sake”

I recived an email a while back from a fellow with a very low mileage CJ3B and a WW2 Jeep.  He wanted me to come and look over the CJ3B with an eye to making it roadworthy again and look over his WW2 Jeep just to let him know what he had.  The result was meeting a wonderful fellow who has inherited a Jeep and a passion for Jeeps from his father.

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The story of the jeeps began back in 1943 when the father, Pete, shipped out with the merchant marine delivering cargoes of Jeeps to Italy.  When they had shore leave Pete would keep a spare rotor in his pocket (in WW2 Jeeps did not have keys so the men would take the rotors out of the distributors to keep Jeeps from being stolen) and he would seek out a Jeep for his weekend on the town.  Pete became very fond of Jeeps during the war.

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When he returned from WW2 Pete bought a 1947 CJ2A, and then in 1960 purchased the CJ3B pictured here.  The 1959 CJ3B came from a quarry where it saw few miles, and it moved to Pete’s 60 acre farm where it roamed the woods and made occasional forays into town. Pete’s sons grew up driving the Jeep around the farm when it was running.

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Over the years the Jeep had many periods of downtime and so with mainly driving on the farm and then sleeping for periods the CJ3B only racked up 1,795 miles.

When Pete passed away his son, Jonathan, spent alot of time sorting out the estate.  The jeep went to him.  As Jonathan put in long hours a friend suggested that when all was said and done he should buy something nice for himself.

Jonathan already had a plan, as his father loved WW2 jeeps so much Jonathan wanted to buy a WW2 Jeep and name it something like “battling Pete” or “For Pete’s Sake.”

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It turned out the owner of his favorite gun shop had just acquired a WW2 Jeep.  Jonathan and he chatted about it and the owner brought the Willys MB to the shop for him to see.  Jonathan said he teared up because the Jeep already said, “for Pete’s sake” on the side.  It was like his father was talking to him he said.

Jonathan offered to buy the Jeep then and there but the owner wanted to keep it a bit longer.  As it goes when things are meant to be Jonathan received a phone call four months later that the Jeep was his if he wanted it.  And you can see how that went!

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The 1943 Willys MB is the nicest I have ever seen.  The restoration was impeccable and it retains its original tub.  Jonathan is the owner of two real gems and I am sure his father is proud of how he carries on this family tradition.

We will be working on the CJ3B to make it roadworthy and reliable and I will post more when it comes to the shop.  I was honored to hear such a wonderful story and see such examples of Jeep history.

9th Mason Dixon Willys Jeep show and Gettysburg tour

Nine years now……nine!!  Thanks to Mike Hardesty for arranging this show 9 years running, almost the entire time I have lived in Westminster, MD around the corner from where the show takes place.  This year the weather was great for us again, both days.

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Saturday we gathered at the outlets in Gettysburg, PA for a battlefield run.  A handful of Willys Jeeps representing the array of models from the 1940s to the 1960s, and a couple newer models, traveled the battlefield for an artillery tour arranged by Mike Hardesty.

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It was a great time to catch up with the regulars and meet some new folks including a couple fellows from North Carolina.  While I have attended the Sunday show for years I never was able to drive in the Saturday tour.  I had fun following a Willys Wagon owned by Bruce Kieta, we overhauled everything mechanical in this wagon last year for him.

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As we drove around the battlefield we made various stops to learn about the type of artillery scattered all around Gettysburg.  And of course this made for some great photo ops.

20151024_134424[1]20151024_143353[1]The tour went on until 3:00 and folks gathered later at 6:00 for craft beer, food and jeep stories.  The weather sounded better and better for Sunday as we kept checking updates. Sunday morning dawned and I pulled our 1941 outside, was met with a quick light rain and then that was it.  With the help of friend Richard Bleser we packed the 1941 Willys and picked some items for sale to load in Richard’s truck then off we went.

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There was the usual wide and colorful array of early jeeps.

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And some new and different ones including this 6 wheeler, number 9 out of 13 prototypes made.  It was brought by Oliver Davis who is interested in selling it.

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Another neat vehicle for sale was this 1959 CJ5 with 8,000 original miles.

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We had “Mortimer”, our 1941 set up with British equipment and tools beside other military Jeeps. (this shot was before everyone else rolled in)

mortimer

And among the military Jeeps was this midget built and brought by Bill Shaw.

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A really interesting piece this year was the Empire tractor, these were built with Willys engines and drivelines.

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In the words of one of our North Carolina visitors, this is a “down home” type of show.  And it is a wonderful way to wind down the Jeep season.  Thanks to everyone who organised the gathering, and everyone who came.  I am already looking forward to next year.

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9th Annual Mason-Dixon Willys Jeep Gathering

9th annual

9th Annual Mason-Dixon Willys Jeep Gathering
Sunday October 25, 2015 (10:00 am – 3:00 pm)
Historic Union Mills Homestead
Westminster, Maryland 21158

Bring your vintage Willys (or Kaiser) Jeep to historic Union Mills Homestead for this special gathering! Civilian and Military Willys Jeep vehicles are welcome and encouraged to attend! (MB, GPW, CJ2A, 3A, 3B, M38, Forward Control, Willys Wagons, Jeepsters, Willys Pick-ups, etc.) 5 Trophies to be awarded, including Best Work in Progress!

Where: Historic Union Mills Homestead 3311 Littlestown Pike (MD route 97 north) Westminster, MD 21158.
(7 miles north of the City of Westminster, MD and 17 miles south of Gettysburg, PA.)

General Information: This free, annual event is for Willys Jeep owners, Jeep enthusiasts, and the general public to share information and view a rapidly disappearing piece of American automotive history! Union Mills Homestead is a beautiful park setting rich in Civil War History, so be sure to take the tour! Pit Beef and refreshments will be available!

Gettysburg Battlefield Run: For those interested in making this a weekend event, we will hold a Gettysburg Battlefield run (paved surfaces) on Saturday October 24th (Day before the Show), weather permitting. We will meet at 12:00 noon at the Gettysburg Outlets (US 15 and PA 97) by the theater complex. After the Battlefield run, we will meet at a local restaurant / tavern for food and drink, and the opportunity to tell Jeep stories!

Registration & Questions: For more information or to register your vehicle, send an e-mail to admin@jeepchasm.com with the type of Willys vehicle you will be bringing. If you need a place to stay, we can recommend several Motels and Hotels.

Sponsors: Len Stoler Dodge Chrysler Jeep, Know Where 2 Jeep, Hanson Mechanical, PA Jeeps, BTW Off-Road, Off Road Consulting, Quadratec,Jeepchasm.com