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.

Willys Restoration Shop List

(updated 12/15/2020)

Here is a list of restoration shops around North America specializing in vintage Jeeps and military vehicles.  If you know of ones not on this list please let me know to add them.

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. Littlestown, PA (just south of Gettysburg). Willys and Kaiser Jeeps and related vehicles.  Occasional Aircooled VW Beetles. 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.
  • Jimmy Strauss Jeeps. El Dorado County, CA. www.jimmystraussjeeps.com I hear nothing but good things, and his customer service is legendary.
  • Mil-Spec. Bob Rabino.  Belvidere, NJ. (908)-475-2799 Long standing top restoration shop doing everything from tanks to Jeeps.
  • Parke Oehme/ Keens Services. Lititz, PA. (717)-629-5844.  parke can work on a wide array of antique vehicles.  I have personally seen difficult restoration work he accomplished on a WW2 USMC Holden type ambulance.  I cannot recommend him enough.
  • Vintage Jeeper : Specializing in Willys/Kaiser era Jeeps. Transmission , Transfer Case , Carburetor and Axle repair/rebuild and parts. We also focus on vintage off-roading with fabrication and welding services. Sal Consalvo ,Perkiomenville,Pa 765-409-9684 , Email: Info@vintagejeeper.com , www.vintagejeeper.com
  • Vintage Jeep Specialties. Brad Gates, York. PA. (717) 846-1963 Longstanding shop.
  • Willys Restoration. Toledo, Oregon.  Everything Willys restored.  (541) 336-5869

Jeeps at Ernie’s

A short while back I posted about vintage Dodge trucks at Ernie Baals’ place.  Now we are going to step back and finish up my visit to Ernie’s with his Jeeps.  The first shot is of a project in his shop.Image

I honestly cannot remember the years of most of them, but I thought folks would enjoy the photos.  The one below was restored by Ernie when he was sixteen and he plans to overhaul it again.Image

Ernie built the Jeep below almost entirely from reproduction parts.  It lasted about 300 miles and chipped a gear.  It sits as of now as a failed experiment and an annoyance to Ernie.Image

If any of you followed or read about our M38 resto rod overhaul (see it here: M38 resto rod ) You know we have seen really screwed up wiring.  Well the Jeep below takes the cake.  I have never seen home lighting switched in a wiring harness.  Kudos to Bubba, you have topped yourself!!ImageImageImage

I had fun sharing stories of Bubbafied Jeeps with Ernie.  He also has found a large amount of old street signs used to rebuild Jeeps.  I started a collection of the street signs we  have removed from Jeeps.

Ernie also has a really nice 1942 GPW that he drives regularly.  I will include it as the grand finale of this post.ImageImageImage

Thanks again to Ernie for helping with the Dodge ambulance project and for showing us around his collection.

Welcome center Jeepster

I saw this Jeepster a few weeks ago driving south on 95.  Coming North a couple weeks ago I made a point of stopping at the Pennsylvania welcome center to see it and take some shots.


I liked how this Jeep was displayed with items representing a wide variety of what Pennsylvania has to offer.Image

Of course I think my favorite thing on the whole Jeepster was the bumper sticker that read,” Scrapple.. The other grey meat” I love Scrapple!!Image

Jeepsters were made from 1948 to 1951. Despite my father’s dislike of their styling I have always rather liked them. I would be happy to take this one on a roadtrip.

They’re still out there

So in December of 2011 we built the GPW “Rarotonga” for International Military Antiques and their TV show “Family Guns”. Yes, we restored a jeep in a month.  It was nuts and involved many nights with little to no sleep. Fast forward and that Jeep is now in Texas with a very happy new owner who found out that his neighbor had a 1942 Willys MB stored in the barn.


This Jeep has spent over 20 years doing farm work and has only minor modifications. The seller is the son of the former owner who was in his early 80’s when he passed.


The price was right and I knew when I saw this that I HAD to find it a new home.  The MB has many original parts and a very original engine bay apparently. You can see it needs some steel work but having the original seats, handles, windshield etc.. all say something to me.


The Jeep has already found a new home in Pennsylvania and I am ecstatic!  When it arrives I will post more pictures.  When I find a home for a vintage Jeep I feel like I am finding a new family for an orphaned pet. 😀

New mechanic technician/ Scrap value

I thought I would combine a couple things in this post.  First off Hanson Mechanical would like to welcome our new technician, John Still.  John has 35 years experience in automotive repair. John began his career at AMC Jeep. His skills extend from frame welding to wiring to custom engine and driveline design and building.  His work is thorough and he believes what we believe; that a job should be done right or not at all.  Welcome John!!

Now for some pictures of free range Jeeps.  The owner is looking for scrap value on these 1940’s CJs (around $400 to $500 apiece).  A couple of them have rather nice bodies and frames.  They do not have titles or drivelines but those issues can be remedied. This first one is very solid and I keep thinking of combining it with a wreck I found that has a good engine and trans.Image

This second one is a very early CJ2A. Sadly it has a huge amount of diamondplate on it and I do not know if it is worth saving.


This last one seems pretty solid and complete.  If anyone is interested in one of these please contact me and we can make arrangements.



The last photo here is the remains of a WW2 Jeep.  It torments me but looks rather cool sitting out in the brush.


Spring is around the corner, the roads will soon be salt free.  Bring your Jeeps in for that spring tuneup or other work you have been postponing.  John loves Jeeps and will get yours in tip top shape.

Onwards and upwards,


Where do I get parts from????

The question I receive the most is where do I get my parts?  Other than a secret underground bunker filled with NOS jeep parts (location to remain undisclosed) the list below is of the main suppliers I use and WHY I use them. Each supplier name is also a link to their website.

I am also adding now some suppliers I have not used but who come highly recommended by other vintage Jeepers.  So, as with the restoration shop list, this is a work in progress.

Army Jeep PartsMV Spares dealer.  Best wiring harnesses and military electric parts out there.  Gillespie paints. US made replacement panels.  George Baxter knows what he is doing and his parts FIT RIGHT. If you want a correct spec radiator that will not overheat, go to him.  If you want an amazing rebuilt transmission or transfer case, go to him.  AJP also carries panels produced by Midwest Military.  These are made in the USA to correct specifications unlike the MD Juan parts.  George is amazingly knowledgeable and a perfectionist.  Some folks want to save a few dollars and wrestle with the consequences.  Save your time, buy from AJP.

Beachwood Canvas: Perfect match civilian Willys paint colors and the best canvas products available in my opinion.  And the ONLY people to go to for seats unless you want to be feeling metal under your butt.  I bought my full canvas set for my Willys MB back in 2001ish, it took 18 years to wear through the seats, and the top (which has been used alot!) is still almost new.

Debella Jeep Parts: Peter Debella has been in this business a long time. Many other parts distributors carry his parts. Great for WW2 Jeeps, M38’s, M38A1’s etc. If you buy it from Peter it is top quality.

Walck’s 4 Wheel Drive:  I use Walcks for a wide array of parts. Walck’s has extensive knowledge of their product line and the vintage Jeeps the parts go to.  They cover WW2 and up.  A family business they are wonderful to deal with and provide reputable quality. I cannot say enough about them. Customer service is fantastic.  Walcks carries many made in the USA parts, and many parts made especially for them.

Kaiser Willys Auto Supply:  Just when I think nobody has a part these folks have it.  Kaiser has a fantastic paper catalog and an extensive line of parts.  Kaiser Willys supports a wide array of Willys ventures as well.

D L Bensinger: East Coast Joe’s Motor Pool parts dealer!!!  I love their new carburetors.  On the east Coast if you need a gas tank, combat rims, handles etc.. go to Darryl.  Also carries MD Juan bodies and body kits.  Double check to make sure he has an item in stock before ordering.

Ron Fitzpatrick Jeep Parts: Ron runs the G503 forum which has been a hobby mainstay since he started it. (note, I recommend him, but I do not order from him much as we have plenty of suppliers on the East Coast)  Fitzpatrick is an amazing parts supplier.  Also use him for rebuilt transmissions, transfer cases, engines etc..  Ron has everything.  Sheet metal is MD Juan as far as I remember though. Also, if you are not on the g503 forum then follow the link to his site and join it.

Midwest Willys.  Harry and Jo sheets.  Original parts.  They dismantle a wide array of Willys vehicles and stock the parts. If you are looking for a part they probably have an original of it.

TM9 Ordnance:  Now owned by Midwest Military. I have not tried them yet but fellow restorers who have say they are the best paint suppliers.

RAPCO Paint and Parts:  Gillespie paints, wider color selection than Army Jeep Parts.

Brent Mullins Jeep Parts: Brent carries a wide array of NOS parts.  Brent also makes rivets for your frame restorations.  They look like original rivets from the top but actually are a type of bolt which breaks off on the bottom after the torque spec is reached.

In the end the best thing I can say is that it does cost money to restore a Jeep.  Use the best parts and you will enjoy restoration, maintenance, and driving of your Jeep so much more.

Have fun!! -Merlin

A beautiful 1947 CJ2A

After my last post had some rusty Jeeps in it I thought I would show you folks a nice one 🙂  I was contacted a while back by a Mr. Finney about his 1947 CJ2A.  I picked the Jeep up on December 27th and was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the vehicle.  I have yet to see a vintage jeep with a perfect bodytub…. and this Jeep has one!


While there is a very nice floorpan repair, everything else is original.  This is a nice early jeep with quite a few parts recognisable from WW2.  According to Mr. Finney it was owned by a couple fellows in Idaho who only used it at their hunting camp.  They would tow it to the camp, run it for the weekend, and then take it home.  They must have been really careful when running it because there are no dents, dings or cracks in the metal.  Plus there is no sign of BONDO!!

Here is a shot of the Jeep after a bath:


As a very straight jeep we are basically refurbishing it after several other jobs get out.  It will get a brake system going over, new paint, electrical work and we will check out everything else.  I am really looking forward to puttering with this Jeep.

On a side note, this Jeep was originally black and the owner is contemplating returning it to that colour.

If I don’t post before the New Year I wish you all a Happy New Years!!

And, if you are looking for a great place to stay on Prince Edward Island the Finneys have a wonderful victorian house they rent : www.foxrun.biz

Mining the warehouse

Contrary to popular belief I am not dead 🙂  When the weather gets colder the adventures stay closer to home and thus I have less to post.

I took a journey today to a friends place where he is working on clearing out and organising an old warehouse he has.  It was alot easier to see the vehicles with less packed in around them.  Below is a Ford GPW. My friend has around 20 acres covered in vintage Jeeps (civilian and military) as well as a variety of other military vehicles mostly from WW2.


Next to the GPW sits a WW2 Dodge Weapons carrier.  It is still running despite its patina.ImageImage

In a back corner sits this very sad Jeep.  There is not much to work with here.  The grill and headlights look salvageable though.Image

Happy Holidays everyone!!

A “Bubbafied” Jeep

Here in the US we find many Jeeps that were altered in interesting ways to keep them on the road.  We call Jeeps with odd customization “Bubbafied”, a sort of joke about the man in the backwoods with a welder and a bunch of broken parts trying to keep his Jeep going.  Last year I picked up the ultimate Bubbafied Jeep in Virginia.


This 1942 Willys MB had seen some tough times and Bubba did his best to keep it going.  My first and favorite repair was a wrench welded to the frame.  This was to hold a broken spring in place.  Look closely in the photo below.


The interior was a bit of a shambles as can be expected.


Another interesting Bubbafication was the garden hose wrapped around the homemade spare tire holder.  My friend, Bill, and I stared at the hose for a while trying to figure it out.  Finally I realized that there was an air valve in the hose held in place with zip ties.  The garden hose ran to the rear shocks which were pressurized.  I wonder if this ever worked?


The final and most glorious Bubbafication was the Ford Pinto engine.  Apparently this was a somewhat common conversion.  It seemed to fit nicely without needing to raise the hood.


I will finish off with “An Ode to Bubba” by Jon of Jeepdraw.com

“Just remember Bubba in your Prayers. …Bubba (Earl or Fred… he goes by many names) stands just behind the guy who stored his old jeep in a nice dry spot in some far flung shed, ready for some aspiring restorer to come along and fall in love and bring the “old girl” back to original……On the other hand, you have those who left the “old girl” out in the rain, snow, dust and mud, and she slowly rusted away so no one could restore it…..Then you have Bubba, a giant of a man, he kept the jeep going all those years with bits of wire, angle iron, do-hickeys, and “add on’s”, modifications, slap happy welds, and the good Lord only knows what else. BUT!!….what he did was save it for the adventurous restorer to remove all those things….so next time you pick up an old wreck Bubba has played with, be thankful. it could have been far worse….Raise a glass of frothy stuff to Bubba, the unsung hero of the jeep….no matter how much we loath his handiwork…without him, half of us wouldn’t have a jeep today. ‘

So “Thank You Bubba“…you saved a jeep for me.
Jon “