Posing with planes

I finally (after a couple months of chasing various gremlins in the vehicle) delivered the Jeep from the last post to Andover Flight Academy on Saturday. The owner, Damian DelGaizo, teaches using restored vintage aircraft as well as a couple newer planes.  He even flies a beautiful Boeing Stearman trainer from WW2.  Now they have a vintage WW2 Jeep to match it.  Here is a shot of our arrival.

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After I unloaded I saw one of the vintage planes take off.  You can see it landing in the background of the photo below.

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Most of the planes were out of the hanger soaking up the sun.  I was able to take photos with the Stearman and the Piper J-3 Cub.  Both of these are in remarkable condition.

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This Jeep is in a perfect home at a vintage airfield.  The office of Andover Flight is both a museum and a step back in time.  There was quite a collection of photographs and even artifacts from historic flights.  Andover Flight Academy is definitely the place to take lessons if you are anywhere near Andover NJ.  The location is amazingly scenic and Damian obviously has a dedication to the preservation of our aviation history.  I find it all the more impressive that he uses these planes daily. Here is a last photo of the Willys MB snuggled into its new home in the hanger.

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It was truly heartwarming to see Damian out testing the Jeep on the flight-line   This Willys Jeep sat out in the weather, neglected, for many years.  To see it alive and speeding along under the guidance of its new owner made the whole effort worthwhile. I could not be prouder of having restored a Jeep for these clients and I hope it provides them years of enjoyment!

Convoy!!

Enjoy this video 🙂  Convoy video

Oh… wait… wrong type of convoy!!

Sept 15 brought around the annual convoy from Eisenhower Farm in Gettysburg to New Oxford, PA.  Bob Buker has organised this for several years now and we usually pull in 40 or more WW2 vehicles.

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We divide up into companies before hand and commanders receive a detailed WW2 style folder with maps and overlays and more.  Then we gather up the road from the farm around 7:30 am and prepare to head out.  Bob always plans a route that takes us through back country roads with great scenery.  You often feel that the current year slips away and you are dropping back in time.Image

We had several fellows come down from Canada including the piper in the photo above.  Terry Hunter is the piper and he is an officer in the Canadian Army.  The unit we reenact portrays 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.  The Canadian embassy heard about us and sent a representative out to the battle at New Oxford that marks the midpoint of the convoy.  Below is a shot of myself in 1 Can Para uniform.Image

And here is a shot of the center of new oxford through the smoke.Image

On the way back to Eisenhower Farm we encountered an ambush.Image

This went on for a bit and gave the fellows a chance to fire off some rounds.  I am often left wondering what the locals think about this.  I can imagine some guy out on his porch with a cup of coffee and then all hell bursts loose in front of him.  Not even sure what I would think if I did not do this as a hobby.

Sadly my Jeep, Mort, began running rough toward the end of the convoy, but as always he got us back to the camp.  With alot of work I straightened out a few small issues but in the end had to tow him home.  Now he awaits my ministrations.Image

Thanks to my little Jeep for not stranding us!! He is a loyal mechanical companion.

See us on TV!

In December of 2011 Hanson Mechanical rebuilt a 1945 ford GPW for International Military Antiques of Gillette NJ.  The rebuild, and use of the Jeep in a reenactment will be on their new TV show, Family Guns. Below is a shot of the director, myself, and two of the IMA fellows after filming at a WW2 reenactment in January.

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The show premiers in the US next week on the National Geographic channel at 10:00 on September 12th.  The episode featuring our Jeep rebuild is called “I want a Jeep.”  That episode will air in the US at 10:00 on September 26th.  I have an international release schedule as well and will update this post with that information as soon as I have a chance.

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Here is a link to a couple video snippets from the show (not our episode though!)

Family Guns

Enjoy!!

 

Fixin’ a Jeep old school style!

Every now and then an opportunity comes along which you cannot ignore. And sometimes you think about the opportunity and wonder if you should be an intelligent human being and ignore it. Well, we took the opportunity just to say we did it. A customer dropped off a Jeep needing transmission work. I believe he was inspired by the photo below when he told us to flip it on its side if we wanted to.

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During WW2 if you had a bunch of fellows with nothing to do, and wanted easier access for a repair I guess this was an option. I have seen several other photos of mechanics tipping and flipping Jeeps for repairs. Since none of us are young (but we are obviously sometimes stupid) we used a Jeep and winch to bring this Willys MB up on its side.

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Once it was on its side we set about removing the offending transmission from beneath. There are several things one must think about when doing this. First is blocking the engine in place.

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With shims and wood cut to size we set up a “field expedient” set of blocks to keep the engine from falling out. Later we would strap it in place with heavy straps and a 6 by 6 piece of lumber. Here is Mike getting to work removing the transmission.

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Removing the transmission and transfer case gave us alot of time to think about the wisdom of what we were doing. If you had a group of young, healthy fellows you could perform the removal easily. However, installation would really not work this way. You would not have enough control when maneuvering the transmission back in place. At that point we strapped the engine in and decided to lower the Jeep back down. But not before taking some great vintage pictures. Below is a photo of myself after removing the transmission.

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And here is a photo illustrating why we do not let Mike drive the Jeeps 🙂

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What did we learn from this? First off tipping the Jeep did NO damage to the body, I am impressed. I did make sure to drain all fluids and remove the battery before tippping. While as a field expedient this might make work on driveshafts and such easier, it is not a practical method for swapping a transmission. And I must emphasize, PLEASE DO NOT try this at home. We are professional idiots 🙂 Stay tuned as I will be updating this post later with a video of lowering the Jeep.

Making something from nothing

A while back I received a call from Bob at the Air Mobility Command museum in Delaware (http://amcmuseum.org/)  They had restored a WW2 Waco glider and were looking for a Jeep as a prop to park inside of it.  Part of the Waco glider is exposed so visitors can view in.  I realised that I had a very sad Jeep here which needed a home.  Below is a photo of my friend, Julian, sitting in the sad Jeep. (Yes I do have friends!! :P)

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Sad Jeep had a wide array of issues.  From concrete floors to this rather interesting set of guages in the dash.  Anyone recognise them? Sad Jeep had some interesting repairs including front frame horns from a Model A Ford.  Well, I guess this was fitting as the Jeep was a Ford GPW.

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So we set about making Sad Jeep into a display Jeep.  Here is Vlad taking out his frustrations on the concrete floors.

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It became obvious that the original frame was beyond any quick salvage so we put together another frame and axles from stock.

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Then we stablised the underside of Sad Jeep’s tub and installed it on the new frame.

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Eventually Izzy was feeling trapped by the whole project…

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Now we had to put things together and make Sad Jeep presentable.  This involved MANY hours of stripping, sanding, priming and painting.  As Sad Jeep was only for display I opted to use fiberglass for some body repairs.  I never do this on Jeeps that go on the road.

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Soon stencils and more details were added.

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And finally after some finishing touches (including a glovebox door with an original set of Ford GPW dataplates) Sad Jeep was ready to head off to his new home.  I hope Sad Jeep enjoys being at rest in a museum, rather than being thrown away for scrap. We hope to visit him soon in his new home.

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Geeking out over WW2 motorpool tools

Working on the John Barton estate has been an amazing and inspiring learning experience. In our recent adventure I began to think beyond the tools carried on the WW2 Jeeps and wonder more about what was used in the motorpools that kept the massive motorised army rolling. A few years back I began gathering some WW2 British tools. A friend of mine had stroke of luck with a contact in England and received a box or two of WW2 marked British Military tools. I received a handfull of them and put together a small collection in a home-made 1940s era box. With the Barton experience I began putting together the US motorpool tool set. Photos of the two boxes are below.

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The toolbox on the left is an American military one.  The same model toolbox was used for a variety of purposes.  This one is marked signal corps.  But since I already have it I decided to put my mechanics’ kit in it.  The one on the right is a home made vintage box that I have collected some British tools in.  I would love to find a WW2 British toolbox.  Anyone know of any?  Or even what they looked like?

A couple shots of the British tools are below.  They are recognisable by their Broad Arrow stampings.  As Ford put a little f script on all their Jeep parts, all British military items have an arrow on them somewhere.ImageImage

As we sorted through the Barton collection I felt inspired to go beyond the typical tool roll found in the Jeep. Doing some online research I found these posts on G503.com and used them as guides: http://www.g503.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=202399                                               http://www.g503.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=111970&p=1212394&hilit=winefamily5#p1212394

Using the G503 posts I set to scrounging in my workshops.  I work with mostly vintage tools as it is so finding tools that were at least close to what should be in the box was not hard.  Going through my grandfather’s tools, and items given to me by a WW2 mechanic (who was running an autoshop fulltime up through around 2004) I found most of what should be in the box.  A couple ebay scores and some fine tuning through the Barton collection items brought the box to pretty near full.  I customised the tools by adding in specialty tools I use for Jeep repair.  And yes, some tools are not exactly what should be in there (ie the ancient Husky ratchett) but they do serve the purpose of another tool that would have been in the set.  Here are some shots of the box.

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Some details I particularly love about this tool box and collection are the following: a government stock number marked Irwin screwdriver, the small ratchett set, the correctly marked array of Williams and Barcalo wrenches, the fact that the tool tray has a hole in it for the oil can to stick through, and more.  I have many more small items to find, and other tools to replace with more authentic items as I find them; but this is a good. working toolbox that I look forward to using.

If any of my readers have photographs of WW2 American or REME motorpools, can recommend a good book on motorpools, know where to find British tools or toolboxes, or want to share anything else please either email me direct through my website or drop a comment here.  Thanks!!!

-Merlin

Update Aug 26: I started taking the toolkit to my secondary restoration shop.  The Army knew what they were doing when they chose what went into this box.  I was able to do all the work I needed for an afternoon just using tools from this set.

In Ford Tribloc we trust

The fun part of dealing with John Barton’s collection is sorting through all the tools and goodies.  Of course the less fun part was moving it all. John lived in a vintage autoshop that had a two story house above it.  There was a trap door into a basement which I believe originally was a machine shop space and such.  All the engines, axles, and other heavy items were down there.  Thank goodness he had this installed above the trapdoor in the garage.

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This vintage Ford chain hoist made all the work we did possible in a matter of hours.  It slide back and forth on an I beam.  Below is Pete hooking up an engine for lifting.

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The process was slow, but saved our backs.  Without the hoist we would never have been able to empty the place.

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We managed to remove all the big items by the end of Saturday morning.  We actually had two pickups and a Uhaul packed by Saturday afternoon.  Below is a photo of Izzy celebrating the last of the engines being loaded in our rental truck.

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If you want to see the hoist (and us) in action click here to view a video I uploaded:

http://youtu.be/CbEYtU9HspY

Sorting the artifacts

After a whirlwind weekend that involved hours on the road, loading trucks, unloading trucks and more, we are now sorting through the finds.  It’s interesting how many more items begin to pop up as we sort through box after box.  John Barton specialised in WW2 tools for Jeeps and we have made many finds in that area.  My friend, Pete, is still sorting wrenches.  There are Vlchecks, Barcalos, Fairmounts, Williams and more.  Initially we did not think we had any Irwin screwdrivers but after some sorting you can see what we found below.

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The top two have “Irwin” printed on the wood handles.  The next two down have Irwin and Gov. Stock # 41-S-1076 on them.  The rest say Irwin US of A.  Need a screwdriver for your toolkit???  Next we have a trio of original, early fire extinguishers.  Initially in our sorting we only found two restored green extinguishers.  But some more exploration today yielded the items below.

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Amongst some smaller, very cool finds were these NOS sparkplugs.

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We are slowly putting together WW2 Jeep toolkits with original tools and canvas tool rolls.

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Another neat small find was this original Ford GPW generator repair kit.

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And there is still much more to sort, tools and parts of course!!

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Vintage pedal cars

I have gathered up some photos between the spring Carlisle show and the Aberdeen proving grounds show.  I love vintage pedal cars.  But I am willing to admit that I own FAR too much stuff, so I am happy to take pictures of some neat toys instead.

The first one is (I think) a 1920s’s Gendron pedal car.  My friend Mike spotted and identified this one at Carlisle.  It was all original and the paint was aged perfectly.  The fellows selling it said their father had brought it home and they had played with it as kids.  Obviously they played nice for it to be in this condition.

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This next one spotted at Aberdeen is a modern take on the WW2 Jeep.  These bodies are readily available and can be mounted in a variety of ways.  Recently I saw one beautifully done on ebay with a matching tiny Bantam trailer.  The seller wanted $10,000 though!!  I believe he was smoking crack.  For that much you can get a rather nice WW2 Jeep and take your children for a ride in it!  The cool thing about this one was that it was mounted on a lawn tractor, and it used an old military oil can as a “jerry can”  The can also was the fuel tank.  The builder also used a full size seat from a WW2 Jeep, so an adult could toddle about on this.  I would not mind throwing a mower deck under one of these to use on my mini farm.

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Our final entry for today is a nice vintage Jeep pedal car with great original paint.  I could picture my twin nephews in this.  Sadly I did not have $650.00 to throw at it though.  This one was also for sale at the Aberdeen, Maryland Military Vehicle meet.

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Frames rebuilt

This past week was all about frames.  Bobby cut and straightened the frame on the veteran’s Jeep, and then we moved on to finishing another project.  Jim is working on a WW2 Jeep with his father.  We are doing the major metal work and then they are doing assembly.  This weekend marked the end of the frame phase of the project.

This Jeep shows signs of an interesting history that I wish we knew more about.  It came from out west and was subjected to many Bubbafications.  Prior to Bubba it was modified in WW2 for a machine gun mount.  Dig that groovy pipe bumper on the front!!

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The frame required MANY repairs.  First off, the obvious removal of the huge pipe bumper on the front, then the removal of an extreme lift kit added in.  The rear needed to be completley redone and the front frame horns and shackles replaced.

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Meanwhile the engine went to Jim and his father, Dale.  Sadly the first engine turned out to be a former industrial engine with MANY issues as well.  I am sure the Bubba who attacked this vehicle with a complete lack of any mechanical understanding will reside in a special hell designated for those who anger the Jeep god.  The engine was re-sleeved, but the cylinders were completley bored out so the sleeves shifted.  This was one minor issue among many that destroyed that engine.

Another Bubba issue was the special springs he had installed. (you should have seen the huge Mudder tires and wheels that were on it too!!) Bubba cut the original threaded shackles off the frame, then drove bushings into their hollow cores.  I spent several hours with my torch and a wide variety of tools I invented trying to unthread the remains of the old shackles to no avail.  Plus the springs could not be used as correct shackles would not fit in them.  We ended up having to replace the rear shackle mounts on the frame also due to this issue.

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As Bubba’s amazing work continued to try and blow the budget on this project we scoured my spare parts piles and pulled items together to make correct repairs without burning our friend’s wallet.  Happily the whole frame came together, we salvaged some springs, and we were able to send Jim and Dale off this Sunday with a frame unrecognizable as what we began with.  All praise the Jeep gods!! (and Bobby’s welding skills)

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Now we will move on to the tub restoration (one of four tubs in the lineup)  The tub is very cool as it shows signs of once having a passenger side machine gun mount.  The glovebox is cut and welded in just the right spots so Jim is searching for the appropriate mount.

Onwards and upwards!