So you want an early Jeep??

Every now and then I receive an email from someone who loves the look, feel and sound of the early Jeeps, and would like one to tool around with reliably and keep in their garage.  And they are a nice, reliable antique vehicle to have as any Jeeper reading this knows.

Well I received another one of these emails a couple days ago and started to reply and then realized I may as well write the reply up as a brief primer on early Jeeps.  I am sure this will replicate what many folks have written, and if I am wrong about something then for the love of all that is good and holy please correct me.  But this is just a very basic piece to introduce those who are thinking of an early Jeep to their various options, the costs etc..

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The WW2 Jeep (MB/ GPW)

These were made from 1941 to 1945.  Willys Made the MB, Ford made the GPW with the goal for all parts to be interchangeable.

They are darn cool and everyone wants one.  The reenactors want one so they can carry their gear, maybe mount a machine gun and drive in reenactments and parades.  Plus they fit in a regular garage unlike a half track or a truck.  The military history buffs want them for similar historical reasons and so they can drive a piece of the machine that helped win the war.  The Jeepers want one because it’s the first Jeep.

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What does this mean?  They are expensive as heck.  When folks approach me about restoring one I usually work with them to find an older restoration that we can overhaul and make new and spiffy again.  This can cost less than shelling out upwards of $15,000 for a really nice one.  (and definitely costs less than a $25,000 or more restoration).

So we know they are cool and expensive.  Happily due to their popularity almost everything is available for them.  The main downside I find to them is the somewhat finicky T-84 transmission though once they are rebuilt right and settled in they seem to do quite well.  Another issue I run into is the fuel system which involves many connected lines and hoses which allow for leaks to sneak in and then you lose fuel to the carburetor.

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The CJ2A 

These were the first production civilian Jeep built from 1945 to 1949.  They do not have all the grab handles, tool mounts, jerry cans and other such bells and whistles.  But you can add power takes offs as they were designed to run all sorts of farming implements  (as shown in this video with friend Mike Hardesty’s Cj3A)

They are down to earth utilitarian machines which are the same amount of fun off-road as a WW2 Jeep.  As the first civilian Jeep these are quite popular, and the black model pictured is a somewhat early one with parking lights inset into the grill.

The CJ2A’s have the T-90 transmission which is bulletproof.  They are simpler than the T-84 and a bit easier to work on.  The fuel system is simpler too providing a more reliable feed with less lines and hoses bopping about through the engine compartment.

A CJ2A in nice shape can run around $5,000 to $10,000 depending on what you are looking for.  Many folks modify these as well for off roading like this one restored and modified by Mike Gardner.

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The CJ3A

The CJ3A was the next modification of the flat fender running the same four cylinder engine.  These were produced from 1948 to 1953. There were some changes for growing Americans like the seat was moved a wee bit further back.  And there was an air vent in the windshield!! (this is far more exciting if you have a top and doors on the Jeep).  A fun slightly customized example is Dan’s CJ3A.  The prices on these run similar to the CJ2A’s

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The M38

This model was produced from 1950 to 1952. This was the last military version of the Willys Jeep using the venerable and reliable L head flat four.  These have the desirability of being a military vehicle, and the reliability of the flat four and the T-90.  Due to the dual desirability factor prices on these can run similar to the prices of WW2 Jeeps.

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They have a slightly different dash than the CJ3A, and they do have a bunch of the cool wizbangs and gadgets you expect on a military vehicle (tool mounts, special light switch, handles etc..).  M38’s were produced as a 24 volt vehicle but many that you find nowadays are converted to 12 volt.  The engine compartment is more complicated than a CJ3A as there were modifications for military specifications.

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Parts are readily available for all of these models through a variety of specialty companies. Around the country there are several early Jeep shops that can help you restore or maintain your flat fender.  Thus the parts and support are out there.

Whichever model you choose, they are great fun to have, and like no other classic car.

(in the shot below are Henry Welch’s and then Bill Reiss’s Jeeps with my 1941 in the mix on an outing)

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8th Annual Mason Dixon Willys Jeep Gathering

This show has become such a part of the year for me that I keep thinking it has gone on for much longer.  Mike Hardesty had the idea for this show after attending the Great Willys Picnic and realizing that there was nothing like it in our area.

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There was quite a lineup of Willys Jeeps in all conditions from fully restored to as found condition. Seth King’s CJ2A with an awesome dually rear caps off this row.

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One of my annual favorites, an orange Jeep, belongs to Dan Lorenz.  I love the Jeep because of the story behind it. This was a jeep that he and a friend owned back in the 1970’s, he has photos of them taking it hunting out in Colorado.

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They sold it in the early 1980’s probably expecting to never see it again.  Then a few years back his buddy was at a farm auction and a vintage Jeep was on the listing.  He found it with a tree growing through the floor, and recognized the modifications he and Dan had made.  (not the tree of course!)

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IMG_1466Dan did a wonderful job of bringing the Jeep back to life and brings it to the mason Dixon show as well as the All Breeds jeep show in York, PA.  He has even taken it back out west and photographed in locations he took shots of it back in the 1970’s.

Kyle of East Coast Willys brought his FC again and this time it had friends.

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Bill Reiss of Limestreet Carriage drove the red one all the way from their shop in Lancaster, PA.  At the end of the day the Limestreet crew lined up their Willys vehicles and headed home with the FC in the lead.

There were a good amount of parts vendors this year, new parts as well as many folks with used restorable parts for a variety of projects. Over by the parts vendors was this CJ6 with only 3600 miles on it.  Sadly the low mileage did not preserve the body of the Jeep. (This is what I was told at least.)

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IMG_1452There was a nice array of military vehicles.  I had my battered slat grill out for the day and it had some WW2 buddies to hang out with along with a recently finished M38.

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I set out a display of original dealer literature and posters along with this display of new old stock tools from WW2.  The pliers, adjustable wrench, and hacksaw all came from a fellow who served as an Army mechanic in WW2 through Korea.  When he left the service they gave him a toolbox packed with n.o.s. tools. And yes, that is an original drain plug tool.

IMG_1456I was extremely proud of our friend and volunteer shop assistant, Peter Tata. he worked his butt off to put together the rolling chassis of his Ford GPW to show in the projects section.

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IMG_1447As always it was a wonderful gathering of the jeep family.  I had time to chat with old friends and make new ones like Roger Martin who was in the area to work on an ancient Caterpillar grader.

The weather treated us well and the jeeps sat warmly in the fall sun.  Any proceeds from the show are donated to Unions Mills Homestead who graciously host us every year.  Money was also put aside for fellow Jeeper Glenn Harrington who had a stroke last spring.  It will be a happy day when we see him at a show again.

If you have not made it to this show yet, make sure it is on your schedule for next year.

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Mason Dixon Jeep gathering 2013: The CJ’s

This past Sunday I attended my favorite Jeep show of the year. The Mason Dixon show is only a few minutes from my house in Westminster Maryland. Below are the show winners for this year.Image

Most Jeep shows this year have had a few less attendees.  We had a couple less Jeeps this year but the showing was still fantastic.  Mike Hardesty did a nice job not only of organizing the show, but of arranging for beautiful weather. The showing of vintage CJ’s was wonderful bringing out a colorful array of restored and unrestored Jeeps.Image

Mike Hardesty’s yellow CJ3A begins the line in the above photo.  The orange one belongs to Dan, it has a heck of a story.  He and a buddy used to take it hunting in Colorado in the 1970s.  They drove it, modified it and in the 1980s sold it.  Dan’s friend found it for sale with a tree growing through it at a farm auction a few years back.  It made its way home to Dan and his family and has been out hunting again since.Image

The Jeeps I like the most are well loved, well used and unrestored.  The nice example below is a former brush truck.Image

My favorite was this 1946 CJ2A barnfind brought by Lime Street Carriage, LLC.  It had been off the road since 1971.  A basic mechanical going over brought it back to life and the road again.Image

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Mike Gardner’s 1945 CJ2A was present as well.  Look for Mike on youtube if you have not seen his offroad videos.  Mike brought this CJ back to life from being a total rustbucket, and drives it like it was meant to be driven.  I know I drive my 1941 alot, but I believe Mike has me cleanly beat.Image

Below Mike imparts Jeep wisdom to my friend and assistant, Peter.Image

One of my favorite Jeep creations at the show was this chair brought by Kyle of East Coast Willys. I must make one of these… sadly I gave away alot of my spare Jeep grills.Image

Keep an eye out for my next post, I will cover the Military lineup from the show and the trucks and wagons that attended.  until then, drive your Jeep!!!

-Merlin

Jeeps at the Rough and Tumble

Every summer I try to make it to the Rough and Tumble Engineers Historical Association in Lancaster, PA for their annual Threshermen’s Reunion.  This is a gathering of steam traction engines (giant tractors!!), antique engines, antique cars and anything ancient and mechanical.  This year we packed the car and a few of us made the trek to mechanical mecca.ImageAmongst the ancient mechanical marvels there were of course… Jeeps!! The first one we saw was driven by Henry Welch of H.W Welch Co.ImageWe enjoyed chatting with Henry about the Jeep he was driving, and sharing restoration stories.  The Jeep he was driving belonged to a customer and had been in their family for a few generations.  It was interesting trying to talk as a steam tractor punctuated every sentence we uttered with its whistle. After talking with Henry for a bit we wandered on. And discovered a couple M151’sImageImageThe first one was sitting by a back fence near the flea market.  The second one was out and about.  John spoke to the owner and found it was (I think) a 1964 Ford.

There were small Jeeps as well, we stumbled into this beautiful pedal car and the very detailed Bemak mini Jeep in the flea market. The Bemak had a minor incident right in front of me when its front right wheel fell off. Happily the owner found a new snapring and had it rolling around within short time.ImageImageWe found a display of agricultural Jeeps inside the main showgrounds.  This CJ2A was the first to catch my eye.ImageAnd this red CJ2A is at many shows.  I last saw it at the York PA All Jeeps show.ImageThe final Willys we found was not a Jeep, but it was really the Piece de Resistance.  This was a 1929 Willys dump truck.  The owner said he has six figures in the restoration.  The truck was perfectly done and one of less than five in existence.ImageNow that I have given all the Jeep folks their fix we will have photos of the various mechanical oddities of the Rough and tumble in the next post.

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.

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

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

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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,

-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!

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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:

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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

13th annual Great Willys Picnic

This past Sunday was the Great Willys Picnic held this year at the WK&S Railroad (http://www.kemptontrain.com/) in Kempton, PA.  This was my first time attending and Hanson Mechanical was one of the sponsors.  After getting very lost (my fault!!) I made it there by noon.  When I signed in I was the 63rd Jeep to arrive.  Just after me another WW2 Jeep showed up.

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The lineup of Military Jeeps was mostly MB’s and GPW’s, all nicely restored.  Along with an M38 or two in the mix.  I loaded my Jeep up with the usual British/ Canadian Para equipment including the BSA folding bicycle on the front bumper.  MIne was the “beater” of the lot.  Every five years or so it comes time to tear my Jeep down and redo it.  I think it is coming time for a new paint job.  I figure if you have a Jeep drive it!!  It will not remain pristine that way but it will feel loved.

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The selection of civilian Jeeps was quite varied, from CJ2A’s to forward control Jeeps.  Quite a few Jeeps were there with pto’s and the various accessories.  I will include photos of those in my next posting.

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Since we were at a vintage railroad many of us opted for a train ride.  I was wandering around when I received a call from my friend, Mike Hardesty, of jeepchasm.com  He was on the train and so I ran down and bought a ticket just in time for a ride.  The train went through a village maintained by the local Historical Society, and on down a few miles of line.  The cars were well maintained and it was a fun trip.

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I cannot recommend this event enough! At the end of the day we took several Jeeps for a convoy around some local roads.  The location was wonderful, the WK&S were great hosts and the array of Jeeps and vendors was fantastic.  If you like vintage Jeeps then this is a show to attend.  It will be at the same location next year and should once again be the second weekend of June.