“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.

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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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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.

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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!!

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.

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.

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.