One important factor in achieving the mission statement for this project was acquiring a running jeep which would not require tearing down major drivetrain components and delay or increase overall cost of the project. Ford GPW #265522 was purchased for $1800 over eBay and was retrieved on January 12, 2002 from a garage in Olympia, WA and was said to have been in running condition when it was parked 2 years ago. 2000 license plates confirmed that it was drivable two years ago.
The original data plates on the glovebox door say it was delivered from Ford to the U.S. Government in April of 1945. Ford ceased production of the Jeep in July, 1945. Both Ford and Willys built Jeeps during WWII. Ford stopped at the war's end and Willys switched production to the civilian version, CJ2A.
The engine has a GPW head and Willys block and looks rough on the outside, but it's what's inside that counts!
Well I'll be damned, the seller wasn't lying! After charging the battery, changing the oil and spark plugs and putting a new Solex carb on to replace that problematic Carter carb, it cranked-up and took right off! It doesn't seem to burn any oil, purrs quietly at idle and the clutch, brakes and transmission seeem to be in good order! WOO-HOO! The engine will be replaced with a correct Ford one, more important the drivetrain is in good working order and won't require any major investment in time or money!
While this jeep has a running Willys engine with a block from a later model M-38, the correct Ford built GPW engine I found for it is being torn-down and rebuilt as a parallel project. The GPW engine was found full of mouse nests and hay in a barn over on the Olympic Penninsula and it is locked-up tight but not rusty inside. It has a beautiful "F" scripted head and the right casting numbers so it's worth whatever it takes to have a machine shop go through it to make it correct for this GPW.
Acquiring a jeep needing a new reproduction body was another requirement to meet the mission statement of the project. The cost and time savings of a new reproduction body, as well as the brand new appearance will make a striking, new looking jeep instead of one that looks "restored" upon close inspection. Today my $2400 (plus $400 shipping) BEMAK Jeep body kit arrived by motor freight from D & L Bensinger (see web link section at bottom of the main page). The body kit is FANTASTIC! It includes all the parts, windshield frame, hood, fenders, grill, all the little brackets and tie-downs, glovebox lid, tool box lids, lifting handles and more! It exactly replicates the late WWII Ford Jeep, right down to the brackets for the rifle rack on the windshield frame and scrolls on the rear toolbox lids! Above all it is the same gauge of steel as the original! Side by side, I am amazed at how closely it matches the rusty old original, right down to location of spot welds. It also arrived without any damage, score another WOO-HOO!
Today I removed the old body from the frame and the clean-up and degreasing of the drivetrain was begun. As you can see, there is quite a few pounds of ½" and ¼" steel plate added to the front bumper but the original frame and brackets are in there somewhere!
Here's the frame once I hoisted the body off (by myself) using the shop crane and piano dolly. Here's a tip, remove the steering box and steering column before you start lifting the body, not during like I did!!! Good news, I found the original serial number stamped on the frame behind the left front shock mount and yes, it matches the title and glovebox data plate. I also inspected the clutch and it looks brand new. Degreasing the transmission and transfer case revealed the original olive drab paint. Unfortunately all the emergency brake hardware was removed from the transfer case and will need to be acquired once I figure out which is the correct type (internal or external drum).
I completed stripping the engine and drivetrain components off the frame. My plan is to media blast the entire frame, inside and out before sealing it and painting it olive drab, as original. The next step is using a cutting torch on all the extra iron welded on the front bumper area and the hidious trailer hitch on the back. Luckily Ford used extensive rivets instead of welds so taking components like the back crossmember off will only be a matter of grinding and drilling. Installing new rivets may present a challenge but I'm up for it and have found a supplier, Big Flats Rivet Co. (see web link section at bottom of the main page) that supplies rivets for Ford Model A restorers, which are exactly the same as those used on the WWII Ford Jeep.