I'm still waiting for my rear springs to show, got a call from the seller, a week delayed on leaving Arizona, but who is whining? I've got a body to prep for paint! The reproduction BEMAK tub was coated in a gray sealer to protect it from the salt air encountered during container shipment from the Philippines. Given the fact the sealer was sprayed on thick over un-prepped, flash rusted metal without regard to runs and sags, I couldn't trust that it would not chip or bubble if I painted over it. I'm left with the task of removing this sealer by applying a chemical stripper making sure to keep it away from the seams where it could dry and reactivate when the solvent from the paint got on it, potentially flawing the paint job. To remove the sealer from the seams and areas the chemical stripper couldn't get to I used my pressurized sand blaster and 80-grit industrial quartz (a.k.a. silica sand). As you can see from the picture, the chemical stripper did a great job, blistering and removing huge sections like a piece of latex and the blaster easily took care of cleaning out the seams.
After blowing out the sand and vacuuming it for what seemed like hours, I "scuffed" the entire tub with 220-grit sand paper or a fine-grit wire brush wheel on my drill to smooth out the surface pitting from the sand blaster and to further aid primer adhesion to the metal. I wiped-down the surfaces with xylene thinner on a lint-free cloth and finally wiped a tack rag over it once the xylene had evaporated. I used a cheapo Harbor Freight HVLP (Hi Volume Low Pressure) gravity feed paint gun, mixing Gillespie red oxide etching primer 2 parts paint to 1 part xylene thinner. The primer flowed on to the surface pretty well but I got a few runs while figuring out the new paint gun. I found it extremely difficult to reach the hidden nooks and crannys with the paint gun and luckily had some rattle (spray) cans of the same paint on hand to touch-up areas I missed. Here's how it's looking tonight in the garage, pretty well covered with primer. Now I've gotta flip the damn thing over and do the same thing to the bottom side... ACK! I've also got to start measuring, marking and drilling holes for the many handles, brackets, reflectors and other do-dads that bolt to the tub.
The chassis is complete, the axle shafts, rear driveshaft and brakelines have been installed. Now it is time to see if that reproduction body fits like it's supposed to. Being a one man operation, I carefully lowered the body on to the frame using 12 plastic milk crates, some various sized wood blocks and two 2x4 studs. With the body suspended on the 2x4 studs with 3 milk crates on each corner for legs, I carefully rolled the chassis under it and began to carefully remove milk crates one-at-a-time, substituting stacks of wood blocks. It took a little patience, but I was able to jockey the body around to clear obstacles like the machine gun mounting plate and get it aligned. I was pleased that the fenders bolted right on perfectly, considering I had to restore the mounting holes I got really lucky! So as you can see, a bit more stripping, blasting and priming on those front cowl pieces and some olive drab paint, running the wiring and fuel lines, and we're ready to mount the body permanently.
The bottom of the tub is complete! All the mounting holes have been drilled, olive drab paint applied, the fuel line plumbed, the wiring harness to the tail lights and trailer socket installed and the firewall mat mounted behind the dashboard and ready for painting. Looks like you could almost eat off it doesn't it? So next comes painting the top side of the tub and wiring up the dash instruments and switches before perminently mounting it on the frame. I'm starting to feel like I'm assembling a big model kit now... what's that old saying "The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys!"
The body tub is painted! Now to wire up the dashboard instruments and mount it on the chassis permanently. I have a few things to do to the drivetrain before final assembly, like lube all the grease fittings and fill the transmission and transfercase with gear oil but that shouldn't take long.
After a short vacation, boating in the San Juan Islands, I'm back at work on the jeep. The wiring on the firewall and behind the dashboard is installed and all the instruments are hooked-up, rotary light switch, dash lights, choke and throttle cables, starter and ignition switches, fuel tank sender wire and the gas pedal hinge are installed and I'm almost ready to mount the body on the frame. Just about every hole on the repro tub was just a hair too small and had to be enlared with a file, drill or Dremel tool, better too small than too big, eh? Still need to make a few final tweeks to the frame and lubricate everything while it's easy to get to and then on it goes!
Well, once again proof that one guy, 12 plastic milk crates and a couple 2x4 studs can mount a body! So it's back together after nearly 7 months of work... perhaps it won't be taken apart for another 50 years? Ha!
Now comes the detail work, measuring and drilling holes and mounting the numerous pieces. Thank God for Jon Rogers and JeepDraw or I would be shooting in the dark. It is a good thing that I have two jeep bodies to look at to verify the JeepDraw measurements just as a sanity check. I used white butcher paper and my drafting table to create the hole drilling templates, then taped them to the side of the jeep itself. To check that the holes would come through the sheetmetal in the appropriate location BEFORE drilling, I fabricated a big caliper (lying on the floor in the photo below) using ½" plywood and screws as the contact points. Using the caliper allowed me to center holes on bracing channels on the inside of the tub and maintain the factory appearance if the locations were not exactly in sync with the repro tub's "U" channels. The idea was to make it look correct, even if it was off by a little bit (+/- 3 mm). A 3' piece of 3/4" x 3/4" aluminum "L" channel angled stock and magnets proved handy in positioning the drawings:
I started with the dashboard, mounting the glovebox door, data plates. safety strap loops and first-aid kit. Then proceeded with the drivers side; fire extinguisher bracket, mirror bracket, hip crash pad, half-door cover grommets, shovel & axe mounting brackets and side handle. A G503.com acquired trick I used in this process was buying several new, sharp drill bits in each size required as they seem to dull quite quickly on 18-gauge sheetmetal. I also drilled the half-door cover grommet holes 1/32" undersized and custom fitted each grommet hole with a rattail file so the fit was perfectly snug. While this may look like no big accomplishment it took almost three whole days to measure, drill, media blast, paint and mount all these pieces. I plan to proceed counter-clockwise around the jeep so the left-rear quarter panel is next.
The left rear quarter panel and rear of the jeep are complete. All that ramains is the entire right side, which is much less complicated than the left side without the shovel/axe, mirror and fire extinguisher. I have found the radio conduit box that mounts next to the passenger seat and need to get the conduit pipe that runs the power cable to it. I'm down to only needing to blast the seats, windshield, spare tire wheel and gas can using the outside blaster, with September coming the famous Seattle rains will soon follow so I gotta hurry!
With the exception of the radio conduit box that mounts next to the passenger seat, all the hole drilling in the tub is complete and the various do-dads have been mounted. Now I'm test fitting the fuel tank and drivers seat and have placed the Beachwood Canvas Works cushions on the seat to show how nicely they match their hip pads. I got the windscreen and windshield frame sandblasted yesterday and quit when it started raining as I completed the drivers seat frame... jeez, rainy weather already? DANG! So I need to braze a captive nut on the back of the drivers seat frame for the bolt hole thru the wheelhousing, then paint it and attach the cushions. Next comes the restoring and installing the steering column, steering wheel and drag link assembly. I've also painted the windshield frame and will be running that down to the glass shop for a windshield in the next day or two. I'm feeling the need to rattle the engine rebuilder's cage. I don't want the engine too soon that it sits around but within a couple weeks, I'll be ready for it.
The steering box and steering wheel have been cleaned-up, painted and fitted into place. I'm waiting on the ring for the seal that goes at the base of the steering column from Brent Mullins Jeep Parts before I can permanently install it. In the photo, you can also see the 1944 dated, NOS radio conduit box which will have a conduit pipe running to it from the blue tape mark under the passenger's seat. All jeeps left the factory pre-wired for installing radio equipment in addition there were anti-static bonding straps installed all over the body as I will do on this jeep. GREAT NEWS FROM THE ENGINE REBUILDER! He called me yesterday to inform me that all the machining work is complete and he has all the parts on the way. He found all original Ford parts from his sources, including a new oil pump, timing chain and sprockets in addition to valves, valve guides, pistons, rings and such. He was able to get everything for about $700 compared to the typical reproduction parts kits going for around $500. He said that he should have the engine together and ready to install in about 2 weeks.
In the past few days I've completed all the outdoor sandblasting tasks; the seat frames, spare tire combat rim and 1945-dated jerry can. The priming and painting of these parts was completed yesterday. Today permanent installation of the seat cushions, the gas tank, and the drivers and passengers seat frames was completed. I've also completed the plumbing of the fuel lines all the way to the restored 'F'-script fuel filter on the firewall. The windscreen frame has been painted and I have had the glass installed in the windshield frame. I am waiting for a one-piece rubber windshield seal from Brent Mullins Jeep Parts (same order as the steering shaft seal ring) before I can assemble and install the windshield frame on the jeep. Next tasks on the agenda includes painting the hood, fenders and grill and assembling the spare tire combat rim. Soon the only thing to focus on will be the engine which should arrive within a couple weeks.
With the painting of the hood, the blasting and painting tasks are down to the headlight buckets, blackout driving light, front marker lights and windshield mounted gun rack. For now I'm going to focus on the engine and engine compartment components, adjusting the brakes and adding fluid and getting ready to install the engine.