Mission Statement: To merge all my best parts from my 1945 and 1943 Ford jeeps to build an entirely WWII wartime manufactured, all 'F'-script drivetrain, pre-D-Day 1943 GPW in combat configuration with a mounted .50 caliber machine gun (a dummy one of course)and period correct European theater field modifications.
=== 1943 GPW PROJECT JOURNAL (ENTRIES IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER) ===
Here's the next jeep restoration project arriving home towed behind my 1989 Ford F-250, it's a 1943 GPW, SN #117620. In addition to matching frame and glovebox data plate numbers, it's much more complete and original than my first GPW and mechanically sound. The previous owner added the star and bumper decals to dress it up for sale on eBay. Since he was a friend of mine, I had already inspected the jeep before bidding on it and I wanted to make sure my friend got a fair "market price" for his troubles. He had recently discovered, purchased and retrieved the jeep, along with two others, from the high desert of eastern Idaho and it's in amazingly rust-free condition. I'm looking forward to building a "combat motorpool" class restoration from this authentic pre-D-Day, mid-series production model, making sure to not make it too pretty so I can use it off-road occasionally.
After checking the fluids and slapping on a new, out-of-the-box Solex carburator, the jeep fired right up and it runs and idles very quitely without any tell-tale oil-burning smoke. The clutch and transmission work great and it easily backs-up my steep driveway without any problems. The engine looks to be out of a post-war military generator, indicated by a Willys Industrial marked head and 6-blade fan. I plan to restore a period correct Ford GPW engine that is sitting on a dolly in my storage shed.
So far I've got the dummy Browning M2HB 50 caliber dummy machinegun (assembled from real G.I. parts which I built myself from a Sarco parts kit and IMA dummy sideplate) and correct M31C pedestal with a combination 30/50 cradle and ammo tray pieces scrounged together and ready to bolt in!
Well, I'm back in business with my "borrowed" milk crates and one-man jeep tub removal techniques again! I used my engine hoist (cherry-picker) to lift the back end of the body using a chain between the two foot rest brackets and then milk crates to rest the front half once I lifted it with floor jacks. I removed the steering box by unbolting it from the frame and removing the drag link from the bellcrank and leaving it attached to the pitman arm. Once you start lifting the tub you can pull the steering column out through the hole in the floor of the tub. Note to self, put the transmission in neutral before removing the shifter cane (stick shift) as it is really physically difficult to roll the chassis forward when the engine has full compression. I eventually loosened all the sparkplugs and it rolled much easier... DOOH! My intent is to replace the front floor in this jeep's body, as you can see the new floor leaning against the wall in the photo below. I see a bit more rot and BONDO in the tub than I had hoped for but expect a certain degree of rebuilding on the lower side panels below the door openings regardless. The exact degree of repair will be better known once I get done blasting the tub.
Today it was time to strip down the frame and get it ready for a power-washing and sandblasting. It is such a treat to work on a frame that hasn't been abused and "bubbized" like my first jeep project. About the only thing that is going to require any repairs on this frame are the front bumper gussets but this will be minimal because the frame stems are intact. The rear crossmember has a couple extra holes drilled into it but otherwise it is unmolested. After removing all the extra pieces off the tub, the extent of the BONDO is now visible. The rear floor is pretty solid but the hat channels are all rusted through. The front floor is totally wrecked, rusted out, patched and BONDO abounds! I fabricated dollies for the frame and tub and pallets for the axles for the first jeep project which I saved and are all ready to use for this project. It is amazing how quickly 6 hours go by when I'm totally absorbed by my work. The transmission is a newer model Willys built T-84J. No real surprises, however a couple great 'F'-marked parts discovered during the tear-down.
Today's project was to haul the frame down to the local carwash and give it a thorough de-greasing and get the dried mud out of the inner frame channel to inspect for damage. After it dried, I took a close look at the usual frame stress locations and found no major cracks, especially around the rear spring hangers which were really torn-up on my first jeep. The only real challenge, which I rate as "easy" is removing the large triangular plates welded to the front frame stems to attach the heavier, "tow-bar" rated front bumper. It looks like the original upper bumper gusset rivet holes in the frame stem are intact under the triangular plates. The lower bumper gussets have some pieces missing off them but I think I can graft on the missing pieces from some repro gussets and nobody will know there was ever a problem. I do not want to remove the original factory rivets holding the front spring shackle brackets if it can be avoided.
Today it was time to cut-off that nasty looking tow-bar bumper. Using a 4" x 1/16" cut-off wheel on my grinder to make some well placed cuts right along the edge of the weld bead quickly removed the triangular top bracket to expose beautiful original front fork stems. Removing the weld off the bottom bracket required cutting the bumper off horizontally right above the weld and then vertically to remove the bulk of the bumper bar. A second cut across the face of the weld bead once the lower bracket was exposed quickly removed the remainder of the bumper as you can see in the picture below:
A little grinding with the disk grinder to remove the majority of the remaining weld bead and final shaping with a 60-grit 1/4" sanding drum on my Dremel tool dressed the frame stems and lower bumper gussets up nicely. The lower bumper gussets are about 60% intact and the missing 40% should be able to be pieced back together from the new repro ones I have. What is most important is keeping the integrity of the original spring shackle bracket rivets and welds, which still looks achievable. Test fitting the new top bumper gussets and new bumper bar indicates some twisting has taken place on the driver's side frame stem and that will need to be corrected before the bumper will fit correctly (currently a rivet hole and a bolt hole do not line up). Getting all the rivets and bumper bolts to line-up perfectly is required before permanently attaching (welding on) the top bumper gussets. It's also best to get all this welding done before blasting the frame so you can prime it once and be ready for paint.
Today's project was to finish fabricating the machinegun pedestal supports that are arc welded to the frame. Once again Jon Rogers' JeepDraw drawings prove to be invaluable, as you can see the incredible detail of the technical drawing shown in the picture below. Two of these brackets have been cut out of 3/16" (6-gauge) cold-rolled steel using a jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade. This took a while because I pretty much "fried" my poor little Sears Craftsman 3.2 amp jigsaw so I had to buy one with "MORE POWER" a Bosch 6.4 amp one which cut the 3/16 steel like wood! The tight radius bends are made by clamping the piece in my workbench vise, using an acetylene torch to heat the bending point red-hot and then folding it over to 90° with one hand (using a Vise-Grip on the piece) while keeping heat on it with the torch in the other. Both brackets turned-out exactly to specification which is what doing it right is all about! Next is the real pain in the butt, I have to mount the tub on the frame so I can figure out the exact mounting point of these support brackets, which must just touch the floor sheetmetal!
Over the last couple days I figured out the correct placement of the machinegun pedestal brackets and arc welded them tightly to the frame. Rather than mount the tub on the frame, I simply aligned the brackets with the pedestal base mounting plate that is already welded on the frame from the factory, since it comes into contact with the floor. After completing the pedestal bracket welding, I flipped the frame over and proceeded to patch the lower front bumper gussets. As you can see in the following pictures, I grafted the new parts on the old gussets and was able to preserve the original spring shackle bracket rivets and welds to the frame. Only the lower right inner gusset patch required some tricky welding tucked-up under the shackle bracket as closely as possible. After welding and grinding, I put a quick coat of red-oxide primer on them to see how much finishing would be required. As you can see the bottom sides are pretty much done. I still need to lay down some short tack welds with the arc welder on the top sides to reproduce the factory look but that will have to wait until after I can clean up the metal with the sandblaster. Next task is going to be straightening and filling the extra holes on the rear crossmember.
My jeep project got back-burnered because I traded-in my old 2WD Ford F250 pickup truck for a 4WD one and needed to spend some time adding "truck bling-bling" like diamond plate aluminum running boards and such. It's summer, hot and dry and time to sandblast! I'm done blasting the top-side of the frame and will make the final rivets and welds to the front bumper gussets next before finishing the blasting phase. There are a few bent pieces that will need to be heated-up with the acetylene torch and straightened before finishing the blasting too. This frame is really in amazing shape overall and very little cosmetic work will be required before painting it.
Today I finally addressed a problem that had been bugging me about the frame. The right front fork was slightly twisted and bent so that the holes in the gussets for the bumper bolts were about ½" too wide for the bumper. There was a slight twist as well, so it pointed at about 11 o'clock. The left front frame fork was perfect so my repair solution had to keep from damaging it. As you can see in the picture, I put together a jig using a 4" wide x 4' long I-beam, clamped to the good left side of the frame. Two 3/8" x 2" wide x 16" long steel plates clamped to the bad right side frame fork as a leverage point for my big farm jack. Using the farm jack required fabricating a bracket for the top to pull against, which I used ½" x 4" x 12" steel plate and bolted it to the jack. Moving the jack around so pressure was applied to first remove the bend, then the twist, everything straightened right up. After that, I cleaned up the lower bumper gussets using an acetylene torch and steel welding rod to fill pits and cut marks, then I tack-welded them to the frame stems with my arc welder. Next step is tack welding and riveting the upper gussets to the frame forks... mañana... (that is if Sockeye salmon fishing season doesn't open on Lake Washington!)
Today it's time to finish those front bumper gussets. First task on the list is to replicate the look of a Ford rivet. Round head rivets are close but not quite right so I used them as a starting point. By "turning" them down on my "vertical lathe" (a.k.a. drill press) using a file, I was able to create the cone shape found on the peened type rivets on my GPW. As you can see, installed, they look dead-on orignal and nobody would be the wiser. So, all the tack welds are completed on the gussets, the rivets installed and a coat of primer is on them to see how they look. Tomorrow I'll be flipping the frame over and completing the sandblasting phase, if the weather is good for blasting. At this rate, I should have the frame ready for paint within a couple days.
OK, it's 4th-of-July weekend in Seattle, so by tradition, it's raining! Good for keeping the neighbor's kid's popbottle rockets from catching the trees on fire, bad for sandblasting. Actually it's made me stop and take a closer look at the frame and get out my farm jack on the rear crossmember. Subtle bends, forward 3/16" on the right side and back 1/4" on the left are quick work for my big 4" x 4' I-beam. I've also noticed the left front spring shackle hanger is hooking to the right (to inboard), that will be tomorrow's project with the farm jack.
Well, we did have some sunshine on 4th-of-July weekend and lots of fun playing, but now it's rainy again so sandblasting is still on hold. Good weather looks promising for this weekend. The frame really is all ready for blasting and priming now. I've straightened not only the left front spring shackle hanger but all 4 of them! Two of them had slight inboard bends which could be bent back out using the 4" x 4' I-beam to brace the farm jack. The two with outboard bends required a bit more creativity since there was no place to clamp the I-beam on the inside of the frame so I used my house as a brace! Luckily, as you can see in the following picture, there is a pillar between my garage doors that anchors to the foundation and it is narrow enough to get the farm jack around it and the jeep frame. One very important thing to remember when using a farm jack to straighten a frame, use a small block of wood at the contact point between the jack and the jeep frame. That is important because you have to hammer the wood block out to get the jack to release as the jack will be stuck otherwise because it is designed to first go "up" before releasing "down" when you change the direction lever! Notice too that I used two Vise-Grip clamps to hold the lower bumper gusset flush to the inside of the bumper while applying jack pressure to the spring shackle so the bending would not change the gusset's alignment with the bumper.
This is one of those Seattle summers that starts with weeks of daily showers, good for the lawns but a sandblasting problem! Yesterday was finally a day where I woke up to sunshine and only after I got the frame rolled back into the garage at about 5 PM, the raindrops kicked-in again! As you can see in the following picture, the primer has been applied to the frame to seal it from flash rusting. In a humid environment like Seattle, you can't wait a day or two. I use "Dupli-Color" or "Plasti-Cote" brand red-oxide colored primer sold in spraycans at the local autoparts stores. This stuff seals the surface better than the Gillespie primer which is porous and allows moisture through to the metal and rust to set in, even through the OD paint! I was amazed at the amount of flash rusting that had set in on the top side of the frame that I had blasted only 2 weeks ago. I had to re-blast the whole frame yesterday, luckily removing the flash rust is about 1/10th the effort of removing paint and rust so it didn't take long to "freshen" everything up. I found an amazing number of "F" marks on the frame that were not on the '45 GPW, like on the rear crossmember and the motor mount brackets. Check out that MD Juan repro front floor panel in the background! That will be going into the tub at some later point, much later at the rate I'm progressing on this project!
I spent last week on vacation up in the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia, fishing for salmon and halibut so not much has happened with the jeep project until the past couple days. The following picture shows that the beautiful 8 leaf front and 9 leaf back GPW leaf springs, center crossmember and front bumper are all sand blasted. I'm also blasting a beautiful original 'F'-scripted hood for the '45 GPW which has the factory mounting points for the grease gun and lube chart holder, to replace the repro one currently on it. With the exception of the leaf springs, I'll give these pieces a quick coat of Plasti-Cote red-oxide primer like I used on the frame to keep them from flash rusting. The leaf springs get a special treatment which I'll detail in my next installment.
Today I'm preparing my leaf springs for paint after sandblasting. Over my other jeep and trailer restoration projects, I've attempted several different methods of restoring and preserving original leaf springs. I've disassembled and blasted each leaf individually, which was a ton of work, and I've blasted the springs assembled. Disassembling the springs always results in destroying a few of the special 'F'-scripted spring clip bolts so I've chosen to avoid this by leaving them assembled when I blast. I've noticed either way that once they're back in use and they get wet, they will seep rust from between the leaves if you only use Gillespie primer and paint to seal them. Regardless of the care taken in preparation, the metal to metal contact of the leaves will quickly remove any paint and expose bare metal which will rust when exposed to water. That is the nature of leaf springs. I've come up with a method that does a good job of sealing the leaves and hopefully preserves the springs better by keeping more water out. I sand blast the springs assembled and then remove the residual sand trapped between the leaves by banging the springs around a bit (dropping them from about 6" above the ground) and then remove the few remaining sand granules from between the springs with an Exacto knife, a dental pick and compressed air.
Once the sand is cleaned-out well, I mask off the spring clips and brush on a thick coat of Eastwood Company's "Rust Encapsulator" (p.k.a. "Corroless") product into each side's gaps between the leaves, one side at a time. Sometimes a drop will seep through and form on the other side, which I remove with an Exacto knife once it's dry. Once the "Rust Encapsulator" coatings are dry, I prime the whole spring using non-porous Plasti-Cote primer. Both products come in a red-oxide color which looks perfectly original once covered with the OD paint. I've noticed that the springs I've used this technique on have not shown the rust seepage problems I encountered before and I would highly suggest this approach if you have some good looking, irreplaceable original springs like I found. If you have no choice and must completely dissemble the springs to repair broken leaves or clips, I'd suggest coating both sides of each individual spring leaf with the "Rust Encapsulator" product before reassembly.
Finally, a dry enough day for blasting again, so a marathon 9-hour sandblasting event took place. Over the last week I have been disassembling and de-greasing the differentials plus their brake and steering components. De-greasing is no small feat with these leaky critters and getting the caked "GRUD" (GRease plus mUD) off of them requires multiple cycles of soaking with engine cleaner, picking and scraping the big chunks off and wire brushing with very hot water to get down to the paint. I like to do a final soaking with carburetor cleaner to "dry out" the remaining "GRUD" so it is relatively free of grease and sandblasts off easily. The bell crank on this jeep was worn-out so I've removed it and the tie rods for rebuilding. In the process, I discovered beautiful original "Ford" marked tie rods complete with the original "Ford" marked tie rod ends. So now the differentials, tie rods, spring plates and torque reaction spring are blasted and ready for primer. I also completed blasting the original hood for the '45 GPW as a parallel project. Blasting of the brake backing plates and drums will be the next scheduled event prior to their rebuilding and hitting the rolling chassis milestone before September.
Well, a week ago today, I finished sandblasting the original 'F'-scripted '45 hood with the factory mounting points for the lube order and grease gun. Little did I know then, that I would be sucked-into the "tin banger zone!" I've spent a full 6 days working on that hood now and it's still not quite done! The first job was to weld-up the cracks in the front center and along the reinforcing rib on the inside back. Next I had to fill all the little pits left after blasting out the rust. This requires applying autobody glazing (spot) putty to every square inch of the hood, front and back, using your fingertip as to keep it close to the contour of the metal and then sanding it out so the pit is filled even with the surrounding metal. Once the pits are filled, I primed the hood so I could see the dents and creases in preparation for the next phase, hammering them out. Once the dents are hammered out I spread the thinnest layer possible of the glazing putty to smooth out the hammer marks. Then the iterations begin as you prime, spot things you missed, fill, block sand and prime again. I would put the iteration count up to about 12 now and still have some small fixes to make... however the results are GREAT and the hood is going to look great on the front of my '45 GPW. When I'm ready to paint the OD on the hood, frame, differentials and such, I'll be repainting the back of my trailer too. I've never been quite satisfied with my blue factory numbers as the color is a bit too vivid of blue. I ordered the right stuff from Beachwood Canvas Works and I'll be re-doing the numbers on the '45 GPW's hood and '43 Bantam T-3 trailer in the next few days. I have primed all the '43 GPW's parts I sandblasted last week and they can be seen sitting on the floor in the background of the following picture:
Ok, the hood for the '45 GPW is finally looking perfect, ready for paint and safely set aside so nothing can mar it. Now to get the steering components refurbished and ready for paint. After blasting the front axle, I needed to get primer on the bare metal as quickly as possible to keep them from flash rusting. The steering knuckles were flopping around so I wired them together and secured them so I could prime them without the grease coating the steering knuckle "balls" and contaminating the primer. Pre-teardown inspection determined that the bell crank was very loose and I knew I would need to replace the pivot pin and bearings, what I didn't expect was a stress crack in the web casting between the arms of the bell crank (see picture) which pretty much condemned it.
Life is too short to bet it on a $50 part that controls the steering, so I ordered a new one from Brent Mullins Jeep Parts. The new one is a bit heavier-built WOF (Willys-Overland France) unit but I made sure to grind all the WOF markings off with my Dremel tool so it would look a bit more "WWII correct." So you can see in the following picture, all the new parts that will be going into refurbishing the front axle and steering; bell crank, bell crank pivot rebuild kit, Ford style felt tie rod seal kit, pinion yoke, pinion yoke seal, steering knuckle seal kit, RZEPPA id tag + 8/39 ratio tag, axle cover seal and cotter pins for the tie rods. I’ve learned from my first jeep project, bite the bullet and replace the pinion yoke and seal now and save the headaches later. I'll also pull the axle cover off to inspect the differential gears and clean out the housing. Once all back together, I'll de-grease as necessary and re-prime and then it's ready for new brake lines + clamps and then finally the paint.
Well, the front and rear axles are reconditioned and ready for 90 weight hypoid gear oil and OD paint. I opened each differential's cover, drained the oil, cleaned the housing and took a good look at the gears. I was pleased with what I saw, no gear tooth damage or rust from moisture accumulation and everything is nice and tight. I put new pinion yokes and pinion seals on both of them and then made some nice "budget" 'F'-script bolts for the differential cover bolts. The steering components were inspected for wear, a new bell crank pivot rod, new bell crank and needle bearings were installed in addition to GPW style felt tie rod seals.
The job that took the most time and effort was preserving the original style steering knuckle seals by installing a 60-year-old, NOS Ford seal kit into them. Disassembly of the original steering knuckle seal "clam shell" fixtures was pretty time consuming because they were stuck together pretty tight. The replacement seal kit consisted of a felt seal with a saw-tooth rubber spacer. The paper gaskets with the old Ford kit were pretty crisp and unusable, so I had to replace them with modern ones or used silicone gasket sealant to "make" a gasket where necessary.
Since I didn't remove the king pins, I was left with the task of removing as much of the old grease in the steerig knuckle housing as I could through the space between the ball and the housing. I was able to get most of the contaminated grease out and found nice fresh grease the deeper I dug. I made sure and polished up the "balls" by sanding them with 320-grit sandpaper and put a coat of Lubriplate on the ball so the new seals wouldn't encounter too much friction while installing them and pull out. A liberal coating of silicone gasket sealant on both sides of a new paper gasket between the housing and the steering knuckle "clam shell" fixtures and back together it went. Finally I degreased and primed everything and will set it aside until I'm ready to paint it OD. The steering is very hard to turn with all the new seals installed but that won't take much break-in time to correct. I am excited about the thought of driving a nice tight steering jeep!
Things are progressing well, despite slipping a disk in my back while priming the differentials! Over 10 years ago I ruptured the disk between #4 & #5 vertebra and ever since I've had periodic stabbing back pain when using incorrect body mechanics to lift. This time I was simply stooping over to put a final touch-up of red oxide primer on the steering knuckle seals and it was like I was shot in the back, buckling to the ground! My God, I had truly fallen and could not get up, for about 10 minutes anyway! Well, after seeing the doctor, getting some Vicoden pain pills, and MRI scan and x-ray, it looks like only some physical therapy is in my future and not surgery. I was finally able to get by on simply popping a few ibuprophen and felt good enough to move to the next step on the jeep, painting everything OD. As you can see in the following picture, it's a matter of days before I mount springs and differentials on the frame. The goal of having a rolling frame by September 1 has clearly been missed but not by too many weeks if my back holds out! Tomorrow I hope to paint the hood for the '45 GPw and the back of the trailer so I can paint on the new numbers.
Let the reassembly phase begin! A few little repairs and adjustments had to be made before proceeding with the reassembly of the rolling chassis. The new OMIX-ADA spring bolts I purchased ended-up being ¼” too long and the hole for the cotter pin was ¼ “ beyond the slot in the castellated nut! I purchased a few cobalt drill bits to bore through the hardened steel bolts for the cotter pins and cut down the bolts to the correct size. One of the front spring eyes had been worn into an oval shape so that needed some attention. Sizing a shim between the new brass bushing and the spring eye is accomplished by using drill bits to determine the metal thickness required. In this case the shim required 16-gauge sheet metal cut to the correct radius and pounded into the correct shape in the vise using an old socket wrench the same diameter as the brass bushing. Once the shim is shaped, the edges are ground on the bench grinder into a chisel shape and then driven into the gap with a hammer. The spring bracket will hold the shim in place and it should keep the spring bolt nice and snug so it won’t pound on the brass bushing again.
New OMIX-ADA spring shackles were used in the suspension reassembly to make sure everything is nice and tight. I had a set of NOS ‘F’-script spring plate ‘U’ bolts which were too small for my ’45 GPW because of the late production thicker springs but fit perfectly on the ’43 GPW’s 8/9 leaf front/rear combination. The special long nuts for the spring plate ‘U’ bolts were purchased from Krage Motorsports along with all the other OMIX-ADA parts. Now I’ve got to get busy on blasting the brake backing plates and drums and getting the drums “turned” to insure they are true and provide a good gripping surface for the new brake shoes. I'll also start installing the brake lines and master cylinder. Doesn’t that ‘F’ script pintle hook look nice, even though it is a repro?
Well, I'm almost ashamed to admit this discovery. In all my hours of looking at the transmission and transfercase in the process of disassembling the jeep, I assumed because the transmission case said "T-84J" in the casting on the side, the entire unit was a Willys postwar unit. Well, a few minutes with a steel wire brush and carburetor cleaner uncovered I have a diamond in the rough. Everything but the T-84J transmission case is 'F'-scripted!!! I was so surprised that I needed to sit down and smoke a cigarette... luckily I don't have any around anymore! Now I'm even more motivated to get that original GPW engine off to the rebuilder and take this restoration to a higher level than I had originally intended. Given the way the frame turned-out with no major defects, repairs or rust pits, the correct original 8/9 leaf springs and such, I've got a better jeep than I figured I had. This jeep deserves to be preserved, or continued to be preserved as well as it has been the last 60 years!
The jeep project has been on the back-burner for the last couple weeks and my time has been spent getting the house, cars and boat winterized. I'm finally back on task this week, getting the brake backing plates blasted and painted and the adjusting cam hardware refurbished. Several of the adjusting cams needed to have pieces of the the rectangular heads welded back on where wrenches have slipped off over the years and taken chunks of metal with them. I blasted the adjusting cams and replaced the bolts and lockwashers with new, cadmium plated ones. Since all the plating has corroded off the adjusting cam threads, I made liberal use of thread anti-sieze paste on the threads and cams so they would not rust and freeze-up. I like to assemble the brakes on the backing plates first, making sure to face the brake shoe with the longer strip of lining to the front of the jeep.
Once all the brakes were assembled, I installed them on the jeep and hooked-up the brake lines. There is a special "coiled" piece of steel brake tubing between the hose and the slave cylinder on the front brakes which was a real BITCH to hook-up because it required so much additional bending. Most replacement kits simply furnish an "S" shaped piece of tubing, which goes on really easy but makes bleeding the brakes problematic. The "coiled" brake line is correct but took much swearing and bending with pliers and beating wtih a block of wood and a small hammer to position correctly. The secret to attaching brake lines is to attach the line to the slave cylinger before bolting the backing plate into position. So, the brake lines are almost done, just need to run the line from the master cylinger to the two hoses which run to the axles. A quick coat of paint over the newly installed brake lines and I was done for today. Next I need to clean the grease out of the 4 hubs and get those brake drums over to my buddy's machine shop for a quick "dressing cut" on the lathe to clean up the facings. Not far from a rolling chassis now!
I finally found a raditor shop here in Seattle that uses period-correct style fins on their re-core work and I had my original 'F'-script GPW radiator re-cored. The replacement core is patterned after those found on '30s Ford Model-A radiators. Extra custom fabrication steps were taken such as bevel cutting the fins at the ends of the front and leaving out the center cooling tubes so it better matches the original GPW radiator style. The fins are slightly farther apart but you need to compare the cores side-by-side to really notice it. What is obvious is that the core is not the modern style fins used in reproduction and lower-quality re-cores. My set of Coker Firestone NDT tires finally arrived last week too... it's starting to look like the '43 GPW's restoration work will become a priority this spring!
I've used paint stripper and then a steel brush on my hand drill to clean the paint and rust off the main transfer case housing and will be media blasting the bearing caps, plates, oil pan, levers and such before reassembling it. I'm not taking any chances with oil leaking from this transfer case, my current one throws oil and leaks way too much because I didn't understand how much silicone gasket sealant was really required to keep it dry. Even the bolt threads need to be coated with sealant when you assemble it, Last time I only put sealant on the gasket mating surfaces like one would do with a modern transmission. Over the years the threaded bolt holes get worn out I guess, that is the only way to explain why drips would form on the bolt heads themselves. Output yokes are another area I'm not taking any chances with, I bought new ones, which don't look exactly the same as the originals they are machined to the same spec but without the worn grooves. I suppose if I was really anal about originality I could use "Speedy Sleeves" and retain the original yokes but the only one you can see is the front one since the rear one is hidden by the parking brake.
The 4-post lift gently lifted the unit off the '45 GPW's frame using 1350 lb. rated chain and 835 lb. rated threaded chain links ("quick links") to secure the drivetrain to the big wooden cross "timbers." I am really enjoying the use of my 4-post lift and will certainly use the lifting brackets I'm fabricating again in the future. I did take the cover off the tranny to see if there was anything obvious to indicate why it failed. I was able to wiggle the 2nd gear significantly, which is not good. I'm sure something is broken inside the main shaft or syncronizing hub. No worries as the whole thing is being replaced with my rebuilt 'F'-script units.
Yes, that is a transmission poppet ball... surely it must be one of the old ones I just replaced with new ones so I take a look in the old parts tub... but alas, there are 2 of them in there. The reality slowly dawns across my mind, this is the culprit for my 2nd and 3rd gear shifting problems!!! No, it can't be... I sit down and ponder the situation, first of all, why did it pop out when I used a drift punch to push it down with the spring into its hole in the tranny? I must have not plugged the shift rail channel from the other side and it did what "poppet" balls are designed to do and it "popped" out that opening to the front of the tranny. The horror... I've got to take the transfer case back off and the top cover and attempt to remove that shift rail from the back of the case. To make matters slightly worse, I used Loctite "red" (the perminent stuff) to hold the shift fork lock screws... the 500° heat to loosen the threads "red" Loctite. I have to look on the bright side, it was lucky to have found that poppet ball now, while the tranny is still out of the jeep and no oil has been added to it yet. I scrounged through my parts boxes and found I have spares of the tranny to transfercase gasket and the shift tower gasket so I don't have to wait for any parts orders to proceed with resolving this problem. I am also glad I had the instincts to test shift that tranny with the gear shift before proceeding, which indicated the problem to begin with. It is just too bad I was so concerned with keeping the rear tranny bearing stable that I feared testing with the shift lever until the transfercase was bolted in place... live and learn. One very, very positive development is that I went to inspect the completed unibody repair of my '66 Porsche 912 project at the bodyshop today and all the gaps (door, hood and fenders) were perfect and the total cost of the work performed was $344! Tomorrow AM I will be borrowing my friends tow dolly and retrieving the 912 from the bodyshop.
Going back in should be pretty easy too, that is until the time comes to put the clutch fork back on. I drilled a small hole in the clutch fork so I could dangle it in place thru the bellhousing access hole with a small piece of wire when I was installing it before, out of the jeep on the wooden pallet I made. That was not the easiest but I did get the knack of doing it so this shouldn't be too big of problem if I am patient. So tonight the transmission and transfer case are sitting on top of the transmission jack. Next step, after the holiday, will be splitting them apart and tearing down that transmission. I suspect something is amiss with the syncro hub springs or keys and will hopefully see that when I tear it down. I also want to try just assembling the shift rods and shift tower and cane and see if they bind at all as one test. All new shift rods might be just a bit too tight and will need a little work with the old whet stone to hone them down slightly. I'm also suspicious of the empty tranny case that needed the double thickness, custom-made thrust washer for the cluster gear set and I might use another case I have in reserve. These are the types of things that pop into my mind while I'm trying to sleep. BTW: If you look closely in the following picture you can see the holes for the new M-31C machinegun pedestal have been drilled in the tub and it is test-mounted with the 30/50 combination cradle on top. I'll need to take it back out to repaint it and the mounting bolts. The support leg brackets I fabricated and welded to the frame rails over a year ago lined-up perfectly with the floor of the tub and the legs of the pedestal... how about that!
The old '45 GPW frame and drivetrain components are stored in the parts "warehouse" and wait for the day when I get the urge to weld a new floor the original "composite" tub and build a "play" jeep. I'm really excited about welding a new floor in a rusty old 912 Porsche at the moment... fun stuff!
Now off to a new chapter goes my first WWII jeep, its frame rebuilt to look like original but stripped of all its "F-scripted" parts, substituted with a mish-mash of wartime and postwar Willys parts. I'm sure it's going to be a lot of fun for Ken and his family and I now have lots more room in my barn, a win/win if there ever was one! I've come to the conclusion that owning one nice example of a WWII jeep is good enough for me and I'd rather be building cool vintage Volkswagens and Porsches for fun.