Monday, December 31, 2012

Combat wheels ready for sandblasting

The combat wheels are now ready to go to the sandblaster! Now I just have to find one...

The final task (which I finished today) was to pound out the bolts, which were rusted in quite solidly. I put a nut on the bolts before going to work in an effort to save the bolts. A few of them required 20+ violent hits with the hammer to get out. They all came out, but here is the nut that I used on all of the bolts (on the right) after getting them all out. Compare with the "normal" one on the left!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Progress so far...

My brother-in-law Paul came over for a few hours to lend a hand with the jeep today. The jeep didn't fail to provide us with some nuts and bolts that just didn't want to come apart. Despite the resistant bolts, we were able to get the left fender off along with the grill and then we pulled out the radiator (which was still full of anti-freeze, which made a good mess). Here is what it looks like after today:

After pulling everything off I was able to get a clear view of the tub number (104410):

And also of a nice crack in the frame right around the front crossmember:

Here we are after an afternoon in the garage. Does this jumpsuit make me look fat?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Good 'ol USA

I nearly forgot! I was looking at wartime pictures of jeeps the other day and noticed the USA painted on the hood and realized that I hadn't tried to look for that on my jeep. Once again I went to work with the paint stripper and there it was..."U.S.A."! Here a shot of the best preserved marking on the driver's side of the hood above the registration number:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fuel Tank Removed!!!

That might not seem like that exciting of a feat, but when we decided to remove the fuel tank we simply removed the straps and lifted, but it would NOT come out. I say "we" because my dad was here for Christmas and was excited to help me with my project, so we hit the jeep together for a solid 5 hours. We left the tank and went to testing our strength by removing the lugs from the combat rims, which were also VERY stubborn despite the hallucination-inducing amount of penetrating nut/bolt loosener we sprayed on them. Once the old tires were removed and the combat rims successfully split apart (I'll post pics of those tomorrow) we went back to the fuel tank and just started to wiggle it. And wiggle. And tug, and wiggle. Finally after at least 10 minutes of wiggling, pulling and wrestling with the tank, it started to move and we finally got it out...with much rejoicing! As with most of these jeeps, the the tank recess contained a ridiculous amount of dirt, leaves, nails, and crud. It doesn't look too bad, and here are photos of it right after coming out of the tub.

And here is the empty recess - not as rusted out as I would have thought given the amount of junk that was in there:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Mystery Marking?

I hit all the likely places on the jeep looking for markings and here is what I found: uncovered the registration number on the right side (which confirms the "6" that I was unsure about):

The "S" is found at the end of the number, at the front of the jeep, not near the cowl where they say they are supposed to be:

Also uncovered a marking in white paint on the lower front cowl. It is present on both sides (on the driver's side it would be under the shovel if it were in place). Unfortunately, unlike the registration number, any amount of stripper that touched it almost immediately lifted it off. I had to stop working to remove any additional post-war paint for fear of destroying what was left of what seems to be a mystery marking. The left side of the marking has already been removed (along with all layers of paint) prior to my acquisition of the jeep. The yellow marking was applied by the civilian owner and was particularly resistant to my paint stripper. Here are two photos, one with flash and one without. Any ideas of what this is?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Combat Wheel #1

Here's the first combat wheel I've pulled apart. I have no experience with these, so is it good or no good? Just did a quick once over with the wire cup. It seems fine to me...the bolts are not coming out, they seem to be pretty much rusted in.

Registration Numbers

Using some paint stripper I was able to uncover the jeep's original military registration number: 20254065.
Also on the hood near the cowl was a letter "S" for "suppressed" meaning the jeep was equipped to prevent it from giving off white noise and disrupting radio communications. I first discovered the letter "S" which gave a strong indication the registration number was most likely still there! This made me a bit nervous because I wanted to be sure not to mess it up and leave the number illegible. All worked out well and the number is easily read. The only number I'm not 100% on is the 6, but I'm still pretty sure that's what it is. I find it interesting that the second number "2" is in a more block-type of font and not like the first number 2. I think the paint came off unevenly because someone had done some sanding in this area prior to me using the stripper on it. Here is a picture of the number:

And here is the "S" on the far right:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Here it is! This is my newly-acquired 1943 Willys MB! The restoration now begins...
(click on photos for a larger view)

The story goes that this jeep was purchased as surplus shortly after the end of WWII by Carl Nelson (you can see his name painted in yellow on the side of the jeep body) who was a Danish emigrant who settled in Cache Valley Utah. Interestingly, he was in occupied Denmark during the war and even participated in resistance actions against the occupying Germans. Mr. Nelson painted the jeep red (you can see the original olive-drab paint where the red has flaked off) and cut-off the back end of the jeep and put on a new one with a tailgate. This was done to make it easier to transport large milk containers that he delivered. 

I was lucky enough to pick up four original combat wheels (2 on the front, the 2 others are in the garage) with the jeep. We'll see if they are any good in the days to come. I also hope to find the original US military registration numbers on the hood hidden by the red paint! No data plates, but the original Willys serial number tag is still intact on the frame: #202900. 

I will post updates and pictures as I make progress!