|When beginning our 3A project we
had no idea what a great vehicle Willys make in the 40's & 50's. Being as the
vehicles have NO top end, most of the old CJs' available, even though they're 50 years
old, are in excellent mechanical condition and have reasonably low milage. Also with
the clutch & brake linkage connected to the frame, this is the easiest,
quickest project vehicle you can do.
Our project vehicle wasn't cheap - but we did manage to locate a low milage 1951
CJ-3A with an excellent engine & drive line and a terrible body. Before
beginning our total overhaul we had to determine our objective. We wanted to
reassemble the vehicle as it was when it was new. Small motor, skinny tires, lo-back
seats, basic guages, no frills. The next step was to check the availability of the
parts to rebuild the CJ. Once we found the parts (on a vehicle this old) we felt it
was best to order our parts quickly - with no hesitation, before they were no longer
We ordered: new points - plugs -
condenser - cap & wires - master cylinder - brake cylinders - pads & springs - new
shocks - steering damper - gear lube - oil & filter - 2 new 12v wipers w/arms - tail
& headlights - alternator - ait filter - battery - belt - Super Swampers & a 20'
piece of 3/16 2x4 box tubing for bumpers & side impact bars. For the interior we
purchased lo-back front & rear seats - soft top & doors - and a set of Stewart
Warner mechanical gauges, which feature a basic green graduation to match the Military
Green paint we've chosen - a hand held C.B. radio & whip antenna. We also
purchased plenty of new wire - solder & shrink wrap along with a basic assortment of
3/4 to 1 1/2" stainless & 1/4", 5/16" & 3/8" bolts, all
necessary for a clean rebuild.
Once running perfectly we marked the position of the vehicle
on the frame so the NEW FIBERGLASS BODY would slip on without any guessing
as to where it should set. Drain the radiator, disconnect the battery, loosen and
remove the hood, fenders, pedals, wiring harness, fuel tank & line and steering column
(being sure to tag all parts and wiring for easy reassembly). At this point simply
remove the clutch & emergency brake, return spring and 8 body mount bolts. With
the help of a few friends - lift the old rusty body off of the frame.
|For a neater appearance we pressure
washed the frame - pulled the engine out and proceeded with the time consuming task of
wire wheeling, sanding & removing 50 year old welding slag. Then the frame,
shocks and rims were painted Military Green. Next, we installed the shocks, all the
newly plated parts and our fresh new Super Swampers. The front stops had to be
adjusted to keep the tires from hitting the frame. Before advancing further
we added a new exhaust system while we had the access. As for the engine, for a
neater appearance we sent out the manifolds, oil filter & filler housing, trans cover,
fan shroud and differential cover along with a few miscellaneous parts to be Hi-Temp Ceramic Coated. The
engine was cleaned, resealed and painted.
|Next we cut open the shifter holes
on the new RUST-FREE FIBERGLASS BODY.
The new body was dropped into place. The fenders were drilled and mounted to the
body and original core support. Body mount holes were drilled and the whole assembly
was loosely bolted in place at 4 mount locations.
|The windshield frame was refaced
with a new skin and drilled but not secured, until after our painting was finished.
Our new top had to be installed next, for the chassis shop to properly install the new
roll bars with proper clearance. (We were very dissappointed to find out that our
ALL AMERICAN CJ was getting a top made in Malaysia with Tiawanese hardware). We made
a trip to our local Walmart & picked up and $18. boat seat & swivel stand to bolt
on the top of the roll bar. The chassis shop assembled the new removable roll cage,
with the body sandwiched between the rollbar and frame extensions. We only used 4
original body mounts, as the roll bar supported the body at the rear locations.
Side impact bars were also added on. Now it is time to drill lots of holes and
temporarily install the front and rear seats, steering column, heater, gauges, emergency
brake, soft top, grab bar, fuel tank & side fuel insert (allow a couple hours to cut
and fit) & tail lights, 2 extra lights were added down low for towing signals.
|The tool box was then trimmed and
fit to its position under the passenger seat. (We drilled a few drain holes and
roughed it up with 80 grit).
© Copyright 1987-date
® U.S.Body Source inc., usbody.com, carhoods.com, gr8hoods.com, techhoods.com,
The text and images in the afore mentioned sites may not be reproduced for
commercial purposes without
express written permission from U.S.Body Source inc. 9009 South East C.R. 325
Hampton Florida 32044