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One day in 2009, I spot an old jeep, sitting in the tall grass in a neighbour's back yard.  It turns out to be a 1946 Willys CJ2A, the first civilian jeep that Willys built after the war.  It looks pretty dilapidated, but on closer inspection appears to be a good candidate for a restoration project.  Nearly all the components are there and the owner says it was running when he parked it.  It obviously needs lots of work, but best of all, nobody has ever  "modified" it, by trying to install a V-8 engine and cutting out the firewall to make it fit, or some such travesty.

As found After initial clean-up

Gerry MacRae, our mechanic at B&M Delivery Service, has restored several old vehicles and he agrees that it will be an interesting project and should be a fairly straight-forward restoration.  We drag it to the shop and start to clean it up.  Our first impressions are confirmed.  It looks much better with the after-market top removed and the dead vegetation cleared away.  Gerry installs new sparkplugs, hooks up a battery and a temporary gas can   ... and the engine starts!  Within  minutes the old four-cylinder flathead is purring and we drive it around the shop.

The first task is to remove the sheet metal and find out what how much body work is required.  One of the nice aspects of rebuilding old jeeps is the availability of almost every part. Because they are such a popular project there are many sources of used parts and several businesses actually fabricate new replacements for original components that are no longer available. The floor pans and the under-floor braces are quite rusty, but we will be able to order anything that we can't fabricate in our shop.

Strip begins Floors need work

 

Engine room exposed Original serial number plate

 

Next step is to lift the body tub off and turn it over so we can work on the under side.  This also exposes all the mechanical components so we can begin to rebuild each of them.

Frame straightened and repaired

Engine, transmission and transfer case rebuilt

Reinstalling the powertrain

Powertrain in place
Bodywork begins New floor panels required
Installing new floors Sandblasting the body tub
Coat of primer New original "Harvest Tan" paint
Factory original paint for the wheels: "Sunset Red" Some new gauges installed
Engine room

Finally, two and a half years after we began the project, the jeep is ready for the road.  An appraisal is required for the insurance company and it comes in at US$15,000.  WOW!  That's almost as much as it cost to rebuild it... ;-))  Safety inspection, license plates and we are ready to go!

Ready for the road! Let's go for a drive!

It is no end of fun to drive around town and it attracts tons of attention.  Everywhere I go, people want to ask abut the jeep, where it came from, how old it is (older than I am!) and compliment us on the restoration.  It actually rides better than we expected, even with its original ten-leaf springs.  The old, bias-ply tires we left on it are a bit bumpy and the 1946 steering box is predictably a bit vague.  When I drive it on the highway to Oxdrift, it hits a top speed of fifty-five miles per hour -- but you have to hang on pretty tight at that speed.

It has been an altogether fun project and the final result is a delightful toy.

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