Restoration - Phase II:  Chassis

Start Date:  o/a Nov. 22, 2005




I tried to use/save the original engine without busting the bank for a total rebuild.  In the end I had to scrap it and install an engine from  my parts Jeep.  The fellow I bought it from claimed it had been recently rebuilt.  It certainly looked clean and ran well enough for that to be true.  Well... lesson learned.  It burns oil until warmed up, and has coolant and oil seeping from the front of the pan.  There's also a slight leak in the middle of the exhaust mainfold.  Another project for another day when my budget improves.  The engine also has a new Solex carburator installed. New parts on the engine also include choke and throttle cables, all hoses, two heater shut off valves, oil lines, fuel pump, thermostat, temperature and oil senders, fan belt, battery, voltage regulator, generator mounts, and high temperature paint.  The ignition has a new coil, points, condenser, plugs and wires (distributor #IAY-4401).  New gaskets were installed for the thermostat housing, water pump, oil pan, exhaust manifold, and both valve covers.  The clutch, throwout bearing and fly wheel are in excellent condition. 

April 2007:  Detected a slight rod knock so pulled the engine again.  #3 rod bearing cap had come loose.  Installed new rings and inserts and a different head.  Also installed a one-wire alternator.  Mounting bracket, pulley and tension arm were bought from Willys Works, the alternator from JC Whitney.


The existing exhaust manifold was used.  It was painted with high temperature paint and cured in a kiln at 1/3 power.  In hind sight I should have chosen a different color.  In the end the paint did not cure properly.  Although some of the paint flaked off, it left a nice patina that does not look bad at all.  The middle ports have a minor leak, and the stud on port one snapped during the final installation (lesson learned, don't trust the old studs).  Since I see no evidence of leakage from port one, replacing the stud will be a repair for another day.

A new exhaust system was installed in stock configuration.  Although three hangers were included in the kit, I found I needed one more for a satisfactory installation (right rear corner to stabilize the end pipe).


After dismantling and cleaning

After painting and reassembly with new seals and gaskets

I was pleased that the transmission and transfer case appear to be in good condition.  The internals had some minor corrosion from 20 years of storage.  In the end I still have a minor seep from the transfer case intermediate gear shaft, which did not get rebuilt, and from the front of the transmission (I'm sure I forgot to put the felt seal in when I assembled the housing on the input shaft).  The transmission is noisy on deceleration at speeds above 30 mph, and has the typical problem of jumping out of second gear.  Again, this will wait until I tackle the engine problems noted above.

April 2007:  Bottom line -- the original transmission described above was more troubel than it was worth.  Switched to a different transmission from a donor Jeep.



New outer seals were all it needed.  The pictures above show the differential cover and axle ends dismantled.  The entire unit was wire brushed, scraped and degreased with solvent.  I did not dismantle the differential gears.  No reason to, there is no visible wear, the gear lube had very slight contamination with no grit, and no noise when it was on the road last.  There is some play in the gears, but within normal limits to my knowledge.


After dismantling.


The right front hub was in worse shape than the left.  I forgot how messy hubs and knuckles are to rebuild.  Both hubs have new seals, and new king pin bearings/races.  The Warn lock-outs are in excellent condition.  

When I drained the differential I did see some contamination in the gear lube and corrosion inside.  Likely seeped in through the breather fitting on the cover.  Once cleaned the differential was in excellent condition.

  The breather fitting rerouted to a higher location in the engine compartment.

The tag found on the differential cover confirms the stock 5.38:1 gear ratio.

The right spindle threads were stripped, which explains it's condition.  A replacement spindle was installed, and new nuts/washers on both sides.

I used 120 wt gear lube in the differentials and knuckles.  The stuff is thick and flows slowly.  I had to use a funnel and patience. Because of the heavier lube the Jeep is very sluggish for the first couple of miles.


  Right rear spring installed.
  Left rear spring installed.

All springs are in fair shape.  All of the springs have had at least one replacement leaf added (total stack 10 rear, 7 front).  The differential, axle and brakes on the rear dismantled without a problem.  The spring shackles were another story.  The frame mounted shackle bushings were rusted in place.  One was worn with only the outer bushing case in place.  Penetrating oil had little effect.  I started with a cold chisel, then realized if I cut a groove it would come out easier.  A triangular rattail file made quick work of that.  I still ended up using a large hammer, but it came out with minimal damage to the mount.  The springs were reinstalled with new shackle bushings and bolts, new center bolts, new U-bolts and spring plates.  And new shocks, of course.

Except: the forward bushing on each of the front springs.  These bushings were still in good shape. 
    Left front shackle bushing.
    Right front shackle bushing.

  Custom made spring clips.  For the final installation the clips were installed side-to-side rather than top-to-bottom.  The old clip shown will be removed.  Also note the brake line clamp on top of the differential. 


The drag link is in good shape and was rebuilt with a repair kit installed.  The bell crank was rebuilt.  The tie rod ends are in excellent condition and have new covers.  The steering box was also rebuilt with new seals.

The bell crank turned into a harder job than necessary.  After a bit of pounding and coaxing it came apart.  The problems started during reassembly.  Bottom line -- use emery cloth or a hone to clean the shaft hole.  You can then reassemble with minimal aggrevation.  In hind sight I should have known that, but I was too enthused about getting it back together.

  Steering box, drag link and bell crank rebuilt and reinstalled.  Note the new brake lines.
  Drag link grease retainer. I used plastic ties to achieve a tighter seal.

The steering system needs more work.  It still has too much play.  In my research I determined that the cause is wear in the steering box (worn shim and bearings) and worn ball ends where they attach to the drag link.  Another project for another day.  As a final touch I covered the steering wheel with leather (Wheelskins) and added a suicide knob (from Tractor Supply).


Brakes shoes are in excellent shape.  The drums were turned.  The wheel cylinders and master cylinder were honed and new kits installed.  New brake lines were also installed.

  The photo is of the preexisting master cylinder cap disassembled.  The hose attaches to the fitting inside the cap and is sealed using silicone sealant.  A previous owner had already fabricated this upgrade which allows remote access for adding brake fluid.  I added a reservoir (attached to the firewall next to the heater box) to complete the system.


After dismounting, derusting and cleaning I found the wheels are different styles and sizes.  Two of them are 15 X 4.5 with riveted centers, two are 15 X 5.5 with welded centers, and one is 15 X 5 with riveted center.  (Two of the original wheels were bent, which I did not see until the tire shop put them on the balancer.  Finding replacement wheels was difficult.)

After all was said and done I put 700 x 15 NDCC Firestone military tread tires with tubes all around.  Another aberation is the right front wheel lugs are left hand thread (as it should be), however the right rear wheel lugs are right hand thread.  That will drive me nuts someday.




1.  The left front hub has one bolt stripped/missing, and one stud on the exhaust manifold snapped on final assembly.

2.  I have a collection of hardware saved over the years, and purchased a stainless steel hardware collection from JC Whitney, that turned out to be invaluable.  Restoring a Jeep is also an excellent excuse for buying new tools, especially when they are tax deductible as a business expense.