Farm Jeep
1949 Willys Jeep CJ-3A:
Project "Ole Blue"
Part 3 Body Blues

Body Blues
Since Ole Blue arrived last spring, it has been sitting quietly in the garage while Old Yeller occupied all our time and attention. Finally, in early fall, we began the disassembly process. The plan was to remove the body and start the “frame-up” restoration.

The fender is connected to…
The simple structure of the jeep body components makes the disassembly process every straight forward; remove the grill, both fenders and the tub. With the engine already removed, the bolts and brackets holding the grill and fenders were easy to spot. We spent a Saturday morning removing those parts. It was great fun getting starting.

The second session found Evan focusing on the dash and firewall, while Barry worked on the body mounts. Barry was able to use the impact wrench on most of the body mount bolts, while Evan spent extra time removing gauges and accessories to be restored. None of the bolts will be reused and most broke in the removal process.

One item of concern was removing the steering wheel. We had read some articles that indicated that getting the steering wheel off can be a difficult task, requiring a special puller. Luckily, we were able to use our hub puller and the wheel popped right off.

The second session ended with the body mount bolts on the passenger side removed and the dash stripped. Evan had also removed the pedals and the transmission cover.

Lift off!
Session three started with the removal of the final body mount bolts. When the PO had replaced the front floor pans, they had simple welded new plate over the old floor. This meant that the bolt heads were sandwiched between the original floor and the new plate. We ended up cutting the final (we thought) bolts with a saws-all.

With the body ready to be lifted off, we aired up the tires and replaced the steering wheel before pushing Ole Blue out into the sunshine. Barry’s 1964 Ford 4000 tractor is equipped with a front-end loader and was the perfect tool for lifting the body off of the chassis. The tub is relatively light and we used a nylon rope attached to the tailgate hooks and holes in the dash. The rope was attached to a hook on the loader bucket.

Evan operated the loader and gently started lifting on the rope. The body moved upward a couple of inches, and then stopped. Clearly it was hanging on something. The body was free at the corners and appeared to simply need to be lifted up and back, to clear the shift levers and steering column. A second try and the body was still stuck!

After a more careful examination, we found a brace on the driver’s side step was still bolted to the frame. We had missed it. The offending bolt was quickly removed and the lift off commenced once again. This time the body came off without a problem.

The downside…
Once Evan lowered the tub to the ground, we decided to flip it on its side for a better look. What we saw was not pretty. The complete underside will need to be replaced. All of the channels are rusted and the rear deck has enough holes to warrant replacement. As noted earlier, the floor panels had been patched over, but we would want to do a proper repair.

While working on the dash and firewall, Evan had uncovered (literarily) a gash in the firewall. It appeared someone had taken a giant can opener and ripped the sheet metal. This had been hidden behind a patch. Neither of us could figure out what the PO might have been trying to accomplish.

The bottom line…
It appears we are faced with replacing everything underneath the tub and repairing the firewall. We will need to make a decision between the cost and effort of the repairs and a tub replacement. For the moment, we hauled the body out into the field and covered it for now.

The good news…
While we had been able to see much of the front half of the frame, the tub removal gave us are first real look at the total chassis. The frame appears to have surface rust, but no problems. The only repair needed will be to the top of the battery tray.

After cleaning off the chassis with an air gun and garden hose, we wheeled it back into the garage. Next up is removal of the drive train components.

Barry’s notes:
Those who know old tractors will see that the Ford is dressed in the wrong colors. When I purchased the tractor it was bright yellow. I cleaned it up and used spray cans to paint it Ford blue. The hood should be grey and I still feel guilty that I didn’t take the time to make it right. That is one lesson I plan to apply to our jeep restorations; if you are going to invest the time, get it right and do it right.

Evan’s notes:
Working on a Willys and driving the old Ford tractor: that's a good day!

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Last updated: 10/14/2003

Copyright 2003