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DIY Play Jeep You Can Build

Posted in Features on November 15, 2016
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Photographers: Manufacturer

During a recent visit to the world’s largest museum collection of Jeep vehicles, which is housed at the Omix-ADA corporate headquarters, we shot a photo of something in a state of partial restoration tucked away in a corner. It was, of course, a Jeep. However, it was about 3-feet long, just less than 20 inches wide, and approximately 16 inches tall. We now have a full complement of exclusive photographs courtesy Omix-ADA of the “Sidewalk Jeep,” as it was called in the 1949 Toys You Can Make, A Popular Mechanics Book. The book offered build-instructions and diagrams with measurements.

Claiming that (remember, this is 1949) “by using second-hand parts it can be built for less than $50.” The article’s author goes on to say, “Special features are auto-type steering gear, auto-starting-motor drive through a hydraulic transmission, and electrically welded angle-iron frame.” The example shown here from the Omix-ADA museum uses a 6V battery, and an electric motor with a chain drive that ran a surplus World War II hydraulic unit from the turret of a bomber.

Board wood and plywood of varying widths and sizes were used for a great deal of the Sidewalk Jeep’s construction, as well as flat and angle iron of different sizes. Locations for welds and drilled or punched holes (and the sizes of the holes) were also called out. Turned steel rods were specified for some applications such as steering rods and wheel spindles that are “turned” from square cold-rolled steel. You had to own or have access to a lathe and be pretty handy with it in order to build this puppy. All parts of the body are joined with screws and glue, and the hood was formed from rolled sheetmetal.

Drive from the transmission is through a 12-tooth sprocket to the countershaft (running in pillow-block bearings) that carries a 10-tooth sprocket for a 1/2-inch pitch roller chain. The outboard end of the transmission-shaft extension is carried in a pillow-block bearing bolted to the frame. Drive from the countershaft to the rear wheel is through a short V-belt and pulleys. A pulley is attached to the left rear wheel, and a lever-controlled idler rides the slack side of the B-belt and, when placed in the driving position, puts enough tension on the belt to send power from the countershaft to the rear wheel.

A speed-control lever on the right side of the Sidewalk Jeep, and an automotive starting switch with pedal is mounted under the dashboard. The speed-control lever is connected to a control rod that is also connected to the speed-control arm rod the transmission. Moving the lever provides switching between forward and reverse.

The steering system is made up of a worm-gear assembly, and a steering arm is brazed to the hub of the worm gear. A discarded automotive brake rod was used to create a steering tie-rod, and the adjustable yoke on the rod offers a means to adjust toe-in. The steering wheel is a tricycle wheel, and it’s bolted to the steering rod. The wheels are steel with rubber rims, and typical of what you might have seen on that little red wagon you had as a kid.

That’s enough of us babbling on about this incredible toy Sidewalk Jeep that Omix-ADA has completely restored. We’ll just let you geek out on the photos. If you’re interested in touring the entire Omix-ADA Jeep museum collection, call 770/614-6101.

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