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1942 Willys MB - Project All-American

Posted in How To on July 18, 2002
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Rome wasn't built in a day. We continually remind ourselves of that every time we start back into another stage of Project All-American. Not that we ever expected our Willys MB to come together overnight, but we did expect the buildup to maintain some degree of timeliness. And the worst part of it is that the biggest holdup behind getting All-American up and running has nothing to do with a lack of parts or ability, but rather a lack of hours in the day, week, month, and year. Fortunately, after what felt like close to half a century, we've reached a point in our buildup where things can really start taking off.

With parts in truck and the All-American chassis atop a borrowed trailer, we rolled on up to Four X Doctor in Burbank, California, where the Doctor himself, Mike Duncan, was anxiously awaiting our arrival. After some preliminary plans were drawn up, we set out to begin the mockup of the powertrain components.

With the '42 MB tub secured to the Matkins custom frame, the project was finally underway. We'll continue bringing you coverage of the All-American buildup as we set out to equip the vehicle with a stout rollcage and finish off the assembly of the 4.3L V-6 engine in future issues. For the time being, check out the following photos and captions for the lowdown on the major drivetrain components we will be installing in Project All-American. Not much longer now, people. Not too much longer.

The Engines

We weighed a lot of options in the selection of the most appropriate mill for Project All-American. After considering sticking with a Willys four-cylinder F-Head and even taking a few looks at the Buick 231 V-6 that's seemingly taken a permanent residence upon our garage floor, a buddy suggested going Chevy by means of a 262 4.3L TBI V-6. "It'll run upside-down," he noted. Hoping we'd never have to test his proclamation, we searched around for the best and easiest Chevy V-6 setup we could find.

Wanting to "just drop something in" rather than spend a lot of time on prepping and building a bare block, we contacted AutoZone, which offered exactly what we were looking for.

Billed as the No. 1 auto parts retailer in America, AutoZone stores are located in 42 states and the District of Columbia in the U.S. and in 21 locations throughout Mexico. In addition to selling innumerable amounts of automotive parts for virtually every make and model, AutoZone also offers long-block engine assemblies with as much as two-year warranties. The company's helpful and free Loan-A-Tool program is also a great aid to the shade-tree mechanic, offering a full line of 60 different seldom-used specialty tools available to customers for a refundable deposit.

Since we were starting from scratch with our '42, we decided that a complete donor motor would be an excellent benefit in building the AutoZone 4.3L V-6 long-block. Kilroy's Auto & Truck Dismantling in Wilmington, California, answered our call with an '89 "running-when-they-pulled-it" 262ci 4.3L TBI V-6, complete with every bit of bracketry, TBI components, and engine hard parts we'd need to top off the AutoZone long-block. Kilroy's offers a full line of early to late-model car and truck parts, including ready-to-run engines and transmissions, most of which are inventoried and available through its Web site.

Atlas T-Case

Since we were starting fresh with the majority of the All-American buildup, we decided to start fresh in the transfer case department as well. That meant going with a brand-new unit that had yet to see any trail action. As most of you are already well aware, Advance Adapters can supply just that in its Atlas line of T-cases.

Three versions of the popular Atlas 'cases are available: the 3.8:1 Ultra Low, the 4.3:1 Extreme Low, and the Highlander 3.0:1. Each case is of a solid one-piece design and is constructed from 356-T6 heat-treated aluminum alloy using the latest CAD/CAM technology. Internally, the Atlas uses burly, helical-cut gears that are synchro-equipped for quieter operation and ease of shifting. In order to meet the needs of many different vehicle applications, Atlas T-cases can be outfitted with a variety of available input shafts and offer four options in the degree of rotation when coupled to various stock transmissions.

One of the coolest features of the Atlas transfer case is its twin-stick shift capability. The dual levers offer six shift configurations, including 2WD engagement for both front axle only and rear axle only. Aside from this, the overall size and multi-adaptability of the stout Atlas unit make it a very desirable option. Advance Adapters also supplied us with the correct adapter to mate our Atlas 4.3:1 T-case to the Ford T-18 manual transmission.

Project All-American gets some guts as we mock up and install our powertrain components. Project All-American gets some guts as we mock up and install our powertrain components.
Kilroy's Auto & Truck Dismantling in Wilmington, California, supplied us with a Chevy 4.3L V-6 donor engine so we could transfer over the necessary bracketry and components. Kilroy's Auto & Truck Dismantling in Wilmington, California, supplied us with a Chevy 4.3L V-6 donor engine so we could transfer over the necessary bracketry and components.
We covered the oil gallery of the AutoZone long-block with plastic sheeting to keep it free of debris during its installation. We covered the oil gallery of the AutoZone long-block with plastic sheeting to keep it free of debris during its installation.
The AutoZone long-block was bagged and shipped in a crate ready to be topped off and installed. It was also equipped with a Mobil 1 oil filter and came with new bellhousing seals. The AutoZone long-block was bagged and shipped in a crate ready to be topped off and installed. It was also equipped with a Mobil 1 oil filter and came with new bellhousing seals.
Jim's Off Road Warehouse provided a Ford T-18 four-speed tranny for installation in our All-American flatfender. They even installed the Advance Adapters transfer case adapter in the shop, so it would be ready to go upon arrival. Jim's Off Road Warehouse provided a Ford T-18 four-speed tranny for installation in our All-American flatfender. They even installed the Advance Adapters transfer case adapter in the shop, so it would be ready to go upon arrival.
After installing the T-18's cast-iron cover, we bolted up the modified bellhousing from Advance Adapters. After installing the T-18's cast-iron cover, we bolted up the modified bellhousing from Advance Adapters.
The Atlas Extreme Low transfer case from Advance Adapters features a twin-stick operation and a 4.3:1 Low ratio. The Atlas Extreme Low transfer case from Advance Adapters features a twin-stick operation and a 4.3:1 Low ratio.
The all-new aluminum case of the Atlas uses a fluid level sight tube to maintain proper lubrication. Advance Adapters recommends Torco MTF gear lubricant for best results. The all-new aluminum case of the Atlas uses a fluid level sight tube to maintain proper lubrication. Advance Adapters recommends Torco MTF gear lubricant for best results.
With the rolling chassis ready and waiting, we positioned the '42 tub atop our Matkins frame and secured it in place. We'll begin detailing the installation of our drivetrain components in Part 2 of this story. With the rolling chassis ready and waiting, we positioned the '42 tub atop our Matkins frame and secured it in place. We'll begin detailing the installation of our drivetrain components in Part 2 of this story.

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