Way back in the July ’09 issue, Trasborg decided to buy a ’68 Jeepster Commando and take it to Moab, Utah, for Easter Jeep Safari. The problem was, the Jeep hadn’t run or drove for about five years and was full of rat scat. We then regaled you of our five-week thrash-fest with things like Marvel Mystery oil, replacing rusted out floorboards, replacing the rear crossmember from a failed Dodge rescue, and more. By the time we got the Jeep to Moab, after wheeling it for a shakedown weekend in the Truckhaven hills, it was in tip-top shape. Or so we thought.
It ran great through the snow the first two days in Moab and once it got nice, the Jeepster just refused to run well. Junk in the carb and fuel line coupled with ignition problems doomed the Jeep, and even a partial carb rebuild and lots of distributor work couldn’t get it going again for more than a few miles at a time. Trasborg is really good at pulling the carb on this thing apart, cleaning it out, adjusting it, and putting it back together again. Once that got old, we wheeled the tow rig the rest of the week, brought the Jeepster home, and you guys (and maybe at least one gal) haven’t heard of it since.
In the two years since then, we’ve swapped motors, transmissions, and even the T-case. We actually found rodent bones in the bellhousing and other stuff we’d rather not talk about. We rebuilt the engine and transmission mounts, put a rebuilt carb on it, and ran it. Part of the charm of this Jeep is that it doesn’t have an inline-six and the idle of the odd-fire engine in strangely comforting. So, when the loaner engine’s time was coming near, the only logical choice was to rebuild the engine that the Kaiser factory workers originally put between the framerails more than four decades before.
True to longstanding Jp magazine tradition, when the time came to actually rebuild the engine, we couldn’t stand the thought of someone else doing it—so we decided we’d rebuild our 225ci odd-fire Dauntless V-6 ourselves, in our own driveway. Also true to long-standing tradition, we decided that we might as well get some more power out of it while we were in there and make it more reliable as well. In short, we wanted it all, and we were going to do it all ourselves. We’ve broken the rebuild down into two installments with this one covering the valvetrain, most of the tools needed, and some basic engine rebuilding tips. For the next installment, we’ll finish the bottom end and cover reinstalling the engine where it sat for the 40-plus years before we came around.