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1948 Jeep Willys Pickup Truck - Project Murderous Overkill, Part 1

Posted in Project Vehicles on October 4, 2005
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Photographers: Des Wytmans

Project Murderous Overkill, Part 1
Project Murderous Overkill, Part 1 - Web Extras
Project Murderous Overkill, Part 2
Project Murderous Overkill, Part 3

We promised you more on the purchase of our new project vehicle in the November 2005 issue of Jp, so here it is:

After checking out the photos of my wife's cousin, Joe sent me via e-mail, I agreed to swap him my old Ramsey Patriot 9500 winch from the front of my Dodge for the Willys. I felt a little guilty about getting so much for so little, so I also threw in a set of off-road lights. The lights helped, but I still felt a little guilty, so I threw in some Jp Magazine stickers. However, not even the stickers totally cleared my conscience, so I just decided to accept the fact that I was a bad person and envisioned kicking his dog, trampling his rose bushes, and peeling out over his lawn after stealing the Jeep from him.

I loaded up my F-250 and trailer and drove up to Cappa's shack on a dirt lot to pick him up. Cousin Joe had been nice enough to bring the Willys to his residence in San Luis Obispo from Los Gatos, saving me hours of driving and lots of gas money. I should have refused his kind offer, but I'm a dog-kicking, rose killing evil person, so I let him.

We arrived at the Wytmans estate and quickly used the winch I was trading to cousin Joe to load the '48 onto my trailer. Hey, if nothing else it showed him the darn thing worked.

After loading the truck, making payment in swag, and signing all the papers, Cappa and I hightailed it to the nearest restaurant parking lot to really survey my steal.

The Good:
Although it was covererd in algae and had a few wasps nests in the crevices, the truck was relatively clean. The Ramsey PTO and winch are really cool and may find a home on the Hatari CJ-6, but don't hold your breath for an install story. Most of the sheetmetal is solid and straight. There's a Ford Pickup rear axle with big bearing ends, a Nodular iron 3rd member, 31-spline shafts, and 3.50 gears. The brakes work really well.

The Bad:
The bald, dry-rotted 14-15 tires are about a 36x15.50 equivalent and will be the first thing to hit the dumpster. The previous owner (the dude before cousin Joe) swapped in a I-6 Chevy engine in front of the stock T-90 and Spicer 18 t-case, but cut the front crossmember out in order to move the stock radiator forward. The stock steering was held together with bent nails and it's nearly impossible to turn the wheels with those big, dumb tires on it.

After our survey, Cappa and I went into a barbeque joint for lunch where I had a Dr. Pepper with my meal and Cappa had a whole pitcher of beer. Apparently he gets bored easily in the car when he's a passenger and drinking a whole pitcher promised to entertain both he and I for a good portion of the trip. The fun started when he grabbed my camera and started shooting photos of everything, including the grey pickup that had been following us for several miles.

Drunken Cappa really wanted to get a good, clear photo of the splatted bugs on the F-250's windshield for an art exhibit he was working on. Something about Kentucky road kill cooking or some such nonsense. I didn't argue the fact that bugs technically aren't road kill and we weren't in Kentucky.

Around the middle of nowhere the pitcher of beer hit Cappa's bladder and I started looking for every pothole and bump I could find. It was pretty good fun until Cappa realized we were in my vehicle and not a press fleet loaner. I hit the first exit I saw when he got that I'm-going-to-pee-my-pants-on-your-cloth-bench-seat-look on his face. Here is a much happier and lighter Cappa emerging from the bushes and just taking notice of a car full of laughing college coeds.

Once we arrived at Cappa's dirt house we pulled the drain plug in the Willy's gas tank only to have a foul smelling sludge slowly trickle out. Cappa tried to hasten the flow by shoving a stick into the tank, only to break it off inside. Thanks, buddy. Good thing I'm putting a fuel cell in this rig anyway.

The stock steering is pathetically worn and inadequate. I never though I'd wish for a bellcrank, but the factory lever and rod system is about the worst that's ever been put on the planet. The front axle already has spring plates welded on top for a front spring over, but I'm really not looking to keep the Dana 25 axle.

The rear axle is a pretty good score, with its nodular iron centersection, big bearing ends, and rebuilt brakes. Although I doubt I'll keep it in this vehicle, it's a good rear to hang onto for when I finally get around to building that prerunner I've been wanting. But by then monkeys will probably rule the earth.

It's going to be a little hard to get rid of all the trinkets like the spare tire carriers on both sides of the bed, the cool retro heater, and the stock horse hair bench seat, but I've got absolutely no love for the old-school Ridge Runner tires on 15x12 wagon wheels. I'm sure the fenders, winch, PTO, front axle, and all the other good stuff will wind up for sale on the web somewhere.

Someone spent a whole lot of time reinforcing the rear side steps and bumper, but it's nothing the Miller Spectrum 625 plasma cutter can't take care of in a matter of minutes. I do dig the pintle hitch, and the tailgate, though. We'll get rolling on this new project vehicle beginning in the early winter issues of Jp Magazine. It's going to be nasty, powerful, and multi-purpose.

Project Murderous Overkill, Part 1
Project Murderous Overkill, Part 1 - Web Extras
Project Murderous Overkill, Part 2
Project Murderous Overkill, Part 1
Project Murderous Overkill, Part 1 - Web Extras
Project Murderous Overkill, Part 2
Project Murderous Overkill, Part 3

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