With some sudden free time on my hands, I thought it'd be a hoot to row back through of my public Facebook page and take a stroll down memory lane. Nowadays I post more to my @hbombindustries or @christianhazelofficial Instagram accounts, but since about 2010 when Facebook was the cat's meow with regard to social media platforms, I posted a lot of updates on my projects that never made it to the magazines or the Four Wheeler Network. In fact, some of the really early stuff I did when I was tech editor of Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road in the late 1990s and early 2000s and tech editor of Jp magazine from the early-to-mid 2000s was never digitized and put online. So unless you've been a longtime print magazine reader, you may have never seen some of these photos. Take a peek at some of the stuff that's up there, and if you like what you see, lemme know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I can do a similar treatment for some of my other well-loved projects like my '85 Ramcharger, '71 CJ-6 "Project Hatari," '68 M-715, and others.
This was taken during a trip in the fall of 2007. The blue 4x4 I'm rolling up on was broken and couldn't move. I can't remember exactly what he needed, but I wound up welding him up with the onboard Mobiarc welder on the flattie.
Flattie to Moab
I'm guessing by how old my oldest boy looks this was taken during Easter Jeep Safari 2006. He used to fall asleep in his car seat and I'd have to drive the trail with my right hand holding his head steady while steering and shifting the SM420 with my left. This photo was taken by a Jp reader unbeknownst to me while coming down the entrance into Hell's Revenge Trail. He later emailed me the photo, which I've always really enjoyed.
Willys Flatfender Rollcage Build
I've actually got a full folder specifically on the rollcage build, but it was only the second project I did with my M-Tech Supply tubing bender. The 'cage was built with mostly 1.75-inch DOM with 1.5-inch DOM used for the dash and rear tub crossbars.
Willys Flatfender Frame Strengthening
Unlike some builds today, when I started building this Jeep back in 2000 I never even considered building my own frame. Instead, I used a sabre saw (yes, I was that patient) to cut out 1/8-inch steel plate to box the factory frame completely from front to back. The front and rear bumpers are 0.120-wall rectangular tubing, and although I kept the factory year crossmember, I cut out the front crossmember and replaced it with a section of 0.120-wall 1.75-inch sleeved with another piece of 0.120-wall 1.5-inch DOM.
Unique Willys Flatfender Drivetrain
When I bought this 2WD Jeep it had an early '80s Camaro 305 V-8 in front of a two-speed Powerglide transmission, which I quickly removed. I originally got a 1970 Cadillac 500 and mated it to a SM465 and started to drop it in, but the 500 was gargantuan and heavy. I then switched gears, procuring a 4.6L Cadillac Northstar V-8 and mated it to an SM420 with a junkyard 2.8L Camaro V-6 bellhousings. When the Northstar clearly wouldn't work without major compromises in a traditional flattie layout like linking the front and rear suspension, pushing the axles to the extreme ends of the chassis, and more, I switched gears for a third time, trading the Northstar to Turn Key Engine Supply for one of its then-available 3.5L "Shortstar" LX5 V-6 engine packages. The Shortstar is tuned for about 260 hp and 260 lb-ft and weighs around 300 pounds with accessories. Centerforce custom-built a flywheel for me, and I used the same SM420 and Camaro bellhousing I had modified for the Northstar. The T-case was a Spicer 18 I built using a Dana 20 case.
Willys Flatfender Winch, Suspension, and Body
I've never found symmetry to be a huge necessity, so when the Saginaw power steering box wanted to be where the winch was, my solution was to simply offset the winch mounting spot toward the passenger side to make clearance. Like the tube crossmember I built in front of the engine, the winch mount is built from 0.120-wall 1.75-inch sleeved with another piece of 0.120-wall 1.5-inch DOM. I hole-sawed the longitudinal tubes and welded in heavy-wall tubing onto which the winch mounts. I used some 1.5-inch 0.120-wall DOM stitch-welded to the rockers and attached directly to the frame. The runners also serve as the rollcage A- and B-pillar mounts. The rear 'cage tubes tie directly to the framerails.