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There’s a Willys Pickup, Jeep CJ-6, and Dana 60 Axle in This Social Distance Shop Shelter

Four Wheeler wants to see your garage and what you’re working on!

With the rat race finally slowed to a snail's pace, every day can be garage workshop day! We give credit where credit is due. Our friends at HOT ROD came up with a good idea and asked their viewers to share video of all those cool projects, organized shelves, cleaned tool chests, and swept floors we've suddenly got time to make happen. So now that we're all hunkering down and sheltering in place, we're going to jump on the bandwagon and put a call out to Four Wheeler audience to submit short videos of their shops. Here's your chance.

We've finally got time to wrench, fabricate, and build, so let's see what you're up to and the place in which you're getting it done. We don't care if you're working out of a dirt-floor carport with a Swiss Army knife or a 60x120 shop with multiple lifts and a full fabrication center. We want to see what you've been up to since the world stopped turning. Or, at the very least, just take us on a virtual tour of your setup like Christian Hazel does in this video. Where's your toolbox? What kind of bench vise do you use? Where do you store your camping gear? How much crap does your significant other pile into your precious workspace? Grab your phone or camera, and take us on a tour! Just try to keep the whole video length to 4 minutes or less, and be sure to include at least 2 still photos. Follow the directions below, and let's see your social distance shop shelter!

Hazel Flattie Refresh

The plan is to have the Hazel Flattie out at TDS next year. That's a long time to get not a ton of stuff freshened up. I'll replace the brake system, build a new under-tub fuel tank, and send the clutch back to Centerforce to be relined and readied for another 15 years of hard off-road service.

Cluttered Corner

Normally my garage is a repository for anything my wife or four kids can't find a place for inside the house. I'm finally pecking away and rectifying that situation, but I'm still waist-deep in clutter. The shelving is pretty cheeseball, but it was there when I moved in. I've got some nice heavy steel racks and steel cabinets in my storage shed, and I'm really thinking about moving one of them into this space next to the drill press and stashing all my nuts and bolts in a real hardware bin instead of the clear totes I keep them in now.

Science Lab Countertops

The cabinets that line the west side of my garage wall were there when we moved in. The countertops are some sort of manufactured stone type surface that seem to be completely impervious to heat, grease, fluids, and other contaminants.

Building a Dana 60 at Home

One of those "let's see if we can do it" projects I came up with when Tech Editor of Jp magazine was building a front Dana 60 axle out of a rear Dana 60 in my garage. I got a Dodge Dana 60 from the junkyard, stripped it down, and chopped the ends off in my Harbor Freight chop saw. I carefully measured angles and then literally pounded the Crane inner Cs on by hand with a heavy mallet. I welded the Cs on, assembled the rest of the axle, and gave it to my buddy to install in his Land Cruiser. Amazingly, I got the caster of each knuckle within 1 degree of each other. Even though I proved it could be done, it wound up costing about the same as a Dynatrac axle and was way more work than I'd care to expend again.

Cadillac 500 Ramcharger

The 318 in my '85 Ramcharger got terminally damaged on the third Ultimate Adventure in 2002. I had recently ditched the idea of installing the 1970 Cadillac 500 engine in my '53 flattie, and the engine was just sitting in my garage, so I installed it in the Ramcharger. I had worked out a way to install an SM465 behind the Caddy, but in a brief and uncharacteristic moment of dyslexia, when I had the SM465 rebuilt at Anaheim Gear for a story in 4-Wheel & Off-Road I asked them to install a 32-spline output shaft. The Klune-V in front of the Chevy NP205 in my Ramcharger had a 23-spline input. Whoops. I yanked the SM465 apart on my workbench and swapped in a conversion shaft before finishing the install. It sounded easier than it was because most of the SM465 bushings and bearings are pressed on, so I wound up building a ton of homemade pullers with my welder. Funny enough, I wound up yanking the 500 and SM465 back out. The 500 went to a buddy who installed it in a Corvette drag car and the SM465 eventually made its way into my '68 M-715 in front of a 23-spline Atlas T-case. Yes, a 23-spline one (I triple-checked before ordering).

Willys Pickup Prerunner

After getting hooked on wheeling the sand dunes of Glamis, I got it in my head that I needed a 600-horsepower long-travel prerunner. I had a perfectly good, running 1948 Willys pickup that had a 194-cube Chevy six-cylinder swapped in front of the factory T90 transmission. I pulled it all apart and gave away the Ford 9-inch with Nodular iron centersection, Dana 25 front axle, steering, engine, radiator, and bench seat to John Cappa, who repurposed them in a Willys flatfender rat rod he was building. I then built a full rollcage inside the cab of the Willys, X-braced the rear, fully plated the factory frame, and built spring mounts for long-travel leaf springs.

While I was working on that, I had the Oldsmobile 455 from my '69 Cutlass rebuilt at Mondello Performance to make 550 horsepower on motor and 700 horsepower with a small snort of nitrous. A build TH400 and some 5.13 1-ton axles would have rounded out the project. I had it sitting on its axles with leaf springs when the "bigger is better" bug bit, and I decided to scrap all that for a linked coilover rear suspension with bypass shocks and coilovers and a long-travel A-arm front suspension. I was in the middle of working all that out when I got some unexpected bills and unfortunately had to sell the unfinished project to pay. I still regret not finishing that one, but sometimes you gotta be an adult and give up your toys.

1971 CJ-6 Buick 225, Rollcage, and More

Readers these days are quite familiar with the Ultimate Adventure UACJ6D project, which is my former US Border Patrol CJ-6 we built for the 2017 Ultimate Adventure event.

However, that's not my first '71 Border Patrol CJ-6. That honor goes to "Project Hatari!" which is a CJ-6 I bought in 2004 and built up as a mild little critter in the pages of Jp magazine. After swapping in what I thought was a good Buick 225 and drivetrain from a wrecked 1970 CJ-5 Renegade, converting to Saginaw power steering, rebuilding the brake system, installing a new Centerforce II clutch, wiring harness, and upgrading the bumpers, I took the Jeep on its maiden voyage in the middle of building the rollcage.

The engine temperature quickly pegged, and the oil looked like a milkshake. I put the 'cage build on hold and tore the top end off the Buick 225. NAPA got me a head gasket kit in a couple days, and I reassembled the engine in my garage minutes before driving the Jeep to TDS. After wheeling it all weekend, I pulled it back into the garage and finished the 'cage build. You can see one of the hoops I had bent up leaning against my trusty shop workbench.

Tubing Bender, Welder, and Chop Saw

If there are three tools in my garage that have more than paid for themselves, they are my chop saw, welder, and tubing bender. I bought the Harbor Freight chop saw on sale with a coupon one day for about $49. It came with an extra set of brushes for the motor, and a couple years ago when the motor wouldn't kick on, I installed them. That got it running flawlessly once again. On my tubing bender, it's a mechanical unit from M Tech Supply. The company has since renamed and revised my particular model several times since I got it in 2002, but I have dies for 1-inch, 1.5-inch, and 1.75-inch tubing. I need to get a 2-inch die set one of these days. I drilled my concrete floor with a good old Milwaukee Hole Shooter and a masonry bit, installed some Red Head anchors, and when I need to bend tube I bolt it to the floor. For my welder, I used to run a Craftsman-labeled Hobart IronMan 210 which I absolutely loved, but upgraded after about 10 years to a Miller 212 with Auto-Set. I haven't built half as many projects with the Miller as I have with the Hobart IronMan, but I'll get there eventually.

Wrangler Suspension Install

These days when you say Wrangler Suspension, people instantly think JK or JL, but back in the dark days of Jeeping we had these things called leaf springs. And if you wanted to lift a Jeep more than a couple inches, you had to completely change out the flat factory springs for taller aftermarket leaf springs with a higher arch to them. My first Wrangler was a 1995 YJ, which I installed a 3.5-inch Superlift suspension (apparently while wearing a Superlift T-shirt) in the relative comfort and cool of my garage. I remember it was close to summertime, which tends to get a bit warm even in San Diego. I had a TV piped with cable sitting on top of my garage refrigerator and listened to movies while wrenching away and snapping photos for a story in Jp magazine. As for the old YJ suspension, at the time I was running rear YJ springs on all four corners of my flatfender, so I kept the rears that came off my '95 as spares. About a year later, I snapped a main spring on the Rubicon and thankfully, was able to swap it out quickly using the spring you see dangling in the photo.

Willys Flatfender Axle Upgrade

When I originally built my '53 Willys, I used front and rear 9-inch axles with low-pinion centersections. The low pinions worked with the Spicer 18 T-case, but after I swapped in a 32-spline Dana 300 with a higher rear output shaft location, the rear driveline angle wouldn't work anymore with a low-pinion Ford 9-inch centersection. In addition to swapping in a True Hi9 rear centersection with 5.38 gears and a 35-spline spool, I had a new rear centersection and 35-spline shafts built to center the pinion behind the Dana 300 (Spider 18s are offset to the passenger-side). Because I had been running 5.83 gears, I also yanked the front centersection and had it regeared with 5.38s. I left the flattie floating on jackstands while the new centersections were being set up. I'm pretty glad we didn't have a big earthquake.

Submit a Social Distance Shop Shelter to editor@4WOR.com!

  • Take a horizontal video of your shop, approximately 60 seconds, no longer than 4 minutes.
  • Show us around! Tell us who you are and talk about some of the cool stuff we're seeing, especially project vehicles.
  • We really like it when you start your 4x4(s).
  • To submit the video, we recommend using a file-transfer service such as WeTransfer. It's free to use. Follow the directions on the website, and send to editor@4wor.com.
  • While you are at it, snap a couple of overall photos and any cool details (at least 2 pics, please—or as many as you'd like) and add them to the WeTransfer file.
  • One more time, send to editor@4WOR.com!