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Replacing Early Jeep Floors

Verne’s 1946 CJ-2a, part 5

Tink is the nickname for our 1949 CJ-2a. It's one classic Jeep that has somehow survived the last 74 years. Of course, Tinks survival hasn't come without incident, and we've been doing what we can to fix up the old Jeep. You can check out other stories in this series, parts 1-4 below.

Truth is, Tink is—and was—well-loved and used before being put out to pasture at some point. Since then one problem that Tink had was accumulation of dirt and organic materials from the trees (smallish junipers and cedars) that the old Jeep was left fallow below for a few years. That meant that the hat channels and large parts of the floor were well on their way returning from a solid metal to a mineral deposit. Rust. To solve Tink's brush with cancer, we cut out and replaced what we could without getting altogether too invasive. (Truth is, we didn't want to mess up the amazing patina.)

Rust in the floor and hat channels

Here are several pictures of the damage time, sediment, leaves in the Jeep, and water did to Tink's floor. Interestingly, the floor riser (just behind the front seats), the bed floor, and the rear wheel tubs were all in remarkably good shape with very little rust.

Rebuilding part of the transmission tunnel

Part of the transmission tunnel in Tink was rusted beyond use. This was the area above where the hat channel runs below the rear portion of the transmission tunnel. Some areas of the hat channels were filled with strips of oak—that's right, wood. Oddly this area lacks wood, but trash must have made its way in there and attracted moisture, and the result was steel cancer.

Replacement part for a rusty floor

We got two new floor panels (driver and passenger side) and replacement hat channels from a couple of sources on the internet. You can get entirely new floors for these body tubs (Classic Enterprises, Crown, Omix-Ada, and a few other smaller sellers) but we wanted to ensure that we kept as much of the original sheetmetal as possible.

Spot welding, tack welding, and patience

Welding in floor patches and new hat channels involves lots of cutting grinding, fitting, trimming, refitting, retrimming, re-refitting, and so on. At some point you get the parts to fit right, and then you have to either drill holes through one layer of the steel and make spot welds, or tack weld slowly, down a seam while holding panels in place with clamps and so on. When doing the latter, we like to tack, move down a few inches, tack again, and so on. Then once the first series of tacks are cool, you can go back and add more until everything is all welded back together.