1951 Willys Jeep CJ3A Trail Gear - Rescue Me

    Part 4: Recovery Gear And Security

    Sean P. HolmanPhotographer, Writer

    In the last installment of Project Colonel Mustard (May '08), we got to work fixing the suspension, as well as adding some wheels and tires to the old Jeep. Now that we are confident in the abilities of the flatfender to venture past the trailhead, we thought it would be important to make sure we could get ourselves out of trouble since we don't normally carry around four burly dudes to lift it out of difficult situations.

    Our first instinct was to contact the winch experts at Warn to procure a winch for the Colonel. Much to our surprise, Warn still has the mounting plates for either the classic 8274-50 winch or the countless low-profile models that are now the standard. Being a legitimate old-schooler, we felt only the legendary 8274-50 would look right hanging off the front of our 3A. We also wanted to mount a spare tire on the tailgate of the Willys-without having to bolt the tailgate shut-mount our Hi-Lift extreme jack securely, and carry onboard air. With our heavy tool bags and recovery bag sitting in the cargo area, we also thought it would be smart to protect the cargo area from things sliding around and add some tie-downs to hold our gear in case the Colonel decided to see what life was like rubber-side up. Lastly we needed a secure place to store our winch controller and air hose, so we measured the space and contacted Tuffy Security Products. With our plan of attack laid out and a king's ransom of boxes, we once again talked Mel Wade, owner of Off Road Evolution in Fullerton, California, in to helping us tweak our Jeep

    Warn 8274-50
    Believe it or not, at 73.4 feet per minute, the venerable 8,000-pound Warn 8274-50 is still the fastest no-load line-speed winch in Warn's self-recovery arsenal and comes with the most cable at 150 feet. It also has a unique spur gear setup that has endeared itself to wheelers over the years because of its smooth operation, excellent heat dissipation, and renowned reliability. Warn's available mounting plates make installation a breeze, although don't expect to install it yourself-it is a job for two people.

    Hi-Lift Extreme Jack & Isolator
    When the Hi-Lift Extreme came out a while back, Hi-Lift sent us one for our projects, but unfortunately we never had a place to mount it. Considering it a perfect match for the Willys, we had Mel fab up some brackets to hold the Hi-Lift Extreme securely behind the front seats by utilizing the stock top bow pockets.

    We have had great experiences with Line-X in the past and we wanted to get the Willys sprayed, so we took the Colonel over to Line-X of Huntington Beach, in Huntington Beach, California, to have the cargo area sprayed. Not only does it look great, but also adds a non-slip surface, and because Line-X has a higher tensile strength than steel, it keeps loose gear from denting the body panels.

    Tailgate-Mounted Spare Tire Carrier
    The factory position for the spare tire on these old flatfenders is on the passenger-side rear corner and even though our '51 has a factory reinforcement between the inner and outer body panels, they are still notorious for flexing metal under the weight of the spare. For this reason, we wanted to fabricate a rear spare-tire mount that would work without losing the functionality of the tailgate by bolting it shut. With a little shop ingenuity and a few spare parts, Mel at Off Road Evolution was able to design a spare-tire carrier to meet our needs and expectations.

    Tuffy Series II Console
    Since our Jeep has no doors, no top, and no lockable storage, we thought it would be smart to get a Tuffy console installed ASAP so we would have a secure place to store our wallets, winch controller, and whatever else needed to be locked up behind 16-gauge steel and a tamper-proof lock. While Tuffy doesn't make a flatfender-specific center console, we found that the dimensions of the Series II was a perfect fit between the seats of the Colonel, the only major installation issue was the need to add a tall spacer because the factory toolbox under the passenger seat creates an uneven floor. At tktk inches tall, it puts the armrest in a perfect location for longer drives. As an added bonus, the console includes cup holders, which we chose to mount on the rear of the console as not to interfere with our shift levers.

    Power Tank
    We love the Power Tank, especially in Competition Yellow. We have found that one 5-pound tank will last four or more outings if you are running 33s and have them aired down to 10 to 15 psi and back to 30. With our BFGoodrich M/Ts in 30x9.50R15, a single charge will likely last an entire season of wheeling. Any beverage or welding supply shop can refill it, which costs about $20 in our experience. We mounted our Power Tank to the Colonel using the rollbar mounts and speed bracket.

    Mac's Custom Tie Downs & Straps
    We love Mac's Custom Tie Downs. They sell just about any type of strap that you can think of and with the highest-quality materials. We have used Mac's straps for everything from keeping the Colonel on the trailer to securing gear in the bed of a truck. The Ultra Pack, which comes with four 8-foot ratchet straps and four axle straps, makes securing a vehicle to any trailer a breeze.

    Another excellent Mac's product is the VersaTie track system, which provides great anchor points for just about anything you might carry. These versatile rails are great because they install easily, have a high weight capacity, and the VersaTie connectors can be installed at any point along the rail without having to be slid out the end. Numerous sizes and styles are available; we chose 24-inch rails for the Colonel.

    Mac's also sent us an assortment of straps, our favorite being the ones that have VersaTie connectors on the ends instead of hooks. We guess this means these straps won't get borrowed by our "friends," at least until they read this story and get VersaTie tracks for their own vehicles.

    Painless Performance CirKit Boss
    Somewhere along the line, a previous owner had installed a cigarette lighter in the dash, but it wasn't wired to anything when we acquired the Willys. Figuring it would be nice to have a power point to recharge the GPS or run a light, we contacted Painless Performance for one of its weather-sealed three-circuit CirKit Boss wiring kit. The CirKit Boss is a safe way to add electrical accessories to any system and includes an in-line circuit breaker and relay. This kit was a snap to wire and gave us one constant (which we wired to the cigarette lighter) and two keyed circuits, so now we have the wiring to expand if we want to add a CB radio or something else down the line.

    How Does It Work
    Prior to Easter Jeep Safari in Moab last March, we had a chance to take the Colonel to the Tierra Del Sol event in Ocotillo Wells, California, for a shakedown run. We were impressed how well the Deaver/Bilstein suspension worked with the added weight of the 8274 and spare tire. The Jeep worked very well as a whole, with zero rattling from the Hi-Lift and only noise from the spare and tailgate on the hardest hits. The Tuffy Series II console worked out perfectly and gave us a place for our miscellaneous items as well as our bottles of water. Lastly, the Mac's VersaTie system kept everything from flying around. At the end of the day, we aired up with our Power Tank, loaded up the trailer, and headed home. These modifications did exactly what we wanted and we wouldn't change one of them.