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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well, it’s been about 20 years since I last owned a Willys Wagon. I thought they were the coolest vehicle ever then and I still do. So, I set out to find one. It didn’t take long. Only 2 weeks after starting my search, I found a 1962 in totally original condition and running with no modifications. So, I laid down some cash and headed home.







I couldn't resist the temptation to drive it around the block a few times before I started tearing into it. The motor runs GREAT!! Everything worked on it too. It definitely wasn't abused in its past life, but it was in a wet climate. As usual, there is some nasty rust on the front floor boards, but I will have those cut out and replaced in no time. The main reason I bought it is that the body is 99% perfectly straight. It doesn’t have any of the typical exterior damage that happens over the years. The front fenders, hood, and grille are in excellent shape. The tub is extremely straight, but I plan to remove the quarter panels so I can get between the inner and out panels to remove all the rust.

All part of a complete body restoration. I can’t wait!!!

Prepped for surgery...



My plans are quite different than stock. This will be a complete restoration from the ground up. I am not going to run any of the stock drivetrain. The motor, trans, t-case, and axles will be removed and in their place will be a TBI 5.7 engine, a 4L60E 4 speed automatic transmission, and an NP241 t-case from a 1995 Chevy Tahoe.



I am taking the differentials from my CJ-7/Commando crawler. The front axle is a custom width high pinion Ford Dana 60. I narrowed it approximately 8". I installed 4.56 gears, a Detroit locker, 35 spline Superior Evolution chromoly inner and outer axle shafts and Yukon Super Joints. It also has 35 Spline Warn locking hubs. I had the 8 lug hubs machined and redrilled for a 5 on 5 1/2 lug pattern (Don’t ask). I installed Ballistic Fab high steer arms and I built a custom tie rod and drag link with 1 1/2" .250 wall tubing and ¾ rod ends. This thing is bomb proof.

For the rear axle, I have a Currie Enterprises Ford 9" differential with 4.56 gears, Detroit locker, 35 spline chromoly axle shafts, and Explorer disc brakes.

For the suspension, I am sticking with simplicity. I am using BDS leaf springs front and rear. Wrangler 3” springs in front and XJ 3” springs in back. They are a perfect fit for the Willys Wagon frame. Although, I had to extend the front frame rails to accommodate the longer spring anchors and power steering box. The steering system is an AGR Rock Ram System with the high output pump, new Saginaw box, and hydraulic steering ram.

Ok, so here we go…





Completely stripped and ready for front floorpan replacement and other rust repairs.



Original frame ready to be stripped down.





 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I started cutting the factory brackets and spring hangers off the frame. It has to be completely stripped down to build it up again with my drivetrain.

Master cylinder bracket removal (one on the left and one on the right for right hand drive wagons).





Front spring anchor removal.





Rear spring anchor removal



I created cardboard templates for plates to extend the frame and box it.





All done and ready for motor mounts and power steering box. I also got the spring anchors tacked in place and shackle reversal tubes welded through the frame.



 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I cut the front floor boards out.







I will be cutting out the entire firewall and replacing it with new sheetmetal. It's much easier than trying to fill a thousand holes. And I want all signs of rust to be gone. Lots of work, but I am having a blast. And there is no deadline.





Worked until late tonight. Got everything picked up and swept the floor. Ready for another day of fun!!



 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
OK, so here is where things start getting serious.

I knew if ever I bought another Willys wagon that I was going to do a complete resto on the body. Of course that means getting behind the rear fenderwells where serious rust lurks. The poorly designed inner fender on these old wagons left a very vulnerable spot that dirt and moisture can get into.

The fenderwells are double wall, so the only way to get to it is to remove the side panel. Fortunately, they are available new from Kaiser Willys, Walck's 4WD, and Willys America. In fact, the entire front floor and supporting structure is also available. Very cool and the prices are reasonable.

So, I started tonight with this portion of the resto. I bought a spot weld drill bit (cutter) and drilled out all the spot welds holding the lower half of the quarter panel on.



Just as I expected, it revealed some serious rust on the inner fenderwell and back side of the quarter panel.



Inner fenderwell:











By the time I was done I had more than a gallon of rust all over the floor. It was amazing. But now I can get it sandblasted back to fresh metal and weld in a new quarter panel. First though, I will rebuild some sections of the pillars as they are rusted through.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
I got the XJ rear springs mounted. This was not a major task, but I had to perform some trickery to make everything work.

The center pin of the springs is offset and to mount the spring anchor under the frame meant it would end up right where the frame goes from a flat surface to an angled surface. This wasn't going to work obviously, so I had to figure out a way to maintain the correct axle centerline and wheelbase. So, I simply took the spring pack apart and flipped all but the main leaf around then drilled a new center pin hole in the main leaf. I then bolted the springs back together and everything lined up perfectly. Now the spring anchor is mounted on a solid surface.

I decided that I wanted a set of custom shackles to cover the large XJ rear spring bushings, so I drew one up on the computer and exported it out as a .dxf file then had a friend cut them out on his plaz table. They turned out pretty nice. Here is a picture.



I bought 35x12.50x17 ProComp Extreme All Terrains and ProComp 8089 wheels with 4.75” backspacing.









 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I got the body back on the frame for a mock-up and overall evaluation of the progress. It is obviously going to settle down about 3" more, but looks GREAT!!



I just stood and drooled for about an hour after this stage! I just had to get it to this point today so I could see some results from all the hard work. The front axle is a little too far forward, so I will adjust it a little further back - 2" to 3". I'll ratchet the suspension down with a strap first to see how it looks and go from there.

All of the progress you have seen up to this point has taken place in approximately 30 days. You are now caught up to where I am today. Stay tuned for more as things progress.
 

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Great work. I like those wagons and am going to get another in a month or so.

I did a similar build with a 55 a few years ago except I swapped onto a Waggoneer frame.

Thanks for sharing, ROB
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Are you going to cage the inside of the wagon? Is this going to be a family wheeler, daily driver, or both?
I thought about it. It would be cool to have a full cage inside. This is going to be a daily driver/trail rig. I intentionally went with 35" tires to keep me from being tempted to rock crawl it. I want to keep it nice and clean for many many years.

I am currently making all the cardboard templates for replacing the floor panels, kick panels, and firewall. Made good progress last night. More pics coming soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Thanks for the suggestions "willysworker".

Yours is definitely nice looking. I have built many many rigs over the years and have extensive experience as well and I am very aware of this issue with lifting the wagons. In fact, I experienced that very thing on one of my wagon builds years ago. It totally ruined the experience.

However, I plan to install swaybars front and rear if necessary. I plan to drive this daily, so it has to be stable and safe. Plus, as I think I pointed out in a previous post, it is sitting much higher right now than it will when I am done. But I don't want to modify the stock fenderwell. I really like the original look. Believe me, I have considered this option heavily. I considered the use of a Willys Pickup fender as a flare as well as many other options. None of them really beat the stock look in my opinion. I may change my mind at a later time though.

Your suggestion to modify the rear fenderwell is a good one though. The front fender opening is so huge that even a 35" tire looks too small to me. But the small size of the rear fenderwell definitely limits things unless it's modified. I considered keeping my 39" IROKs and doing rear fenderwell mods, but decided against it. I will just have to get over it.

Regarding widening the front fenders. I absolutely hate that look. I think it completely ruins the look. I will just have to deal with the occasional road grime hitting the cab and windshield. Here in Boise, the roads rarely ever get bad anyway. They are almost always clear. Trails will be a little different, but I am cool with it.

You sure do have a nice wagon. Did you replace the quarter panels on it as well?

I have to say that I am having the time of my life with this build. Of all the rigs I have built over the years, getting back to a Willys Wagon is awesome.
 

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Looking real good and I must agree with you, Im having more fun with my Willys wagon build than I have ever had in the past builds.
Keep up the good work and keep the pics coming.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Here is the progress from the past two days. I got the motor and trans mounted in the Willys frame.



It really sat the suspension down. Beginning to look better.



I was able to use the Tahoe transmission crossmember by trimming only 3" from each end. It fits so nicely. I may need to make one more mod to it, but it definitely works well for the flat belly pan.



Here is all the wiring I removed from the Tahoe.



Here are the power leather seats. Pretty darn nice.



Now that I have the drivetrain in, I can rebuild the floors around it. I want maximum floor space. I may even do a double wall floor like I did on my CJ-7 tub. It made a huge difference in heat and noise. It is even further improved by filling up the channels with expanding foam insulation.
 
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