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Mild Willys M38(ish) Build

3047 Views 34 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  CJ3BL
Hello everyone. Certainly not new here but it has been MANY years since I was last logged in... and since I couldn't remember any of that info, I just rejoined... 馃槵

My wife and I have been sitting on this Willys for almost 7 years now. We picked it up July 4th of 2013. Three days later, our son was born and it has just sat ever since. When we bought it, we though it was an M38 and had planned to restore it back to fighting days. We knew it had some NON-M38 parts from previous owners over the years. However, as I dug into it over the last year trying to put a list together I realized it is truly a CJ3A with a legit M38 body. Funny thing is the title calls it an M38 but lists a 3A serial number. Anyway, since it isn't a true M38 I was granted permission to have my way with it. Here are a few pics from when we picked it up.










Wasn't in terrible shape. It's a little worse now but still really workable.
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So. It's been a busy last couple weeks. Had a different project in the shop. Now it is out getting some powder. It's a table base for our Fire Station.

Wood Table Gas Asphalt Bumper


It will get a nice wood beam tucked up behind the letters. Torched and a coat of poly to look nice.

Then I got back to business. Removed everything I wanted from the old frame. Then cut it up into pieces and tossed it in the scrap bin!
Automotive tire Wood Door Twig Automotive wheel system


Then I cleaned off the table and started laying out the frame. Clamped it all up and started stitching it together.

Automotive tire Table Wood Floor Motor vehicle
Wood Motor vehicle Automotive tire Flooring Gas
Automotive tire Wood Motor vehicle Bumper Automotive exterior


Automotive tire Motor vehicle Bumper Table Automotive exterior

Vehicle Wood Table Window Motor vehicle


Finally. Last night I cut a couple tubes to width and tacked them after squaring it all up so I can start laying out a bit. I should have new springs here next week so I can figure out the front and rear tubes some more. I left them longer than needed for now.

Wood Automotive tire Engineering Gas Machine
Tire Automotive tire Wheel Motor vehicle Vehicle


Looking for a steering box and still contemplating pedals. I still think it would be neat to re-use the stock ones. We'll see what comes up. Might try to set the body up on it this weekend so I can at least mark some lines and dimensions.
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Your new frame is looking great! Really cool. That fire dept. table sure looks awesome too! The stuff that you can do with the plasma table is amazing, and fast too. Wow!
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New to me this morning from a buddy of mine. Couldn't turn them down for $500 total... Gonna clean them up and find a nice spot for them in the shop.

Loom Motor vehicle Automotive tire Wood Machine tool

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Tire Tread Road surface


Need to clean up a bit today so I can try to get some more work done tomorrow.
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Not a ton of progress this week but I did manage to lift the body up on the table today to set it on the frame and measure some stuff out.

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Wheel Tire Wood

Wood Gas Engineering Machine Automotive tire
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Nice shop space! Looks like you have an eager and interested assistant too!
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Nice shop space! Looks like you have an eager and interested assistant too!
Thanks! I still need to finish the insulation and walls. Then I can run the electrical the correct way around the shop! It's a 28' x 34' with an 11' ceiling. Just built it last summer. The assistant is very eager and always willing to help! He's probably smarter than I am...
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VERY cool! My project space is 1/2 of a two car garage with 8 ft ceilings + a storage locker near by for parts overflow. It's tight, but better than being outside! I'm envious of your tall ceilings and square footage. Nice space you've built there!
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It was one of the main reasons we bought the house a couple years ago. The house has an attached 2.5 car and had a detached 24x24x8. I sold the detached to a buddy. He and a couple friends removed the roof. Dropped the trusses. Dropped the walls and hauled it away. I extended the slab and put the new one up. It has been a HUGE help having the extra space and room to grow my side hustle.
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Since my new springs came in I decided to measure them up and mock up a little on the computer playing with shackle length and angles.

Tire is a 35. Axle located on the center pins. Springs are the 9 leaf, military wrap rear replacement units from Vintage Jeepers. Shackle length is a 5" center. I am considering the shackle pivot placement through the frame tube but might place it below instead...

First is a rough idea at ride height.
Font Parallel Diagram Circle Science


Next is with the springs compressed almost flat.
Diagram Parallel Air gun Auto part Circle


Last is droop. Or at least what I feel it might be with the shackle almost co-linear with the spring. (probably a little over dramatic)
Line Parallel Diagram Font Auto part


Also a simple version of the floor of the body to see how it will lay out. I'm also at the point of deciding if I want to stretch the body a little...
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Looks cool! The integrate fixed spring hanger design you can do with stock width early CJ springs is so clean! From your drawing it looks like you decided to use rear length springs on both front and rear like Mieser did on Rango? Hopefully you're going with the longer length rears on front, 'cause the stock short ones sure ride rough! Nice to have the long front end to support the longer ones.

Watch out on the shackle getting close to being co-linear with the spring at droop- a good hit would be likely to invert and lock up the shackle. Tough to get it unstuck when it happens. You could add shackle-frame stops to fix the problem, but it's cleaner to avoid the risk of inversion in the first place.

Since you have the fixed hanger positions set by their integration in the frame side plates, you might want to wait to set the shackle hanger (or frame pivot hole position) until you have close to full weight in place and can physically cycle the suspension with shackles temporarily positioned to finalize the location. I had a similar situation in my build. Even though I physically cycled the suspension early on in the build, I wish I had waited even longer to set the final shackle hanger positions. Cycling with more stuff in place behaved a little different from what I modeled out from the spring and frame dimensions, and I was initially too close to inversion on droop - especially on articulated droop. The stiffness added by the axle u-bolt clamps, the amount of droop from axle and tire weight, and side to side articulation behavior contributed to differences from what I had modeled/estimated, and I ended up chasing my tail for a while getting it finally to a good balanced shackle position. Just thought I'd mention it since it caused me some trouble.

Your frame sure is looking great so far, and I like the way the body sits on it. Great work!
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Correct! I am using the longer rear springs up front as well.

I figure that some limit straps will be in order to keep droop in line and avoid the shackle going inverted if we get that wild. I've been more curious on compression and how flat the spring will get. Obviously some bump stops will also be in the mix but my thought was this modeling will give me a good idea of the body/frame and shackle relationship in order to trim the frame ends and set the rear cross member. Trying to integrate the fixed eye of the shackle into the frame at the rear is a bit of a chore with body, cross member and bumper all trying to live in the same spot. Waiting to actually locate the holes is solid advise that I will follow.
Great that you went with the longer rear springs up front! Mieser's idea on that is a great one. I have a relatively stock retro 3B as well as the heavily modified one I've been working on building. Once I get the big build working, I'd like to convert the front springs on the retro one to the longer rear spring length plus a saginaw box. The original short springs really ride rough. How do you like the Vintage Jeepers springs you got so far?

Good thinking on your modeling to figure out your rear cross member and bumper. Yep, putting the eye of the shackle in the frame rail poses an issue with the shackle-bumper clearance. I see that you plan to have your bumper offset upward to help with shackle clearance, which is a nice approach. Doing a boomerang shackle shape could work nice to add further clearance if needed. Mieser provides a good boomerang example on his recent Rango posts, and he also shows a clever shackle stop he came up with to prevent shackle inversion on the front. Just a few additional ideas to throw in the mix. Keep up the great work- looking really cool!
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The springs from VJ are the Crown A614 9 leaf units. Seem like a nice replacement. I am looking for a steering box to use as well.

A boomerang shackle was the other consideration. I was reading back through the Rango thread looking for updates. How recent of a post? I have made it back up to around page 45. Does Mieser have another thread on the CJ he was building for someone else? I feel like I have lost threads I remember seeing back under the login I forgot...

I've thought a 3B would be a fun build. Almost grabbed onto one awhile back but didn't have the space for it.
Thanks for the spring info. Early CJ style springs are getting harder to find these days.

The Rango thread is a long one, and a great read! The recent posts I was referencing that show his boomerang rear shackles and anti inversion front shackles are on the last page, towards the end: Rango....1942 Willys MB.

Mieser's building a flat fender for someone else- but it's on Facebook. I think "old blue willys"? It's a cool build with lots of good ideas. I don't look use facebook much, but check his build every once in a while. I like forum build threads better as they're more focused and the format's not so scattered.

Folks sure have a love or hate relationship with 3B's. I grew up with one, and that may be why I'm in the former camp.
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