The Die is Cast

I don’t know whether I should say that I *am* committed, or that I should *be* committed, but either way there’s no turning back now.

Emotionally and financially, of course, I passed that point long ago. With three hefty and expensive axles sitting in the garage, I wasn’t about to back off and say, “Nah, I think I’ll just get the existing frame straightened and call it good.” But today I essentially said goodbye to the CJ-5 forever.

I cut the body in two.

I had known this day was coming; in fact, I had originally thought it would have happened about a year or so ago. But that was then and this is now. There was some prep work to do first; for one thing, the roll cage had to be taken out. This is what it looked like before starting work today:

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The roll cage has been removed.

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Robert thinks that *someone* out there in the great big Jeeping world wants my roll cage, so he persuaded me not to cut it up. Since I’m terrible at pricing things, I left the details up to him. There was another man there today, to whom I was introduced but can’t for the life of me remember his name, who offered to list it on a Jeep-stuff-for-sale Facebook group. We’ll see what happens.

Anyway, after taking the roll cage out, I cut the final connections between the engine, frame, and front half of the body. These consisted of things like the power-steering hoses, the coil-to-distributor wire, the oil-pressure gauge line, and the steering shaft between the steering box (frame) and the steering column (body). I used a cutoff wheel to slice through the sheet metal, then a Sawzall-style saw to cut the body’s supporting structure, and then unbolted the front part of the body from the frame.

Thank goodness Robert’s friend was there. The body section isn’t super-heavy, meaning that two people *can* lift it if need be, but to have any sort of control over it (which was a good idea to have, because we had to lift it up over the engine and then get it around the front part of the frame before setting it on the floor) took three men.

The nice, shiny, pristine (?!?) 1961 Willys CJ-5 is now just so much junk. And parts.

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There really isn’t much to an old Jeep. This photo shows the single layer of sheet metal that protected (?) me from the elements, the frame it all sat on, and the engine (which, by the way, has also been unbolted and is just sitting there). Just nine bolts hold the back half of the body to the frame, and four of them are across the back end.

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Here’s another shot of the front sitting on the floor:

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Robert was working on adding rock sliders to a Land Rover this morning; that’s the vehicle in the background. When he got to a point where the Land Rover could be moved, it was backed out of the shop and the roll cage was carried outside. Then the Land Rover was brought back in and work resumed.

Robert wanted to see how the front was going to fit on the new frame (it doesn’t, but that’s easily fixed with a hammer and a metal saw), so the three of us picked it up and put it approximately where it’ll sit when the JeepMonster is done. [I’m actually not using any of the pieces we put on the frame today; the radiator grille and cowl will come from the CJ-6, while Robert will build custom fenders for me. But for right now, when Robert has to figure out where the engine will go, this’ll be fine.] So here’s the front of the ’61 sitting on the new frame:

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And another shot from a slightly different angle:

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With just this small amount of sheet metal on the frame, it reminds me of a 3/4-size replica of an old Army deuce-and-a-half.

There’s still a whole lot of fitting and measuring and measuring and fitting and fitting and fussing and cussing to do, but the next major milestone will be to get the drivetrain (engine, transmission and transfer case) all lined up – fore and aft, up and down, and left-right. There has to be room behind the grille for the A/C condenser, the radiator, and the electric fan, which *might* mean the engine has to go back far enough that it might require modifying the firewall. And it has to be set in the frame in such a way that the front suspension will work, too.

I’m still concerned about the height of the whole thing, although when everything gets put on the new frame, and the frame gets suspended by springs instead of sitting on jacks and sawhorses, it’ll end up a bit lower than it is right now. I just hope it’ll be *enough* lower.

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Categories: 6x6, CJ-6, Jeep, JeepMonster | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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