Jeep

Homecoming!

Have you ever looked forward to an event (with either anticipation or trepidation) and thought it would *NEVER* arrive, only to have it sneak up on you before you were really ready for it? That happened to me during the past week, and today I’m proud (and relieved) to announce that the JeepMonster was successfully installed in my garage yesterday afternoon.

The process started Friday evening, when I arrived at R&W about 6:30 PM. Robert had invited me the previous week to come at 6, and then early Friday afternoon he said I could come sooner, but I was trying to do too many things at once and ended up being late, even for the original appointed time. Robert was quite gracious, though, and didn’t chew me out *too* badly. 🙂

I had thought there was going to be more to do, but all that happened was I loaded the tow bars into the truck and Robert winched the JeepMonster onto his trailer for transport the next morning.

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We were supposed to meet at 4Wheel Parts Saturday morning at 7, but I was asked to stop somewhere and pick up some burritos for breakfast, so I got there a little late. By the time I arrived, Robert had already offloaded the JeepMonster and his buggy and moved the truck-and-trailer out of the way.

I apparently wasn’t paying attention, because when I looked around at some point, the local classic-rock radio station, KLPX (96.1 FM), had set up for an on-site broadcast. [Robert had arranged with the 4Wheel Parts people to display the ‘Monster from 8 to noon, and the store was running a one-day sale, so it made sense to have the radio station there – I just didn’t notice when they arrived.]

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There was good attendance at the event, as evidenced by all the 4x4s clogging up – er, parked in – the parking lot.

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After the party at 4Wheel Parts, Robert reloaded both his buggy and the ‘Monster. Then he delivered the ‘Monster to my house. He, a friend of his, and I (well, he and his friend) got it off the trailer, and they helped me get it turned so I could winch it into the garage. They were (rightly) skeptical of my plan to use a 2000-lb boat winch, but I had successfully pulled my truck up the driveway and into the garage on Friday using it, so I pressed on. This picture shows a point where I had to re-rig the winch line and straps for the second phase. The boat winch doesn’t have a very long cable, so I couldn’t simply unreel enough to get from the ‘Monster to the anchor point in the house. The Jeep’s weight also taxed the winch to the point where it overheated and quit a couple of times, but it always recovered sufficiently to get over the next obstacle.

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One thing I had always been concerned about was the Jeep’s height, especially when Robert told me he had to remove the top bow to get it out of his garage with the 7′ door (his shop has a taller door, so that wasn’t an issue there). But he had reassured me several times that the Jeep would be under 7 feet tall, and by golly he was right! The next photo shows the highest part of the Jeep *just* missing the weather strip at the top of the door opening. It’s a good thing, too – otherwise, I was likely going to have to put the top down every time I went in or out of the garage. At least I don’t have to worry about that! [Plus, when it’s all done, it’ll be heavier and will presumably sit lower as a result.]

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So it’s now in my garage, more-or-less (I hope more than less!) protected from rust-producing rain and humidity while I work on it for the next however-many-months it’ll be. It doesn’t *quite* fit under my storage racks, so I’ll have to take that into consideration when I plan heavy-duty stuff like pulling the engine. But it *does* fit inside my garage! See?

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Here’s a parting shot of me sitting proudly in the JeepMonster at 4Wheel Parts on Saturday, August 13, 2016. It sure is big!

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Categories: 6wd, 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Frame, Custom Jeep Body, Jeep, JeepMonster, tandem axle, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

It Went Outside!

…Granted, it was on a very short leash and it didn’t go *far*, but it’s no longer in the R&W shop! (It’s in Robert’s other garage, both to keep it clean [ish] for the August 13 party and also to free up space for other feats of fabrication magic.)

First, though, a few final construction photos, from my visits on July 6, July 12, and July 15, and a couple that Robert sent me.

From July 6, this shows the front fender in progress, and the slider (aka rocker panel protection and footrest) mocked up in almost its final location.

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From July 12, this shows the front fender all completed. Not only is the curved panel installed, but the filler panel between the fender and the hood is welded in, too. The slider hasn’t yet been permanently mounted.

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This picture, of the passenger-side fender, shows the artistry and effort that went into its construction. There are at least 3 separate pieces of bent tube and more than 8 pieces of plate in each fender! The top curved piece had to be bent to match the curve of the hood; the tie-in to the grille (not shown here) had to be custom-formed; the multiple pieces of tube had to be sleeved, welded, and ground smooth; the various other pieces of plate needed welding and smoothing, and so on. I don’t know, and I don’t think I *want* to know, how many manhours went into each fender – but I’m sure it was a lot!

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Also from July 12, here is a shot of the cargo area. The spare tire carrier is welded to the framework that also supports the gas tank (which is hiding behind the angled plate beneath/behind the tire). The box in the foreground had to be narrowed by about a half inch (I don’t know the exact amount of narrowing required) to fit it between the fender wells, but now I have secure space for tools and parts and other stuff!

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And from July 15, here it is, ready to go outside for the VERY FIRST TIME! The tow bar is in its permanent location, but will either be replaced or modified so that it sits level when the ‘Monster is actually being towed. I hope that doesn’t happen very often!DSC03613

From the front it looks a little like The Flying Nun. The fenders only look weird from straight in front of it – if you move even just a little to one side, they come into perspective really well.

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At the “Coming-Out Party,” Robert wants to show some of his handiwork that’ll be hidden when it’s all put together, so he unbolted the tool/parts box, the gas tank, and the spare, and I brought them all home with me. The cargo bed looks HUGE without them!

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This is one of the photos Robert sent me – it’s the passenger-side fender, totally unbolted and sitting/lying on the floor. LOTS of work in this!

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Here’s a shot of the gas tank cover / spare tire carrier.

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Last, but NOT least, here is the JeepMonster outside! You can see the terrible angle that the tow bar makes; I have a 10″-rise hitch, and Robert found someone with a drop end on a tow bar, so between the two we should be able to make a solid towing connection (that I hope will never be used!).

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Some of the proportions look slightly “off” in this photo, but I think that’s because of the particular camera angle and the tree in the background. When it was in the shop, NOTHING seemed the least bit out of its proper proportion!

As noted before, the JeepMonster will be at the Tucson, AZ, 4Wheel Parts store (on Speedway) from 8 AM to noon on Saturday, August 13. If you’re anywhere nearby, please come see it in person!

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Frame, Custom Jeep Body, Jeep, JeepMonster, tandem axle, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The “Coming Out” Party

It’s official! Robert has declared that his work on the JeepMonster will be done by August 13, and it will actually COME OUT OF HIS SHOP (on a trailer, but still…)!

Our plan is to show it off for a few hours (8 AM to noon) at the local 4Wheel Parts store (4001 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ, USA) before bringing it to my house for the next phase of construction – you know, the part where I get to cut holes in his masterpiece for lights, steering, brakes/clutch, etc., etc., etc., and figure out where all the lines, wires, tubes, linkages, pipes, hoses, and so on will go.

If you’re in Tucson on August 13, and want to see the JeepMonster in person, this is the time to do it!

This will also be a chance for you to test your rig’s articulation, as Robert has said he’ll bring his RTI (Ramp Travel Index) ramp.

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Frame, Custom Jeep Body, Jeep, Jeep Frame, JeepMonster, suspension, tandem axle, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tires! and Wheels!

And no more crutches – er, jackstands!

At least, not for a while. It’ll go back on jackstands when it’s taken apart to finish up the frame, and then again when it’s taken apart to paint everything, and who-knows-how-many other times, but right now the JeepMonster IS ON ITS OWN SIX WHEELS! Hot Dang!

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It isn’t *really* as tall as it looks (actually, this is an atrocious picture of it!), although it does top out (at the moment) at 6’9″. That gives me three inches of clearance to get through my 7-foot-tall garage door opening. It looks a lot taller than that because I squatted down to get a lower camera angle. And it’ll settle some when it gets driven, I’m sure.

It’ll also look better when the front fenders are built, but that has to wait for a couple of weeks. The CAD / laser-cutter magician where Robert gets all my pieces cut is unavailable until the end of the month, but there’s a lot that can be done in the meantime.

Take this photo, for instance. On the far side, you can see the skin panel with the door cutout, but it’s just a flat sheet of steel. The near side, by contrast, has the required top rail. This rail,  which was stamped into the original Jeep bodies at the factory, has to be built by hand for the ‘Monster. The straight sections are 1×2 steel tube, but the curves are all built out of cut and bent plate. And all that welding will be ground down to give a finished, smooth surface.

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This photo shows the back section of the ‘Monster, with just about everything complete. The top rail still has to come around the back corner of the tub to finish off that part and build some of the tailgate opening, but the “original” top bow cutout is all put together.

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This final picture gives you a *very* rough idea of where the roll cage hoops will be, relative to the inner fenderwells. The tube on the right will be the back hoop for the cabin (inside the top), while the tube on the left will be the hoop outside the top and at the front of the cargo area. The fitting in the right tube is a connector; the plan is to have a removable rollcage, and a connector at each attachment point will make it easier to take the ‘cage off for painting or whatever.

The square tube in the middle represents a bar across the back of the cabin to support the bulkhead panel that will separate the cabin from the cargo area. The rag top will also snap to this.

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So that’s the current status of the JeepMonster. I have to confess that it looks at least 5000% better than I thought it would – I really like its proportions and how it’s all coming together. Seeing it on its own wheels made me super happy yesterday! Now it’s time to start buying parts again!

 

Categories: 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Jeep Body, Jeep, JeepMonster, Uncategorized | Tags: | 2 Comments

It’s Real! … Well, almost…

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that I had a lead on a straight, almost-rust-free cowl/windshield base/dashboard assembly. Kevin (the gentleman who had it) came to my house a couple of weeks ago and determined that I had enough pieces and parts that we could make a trade, so when Robert invited me last week to come to R & W on Sunday, I called Kevin and asked him if I could get the cowl on my way to Marana. He said it would be ready for me.

Sunday morning, I picked up my friend Tony and we both headed off to Kevin’s home on Tucson’s West Side. Kevin gave me this beauty:

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Knowing that I only need the curved sheetmetal on the top, and the windshield base, he asked me to ask Robert to leave untouched as much of the firewall and side panels as possible, so that he could reuse them in one or another of his restoration projects. I relayed his request to Robert.

When I got to R & W, I was amazed at the transformation. You’ll recall that the last time I was there, the passenger-side inner fender was well under way and the driver-side one was also in progress. What a difference another week makes!

Here you see the back half of the ‘Monster, with both inner fenders done and the outer flares finished on the passenger side. [NOTE: I use the word “finished” very loosely. While the fenders aren’t just tack-welded together and the flares tacked on, neither is the welding complete. Once the pieces are in place to Robert’s satisfaction, all the seams will be welded more completely, and the welds ground down to provide a finished look.]

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The next one shows the view from the front. The braces are still in place, and will be until everything is completely welded together.

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Moving around to the driver’s side, you can see that those flares are also in place.

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A lower-level shot of the passenger side shows how the shock towers fit into the wheelwells. The tandem rear axles are *almost* at full droop, but they’ll hang down a little more when the tires and wheels are added. The frame is sitting on stands right now to make sure it’s square and straight, to provide a solid structure on which to build the tub.

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Tony and I oohed and aahed over it all, of course. And after looking at the project more, I decided to skip the fuel-filler indent on the driver’s side. The effect of the visual cue (“Hey, this is an *old* Jeep!”) is no longer worth the effort and expense required to put it in. Besides, there are other cues – like the notch in the back corners for the military top bows [the CJ-5 and -6 were outgrowths of the military M38-A1], the battery cover in the cowl, and a couple of other minor touches – that probably nobody will ever notice. But I’ll know they’re there.

That evening, Robert sent me a couple of photos he had taken in the afternoon. He cut the cowl apart and placed it on the tub, and then put the grille and hood in place, too:

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There’s still a lot to do, but Robert guesstimated he might have the body ready for me to bring home sometime in March. There is still some finish work to be done on the frame before it’ll be ready.

I’m *SO* excited!

Categories: 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Jeep Body, Jeep, JeepMonster, tandem axle, Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Bodybuilding

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to post an update here. This week, though, Robert at R & W Custom Sliders & Offroad sent me some very tantalizing photos.

This one shows progress on the underbody structure. Each of the channels was hand-formed on his metal brake. The red objects are polyurethane body mount pucks.

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This one shows some of the floor panels in place. Nothing is welded to the underbody structure yet, as Robert specifically wanted me to be able to see the support structure before they made it really difficult to get at and take photos of.

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Well, naturally, I was drooling over this, so he invited me to come by yesterday – an invitation I was happy to accept.

Since he had sent pictures to me on Thursday, there really wasn’t a whole lot more that had been done, but I was able to crawl around and look at everything. One thing Robert mentioned to me was that the new orientation of the “Magic Box” on the middle axle looked as though it wouldn’t require any changes to the frame or body. This was something I had been concerned about, since the bottom of the Box is now 4.5 inches higher than it had been, and even with the new indexing, the top of the Box was also higher. But I crawled down under the JeepMonster to take a look, and sure enough, there appears to be plenty of clearance, even when the axle is at full compression. (These may turn out to be an instance of “famous last words” but for now everything looks good.) These two shots show the Box as it currently sits.

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In addition, the driveshaft angle from the Box to the third-axle pinion doesn’t look like it’s too bad, either!

This photo gives a good view of the new firewall. Robert asked me if I wanted to use the one from the cowl of the ’57 CJ-6, but it’s full of holes and is rusty and all that, so I asked him to build me a new one. This one will be sturdier and safer, and also gives me more room for my feet!

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The frame is 6 inches longer than the body. This gives me room to work the back winch, as well as providing a strong bumper. This photo shows the winch in the frame, with the rearmost body support along the right. When it’s all done, there will be a lid over this area, both to protect the winch from prying eyes and to provide a good surface to stand on if needed.

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The final photo is an overall side view. From this angle, it’s kind of hard to see all the sheet steel sitting on the ‘Monster, but you can see the grille (which, by the way isn’t in its permanent location), the firewall, and the floor.

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The next step is to build the inner fenderwells for the back axles. At that point, we should be able to get a pretty good idea of where the seats need to go, which will tell us where the back hoop of the roll cage has to be, which will help us with setting the location of the bulkhead between the cab and the cargo area, which will… well, you get the idea.

So while they’re busy bodybuilding, I have to get going and order some more parts – like the seat adjustment tracks and the pinion protectors for the front and back axles (Robert recommended I get these from Ballistic Fabrication here in Tucson), and some pieces/parts to build the custom twin-stick levers for the transfer case. I’ll have a lot of things to take over there the next time I go.

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

All Together, Everyone, “Ooh, Aah, Ooh, Aah…”

Things are finally beginning to move again on the JeepMonster! I went over to R&W Custom Sliders & Offroad this weekend to make a sturdier template for the body’s side panels. I took with me a couple of sheets of plywood veneer (it’s about 3/8″ thick and looks like stuff you’d see in an inexpensive travel trailer), and Robert and I spent several hours cutting it to the right shape. [I honestly don’t know where the time went – I got there about 9 AM and only stayed for what seemed like a couple of hours, but when I left it was almost 3 PM.]

I had thought we might need two sheets of the plywood, but as the side panels are only 23″ tall at their maximum, we were able to do it with one. So here is the 2′ by [x]’ panel. The first step was to transfer the shapes from the old cardboard template (which has seen better days at this point) to the plywood, beginning with the front edge and working back from there. Along the way, we had to make adjustments due to some design changes Robert and I agreed on over the last several months – things like dropping the bottom of the side panel about 4″ to cover part of the frame and give the body a better proportion, and then dropping the bottom of the door opening 4″ to make it a little bit easier for this old guy to get in and out. Then we decided to drop the fender-flare height 4″ to keep things in line. This is an in-progress photo of deciding where all the openings will go.

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The template ended up just about 11 feet long. We cut out the door, the two wheelwells, and the spot near the back of the tub that was originally (on the M38-A1 military version, at least) used for one of the top bows. Once all that was completed, we clamped it more-or-less in place with the dashboard/cowl/firewall that we’re using. This shot shows how the new door opening will look compared to the original (you can see the difference in height between the grey metal and the wood). The back tires are just sitting there; the axles have not yet been reattached to the springs.

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This angle shows how the new body will drop down more than the original – the front clamp is at the bottom of the original, while the new panel drops down about four more inches.

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Robert expects to get some of the body pieces cut and/or bent this week, so maybe soon there’ll be REAL METAL to show off!

In other news…

Now that there’s a real template to work from, Robert no longer needs all the pieces of Jeep junk-that-used-to-be-a-Jeep, so I brought them home:

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It took me a bit of effort (both physical and mental, as I had to figure out ways to safely move things around), but I managed to get everything off the trailer and into the garage / back yard. (The pieces in the garage will also ultimately go into the back yard, but since they have to go through a people-sized gate instead of a vehicle-sized one, I’ll need help with moving them.)

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My next task is to strip the hulk(s) of anything remotely useful, like gauges, spring shackles, and axles. Some of it I may use again, but some of it should be usable by someone else – the shackles are super-strong and an inch or so longer than stock, and the axles might come in handy for someone working on restoring an early CJ-5 or CJ-6. You never know.

Speaking of gauges, I was on the Auto Meter site recently to see what’s available (and at what cost). I discovered that they now have a line of Jeep-authorized gauges which, while tempting, I will probably forgo. They’re nothing if not comprehensive, though – there are gauges to measure axle, transmission, transfer-case, and engine-oil temperatures (and the gauge faces are marked so you know which is which), in addition to the standard speedometer, tachometer, coolant temperature, oil pressure, fuel level, and voltmeter. If I were to get all 12 individual gauges [tach, speedo, volts, fuel, coolant temp, oil pressure, oil temp, trans oil, xfer oil, and 3 axles] the cost would be right around $1000. ACK! And then there’s the drilling/tapping/welding that would have to be done to the axles and other parts for the senders. It’s very tempting, but I’ll probably just go with the basics: speedo, tach, oil pressure, coolant temp, volts, and fuel. *sigh* And probably not the Jeep-authorized ones, either. Generics are cheaper, just like drugs.

Categories: 6x6, CJ-6, Jeep, JeepMonster | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Time Marches On

First, some updates from my June 26 post:

  1. The radiator I got was custom-made, so the manufacturer wouldn’t take it back. We knew that, so Hi Speed agreed to order me a new one and said they’d absorb the cost of the first one. Then I got a call with some further information: The manufacturer puts the tranny cooler tube in the *outlet* tank because the coolant has been, well, cooled at that point and thus can do a better job of cooling the tranny fluid. Oh. Okay. (D’oh!) So I retrieved the original radiator and took it to R&W. I figure I have three options: run hard lines from the driver side of the engine bay (power steering box and pump) to the passenger side (the cooler); use the finned mini-radiator I was using before; or do both and put the finned mini-radiator in line with the cooler. I think I’ll probably take the third option, on the theory that more cooling is better than less, but it also depends on how much real estate I have on the fenders when it’s all put back together.
  2. I opened the onboard air system and discovered that they had sent me a serpentine-belt clutch for the air pump, despite my specific written request for a double-V-belt clutch. I let them know; they apologized for the mistake; they sent me a new one and I sent the wrong one back. As far as I know, I now have all the correct parts for the onboard air system.
  3. The stud/bolt kit for the high-steer arms arrived. I took it to R&W when I delivered the radiator, so the steering system can be put together more-or-less permanently now.

Now, on to the new stuff!

Robert wasn’t very optimistic that he could straighten out either of the two grilles enough to be useful, so I went to Willys Works to see what they had lying in their yard. I actually found an early-CJ grille that still had almost everything still on it! The place where the grille had bolted to the frame had either rusted off or been cut off, but since we weren’t going to use that anyway, it didn’t make any difference. So I bought the grille.

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It turns out that this one is a little bent, too, but I don’t think it’s bent as badly as either of the other two. In any case, I told Robert to use the best one of the three. One potential advantage to using this grille, though, is that with the original radiator shroud/mount still attached, Robert could use part of it to hang the a/c condenser off of, instead of having to build something that works off the radiator mounts. This way, the a/c condenser and the radiator would be totally separate and wouldn’t be affecting how the other is mounted. But I’ll have to wait and see what he comes up with.

Robert’s also been working on the back end of the JeepMonster. This is the rear bumper / winch mount as it looked last Friday:

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Each end is approximately the height of the frame (5 inches), and the winch hangs down an inch or so below that. The center cutout is where the hitch receiver will go. When it’s actually attached to the frame, end pieces will be added to protect the rear corners of the body. This will all be aft of the back end of the body, so Robert’s going to make a lid for it that’ll serve as a step as well as a cover for the winch and the solenoid box. If there’s space, he’ll make a small box to put winch-recovery gear in.

The BIG news is that the JeepMonster is actually on its own six tires now, at least temporarily.

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I say “temporarily” because, after all the remaining pieces (transmission mount, rear bumper/winch mount, radiator mount, sliders, etc.) are cut, bent and attached, Robert’s going to take everything off the frame so he can finish-weld everything and do it safely and cleanly. Then he’ll put all this stuff back on the frame and start building the body. There’ll be a lot more to look at when I get back in mid-August!

So that’s where the project stands right now. I have a few small parts to find (in the pile in the garage) or buy (from somewhere…) this week, and I hope to be able to deliver them all to Robert by Friday afternoon – or maybe Saturday morning as I leave on my motorcycle trip. If Robert sends me photos between now and August 16, I’ll post an update; otherwise, we’ll all have to wait for 5 or 6 weeks to find out what has happened in the meantime.

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, Jeep, Jeep Frame, JeepMonster | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Hoodies in the ‘Hood – Wait, What?

It’s actually getting (relatively) near the time when I’ll need a hood for the Jeep so that we can make sure the grille is set the proper distance from the firewall – or is it that the firewall needs to be set the proper distance from the grille? [It gets confusing when there are very few hard-and-fast locations on the new frame…]

The hood from my ’61, like everything else, got bent a bit when I rolled the Jeep back in 2005. You can see in this picture that it no longer sits flat:

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The Jeep came down rather hard on the front passenger corner of the hood and bent it down, relative to where it should be. There are also a couple other minor – “imperfections,” shall we say? – as well, but there’s no rust, and if the hood could be twisted back so it lies flat, it would work just fine.

I took the hood to a body shop yesterday and asked if they could “un-tweak” it. The estimator said they couldn’t, and he didn’t know of any shop that could. He recommended finding a straight one somewhere. *sigh*

The CJ-6 came with a hood, but that one is in way worse shape than mine. In addition to its being tweaked the *other* way, many of the spot welds that hold the thing together have popped and there’s a lot of rust on it, to boot:

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I really didn’t want to use this one, but if it had been straight, I would have considered it. It’s not straight.

Last night I got online and Googled something like “Jeep CJ Hood.” I found some forum discussions about them; most of the discussions were about the poor quality (fitment, thinner sheetmetal than the originals have, etc.) of the replacement hoods that are available. So I thought I’d do a quick search on Craigslist to see if anything would pop up. I wasn’t expecting it to, because early-CJ (’55-’71) hoods aren’t exactly something that you have extras of lying around. I fully expected to have to broaden my search beyond Tucson and/or talk to Willys Works to find out what they might have out back.

I was totally surprised to find an ad for a CJ hood! Even better, the guy *still* had it; he lives in Vail; it’s paint-ready (he was prepping it for use on a Jeepster Commando restoration he’s doing, but then found a Commando hood to use); and he had it priced reasonably! *AND* he got it from Willys Works.

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It’s from one of the last years of the “short” CJ-5, before AMC extended the front so they could fit their straight-6 in the engine bay. I think it’s a ’70 or ’71. I know it’s newer than ’68, because this hood has provisions for a safety latch, and my ’68 didn’t have that. Its relative youth also means it doesn’t have the passenger-side snorkel cutout – I think Kaiser dropped that around ’64. But that’s okay. While I would *like* to have the cutout to match the styling / design cues elsewhere on the tub, I’d much rather have a clean, straight hood without the cutout than a bent hood with it. [If you look closely, perhaps at the full-size photo, you can see some holes drilled in the side. There are matching holes on the passenger side. They’re for the Jeepster Commando badges the seller was going to put on it. I might fill them in, or I might not. I haven’t decided yet. I have a couple of old Chevy “8-350” badges I want on the hood, and they might fit into a couple of these holes.]

So now I have *something* straight – wait, I also have a straight, rust-free (reproduction, I think) windshield frame – for the Jeep. Progress!

Categories: CJ-5, CJ-6, Jeep, JeepMonster | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Another Week, Another Update

Robert sent me a few pictures through Facebook yesterday morning, including this one showing the potential engine location:

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It’s hard to see from the photo, because of all the stuff in the background, but the engine is sitting pretty low in the frame. It looks a lot lower than it really is, which gave me a short-term panic attack. I was concerned about having the transmission hanging so far down below the frame, and worried that, even with a skidplate, it might be a rock magnet.

So I hightailed it out to Robert’s shop to get a good first-hand look at it. I was there for almost two hours, and we both got frustrated with each other at times, but in the end he persuaded me (yet again) that this’ll work out. And he suggested a change to the body configuration that I think will actually work better than the original!

One of the things I did when I got there was take my own pictures. They’re not much better than his, at least for differentiating the Jeep parts from the background, but they’re bigger files, so if you click on the thumbnail in this post, you’ll get a larger version on your screen.

This was the scene in his shop when I got there. The cowl and front clip of the ’61 are in the foreground; the frame and back end of the ’61’s tub are in the left background, and the JeepMonster, with the engine location mocked up, is in the right background.

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Here’s a closeup of what’s left of the ’61. It’s almost at the point where it can be rolled outside and parked.

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Here’s a shot of the engine sitting on (very!) temporary engine and transmission mounts in the JeepMonster’s frame:

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This photo shows, a *little* more clearly, how the engine/transmission/transfer case assembly will sit in the frame (at least vertically – it might move a little bit fore and aft as other parts are installed):

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If you click on this and get the full-size photo, you might be able to see that a strengthening plate has been welded on the frame, with its curved back end just in front of the C-clamp. From there, the frame is straight all the way back to the rearmost crossmember / winch mount / bumper.

This is where Robert’s and my frustrations lie. He says, quite rightly, that having two back axles will put a BIG side-to-side strain on the frame when I’m turning, because the tires will be resisting the sideways force against the pavement. [If you’ve ever tried to turn a tandem-axle trailer, like a big U-Haul trailer, by hand, you know how much the tires scrub on the pavement. By contrast, a single-axle trailer will turn much more easily. The same will be true for JeepMonster.] By keeping the frame straight, without welds, angles, cuts, or other weakening modifications, it will be better able to resist those forces.

How-EV-er, when I was designing this thing in my mind, I had envisioned something more like this, where the red lines show how the frame would have dropped down so that the body would be lower.

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This would have had all kinds of benefits, including a straighter driveline, a lower center of gravity, a Jeep that would be easier to get into… But there’s one fatal flaw: With those added angles, the frame would be weaker in that area, and more prone to flexing side-to-side and possibly cracking and breaking. And there are other variables that I keep forgetting to take into consideration, too – like how much the springs are going to compress once the whole thing is built (right now the frame is sitting on jackstands at an artificially-high – although not by much – distance above the axles). I honestly don’t know how tall JeepMonster will be when it’s done. I just hope it’ll fit in my garage (which has a seven-foot-tall door).

As I was bitching and moaning about this, and how the lack of a dip under the floorboards meant that the back (cargo) deck of JeepMonster would be five inches above the frame, Robert said, Well, why don’t you just drop the whole floor down so it’s at the same level as your floorboards, instead of having the five-inch step up like the original? Since we’re going to be creating new floor panels and wheelwells *anyway*, why not just make the cargo bed five inches deeper?

<blink blink> Talk about being hit upside the head with a two-by-four…

My first reaction was, NO! Then the tailgate won’t be the right size and it won’t look original!

But I’ve had a day to mull it over, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this might be a good thing after all, for several reasons:

  1. If I drop the cargo floor down to the frame, that drops everything that I’m planning to put *inside* that area five inches lower, as well. This includes the gas tank, which I had considered making a well for so that it would sit lower. If the whole floor is lower, then no well is needed.
  2. I had also considered putting some kind of enclosed, lockable storage (maybe similar to this Tuffy product) in the back. With the floor five inches lower, that would leave more usable space above the storage and still relatively low in the body for things like, oh, a spare tire.
  3. It might render more of the space in the rear corners of the JeepMonster (directly behind the tires, outside the cargo area) usable. I’m thinking of putting my batteries in the back corners, both for weight distribution and for protection, and having a taller compartment behind the rear tires might make the battery installation easier.
  4. If I don’t have the step up in the floorboards, it’ll be easier to build the mounting brackets for the seats, and I might be able to put them lower, too – but I don’t know whether I want to do that, because of ergonomics related to my long legs. More trial and error and fit and test is required here; this means I have to decide on what seats I’m going to get and then actually *get* them.

So that’s where things are right now. Before I left yesterday, I told Robert to go ahead with mounting the engine where he placed it. Once the engine is in, he’ll be able to start building the links for the front axle’s suspension. I think.

One last photo. This is from the front, (sort of) showing how low the engine will sit in the frame. I need to get parts for it, too, like fuel injection; the a/c compressor; the *other* air compressor; a high-output alternator (part of an onboard welding package), and more. But having the engine low like this will offset the water pump pulley from the electric fan motor and decrease the possibility of the two wanting to share the same space sometime in the future.

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Categories: 6x6, Custom Frame, Jeep, Jeep Frame, JeepMonster, tandem axle | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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