The Fuelishness Continues…

In my last post, I burdened you with my trials and tribulations about finding a fuel pickup / pump / sending system that would fit the tank I bought earlier. The saga continues…

I received my order in good time – but instead of a pair of tank-mounting straps, I got an intake manifold for a Ford 5.4L V-8! The pickup/sender/pump system fits the tank perfectly, so that’s a relief, but with no straps, we couldn’t begin building the fuel tank mounting system.

So I got online and asked what to do; they sent me a return authorization for the manifold and I took care of that right away. Then I realized that they hadn’t said anything about sending me a pair of straps, so I called them and said I did *not* want a refund; I wanted *straps*! They said okay – and then nothing happened.

I called after about a week, and they checked their records and said they had to charge me shipping for the straps and they were waiting for authorization. Argh. They also said they would refund the shipping charge once the incorrect item had been returned. I told them the incorrect item had *already* been returned, and gave them the FedEx tracking number to prove it. -Oh.- Then they said they had to charge it anyway, so the system would work right and they could release the second shipment. So I authorized the charge on my card.

And waited.

After *another* week, I called them again and pretty much repeated the same conversation as before. This time, they actually went back and forth between me and the fulfillment people, and gave me the impression that I would be getting an email within a few minutes or so with the shipping information.

I never got the email.

How-EV-er, I got the straps by FedEx a couple of days ago! And they’re really fuel tank mounting straps! YAY! So now I can take them over to Robert and he can work his magic on a way to mount the tank in the cargo area of the JeepMonster. And I need to check to make sure that either the shipping charge was never made, or that it was made and also refunded. [Mumble grumble stupid computer systems grumble mumble…]

In the meantime, over the course of a few visits since March 10, Robert and I played around a bit with the placement of the fuel tank and the spare tire:

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Robert also (almost) finished the cabin roll cage, began the cargo-area roll bar, and built the sliders:

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We mocked up the height and length of the front fenders (seen above with the hood and grille in place, and below as we’re working on it):

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He began thinking about a rack for my fuel, water and ammo cans:

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And last but not least, he edged the rear bumper a bit closer to completion:

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I’m getting more and more excited about this beast!

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

Adding Fuel to the Fire

Dangit.

I took the fuel pickup/sender unit over to R&W the weekend before last to see how it would fit – and it didn’t. The whole top plate has too big a diameter, and it’s supposed to be screwed down to the tank. My tank, by contrast, expects the pickup/sender to be held in place by a cam-style locking ring.

-sigh-

Back to the drawing board.

I did some more research last week, and somehow came at it from a different angle – I don’t know whether it was just a different search phrase, or I clicked on a different link somewhere, or what, but I managed to find something that *looked* like it might work! But rather than assume it would, as I had done (to my chagrin) the first time, I decided to see if Customer Support might be able to help. Since a floating “Need help? Contact Customer Support!” window was drifting by, I snagged it and connected with June.

I explained that I had found what I thought I needed, and asked if she might be able to provide some dimensions on the part so I could see if it might fit. I gave her the part number so she could find it, and also the part number of the tank I had bought from them so she could find *that*.

June did her magic and gave me a part number for a fuel pump. I checked it out and it was *just* the pump – no pickup or fuel-level sender or anything else. So we went back and forth a few more times, and she said that the unit I had found (which includes the fuel level sender, the two fuel line connections [feed and return], the air vent connection, and the connector for an electric fuel pump) would fit the tank, but they didn’t carry it for a ’97 Chevy P30 Step Van.

DANGIT!

Then I had a thought – would the unit I found fit the tank for a different year Step Van? I did a little more digging, and found that it was guaranteed to fit the 40-gallon tank for a ’91 P30. Then I went back to the tank I had actually bought, and found that *it* would fit ’87 – ’97 P30s. So instead of building a fuel delivery system for a ’97 P30, I’m now building one for a ’91 model. Same tank, same basic pickup system. -sigh-

I think what happened between ’91 and ’97 is that Chevy went from TBI to MPI, which requires a higher fuel pressure (I think). Anyway, it meant that the pickup wasn’t *used* in 1997, not that it didn’t *fit*. I just had to find the right combination of parts and model years to get something usable.

[Note to self: Make a permanent note somewhere that the fuel system is “from” a ’91 Chevy P30 Step Van. It will make life *ever* so much easier if/when the pump has to be replaced!]

I ordered the pickup, a pair of tank-mounting straps, and a couple of other things, and will take it all to Robert when I get it.

In other news, Robert was bending some tube for the back roll bar when I last visited him. Here are the pictures I took:

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And that’s it for right now. More to come – LOTS more to come! Stay tuned…

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

It Moves! … and other fuelish things

No, it doesn’t go very far, and no, it’s not under its own power – yet. But it *is* movable! Robert has put the tires & wheels on, and set the whole thing on wheel dollies, so that he can move it out from the corner of his shop and get to the back end and driver’s side more easily.

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On my last visit, in addition to oohing and aahing over this, we also discussed some of the many remaining details – like how to finish the back bumper, how to build the two custom skidplates (one for the middle axle and one for the transmission & transfer case), and how to build the cabin roll cage and cargo-bed roll bar.

The fuel tank arrived before I made this trip, so I took it with me. I should have plenty of range with 40 gallons, but the tank sure is big!

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I decided to put a permanent bulkhead panel between the tank and the cabin; it’ll follow the angle of the inner fenders, run horizontal for a few inches to get behind the cabin roll cage, and then go vertical to meet the top of the side panels. The spare tire will lie flat above the tank, on a carrier that will likely be tied in to the cargo-bed roll bar.

The fuel pickup assembly arrived a couple of days ago, minus the fuel pump itself. Initially, I was surprised at that, but after thinking about it I realized that the pump has to be removable so it can be replaced (they *do* wear out on occasion). So that’s okay. But there’s a problem with the float design – take a moment and see if you can figure out what it is from these two photos before reading any further.

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Float shows empty

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Float shows full

When the float shows empty, it’s resting at or near the bottom of the pickup tube, so the tank really *is* empty (or very close to it). But when the float shows full, it’s only two-thirds of the distance between the bottom of the pickup and the top! So the gauge will register full until the first third of the tank has been used!

I noticed that there are baffles, and what looks like a small sump, in the bottom of the tank, so it might not be possible to extend the arm on the float. But if it *can* be extended, I certainly plan to do it so that I can have a more accurate reading of my fuel level. To be sure, I’d rather have the inaccuracy on the full end of the spectrum than the empty end (imagine having your gauge read empty and there still actually being a third of a tank left!), but if I can improve the overall accuracy I’ll take the opportunity.

I’m also undecided on which side will have the filler. I prefer to have it on the driver’s side, because it’s more convenient that way. But I’m concerned about fuel spillage from the fill tube if the JeepMonster leans too far to that side, so I might run the fill tube across to the passenger’s side so that when the JeepMonster tilts left, fuel flows away from the cap, and when it tilts right, most of the fuel in the tank flows away from the tank end of the hose. I’ve also done some research and have found a fill-tube check valve for a 1957 Chevy that might work, but I want to see if the tank came with one built in before I buy one. Another concern is that, if I run the fill hose to the driver’s side, it might have too many angles or bends or something that might make filling the tank a royal pain.

But those are decisions that will come later, once I have the ‘Monster home and can sit in it for hours, just thinking and musing and letting ideas percolate.

 

Categories: 6x6, CJ-6, JeepMonster, Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment

Feeling a Little Fuelish

No, that’s not a typo. With the JeepMonster’s construction moving forward, it’s now at the point where I have to make decisions about other things – like the fuel system.

I decided long ago that I wanted as large a fuel tank as I could reasonably fit, because my plans for this beast include lots of travel where I don’t know how close the next fuel stop might be. Knowing also that my mileage will be, um, somewhat less than stellar (especially when traversing dirt roads and trails in lower gears and low range), I decided that I wanted a 40-gallon capacity.

With that in mind, I searched the Interwebz diligently for tanks of that size. I looked at marine tanks. I looked at custom tanks. I looked at dual tanks. I even looked at water tanks! (But only because they popped up in the search results.)

I finally found what I was looking for when I spotted a listing for a 40-gallon steel tank for a 1997 Chevrolet P30 van (aka a Step Van – you know, like they make food trucks and delivery trucks out of) with fuel injection. It’s narrow enough – barely – to fit between my rear fenderwells; it’s low enough – barely – to fit below the *tops* of the fenderwells, and it’s short enough to give me some usable space behind it in my “cargo bed.” And the price was right – around $100, versus $600 or more for a custom tank. So I bought it.

The next step, obviously, was to get the fuel-pickup assembly so I can transfer the 40 gallons of gas from the tank to the engine as needed. It turns out that the throttle-body assembly is different from the multi-port assembly (MPI includes the fuel pump in the tank, while TBI doesn’t). And I couldn’t find a TBI assembly *anywhere*!

I searched high and low on the Interwebz and came up empty (no pun intended). I finally found an exploded-drawing illustration of what I needed at Wholesale GM Parts Online, but not all of the illustrated parts were listed. In fact, none of the parts I needed were listed.

So I printed out the page and went to see my friendly parts guy at the local Chevy stealership. It’s been a while since I was there last, having sold my Chevy van years ago and having a dead Jeep (with the 350 SBC) for 10 years, so it turned out that “my” guy wasn’t there any more. But the gentleman behind the counter was friendly, too, so that was all right. He looked at my illustration, and he looked at his computer screen, and he told me the fuel pickup assembly I needed was discontinued.

Seriously?!?

Yup.

Well, no wonder I can’t find it online. Crap. Now what?

“Chevy parts guy” (not his real name) suggested I try Merle’s Auto Parts. Having no other options, I thanked Chevy parts guy and went to Merle’s.

The gentleman behind the counter at Merle’s was immensely helpful, and friendly, too! He looked and looked and looked but couldn’t find any cross-references from the discontinued part to any other part numbers. (You’d think that a fuel-pickup-and sending-unit assembly would be more-or-less generic, but apparently you’d be wrong. At least in this case.) So he wrote down the AC Delco part number for me and sent me on my way, after recommending that I try LMC Truck online.

I looked at LMC, but they didn’t even have the P30 as an option under Chevrolet, so that was a total zero.

-sigh-

Now what? Am I going to have to go digging in junkyards for one of these?

As a next-to-last resort (I really didn’t want to go junkyarding), I tried a Google search on the part number – and (Ta-Da!) actually found TWO places that carry them (Amazon and eBay). Both of them looked exactly like what I need, and the eBay unit was half the price of the Amazon unit, so I bought it off eBay.

Once I get the tank and the sending-unit-fuel-pickup assembly, and make sure they play well together, I’ll take them over to R&W for fitment. Then we can move on to the next challenge!

Categories: JeepMonster, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Moving Right Along!

Not one, but TWO trips to R & W in the past nine days!

On the 31st, I made another pilgrimage to Marana to see what magic had been wrought. I was not disappointed! The cowl that I delivered a week earlier had been cut from the firewall and side panels and is now clamped to the JeepMonster; the rear wheelwells are now fully-welded, and much of the temporary bracing has been cut away. While I was there, we set the grille and hood in place, too, to see what it will look like. (I know, I know… “Pictures, or it didn’t happen!” Well, I’m happy to oblige.)

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Front to back (duh)

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The angled weld lines on the rear fenderwell outline a future storage locker (one on each side)

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It’s a lo-o-o-o-o-ong cargo area!

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The rear corners are big enough for the batteries.

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Staring vacantly into the future.

Robert gave me an assignment when I left – he asked me to bring the windshield frame on my next visit, so he could start work on the roll cage. So we agreed that I would come back on Tuesday, which I did. More progress (although some of it is hard to see):

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Overview with the windshield frame on.

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Closeup of the hand-formed cutout/inset in the rear fender. This is one of the visual cues that I insisted on; it says “Hey, y’all! This is an *OLD* Jeep!” (Later CJs, from the mid-’70s to the end of the production run, don’t have this.) Robert is an AWESOME metalworker!

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Here’s the top rail being hand-built to match the look of the originals.

So, as we move into February, and the first anniversary of Robert’s involvement with the JeepMonster approaches (he started work on this in March of last year), I have to say I’m very happy with the progress and totally blown away by the quality of his work. Whatever you want, I’m sure he’ll be able to build it for you.

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

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

Fenderwells! … Well, fenders…

I didn’t get a chance to visit R & W last week, but Robert was kind enough to send me some shots of the work they did on the rear fenderwells (aka wheel housings, wheelhouses, or inner fenders).

In this shot you can see the back parts of both passenger-side wheel wells, as well as the front part of the front driver-side wheel well.

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Moving around to the front, you can see the wheel-well structures taking shape on both sides.

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This one shows how the individual plates are lining up for the top. The top and the inner wall will be a single piece of steel.

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Here’s a closeup of the area between the two wheels. This’ll be open from the top (with a lid) and will provide storage for things that might have to be rapidly and easily accessible, like a tow strap or winching accessories. The smaller, enclosed space at the bottom is where the angled plates meet one of the under-body supports.

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Great things are happening!

Categories: 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Jeep Body, JeepMonster, Uncategorized | Tags: | 1 Comment

First Fitting – er, Sitting!

Happy New Year! The holidays are over and it’s time to get back to work taking pictures of progress on the JeepMonster!

I didn’t do a *lot* over the past month, but I did pick up a few little bits and pieces, among them the pinion guards for the front and back axles from Ballistic Fabrication (the middle axle, with the Magic Box, will get a custom guard if it needs one)

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and “new” hood hinges (new to me, anyway), courtesy of Willys Works, to replace the ones I bent when I rolled the CJ-5.

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I got a lead on a cowl-dashboard-windshield-base assembly that’s in better condition than either of the ones I have, and I may be able to trade some of my pieces/parts for it. The gentleman who has the part I want restores old CJ-5s and has four or five of them in various stages of (dis)repair. When he asked me what stuff I had, I suggested he come over and take a look when the weather dried out sufficiently that we wouldn’t drown in the rain. So I expect that to happen sometime in the next week or so. Who knows? He might want so much of my stuff that he’ll pay *me*!

I also visited R & W a couple of times – most recently, this morning. I actually sat on the ‘Monster when I was there a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot to ask Robert to take a picture, so we got that done today.

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They took the tires off so they could drop the whole thing down lower to make it easier to work on, and also to make sure that it was properly supported (and straight!) to build the body on. If you look hard, you can see part of the inner fender for the passenger side of the middle axle. The rectangular hole near the front of the skin will become a footwell vent.

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This is a little better shot; the footwell vent is more visible. The inner fenders will be built with storage boxes between the axles for things like tow straps and jumper cables. I’m still not sure where the batteries will go, but I figure there’s plenty of time to make that decision.

Here’s a shot that will give you an idea of how high it’ll be when it’s done.

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Robert hopes to have at least one, and maybe both, of the inner fenders done this week. In the meantime, I need to get the cowl/dashboard/windshield base so he’ll have it when he’s ready for it.

Categories: 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Jeep Body, JeepMonster, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Artistry in Metal…

…or “The Devil’s in the Details” – take your pick.

When I left R&W a week or so ago, I did so with a “to-do” list that included such things as finding a 90-degree brass breather fitting for the transfer case, ordering a pair of pinion guards for the front and back axles (the middle axle may or may not need protection, but if it needs some it will have to be custom-made to fit the Magic Box), and more. By the middle of the week, I had accomplished enough of the items that we set up another visit for this past Saturday.

When I arrived, I saw that not a lot of large-scale progress had been made (in other words, it wasn’t magically – and impossibly – finished), and Robert cautioned me against being disappointed. Then he showed me this:

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“This” is the transmission tunnel they have crafted for me. It’s made of steel, obviously, but it also includes a lot of effort – in both design and fabrication.

The design part can be seen in the multiple angles, both on the firewall and on the tunnel itself. Robert had shown me a rough idea of how he was planning to build the tunnel when I was there before, and I mentioned that I wanted as much foot space as possible (I have big feet and long legs, and I like to move them around when I’m driving for long periods). As a result, he modified his design to hug the transmission much more closely. With this version, I actually think I’ll have more foot space in the JeepMonster than I do in the truck!

The transition from the firewall to the tunnel is also masterful. On my previous visit, I noted that the clutch bellhousing protruded ever so slightly past the plane of the firewall into the cabin. To take care of that, Robert and crew welded several pieces together to make the transition area.

The tailpiece of the tunnel covers the transfer case where it pokes up into the cabin. The overall design gets the job done without being intrusive at all.

The fabrication effort can be seen in all the welds and bends. I don’t know how many pieces of steel it took, but this wasn’t easy to build. The welding is clean and solid, and they assured me that it would all be ground down flush with the tunnel body to make one smooth surface. Much of it had already been ground down. Not only was I impressed that they were grinding it smooth, but it also impressed me that they are confident enough in their work (as they should be!) to remove the extra weld material without compromising the strength of the unit.

Robert also showed me the jig they built to hold the floor pan / firewall while they work on it. This is so everything will be square when it’s finally welded together into one piece. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a solid unit they can clamp the panels to and it’s away from all the other stuff on the JeepMonster (drivetrain, frame crossmembers, etc.) so they can have open access wherever they need it.

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None of this comes cheap, of course, but I’m confident that the ‘Monster will be worth every penny – well, R&W’s part will be worth every penny I spend there! (I can’t make the same guarantee about my own efforts, yet. I’ll still have a lot to do when R&W finishes their work.)

Categories: 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Jeep Body, JeepMonster | Tags: | 1 Comment

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