I’m Famous! (Sort of…)

… and other stuff, too.

The famous part is easy: several months ago I took the JP Magazine staff up on their (generic) invitation to showcase the JeepMonster, and I sent them a few photos and a build sheet (such as it is). Lo and behold, they actually *published* it! A picture I sent, and a write-up based on the build sheet, are on Page 98 of the August 2016 issue. If you have a subscription, check it out! If you’re curious enough to buy an issue, go get it! In the meantime, here’s a scan of that page:

JP Mag Aug 2016

They *say* they wanna see it when it’s done; I plan to give them plenty of opportunities on my “Big Jeep Trip” – whenever that happens. There may also be other chances, depending on where I go for the shakedown runs.

In other news…

I visited R & W last week. Robert tells me he hopes to have it ready “in a month. Maybe two.” We all know how *that* goes with our own projects, but he’s getting close. There’s still work to do at the front (front fenders and the a/c condenser / radiator supports, primarily), but nearly all the work at the back is done. Well, except for the final design and fabrication of the gas tank frame and the spare tire carrier.

These photos show the back bumper corners. They’ll provide good jacking points for the Hi-Lift; they’re big enough to stand on; and they’ll protect the rear quarter panels.



Here’s a photo from straight in back of everything. Woe unto the poor person who dares to rearend me!


This shot shows how the bed bar is mounted. I was originally planning on attaching the bar and the cabin ‘cage to the frame, but after some discussion, Robert persuaded me that it wasn’t necessary – the tub is thicker sheetmetal than an original CJ tub, with much stronger body mounts, so he built it this way. The bar is still removable – it uses special bungs to hold the bar to the tub – but it’s a lot simpler now. (The cab ‘cage is also removable, allowing me to paint / powdercoat both of them separately from the tub.)


This final photo shows one of the ways Robert signs his work – with “R & W” cut into the roll cage gussets. He’s rightfully proud of his work, and I’m equally proud to have him on the job.


When the ‘Monster is ready to come out of “drydock” and move to its “fitting-out berth”, we’re going to show it off at 4 Wheel Parts on Speedway in Tucson for a few hours. Obviously, it’ll be a trailer queen at that point, but anyone who wants to will be able to get up close and personal with it. I look forward to seeing you there! Watch this space for the date and time of the unveiling.

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

Tempus Fidgets (Fueled You, Didn’t I?)

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been over a month since my last post here. I’ve been busy with other things (that are totally irrelevant to completing the JeepMonster, but they consumed all of my time), so although I have visited R&W a few times since my last update, I haven’t made the time to tell y’all about them. I’ll try to rectify that.

(And yes, I know that the phrase is actually “tempus fugit,” loosely meaning “time flies,” but my Dad always used “tempus fidgits.” So there you have it.)

Here’s a progress shot from April 10. It shows the gas-filler location and the first pass at the double rollbar. The left hoop will be in the cabin (inside the top) and the right one will be in the cargo bed (outside the top). Extending back from the right hoop is a “rail” that goes back to the rear corner of the Jeep.


Moving along to April 14, there’s more progress on the rollcage. The front hoop has a spreader/stiffener just below the windshield glass; there are four spreaders between the front and back hoops of the cabin cage; and the triangular braces for the bed-mounted hoop have been cut and placed.


This photo, also from April 14, shows the cross-bracing on the rear hoop of the cabin cage; the triangular braces of the bed hoop,and a piece of square tubing running from one side of the ‘Monster to the other. That will become part of the bulkhead that separates the cabin from the cargo bed.


Moving into May, we find that Robert has tacked together a track for the driver’s seat. This isn’t complete, but it will allow me to locate the pedals and steering when I get the ‘Monster home. Once that’s done (along with a lot of other bits and pieces I have to do), I’ll take it back to R&W to have Robert finish the seat tracks and fix anything I buggered up.


The next photo shows the approximate location of the gas tank. The bulkhead panel has been tacked in (covering the square tube shown above) and he’s thinking about how to attach the tank to the ‘Monster. The tank itself is designed for a Chevy Stepvan and holds 40 gallons.


Next up is an interior shot, showing the bulkhead panel and how the fuel hoses are run from the filler neck to the tank.


And that’s where it stands. There’s still a lot to do before Robert releases it to my ministrations, but there is a lot of thought that has to go into each step before any welds are burned. This project is a lot like a chess game, where you have to think ahead 12 or 16 moves to make sure something you do now doesn’t create a problem later on. Robert’s a master at that kind of thinking – much better than I am – and I tip my hat to him.

I’m going to be at the Overland Expo in Mormon Lake (near Flagstaff) this weekend. If you’re there, too, look for the tall guy with the trimmed white beard and the Tucson Rough Riders hat and jacket. I’m volunteering on Thursday and Friday, and I’ll be wandering around as a spectator Saturday and Sunday.

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

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:



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



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):


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


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


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

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

Adding Fuel to the Fire


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.


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.


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:



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.


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!


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.


Float shows empty


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.



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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.)


Front to back (duh)


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


It’s a lo-o-o-o-o-ong cargo area!


The rear corners are big enough for the batteries.


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):


Overview with the windshield frame on.


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!


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:


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.]


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


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


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.


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:



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.


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


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.


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.


Great things are happening!

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

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