Willys Jeep: Went to See a Man About a Jeep

Yesterday I drove 7 hours (round trip) to take a look at a Jeep just north of Sacramento. The seller had advertised it for $1500, but didn’t know exactly what kind of Jeep it was – just that it was a 1949. It had an overdrive and a Saginaw steering system, as well as a V8 (which I would sell) and some upgraded rims and tires (which I would have sold and recycled, respectively). 

The logic was that if the frame was a 3a – or even a 2a – I could still salvage much of what I’ve been working on with the Badger. If it was a 3a, perhaps I could simply strip this one down for parts (which will cost me around $1000 for the overdrive alone), sell off what I didn’t need and recoup some of the money.

If it was a 2a but in good condition, I could possibly even take the engine, drive train, as well as some of the other components, and add them to a 2a frame/body (since they are essentially the same anyway).

It all depended on the qualify of the frame.

The seller was very friendly. I managed to get ahold of him Friday night and he graciously went out to the property where he was storing the Jeep and took some high resolution photos of the frame to send to me via email. I was really quite impressed with his willingness to give me more information, especially since I would have to drive quite a ways to get there.

From what the photos showed, the shock mounts and pivot brackets (the breaking points of my existing frame) seemed to be in pretty good condition. So, I decided to make the trek. I loaded up my truck with a jack, flashlight, cameras and manuals to go give the Jeep a thorough once-over, but even then I was of two minds. Should I take the trailer, just in case?

I opted not to, instead bringing cash to purchase and the intent to return if it was worth the sale. I knew that would mean another dreadful hike up north but logistics made it the best option.

It turns out it was a good thing I didn’t bring the trailer. I crawled over the Jeep and looked at the frame, and sure enough it looked pretty good. Just as I was about to make an offer, I remembered to take a look at the front crossmember, where my own frame had taken such a drastic hit.

I moved to the front of the Jeep and crawled under the front bumper and looked for the crossmember. Notice I said looked for the crossmember, not looked at the crossmember.It slowly started to dawn on me through my hazy confusion that there was no crossmember.

Apparently one of the previous owners (not the seller) had removed the crossmember in order to fit the V8 into the engine compartment, and had reinforced the frame with some straight horizontal steel rods.

Oh well.

I gave him my apologies, but couldn’t take the Jeep, not with the frame in that situation. He felt bad that I had driven all that way for nothing, but at least he had been getting phone calls during the day and will not likely have issues selling it.

My next steps, then, are to take the frame to the straightener (currently planned for Wednesday, January 23), and then bring it to Freeman Frames (see previous article) for boxing and repair.

The adventure continues…

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