Willys Jeep: Badger Engine and Steering Improvements (Pictorial)

Parts is Parts!

Parts is Parts!

If you’ve been reading up on my work on the Jeeps so far, you’ll know that I love before/after pictures. It makes me all warm and goose-pimply when a lot of hard work can be seen at a glance. Sometimes, however, it also is just a reminder that some patience and hard work will actually pay off.

Today’s edition of before-and-after photos comes to you courtesy of nearly 3 years (almost exactly – the original photos were taken in March, 2012) of some of the most pedantic processes I’ve ever undertaken. But, assuming that I haven’t screwed anything up in doing what I did, I like the way the end result came out. 

Since I started working on the Jeeps, I have gotten more and more obsessed with putting original parts back on the Jeep. That means either 1) fixing or repairing Badger’s original pieces, or 2) purchasing NOS (new original stock/new old stock) parts that were built specifically for that model. To that end, eBay has been my friend… and the bane of my budget’s existence. (Jeep = Just Empty Every Pocket)

In the Beginning…

Right from the very start of taking apart Badger, there were no shortage of unpleasant surprises to cope with. One of the first, and continuing to be a problem, has been the steering assembly. After the fiasco of trying to save the steering wheel, I finally broke down and found replacement parts for the system. As it stands, the only thing that will wind up being original (unless I find a donor CJ-3A any time soon) will be the Ross Steering box.

 

I think I threw up in my mouth a little...

I think I threw up in my mouth a little…

Like most of Badger, this was a complete mess. Not to mention, it didn’t smell too good, either.

 

There's a reason they say not to use grease. I wonder what it could be...

There’s a reason they say not to use grease. I wonder what it could be…

Once I got the steering column free of the Ross steering box, and the steering box free of the frame, I did my best to clean it.

U-G-L-Y You ain't got no alibi, you UGLY!

U-G-L-Y You ain’t got no alibi, you UGLY!

Last weekend I started mocking up the steering assembly (NOS parts FTW!), because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything before trying to attach it to Badger’s frame.

Tie rod bone's connected to the bell crank. Bell crank bone is connected to the...

Tie rod bone’s connected to the bell crank. Bell crank bone is connected to the…

Of course, I needed to separate the pitman arm from the sector shaft, because the arm’s ball joint was oblong (it’s supposed to be round):

Round and round the pitman arm the monkey chased the weasel...

Round and round the pitman arm the monkey chased the weasel…

Thanks to two sets of jaw pullers, the pitman arm popped right off, right? cough, cough…

Pop goes the pitman arm! Um, I said, POP goes the.. POP goes... aw, dammit.

Pop goes the pitman arm! Um, I said, POP goes the.. POP goes… aw, dammit.

Busted two jaw pullers, including a brand new one. Oh well.

I decided that I’d try to get a machine shop to clean the steering box and pull the pitman arm off. I could cut off the sector shaft, but I didn’t want to have to spend the $70 if I didn’t have to (and that’s not even for a NOS part). While I was at it, I decided to have them clean off a few other parts as well (more on that below).

 

POP GOES THE FREAKIN' WEASEL!

POP GOES THE FREAKIN’ WEASEL!

It helps to have the right tool for the job.

All in all, the cleaning made the steering box come out looking pretty nice. At least it actually wasn’t disgusting to touch.

Not a trace of 60-year-old grease!

Not a trace of 60-year-old grease!

I was very happy to see that the metal was in great condition.

Looks pretty close to new, in fact

Looks pretty close to new, in fact

I’m not sure why, but for some reason I had the thought in my head that the cleaned items would come back rust-free. I honestly have no idea what made me think of that, since I wasn’t having them media blasted.

Whoa, what a birthmark!

You’ve got a little shmutz on the side, there

So, out came the handy naval jelly.

Nope, no lint here. Or is that a different navel?

Nope, no lint here. Or is that a different navel?

Which actually worked like a charm.

Birthmark almost completely gone!

Birthmark almost completely gone!

The inside actually did look damn close to ‘new.’ I’m really glad that I didn’t have to buy a new one.

Ross lid (inside) after cleaning

All in all, it looks nothing like when I took it off Badger in the first place.

So pretty, almost makes you wanna cry.

So pretty, almost makes you wanna cry.

Then, finally, came the moment I’ve been waiting for… for three years. Prepped, ready, and here comes the paint.

Yowza!

Yowza!

Using some Rustoleum 2-in-1 gloss on the outside of the steering box, it came out looking powder-coated.

Oh, come on. Tell me that don't look factory-new!

Oh, come on. Tell me that don’t look factory-new!

The inside of the box (and the lid) were simply painted with a Rustoleum flat primer to prevent any additional rust from returning.

Inside voice

Inside voice

I know that the Ross steering box has its fair share of issues, and it didn’t look like this when I took it off the Jeep, but I really like the way this came out.

Outside voice

Outside voice

As strange as it may seem, one of the things that I really like is that I can read the writing now on the metal.

The Saga of the Transmission, Flywheel, and Bell Housing – Deconstruction

The guy who sold Badger to me had said that he had bought it from a farmer, and the Jeep had been outside doing farmwork for “who knows how many” years. As I’ve written about in this blog, that has meant all kinds of fun, joy, and heavenly rapture in taking it apart. This is, of course, not to mention all the other surprises I got when diving underneath the surface.

It all started after the tub came off, and it came time to disassemble the engine.

You ever exhume a body from a coffin, Billy?

You ever exhume a body from a coffin, Billy?

Now, it might be useful to note that when I “peeked behind the curtain,” I was quite surprised at the state of the transmission housing. After all, the housing had been full of transmission ex-fluid. As a result, the amount of corrosion inside the gear system raised an eyebrow or two.

A course of antibiotics will clear that up!

A course of antibiotics will clear that up!

Obviously I had to include the transmission shifter as part of the cleaning process. After doing the best de-greasing I could, it looked like this:

Yeah, I don't see much of a difference either

Yeah, I don’t see much of a difference either

I was really hoping that the cleaning would make a bit of a difference, and I suppose it did, but to me it kind of looked worse.

So, the red's gone. That's good, I guess

So, the red’s gone. That’s good, I guess

At least the underside looked better than before

 

Next time, young man, use protection

Next time, young man, use protection

Once again it was naval jelly to the rescue.

Looks better, but I'm not really into the 'new used' look

Looks better, but I’m not really into the ‘new used’ look

After all the cleaning and de-rusting, the underside looked mighty spiffy.

So clean you could... say you could lick off it

So clean you could… say you could lick off it

Once again, some masking and a dose of paint (high temp primer on the inside, high gloss on the outside), and the shifter looks less shifty.

Looks halfway decent

Looks halfway decent

Even the underside is looking considerably less diseased.

Veddy niiiiiice

Veddy niiiiiice

And another view:

Top down view

Top down view

 

And this, of course, sits on top of the…

Transmission Housing

Is transmission fluid supposed to be changed on a regular basis? What I found certainly seems to make a case that it should be.

Mummified gears!

Mummified gears!

Only thing missing from this was sinew.

Achievement unlocked: Confidence inspired!

Achievement unlocked: Confidence inspired!

It took a bit of prodding, but Badger finally gave up the gearing.

I think the gasket has seen better days

I think the gasket has seen better days

When the transmission was removed from the bell housing, I got a good look at just how much of a farm jeep Badger had been.

What the...

What the…

… and then some…

I think badger sucked in an entire farm

I think badger sucked in an entire farm

It’s obvious that the transmission is going to have to be rebuilt (just like the engine, and pretty much everything else that Badger has to offer), and I was hoping to make a dent on the cleaning process, at least. Unfortunately, I learned very quickly that the best I could do was ‘prep’ the parts, and even my most concentrated efforts weren’t going to get to where I needed them to go.

Close, but no... aw, who am I kidding? Not close at all

Close, but no… aw, who am I kidding? Not close at all

Fortunately, the cleaning process did a really good job of removing all the extra dirt, grease, ‘fluid,’ and, um, nesty-type stuff.

Weird angle, but easier to see this way

Weird angle, but easier to see this way

Just like the Ross steering box, however, there was far too much surface rust for my taste, and I wanted to get rid of as much of it as I could before protecting it with a coat of paint.

Not quite good as new, but getting there

Not quite good as new, but getting there

Finally, when I managed to get to the painting, I could feel that excitement once more. I never liked the red color of the engine/transmission combination. The color scheme I’m going with for Badger will be a black and tan, with the major mechanical parts being a high-gloss black. So, that’s what I did for the outside of the transmission housing. I masked up all the moving parts, primed with a high-temp primer, and then coated the outside with a gloss.

Looking much better

Looking much better

Once all was said and done, the transmission looked clean enough to come from the factory (in my humble opinion).

Clean gears, too!

Clean gears, too!

I did put a lot of work into cleaning, preparing and protecting the parts of the housing, and in this case I think it actually does look incredible, if I do say so myself.

If a transmission could be sexy...

If a transmission housing could be sexy…

Bell Housing

The transmission transformation was nothing compared to what was left inside the bell housing, however.

Is that... a bird's nest?

Is that… a bird’s nest?

Nope, not a comparison at all.

No, seriously, did squirrels live in here or something?

No, seriously, did squirrels live in here or something?

Now starting to get a bit more frightened of the kinds of things I would find in there, I soldiered on nevertheless.

Acorns?!?

Acorns?!?

Fortunately, my fear of finding decapitated rodents didn’t come to fruition.

I took the bell housing and did the best I could to get rid of any legacy agriculture, and because of the greater surface area turned out to be very easy to clean.

Looks almost like a bell. Hey....

Looks almost like a bell in this position. Hey….

Of course, with it being as big as it is, it was the first thing that I originally saw when I went to pick up the parts at the machine shop. That’s why when it looked somewhat rusty, I was a bit surprised.

I said clean! Oh wait, it is. never mind

I said clean! Oh wait, it is. never mind

Once again, we took the naval jelly to the parts and it did an amazing job.

Down to gunmetal grey

Down to gunmetal grey

I was pretty amazed at how well the naval jelly took off the surface rust, in only about 10 minutes, too.

From the inside out

From the inside out

Putting some high-temp primer on the inside –

I hear that matte black is all the rage now

I hear that matte black is all the rage now

– and that fancy glossy black on the outside –

Back from the dead

Back from the dead

– really made a huge difference to this. I wanted to take a picture of the bell housing mocked up to the transmission housing, but when I did it didn’t look right. Pictures will just have to wait until it’s ready to be assembled for good, I suppose.

 

This is my best side...

This is my best side…

Once the bell housing was removed (going back to the beginning once more), there was always “one more thing” to take apart to see what else needed to be done. By this point I had already realized that it was inevitable that I was going to have to touch every single part on Badger.

Clutch Plate and Flywheel

Not exactly what I would call "tip-top" shape

Not exactly what I would call “tip-top” shape

Removing the clutch plate showed that it was going to be problematic. The clutch plates appeared to be fused together.

Safe to say, I don't think it's supposed to look like that

Safe to say, I don’t think it’s supposed to look like that

Ultimately when I took it to the machine shop, the guy who worked there confirmed that it probably wasn’t usable. However, he did unfuse them for me, but I told him not to bother cleaning the parts. Instead, I went ahead and found replacements.

Shiny! Shiny!

Shiny! Shiny!

At first, the flywheel looked pretty rough as well.

Potential? Maybe? Hopefully?

Potential? Maybe? Hopefully?

There was no question, though, that the main plate would need to be resurfaced.

Probably not a good idea to slap this back into an engine without some attention first

Probably not a good idea to slap this back into an engine without some attention first

I have to say, the guy at the machine shop did a damn good job resurfacing.

I think I can see my reflection!

I think I can see my reflection!

A coat of high-temp (2000 degrees F) primer finished up the flywheel on the other side

Nice and functional, but not pretty. Like me.

Nice and functional, but not pretty. Like me.

Drive Shafts

When I took the drive shafts off of Badger, I was a bit concerned. They really didn’t look like they were in good shape, and it appeared that part of the connection to the transfer case had been damaged.

Something about this doesn't look right

Something about this doesn’t look right

What’s more, it was difficult to tell if there was a lot of corrosion on the shafts, or if it was just caked on mud that was hard as stone.

You like to play dirty, eh?

You like to play dirty, eh?

Now of course, when I reassembled the axles on the finished frame, the differential looks much nicer than in the picture above:

Setting the bar much higher (that's what cherry pickers are for)

Setting the bar much higher (that’s what cherry pickers are for)

The question, of course, is whether or not I could make the drive shafts look that good.

Boy, you done got your work cut out for you

Boy, you done got your work cut out for you

Interestingly enough, when they came back from the machine shop they looked more like World War I mortar tubes than drive shafts.

They're not going to explode, are they?

They’re not going to explode, are they?

However, he replaced the U-bolts on the ends and re-greased them. They worked fantastic. Seriously, absolutely amazing difference in the functionality. Now to see if I could pretty them up a bit.

Not really an improvement, but necessary

Not really an improvement, but necessary

Once my wife masked up the delicate bits (yes, that’s right, she works on the Jeeps with me), it came time to prime and paint.

Talk about good as new!

Talk about good as new!

I challenge anyone to tell me that these don’t look nearly perfect. 

I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille

I guess I could say that these are the ones that I’m the most excited about, and I probably am. I was very, very worried about these drive shafts.

It just can't get any prettier than this

It just can’t get any prettier than this

Not only do they look amazing, but they work so much better than before. The moving bits… move. In fact, there are parts that are supposed to move that I didn’t even know about, the original condition was so bad. All in all, this is amazing.

Next Steps

If you made it this far, thanks for keeping me company.

Now that I have the pieces of the puzzle, I believe I can finish mocking up the steering linkage, and the work done on the engine pieces are ready to go for when I’m prepared to do that. I still have some brakework to finish on Badger before I get to that, though.

One last item. I was a bit concerned about the condition of the original transfer case, so when I found a NOS Dana transfer case I clicked the “buy it now” button. That was before I saw the results of this, so there’s a chance that I probably wouldn’t have needed to buy it.

drool drool drool

drool drool drool

I may have a problem.

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2 Comments

  • Peter V Locke February 28, 2015 at 13:28

    Glad to see that sentence where you cited help from Becca! Hope you’ll drive Badger up here so that it can enjoy some real Jeep country.

    Reply
  • Willys Jeep: Badger’s Steering Requires Advice | J Metz's Blog March 19, 2015 at 19:33

    […] cleaning up the steering parts I had received the new equipment and was getting prepared to mock everything up on Badger’s […]

    Reply

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