I’ve loved jeeps for as long as I can remember. Even my fifth birthday presents included a toy army jeep. My older brother Trevor, restored a 3B back when I was around 14. He owned several MBs and a CJ6 and was the person who introduced me to the jeep ‘cult’. Driving with him in the sand dunes of Stockton beach is one of my most cherished childhood memories. Over the years my enthusiasm for jeeps never waned and I’ve owned a CJ5, ZJ, WJ, TJ, two JK Unlimited Rubicons and I recently bought a Cherokee KL Trailhawk. In 2010 the time came to scratch an itch I’d had for a long time and start a jeep restoration. CJ3Bs hold a special place in my heart, so I looked for one that wasn’t not too far from where I live in Newcastle, Australia. I didn’t have a large budget or mechanical experience so this was always going to be a slow restoration. Besides, I’m about the journey – not just the destination.
In early 2011 I found a 3B which has been in a farm shed for 20 years, around 200 kilometres from my home. It was rough but the frame and body seemed to be in reasonable condition. The speedo was gone, as were the data plates, so I didn’t know its age or mileage and the previous owner didn’t know either. With help from the CJ3B website, Kaiser Willys and a good exchange rate for the Australian dollar, I was able to start buying parts in 2011 and the learning began. I bought tools and a shop manual and started with the axles, brakes, suspension. My intention was to make it driveable, but the ‘bug’ bit me hard and next thing I was removing the body, having the front cross-member replaced and removing the engine to clean it up. I wanted a classic look with skinny tyres, rather than a modified look.
I bought a MiG welder and tried to patch up the old body for months, but the metal was so brittle it would just burn away. Finally I bit the bullet and bought a replacement tub. As time and budget allowed, I worked on my 3B in my garage (thanks to my patient wife) and progressively built my knowledge, innovated fixes and fell in love with this jeep. There’s something addictive about the mix of boyhood memories, the simple, robust design and the promise of wind-in-your-hair off-roading that kept the enthusiasm going and the credit card well used. In early 2016 I finally got it roadworthy, checked by an engineer and registered for road use. Since then I have made numerous adjustments and tweaks and with each one and with each kilometre I drive, it just seems to be getting better. I don’t know if it will ever be truly finished. I still want a top, winch, overdrive, and a lock-rite for the rear diff. I took it for some windscreen-down off-roading recently and it bought back a lot of fond memories. Sadly, my brother passed away in 2000 at age 52 from bowel cancer, so I named my 3B in honour of him – Trevor.
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