I bought a ’48 Willys CJ-2A in the late 80’s for use on our orchard in Boyertown, PA. After a moderate body off restoration, I used it in the orchard for general running around and to hold an air compressor for pruning. My brothers and sisters all beat around the 100-acre orchard having fun learning manual transmission and having fun. After building a house on top of the property, with a ½ mile driveway, I mounted a snow plow with manual hydraulic pump. Obviously, it is cold, so I bought a Bestop top with doors. Even got the heater to work. We ended the orchard production in 2002 and the CJ-2A sat in our barn for over 15 years.
Fast forward to 2019. My son David is attending Embry-Riddle in Daytona, Florida. Being next door to the Speedway, David found interest in cars and desired to learn as much as he could about the mechanics of cars. He wanted to learn manual transmission, so I figured the Willys might be the place to learn. So, as a Summer project, we pulled the Willys out of the barn and got it to run. Not too hard, I had done a full motor restoration early in its life on the farm. First order of business was to put new tires all around. I never put new tires on, so who knows how old they were, but dry rot had taken its toll. Now with new tires we could get it rolling. Upon the first start, we found the fuel float was sticking and it sprayed fuel all around. Lesson One, rebuild the carburetor.
As I got it rolling down the drive, I pumped the brakes and found not so much. So, we began a brake job. We quickly determined all the cylinders were corroded and leaking. Kaiser Willys Auto Parts provided us with everything we needed. A complete replacement of the brake system was accomplished. We added new shocks to try and get it to sit straight. I had replaced the leaf springs earlier. Needless to say, we were eligible for a lot of free shipping and Mike at Kaiser Willys filled many orders which we had within 2-3 days each. A great supply house and we got a lot of good information from their website and catalog.
David replaced the foam in the seats so this old man could be comfortable. Then came the gas tank. Mothball rule number one, drain the fuel, was not followed when I put it away and the fuel was bad. We drained it and decided to acid wash. Wow, it worked great – except for the pin hole we created and found pretty soon after we reinstalled it. I could have soldered it, but figured there would be more to follow so we opted for a new tank.
We power washed it to get layers of old grease off. The 30-year-old paint did not look that bad, so we decided that would be left for Phase II. Right now, we have fun driving it on country roads. David’s girlfriend Abbey has a ’17 Jeep. We take them on Off road parks abound in our area and they have fun.
Willys Jeep Life Story – Greg Unger
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