1948 Jeepster Needs TLC - Forum Knowledge & Opinions Please

overton

Gear Grinder
Apr 18, 2020
16
Johnston, Iowa
First Name
Greg
Willys Model
  1. Jeepster
Willys Year:
  1. 1949
A 1948 Jeepster found me the other day and she needs a little love. First off, those front marker lights are not correct. Replace those? The hood does not have the hooks hold downs, could that be stock? Did they make some without hood hooks?

The brakes need work. They are very stiff / hard and you have to stand on them so she likely needs a total brake job. Would like to go back to stock hubcaps and wide whitewalls but I'm not ever sure if these are stock wheels. Would also like to put the correct steering on but not sure if it will mount up or where to best source it. The steering column looks stock to me.

We dropped the fuel tank and it's very corroded inside as this Jeepster has been sitting. I thought I might clean it out but it looks scary in there. Perhaps better to do a Poly tank. From what I've seen, it sounds like you have to cut the fuel filler neck off the old tank to attach to a poly tank. Opinions?

The engine was identified as a 4.3L GM V6 by a couple people. Not sure of that is correct or not. It does run fine when fed with uncontaminated fuel. She's a 3-speed on the floor. Can't find a VIN anywhere thus far.

I'd like your input and opinion on where to go from here and where to best source the parts needed.

Thanks,
Greg

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KLankford

Precision Fit
Dec 27, 2011
657
Albany, Wyoming
First Name
Kenny
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1949
Continue on with identifying those things that need fixin', those that might need identifying, and things you do not like. I put a poly tank into mine but haven't driven it yet. You mentioned you didn't like the steering wheel. So provide pix of the steering wheel showing how it was mounted to the steering column. The steering column looks stock by the engine pix but hard to tell how it its connected to the steering wheel.

When I first got my wagon, I set it on the lift and removed the wheels and started taking pictures of everything visable. If you see stamped numbers, take a picture. Take pictures of everything and then you can post on the board and we can possible tell you if the frame is stock, stock axles or modified, brake modifications etc. The smart phone camera feature is your best friend.

Identify the wheel bolt patterns front and rear (as mine has two different patterns) 5 bolts x 5" diameter or 5 x 5 1/2 or otherwise.

You have to know what you have and then prioritize what needs to be done as a necessity, an upgrade, or going back to stock which in this case, you probably don't want to do. My jeepster although looking great is a hodgepodge of parts that would make the original perfectionist cringe. But I know what I have and can work on everything at will (although with this pedigree of parts, a ton of backyard garage engineering is required).

If you can find a parts book for that year of jeepster, it can help a lot. I used mine 6 times in the last two days.
 

PTV

Sharpest Tool
Jan 3, 2020
407
SW Pa.
First Name
John
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1958
I'd plug the gas tank and add about 1/2 gallon of lacquer thinner and dissolve the varnish out of the tank first. Probably need to sit a few days different ways to loosen it up. Then see how much actual rust is in there.
 

overton

Gear Grinder
Apr 18, 2020
16
Johnston, Iowa
First Name
Greg
Willys Model
  1. Jeepster
Willys Year:
  1. 1949
I appreciate the feed back thus far - Thank You. The more the merrier. The fuel tan appears to have been lined at some time in the past as there are large flakes of thin material breaking loose inside. the sending unit looked like it's been on the Titanic.
 

Lookout Ranch

Well Oiled
All-Star
May 9, 2015
5,289
Sierra Foothills
First Name
Carter
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1957
Congratulations on your Jeepster! There’s a lot there to love.
As for the hood hold-downs, while they are on most jeeps, I believe they were dealer add-ons in most cases, so they aren’t technically “missing” from yours.
 

Moriazbane

Sharpest Tool
Jan 27, 2017
280
Mount Vernon IL
First Name
Scott
Willys Model
  1. Jeepster
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
I didn't get a fuel tank with mine, so I had to go with the poly. Stock fuel neck and hose fit fine. Mine came with the straps, and I also bought the sender. It's worth it not to worry about it. Never use the tank sealants, I don't care what color. Ruined 2 good tanks that way. Never again. If it leaks and a repro is available, by all means go new. My '48 didn't come with the side latches but the center latch on mine is not trustworthy and I had a hood blow up at speed once. That's enough. My brakes are all new and were awful. I swapped in a ford ranger rear axle with higher ratio gears and better brakes. The driveshaft connection to the ford pinion was a little problem but I made an adapter out of an extra willys yoke I had. It works. Didn't have to change the length. Same bolt pattern. Swapped another right hand front hub for the left hand one, now all 4 are right hand. The Ranger rear end is 1/2" narrower so I'm running the ranger wheels for the slight positive offset.
If you are using original wheels they would probably work ok. I have a set of 4. They have the unique hubcap clips and bolt pattern for a jeepster. I wouldn't recommend changing the rearend if your original is ok.
 
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PTV

Sharpest Tool
Jan 3, 2020
407
SW Pa.
First Name
John
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1958
Some fuel tank coating can be removed with ketone…..

I appreciate the feed back thus far - Thank You. The more the merrier. The fuel tan appears to have been lined at some time in the past as there are large flakes of thin material breaking loose inside. the sending unit looked like it's been on the Titanic.
 

overton

Gear Grinder
Apr 18, 2020
16
Johnston, Iowa
First Name
Greg
Willys Model
  1. Jeepster
Willys Year:
  1. 1949
Put in a new tank. Tossed the old one. It was toast. The new sending unit is not moving the gauge so I have to sort that out. Wondered if sending unit may need to be grounded to the frame since it's plastic and the old one was metal? There was just one wire connected to the old one. 61117667181__A0C844D2-9199-4C90-BED1-92A0AC471109.jpg
 

glennstin

Bigger Hammer
Apr 29, 2011
45
Smithfield, Maine
First Name
Glenn
Willys Model
  1. Other
Willys Year:
  1. 1956
Hi,

You asked about ID #. Lay on your back on the passenger side and look up near the glove box area. Should be an ID tag there on the bottom of the dash.

As a Jeepster owner we'd like you to join the Willys Overland Jeepster Club. There you'll find willing hands anxious to help you enjoy your new baby. Don't worry it isn't just as Toledo made it, most aren't. And as you can see here, many of the changes help the Jeepster perform in today's world, which maybe you've noticed is much different from 1948 when it was built. My 1950 Jeepster is attached.

https://jeepsterclub.com/ These single marque clubs help keep orphaned vehicles alive.

1950WillysJeepsterNY1.png1950WillysJeepsterNY4.png
 

overton

Gear Grinder
Apr 18, 2020
16
Johnston, Iowa
First Name
Greg
Willys Model
  1. Jeepster
Willys Year:
  1. 1949
Nice looking Jeepster. Finally found that tag. It was painted so I took it off and stripped it and re-installed. Thank you! IMG_7298.jpgIMG_7303.JPGC0398E92-6CAC-43FF-BAA4-9BA4699DBE5F.jpeg
 
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bird

Precision Fit
Aug 29, 2019
856
san diego california
First Name
eric(BIRD)
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
Congratulations on your Jeepster! There’s a lot there to love.
As for the hood hold-downs, while they are on most jeeps, I believe they were dealer add-ons in most cases, so they aren’t technically “missing” from yours.
my 48 truck has never had any out side hood hold downs and its bone stock. all of my jeeps have had at least two and sometimes 4.
 

Lookout Ranch

Well Oiled
All-Star
May 9, 2015
5,289
Sierra Foothills
First Name
Carter
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1957
Put in a new tank. Tossed the old one. It was toast. The new sending unit is not moving the gauge so I have to sort that out. Wondered if sending unit may need to be grounded to the frame since it's plastic and the old one was metal? There was just one wire connected to the old one. View attachment 74334
Yes, with the plastic tank you need a ground wire from one of the screws holding the sending unit to the frame.
 

overton

Gear Grinder
Apr 18, 2020
16
Johnston, Iowa
First Name
Greg
Willys Model
  1. Jeepster
Willys Year:
  1. 1949
She's coming along. Going in for brake job this Tuesday. Seems to be running hot and know the thermostat has recently been replaced. Not sure that little radiator it well suited for a 4.3L V6. I'll have to sort that out. One question I have is regarding overdrive. I assume you push the lever IN to engage overdrive?

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KLankford

Precision Fit
Dec 27, 2011
657
Albany, Wyoming
First Name
Kenny
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1949
Regarding the Gas Tank, the sending unit may not be configured for the Willys fuel gauge. You may have to test the sensor wire at the sending unit against the sendors metal case with an Ohm meter to see what ohms it is actually sending. My notes tell me that I had 66 ohms empty and 4 ohms full. Other posts around the forum say 73 empty and 10 full.
 

peashooter

Bigger Hammer
Apr 14, 2013
56
ca
First Name
kevin
Willys Model
  1. Other
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
Push in the OD knob and the overdrive can operate. Pull out to prevent it. If it has all the stock components working correctly it will come and go frequently without much fuss and often unnoticed. You may want to download a Borg Warner R-10 manual to get an idea of what's going on. A very good piece of equipment.
 

overton

Gear Grinder
Apr 18, 2020
16
Johnston, Iowa
First Name
Greg
Willys Model
  1. Jeepster
Willys Year:
  1. 1949
Repainted the front emblem last week. Not technically correct I'm sure, but better than it was. All the wheel cylinders have been replaced and the brake master too. Included a couple shots of the engine below. The brakes work great now. We connected the ground for new the fuel sending unit and the fuel gauge came to life!

It's a beautiful day so I'm going for a drive now.

Thank you to all the my helpful Jeepster forum buddies.
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