1955 Willys Powerwagon

yellowoctupus

Bigger Hammer
Jan 4, 2014
156
Kailua, HI - Colden, NY
First Name
Phil
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
This is going to be a daily driver pickup with the ability to tow/ haul/ wheel/ do whatever I need.

Starting with:

1955 Willys Pickup. No rust to speak of, needs a glass set. Hood's setup right now to be a 'front flip' style, I'm not sure I want to keep it that way in the long run, but it works for now. Bed's a little banged up, but I think I'll just straighten it as best as I can for now, and worry about cosmetics later.

2001 Dodge Ram 1500, 4x4 5.9L. (16hwy mpg? Ouch. Well, at least it's got a boat load of torque @335ft/lbs.) Wheelbase looks about right. Don't have a key, but I think it's the last year that the Ram didn't have the 'chipped' keys standard. Supposedly the PO said it took a 'flat key'. Here's hoping he has a good memory, because dealing with the theft control stuff stinks.

Big issues at this point:

  • No steering hooked up.
  • Engine may or may not run? I don't know why you'd start the swap on a non-running engine, so lets say it runs. Everything's basically still there for the fuel injected setup, fuel pump and gas tank included.
  • No room for a radiator at all. I may move the drivetrain backwards about 6" (I have that much room to the firewall.) Also thought of 'lengthening' the hood. Seems like that may be harder to pull off well, but at least all the driveshafts would be stock, etc.
  • Body is mounted, but not on rubber, it's bolted directly to the Dodge frame. That's gotta get changed.
  • Bed is NOT mounted at all right now. It's just held in place with some heavy ratchet straps.
  • Nothing's hooked up, no e-brake, throttle, normal brakes, no pedals, etc.
  • Not sure what to do about gauges. Everything I have is electronic, and if they use seperate gauges for the engine/fuel management it's no problem, just swap them out, but then there's the speedometer (electric) which would need some sort of through drive??? If it's even a geared speedo? Details...

These are some pictures from when I first brought it home:













 

Gojeep

Well Oiled
Jan 10, 2010
3,535
Victoria Australia
First Name
Marcus
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1948
Brave taking on some one else's project like that. Might end up costing you more time than if you started from scratch.
I would be moving the engine back for sure. Keep the factory looks and improve the handling a long way too. Proportions will be totally wrong if you move the grille and hood forward instead.
Hope you stick it out and work through it all as have a lot in front of you. Look forward to seeing the pictures as you go through it all.
 

yellowoctupus

Bigger Hammer
Jan 4, 2014
156
Kailua, HI - Colden, NY
First Name
Phil
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
I have a tendency of picking up other people's projects, but I can normally keep the cost in check because I do all of my own work and it's all built from junkyard parts! The more I look at the truck, the more I realize there's no way I can add 6" to the hood and make it look right. Engine's gotta move back. In the meantime, I can see why a few of the guys here have commented about the short cab. I can sit in it right now, relatively comfortably, but there's no pedals. I'm going to have to build the pedal set to have a real short throw otherwise I'll bang my knees into the dash. Oh well. Maybe a wagon would have been a better choice in retrospect.

I wanted to fire the engine this weekend before I disconnected everything and moved the engine back, but realized the harness should be in one piece to do it probably... I'm currently 49 splices in, and another dozen or so to go before I'm done. Ack. Don't ever ....I mean EVER hack through a harness like this.



 

Pivnic

Well Oiled
Nov 24, 2009
3,909
Conifer, Colorado
First Name
John
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1957
Hi Phil. You can always do a Cab Extension to make more leg room. I'm 6'3" tall and I was very cramped in my 57 Willys Pickup. About two months ago a hot rod friend of mine and I cut the back of the cab off and moved it back 4 inches. We also moved the gas pedal Forward 2.5 inches. This gained
6 1/2 more inches of leg room and now I have lots of leg room. Pivnic
 

yellowoctupus

Bigger Hammer
Jan 4, 2014
156
Kailua, HI - Colden, NY
First Name
Phil
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
Hey Pivnic, I actually went through most of your pictures on Cardomain looking for the details. Too bad the site's all jacked up. Lengthening the cab is certainly an option (especially as I have the room on the long frame, and haven't mounted the bed yet) but REALLY wouldn't be looking forward to that mod. I'm not a body man in any way, but I guess I'll leave it open as an option. What was the trickiest part of the cab mod? I saw you jogged your cuts to get across the 'flat' of the roof and to miss the door frame, both of which are good ideas. FYI, I'm 6'2", all legs. I thought of mounting the seat higher, but can only get an inch or two out of that I think before I lose viewing out the windshield. I'll sit on some phonebooks and try it out sometime. :)
 

Pivnic

Well Oiled
Nov 24, 2009
3,909
Conifer, Colorado
First Name
John
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1957
Hi Phil. When I started thinking about doing a Cab Ext, I talked to someone that did a Cab Ext on a Willys Pickup. They suggested before I do it to take the driver's seat out and put a five gallon goop bucket in there to sit on. Then get in and sit on the goop bucket with your back all the way back and touching the back of the Cab and see if that gives you the room you need. If it does, then simply measure the thickness of the back of your seat. This will tell you how much you would need to extend the cab to give you the required leg room.

Yes, he also suggested "jogging" the cut to the middle-ish of the top of the roof. That way you don't have to screw with the curves of the corners. The cab ext modification really wasn't that bad. The other important thing is only cutting the thickness of the cab metal by the back of the door pillars as you don't want to cut the door pillars as keeping them in tack maintains the door's structure and integrity. I decided to only extend the cab by only how much I needed. The cab gets wider from front to back. Some Cab Extensions are way "longer". Some even include extra doors. When you extend that long, you would also have to add metal behind the cab vertically down the center of the back to maintain the correct "look". Adding six inches or less, you can "get away" with going "straight" back with the extension without having to cut the middle of the back of the cab and adding metal there. I'm really glad that I did the cab ext. It's really not that bad to do it and now I have plenty of leg room. Pivnic
 

yellowoctupus

Bigger Hammer
Jan 4, 2014
156
Kailua, HI - Colden, NY
First Name
Phil
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
It runs!!

I finished up all of my crazy wiring splices today (I think it was right around 65 separate splices). Once I got it in neutral (just fiddling with the shift levers at the transmission, as the linkages aren't hooked up, it spun over and almost immediately fired right up nice and smooth. Not bad for a truck that's been sitting for 3-4yrs. It is SOO quiet too. Must have something to do with the 3-4ft long muffler it's got right now. It's enormous.
 

yellowoctupus

Bigger Hammer
Jan 4, 2014
156
Kailua, HI - Colden, NY
First Name
Phil
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
I checked the gauges last night, as in my excitement I totally forgot to upon the first fire-up. Good oil pressure, alt is working, tach, etc, and guess what? 33k miles. This thing is barely broken in! And that number's tied to the ECU, not a swapped out cluster.
 

Gojeep

Well Oiled
Jan 10, 2010
3,535
Victoria Australia
First Name
Marcus
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
1948
I checked the gauges last night, as in my excitement I totally forgot to upon the first fire-up. Good oil pressure, alt is working, tach, etc, and guess what? 33k miles. This thing is barely broken in! And that number's tied to the ECU, not a swapped out cluster.
Real score on that low mileage!
 

yellowoctupus

Bigger Hammer
Jan 4, 2014
156
Kailua, HI - Colden, NY
First Name
Phil
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
Who needs those silly plastic radiator tanks, anyways...

Been busy. More interior pictures to come. All brakes are in and plumbed (including all new lines to ABS etc). Steering is in, as well as pedal assembly (brakes and throttle, although I have yet to hook up the throttle).

I bought a radiator for the 1500, thinking the measurements I found on eBay were overall dimensions, (Survey Says....NOT!). They were just the core dimensions, so it by no means came close to fitting (like it was 6" too wide....). So, I took off the tanks. A bit of work, yes, but it should fit real nice when I get done. And you couldn't possibly get a larger radiator in there either. This thing is huge.



Almost done, still have to weld on some mounting tabs and a bead around the tube ends to keep the radiator hoses from blowing off.
 

yellowoctupus

Bigger Hammer
Jan 4, 2014
156
Kailua, HI - Colden, NY
First Name
Phil
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
So it turns out, you can't really fit two grown adults (we're not fat...) and a baby car seat across the front bench seat.

And here's the solution to that problem:








And let me tell you, loading and unloading a BODY by itself is really tricky. Helpful to have at least one other person around to help. Oh, yeah, and strap it to the garage so you can drive out from under it. That actually worked pretty well.

In pretty good shape overall, has been a little hacked up for various needs in the last oh, 60 some odd years, but the inside is suprisingly solid.
 

elminero67

Precision Fit
Jun 1, 2011
829
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Holy thread redirection! That's an ambitious undertaking, hope you stick with it as all the parts are there for a cool Willys. Would you call it a tragon or a wuck?
 

yellowoctupus

Bigger Hammer
Jan 4, 2014
156
Kailua, HI - Colden, NY
First Name
Phil
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
Ha ha. No, the truck bed isn't staying on the frame with the wagon body. So no tragoney-wucks for me. I DID however have a HUGE DUH moment today though. The truck wheelbase is pretty much the same as the Dodge chassis it's sitting on. The WAGON wheelbase is like 15" shorter! I'm not really sure how to get around that one yet. I can't move the Dodge rear end forward that far because of the gas tank. It spans between the rear end and the transfer case, with maybe 6" total to spare. Thought of lengthening the Willys body, and I found a 'good' place to do it, but I'm definetly going to let that thought simmer for a while. No reason to start the choppy choppy if there's a more elegant solution available.
 

yellowoctupus

Bigger Hammer
Jan 4, 2014
156
Kailua, HI - Colden, NY
First Name
Phil
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1955
Long Wheel Base Model....

Has anyone else done this besides the 35"+ tire crowd? I'm looking to retain a similar to stock wheel arch, but I'm 'lifted' based on the Dodge frame, and I need to move those wheelwells ~15". I'm planning on keeping the stock or close to the stock Dodge tire (265/75-16 ?) This is the best solution I've come up with so far. I considered 'stretching' the body at the C pillar, but that would be a huge undertaking, and I'm not sure I'd like the look when it would be completed. (a very nasty hurdle with a 15" stretch is the body is not actually flat down the sides, it does have some bow...)

 

Greg5565

Well Oiled
Oct 3, 2013
1,027
Brentwood, TN
First Name
Greg
Willys Model
Wagon, Pickup
Willys Year:
1963, 1964
I would be afraid shifting the axle back 15" will put the quarter panel opening/wheel well past the end of the body. is there that much room?
 
Top