'55 Willys Wagon 4x4 Exped build

Joined
Jan 7, 2010
Messages
214
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Willys Model
Willys Year:
#1
Background: [I surmise the following based upon only sketchy info from the guy I get it from, the paperwork that comes with it and by stripping out the interior mosquito nets, curtains etc. I may be 100% wrong, just dunno]
What: '55 WIllys Wagon 4x4, straight body, minor rust. Less than 300 miles on the speedo. Bought new by a hunter who kept it on his ranch in Utah, hunting, sleeping and living in it at various times of the year. He dies and it ends up in junk yard where a 'wanna-be' restorer finds it and goes to restore it. He adds a Chevy V8 to the OEM drive train. Like many he has bigger plans than his small wallet. The V8 is a junk yard engine, barely runs. He owns it 8 mo and Christmas rolls around and and he has to sell. Runs ad on Craig's list and I buy it 24 Dec '09.

Why:
Been into and out of Jeeps since '67 and love the little things. Few years ago I got into rock crawling, ordered a Jeep Rubicon inn July of '02 and built it into a serious rig. After nearly 6 years of crawling I felt the need to get back to my roots of camping, exploring and fun Jeeping for days and weeks at a time. My Rubicon was a great rig but on a TJ, 93 in wheelbase and I am 6''2. Find tent sleeping a hassle and after spending 26 years in the Army and NEVER sleeping in a tent wondered why I was doing it now. Friend had '05 Jeep LJ which has a 104 in wheelbase and its nearly 10' from tailgate to passenger firewall. Got to thinking this is for me and bought a used '06 Rubicon LJ. Heat and AC along with a satellite radio was the answer. The plan was to merge the '03 with my '06.

Then we had a Presidential election and over the past year seeing where this gov't is going got me to thinking even more. I WANT the govt from city to federal OUT OF MY LIFE as much as possible. I see them telling what kind of car I can drive. So my only choice was to get off the radar. I have wanted a Willys wagon since the first time I went hunting in one back in '65 and its most likey what got me into Jeeps to begin with. Willys wagon has a wheelbase of 104 inches...hummm. Feds don't care about old old cars and I can drop a Chevy V8 in it and build it MY WAY. Plus I have a '03 Rubicon with some serious drive-line parts sitting under it. And I can weld and I am a retired engineer. YEP gonna build me a rig...A rig that can take me up the ALCAN highway to the Artic circle, down to the tip of Baja and over into and down to S America. A combo rock crawler and expedition rig along with being a daily driver and I am flying below the radar.

The Plan:
Separate the Willys body from its frame-drive-line and sell it off. Marry the TJ Rubicon frame and drive-line to the Willys sans Jeep engine. I will go with a Chevy crate motor built for torque. [don't want the hassle of building the existing engine to my specs, its a good engine that only needed a fuel filter and a carb tune-up to have it running good, but I am going with fuel injection] I will also integrate the heat/AC and other components from my existing Rubicon onto the Willys to make a good daily driver out of it and to make the wife happy.

I am here for help, guidance and your comments/suggestions are WELCOME, good, bad or indifferent.

More to follow as this develops... ;)
[attachment=1:vhduzggc]3k93p23oe5Td5S05R49coff07acd557561bcb.jpg[/attachment:vhduzggc]
[attachment=0:vhduzggc]12499120.jpg[/attachment:vhduzggc]

I am now posting pics on my website and doing this for you who are working on your rigs like me. The key reason is that by clicking on the small 'magnifying glass' just below each pic it blows it up to original size. The camera I use is a small 5 MP digital camera and the pics will display up to about 11x13 in or so. This really helps when one is looking at a pic to see how its done or placement of a part. As you know the pic size on here is very limited in size so every pic I have has to be significantly reduced and converted to me to be able to post.

Since I put all this on my website for others to see and use this forces me to generate 2 sets of fotos, one set for here and one set for my website. I am also restricted to only 3 fotos per post on here.

So what I ask is that you just click on the link I provide and it will take you to the entire build in order of build. I do ask for feedback on this approach and if there is a lot of heart burn I will plod on with the reduced quality and size on here if need be. I just feel like its a better and more valuable user exp by being able to see more fotos and larger, better quality on my site.

Additionally I am always open to taking more and specific requests for fotos of any item. For those that want them I will also send them to you via e mail.

http://www.savagesun4x4.com/enter/fabwerks_-_projects/55-willys-station-wagon/
 

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dozerjim

Sharpest Tool
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Messages
319
Location
Clarence,New York (western part near Buffalo)
First Name
Jim
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
#2
Don,welcome in,sounds like youre on the right track to a good solid rig.The only suggestion I can make would be to use the willys frame and marry the new drive train to it,I put a chevy pu frame under my '55 Willys pu,had to do a lot of mods to make it work.If I can help give me a shout,I can appreciate flying under the radar......Jim :thumbup:
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2010
Messages
214
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Willys Model
Willys Year:
#4
dozerjim said:
Don,welcome in,sounds like youre on the right track to a good solid rig.The only suggestion I can make would be to use the willys frame and marry the new drive train to it,I put a chevy pu frame under my '55 Willys pu,had to do a lot of mods to make it work.If I can help give me a shout,I can appreciate flying under the radar......Jim :thumbup:
dozer,
Couple of reasons why I am chosing to use the TJ frame:

1) THe Willys is a 'C' channel frame, not doubt sutiable for all of a OEM 60 Hp engine and skinny tires...I am going to push 400 lbs of torque and over 350 of that sits just off idle. Add to that 35 in BFG KM2 tires on Walker Evans bead locks and I am spinning around 110 lbs per corner, lots of stress on a 'C' channel. My drive line is F/R Dana 60's, even more weight added to the stress loads.

2) Keep the Willys frame and fab up mounts for the NV 241 transfer case/NV 3550 transmission and Dana 60 axles...OR marry up my TJ frame that has the aforementioned already mounted in it. Granted the TJ frame is a 93 in wheelbase, but I can stretch it to 104 in with little effort (I own a welder and a sawzall :lol: ) in this case the stretch comes between the wheels. The TJ frame has 11 body mounts and the Willys has 14 as I remember. The TJ uses the same basic body mounting as the Willys. Last but not least the benefit of COIL SPRINGS on this old mans back vs leaf springs...Too many years in the Infantry and my back cannot handle the leaf spring setups anymore.

Bottom line: I see it as easier and quicker to fab the TJ frame to the WIllys rather than having to fab all new mounts for the Willys. PLUS having to cut off all the TJ mounts and attach new ones to the Dana 60's.

So that is my logic on this. I also pan on selling the frame/drive-line setup that is now under the Willys as rolling chassis including the Chev V8 that is in there. I am sure that someone would be interested in it complete setup...it all works, its 4x4, all orginial except the V8 and in decent shape. I have put nearly 200 miles on it since I bought it.

That is my logic and yes I know I could have boxed in the Willys frame but that would be more work on top of what I already have in front of me...what do you think??? :?: ;)
 

62 OlllO

Well Oiled
Joined
Oct 19, 2009
Messages
1,821
Location
Georgia
First Name
Kevin
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1962
#5
Sounds like you found the ideal Willys Wagon, if nothing else it makes a great story...your clean shop looks nothing like what I have been working in, but I was happy as a tick on a dog to be inside out of the weather. We can swap Wagon stories about our build-ups...and I look forward in seeing your project progress...glad to have you here on the forum....scroll down and find Midnightburn post on his build....nicely done.
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2010
Messages
214
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Willys Model
Willys Year:
#6
62 OlllO said:
Sounds like you found the ideal Willys Wagon, if nothing else it makes a great story...your clean shop looks nothing like what I have been working in, but I was happy as a tick on a dog to be inside out of the weather. We can swap Wagon stories about our build-ups...and I look forward in seeing your project progress...glad to have you here on the forum....scroll down and find Midnightburn post on his build....nicely done.
Kevin, give me a shout out when you get here and get settled in. Reach me at: don@savagesun4x4.com and I will give you fone and directions to my place.

My shop ain't much, just using the garage since we have about an acre here in town. Spent some time out in Ga. Went to the Benning School for Boys (Infantry Officers basic and advanced courses)...
 

dozerjim

Sharpest Tool
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Messages
319
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Clarence,New York (western part near Buffalo)
First Name
Jim
Willys Model
Pickup
Willys Year:
#8
Don,youre right about a stronger frame,and the running gear enginering is allready done,that will make a super build,nothing better than a sawsall,welder and a pile of steel.Spent my time (67-69)at fort Dix,fort Sill and S. korea,4-wheeling and getting "big bucks"to do it and no fuel or repair bills at the end of the day and all the C-rations(love those ham & lima beans)you could stand.Look forward to watching your build.....Jim
 
Joined
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Messages
214
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Willys Model
Willys Year:
#9
Ahhh-So, S Korea. Spent a tour there on the DMZ as the log officer, now that was fun :roll:

Right now I am waiting on things to dry out a bit and get my concrete slab poured to put my Jeep and Willys side by side to I can start taking things apart...
 

BioTex

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Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Messages
224
Location
Alpine, TX
Willys Model
Willys Year:
#10
Savage,
So you are going to use the 03' Rubicon for a parts vehicle?

I dream of owning an 03' Rubicon. Some people have all the luck. :cry:

Just curious what kind of shape it's in...
 
Joined
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Messages
214
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Willys Model
Willys Year:
#11
BioTex said:
Savage,
So you are going to use the 03' Rubicon for a parts vehicle?

I dream of owning an 03' Rubicon. Some people have all the luck. :cry:

Just curious what kind of shape it's in...
My '03 Rubicon aka 'Cowboy' I ordered in July of '02, it was the first Rubicon shipped to DFW, I got it around the first of Sept. I ordered it with every option sans dual tops, engine heather and auto trans. Shortly afterwards I added an Avenger Supercharger, F/R Dynatrac ProRock High Pinion, 35 spline axles, ARB lockers, cross over high steering.. It also has JKS control arms, Tom Woods drive-shafts, Warn Powerplant winch/air-compressor and a bunch of custom suspension work. The tub has been Line X'd inside, B&M stainless steel short throw shifter and other assorted goodies.

It has 79,916 miles and is in GREAT shape. I take care of my stuff always using synthetic oils and I do my own maint and upgrades and do NOT abuse my rig. It has never laid down on me anytime, anywhere.

It has spanked some of the most difficult trails around, such as Pritchard Canyon in Moab, which I have done 4 times, each time leading a group of brave Jeepers up and down it.

I just got tired of rock crawling and want to get back to more long trips up into Alaska etc and do it with style while 'flying below the federal emissions radar'.

Lots of pics and write-ups about it on my website below.

I did consider selling it but since I am building the Willys why not just use the stuff on hand and save a LOT of money in the process, why buy twice in other words.
 

Pete

Founder/Owner
Staff member
Administrator
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
6,276
Location
Hailey, Idaho
First Name
Pete
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1960
#12
Might want to check out member "Dimwatt", he used a Rubicon for his build...

Pete
 
Joined
Jan 7, 2010
Messages
214
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Willys Model
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#14
Yep, there is another guy about 2 years ahead of me. :lol:

He is staying with the Jeep engine I think. I am in contact with him, he is a nice guy. He gave me his fone number and said call anytime. I am going to try and hook up with him in Moab this May if I can.

On another note: Rain finally let up and company is gone. I had a chance to do a little work on my rig yesterday finally. I have all the glass removed but did manage to crack the drivers windshield in the process. So I will run down to Safelite Auto glass of Scottsdale and have them make a new windshield for me. They have been incredibly helpful. I replaced my two fold out door wind-windows. The internal plastic had bubbled and it was too ugly. They made up a new set for me, I went to pick the new glass and was met with a bill that was for $0.00. On the house for a pair of custom cut glass. Good folks.

I have added some pics and a write up on the glass removal. I am now posting pics on my website and doing this for you who are working on your rigs like me. The key reason is that by clicking on the small 'magnifying glass' just below each pic it blows it up to original size. The camera I use is a small 5 MP digital camera and the pics will display up to about 11x13 in or so. This really helps when one is looking at a pic to see how its done or placement of a part. As you know the pic size on here is very limited in size so every pic I have has to be significantly reduced and converted to me to be able to post.

Since I put all this on my website for others to see and use this forces me to generate 2 sets of fotos, one set for here and one set for my website. I am also restricted to only 3 fotos per post on here.

So what I ask is that you just click on the link I provide and it will take you to the entire build in order of build. I do ask for feedback on this approach and if there is a lot of heart burn I will plod on with the reduced quality and size on here if need be. I just feel like its a better and more valuable user exp by being able to see more fotos and larger, better quality on my site.

Additionally I am always open to taking more and specific requests for fotos of any item. For those that want them I will also send them to you via e mail.

That said pics of glass removal. Maybe some on here can make some suggestions on doing this better than a hammer and a flat blade scrapper... ;) http://www.savagesun4x4.com/enter/fabwerks_-_projects/55-willys-station-wagon/
 
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Messages
214
Location
Scottsdale, AZ
Willys Model
Willys Year:
#15
The engineer in me always forces much research before I take action. I have now added another possible engine to my go power, so I am up to 2.

1) Chevy Ramjet 350 cu in, 350 hp/400 torque: https://store.gmperformanceparts.co...with Iron Vortec Heads &model=<!--12499120-->

2) Chevy ZZ4 350 cu in, 355 hp/405 torque: https://store.gmperformanceparts.co...ey with Aluminum Heads &model=<!--19201330-->

Key difference in engines is the Ramjet is fuel injected but sans the better breathing alum heads and the stronger bottom end of the ZZ4, 2 vs 4 bolt main bearings. Both engines were developed for the Corvette.

An additional factor is cost. The ZZ4 is a GM "turn-key' crate motor needing only gas and 12 volts to run, where as the Ramjet is a partial crate motor and needs the accessory kit (PS/AC/alt brackets and belt, starter and fuel pump) which adds about $1k to the final engine cost. So carb vs FI????

NOTE: pay no attention to MSRP pricing, both these engines can be had for under $5k for the basic engine and the Ramjet about $1k more.

[attachment=0:smihaxm8]ZZ4_350_mg.jpg[/attachment:smihaxm8]
 

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#18
Driveway is in and setting, can drive on it Thursday...

Other news on the Willys front: Wife wants a AUTO TRANS :shock: :eek: Ohhh boy that is gonna throw a monkey wrench in plans. I thought in telling her it would take about $2k to do it, she did not blink and said fine, that is what she wants. This is going to be a shared rig later on.

Based upon my chosen Chevy V8 I am leaning towards the GM HydraMatic 4L60(E?). This is one of the best trans around and I (hope) I can mate it up to my NVG OR 241 transfercase, I have message into Advanced Adapters on this. There are basically 2, the 4L60 and 4L60E. The 'E' model is electronically controlled whereas the 4L60 is not. I need further research into this issue.

Anyone have any thoughts????
 

Dimmwatt

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Joined
Sep 19, 2009
Messages
472
Location
Long Beach Ca
First Name
Casey
Willys Model
Wagon, Pickup
Willys Year:
1948, 1957
#19
Ask Midnight Burn about his 4l60E. He's had nothing but troubles with it. In my opinion the E should be used if you get EFI. Why not use a wire harness from a modern chevy truck? Hell, why not pull an entire drivetrain from a low mile salvage? It will be much less and you'll get it all in one swoop.

Thanks for the compliment.

Casey
 
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#20
Dimmwatt said:
Ask Midnight Burn about his 4l60E. He's had nothing but troubles with it. In my opinion the E should be used if you get EFI. Why not use a wire harness from a modern chevy truck? Hell, why not pull an entire drivetrain from a low mile salvage? It will be much less and you'll get it all in one swoop.

Thanks for the compliment.

Casey
Casey, thanks...to be honest I am a stick guy and in fact have only owned a couple of auto trans rigs in my life (and they, like this choice were to satisfy the wife). GM does offer the 4L60, the 4L60 E and a 4L65E. Its complex and does require some close scrutiny to insure you get the RIGHT trans with the right engine. I don't know enough now to speculate on which mates up but I do know I need to do a lot of research on this and I certainly will look to MB for some insight, tips, and what to avoid before I shuck out my hard earned money.

I hope and expect to be a MUCH smarter guy after May the 15th... ;)
 
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