Colorado Newb. Bought Wagon today!

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Hey all! I have been a big fan of the Willys Wagon for years. First off, let me warn you, I am the guy restorationists usually hate. I like taking classic stuff and adding new tech to make it more fun an perform better as well as be safer. I currently have a Grand Cherokee as my daily driver and it does just fine, but I wanted something with a bit more cargo space and a lot more style. Plus I can fit a motorcycle inside, which is a plus since I have a few and more keep following me home. I started searching around lately and found one just a few minutes away on ebay. It ended really cheap and should be a great start for my project. I still need to make arrangements with the seller to go pick it up, but it should be home in a few days max. It needs some work for sure, but most of these things do right? Alright, the good stuff, the specs and the truck

1958 Wagon, AMC 304 V8. Tranny unsure. Needs a transfer case,driveshats, and rear diff. Spring over. Missing 2 glass windows, replaced with plexiglass. Subaru buckets, aftermarket gauges.

Had to steal the pics online :D



The plan:

I already have a bunch of parts from my Grand Cherokee build that never made it on the Jeep. Now that i am going to keep it a mild DD, the goodies will be right at home on this beast.

Rear axle:
Spidertrax Spider 9 fabricated axle 3/8" wall tubes. Dana 70 SRW full float hubs, 8 lug, 35 spline detroit locker. 64" WMS. Using GM 3/4 ton front disc brakes. 4.56 gears

Front Axle:
I already have all the outer stuff, but Ill need to pick up the right inner housing C to C.
Early Wagoneer Dana 44 with 79 Ford F250 knuckles. Big brakes, 8 lug. Warn hubs. The Waggy axle plus 3/4 ton outers should net 64" WMS.

Saginaw power steering conversion

Dana 300 T case(probably)

Tune up engine, see if I can get it running. If I can, drive it for a while until I can afford a aftermarket TBI setup, then upgrade to a larger AMC V8 later 360/390/401.

35" Tires

Then once all thats done, Im going to look into custom bumpers and a tow setup for the rear, as well as frame bracing. Im open to other suggestions you have.

So thats the plan for now. I cant wait to go pick this thing up! Im so excited!!
 

Pete

Founder/Owner
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 17, 2009
6,496
Hailey, Idaho
First Name
Pete
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1960
Congratulations on your new project... and welcome to the forum.

Enjoy!

Pete
 

Midnightburn

Precision Fit
Sep 18, 2009
655
Idaho
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Good luck on the build. That wagon looks familiar. I had a guy call me from Colorado about a couple of months ago asking my advice on how to go about building up a wagon. After I told him about it, he didn't seem to excited about what it was going to take and how much it was going to cost. It looked a lot like this one. Does it have a rear axle with no diff cover and no differential? And is the transfer case missing? Just curious if he sold it.

I hope you enjoy the journey with your new piece of American iron. :thumbup:
 

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Midnightburn said:
Good luck on the build. That wagon looks familiar. I had a guy call me from Colorado about a couple of months ago asking my advice on how to go about building up a wagon. After I told him about it, he didn't seem to excited about what it was going to take and how much it was going to cost. It looked a lot like this one. Does it have a rear axle with no diff cover and no differential? And is the transfer case missing? Just curious if he sold it.

I hope you enjoy the journey with your new piece of American iron. :thumbup:

Yep, thats the one. I didnt want a complete original truck anyway. Axle swaps and a V8 were always in the plans. I already have a new custom made Spidertrax 9" rear axle, and twin stick dana 300 tcase in my basement that should bolt up just fine. Plus my all new D44 front stuff and brakes, everything from the balljoints out is brand new except the knuckles themselves. Ive got most of the major stuff it needs. My only requirements when shopping for a Willys was that it rolled away, had a V8 already, wasnt completely beat to hell, and had a split windshield. And I was hoping for a later model, I dont like the grills on the early ones. This one has the chrome accents where I want them too. This one fit the bill and the price was right. unfortunately, I sold the Spider 9 front axle a few weeks ago that would have been perfect for this truck. It will probably be summer or late spring before Im to a position where I can really put some work into it, but I dont think it will take much. But if it was easy, I wouldnt be interested. This one has already been gutted inside(saves me trouble), but still has most of the important stuff there. It will probably need to be rewired-planned to do that anyway. I didnt like the way the wires were running in the engine bay from the pic. And Im guessing that engine has been in there a long time and its a simple piece, so getting it running should be a simple task if the block isnt trashed inside. I have a low budget, but lots of skills(I wish welding were one!!) and patience, so I should be able to pull this one off. If I had tried to do this build 5 years ago, Id probably have ended up selling it off, but Im ready for the challenge this presents now. Ill be even better off once I find a small garage to rent. My backyard isnt the greatest workspace, and isnt that big and I unfortunately dont have a garage or driveway at home. But I found a good place. Gonna check it out next week.

 

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
I did forget to mention, if the engine is trash, I do have an about 320hp newly rebuilt complete Mopar 318 magnum sitting on a stand in my friend's garage right now with complete harness, plus auto trans, and a clocking ring to put the D300 on that tranny. It will be going into my Grand, but it doesnt HAVE to :D

So I have options.
 

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Ive been doing a lot of research today on what to do to my new wagon. And Ive been thinking A LOT about the 318 magnum engine Ive got. It is nearly ready to go into my Grand, but if I dont, I need to rework a few things on it. Ive run across a really useful page that isnt helping the decision to be responsible and put the engine in my DD. Novak Adapters has a good page on engine swaps on old jeeps. Nothing that a bit of common sense doesnt cover, but its a good resource.

http://www.novak-adapt.com/knowledge/ut ... _swaps.htm

But one nice thing is they have motor mounts for this engine into this truck, which would make my life much easier. So I am STRONGLY considering ordering a set and installing my freshly rebuilt 5.2L Magnum engine, 44RE, and D300 combo in this rig. I could even install AC if I wanted, but its not a necessity here really. I might go to that trouble later. Its also already set up for power steering, and its not the same swap everyone else does.

http://www.novak-adapt.com/catalog/engi ... mx-nd1.htm

If I were to go this route, the Willys should become the DD and Ill likely turn the Grand into a trail rig since I dont want to sell it. Its been my faithful DD for 7 years, Im ready for something new.

Has anyone else swapped in a Magnum or a Dodge engine to their Wagons? Ive seen a few CJs, but no Willys trucks.

Not mine, but same type engine:
 

SavageSun Willys

Sharpest Tool
Jan 7, 2010
214
Scottsdale, AZ
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Good plans and a good foundation to work with.

I would only suggest a couple of things.

1) The frame is not the strongest in the world and in fact was built to about 75 hp specs. Frame swap would be optimal but some welding skills you can learn while boxing in the 'C' channel frame to beef it up.

2) Spring over: Be cautious here as it really can throw a monkey wrench into lots of things especially handling. It makes them quite tippy and THINK safety. Lots of ways to clear 35" tires and not do a SOA.

There is a get together in Moab 15 May and I hope to see a LOT of Colorado guys there, where you bring your rig or not...
 

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
SavageSun Willys said:
Good plans and a good foundation to work with.

I would only suggest a couple of things.

1) The frame is not the strongest in the world and in fact was built to about 75 hp specs. Frame swap would be optimal but some welding skills you can learn while boxing in the 'C' channel frame to beef it up.

2) Spring over: Be cautious here as it really can throw a monkey wrench into lots of things especially handling. It makes them quite tippy and THINK safety. Lots of ways to clear 35" tires and not do a SOA.

There is a get together in Moab 15 May and I hope to see a LOT of Colorado guys there, where you bring your rig or not...
I already plan on boxing the frame in after I pull the existing engine out. I dont have the space for a frame swap right now and want to try and keep the mods relatively simple right now so I can at least get ti moving, then once Ive got it completed Ive got more motivation to make it better, as opposed to trying to do too much at once and then not finishing the project.

Im still on the fence about the spring over thing. Im more than familiar with the setup, Ive owned several leaf sprung vehicles in the past(S10 blazer on 60s, Suzuki Samurai, CJ2A, and now the Willys) all SOA, and Ive got several years experience working in the 4x4 industry as well, so Im aware of the pitfalls. I am still strongly considering SUA with lift springs. I am trying to avoid a body lift, Im not very fond of them in general. My axles are wider, so that will help a bit. I am going to pick up the Wagon this afternoon and once I can really get to looking at it, it will decide what I will do with the suspension. If the springs and bushings are shot, Ill likely just get new springs and go SUA. And since I want to use a Waggy front axle housing, it would make things a lot easier to deal with. Im putting in new axles anyway, so it doesnt really matter about perch locations or brackets or whatever. And if need be, I can turn the knuckles on the front axle. I will also be adding a sway bar to the front end at least, and possibly the rear end as well. This isnt intended to be a trail rig, so suspension travel and off camber stability arent significant factors. My Grand Cherokee is a great trail rig, and if Ive got something to pull it to and from the trail, it can be an even better trail rig. But I dont plan on doing any heavy towing with this truck until the frame is significantly beefed and I build a rear hitch bumper.

Im doing a lot of mods with safety in mind on this rig. After all the parts Im going to use were intended for a dual purpose rig that would see lots of highway and DD use as well as gnarly Colorado trails. But I think I would enjoy it more if I put them into this Wagon.

Although Im not much of a welder, I am a decent fabricator and mechanic, so I can do everything but run the actual beads, and Ive got buddies who like beer for that. But the big issue with that is I only have 110 at my house and a puny MIG thats only good for tacking. So I have to be able to get the rig to wherever the welding will be done, and get it back home in a short time. Im hoping to rent a garage soon. If I do, and the one Im looking at has 220v, I have a place I can tear it down and take my time doing the beefing. But until then I have to make sure the truck is moveable at least at most times.
 

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
I just brought the beast home! Boy that was a PITA. When I got there, it had 2 flat tires, in a small muddy gravel lot, on a hill, sideways and backwards. We took them to the gas station around the corner, and luckily the tires were solid enough to hold air to get it on and off the trailer though. The seller was only about 4 miles away from me, so it was a nice easy trip. I am very pleased with what I got. Yes there is some rust, and the engine will definitely have to go, but the previous, or previous previous owner did a decent looking 12v conversion when the engine was installed. The wires are a little messy, but theres a nice fusebox and relay box set up inside. It also looks like it at one point had a cd player in the dash. Lots of aftermarket gauges. The engine is missing a header and looks like it hasnt been run in a long time and the steering box binds a little, but both of those are on the chopping block anyway. The rear dana 44 axle is not the original, it is a 30 spline unit, Im guessing from a CJ or J10. The front 25 is all stock and complete. The frame is in great shape from what I can tell, the body is mostly straight and a good bit still is protected by paint. There's a lot of little stuff it needs, but nothing really serious. The floor pans up front will need to be replaced, but the cargo area looks good as well as the transmissino tunnel. I also plan on putting a different steering column in, something telescopic that will fit a saginaw style box.

Alright, to the pictures! I can only keep 20 pics in this gallery, so dont be surprised if these pics arent available soon, Ill cycle them out as I make progress. I plan on starting a build thread first though. In time...










Dual Shocks??
 

62 OlllO

Well Oiled
Oct 19, 2009
1,821
Georgia
First Name
Kevin
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
1962
Great...Great...buy...I don't see anything that can't be fixed over time with TLC and a :beer: or :beer: :beer: !!! It's up a bit to high for me however...heights like that might get me dizzy. The front bumper alone is better than I inherited.
 

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
62 OlllO said:
Great...Great...buy...I don't see anything that can't be fixed over time with TLC and a :beer: or :beer: :beer: !!! It's up a bit to high for me however...heights like that might get me dizzy. The front bumper alone is better than I inherited.
Im not sure how I feel about these springs and the way the PO set up the shocks, and a few other little things, so the overall height is still iffy and everything is getting redone. Dont get me wrong, its gonna be tall any way you look at it, but it will be well wider too. I need to get a set of bigger tires on there and see what kind of room Ive got to work with and what needs to be done.

I am really pleased with the bumpers. I havent seen any for sale recently that had both bumpers, let alone ones in good shape. The front clip on this thing is fantastic! Virtually no rust except for some light surface rust in a few spots where the paint peeled off. One of the hood hinges is tweaked a little, so you have to push the hood to latch it, no biggie, easy fix. And its missing one of teh support struts, but the one with the prop rod is good. The rear bumper has been repaired in a few places where it cracked, but I think Id like to clean it up a bit and rechrome it. I like the stamped Willys in it :D I was also pleasantly suprised to find the truck already has a 2" receiver hitch!
 

Eric B

Precision Fit
Nov 27, 2009
841
Colorado Springs, CO
First Name
Eric
Willys Model
Other
Willys Year:
Other
I have some decent bucket seats from mine that you would just need to fab brackets for. They are extra for me. Plus this could work out a weekend of :cheers: in Denver working on yours and a weekend of :cheers: in the Springs working on mine.
 

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Eric B said:
I have some decent bucket seats from mine that you would just need to fab brackets for. They are extra for me. Plus this could work out a weekend of :cheers: in Denver working on yours and a weekend of :cheers: in the Springs working on mine.

Hmmmm. Could work out! :cheers: And Ive been meaning to take a trip down to the Springs on my bike anyway. I was thinking about using Grand Cherokee buckets, but seats are pretty low on my shopping list ATM, so who knows? I want to repair the floorboards first before I mount seats, but the welding is beyond me I think. Unless Im overthinking it? Ive never attempted a sheet metal repair, I am a beginner welder, but getting better. But from what I have seen before, the most important part is the prep and fitment, which I can do just fine. Now as for the welding, is it just a series of tack welds spaced out around the edges and ground down? If that is really the case, I might like to attempt it myself. And my little 110 mig should be able to handle that at home too, right?

Then once I get the floorboards done, seat brackets I CAN do.
 

73fj

Precision Fit
Oct 6, 2009
553
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
First Name
Chris
Willys Model
Wagon
Willys Year:
Thats wagons not all that bad, pretty good actually. My 59 had a heater right behind the passenger door too.....coincidence or stock option?
 

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
73fj said:
Thats wagons not all that bad, pretty good actually. My 59 had a heater right behind the passenger door too.....coincidence or stock option?
I dont think this heater was stock. The wiring is loose from the dash and its mounted to a piece of wood. But if it works, Im going to clean it up and mount and wire it in much better fashion.

Here's the ID plate on it:

 

MrFreeze5

Bigger Hammer
Mar 2, 2010
124
Denver, Co
Willys Model
Willys Year:
So Ive been thinking a lot about my suspension and what my ultimate goals are for this truck are. I really dont have an issue with a SOA setup, but not with 50 year old 2" wide springs. The shocks are shot, all 6 of them(these trucks didnt come stock with 2 rear shocks did it?). My intentions for an axle swap will make the whole suspension and steering setup easy, but I want to use YJ wrangler 2.5" springs and I want a shackle reversal. I want the front axle moved forward a bit and I can get away with it since I am converting to power steering and can mount the box wherever I need to. I plan on boxing in the whole frame, starting with the front first. That will actually be the first order of business on this build. Pull the engine, and box the front of the frame. I really want to avoid extending the front of the frame though, Like MidnightBurn's for example. I love the way it looks and functions, but I want to keep the stock front bumper and splash guard. But with my plans, I do forsee the need to make new bumper brackets. I hope I will be able to find a place to mount my steering box without having to extend things. Ill be able to see better once I pull everything apart.

but anyway, that rambling was leading up to my current plans. Ive been searching around for the right components for a shackle reversal. There isnt really anything for the Willys specifically, but I dont want to use 2" springs. I was looking at M.O.R.E's CJ shackle reversal kit, and it got me to thinking. The way my frame is shaped at the front hangers, it is flat on the outside and open on the inside, but the rails are not straight and even, so using it as a flat surface to reinforce the hanger on the inside would not work, like this kit is designed to do on the CJ.



On the CJ the vertical piece goes inside. If I swap the brackets to the opposite side of the truck, the plates will be on the outside of the frame. It will add an extra 1/2" of spring inward per side instead of outward, which could be a problem. But this would give me a fairly simple, almost directly weld on solution for the front shackle reversal. Then weld in the rear tube of course. But if I can accomplish the 2.5" shackle reversal easily enough, then I plan on using probably 4" wrangler lift springs set up spring under. I rolled a 35" tire up beside the truck today and it looks like it could come down maybe 4" or so and still clear OK on the rear fender, the front has plenty of room, especially if the axle moves forward a little.

I will have to make new bumper brackets because they will be in the way, but the stock ones are pretty flimsy and Id like something a bit beefier anyway.

From what I can tell, the Willys springs are 30" center to center. If I use the Waggy axle I want, the perch width is 31-3/4" and the diff is kinda in the way for inboarding. So I think Ill probably need to outboard the springs slightly. Now that I think about it, I dont think that shackle reversal kit above would work for that very reason. I looked again and they also have a fullwidth kit for the CJ that offsets the perches outward to fit a 31-1/2" or so spring perch. It would take some modding to fit, but I think it would be a good solid start. Plus, since it is outboarded, the rear shackle has to hang below the frame and not through it, which would give a little extra lift, which would make me happy with 4" springs.

http://www.mountainoffroad.com/_e/Full_ ... prings.htm

I think I am going to get one of those kits soon unpowdercoated so it can be welded to the frame. This should let me get the springs where they need to be to line up with the spring perches on the Waggy axle without having to make any changes to the axle. Hell, from the looks of it, I could bolt that setup on and make it work I bet! I think it will be a good start, opinions?

So after that long winded rambling, Ive got a good solid plan on whats going on with the front end. Now on the shopping list is a waggy inner axle housing, outboard spring perches, and wrangler springs or possibly Waggy springs!
 
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