My 1961 Willys wagon project and some questions


Precision Fit
Nov 18, 2009
Clearwater, FL
First Name
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1961
Hello all, I've been lurking around reading here and there and have really enjoyed this forum. I'm 23 years old and live a little north of Tampa, FL and ever since high school have been into Jeeps. My first car was a 1987 YJ Wrangler which I later traded for a car that got better gas mileage. And then after missing my Jeep I bought a 1986 4x4 Cherokee, and finally a 1986 CJ-7. I did a frame-on restoration on the CJ since it was already in very solid condition, and it's mostly all original, but was a resto-mod. It's got the 4.2L I6 with upgraded ignition, full length header, and a Weber carburetor. I've done a little work on the drivetrain, and the rear has Moser axles and it's lunchbox locked front and rear. It's currently at my parents' farm in south Georgia waiting for it to turn 25 so I can register it as an antique (thanks to Charlie Crist for astronomically increasing vehicle registration costs). It's also waiting for me to get the time to replace the 1-2 synchronizer in the T-177.


I've always wanted a pointy-nosed Willys and ever since I've been into Jeeps I've been looking for a solid one for sale to restore in my area. I don't know how it is in the rest of the country, but down here in the southeast it's hard finding them. Finally one day I called on an ad that had no info other than "1961 Willys SW" and went to look at it. The first time I saw it I had to have it, no negotiations or anything. It was just what I wanted: a solid, unmolested, all-original later station wagon with the flathead I6. So I went to the bank, pulled the money, and had it towed home.


It actually looked better then than it does now. :lol: It's currently stripped down while I'm in the process of doing body work. I went through the drivetrain and replaced what needed to be replaced. I had to redo the front axle because someone welded the spider gears, but I bought a spare Dana 25 off an early CJ and used that carrier and spider gears. I did disc brakes on the front after finding the beefy earlier GM backing plates, and I also replaced the early Warn hubs with Mile Marker screw style hubs (they're fantastic). I partially rebuilt the transmission with new bearings and synchronizer assembly while I had it apart, and inspected the transfer case and everything. I got a heck of a deal on a Warn overdrive off an early CJ-6 that I installed on it. The L6-226 Super Hurricane was rebuilt with hardened valve seats and lots of new internals not too long ago. I dropped the oil pan to find that a lot of the internals had been replaced, so it runs great. I had trouble with the Carter YF and went through rebuilding it and trying to tune it, but gave up and threw on a larger 2bbl Holley 2300. The Accel digital multiple spark ignition control box was on sale at Summit, so I ordered one of those and hooked it up to the points along with an Accel super stock coil and new Napa Belden plug wires (using kits for an AMC I6 and an early non-HEI GM I6). It now runs amazing with the multi-strike ignition.


There was a ton of maintenance stuff that was done like new starter, water pump, belts, hoses, etc. It has a 12V GM Delco alternator that wasn't wired up correctly, but is not charging very well anyways, so in time I need to replace it. I painted the motor in POR-15 engine enamel aluminum color. I went through the steering box and rebuilt it and also just about entirely redid the brake system. I rebuilt the master cylinder and bent and installed all new brake lines. With the original brake plumbing, it was done left/right, and using the disk brakes on the front and original drums in the rear I ran it front/back, using correct Wilwood residual pressure valves in-line. The knuckles were redone with new seals and bearings when I did the brake conversion. I pulled an original 3 core radiator out of a Willys pickup with the L6-226 and cleaned it out and painted it. Eventually I'm going to add an electric pusher fan on the front, and I have a fan shroud made already for the original mechanical fan.

My main goal with this is to keep it as original as possible, but make it daily drivable. I saw a lot of wagons that were modified and had V8s or full-size axles, but I really wanted one to keep original. You don't see many of these things around anymore, but it was refreshing to find one that was unmolested. Being a purist at heart, she's going to stay original. All of the components that I modify, I'm keeping the originals as well in case there's ever a reason to switch it back to original. The original color was blue with white, so I already purchased the paint from Summit to do it in bright metallic blue with white on the roof and on the bottom half, just like the original color scheme.



My only issue now is that I have no time to work on it, but here and there I get things done. I go to school full time at USF and am now a grad student working in a rehabilitation robotics lab and working in IT 3 days a week as well. Between work, my studies, and my projects in the lab, I don't have much time in between. But at least over the summer and after I graduate hopefully I'll have more time to work with it.

Now for my questions. I know some of you guys have had to tackle the it's-been-sitting-out-in-the-sun-and-the-roof-has-tons-of-surface-rust syndrome.


There's a picture of what I'm working with. I bought a 50 pound capacity sand blaster and tried it for a while, but I gave up because it makes such a mess all over the place and requires so much sand for such a small area. That and the water separator on my air compressor burst and I haven't gotten around to replacing it yet. I tried 40-grit and 60-grit sandpaper on a random orbital electric sander, but even the 40-grit doesn't phase the surface rust. What are you guys' thoughts? I would like to get rid of it all; if I prime and paint over it, it's going to rust through isn't it? Are there any easier ways?

I'm also interested to know more about the 2 barrel intake manifold that was used on some of the 226 I6. Does anyone have any information on it or know where I could find one? I'm currently using 2 adapters to go from the 1bbl opening to my 2bbl Holley. I would get a lot better airflow with a 2bbl intake manifold. I have to run pretty large jets to allow the restricted airflow to pull fuel out of them, so if I could get better flow I can maybe use smaller jets.

Thanks for the info!

Also if anyone is interested or has any questions on the brake work, ignition work, or any other work I've done, just let me know.
GLAD you decided to stop lurking and post. Good looking setup and I look forward to seeing more of your build. I am doing (what seems to be called) a 'Resto-Mod' frame, engine all running gear etc. About the only thing I am keeping is the body. I sold my '55 frame and running gear last week and got to build a 'A-frame' to pull the body off.

But there are LOTS of folks on here they are staying more original than not and they can and will help you out... ;)
Glad you've stepped up from lurking... looking forward to your updates...

I moved your intro to the intro forum. You may want to start a build thread in the Build Thread section...

silicond17: IMO the most direct and efficient way to deal with your roof corrosion is to scale off as much of the loose stuff first - just with a coarse sanding disc and then neutralize the corrosion with phosphoric acid. You will not remove most of the pok marking and certainly not get all the way down to shiny bare smooth metal - if you get all the way down, you will be inside the vehicle!

There are many rust neutralizers from "Naval Jelly" to "Metal Prep" (from the Por15 people). Any automotive paint outlet should be able to sell you a quart of rust neutralizer quite cheap. Once you've stopped the rust, and washed off all the residual acid, then spray on a good rust-tolerant primer - perhaps two or three coats, with sanding in between - then top coat with the white you want. I used Sherwin Williams Classic White B7 - 143 (1972-84 Chevrolet) which turned out fine.

Of course, the lifespan of your home-done roof paint job will not be indefinite but at least you will have the situation under some control. Imperfections will be out of sight for all but basketball players and you can redo the job later if you wish. The most difficult rust control part of any auto roof resto is where the gunwales are. I wire-brushed the gunwales very carefully, metal prepped, Por15ed, then covered with Por15's "Tie coat primer" , then auto primer and finally white paint. In my case, I will come back and install a canvas sliding sunroof eventually and at that time, probably redo the roof.

From the picture, it looks like your roof has not been physically damaged (like mine was) so you will probably avoid the difficulty of recontouring the roof - which is not easy.


Pavel (website:
Holy Crap!!! What a Great Ride!!!!!. You sound as a person who knows what they are doing, sooooo, when are you coming over to my house? Pick up all my left overs... :lol: I can't build an original vehicle. to many artistic juices flowing... but I do respect and admire those who do here. Keep posting pictures for me...I have trouble reading and enjoy the pic's. Happy you are here!!!!!! :D :D :D :D :D
Welcome to the forum! Think I read a post of yours on another board back when I first got my wagon. Awesome job. Keep the pics coming!
Thanks for the info guys. It looks like I may do 40-grit on the rest of the loose paint on the roof, then try some of those rust converters and see what happens. I've got some POR-15 primer and some other high-build primer I bought with my topcoat, so I should be able to get it smooth up there after I take care of the rust.
Alright, I applied some jelly rust remover I had in my garage from when I was stripping the CJ to the bare metal. I brushed it on, let it sit for 15 or 20 minutes, then wiped it off. It seemed to have turned a dark black in color, is it working then? I saw the Eastwood stuff, Harbor Freight sells the same stuff, but I believe you have to dip the rusted parts in that solution. I'm going to need something I can just brush on. If this jelly stuff works, I'll go buy more of that. I think it was $3 per container and it will probably only take 3 to do a real good job. Then I'll do the POR-15 metal prep over it, and then apply POR-15 and then the POR building primer and sand smooth.

Anywho, just looking for some input on someone that's used the stuff before on whether or not this is normal. Thanks for the heads up, all that time grinding, sanding, and blasting, and it never occured to me to try and use the tube of rust remover in the garage.
Was it a green and white wagon with Maverick trim, SBC 350 with a Turbo 350 and 12 bolt rear end? I looked at and almost bought a 57 or 58 wagon in Lutz that had been for sale for a while. If that was the same one, then man it is a small world.