New project, Lots of questions!

gt350pilot

Gear Grinder
Sep 7, 2010
16
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Just got done pressure washing the wasps nests that came home with my latest project, a 56 4wd Station Wagon. I have always played with sports cars and muscle cars but this is my first 4wd. I now have a family and have been looking for a project with this in mind. Mission accomplished!

I picked up the wagon at an estate sale and got a great deal. It appears to be a pretty solid body with minimal rust and is surprisingly straight. It does have the overrider front bumper and a very cool roof rack that I like. I am missing the original seats, so will want to find a set of those. Any suggestions?

It appears to have been running a small block chevy but that was taken out. My looking around makes me think that the 5.3L / 4L60 combo is a viable option, but again, I am new to the 4wd thing so suggestions are appreciated. I am like everybody else though, money is a consideration. I have done a few engine conversions, including injection, so have some experience there.

My main goal is to build it to have the exterior and interior look pretty much stock with a modern drivetrain. I would like to make it as reliable and easy to drive for the wife to take occasionally. Front disk brakes are also a desirable upgrade.

I just found this site so I am sure that I will be using it for quite a bit of research. Thanks for any help or suggestions in advance.
 

aquawilly54

Well Oiled
Sep 21, 2009
1,257
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Don, I am one of the purists in the group here. I will always try to sway people to the dark side and keep these things stock. That said, I have also played with the conversions from hell. V-8s mated up to the stock drive train. Not a good idea. Things break. Sounds like you are going the distance with an engine / tranny combo which is the smart thing to do, but beware; you will encounter problems. Since some things are missing in you new toy I don't think a conversion is too awful bad. I would however, try to sway you away from the V8 option. The better conversion for simplicity and longevity would be a V6. They are less expensive, very obtainable and you can get some decent power out of them. Best of all, you won't have to modify the firewall, or front cross member of the frame. The exhaust will fit sooooo much easier as well. V8s tend to build up a lot of under hood heat. Anyway, that's my opinion. You'll hear several on this board, so take it all in and decide which is best for you.
Steve
 

retmotor

Bigger Hammer
Aug 19, 2010
100
Montana
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Welcome Don.

Good luck with your project. Think I just killed the last of the yellow jackets on my new-to-me rig.

Steve makes some good points. Of course a V8 can and has been done, but I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they had a problem keeping their V8 and some other motor transplants running cool in their Jeep.
 

Pete

Founder/Owner
Staff member
Administrator
Sep 17, 2009
7,121
Hailey, Idaho
First Name
Pete
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1960
Welcome to the forum Don.

My wagon came with a bunch of the biggest spiders I've ever seen, along with a few hundred mud-wasp nests... First order of business was playing exterminator.

Post some pictures when you get a chance, I'd like to see your roof rack. I want to put together a rack for my wagon when I get it road-worthy.

Pete
 

pavel6

Well Oiled
Sep 27, 2009
1,734
Vancouver, BC
First Name
Pavel
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1965
Hello Don:
Hope you really enjoy your 'new' Willys. Ours came with a mouse nest up under the floor in the fuel filler area. Permit me to recommend that you get the project at least running and then decide on any upgrades. That assumes that you can install an engine to your liking of course. A fuel injected 4.3 V6 would probably make the most sense and may not cost you too much - many people are very satisfied with that powerplant. Thinking more stock, you could go with the Tornado OHC 230 engine but that would require fire wall and trans area modifications. The there is the diesel choice - a Mercedes 300 turbo would make a magnificent engine but would require a complete donor car to make it cost efficient. I was offered an 80s rusty but running low mileage 300TD for $1000 a year ago but I didn't have the time to do the conversion.

For Chevy disc brake conversion to a Dana 25 front axle, have a look here:

http://www.members.shaw.ca/pavelb/brakes.html

Cheers

Pavel
 

gt350pilot

Gear Grinder
Sep 7, 2010
16
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Thank you all for the advise and suggestions. I have been trying to read as much as I can in regard to the engine swap and disc upgrade. I understand Aqua's leanings toward original and he makes a good arguement. I play with vintage race cars and one of our goals is to present them as they were raced originally, so I am not one that rushes into hacking a car up unneccessarily. As this particular wagon came with no engine or trans and to some extent has been hacked to fit a V8, I feel it is a viable option to upgrade to either a v8 or 6 injected engine. The 4.3 sounds interesting. I have owned vehicles with them and have been pleased with the performance. I have also had good luck with fuel injection conversions so I am leaning that way, although nothing is set in stone. My last project was a 65 Mustang with an injected and supercharged 5.0, t-5 5spd, and 9in conversion. Quite a car and a far different beast from the Willys project. For this one I am simply looking for a cost effective powerplant with sufficient power and good reliability. The recent generations of engines that can be purchased fairly cheaply and have life spans stretching will into 6 figures miles. The 5.0 mentioned above was pulled with 125K miles on it and still have crosshatch in all of the cylinder bores! At this point I am really trying to do my research and plan the project accordingly. I have a 1 & 3 year old at home so free time is not real plentiful. I don't see the wagon getting back on the road for at least 2 years anyway.
I will try to get a couple of pics of the wagon as well as the roof rack and post them ASAP. I had to remove the rack so that I could get the wagon under the garage header. The previous owner has lifted with some really questionable shackles and spring pickup point extensions on the front (more work to undo).
I am looking forward to this winter when I can really start digging into the Willys. Until then, research, research, research! Thanks everyone for all the help. I am sure I will be stealing many of your ideas soon!
 

Eric B

Precision Fit
Nov 27, 2009
841
Colorado Springs, CO
First Name
Eric
Willys Model
  1. Other
Willys Year:
  1. Other
Welcome to the board.
I do agree with going the original drivetrain (when possible). I got mine with a V8, 5 speed manual tranny and dana 300 tcase. That being said, I kept what I had, reworked the P.O. scary items of motor mounts, tranny mount, brakes, and fuel lines. As for the stock appearance. I am doing everything I can to keep it looking stock from the interior and the exterior till ya open the hood.
Have fun with the research... and good luck

Eric
 

53Willys

Bigger Hammer
Oct 6, 2009
50
Willys Model
Willys Year:
One thing to remember when looking for donor engines and transmissions ,most of the newer transfercases drop the front driveshaft to the wrong side. The weak link in the stock drivetrain is the T90 trans, the dana 18 transfercase is reasonably strong. Donor V8 with trans, tranfer will require fabrication of motor and transmission mounts along with different length drivshafts, As for cooling, My Jeepster has a almost stock Chevy 350 and it runs at 200 , The truck had a 307 and ran at 180, It now has a hot 327 and a louvered hood and still holds 180, The Wagon had a Dodge 318 now a 360 and thge temp would creap up in traffic ,Coated headers and vents in the hood solved it
 

retmotor

Bigger Hammer
Aug 19, 2010
100
Montana
Willys Model
Willys Year:
gt350pilot said:
Thank you all for the advise and suggestions. I have been trying to read as much as I can in regard to the engine swap and disc upgrade...

Willys America has some good and relevant info regarding re-powering and keeping it original in their "Restoration Manual"
http://willysamerica.com/catalog/index.html

He talks about the best transplant motors and drivetrains. It's laid out very simple and easy to understand. I haven't found any one thing one the web that is as complete. It's also humorous.

I just a bought a pickup with a GM 292 I6 in it so I'm trying to figure out whether to rebuild it, replace it, or go back original; so I'll be interested in what you decide and why.
 

gt350pilot

Gear Grinder
Sep 7, 2010
16
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Thanks for all of the suggestions everybody. I have been ridiculously busy the last few weeks including a camping trip with the family. The interesting bit is that we went camping in a 1962 fold out tent trailer. My in-laws had it when my wife was a kid and have had it in inside storage for the last 20+ years. The canvas is in perfect condition and the aluminum trailer just needs a little elbow grease. The thing is even fully stocked with the old school Coleman stove, lanterns and all kinds of camping gear. I just went up to Portland 2 weeks ago and picked it up. I can't get the image out if my head of my 56 Wagon pulling this 62 trailer out to go camping. Kind of make me want to wear a fedora while driving!

Anyway, I finally got some pics of the wagon before I got it pushed into the garage. I am going to take a bunch of measurements and then start getting my hands dirty.[attachment=0:3lyl6upz]100_1905.JPG[/attachment:3lyl6upz][attachment=1:3lyl6upz]100_1906.JPG[/attachment:3lyl6upz][attachment=2:3lyl6upz]100_1904.JPG[/attachment:3lyl6upz]
 

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62 OlllO

Well Oiled
Oct 19, 2009
1,821
Georgia
First Name
Kevin
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1962
You found a great estate sale Don... It look's like a super find. I too, had to exterminate, pressure wash and remove animals from my Willys, it has been ten months since I had it shipped from Colorado to Georgia. I inherited an oily, poor running chevy small block, with the running gear all "jerry-rigged" by PO, connected to original drive train. My goal is to have a safe, dependable running Willys, looking stock but with late model running gear...fuel injected SBC, 700R4, Dana 300 Twin Stick, Dana 44's. This is my second rebuild on a Willys and I never had a problem with over heating on my first wagon...I used stock cast iron exhaust and a late model radiator (for Big Block) which flowed horizontally (cross flow)...plus a separate rad. for tranny.
My goal is to finish it for 2011 Moab, Utah Willys event, so I can meet some of the guys/girls that are here on the forum. Good luck with your project, stay safe!
 

gt350pilot

Gear Grinder
Sep 7, 2010
16
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Thanks guys! I am sure that the $100 that I spend to buy the wagon will be the easy part. Selling the wife on the many $$'s to come is going to be the hard part! Luckily she is very excited and at least with this project can visualize the end result. That might make the expenditures easier on her. :p
 
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