PA Girl in early stages of Wagon build


Bigger Hammer
Jun 16, 2010
Clearville, PA
First Name
Maggie Mae
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1954
Hello All!

Seems I missed this part of the Forum when I joined a couple months ago, so I figured better late than never.

My name is Maggie Mae.
I'm 25 and I'm from south central Pennsylvania.

This is a little long winded but I'm a bit bored and I figure if I ramble a bit now, I won't do it later. Please forgive me in advance.

Some families are all about Fords or Chevys Mom's folks are mostly Ford people. Dad's are Jeep. 3 of my four sets of Great granparents owned some kind of Willys (2 Whippets and a '41 Coupe), and both pair of Grandparents have too (CJ's, Wagoneers, and an old MB). Dad started driving in a Willys Wagon, which he had up until I was born; right now he's in the process of selling a J-3000 Pickup and just bought a CJ-3B. When people look at me in disbelief and say "A Willys?" I tell them I haven't got a prayer.

Dad drove truck up until he got hurt in 2004. Before then, weekends were spent in the garage. Call it a danger of being an only child. I've been turning wrenches since I was 12. Mom used to joke that I was the only one in my graduating class that could rebuild a Cummins. She was exaggerating of course, a couple of the guys took auto shop.

When I was 15, Dad found an old Willys Pickup that he thought I should put together as my first vehicle. Just as I was starting to warm to the idea, my great-grandmother gave up her license and my first car ended up being her 1991 Ford Escort. Given the condition of the pickup that dad had found, I'm still not sure if that came as a disappointment or a relief. I replaced the Ford a few years ago with a 1999 Cherokee. No lift, no frills, but do I ever love my Jeep.

Now here I am trying to get everything together to start my first project. I managed to find a Pickup with no motor or title about 10 miles from the house in the back of a farm belonging to a good friend. The bed was rougher than I expected but the cab wasn't terrible. We went to near Arlington, VA for a half-a-truck (the frame had been torched off behind the cab) with a title, and about 60 miles north for a bucket of rust that I'm still not sure how was supporting the good 6cyl. I thought I had everything that I needed until we pulled the bed off the first pickup an found the frame rotten.

I don't exactly deter easily. I sat down and did my research, and knowing that I wanted the pickup to look original, I stated looking at beds and bed kits. The more I thought about it, the more impractical it seemed from a budget perspective. Besides, I'm a photographer (though I hold down a full time drafting job to pay the bills) and it's more likely that I'll want to haul lights and backdrops than lumber or gravel or shrubbery, so my attentions went toward Wagons.

Bought my first Wagon off a fellow not far from me and happily deemed it a "storage vehicle" after sealing the poorly replaced panels to the floor with 3 cans of Great Stuff Foam.

So now I'm waiting til the end of April when I'm going West in search of a good frame and body.

Dad's proving to be a walking service manual. It's sort of disgusting. He says he had his apart all but 3 screws in the top of the passenger door. I say this does not excuse remembering what size almost every bolt is after not seeing one of these in almost 25 years. He's serving as a guide but the work that's getting done is going to be mostly mine. We struck a rather terrible deal. I can have the garage after I help him get his John Deere Crawler back together.

Even though the project isn't officially started yet, I've got a lot of the specifics already set in my mind. It'll be somewhere between a '51 and a '57, I like the look of the higher-domed roofs. She's going to be pretty close to original. L6-226 / T90 / T18 / and the overdrive that I scored from someone who was parting out a CJ in eastern Ohio. I'm going to use the fastest set of (good) rears that I end up with after I get the last of my parts dragged home. She'll probably gain a few inches of lift via custom springs, because I'd like to end up with 31" tires. Under the hood I'm going to ditch the oil bath air filter based on a nightmare of a story from Dad, change the oil filter to a spin on, switch over to 12 volt, trade breaker point for electrial ignition, and put in electric wipers. I'm still debating installing a windshield washer. Inside I'm planning on keeping the original style seats though I'm pretty sure they're not going to be vinyl. She'll have a custom gauge and switch panel because I trust Stewart Warner gauges over putting resistors on the original 6 volt ones.

As I'm not seeing any real results toward my goal yet, I've got to say that the best thing about this so far is the people I'm meeting. I've learned to not call junkyards or craigslist sellers over my lunch break simply because it usually takes me more than half an hour to get off the phone with the overly-helpful person on the other end of the line. (Given this post you're probably thinking that it's all me, but I'm surprisingly quiet in person... until you get to know me at least)

Anyway, to wrap this up, I'm looking forward to what there is to learn here and helping out if I can.
Maggie Mae,
I applaud your resolve and your interest in these great vehicles. I've been a fan of Willys since 1978. Sounds like you have a really good handle on things, so I won't kill you off with a bunch of rhetoric. I will however address the air filter issue. Yes, oil bath filter setups suck, BUT...did you know, you can modify the housing and run a standard filter in it? Yes. If you're interested, let me know and I'll fill you in, Or you can contact Willys America and get the info. I just think the oil bath housing looks better on the 226 than an aftermarket chrome jobby; and nobody would be able to tell unless you opened it up. Welcome to the clubhouse. :cheers:
Dad was climbing a hill somewhere he probably shouldn't have been when he had his and it dumped the oil down the carb. He says as far as he knows, his filter is still in the creek that he drifted back into when it shut off on him. I don't have a tendency to stick to main, or even marked, roads so this is not something I want to chance. I'll have to look into that. I do like the look, just not the function.
Welcome to the forum Maggie Mae... great intro!

I like your knack for story telling... hope to read many more of your posts here on the forum as you dive into your project. :cheers:

Girl you've got it going sister...we are all here to help ya and I look forward in seeing your progress. Don't get discouraged, the rust can be a bit much, but there is good solid metal in these Willy's and I'm happy you are going to rebuild one...Stay SaFe
Welcome to the forum. i think you got the right idea, especially with finding one out west. i live in new mexico and see a lot of older cars that have little rust. i grew up in bedford county and went through a few cjs that were just rusted through.

good luck
Welcome to the forums. Looking forward to seeing your progress when you do get started on your project.
Hey Maggie May

Wow quiet a story to begin with, and so young also. It is good to see younger people getting involved with older vehicles. Around these parts if you are 25 years old and into Jeeps than chances are it is a pretty Jeep and more for "the look". I see them all around here with young guys and gals too and they look all kinds of shiney, usually have a cell phone in their ear too.

I see also you are a draftsman to pay the bills. Hmmmm...I was and kinda still are a draftsman. What kind of drafting do you do??

Welcome aboard. These guys and gals are awesome around here. You will learn tons from this place.

I always figgured a Jeep was more about how it ran and where it'll go than how it looks, not that I don't plan on mine looking good once it's done, just that I have no real aversion to trail dirt, mud, or even little scratches. However, I'll stop shy of saying that body damage builds character. I might eventually consider a simple CJ(-3B?) build that falls into that category though. It'd be great to have a vehicle who's sole purpose was to get dirty and go I have no business being.

AS far as my drafting, I work for a company that makes marble and granite counter tops, I do all of their AutoCAD work in preparation for the guys who program the CNC equipment. It's sort of insane, especially right after tax returns come back and from October - December. We're kind of in a lull right now, Thank God!
How have I missed this. Finally another girl that is Jeep crazy as me. Welcome to to the forum. :cheers: