The Tale of Vintage Don and a 1948 Willys pickup

rocket

Well Oiled
Sep 3, 2015
1,342
Sierra Mtns
First Name
Rodney
Willys Model
  1. Wagon
Willys Year:
  1. 1963
My welder is the Miller 130ish series. Don't remember the exact number. I have to constantly adjust the speed and temp regularly and I guess that's when it gets frustrating. Thanks to everyone for your input, this can help anyone trying to do these type of welds. I just replaced my gun and cable with a Twico and got rid of my older original Miller gun. Now I can change out the brass ends/nozzles for different application. That seems to have made everything work better. Thank you again!!
Miller 130's were darn good little welders. I built my entire wagon with one before I got a newer larger Mig.
 

Vintage Don

Well Oiled
All-Star
Oct 9, 2017
2,395
Medina, Ohio
First Name
Don
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
Perhaps less acknoledged here on the forum are your notable achievements in patina match craft. I grok that artsy action.

Wow!! He groks it! When's the last time you heard that? Haha.

Robert A. Heinlein, one of the truly great Sci-Fi writers of the 1950s-60s. I probably read every word he ever wrote when I was a kid.... I grokked him.
 

Vintage Don

Well Oiled
All-Star
Oct 9, 2017
2,395
Medina, Ohio
First Name
Don
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
Returning now from our interesting and worthwhile Welding Class and Sci-Fi field trips - I still had to paint that new bed floor.....

@buxman66 helped keep me on task a little the next day, with:

"... Remember Don,this is supposed to be fun. Nice,nice,work! "

Which IS important to remember. So I followed up with the next phase of the (very slow) progress report.

January 23, 2020:


"... Haha - oh, it's fun alright, Buxman! Or else why would I spend all my time and treasure doing this? (He said... with a crazy gleam in his eye... I'll try not to think about that too hard, though! haha)

But seriously, it's fun.... it's what I think about and plan the next step, as I fall asleep at night - it's what gets me up in the morning - to get out there and do the next little challenge.

And I did get paint on the bed floor today. After about 90 minutes of final sanding on the primer. Then wipe-down and blow off 3 times (lots of sanding dust), last time with a tack cloth, mix the paint and shoot it. Painting always makes me nervous that I'm gonna screw up, especially on a big surface like this. It was kinda hard reaching in from all sides, and getting good coverage on that alternating shape of the floor runners (or whatever you properly call that floor shape). But I got it laid down. I got a lot of orange peel - but I was planning on sanding it all down a bit anyway, to knock the shine/gloss off of it. So it came out reasonably good. I'll un-mask it tomorrow.

painted.jpeg

Then I went to work on another "side job" that came up. Trying to patch up the bad spots / torn holes (and there were many) on the 4 little skirts that hang down below the bed.

The original owner had long ago welded one to the fender where they meet (supposed to be a bolt there), and that had broken apart and rusted out the corner on one side. And globs of weld to clean away.

Here's a series of photos on that. Still more to do to finish them, obviously. Here's the two sides as I started with them, you can see the damaged area on the one to the right.


1.jpeg

Spent some time with the hammer and anvil, getting things flat and shaped right again. Then chopped out the damage -

2.jpeg

Made my patch, with a fold to duplicate the lip - (I see I had finally broken down and bought some actual welding clamps at Harbor Freight with one of my 20% coupons, instead of always using my trusty C-clamps by now!)

3.jpeg

Got it on there - but still need to chase that tear, and the old weld globs.


4.jpeg

5.jpeg

And got started on the tear, and located where the slotted hole is supposed to be, before dinner shut me down for the evening. I'll have some more fun finishing it up tomorrow. "


6.jpeg

Which I apparently did!
 

Vintage Don

Well Oiled
All-Star
Oct 9, 2017
2,395
Medina, Ohio
First Name
Don
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
Double Update tonight!

The next post didn't come for 3 days....

January 26, 2020:

(I remember I was real proud of this 're-patina work!' haha)

"... Today I finished up that worst one of the bed skirt pieces which I had posted about just above. Here's a quick re-cap of that effort, and the final result after I did the "patina/paint magic" exercise. That part's kinda fun.

So in the beginning, I had that torn corner, and where (I guess) the paint was burned away, from the ancient weld repair to attach the fender to it. And also the tears in the metal from that repair failing later.-

d1.jpeg

So I made my patch and fixed the metal, as detailed in the post above. That slotted hole was tough, had to Dremel it out a bit.

d3.jpeg

So then today, I did the patina paint thing, and was happy with the result.

d6.jpeg

It's kind of a bummer in a way - the repaired area will be mostly hidden when I re-install the rear fender. And then, nobody will ever know the effort it took to make it look, well, OLD. haha. So that's why I'm telling YOU GUYS, I guess - somebody that will get it!

Oh, and I did the paint thing on the back side of it too.

Here's "before" and "after" on that.

d2.jpeg

d5.jpeg

And I spent the past 3 afternoons sanding (400 grit), and then "steel wool-ing" ("0000") inch-by-inch on the new paint on the bed floor. It was really, really tough - to tear into that brand new paint with sandpaper!!! It looked so pretty - nice, smooth - brand new look. BUT - it needs to reasonably match up with the rest of the truck.... Sigh...

The photo here will probably look just about the same as above, but it's very different now, in person. Here again - nobody will ever look at the truck and "get it" - the huge effort to make that bed all back to what it is now. It'll just look like - "oh, you painted the bed floor." Alas, they won't know that's new steel the first couple inches up all the way around the sides, and the effort to make it invisible, like it was always there...... I'm not going to try to patina-ize the floor.

All that's left now to complete the bed project is cleaning up the tailgate. Three and a half months into it. Boy, I'm slow! "

done floor.jpeg
 

Vintage Don

Well Oiled
All-Star
Oct 9, 2017
2,395
Medina, Ohio
First Name
Don
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
Boy, I've got to get posting on this Build Thread here more often! It's been a week again already! Been kind of a busy week for your faithful narrator here, though. But that's another story.

I left off with having finally finished up "enjoying" the bed rebuild project, some 3 and a half months of enjoyment there.... But like everything else in a restoration, it wasn't really all the way done. There are always a few more loose ends to chase.

January 28, 2020:

"... This story is (finally!!) drawing to a close. Strictly speaking, the bed and floor replacement itself is now DONE. I've been on this floor replacement and rebuild since mid-November, and ready to move on!

But I do still need to finish the Tailgate. That "tube" that runs across the bottom, which the hinges insert into at each end - that tube is pretty beat up. Although it opens and closes OK, it's not a very straight line.... and some pretty good bashes in it here and there. Have been thinking about what to do to try to improve that a little. I keep thinking of trying to drive a piece of pipe into it, just slightly smaller in diameter. But I'm afraid it will get really, really STUCK in there.... other than that bottom tube, the rest of the tailgate is fine.

At least I've finished the repairs on all 4 of those skirt pieces. Now to the casual observer, they might appear to just be tired, old panels with some surface rust (politely referred to as "patina"). But WE know, in reality - they're nice and straight, no rust-through anywhere - strong, no tears, etc, etc. All as good as new, literally, except for no shiny paint.... that's good, right? hahahaha

done.jpg

In another thread, I've been learning about how to re-do my rear leaf springs, so I guess that will be my next project. " ( <--- but it wasn't.... I just ended up buying a pair of new ones.)

Nope, I started working on that rear half of the FRAME. Lots of "enjoyment" there - the kind where it starts to get a little hard to convince yourself to go out to the Shop and spend yet another day rubbing - without any real hope that you'll ever get to the end of it....

And a couple weeks went by....

February 9, 2020:

"... I'm still finalizing everything at the rear end of the truck. As above, the bed itself was pretty well done (Hurray!) and those 4 skirts shown above. (we won't even talk about those mangled rear fenders just yet - that's a whole other thing, down the road....)

But I wanted to deal with the Frame. When the bed came off, obviously it exposed the Frame.

Before - rear.jpeg

which hadn't seem daylight in a very, very long time. So of course I had to clean things up and make it purdy again, while the bed is off. Needless to say, this photo above was taken before pulling off the rear axle, shocks and springs, etc.

So first was simply scrubbing it. Vigorously. Repeatedly.

I found what I am convinced is an "Assembly Line Inspection Mark." It's a line of yellow paint, passenger side - behind the rear spring perch bracket, almost all the way to the rear of the truck. I think so because it would be hidden from view, protected and covered up by the lower rear bed skirt (which has probably never been off since it was built), all this time. And it looks like an inspection mark - a straight, brushed-on line - on the side of the frame and wrapping the under side, too. I'm guessing it had to do with a final inspection on the rear axle, rear suspension - or maybe the gas tank installation. Anybody ever noticed one of these? Anyway, it's kinda cool if I'm right. I'll leave it there, of course.

inspection marks.jpeg

The frame in general is in real good shape. A few minor dents and bashes that I straightened out. Pipe wrench and hammer.

And then the old wire brush, air tool cookies, scrub with oven cleaner (gloves, goggles, respirator) - followed by lots of hand work and Dremel work in all the million corners, nooks and crannies, rivet heads - and then final clean with WD-40, and final wipe down with lacquer thinner a few times - until the paper towel comes up clean. Acid-etched where it's pitted and needs it. Then, squirt it with Rustoleum satin black, and after that sets up for a day or two - steel wool the whole thing, to knock down the shine and make it look more "right." This photo is after completing all the cleaning steps, before paint -


cleaned.jpeg

So I'm 60 or 70% done with all this now. Getting there.

fifty percent.jpeg

half.jpeg

These two photos above are before the final steel wool process.

So once this frame "housekeeping" is all wrapped up, I will trial-fit the gas tank. Make the little wooden spacer blocks. That'll let me bend the new fuel line - and then get the rest of the rear portion of the new wiring harness installed.

THEN - it'll finally be time to tackle that (dreaded) Timken Clamshell rear diff, and the axle...... it's coming....

February 11, 202:

" Getting closer... "

getting there.jpg


Now while I had spent most of the winter of 2019-20 working on the bed rebuild, then the Frame here - I had been "sticking a bunch of other sticks into the fire," too.

I had gone on a separate little Odyssey with the gas tank. And I had been making moves to get the seat cushions figured out and re-upholstered. And of course the Timken rear axle was pulled out from under there and needed to be gone through.... I'll cover those next, I guess.
 
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Vintage Don

Well Oiled
All-Star
Oct 9, 2017
2,395
Medina, Ohio
First Name
Don
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
Your P.O's trailer hitch will have you pulling everything to the right side a little though. You got to love this group!!
Thats quite the Flame Cut trailer hitch!

hahaha - Yep, we've have had some good chuckles over that hitch -the ball was gone when I first drug it home. Then my buddy brought me a ball for it one evening, which he had rescued from a scrap yard - and it fit the (also flame-cut) hole in the base, so we put it on there....

Thought a few times about hacking it off of there, but they worked pretty hard to build it. It seemed right to leave it alone.
 

Vintage Don

Well Oiled
All-Star
Oct 9, 2017
2,395
Medina, Ohio
First Name
Don
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
At some point in the distance past, somebody painted that rear "bumper" silver - just the bumper. It appears to be the only part of the truck that ever got anything repainted, all the rest is the remainder of the factory Potomac Gray. And the ancient silver is almost completely worn away. But you can still see a little of it in the weld bead around that hitch.

Resized_20210113_221657(1).jpeg
 

Modadds

Gear Grinder
Aug 13, 2016
11
Sweetwater,TX
First Name
Michael
Willys Model
  1. CJ
Willys Year:
  1. 1961
I don't have a Jeep truck, but I love to listen(read) of your experiences with yours. Makes me want to look for one in the future! The rear bumper is similar to the CJ's rear bumper in that they have a hole for a PTO gear box and shaft to go through. What is the other hole just under the edge of the tailgate hinge?
 

Vintage Don

Well Oiled
All-Star
Oct 9, 2017
2,395
Medina, Ohio
First Name
Don
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
I don't have a Jeep truck, but I love to listen(read) of your experiences with yours. Makes me want to look for one in the future! The rear bumper is similar to the CJ's rear bumper in that they have a hole for a PTO gear box and shaft to go through. What is the other hole just under the edge of the tailgate hinge?

Thanks, Modadds - I'm not certain enough to say absolutely for sure about the various holes. I know they are there on other trucks, I have a library of photos I've saved. I think it all has to do with the PTO - and I've seen the hole to the left used for an electrical connector location? Maybe somebody else with a PTO can clarify further. Here's some other trucks -

rear pto.jpg


xyz.jpg

holes.jpg
 

Vintage Don

Well Oiled
All-Star
Oct 9, 2017
2,395
Medina, Ohio
First Name
Don
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
To make a very long story a tad bit shorter (probably 'way too late for that by now...) - anyway, eventually, I finished beautifying the Frame.

I will confess that reworking / refurbishing / restoring / re-"what-ever-I-was-doing-is-called" - to the rear part of that frame was about my least favorite part of the work thus far. It was really difficult to "enjoy" it.... I got real dirty most every day, I repeatedly ruined my fingers and they hurt, always had stuff in my eyes, and it went sooo slow. And it finished devastating the Shop - everything was already filthy after all the welding and grinding all winter on the bed project first - and then came this frame work, which also ended up adding a lot of sticky overspray to the mess. Yuk.

But the day finally came when I could say - "I'm done with the Frame."

After - rear.jpeg

As I mentioned in the last post, I had been steadily "planting seeds" on other aspects of the job through the winter, while the main focus was the bed rebuilding. Things that were kind of minor in general, but just as important to end up with a finished truck someday. Things that I figured would take a while, so I might as well work them a little "on the side" while the bed and frame work was happening.

One thing that ended up being a lot more involved than I expected was the Gas Tank. And it all began the very next day after "Turnaround Day" (Oct. 4, 2019) when I had reversed the truck on the Lift for the winter work (Bed and Frame), just now ending here.

So yep, running on a separate track all during the winter - I started with a "Wanted" ad that kind lays the groundwork for the rest of the story:

October 5, 2019:

"... I'm thinking out loud here.... A year or so ago (remember? - I was "just gonna get it running..." - which would have required a gas tank) I bought one of the new plastic re-pops - I think I got it from Kaiser Willys, around $200 or so. I convinced myself it was the right move at the time - the fuel is pulled from the top, it won't rust out, etc. Haven't installed it yet. But lately I've been thinking I would like to maybe put an original steel tank back in there, with the little wooden spacer blocks and so forth. In my efforts to keep it all bone stock. The tank that was in my truck is completely rotted away, no bottom left in it at all.

So if somebody has a GOOD tank that is correct for the 1947-53 pickups (I think those are the years that interchange), I'd be a buyer.

Or maybe we could do a trade - if somebody has a good one but wants to go to the modern plastic tank.

Maybe this isn't even a very good idea. What have you got, what do you think? "

This was followed by a flurry of activity. Some people wanted to see what the original looked like.

I felt bad for whoever had done all that work years ago, to make that patch of the whole bottom, obviously a major effort - and then the patch rusted out, too.....

old tank.jpeg


But it still looked pretty good from above -

Resized_20191006_135028.jpeg

And then I started a thread about it, not in the "Wanted" section. Like everything else goes, as I started learning how things were supposed to be, I had more questions than answers.

I was learning that the re-pop plastic tank was designed (naturally) for the later trucks, and was dimensionally different than the original. That bugged me. So once again, there was a difference between these "early" trucks, and the post 1953 style - or maybe it was post-1950.

October 6, 2019:

"... And what years have this "early style" tank, where it mounts on the inside of the front cross member, instead of on top of it? I think I saw somewhere that it was 1947-53 and then they changed, but can't find that information now. ( <-- this changes the filler neck shape and angle)

And one more question - where the filler neck passes through the side of the bed - my truck has an elongated hole for it. But the re-pop bed floor has just a round hole. Why that shape? They want to sell me a round grommet, but that's not going to fit the old style hole......

Here's the original hole, below - certainly appears factory - and the new round hole below.

Thanks! Lots of questions, I know. "

old hole.jpeg

new hole.jpeg

I never did learn why the early style hole was shaped like this.

The conversation continued. I was about convinced I needed to find an original, steel tank - or I'd never be happy with it.

October 8, 2019:

"... You can see the pretty significant difference in the angle the filler neck comes out of the tank here.

5.jpeg


I eventually found what MIGHT have been a correct tank, from the parts guy in Montana. I had just sent him 'way too much money for it, by mail - because he didn't do PayPal, etc.

And then an OldWillysForum miracle happened!

October 18, 2019:

Out of the blue, from @agne2520

"... Hey Don. I have an original tank out of my 51. You're welcome to it if you want it. Looks to be in good shape, other than where the filler tube connects to the tank. looks as if it has been repaired at some point. "

agne 1.jpeg



agne 2.jpeg
 

Vintage Don

Well Oiled
All-Star
Oct 9, 2017
2,395
Medina, Ohio
First Name
Don
Willys Model
  1. Pickup
Willys Year:
  1. 1948
So naturally, I was pretty blown away by this tremendous offer from @agne2520 - but I was not too bashful to immediately say "Yes! I want that...."

Well, wait - it wasn't immediate - I had just mailed a check to Montana Overland (went out the day before) to buy one - which now I wouldn't need, after all. So I called that vendor, and asked him to "cancel" the sale - and shred or return my check when it got to him. He was very kind about it, and agreed. He hadn't pulled the tank yet. So THEN, I said "Yes."

And so Agne and I worked through the details, and he agreed to build a crate, and he shipped it via Fastenal a few days later. We set it up so that Fastenal billed me directly for the shipping. (Which was a lot, but that's definitely OK.)

And in due course, I got this BEAUTIFULLY built crate! I was pretty impressed with the workmanship. And the tank inside was very sound.

crate 1.jpeg

Everything on the tank was carefully braced and supported and cushioned. Really well made. Wow.

new tank.jpeg

In fact, I turned that crate on its side, added a shelf, and converted it into a cabinet - which now holds various painting supplies, including the "patina recreation department" stuff. And I have positive thoughts about Agne every time I go to it.

I really tried - repeatedly - to get him to take some money for the tank, and his time and effort to build that crate and take it to ship it to me, and so forth. But he firmly would not. Willys Karma....

Then we had some Forum discussion about the presence of what appeared to be TWO sender holes on the top side of Agne's tank (his name is actually Brian, but I'm stuck on Agne in my head). Nobody could say why they were there, it wasn't a normal thing to find - it was ust kinda weird. We concluded that somebody musta needed to use a second/replacement sender, couldn't find the right size, and just made a new opening. Who knows? Doesn't really matter. But we talked about it, to see if it was something that maybe did matter.

October 21, 2020:

"... Agne2520 (my new Best Friend! haha) and I were talking about this gas tank, and we noticed that on the top side, his tank (1951) has what appears to be TWO openings for sending units. And my 1948 tank has only one.

Does this mean anything to anyone? Why would there be two of them? I thought possibly this was something that was done on tanks that came later than my '48 - but can't imagine a reason.

I don't really care - it's on top and will be invisible, but it IS curious.

Anybody have any opinions?


Here's my tank, with just the one opening -

1 sender.jpeg

And Brian's tank, with two - "

2nd sender.jpeg

And then I learned that Agne's tank - from a 1951 - had a somewhat different inlet filler pipe than my original tank. So that "Early style Tank" must be only for 1947 to 1950, after all.

I was planning to take it to the radiator shop, and have them boil it out, leak-check it - the usual routine with such things. You might also recall above that Agne said there was an old repair which might be an issue at the filler pipe connection. So I decided to have the radiator shop remove the filler tube from my original tank, and weld then solder it to the new tank here. Two birds with one stone there. And while they were at it - make a nice round patch for the extra sender hole on top.

And I was very happy with their work. But unfortunately, their flushing process did not remove the old coating on the outside skin. It was coated with some kind of gummy, tarry, paint (?) like substance - TOUGH stuff. Which I later spent many hours scraping and rubbing away with solvents and elbow grease. Finally got it all shiny again.

done.jpeg


So to keep our Time-line straight here - this Gas Tank work was happening slowly through the winter months, while I was primarily working on the Bed, and later the Frame refurbishment. I think it was in January or February that it was at the radiator shop. And later I would spend an hour here and there rubbing on it - instead of rubbing on the Frame! haha

And by late winter, I did the rear axle rebuild - we're coming to that part of the story - but let's finish talking about the Gas Tank while that's the current topic.

The original tanks are mounted with 3 wooden blocks (oak). And being a Willys, naturally the 2 towards the front are a different size than the one in the rear. And I needed those blocks...

March 25, 2020:

"I didn't have any oak laying around for the little wooden blocks that mount the gas tank. Then I remembered, sure I do! ... Firewood can serve many purposes....

1.jpg

2.jpg

3.jpg

4.jpg


< from memory, this was just an early mock-up below, to trial-fit the wooden blocks. I hadn't finished rubbing on the tank quite yet. I also see the axle was done and back in by then - but we'll get to that part of the story soon... >
5.jpg

And it was IN there! Beautiful!

6.jpg

Now one last nice part of the Gas Tank story - I called Kaiser-Willys and told them I had bought a re-pop tank from them 2 years earlier - and wasn't going to use it. Still had their wrappings on it. And much to my surprise - they agreed to take it back! So I shipped it off, and they mailed me a check, a full refund.

All costs considered, I actually ended up with less money in the original steel tank project (shipping, radiator shop, etc) than what that re-pop tank cost! That was a win!
 
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Modadds

Gear Grinder
Aug 13, 2016
11
Sweetwater,TX
First Name
Michael
Willys Model
  1. CJ
Willys Year:
  1. 1961
After having the tank cleaned at radiator shop, were there any micro holes that required sealing the inside? Are there baffles in this tank? I have used Bill Hirsch products for my tank sealers in the past and they work great and doesn’t interfere or soften the sealer.
 
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