“Fergus” the Flat Fender spent his whole life on a cattle station, west of Broken Hill in NSW. Never registered for the road, he travelled 15,000 miles checking bores and other work on the property. I don’t know when he was parked up, but I guess he sat for 20-30 years in a shed. The red bulldust that had built up on all the hot parts had turned to a hardened, pottery like consistency and had cooked onto the surfaces. Screwdrivers and an old wood chisel removed the larger bits, but no amount of wire brushing would clean surfaces well enough to apply paint. As the engine/transmission/axles were going to be stripped and rebuilt, I abrasive blasted each as an assembly.
With the stripped chassis, complete with replaced back cross rail and front bumper, blasted and painted in a good quality black epoxy, the body tub was next in line. The way I attack rust in bodywork is to firstly abrasive blast back to good metal on the complete shell, then paint it with an oxide primer to prevent flash rust during the repairs. Fergus’ tub needed sections of the underside channels replaced, the drivers floor (RH side… he’s an Aussie) under the tool box, the toolbox assembly itself and a couple of patches on the outer skin. The rear of the tub was twisted and the floor was undulated over the cross-members, so I fabricated a framework out of a heavy wall, 2″ RHS and used a Porta-Power to get it back into shape.
Other modifications were, a built out section on the firewall to accept a pendulum pedal assembly (CJ7), and a removable panel centrally in the dash to accept a new instrument cluster. Next step was to apply a Polyurea elastomer coating to the underside of the tub with a top coat finish paint. Polyurea is an elastomeric, polyurethane that is applied at approx. 70-90 degrees and can be built up to thickness as required. Two or three passes of the spray will achieve at least 2mm film thickness. There are many brands of polyurethane elastomers (Line-X, etc) used for bed liners, but good quality Polyurea has a greater tensile strength and totally impervious to moisture egress. Rust pinholes in the LH floor and rear tub did not require to be welded or filled. Prior to coating application, masking tape is applied to the opposite side (interior) preventing bleed through, and when the interior is coated later, the bonding of the outer and inner liner will be stronger that the panel metal itself.
Our company, Glindemann Industrial Coatings Pty.Ltd. – T/A Glincoat, is in the business of coating application to concrete substrates in water infrastructure plants such as water treatment (read : poo-plants), reservoirs, and pond liners, along with mining equipment etc, for abrasion resistance.
Once the under side is done, the tub was flipped over to firstly straighten out the panel work with filler, spray putty and block sanding. The outer panels were then finish painted and masked off for the Polyurea application on the inside of the tub. As a final pass of the Polyurea spray, the gun is held away and a “mist” pass achieves the textured look to hide imperfections.
Apart from the bodywork, chassis, axles, engine and transmission, I don’t know how many individual bits, brackets and components needed to be sandblasted and painted. It seemed to take forever but only two colours were needed, black and raspberry (body colour). Part of this included modifications such as the pendulum pedal assembly to accommodate a dual circuit brake master cylinder and hydraulic clutch mechanism. The original floor pivot pedals had taken a beating on the underside and the bellcranks and linkages to convert it to RH drive looked like it was thought out in somebody’s backyard. The clutch pedal linkage extended back to a bellcrank that pivoted between the chassis rails just forward of the rear axle, then connected to the factory bellcrank that actuated the clutch on the left side of the transmission. I fitted a hydraulic clutch slave to do the job on the factory bellcrank, however, a fair bit of readjustment was done to finally get the correct amount of travel in the throw out bearing.
Original steering setup for RH drive conversion, saw the steering gear fitted above the chassis rail with the pitman arm pointing downwards and the draglink attached to a small pivot arm fitted to the top of the RH wheel king pin. The radius of the pivot from centre of the king pin to the draglink connection was only about 2″ which would have made for heavy steering and fair amount of load on the steering gear. Who knows how he would have been trying to hold it on the road at speed! A bit of research on the compoota (CJ3B info page) detailed a bellcrank arrangement mounted on the front tubular crossmember, but with the steering gear pitman arm fitted upwards to compensate for the lever action of the bellcrank…. simple, but where are you going to get one of those? After many phone calls and googleing the only answer was to make one.
I turned down a piece of high tensile steel to accept an OEM bellcrank with the ball end (draglink) cut off, made up the top arm to pivot across the top of the chassis rail under the battery box to attach the draglink and assembled it into a couple of bearings… a tad over-engineered, but it works!
Other non-original mods included, instrument cluster fitted to a removable panel, jerry can holder, demountable rear seat and a couple of brackets for spot lights etc.
The steering draglink had been cut and welded in the original RH drive conversion, but the length did not suit the rehashed arrangement, so I had to recut and weld in a spacer, turned down to match the diameter of the draglink. I did a good penetrating weld and then slipped over a matching ID pipe sleeve to weld onto the original metal.
Next problem… The draglink fouled on the inside of the RH mudguard (fender), and that @#$%& thing had been fitted and removed so many times that I could now do it blindfolded. After a few goes, I sorted a built out section that cleared the link and also cleared the front wheel on full lock. I have to respray the bonnet (hood) due to contaminated thinner mixed in the paint leaving a number of small holes in the finish, so it doesn’t hurt too much to repaint the mudguard mod.
I made up a complete set of brakelines apart from the small “S” bends that connect the front wheel cylinders to the flex hoses. They are available from most suppliers, but the fit did not allow them to clear the backing plate on the wheel hub, so I had to reshape them manually, careful not to put a crease in the tube. Reshaping then did not match up with the guard plates fitted to the top of the king pins, so another little fabrication job needed to be done. In hindsight, and thanks to the CJ3B info page, I could have fitted longer flex lines that apparently work just as good.
Next, the old wacuum vinscreen vipers…. I’ve had a couple of older rides with vac wipers and although they only worked if they felt like it I figured that Fergus would stay in the shed on raining days, but he needed wipers to pass machinery inspection for rego. I spent a whole day disassembling and cleaning the red dirt out the orifices, and after installing and hooked up to the vac outlet on the fuel pump, one side would only do one sweep then die. The other side had to be manually swept but returned to the park position with no problem. Although I was having dejavu feelings with memories of working on Dassault Mirage gunsights from my RAAF Instrument fitter days, I couldn’t be fagged trying to sort out that problem…. Solution = Buy a set of electric bastards!
The Carter carburettor – a simple piece of engineering. Strip down, clean it out and fit a new kit….done! He runs but there is a fair bit of slop in the butterfly shaft and the idle adjustment doesn’t want to work too well, so a Solex replacement is on order from willysjeepparts.com (good bloke!)
He’s alive! After 30 years sitting in a barn, the 15 horses are out and galloping. A few extra grey hairs with timing 180 deg out, a couple of fuel leaks, and the fan hitting the shroud, he took off at about 2,000RPM, sparks flying and some skid marks in the undies! Click on the link below to see/hear the sweet sound of success:
Maybe the top heading should read “where da f#@% did I put that bit?!!!”. This is the most satisfying part of the project, slowly seeing him morph into something like he looked back in 1958. Certainly worth the blood, sweat and busted knuckles from spanner slips, and I’m probably more excited than the PO when he took delivery from the Willys dealer back when. I’ve done a few restos over the last 40+ years, but the full frame-off ones give you the best buzz, albeit leaving the bank account a bit dryer than the initial budget plan. Engineering/painting/electrical work have all been part of my livelihood over the years, from my beginning as an Engineering apprentice in the RAAF at the ripe old age of 15 back in ’66. My first one was a ’56 FJ Holden (the 225 with the button upholstery) that I bought for $50 with a machinery defect notice. Sold a year later with a two-tone enamel paint job for $250, but now probably worth $20K+…… that’s why I find it hard to part with any precious metal these days.
Enough rambling… back to Fergus.
Every bearing, oil seal, gasket has been replaced along with engine, transmission and transfer case rebuild. Bolts replaced with stainless or grade 8.8, new tyres, windscreen glass and body rubbers. Seats were only metal pans when I got him so I’ve reshaped the cushions in two grades of foam and upholstered in marine vinyl. I do my own upholstery work since my wife taught me how to feed material through the machine without stitching my fingers to the work. On the “to do” list is a canvas canopy to resemble the original, complete with straps to the footman loops, not press studs and vinyl like the Bestop ones… I reckon those look a bit like an after-thought, but look OK on later CJs and Wranglers. He will probably spend most of the time topless though, checking out the topless girlie Jeeps on Flinders Beach.
The pics below show various stages of his assembly, but I am yet to get him registered and road tested. I’ll get some “pose” photos and videos to post then…
OK… so I took him for a spin around the block and top gear sounded like a lawn mower that had run over a pile of rocks. As I don’t have a hoist to whip the box back out, but hoping that Santa will be kind next Christmas when I finish the shed extension, it was up to (the infamous) Moss Street to see Dick Ralston to get it sorted for me. Job done.
Next thing #1- Fit the Solex, #2- Fit the electric wipers, #3 – Get him registered, #4 – Organize insurance
The Solex – Bolted up OK, but the stock throttle lever relied on the linkages coming over the top of the rocker cover and the RH conversion linkages worked from below on the right hand side of the block. The lever needed to move upwards under throttle, so I had to weld a small piece onto the lever to reposition the locating pin. The Solex also need a pressure reducing valve to be fitted, so a new set of lines had to be bent up to suit.
Windscreen wipers – The after-market electrical ones bolt straight into the Vac mounting holes, so run some wires, in parallel, to the two units and down to a switch… piece of cake! Test ’em… they work, so bind up the loom and track it through the original vac clips around the windscreen frame, through the outer panel and fire wall… done! Fit the blades in the park position and do a test run. They run out of sequence with one a bit slower than the other, so power off…. but they don’t stop… what the &%$#! They finally switch off in the park position after about 3 minutes when the sequence of the two different speeds match in stroke positions?????
After a pee and a cup of tea, my grey matter kicked in. They are under constant power to hold the blades in the park position, right? The “S” connection runs 12v to earth through the switch, right? So because the sweep was out of sync, one was trying to switch off but still getting power in the park position from the other one because they were wired together… dumb-ass. Solution – a double pole switch or separate switches for each motor. I did the joint between the two at the top of the windscreen and needed to run another wire…. so cut out the nice job of the original loom binding and conduit and start again.
Before I did the wiring loom on Fergus, I drew up a schematic of the circuits. I’m a bit ferral about circuit protection so “THE DON” theory on wiring; main feeds through circuit breakers, then relays for heavy current, and individual blade fuses for each component to make potential fault finding a bit easier. I made up a swing-down circuit board under the dash to keep all the bits in one place and also save the neck cramps when working on it. The electric wipers, plus a windscreen washer pump, weren’t considered in my initial plan so I had to use an in-line fuse there, bugger, it was all looking neat before that. The windscreen washers will be good to spritz the faces of any passengers on a hot day, when the ventilating windscreen is open.
Rego – Roadworthy certificate done! Next get a third party certificate on-line from Suncorp. Hit a road block when it asked for the body “type”. Roadworthy certificate called it an “open tub”. Phoned Suncorp and the lady said there is no such thing as an open tub, you’ll have to ring the Transport Department for a description. Transport department said it can only either be a wagon (but it had no doors), a van (but it had seating for 4), a truck (but it couldn’t carry goods), or a convertible (but it wasn’t a pink Cadillac)…. hold on, I will check with my supervisor. He came back and said call it a “soft-top”, but ring Vehicle Standards Department to confirm first. Vehicle Standards did not get to work till 10 o’clock and when I got through to them the bloke said “yer, soft top sounds right, see ya”. So back to Suncorp, got a different geezer and told him it was a “Convertible”. Third party certificate done! Back to the roadworthy place to get the certificate redone because you don’t want to front up at the Motor Registry with two bits of paper that don’t match…. Fergus now legal to drive on the road.
Insurance – Still waiting…. the broker told me the first company he tried (Allianz) didn’t want to know about it. Insurance Update…. Shannons classic car insurance want me… got all 7 vehicles/bike full comprehensive insurance for about $200 more than I’m paying for comprehensive on the MX5 and third property only the Monaro and MGA. They even accepted the GPW and Fuggly for agreed value as projects. Sooweet!
So here he is waiting for his first cruise down the freeway…….
Just found an oil leak… transfer case, front yoke. This happened when I did the first install but fixed it with some gasket goo under the big washer. Dick must have missed that when he refitted the transmission. It looks like it is leaking through the keyway or threads…. the seal is new around the yoke. I tried to get mainly OEM or NOS parts for the rebuild because the Punjabe, Mahindra repo bits can sometimes be a bit ho-hum.
First drive home… I took the backroads rather than the freeway for fear of ‘death-wobbles’ at speed. On every bump, the fan touched the shroud. I now realise that the 10mm rubber pads that I used to space the body off the chassis bought the shroud up closer to the bottom of the fan blades. Easy fix. I will just trim the lower section of the shroud back a bit. Speedo reads around 20mph at all speeds… could be the Punjabe Mahindra speedo that I fitted. The gear selection is tight and it didn’t schnick into second a couple of times but I think it will loosen up. There’s a small oil leak between the gearbox and bell housing – again, an easy fix. I need to empty the fuel tank, then refill it to check calibration on the fuel gauge. It was also bought from India so it could be suss as well. Solex carby was a good investment. Apart from the few problems above, he rides like a tractor, steers like a tractor and sounds like a tractor, albeit a nice shiny new tractor. He runs sooweet! I’m rapt!
So far, Fergus owes me about $18K, a couple of cc’s of blood, some Band-Aids, a handful of Panadol Osteo (from crawling under him) and a few scars on the dome from the sharp corner when the bonnet is up. But it’s all worth it. I was completely repaid for all of the above with the huge smiles and contagious girly giggles I got from the cherubs when I took them for their first spin around the block. Solid gold moment.
On the first demo spin around the block he farted a couple of times. Fuel looked OK, 3/4 full, but some air bubbles in the filter so I thought maybe fuel pressure regulator set too high, so backed it off from 2 to one and a half and it seemed good at idle. Next thing, check calibration on fuel gauge, so drained the tank and only about 1 litre in it with gauge reading full ??? (that would explain the farting). Pulled the sender out of the tank and found that the gauge reads backwards, ie; full when tank is empty. Pulled the gauge to check the connections, Earth is right, “S” for sender, “B” for battery. What the???… referred to the bible (CJ3B info page) and discovered that some military and/or earlier jeeps relied on max resistance of the sender to read full and/or vice versa. So it seems that the Punjabe instrument set I bought is not compatible with the USA sender. Think I might redo the gauge dial because I can’t get a USA gauge with a chrome ferrule. Bugger.
I stitched up a temporary “bikini” top with some light canvas that was laying around until I find the time to make a full canopy. Looks OK, but can’t handle speed, so I will need to fit a centre bar to the windscreen and sew a pocket to take the lateral bow at the back. I figure that if I head off somewhere topless, a full canopy/doors would be hard to stow, so a bikini might be easier to transport and offer some protection if it started to rain.
Headed down to Beenleigh to buy a bottle jack and a Police car tailed me all the way until I turned into Supercheap. At the first set of traffic lights I noticed they were two youngish lady coppers and the passenger one was madly checking the computer screen on the dash… probably to check rego plate and to find out what sort of “jigger” she was following. I think there will be some interesting times ahead because old Fergus is attracting a fair bit of attention in the car parks as well as driving down the road.