I’m doing absolutely fantastic and having a lot of fun showing off my Willys build. I wish I had done this stuff on so many other projects…. Here’s what I did yesterday. I built a transfercase shifter out of the shorter of the two originally used on a Spicer 18 ‘case. There’s a 7/16″ threaded hole on the driver side of the AX-15 trans near the transfercase flange. The hole in the lever was 1/2″ so I had to make a little bushing on the lathe to make it fit nice. Welded a piece of flatstrap to the end of the shifter that originally shifted the 18. Drilled a hole in it and fabbed a short link to the lever on the 231. Need to find a boot to cover the hole that’s about 6″ long. No worries. The Shifter for the AX-15 was much simpler. I had a AX-15 shifter that the top part had come off of leaving just a 4″ long stub. I simply welded an old T-90 shifter onto it and bolted it down. Now I needed some tinwork. Here is what I came up with:
This is some aluminum sign material from a old carwash I demoed it out of. The stuff is strong tho and takes a bit of work to bend. I clamp a piece of pipe in my vise and form it over that. Otherwise, I just use compound aviation snips to cut the shape out. A hole saw started the shifter hole and I enlarged it from there to a good fit.
That’s how it’s looking for now. I need to do something with the E brake handle. that’s what is lying on the driver floor. It needs a new cable and a e-brake sure is nice to have. The seat BTW is a Jeep Comanche unit and sits in there nicely…. Next up? A Dana 44 front axle!
The clutch linkage on this project was certainly an interesting one to build. I wanted it to be mechanical, in part because I wished to keep the pedals under the floor as they are stock. Having a NP231 style T-case complicates this a bit as the front driveshaft needs to go through this area as well.
This piece of 3/4 bar stock was machined on the ends for 1/2″ threads then notched and bent for front driveshaft clearance. It’s pivoting on a couple of 1/2 Heim joints bolted through the factory Willys Crossmember. I know, that diff in the background is on the wrong side….It’ll get swapped for a Ford High Pinion unit at some point.
This mess of goodies is part of what I was selecting stuff from. I’m trying to use only stuff I already have here in my workshop.
Made this neeto piece on the Bridgeport mill. the 3/4 cutout on the end will get welded to the 3/4″ Z bar. I made lots of holes in this for several reasons. One, I’m not sure just what the ratio is going to be for this clutch setup and secondly, as my projects evolve, other setups may be used. This just covers a bunch of possibilities. I expect to be about in the middle of these possibilities. 3/8 holes at a spacing of .500.
Here it is Just before welding. When I welded it I got it aligned so its in the same plane and angle as the clutch pedal.
Here is the other side of the setup. Unlike most clutch setups in these old Willys, I needed a push type setup here to replace the slave cylinder that once lived here. I was surprised that the linkage doesn’t center in the slave cylinder hole to line up to the release fork for the throwout bearing. Not sure why. I got a few adjustments made and it works awesome! I am going to add a factory cable type motion limiter to keep the motor from moving forward under hard stops. (Radiator preservation) The factory mount is still on the crossmember and I think that It’ll go thru the bottom left bellhousing bolt hole just like one did from the factory. Next up? Shifters for the T-case and the transmission!
So the Dana 53 is now installed under the back of the truck. Re-did the brake soft parts as the shoes and drums looked like new. Well, no sense in throwing away perfectly good stuff. Shortened a factory driveshaft to connect the 231 transfercase to the 53 rear. The old driveshaft had the original factory style of U joints that have the little strap holding em together so the cups can’t fall off…..still nice and smooth….65 years later…greased ’em and installed the driveshaft. Another $25 bux saved there…and I’m guessing those 65 year old Spicer joints are way better than most of the parts store cheapies…. So, now I’m on to another interesting facet of this project. Clutch linkage. Normally, I would do a hydraulic setup for its ability to work properly as the vehicle twists and moves offroad. Well, that’ll happen eventually…for now, I’m going to build a classic Z-bar linkage out of a mess of factory z bar linkage. With some rod-ends thrown in to make it work as good as possible for the time being. A push rod will be going from the z bar to the hole in the AX-15 bellhousing where the external hydraulic slave cylinder normally bolts. Oughta be interesting using the original clutch pedal and such. Never tried this before. Might be just a big ‘ol mess. Also need to fab up some kind of transfercase shift linkage on the left side instead of on the right as it was before. I have an old T90 shifter stick I’ll weld onto the AX-15 shifter. It’ll feel like it should. I’ll just have to remember where 1st and reverse are! The 5 speed fits under the factory floor but the shifter is going to come up behind the removable panel that originally covered the T90. No worries, I’ll have it looking good in no time. Well, someone will. I’m still recovering from my surgery so an awful lot of this really is being performed by evil minions as I direct them to do my bidding….
These pix are what I started with. Pretty typical Farm-fresh old Willys.
Complete with some angle iron spring perch lift blocks! Those will be going away… There was no motor/trans/transfercase in this when I got it. Things are changing fast for this one. Can’t wait!
I bought this a few years ago to spread some gravel around my driveway. It’s a 56 International V225 truck with a gas 549 V8. Has a 5 speed trans and a over-under brownie 3 speed auxillary trans. Air brakes that work. Air horn too! Is a blast to drive around as a toy which is about all I have really done with it. The dump works the 4 yard box wonderfully. These old trucks seldom pop up in this nice of condition as they generally got worked till the day they died. Not really sure how this one survived in this shape for nearly 60 years. I have seen 10 year old dumptrucks in WAY worse condition. Really only needs a fresh set of tires to be truly useable as-is due to the usual dry cracking old tires get. That said, I drove it 100 miles to get it home as there’s no way It’s going to fit on any trailer I own. It actually will do a real 60 mph! I’d guess the mileage is in the low single digits with this sort of truck. If you were worried about mileage….really…why were you even thinking you’d want such a thing…. anyhow, included in the$2200 asking price will be a 1/2 hour tutorial on how to drive a 5+3 transmission setup if you are not familiar with such things. These don’t have synchros. Back in the day a truck driver earned his pay and then some! Lets Keep this old iron away from the crusher! Seriously. What I am asking for this is just barely more that It’s scrap value! And It looks great! The paint is certainly not show quality. If actually interested I’ll send some real pix of the truck and maybe even post a youtube video of it cruising the local streets just for fun. Would love to see this classic piece of American Iron go to someone who will continue its care and perhaps restore it to even nicer shape. Would be a awesome parade vehicle or workhorse. Has a pintle hook hitch on the back and air brake connections for a trailer too! Also might consider interesting trades of similar value. Really am trying to thin the herd down a bit so keep in mind I’d rather not trade…..but hey, Tempt me…ya never know….
Ok, so back in the early to mid ’90s I bought and sold Chevrolet Vegas like at a rate of 3-5 a month. Back then they were dirt cheap and we often stuffed smallblock Chevy motors in ’em. They were the scourge of the 5.0 mustang kids….finally got so they wouldn’t even race us anymore. But I kept playing with Vegas and a job came along that included track privilege at Second Creek Raceway. SCR was a small 1.5 mile roadcourse east of Denver near well, nothing at least when they built it…It’s closed now as Denver has slowly crept up right to it. But for a few glory years while it was still open and I was fortunate enough to work there, I had my own key to the gate. With which I had access to as many laps of fun as I or the car could take so long as someone else hadn’t actually paid to have the track privately. So, obviously no fun while clubs or the SCCA were holding races there….I was there on the SCCA weekends crewing cars and getting paid. But come Monday, Before work started, at lunch and when the day was done, I got to play. Diddn’t take long before I’d picked out one Vega, a Silver ’72 Notchback from the herd and lowered it, realigned it to take better advantage of Yokohama A008 205/60/13 tires that were available for free by picking thru the tire pile at work. There were always enough half used up tires in the pile to keep me going. Drove to and from work on them too. Boy, do those suck in the rain. But once warmed up, magic happened: With a basically lightly warmed up Vega 8 valve motor in the car it turned 1:28 laps! This track was twisty and handling was definitely more important than horsepower. This particular Vega motor has been in at least 5 different cars. But this car gave it more miles at full boogie speed than any other. It was a ’76 durabilt engine that had smoked a lot and got pulled from a car we were parting out years before… There was no scuffing in the bores and looked like almost no wear in the cylinders. For reference, we are talking about the aluminum bore engines. Not the sleeved ones. As an experiment, I bought a set of chrome rings and installed them in it. No honing, boring, prep work or anything other than making it clean was done. It got a set of fresh rod bearings and a crank polish. Motor worked great. No smoke, no issues and we ran it for YEARS. It literally had THOUSANDS of laps on it. Until 6 weeks ago. I finally pulled it. Why? 16 Valves of Cosworth Vega engine is why. Now I have had this motor stashed away for
about 10 years specifically to stick in this car. Why now? Well I guess I just felt like it. This engine has been rebuilt but I have no idea as to what internals were used to do it. It’s not a production Cosworth block. It’s a early 70’s part# ( ironically perfect for the car I’ve put it in). It has Weber DCOE carbs on it and a production header. So, in one weekend my buddy Crash and I, long familiar with swapping Vega motors pull the 8 Valve out….in 20 minutes. Beating our old record of 25 minutes! Now I had never installed a Cosworth Vega motor into a Vega before. But, there were no real issues to deal with. It runs great! I have driven 3 other Cosworth Vegas in stock trim. They always seemed a bit slower than I expected them to be. Well I can say that one of these engines in a early lightweight Notchback pre-safety-bumper car goes like stink! The car is geared with 3.36 gears which should theoretically make it kinda gutless in the bottom end…..yet…seems geared fine. Years ago I swapped in a Vega T50 transmission into the car because the original Opel 4 speeds were kinda weak. Plus, overdrive combined with the 3.36 gears was awesome for mileage. It got 32 mpg on a couple road trips with the 8 valve motor. Normally, a Cosworth Vega ordered with this trans would get 4.10 gears so I’m a little mystified about this. The 4 speeds got 3.73 gears. They never offered an automatic with this motor as it was intended for sporting purposes. They made nearly 2 million Vegas yet only 3,508 with the Cosworth engine installed in them. The Cosworth option basically doubled the price of a Vega bringing it price-wise into nearly Corvette kinda money. All that money went into a lot of neat stuff to include electronic fuel injection (a GM first) and a lot of special trim and special wheels.
The 1972 Vega Notchback
My ’72 Notchback has a set of period-perfect Minilite wheels still shod in some rather dry-cracked A008s. Soon a new set will get installed…and as my back gets better, I hope to drive it at High Plains Raceway where I unfortunately do not have a key to the track…..I’ll happily pay.
Ok, Not like I’m really getting anything done as I am mostly not allowed to lift anything but here is the state of things for my Willys pickup named ZIP. About 3 years ago I installed a Mercedes OM 617 turbodiesel in this particular Willys. Since that time, I have managed the installation of a AX-15 5 speed, a NP231Teralow Transfercase and some wiring goodies. The axle in the rear of this Willys is a Timken style axle. These are essentially impossible to find parts for and as well, not very reliable. In a trailerload of Willys stuff I bought a few years ago I found a Dana 53. These also are pretty obsolete but I noticed this little tag on it: USE LIMITED SLIP OIL. Oh yes! Another Powr-Lok differential! So after I freshen it up with new seals and whatever it needs It’ll be getting slung under the back of the Jeep. For a front axle I’m going to use a Dana 44 from a ’60s era Ford truck. These have the high pinion feature although, small 260 sized U Joints. No worries, this I can upgrade later. I’ll have to regear it to 4.88 to match the rear but gears are the easy part to get. For anybody thinking of why I’m gearing this at 4.88-1 the Mercedes diesel likes to be right around 2400 rpm. Run ’em slower and they are doggy cause the turbo isn’t doing anything….faster and it’s just going too fast to do any mileage. For all the scoffers who say 135 hp isn’t enough don’t forget those 5.9 Cummins were only 160 hp when they came out. Sure, It ain’t winning any races but it’ll do 30 mpg and use 2 gallons of fuel to wheel all day. Really. My brother is still amazed with the Comanche I built years ago. I mean seriously, this truck gets Hybrid car kinda mileage. I expect the Willys to do similarly. Oh, and look a bit cooler too!
No big trip this year. At least not in the spring. A number of events have made some big changes in my life. First, Marge has decided after 10 years of life together that she is ready to move on. I’m ok with this too as our interests have changed over the years. We are going to do this totally peacefully and with much planning. Secondly, I had a two level fusion on my back on December 19. I’m at home. Resting. Not all that comfortable tho. It’ll be a few weeks before I’m really moving enough to really be functional.Third, I need to find a house that has a decent size workshop with room enough to put my Bridgeport mill, A 1941 South Bend 16 inch swing Lathe, Toolboxes, A 8000# car lift and someplace to park a bunch of old cars. Have about 25 right now. But will probably thin that by Half or so. I’ll post some pix of the ones I’ll sell here soon. Thanks everyone!