Wednesday, November 30, 2011

PHASE TWO: Finding the Frame- Pt. One

I received the magical phone call today from Sarah saying that she had Jack and needed to run a few afternoon errands.  I had Nora napping so the ONLY logical thing to do was go out into the motorpool and do something messy.  With the tub (mostly) done and stashed away in the corner of the garage, I needed to find something new to work on.  And there she was, like Ms. America strolling down the catwalk in her swimsuit, the engine practically jumped off of the chassis.  Well, it would have jumped off if it weren't for a couple strategically placed bolts and an oddly positioned "Bubba-add-on" chain connecting the engine to the underside of one of the engine mounts.  Either Bubba was afraid of someone stealing his engine, or the chain acted like a heavy duty grounding strap.

So I removed the four bolts between the transmission and the clutch housing and then the two engine mount bolts.  I rigged up the hoist and grossly misjudged the length of the strap I needed to lift the engine off of the chassis.  My math told me a twenty foot strap would give me enough strap left over to hang over the engine once rigged up.  Well, I had my left-over strap and then some!  I might go find a fifteen footer or two eight footer's for next time.  Anyhow, unlike a space shuttle launch, once I got going, I wasn't going to stop.  Don't worry, Sarah, I remembered my credo "Safety First."

3...2...1...BLAST OFF.  I had to slightly lift and then push the engine forward to disconnect the transmission from the clutch.
The engine is completely separated from the transmission.

No, it is not falling.  But it is clearing the front bumper and will soon be on its way back to planet garage floor.
Once I had the engine airborne, I backed the chassis from underneath the engine.  I really didn't want to push the hoist around the garage with a dangling engine three feet above the garage floor.  I was very anxious to get it back on the ground s..l..o..w..l..y.

Successful landing.

With a successful landing, I then pushed the engine aside so it wasn't sitting in the smack dab in the middle of the bay.  I cleaned up my small mess and then pushed the chassis back inside.  With still some time to kill, I started eyeballing that transmission.  I loosened all of the bolts around the universal joints that connect the drive-shafts to the axles.  I ended up completely removing the front drive shaft.  The rear one's time will come later this week.  Also in store will be the steering shaft and clutch/brake pedals.  I am practically drooling over the frame right now:  I really want to get my grinder on that sucker.  Don't worry, I'm not drooling, though.  I do not want to make any extra surface rust.

The current state:  engine on the floor up front, forward driveshaft (between transmission and front axle) disconnected.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Now this is not the end."

"It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning". - Sir Winston Churchill

Although that is definitely not my quote, it eloquently sums up my thoughts at this moment.  Me being me, I can justify its use in the fact that my first major project of the first WWII jeep restoration is nearly finished.  All of the major body work is is now completed.  The remaining items on my jeep tub punch list are as follows:  weld brackets on front gussets that secure tub to chassis, install the rear drain cap for the sump tank, drill out half a dozen various broken bolts, and possibly repair the area that Bubba cut out for the (post war) T90 transmission to fit in the transmission hump.  And out of all of that, the latter would be the most time consuming project to tackle.  The others will be good for a rainy day!

Let's recap-

The four tabs along the upper edge (In reality it is the bottom when right side up.  Got that?) of the rear panel have been straigtened out and put in their places.  I have not drilled the hole in the repaired bracket on the far right side.  I have a sneaky suspicion that when the time comes to mount the tub to the body, there will be some good ol' fashioned adjusting to make the four tabs line up squarely to the rear frame crossmember.  Such is life when you are rolling with a rear panel that was once a bubbafied tailgate.  But hey, IT IS ALL ORIGINAL! 

Hat channels installed, welds ground down and primed.  I thought I'd give it some color by painting the underside like its a battleship. The camoflaged garden gnome in the rear is pulling guard duty.

With the bottom completed, it was time to play "flip the flapjack" and put this tub right side up!   The next few pictures will come at you fast...try to keep the pace.  I recruited help for this fun:  the guarding garden gnome named Jack was in charge of strategically placing the jacks in the four corners, Sarah was to photograph the endeavor, and Nora was to bark out orders in a beastly fashion.  Me?  I was the muscle.

Step 1:  Pick up tub, remove jack (the stand) and place wheels to catch the tub when I drop it.

Step 4:  The Balancing Act.  "Look Ma, no hands!"  All jack stands removed and the tub was tipped onto its side and then spun.

Step 6:  Garden Gnome in action.  I learned that I do not give specific enough instructions when holding something heavy.

Interlude:  The Beastly Boss is not happy with our progress.

Step 8ish:  Three out of four ain't bad, right?

Step 9:  Four for four.  Way to go Guarding Garden Gnome!
With all four corners secured, I thought I'd place the crew in the tub for a publicity shot.  Jack looked at me skeptically and said, "Will it hold us?"  I'm sure he was refering to the fact that it was elevated by the jack stands, but how could I not take it as a personal attack against my welding and panel replacement skills?  Reluctantly, they allowed me to place them inside.  Jack, very gingerly, walked to the rear and took the picture.

The not so confident gang.  However, I don't think Nora had a clue.

With the tub right side up, I was then able to quickly weld the reverse side of the small areas that I replaced from the underside.  With a few minor adjustments to my technique, the welding went a bit smoother and faster!  I was able to grind down the scars and prime the interior today. 

BEFORE:  All of the shiny, ugly areas need some help with the welder.

AFTER:  Welded, cleaned up and then primed.  I even detailed it before priming!  Well, actually I just vacuumed it.
I now need to rearrange the garage and find a spot to store this gorgeous thing of beauty for the interim.  Below are two gratuitous parting shots.  If you are really into this, flip back to September's posts to see what it looked like in the beginning.  Ouch.

Front and center.

In the rear with the gear.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Rounding the Bend(s)!

My goal today was to get all of the hat channel segments, along with their internal support structures, installed.  Then, if time permitted, I would do the bonus feature of a basic square floor piece installed next to the sump tank.  Last night, I closed down the motorpool after getting all of the hat channel pieces fabricated.  Although they are not perfect, I finally figured out a pretty good routine on how to make all of the bends.  Their imperfections fit beautifully into the landscape of romantic dents and dings that roll throughout its body.  For all those who wonder, I do talk like this to my wife.  She hates it so much that she encourages me to go back into the garage to work more on the jeep.  And that, my friends, is the secret to guilt-free hobby fun time!

For the hat channel filler, I opted for the block of PVC-like material.  It was the perfect width (almost) so I just had to cut some of the height down.  That was step one this morning.  It cut like butter.  I then took the blocks of PVC to the bench grinder and rounded out the corners to make it a tighter fit.  The one piece for the front passenger side needed to have its circumfrance buffed down slightly in order to fit into the outer tip of the original hat channel.  Easy enough.  My major concern was that the PVC would melt due to the heat from the welder.  In the end, if they did melt, I never saw the globby goo seep out, so I am thinking they held their shape...for the most part.

The lighter color at the tip of the point is where I had to grind down the sides.
Before installing all of the hat channels, I went ahead and cut out the area of my hopeful bonus feature.  Once removed, I then cut the new piece and used the magnet to set it in place.   My hopes were that once the welding began I could just work my way around the jeep...and not have ALL of my tools in the driveway.  Despite what all may think, I do prefer to work in an orderly environment and not surrounded by complete chaos.  I get all the chaos needed hanging out with my kids.  At least I can control my jeep building environment!

The four zones of occupation:  front right and left corners and rear right and left corners. 
The ready to be installed pieces are sitting next to their respective zones.
With everything cut and seeming to be ready, I plopped ALL pieces into their respective homes for a last minute test fit.   Everything seemed to be alright (which made me suspicious of myself). There was pretty much nothing else to do except for the official install.  "Cowboy up!"

In place and ready to weld.
I began welding and got all three of the hat channels installed.  Unfortunately, I ran out of flux wire when I was about 2/3's of the way through on the square floor patch so I was not able to finish the job. Upon completion of the second cowl step area, I finally cracked the code and figured out the correct settings on the welder as well as a decent technique to make a cleaner weld.  So, I'll help you read between the lines:  the cowl step hat channels look like a monkey's butt, and the rear pieces don't look too bad.  Well, such is life when you are impatient and insist on learning while you go.

The last two major areas to address on the tub (besides grinding down all of the weld scars) is to install the correct drain cap on the rear of the gas tank sump and then deciding what to do about the transmission hump.  The transmission hump was modified to fit the T90 (post WWII) transmission.  I have yet to decide if I am going to use the T90 or return it to original with a T84.  Any thoughts?  If I knew I was going to keep this jeep, I'd go with the T84, but since I am leaning towards selling this jeep, I am sitting on the fence.

Regardless, the finish line for this tub is almost in sight!  I say that now, but once I complete all of the big stuff, I am sure I will end up spending another entire afternoon policing up all of the other smaller, loose ends.  Who am I kidding?  It will be more like two extra days shoring up the loose tub ends!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Back in the Saddle Again...after a 2 week hiatus.

So much time has passed since my last update.  Rest assured, I have not completely sluffed off and lost interest in this endeavor.  First off, I was offered an invitation to attend a military timeline at Patriot's Point with a great group of guys that do an awesome First Infantry Division WWII impression.   Shhh, I don't think they noticed my jeep's 4th ID bumper markings!  Next, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Jacksonville, FL to attend a few worthwhile events WITH the good jeep.  The week began at TPC Sawgrass and their annual fundraising golf tournament Birdies for the Brave.  The jeep was a showpiece by the front door of the clubhouse on Sunday and Monday.  The tournament raises funds for several different charities and the most noteworthy one (in my humble opinion) is the Wounded Warrior Program.  Later in the week, the jeep returned to the CSX headquarters for their Military Appreciation Day.  They also had a small honoring for Warren inspiration for restoring GPW 261722 (aka the Good Jeep).  Warren attended the event with me two years ago and was a guest speaker prior to us riding together in the 2009 Veteran's Day Parade, as well as our sequel ride in the 2010 parade.

The "Good Jeep" displayed in front of CSX headquarters Nov. 2011.  Beside it is a photograph of
Warren in the jeep from 2009.  It was taken immediately after I presented him with his overseas hat
 with regimental insignia. Thank you to Bill Bergeron for the picture of Warren.
The following Day, Friday the 11th, I participated in the Veteran's Day parade in Jacksonville.  This was the first jeep ride through downtown Jacksonville where Warren did not sit beside me.  I kept him in my heart, but it wasn't the same.

When I got home, it was hard getting back into the jeep project.  Somehow, I managed to get going again.  I finished up the rear end of the body.  All that is left is to grind down the weld marks and to weld in one of the tabs that secures the body to the tub.  I am going to wait, though, to test fit it with the rear crossmember. 

Yesterday, I moved up to the front passenger side to replace one of the hat channels that travels beneath the passenger chair and then do the floor/hat channel repair in the front corner.

My test fit for the cardboard template hat channel.  Not too shabby!
The above piece proved to become a colossal pain in my arse to bend.  I am officially declaring my minature brake press for metal bending a bonifide PIECE OF DOOKIE.  Yes, it's name has been reduced to POD.  I struggled and struggled to figure out a suitable method to make all four bends.  the first one was easy, but the other three became quite difficult.  I am quickly exhausting all of my creative juices to produce these suckers.  I suppose I should be embracing the challenge of limited resources in the garage!  Nonetheless, I accomplished the feat and it only took me two or three hours yesterday.

Today, I knocked out the floor/hat channel section in the front corner.  It proved to be a three part process.  First part (after cutting the crap out) was to repair the bottom section of side panel brace.  After that, I needed to fabricate the floor with a small bend and last would be the section of hat channel for support.

The magnet is holding the bottom section of the side panel brace in place prior to welding.

Both hat channels are just sitting in place waiting for the mad man with his torch.
I purposely did not weld the hat channels down and finish the job.  The originals contained wood pieces inside for strength, hence the fact that the channels need to be replaced due to the fact that wood attracts moisture.  I have yet to decide if I am going to leave my replacements empty, fill them with wood or fill it with some sort of vinyl blocks that I found at Lowes.  I am currently leaning towards the latter option...and the only one that will ever know is the next poor, dumb bastard that restores this tub in 60+ years!