1. Welcome to Jeeps.net!

    You are currently viewing as a guest! To get full-access, you need to register for a FREE account.

    As a registered member, you’ll be able to:
    • Participate in all Jeep discussion topics
    • Transfer over your build thread from a different forum to this one
    • Communicate privately with other Jeep owners from around the world
    • Post your own photos in our Members Gallery
    • Access all special features of the site

The 50 year 1955 Willys CJ 3B saga.

Discussion in 'Jeep CJ Builds' started by MTgeezer, May 7, 2022.

  1. May 7, 2022 at 2:35 PM
    #1
    MTgeezer

    MTgeezer [OP] Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2022
    Member:
    #6297
    Messages:
    42
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    John
    Vehicle:
    55 CJ 3B
    441 sbc/AGEM22W/"Super"D18/D44s-ARBs-Dutchman
    The saga of 50 years ownership of a 1955 CJ 3B-the golden anniversary . This is sort of a multi build thread which one could argue is still stuck in the 70’s. The 3B had 26k on the odometer when I purchased it in 1972, was completely stock except for the reinforcement the previous machine shop owner had added for a shop built snowplow. It sported the factory ½ cab soft top along with all the usual rust and dents. I have only a single photo of it as received:

    [​IMG][/url
    ]

    You can see the Meyers hydraulic snowplow lift in that photo. It was mounted to a piece of 4x10x1/2” angle the full width of the stock bumper and plug welded to the bumper (it was hell to remove without destroying the stock bumper). The shop had also boxed the frame horns and added ¼” fishplate to the outside of the frame rails extending rearward past the spring hangers. That gap in the fish platting was filled in in build No 4.

    [​IMG][/url
    ]

    The Willys was driven as received for about a year until I burned a couple of exhaust valves in the 134 F head trying to pull a SMALL U-Haul from Colorado to Montana with it.

    Enter “build” No 1. That build consisted of transplanting a 62 Chevy 327 in it with no other changes other than a poorly fitted used CJ 5 Whitco top. At this point, the odometer still had only maybe 30k on it and the Ross box steering/9” brakes were in good condition. I built the 327 with 0.030 TRW forged 11:1 pistons, Crane solid lifer cam and the “big” Chevy heads. The result, with the stock 5.38 gears was a bit of a sleeper. Alas, that engine succumbed to a crack in the rear of no 5 cylinder in late 74, not an uncommon occurrence in those early 4” blocks. The only existing photo of build No 1:

    [​IMG][/url
    ]

    Sooooo, in early 1975 the frame off Build No 2 began. The chassis came together pretty quickly with a boxed frame, 1970 LT1 sbc, Muncie M20, Dana 18, stock D25 front axle and a warmed over 19 spline full float D44 with a Powr-Loc at the rear. A manual Saginaw steering box from a 73 Vette and 11x2” Bendix brakes were used. The battery was relocated under the bed behind the driver’s seat. A fiberglass tub and fenders were obtained. The project at that point (early 77) hit a bit of a two year hiatus when I took another job in another state and didn’t get much accomplished on the Willys for a couple of years. Following a return to Montana in 78, work resumed. It should stated the glass tub I got was for a 2A/3A and took a bit of work to turning it into a 3B tub. I made a few other changes to it in the process like a firewall recess for more sbc distributor room, added a glove box, and built tool boxes in the rear wheel wells. That tub is still on it, little modified since. The Willys still had the 5.38 gears but a Warn overdrive made it much more highway friendly. Another sleeper to say the least but that LT1 wasn’t too happy off road.

    [​IMG]

    The seats were mid 70’s Subaru seats mounted to a beneath the floor square tube “subframe”.

    [​IMG]

    By late 79, it was back on the road.

    [​IMG]

    I had purchased an aftermarket steel hood for it (MD Juan?) but it fit so poorly the Willys got run for a while without one. I then made a “Saturday night special” with fiberglass sheet over a welded aluminum frame. The “special” actually lasted a couple of decades and some of that frame still resides under the current hood.

    The “Saturday night special” , North Meadow/McKelvey Lake trail near Cliff Lake, 1996.

    [​IMG]

    I ran the LT1 350 for about two years, the last year dumbed down quite a bit with a pair of 76 cc, 194 truck heads and a Performer cam which worked pretty well off road. But the replacement engine for that 350 was underway within the first year. It was a 381 sbc built with all GM parts. That engine was build No. 3. Also at that time, the GM truck radiator used for the 350 was swapped for a 19x26 Modine 4 row brass cross flow with a steel shroud, it received four wheel power disc brakes (78-81 CJ D30 parts), power was added to the 73 Corvette steering, and it received 2 ½” Rancho lift springs and RS5000 shocks. A new, large index D18 case was built with a Tera Low 3.15:1 gear set when those hit the market. In addition, when Auto Gear Equipment came out with their M22W, the Muncie M20 was also replaced. Over the subsequent 3 plus decades, cams, heads, induction were changed several times on the 381 with the last iteration equipped with Edelbrock’s RPM aluminum heads and Pro-Flo 2 EFI.

    A few Build No. 3 photos:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG][/url
    ]


    [​IMG][/url
    ]

    [​IMG][/url
    ]

    [​IMG][/url
    ]


    All the skid protection was also replaced with welded up 6061 aluminum versions about 2008 and a 24.5 gallon fuel tank/filler fabricated to replace the rear mounted 11 gallon Con-Ferr version that had resided there since 1975.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    To be continued.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2022
  2. Jun 17, 2022 at 7:17 PM
    #2
    MTgeezer

    MTgeezer [OP] Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2022
    Member:
    #6297
    Messages:
    42
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    John
    Vehicle:
    55 CJ 3B
    441 sbc/AGEM22W/"Super"D18/D44s-ARBs-Dutchman
    Enter the latest phase. This part of the build was instigated by the final demise of the D25 front axle. It was never an "if", only a "when" and that when happened in June 2014 when the right side (short) Spicer axle shaft literally exploded. It was a case study on stress risers and square cut splines. All that debris destroyed the inner axle seal and the seal seat inside the housing.
    [​IMG]

    My initial thoughts were just to replace the front axle but I had already started accumulating parts to build another engine sooooo----
    The replacement front axle started life as a 78 Ford F 250 D44HD(1/2" wall tubes). The housing was narrowed to Jeep wide track width and Reid Scout II eight hole knuckles are used with the Scout spindles/disc brakes and Warn hubs. Dutchman supplied the 4340 axles and it uses an ARB with Yukon 4.11 gears. The drag link and tie rod are 1 1/4x1/4 wall DOM with RuffStuff welded inserts. A 2" dia PSC assist cylinder was mounted directly to my custom bracket welded to the axle and to a left side high steer arm. The tie rod uses the "stock" Reid knuckle steer arms. As long as the PS system functions, the only loaded parts on this are the knuckles and tie rod. There is minimal load on the drag link, pitman arm, and sector box/mounting.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I machined the pitman arm end adapter for the PS control valve out of 4140 and it is plug welded in the link.
    [​IMG]

    The front hubs are Warn 27 spline Lock-O-Matics put together for parts from three different pairs of hubs. I machined custom grade 8 studs to mount them. The nuts are ARP.
    [​IMG]

    As per any Jeep build, here is where some project creep entered. The Rancho 2.5" springs that had given good service (but a little on the stiff side) for almost 3 decades were replaced by Holbrook 3.5" springs. There was never any thought given to going coils/4 links on this. The Holbrook springs are about 6" longer than stock and asymmetrical. For the front I made custom front shackle hangers and relocated the stock spring hangers. The shackles are ones I built back about 1975 and were only slightly modified for this. The bushings are machined from delrin. The bolts are grade 9 from McMaster-Carr which I drilled and tapped for grease fittings. The shackle spring bolts are 1/2" diameter, the hanger bolts 9/16". I machined the bronze side washers to keep the spring eyes from wearing into the shackles.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    To get the pinion aligned where I wanted it I machined a set of custom wedges with spring pin holes so I could move the axle 3/4" forward. The caster ended up about 5.5 degrees-just about perfect.
    [​IMG]

    The spring mounts are more home brewed pieces. This is a U-bolt flip with a bottom guard plate off of which are the bottom shock mounts.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The system mock up using a large socket for an axle tube substitute. The U-bolts are 1/2" diameter.
    [​IMG]

    I used modified JK rear Energy Suspension bump stops.
    [​IMG]

    Given the expected noodle characteristics of the springs, I added a 1 1/8" diameter ADDCO sway bar for a 72-75 Jeep application. Energy Suspension mounts are utilized on the frame along with an extra mount on a bracket from the front bumper to the under radiator cross member to keep the bar centered. JKS JK quick disconnect sway bar links are used with more home brewed axle brackets.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    To be continued.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2022
    JKBob 25 and aggrex like this.
To Top