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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] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2022
    Member:
    #6297
    Messages:
    52
    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]

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    ]


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    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] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2022
    Member:
    #6297
    Messages:
    52
    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.
  3. Jul 20, 2022 at 1:26 PM
    #3
    MTgeezer

    MTgeezer [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2022
    Member:
    #6297
    Messages:
    52
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    John
    Vehicle:
    55 CJ 3B
    441 sbc/AGEM22W/"Super"D18/D44s-ARBs-Dutchman
    On to the rear axle. I'm still tinkering with the mounting on this. Getting the really short rear driveshaft not to bind at the extremes is proving a daunting task. I think Tom Woods will be solving that with a long spline, double cardan joint shaft. The wide track CJ front axle is about 56 1/2" WMS/WMS. To match that, I spent half a day digging to the bottom of my bone pile for an offset Dana 44 from a 1959 Kaiser FC 150 which is 57" WMS/WMS.
    [​IMG]

    All I wanted was the bare housing but when disassembled, it did have a 19 spline Powr-Loc in it. Something for another project-maybe. The plan for this was a full float with a 30 spline ARB, Yukon 4.11 gears, and disc brakes. The first hurdle was to get a full diameter 30 spline shaft through the spindles. Jeff Petrowich solved that with a pair of 4340 custom spindles that use two sets of the larger Timken Set 47 bearings. I ended up re-machining the inner ends of these so they could set partially into what was the axle seal seat of the housing. I machined spacers to finish filling the seal seats and pressed those into the housing with JB Weld.
    [​IMG]

    The re-machined spindle butts.
    [​IMG]

    Seal seat fillers.
    [​IMG]

    The one piece flanged floater axle shafts came from Dutchman. I polished these in the lathe for Seals-it seals both just inboard of the carrier bearings and in the back of the spindles.
    [​IMG]

    I'm utilizing Dana D30 two bolt calipers for the service brakes and Wilwood's MC4 parking brake calipers.
    [​IMG]

    The bracket to mount the service calipers came from Four Wheel Parts Wholesalers back in the 1980's someplace. It mounts outboard the housing flange.
    [​IMG]

    I whittled the MC4 mounting brackets out of a piece of 3/8" 4340 plate-way overkill. Those mount inboard of the axle flange. ARP bolts are used for sandwiching this all together.
    [​IMG]

    To fit the MC4's to the Dana discs, I had to make spacers to increase the caliper width.
    [​IMG]

    The finished axle minus the service calipers. The axle housing mounting is the same as used on the front axle with the flipped U-bolts and bottom plate which incorporates the shock mounting pins.
    [​IMG]
     
    JKBob 25 and aggrex like this.
  4. Jul 21, 2022 at 1:44 PM
    #4
    MTgeezer

    MTgeezer [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2022
    Member:
    #6297
    Messages:
    52
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    John
    Vehicle:
    55 CJ 3B
    441 sbc/AGEM22W/"Super"D18/D44s-ARBs-Dutchman
    Maybe a somewhat more interesting subject, the replacement engine. If one has a clean sheet of paper, what would you put together for an early, space constricted flat fender CJ? I wanted something compact, light, and capable of more torque off idle than the anemic 3.6 pentypants can make at peak torque. After kicking this around for almost 2 years, back in 2012 I decided to stick with the sbc Gen I architecture. I could see no advantage going LS for something where bottom end torque rules. And the existing engine mounts and clutch could be reused. This is my bucket list engine and most likely the last I'll ever put together.

    The foundation of this is a 4.125" bore Dart aluminum raised deck block. It scaled at 111 lbs. I had Dart actually do all the finish machining on this. The block sleeves can still be bored another 0.060" if someone needs/wants to rebuild this in the future and turn it into a small block 454.
    [​IMG]

    The crank is a 4340 Callies Magnum 4.125" stroke.
    [​IMG]

    Rods are more 4340, forged I beam 6.125" Oliver items and the pistons are custom JE 21cc inverted dome "blower" pistons zero decked in the block. Static CR is right at 10.5:1.
    [​IMG]

    Heads are off-the-shelf AFR 195 Eliminator full CNC aluminum heads. I stuck with the smaller intake runners as this is about bottom end torque.
    [​IMG]

    We cc'ed the heads and as you would expect with the CNC machining, they were near perfect right out of the box.
    [​IMG]

    Jones Cam Design machined the big block journaled hydraulic roller cam from a stick of 8620. It is 224/228 on 112 degree lobe centers, with 0.544 lift on both sides with the Comp Cams 1.6:1 rockers. The roller lifters are the tall Comp Cams items as are the push rods.

    This is all topped off by ProFlo 4 using a Mallory EFI distributor. The induction really needs to be revisited down the road someplace. ProFlo 4 uses a Victor Jr manifold at the expense of 30 to 40 ft lbs torque along with pushing the peak torque up to 3500 rpm. What is really needed on this is a high flow version of Chevy's old TPI system but there isn't any space for a front mounted throttle body.

    Stef's supplied the spread rail pan which was modified a bit and will need some more of that. I'm going to need to bevel the front right corner of the sump to clear the front axle U-joint at full stuff.
    [​IMG]

    This is the end product of that effort. The only GM parts are my rehabbed 1970 LT 1 valve covers. Fully dressed with starter, belts, fan, alternator, PS pump, air cleaner, engine wiring, and fuel system, it weighs 428 lbs.
    [​IMG]

    Comp Cams Dyno Sim 5 gross output.
    [​IMG]
     
    JKBob 25 likes this.
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