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Jessie The Jeep

My Flying Control Jeep

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The tank straps were removed next and then the tank was lifted out. At that point, I opened up the hole around the fuel feed to make refitting it easier. I then turned my attention to rust holes in the floor, firstly stripping the paint and loose rust away with a rotary wire brush. The metal was quite thin around the rusted areas too, over the hat channels, so the areas were marked out, chain drilled and removed.

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Replacement steel was cut to fit, and welded in. I only had a stick welder which wasn't ideal, slowly tacking spots around the patch. For the remainder of the bodywork, I plan to get a MIG welder for more control when using thin sheet. The welds were ground down and a skim of filler applied to smooth it out.

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The axe, shovel and fire extinguisher were removed from the side of the Jeep and once again, the rotary wire brush went to work. Around the axe handle bracket, the metal was very thin, but the condition wasn't entirely unexpected. The last time the Jeep had any serious bodywork was its French Army rebuild in 1966; 51 years ago.

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It was obvious the repair was going to larger than at first thought, so I began to cut away the rusted and thin material. This revealed the hat channel behind the pillar was also badly rotten along its lower edge, so I was going to have to do more rebuilding than just adding flat sheet. I still need to cut out the rear area under the straps, but it was getting late, so packed up and put "Hope" back in the garage.

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October 8th

Further investigation of the rear panel showed more rot in the panel and in the lower part of the hat channel behind it. The upper part of the hat channel was still sound, and as it had the tank brackets attached, I decided to leave that part alone. Instead, I cut the lower half of the hat channel away. I still had some wide hat channel left over from the Ford rebuild, so I cut a section down the middle to graft into the damaged part. It is seen here in a test fit.

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The hat channel was tack welded in place, and then the lengthwise seam with the old piece welded from the tank well side. It was primed inside and then I moved onto the replacement outer skin. Because of the difficulty in holding the piece in place without being able to hold it from inside, I decided to replace the skin in two sections.

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October 9th

The second skin was cut and welded in to the front part of the rear body panel. The welds were ground down and then the repair given a skim over in filler which was left to harden. It was given a sand later in the day, but there were a few low spots from the spreader used on the filler. The following day, another skim of filler was added and left to cure. The next session will see this sanded and then I'll move onto the replacement skin in the door pillar area.

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October 11th

The body filler was sanded on the floor and side panel and then it was given a thin skim of fine surface filler ( the green colour ). This was given a little while to harden and that was also then sanded. Being an acrylic based filler, it is pretty quick drying if applied in a thin layer.

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That's the current progress up to date now.

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When you apply the big magnetic plastic roundel, would it help to put some soapy water on the hood first, a bit like one would do for a self-adhesive type, to help it slide around?

trevor

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With a bit more practice, I've found that if I apply the long straight edge first, then roll the rest down flat, it is much more easy to position and align the two pieces.

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Yes, I have some magnetic clamps, but they don't always work well on curved or distorted panels. The piece behind the axe handle isn't completely flat, so I ended up using the magnets and clamps to hold one edge in place, then tack weld, before closing up the other edge and tacking that.

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October 13th

A new piece of hat channel was added just behind the door pillar and then the door pillar skin was next. It was cut slightly over size, then slowly trimmed on the bench grinder until it was a good fit. The inside faces were primed and left to dry.

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The skin was tack welded in place and left to cool. 

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I stripped back some of the paint around the new panel and discovered desert sand paint. When I first got the Jeep, it had a "Sahara Jeep" windscreen, fitted with a spotlight bracket. I hadn't found any other obvious evidence of being a Sahara Jeep, but hadn't stripped any paint. Now with these repairs, the sand finish has become clear to see.

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Once cool, the rest of the welds were completed in stages, and ground down with the angle grinder. 

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It was all cleaned up with a rotary wire brush and then skimmed with body filler, once again leaving it to dry.

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Are you considering looking for markings under the green paint?

Would be good to find out more of its history.

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No, I'm not stripping back any more than the area of repairs. I know it was French three tone green, brown and black when I got it, and sand under that, but I'm not looking any further.

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Edited by Jessie The Jeep

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October 19th

Fine surface filler was added on the 18th and sanded on the 19th. The fine surface filler helps to blend the repair into the old keyed paintwork. This now needs a coat of primer to check over the finish before any other filling and sanding. I'll then probably leave it in primer while I deal with a few other rust spots before spraying the olive all in one go.

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October 20th

The side repair and floor were given a light coat of grey primer today and left to dry. I then turned my attention to the front left fender which had a large rust patch on the corner. Further investigation showed the whole outer skin had rusted away over the top of the 'L' shaped reinforcing piece behind. I ended up cutting this out, opening up the hole and welding a new piece behind. The hole was then filled in with further weld. Back on the side panel, the axe handle bracket holes were redrilled and I found some other welding needed on the inside at the top of the tank well. The heat damaged some of the filler, so that was broken away and refilled.

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October 22nd

On the 22nd, the filler was given a light sand again on both the fender and tub side and they were given another coat of primer. Apart from a couple of small spots that reacted with the sand paint underneath, the side and render are ready for the olive top coat.

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Moving further back, I'd noticed a small area of rust along the wheel arch/locker floor area. When investigating further, it turned out to be mostly filler and a large hole! This will be the next area for attention. Once that is done, all the left side areas will be painted olive drab, the tank and seat reinstalled and the Jeep turned around to check the other side.

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November 18th - Ongoing Bodywork Repairs

After a few weeks break, I got back to the repairs. A new strip of steel was cut and welded in. With the welding mask on, it was difficult to see and work inside the wheel arch. It wasn't the neatest welding, but having seen the rust extends around the side of the floor too, it really could do with a new locker floor. That task would really have to be a body off job to do it properly, and not something I'm prepared to do just yet, so for now, this repair will just buy me a bit more time. After the welding, it was skimmed over with filler and that's where it has been left.

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The 25th was another clear and sunny day, so I continued with the body work. While it was sunny, it was also very cold, with frost everywhere outside, so I didn't get started until around 10:30 when the Sun had warmed things a little! The rear wheel arch was sanded, filled and sanded again and finally primed.

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The filler on the hat channel seam, next to the tank well was also sanded and that too was primed, along with all of the driver's floor. These are now ready for olive drab, and when that's done, the left side of the Jeep can go back together.

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Between all the sanding and painting, I also started some of the other winter maintenance - wheel hubs.

I wanted to re-grease all the bearings and also check the brake shoes. It's about eight years since the shoes were fitted however I don't use the brakes much when driving, slowing with the gearbox. So out came the new halfshaft fitted in September, the gasket off, then the locknuts and washers. The hub and bearings came next and were cleaned and the old grease scooped out. The bearings were cleaned and re-greased, the shoes checked and there was still plenty of thickness to them, so it was all reassembled.

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February 20th - Bodywork Painting

Finally in late February, the weather was just warm and dry enough to allow painting. The Jeep has been sitting in primer since November after completion of the welding work. It still wasn't tropical outside, but warm enough to spray with the garage door open, after which it was closed and the Jeep left to bake with a heater in there.

After it had started to go touch dry, I draped some old bed sheets a little above the painted areas to form a tent. The heater was then left under the tent to keep the warmth from going straight to the garage roof.

I'll leave it several days to fully cure before I start refitting the tank, seat and steering wheel.

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March 7th - Re-assembly

On March 7th, the fuel tank, driver's seat and steering wheel were re-fitted. The tank was connected up and partially filled to check for leaks from the feed pipe. After that was seen to be ok, further fuel was added and I prepared for the first start. Before trying to start, I turned the engine numerous times on the starting handle to try and move a little oil around the galleries. It was around five and a half months since the engine last ran.

It took quite a lot of priming with the pump and starter to get the fuel along ten feet of fuel line. After a couple of almost starts, I ran some fuel down the carb and shortly after that, the engine burst into life, running nice and smoothly. Jessie and Hope were then swapped side to side in the garage so I could get Jessie out more easily to finish off the odds and ends needed to be ready for the season.

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On March 7th 2018, Jessie emerged from the garage following the winter welding work. This was the first time outdoors with the new markings, so I took the opportunity to get some photos in daylight. 

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Since the middle of last season, Jessie has had a few starting problems, particularly when cold. The main suspect were the batteries. They were six years old, but have been showing signs or being poorly for a couple of years. Inactivity over the Winter, and even between events in the Summer doesn't help them, although since 2014, I've been using trickle chargers on a timer to put a few milliamps in over the quiet periods. Since getting the Jeep in 2005, it's had three sets of batteries, and I felt this consumption/failure rate was higher than it should be.

Over the weekend, I ordered a new set of batteries which arrived and were fitted today. I then decided to look into things a bit further. Checking the voltage at the batteries after starting, I was getting 25.6 volts at idle. As the RPM increased, the voltage increased peaking between 30 to 33 volts. This was far too high. The regulator is meant to keep it between 27.5 to 28.5 volts but was exceeding this by up to 5 volts. Over the time I've had Jessie, it seems she's been cooking the batteries.

Here's the new batteries fitted.

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The regulator still had the cover retaining bolts wire locked from its time in the French Army. Time to open it up and start adjusting. I could only get the voltage down to 28.7 volts, but this was much closer to the desired range and should prolong the battery life. I'll monitor it as the season progresses.

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With the Jeep up and running again, there was nothing left to do but take it for a short test drive. This was the first drive since visiting my daughter's school, late September last year. It was nice to have both Jeeps back on the road and good to see Jessie out in the new RAF markings.

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