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CJ2A to Wartime MB conversion

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Hello Folks,



I have recently acquired a Willys CJ2A, with the intention of converting it into a Wartime MB, in the process, learning new skills to take on each job at hand. I acquired the vehicle in around March of this year, and have spent around a day a week or so, working on it. One of the bigest jobs was the strip down. The CJ tub is a write-off, my intention is to procure an MB tub when the restoration reaches that stage. I have been taking pictures along the way to document my progress. One of the first jobs I undertook, after purchasing, and learning how to weld, (badly :D I might add) was welding the front tubular cross member onto the chassis, it had parted at the join on one side. A bit of practicing with the welder and I was ready to give it a go. It turned out reasonably ok, given that it is a Gasless MIG and the weld can be rather messy, all fun at the same time though.


I then turned my attention to seeing what state the brake shoes and cylinders where in. I sent off to Ron Fitzpatrick in the States for the Wheel Hub removal socket. Within a week it had arrived, and amidst some tapping with a mallet, the socket eased around the wheel hub nut, unfortunately it appeared that someone had tried the chisel method previously, but fortunately not enough damage was done that prevented me in removing said nuts'. Off with the Frnt right hub to inspect, I was met with one very badly corroded cylinder, although the brake shoes seemed in good condition with little wear. The cylinder looked like it had never been replaced since the day it was installed, it was one of the Old Lockheed Wagner types.


I stripped down to the hub backing plate, and sand blasted all of the components, then a coat of Red-Oxide, and then a few coats of Tony Sudds Matt1.


Unfortunately I discovered, that my rear axle, a Dana 44, had come from a Willys Pickup truck, as the backing plates and cylinders are slightly different to those used on the front axle of an MB or CJ. Ill just have to work with this for the moment.


I have heard this has been happening a lot recently in the U.K., with American imports, all sorts of components being based together :-(.


Moving on from these jobs, I decided to tackle the one I had been putting off the most, the awful looking rear CJ cross-member, with the licence plate hole and PTO shaft hole, I grinded off around 10 rivets and around 6 welds, and it came off easily. This was the job that I thought would have been the most difficult. After cleaning up the rear of the chassis, I test fitted the reproduction MB cross member from UJS, and bolted it into place. Ahh, I can just see the CJ slipping away ever so slightly :cool2:. Getting the welder out, once again, I gave it a bash, and my practicing paid off, the welds appeared good, and had good penetration. A spray of red-oxide, and then TS OD Matt1 and I moved onto the awful front cross member which was in a terrible state, with the gussets being bent in all different directions. Grinding out the old oxidized bolts, the old front cross member was replaced with a repro MB member, from UJS, primed and painted, looking good, the CJ slips away once more :-D


The next job next week is to relocate the rear shock mounts on the chassis, on the cj they are mounted around 45 degrees from the vertical, they require moving back, close to the cross member. Also, I need to relocate the body tub mounts, on the drivers side, which are outward facing at the moment, this is where the MB fuel tank would sit, I will relocate these to the inside of the chassis.


I know that CJ to MB conversions are frowned upon by some of the Jeep purists, but I am just working with what I have, and it is the closest thing that I have that represents an MB, with the components being similar, I.E. chassis etc..., unlike some of the ground up replica MB's that i Have seen, it is no different that converting a Hotchkiss to an MB in my opinion, I look forward to chatting with you all.


Best Wishes









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BTW, CJ axles have a lower axle ratio to the ww2 axles, so good for towing but needs more engine revs for same speed as an MB/GPW, my Brother is rebuilding an early CJ2 and is fitting crown wheel & pinions from MB/GPW axles,

I think your Dana 44 rear axle has a bigger differential so can't interchange the diifs from MB

Edited by Nick Johns
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Looks a grand project :) ..and imho it doesn't matter much what you do with it as long as you get her back together and being used again .by the way .that's a right proper good set of rubber on her by the looks of it :) I saw an ex military Jeep last year in California that was restored but had just the right amount 'wider' wheels and tyres on to set it right off ....again... imho ...she looked great :)

Regards 'converting' or 'rebuilding' or whichever way you may wish to describe what you have done to any vehicle?....

I guess the bottom line is ....that you admit what you've done, be proud of it....

and don't ever try and pretend it 'went ashore on D-Day etc' :)

Edited by RattlesnakeBob
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I do like the CJs - and good on you for giving it a go! Be just as nice done as original CJ though - but that's just my opinion - you do just as you please!


The Dana 44s are, as I recall, highly sought after in the US for rock crawlers as they are, apparently, virtually indestructible.

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