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The Resurrection of CJ2-26

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Fred Coldwell View Drop Down
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    Posted: 19 Feb. 2017 at 10:33pm

            In 1996, I wrote Selling the All-American Wonder, a large format book that reproduced in full-size color all the magazine ads Willys-Overland produced during WW II, touting their role in creating and perfecting the new military jeep. The ad on page 65, titled The Universal Jeep, included a colorized photo of a tan civilian jeep that had JEEP instead of the far more common WILLYS stamped into the side of its hood.

The following year a friend from Waxahachie, Texas called me to discuss Dodge Trucks and, in passing, mentioned an employee of his spotted one of these jeeps stamped JEEP in his hometown a few hours away. Figuring he spoke Texan better than I, I offered to pay him a nice finders fee if he would purchase that jeep on my behalf. Weeks turned into months and still nothing happened. So getting bored watching college football on New Years’ Day and itching to poke Fate in the eye, I packed up and the next day headed off to Texas with an empty flatbed trailer in tow.  

 Arriving in the small town of Rising Star, TX, I began at the sole traffic light in town and reconnoitered the place in ever-larger circles until I spotted a jeep stranded in tall grass behind an abandoned welding shop. It sat low in a swale that appeared prone to periodic flooding. My pulse increased as I approached and the jeep slowly revealed itself.  It had a military grill with small recessed headlights and a low MB style windshield with the name JEEP stamped in it in large letters. Yes!


JEEP also appeared stamped into its hood sides.


The dashboard nomenclature plate was missing, but its frame tag revealed it to be CJ2-26, an early preproduction civilian jeep. 

 

The rear end of the jeep was a mess, full of odd engine parts and other rusty stuff. 


Now to find its owner. It was New Years Weekend 1998 in Rising Star, population 850, and everything was closed except the single convenience store.  The young clerks in there had no clue who owned the welding shop property or the jeep behind it. So I parked my truck and trailer on the large vacant lot in the center of town and awaited some help. Soon a gentleman 10 years my senior stopped by in his Ford F250 to chat. He knew the owner of the welding shop and gave me directions to his house. 

 I knocked on the front door and a woman my age answered. Her father was watching two football games on side-by-side televisions.  When he came to the door I asked him if the jeep might be for sale. Not for sale! So I headed back to my truck to get a business card to leave with him should he change his mind. When I returned he asked Did you bring cash? Of course I replied, so we quickly agreed on a price.  I asked about the missing engine . . .

. . . and the owner began to turn crimson and curse out the ##*%!!@* fella who promised to rebuild it for him but never did. So I quickly dropped that topic and headed back to his property to retrieve the jeep before he changed his mind.

My 1968 Dodge W300 1 ton 4x4 truck had an 8,000 lb. Braden PTO winch mounted between the rear frame rails, and it easily pulled the ornery jeep with its frozen right front wheel up onto the flatbed trailer. After booming her down I returned to the house to pay the owner, get a bill of sale, and head merrily back to Denver.

CJ2-26 had been worked hard for many years as a ranch jeep outside of San Angelo, Texas. When the owner retired to Rising Star he brought the jeep with him but eventually lost interest in fixing it. Thankfully it had not been modified too much, with only the column shift transmission being altered to use a much more sensible floor shift and a few extra brackets welded on here and there. The sheet metal was torn, dented and dinged but was mostly present and could eventually be repaired. The drive train was locked up from water damage but could be rebuilt or replaced with correct parts.


 On arriving home, I dragged CJ2-26 underneath a patio roof on the south side of my property, where it patiently awaited renewal for the next 19 years. In late October 2016, I finally began the restoration process. [To be continued . . .]

 

Happy Jeep Trails,


Fred Coldwell
Denver, CO
1944 CJ2-09 - X-33
1945 CJ2-26 - X-50
1946 CJ2A-12797

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote athawk11 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Feb. 2017 at 10:52pm
Wow Fred. You're blessed. Looking forward to the renewal.

Tim
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Unkamonkey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Feb. 2017 at 11:47pm
Thanks for the write up. I've been puttering around on Jeeps for close to 50 years and didn't know about how some of them had been stamped with JEEP. My '61 3B is stamped WILLYS. Yeah, I used to work in a Jeep shop and I guess I never paid attention.
Nice old truck by the way and I like how it is set up. Alaskan camper?
Good luck with the rebuild. I have no 134s or side shift parts to help you with but I look to be seeing updates.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rick G Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 1:30am
Fred, I'm anxious to follow along with this rebuild! It's like history coming back to life! I'm very excited; please keep us posted with lots of pics and updates.   
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote timcj2a Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 2:27am
Thanks for sharing Fred. Looks like a real diamond in the rough.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Oilleaker1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 6:41am
 Fred, you are my hero. I love history. Especially Jeep history. WW2 Jeeps have had my fascination since a young boy. They are rare, but your Agri Jeep and now this---------------Shocked.  I've meant to ask you about the picture on the back cover of your fabulous publication showing you sitting in a early CJ with Jeep on the windshield. Will your rare ebay tailgate be correct for this CJ? I saw that also when listed and was happy to hear you purchased it. You are the one guy who deserves this type of project. I think you should deeply chronicle this restoration in another book and tell the complete story with pictures of all the bubba, and all the correct parts you put back. Wow. Very very cool in my crazy Jeep Disease mind. Talk to you soon on the trail! Oilly
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote mbullism Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 6:50am
I've been patiently waiting to follow this build for 19 years, lol... and didn't even know it ;)

Looking forward to reading along!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote damar2yxr Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 7:22am
Wow! This will be fun. I hope you can find all the correct parts. Now where can you find a decent engine?
I still remember the lecture you gave at a spring reunion where I was able to finally identify My passenger seat frame as a CJ2 one. Fortunately CJ-26 has the right seats! Awesome!

Edited by damar2yxr - 20 Feb. 2017 at 7:27am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eestes1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 7:31am
I love the story and especially the part where he changed his mind (or his daughter changed it for him?!) while you were gone to get your card and asked if you brought cash!
Congratulations on your find and perseverance! You deserve the Jeep and our thanks!
Rick Estes
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fred Coldwell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 9:29am
Thanks for the kind initial response, guys.  I'll be posting information about this restoration in segments, slightly in arrears of the progress as it is made.  This will be more of an informative thread than a technical one, as I share discoveries and my approach to the resurrection rather than post technical how-to-dos. The jeep will be restored to stock configuration, with only a floor shift replacing the column shift (I already get enough joy on the trail using the column-shift on CJ2-09 and don't want to die from excess delirium) and a Warn overdrive added. To answer a few questions:

Unkamonkey - yes, that's a 10' Alaskan camper on my 1968 Dodge W300 truck. The utility bed is a special low side (19.5" short wall) model that is 9' long. That Dodge was a honey, but was sold 10 years ago and replaced with a smaller 8' Alaskan camper on my 1992 Dodge W250 Cummins turbo diesel truck.

Oilly - this is the same jeep I'm pictured sitting in on the rear cover of the Preproduction Civilian Jeeps book. I bought the Agrijeep tailgate on eBay for my good friend Daron Wanberg to use on his Agrijeep CJ2-14. With Jpet's help, I'm modifying a different tailgate for use on this jeep that will have JEEP (instead of WILLYS) stamped into the raised rectangle located top center on the tailgate.    

Damar2yxr - I will soon chronicle my search for an appropriate MB engine and the good friend who helped me find it.  Wink

Now back to the story.
Happy Jeep Trails,


Fred Coldwell
Denver, CO
1944 CJ2-09 - X-33
1945 CJ2-26 - X-50
1946 CJ2A-12797

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Unkamonkey Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 10:04am
Fred, I spent 2 days welding up the 8 holes in my WILLYS tailgate from a PO's work for the spare tire carrier, welding and then and grinding them back to form. Grinding things back to original shape is fun I think you can do what's needed. Even the small bits are there on mine. No one can see it but I know I did it right.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RICKG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 10:17am
Originally posted by Fred Coldwell Fred Coldwell wrote:

die from excess delirium
 
 
 
Thumbs Up You do suffer from excess delirium Fred! Good on Ya!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fred Coldwell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 10:40am
Before proceeding with the restoration, I wanted to obtain a Colorado title for CJ2-26. With only a 19 year old handwritten and un-notarized Bill of Sale, there was only one route available: a bonded title. The process to obtain a bonded title in Colorado is a bit involved, but once broken down into its various component steps is not complicated. It merely requires persistence and patience. Here is a brief summary of what I did:

1. Have the vehicle's VIN Certified. This requires an appointment with the Colorado State Patrol, who verifies the vehicle Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at one of their offices. They are usually booked for 7 weeks in advance, so call and set an appointment for roughly the end of the following month. Having been manufactured before 1978, CJ2-26 technically has a serial number rather than a VIN, but all the forms call it a VIN so I'll stick with that inaccurate description.

To get CJ2-26 ready to be inspected, I had to swap out the front axle due to the right front brake drum being frozen solid and inaccessible for repair. A friend had given me a very early CJ-2A axle, which only took a week to swap in after I cut off all the frozen U bolts for the incorrect GPW front axle that was installed when I bought CJ2-26. I purchased on sale a 12,000 lb. Badland electric winch at Harbor Freight and used it to drag the dead jeep up onto my flatbed trailer for the trip to the CSP office.     

2. Get a Colorado DMV Record Search. Mail in a copy of the CSP VIN Verification form and buy a Colorado DMV record search to make sure the vehicle in not already titled in Colorado. A few bucks and 2 weeks, done. 

3. Get a Texas DMV record search. Because CJ2-26 was purchased out of state, I also had to get a new DMV record search from the state where it was purchased. I got a Texas DMV record search when I bought CJ2-26 nineteen years ago (which showed no record of it), but the search must not be more than 2 years old so I ordered another.  Due to newer federal privacy laws Texas refused to provide me with a record search, but Colorado said that was OK because at least I tired to get one. 

4. Get the vehicle appraised As Is.  Before you can purchase a bond you must get the untitled vehicle appraised in its present condition by a licensed Colorado auto dealer. I used an old time used car dealer that was close to my home. The 2nd generation owner understood the process and charged me a small fee for the appraisal, which came in low due to inoperability and no engine in CJ2-26. 

5. Get a bond that protects Colorado. The bond required for a bonded title protects the state that issues a title; it does not protect you. The bond must be in an amount of twice the appraised value. The bonding company I chose on line had a fixed $100 fee for bonds less than $5,000 in value, which mine was.  I scanned and emailed them a copy of the Bill of Sale and the Appraisal and paid their fee. Three hours later they emailed me the bond. 

6. Take completed paperwork to DMV.  I had to complete a few other Colorado forms then take everything to the Denver DMV in person and pay the processing fee. A few weeks later I received a Colorado Rebuilder's Title in the mail.  

Because CJ2-26 did not have an engine in it when inspected, it was deemed not roadworthy and Colorado would not issue a regular title for it. Instead, I got a Rebuilders Title that requires a second CSP inspection when the restoration is complete to assure that the vehicle is then roadworthy.  I'm happy with the Rebuilders Title in my name to proceed with the restoration.  

Because motor vehicles titles are issued by states the bonded title process will vary slightly in every state.  But the above general overview should apply to many states even though the details and required forms will certainly differ. If you are going to rebuild a jeep without a title already in your name, I strongly recommend you first get a title, bonded or otherwise, in your name to protect your investment.  Otherwise, all your time and effort might go to benefit someone else if they can successfully assert they have a better claim to the jeep than you do.          
Happy Jeep Trails,


Fred Coldwell
Denver, CO
1944 CJ2-09 - X-33
1945 CJ2-26 - X-50
1946 CJ2A-12797

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rocnroll Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 11:22am
Fred, although living in Alabama simplifies things for me somewhat thank you for chronicling the process as Colorado sees it......could help someone else's headache in the future.

Also would like to congratulate you on the find and the rescue.....tracking down a piece that is historical is really amazing.

Good luck with the restoration!



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fred Coldwell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 12:09pm

An engine for CJ2-26

 I have known for years that I would need an engine for CJ2-26, but what engine was correct?  Years ago my good friend Jim Roarh at Northstar Willys sent me a copy of a receipt he found at the University of Minnesota for preproduction civilian jeep CJ2-25, shown here:

 

The receipt very helpfully shows engine serial number MB-503604 for the jeep immediately preceding mine on the assembly line, CJ2-25. Experience with the 20 Agrijeeps CJ2-01 to CJ2-20 revealed their engines were issued in consecutive engine serial numbers for their chassis, and it seems the same would hold true for the 20 preproduction civilian jeeps CJ2-21 to CJ2-40. So knowing CJ2-25 had engine serial number MB-503604 meant that CJ2-26 would have had engine serial number MB-503605. 

 So last fall I posted a Wanted Ad on G503.com for a Willys MB engine within 1000 engine serial numbers, + or -, from MB-503605. Within a week I got a reply from our own damar2yxr here that he had a Willys 638632 short block with engine serial number MB-504693.

 

 Hooray! That was only 1,088 numerals away from the absolute correct original MB engine for CJ2-26, and I knew I would never find a closer engine serial number within my lifetime. So after viewing a few photos and confirming the short block had all 3 bearing caps, I bought it from David for a very reasonable price. Smile Thank you David!

 Shipping from Watertown, WI. to Denver, CO was arranged through Fastenal stores for the bargain sum of $175.00. David carefully crated the short block and delivered it to the Fastenal store in his hometown. A week later it arrived in Denver where I picked it up at a Fastenal store near my home. Fastenal loaded it onto my flatbed trailer with a forklift, and once home I slid it off the trailer and into my garage using one of my loading ramps attached to a side rail.

 

 The short block presently awaits transport to a Denver machine shop which will rebuild it as necessary and install a CJ-2A crankshaft with heavier counterweights for slightly greater torque on the trail. Thank you David for selling me a correct Willys engine block that will go perfectly into CJ2-26!  Tongue   

Happy Jeep Trails,


Fred Coldwell
Denver, CO
1944 CJ2-09 - X-33
1945 CJ2-26 - X-50
1946 CJ2A-12797

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote autolite Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 12:12pm
So by the looks of the instruments, the pre-production CJ-2's all had an MB type speedometer with trip counter which was not carried over to CJ-2A production. Too bad. Did 09 still have one intact when you bought her ?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote athawk11 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 12:12pm
Excellent information Fred.  Being faced with a similar task here in Colorado, I would offer one reiteration with an exclamation.   

As Fred mentioned, the Bonded Title cost will be based on the appraised value.  Get the Bonded Title process worked out prior to any improvements made to the vehicle.  You'll save yourself lots of money.  I made the mistake of restoring a Willys first.    


1- 1946 CJ2A   
2- 1949 CJ3A
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Bruce W Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb. 2017 at 1:45pm
I might add, when the Bond Title process was explained to me at DMV, I was told the appraised value must exceed $200. Less than that, I figured, makes them believe it's not worth saving. But maybe that's why Fred got a rebuilder's title rather than a regular one. I was also told that my new title would be labeled "Bond Title", and that if I sold the vehicle the new owner would also get a Bond Title. If he sells it, the third person would receive a regular title. The whole process seemed almost overwhelming, but doable, a the time. Reading Fred's orderly instructions makes it sound a lot easier. Thanks Fred.
  Fred, I'm really excited by this, and look forward to your coming reports. I only wish you lived next door so I could watch more closely, and help out.    BW
Happy Trails! Good-bye, Good Luck, and May the Good Lord Take a Likin' to You!
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