March 2019

Are you the proud owner of a Historical Military Vehicle?

Do you conduct preventive maintenance or do other work on your vehicle?

US Soldier in a Willys MA Jeep, United States, 1941. Note the fender-mounted headlamp of the MA rather than the more familiar behind the grille mount of the MB. Note also the soldier’s blue armband from a war game. Source:  ww2dbase


You mind be interested in finding out more about the Willys MA.  Check out my book, BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS on The 1/4-ton, 4×4, truck of World War Two started out in the hands of the Infantry and a little company called American Bantam Car Company. Bantam worked with the Army’s Quartermaster Corps to produce the pilot model that was accepted and then fulfilled their initial contract for 70 trucks. During testing of the pilot, both Ford and Willys-Overland were invited to check out this new vehicle. The vehicles were studied in great detail. Soon, at their own expense, Ford and Willys-Overland submitted pilots for testing too. This book covers the production prototypes–Bantam BRC-40, Ford GP, and the Willys MA.

What? We are talking about the T-84J again! Well, my friends, if you've jeep has every been found dead long side the road due to a failed transmission--you'll take heed!

What? We are talking about the T-84J again! Well, my friends, if your jeep has ever been found dead alongside the road due to a failed transmission–you’ll take heed!

If you want to do the most affordable over-haul and replace the minimum amount of parts then measure each part very carefully for wear. It’s pretty easy, even I’ve done it!

Only replace what you absolutely have to.  Look for uneven wear and I would seriously consider replacing both the counter-shaft and the idler shaft if there is any wear.  This would require either replacing the cluster gear (expensive, not sure what current pricing is but it was about $100 when I did it the last time…Richard Grace of Georgia, if still in business, … doesn’t advertise much had the best prices anywhere) or at least the bushings contained in the cluster gear and reverse idler. Well, I was going to go on but I cover this in my book and Richard Grace and Jim Gilmore say it better…

Trouble Shooting And Rebuilding The T-84J

From Page 6 of  Trouble Shooting And Rebuilding The T-84J:

Richard Grace. “The minimum parts replacement would have to be the small parts kit which includes the main driver gear rolls, thrust washers, synchronizer dogs, and springs. One other almost necessity is mainline bearings.”

Jim Gilmore. Suggests “replace the pilot bushing (in the flywheel).  It is critical as replacing the main bearings. Failure to do so can set up your main drive gear to wobble–resulting in rapid wear to your bearing.”

I would add to this a new clutch disk and throwout bearing.  Working on the transmission is very easy as there are only about 57 parts.  All you have to do is follow the steps (and pictures) and you will have done a better job than many “experts” who just crank this so-called “rebuilt” transmissions out.  This is not to disparage all T-84J transmission overhaulers but some don’t carefully measure the old parts to see if they need to be replaced.

This is why the T-84J is often accused of being noisy.  If you are over 50 years old (60 plus for a jeep) you would creak too if you have worn parts that don’t get replaced!

Do you remember a show called the Rat Patrol? I remember it fondly.

Do you remember a show called the Rat Patrol? I remember it fondly.

If you were a boy growing up in the 1960’s you are likely to remember “Rat Patrol”.  Back then it seemed like a great show with lots of action.

The Rat Patrol complete series on DVD!The Rat Patrol complete series on DVD!

The Rat Patrol: The Complete Series can be ordered through  It’s still pretty good entertainment for those that like WW2 jeeps (though sometimes you can see post-war jeeps subbing for the real thing.)  And of course the action is crazy, soldiers sneaking up on the bad guys in broad daylight and nobody sees them!  Still, I watch this to see the jeeps in action.  The show was filmed in the deserts of Spain.

You will have fun watching the series, I know I did.  Though I must admit my memory of the series (from the 60s) is fonder than the reality.


The new Bantam jeeps on one of the first field tests.

The new Bantam jeeps on one of the first field tests.

The above photo is from the National Archives and depicts the very early (some of the first 70 prototypes!) out on field maneuvers.

Even the jeep like the Bantam pilot could get stuck! Or is it!!

Even the jeep like the Bantam pilot could get stuck! Or is it!!

Any military vehicle can get stuck.  In the picture above it looks like the Bantam pilot might be stuck.  Is it?   Very likely it isn’t stuck, perhaps just waiting for the GI to engage the front axle.   Looking at a JEEP (Trademark owned by Chrysler) today you might not think that it once was a revolutionary vehicle for the military.  It was tiny compared to other conveyances.  It was very lightweight as well.  Four guys could easily man-handle the jeep out of most situations.

I like to read about the early jeeps -- do you?

I like to read about the early jeeps — do you?

For more about the Bantam “jeep” check out my book:
BANTAM, FORD AND WILLYS-1/4-TON RECONNAISSANCE CARS. Available from and other booksellers.  The book discusses in detail the pre-standardized WW2 jeeps: Bantam BRC, Ford GP, and Willys MA.

Also take a look at the book by Paul Bruno: Project Management in History: The First Jeep (Project Management in History Series) (Volume 1). The PMP info in no way detracts from this great history regarding the Bantam’s development during 1940. Paul has dug deep into the National Archives and found information that many of us thought was lost to the ages! A great companion to Paul’s book is the jeep history by Rifkind, Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942.

How many jeeps were produced during WW2?

How many jeeps were produced during WW2?

Do you ever wonder how many jeeps (of all types) were produced during WW2? Well, here at (and blog) we do!

The Willys MB and the Ford GPW made up the bulk of WW2 production in "jeeps".

The Willys MB and the Ford GPW made up the bulk of WW2 production in “jeeps”.

Item name or description 1939-1945(Total) 1939-1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945
1/4-Ton, 4×4, all types total 647,345 70 15,401 177,759 180,417 182,068 91,628
Amphibian 12,774 0 0 5,055 7,741 0 0
Command (jeep) 634,569 70 15,401 172,726 172,676 182,068 91,628

Prepared by Richard H. Crawford and Lindsley F. Cook under the direction of Theodore E. Whiting.

Do the WW2 manuals get it right?

Do the WW2 manuals get it right?

Many times questions were asked about “is it normal for the jeep (T-84J) transmission to be “noisy”.  I have asked this question myself.  It had been too long since I “rebuilt” my transmission…about 15 or so years so I couldn’t remember what it sounded like when it was “new”.  Some claim that the jeep transmission is normally noisy…or it’s cousin the transfer case is.  So according to them, it’s no big deal.  Perhaps it is all a matter of degree. One man’s noise is another’s music? Before I rebuilt my transmission last year I was deeply concerned over the noise coming out of the transmission.  To be fair to those who responded to my questions, it is difficult if not impossible to diagnose sounds that have been translated into the written word and, of course, this was being done over the Internet. As it turned out, I had the right to be concerned, the countershaft gear was about 1/3 gone!  And still, Frankenjeep™ lived!  It clung to life even as I pushed it to 55mph (with an evil non-sacrosanct or is that synchrosanct over-drive) for a final round trip of about 138 miles before the rebuild.  The tranny never let me down. When I disassembled the T-84J that is when I discovered the damage.  Not knowing what other damage might have been caused by bits of metal “floating” around in the case, I elected to buy all new gears and shafts.  For this project, I purchased most of the parts from three vendors.  I repurchased some parts because the brand new synchro from one vendor turned out to be brand new junk…could not get it to slip.  Some parts I purchased from Europe through eBay.
While many of my parts were likely re-useable I felt it best to use all new gears and shafts.  I did re-use the shift forks, the case, and the tower.  Pretty much everything else was new.  I figured that if there were any problems with the tower, it’s easy to replace item while the transmission is still installed in the jeep. Assembling the T-84J is really not difficult. There are about 58 parts, so it isn’t brain surgery, just following the steps and asking for clarification when the steps aren’t as clear as they could be. That’s why I wrote/edited/filmed a how-to rebuild the T-84J and now produced this book.  So anyone with basic tools can do the job. After assembly and installation in the jeep, I have now driven it for over a year…not as many miles as I would have liked…but I can tell you that the transmission is NOT noisy at all.  Sure it’s not Coup Deville caddy quiet. But there are no loud whines or any grinding noise….except when I mis-shift. Why would anyone think that T-84J is a noisy transmission?  After all, if you purchased a rebuilt transmission from respected dealers, you would expect it to be in good condition, right?

Perhaps all of you know this but I didn’t.  Rebuilt can be a misleading term.  I was told by a dealer that I respect that basically, a dealer rebuild consists of new bearings, synchro, new shafts, gaskets, seals and small parts kit as I remember it.  The gears aren’t replaced. This doesn’t mean they wouldn’t replace a broken tooth gear but also means that the parts could be just inside of their wear tolerances (like the bushings). Of course, this all could be my imagination.  I distinctly recall that my transmission was very loud prior to the rebuild.  I even tried synthetics (okay) and higher viscosity lubes (don’t do it!).  I drove it this morning without the top and I couldn’t hear it, perhaps just a quiet, “hmmm” but nothing more. So if you don’t know the condition of your transmission and it is noisy perhaps it isn’t “normal” and is begging for a rebuild.  My last T-84J rebuild included about $600 worth of new parts from Richard Grace. Very reasonable.  Sure the fellow I rebuilt this for could have purchased a “new” rebuilt transmission for that but it would have had all new guts for that price?  I put it together for him and that might have been worth about $400 of my time if I had been charging.  So for about grand, you could have basically a new transmission.  It took me several weekends to take the transmission apart, order the parts I needed and to assemble the transmission.  I discovered other parts (shift rails) that failed to clean up, that needed to be replaced.  Also, I was filming the rebuild.  All of this added up to delays.  It more than likely wouldn’t take a shade-tree mechanic, more than a weekend to rebuild the transmission, assuming you pre-ordered all the parts up front. If you assemble it yourself instead of having someone do it; you would save a lot and learn a lot.

While I enjoy driving my jeep much more than working on it…sometimes working on it can be fun as well.

If you want to learn about rebuilding or troubleshooting your own T-84 transmission, check out my book –

Trouble Shooting And Rebuilding The T-84J
Available from and other booksellers.

It's 1944, pick a month. If you're a GI you should be on the lookout for advice that can save your life. After all, you want to go home!

It’s 1944, pick a month. If you’re a GI you should be on the lookout for advice that can save your life. After all, you want to go home!

We argue over the meaning and first use of the word jeep. Was it used because of a Popeye character that first appeared in 1936? Or was it due to a contraction for GP or general purpose because the QMC could only procure general purpose vehicles when the jeep was initiated. Was it because Ford referred to their vehicle as a model GP? What about the use of the word before the 1/4-ton? Some say it goes back to WW1!

Well, forget all that for the moment…what did the Germans call a jeep…at least in German…

German for jeep

German for jeep

A couple of umlauts (spelling?) and three very long words equal jeep.  Certainly is a mouthful. The above drawing is from a US WW2 Intelligence Bulletin, Vol III, No. 4, dated December 1944.  It is chock full of information needed by GIs to defeat the WW2 Japanese and Germans.  It covers certain tricks employed by the enemy.  Things to look out for.

For more about the WW2 jeep, especially the early jeeps, check out Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942. It’s a great book of about 228 pages presenting the US Quartermaster’s view about how the jeep was developed and procured during WW2.  The best part is that it includes all the footnotes as this is a reproduction of the original manuscript by Rifkind.
For more about the very first jeep, the Project Management in History: The First Jeep (Project Management in History Series) (Volume 1) provides an excellent history of its design and construction. The author has written about about jeep history coupled with lessons in project management.  The author’s effort does not distract from the early jeep facts.  This book coupled with the Rifkind really provides a good history of the jeep.
 Another great book that does a wonderful job of explaining the early jeep history. The Warbaby is a huge book and a labor of love from William Spear.  He has been a long time advocate for clarification of the history related to the early jeeps…particularly that of the American Bantam Car Company.


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