Duncan Olds built a replica of the original war baby – Bantam Jeep.

Duncan Rolls’ Bantam PilotThe Bantam pilot has been resurrected as a replica built by Duncan Rolls.   Duncan told me that he spent four years in constructing the pilot.  Two years of the four were spent doing pure research.  He got his hands on hundreds of Bantam pilot photos. Ducan was also able to obtain access to Gramps (Old Number 7) the last remaining Bantam BRC60 of the original 70 built for the US Army.  Gramps is in the Smithsonian collection. A basket case Bantam BRC-40 was purchased not to be used as parts but to be used as a source of parts to cast new parts! He constructed the entire pilot by hand and only purchased a few parts like the NOS continental engine.  Duncan even handmade the oil filter as the original was not available.  Because he was using pictures he had to make some parts several times.  He made the bow brackets six times before he got it right.

War Baby by William Spear

War Baby by William Spear

Warbaby, A great book by William Spear. This had to be a labor of love and it is really well done.  This is a hefty book that Bill did a lot of research and work to bring to us. If there is one thing he knows, it’s Bantam’s.  His interest in the car led him to the Bantam “jeep”.  He examined how American Bantam Car Company came up with the short stick in producing jeeps for the WW2 war effort.  Sure they built a lot of stuff, including jeep trailers but except for some exploratory pre-production models the company was cut out of jeep production.  This is amazing as the Infantry, the branch that most wanted the jeep, was satisfied with the Bantam model.  They were concerned that the Willys model (which did not pass its initial testing) would be too heavy.  Bill has done the jeep history a great service by pulling this together.

 


For more about the original Bantam you might be interested in Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942.  This book was written from the Quartermaster Corps’ perspective but draws on numerous resources and documentation to put together a pretty good picture of what happened. The other thing in its favor is that Rifkind’s work was written in 1943. But even by that time, the jeep story was clouded over who did what and when. Rifkind covers Bantam’s involvement, Willys-Overland and Ford companies developments, the contracts and other details important to the student of the WW2 jeep! What makes it even more valuable is that Rifkind actually lists the sources he used. So if you can figure out the record system used by the government back then and determine where to find them, you will find a gold mine of information to research. This book includes a reproduction of the original manuscript created by Rifkind. You will even find some pen and ink changes.

The First Jeep

The First Jeep

Another book that is worth a look if you are interested in the first jeep and that book is called, Project Management in History: The First Jeep (Project Management in History Series) (Volume 1).  The book is an interesting read that needed to have a bit more editing to be really polished.  But let me not nitpick about that.  The book gives us details that have not appeared in any other book  The author called upon contacts that had the inside story at American Bantam Car Company.  We learn all about the company and the many details that led to the jeep.  It is a fascinating story.  The author blesses us with a ton of endnotes so that you can do your own research.

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CRW_3878_blue_red

An “S” should be present on the cowl or after the registration number on World War Two jeeps. It went on the jeeps that passed the radio interference test whether or not they had a radio. AR 850-5, Change 9, dated 27 Jan 1944, a regulation that required an “S” marked on vehicles. This same change also stated an “S” marked vehicle was to be preferred over a non-S marked vehicle when installing a radio. Common sense? Well, sometimes the Army had to spell it out.CRW_3615_adj2xzx_blue‘S’ symbol on the cowl of a 1942 Ford GPW and Army Jill sitting on the fender.

CU_USN_jeepAn interesting closeup from a photo of a US Navy jeep in use with the US Marines… This is clearly marked as a US Navy vehicle.

USN 24467

It appears that the original US Army marking and registration number was painted over with a dark olive drab or black before the yellow US Navy markings were added. Also note, the “S” to the left on the cowl. This is blue drab! The “S” was used to designate vehicles that had been tested and passed for radio suppression. This was equipment/parts added to the vehicle to help keep it from interfering with radios by eliminating static. You can also spot what may be blue drab to the right of the registration number. Also, note the dark area immediately next to the USN and registration number.

You are going to fix that right?

You are going to fix that right?

You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

 

You should approach steering in a step by step manner and not skip around looking at different things. The article on jeep steering on my website originally appeared in the WW2 publication called Army Motors and contains a step by step approach to doing your steering right.

Army Jill sitting on the hood of a 1942 Ford GPW complete with a GI Towbar.

When I decided to restore/rebuild my jeep I wanted to add the World War Two Tandem Tow Bar.  I found the tow bar in Washington state from a jeep parts seller named Cliff Tebeau.   This hitch was designed so that two jeeps could hook up and then pull a large artillery piece…that normally would be pulled by something much larger than a 1/4-ton jeep!

The kit was used to allow two jeeps to pull a 105 mm artillery piece.  It was also used to allow jeeps to move aircraft around an airfield. Personally, I’ve never trusted it so I NEVER have tried to use it to flat tow the jeep behind another vehicle.  All you have to do is look at the bumper gussets where it is mounted and it will give you a weak feeling.

Is it time to replace your water pump?

Is it time to replace your water pump?

Does your WW2 jeep need to get a new water pump?

Water Pumps for L-134 Jeep engine are available.  These pumps are tapped and plugged for
WW2 jeep water pump.

WW2 jeep water pump.

a water heater.  These are technically not correct for the WW2 jeep.  Original WW2 jeeps did not come from the factory with heaters.  However, Willys-Overland did produce an add-on kit that allowed the crew to get some warmth during harsh winters.  Still, if you can’t find an original water pump to rebuild then this is a good bet.

You need a good water pump on those old engines.  Buy one and keep as a spare or replace yours today!

Have you thought about rebuilding your worn out WW2 jeep engine?

Have you thought about rebuilding your worn out WW2 jeep engine?

 

Spring is certainly here and a young man’s thoughts turn to rebuilding WW2 jeep engines that should have been rebuilt during the sleepy time of Winter.  Does your WW2 jeep engine need rebuilding? Considering purchasing a kit with all sorts of parts.

WW2 jeep L-134 engine rebuilding kit.

WW2 jeep L-134 engine rebuilding kit.

Omix-Ada 17405.02 Engine Kit with Timing Gear, for Jeep L-Head 134

The kit contains pretty much everything needed to rebuild your tired WW2 jeep engine.   The kit includes pistons, rings, main and rod bearings, cam bearing, timing kit, full gasket and seal set, eight valves, eight valve guides, oil pump, and engine mounts.  When you order the kit you have to specify the piston, main and rod bearing sizes.

Of course, the best thing for most owners to do is to take their stripped down block and head to a shop to have it cleaned and checked for warping and cracks.   But with a few tools, it is easy enough to rebuild your engine in your own garage.

You are going to want to have instructions on how to properly rebuild your engine.

The Complete WW2 Military Jeep Manual.

The Complete WW2 Military Jeep Manual.

Those instructions are contained in The Complete WW2 Military Jeep Manual.  These are step by step instructions that anyone should be able to follow…if I can!  Everyone should have a copy of this book or the three original US Army manuals. “The Complete” contains TM 9-803, 1/4-Ton 4×4 Truck (Willys-Overland Model MB and Ford Model GPW); TM 9-1803A, Engine and Engine Accessories For 1/4-Ton 4×4 Truck; and TM 9-1803B Power Train, Body, and Frame for 1/4-Ton 4×4 Truck.  During the engine rebuild, you will be most interested in the section of the book that contains TM 9-1803A.  Be forewarned that TM 9-1803A does contain an error when it comes time to install the connecting rods.  Where it says “This end away from the nearest main bearing” to read: “This end toward the nearest main bearing.”

You will also need a Piston Ring Compressor, valve spring compressor, valve guide remover/ installer and bearing remover/installer.  All are fairly simple to use.

Solex Carburetor for L-head jeeps.Solex Carburetor for L-head jeeps.

The Omix-Ada 17701.01 Carburetor Solex Designed L-Head for Jeep.  This carb is a good substitute for a worn out Carter carburetor.  It can be purchased for a reasonable amount.  The only drawbacks are that the fittings are metric and in smaller towns, it can be difficult to find the appropriate adapter and the Solex is sensitive to fuel pressure.

The problem seemed to be that the reproduction or repaired WW2 jeep fuel pumps were supplying too much pressure and overfeeding the Solex. I solved the resulting flooding by installing a Fuel Pressure Regulator.

Is you carb sad? Why not a new one?

Is your carb sad? Why not buy a new one?

The Solex was used on a limited basis on WW2 jeeps repaired by the French for the US Army.

I found the Solex to be responsive and easy to start (if you know how).  So if your Carter is all worn out, consider going with the Solex.  The Solex is available from a number retailers including Amazon.com.

You also might be interested in an original looking reproduction made by Joe’s Motor Pool, also available at several jeep parts retailers.