From an article by Colonels Sterling A. Wood and Roy N. Hagerty as published in the Infantry Journal, May 1942fltjeep1The original question was how to float a jeep. With further research, I came across an article in the Infantry Journal, May 1942 that covered just that. Of course, you can also use cable elevated high enough for the jeep to clear the water and run it across that way as well. What follows is the work of Cols. Wood and Hagerty. The original photos from the article appear to all be of the Bantam and one of the first 70 vehicles at that as the jeep display has the rounded nose hood. Additional photos have been edited from the Nothing but WW2 Jeeps DVD available from Vintage Video. All fighting units need to know a number of stream crossing expedients for use when the standard stream crossing equipment (bridges, pontons, boats) is not on hand, which will often happen in action. In order to get the maximum benefit from the training in these expedients. commanders should limit the gear used to equipment and materials that are of standard issue or that troops may reasonably expect to find on the scene of actual operations.

In its early phase, the training should be conducted at a quiet pond or lake or at a stream with a slow current. Crossing operations on streams with strong currents are difficult and there is much danger of injury to men and equipment. Practice over swift streams should come later after the men have had experience in quiet waters and know what to expect and how to deal with it. Different kinds of floats can be used but the volume of any float should be made as large as practicable to ensure maximum water displacement and a high freeboard. The center of gravity of floating bundles, particularly those floating large vehicles should be kept as low as practicable to prevent capsizing. In general, the construction of wooden rafts is uneconomical in time and labor. Other expedients do the job as well and much more easily and quickly. A safety-line stretched across the stream downstream from the crossing site is useful, when free floats are being crossed, to catch unmanageable floats carried downstream by the current. The ¾ inch rope in the infantry pioneer equipment and truck-winch cables are useful here. If a winch-truck can be crossed early in the operation it will be a big help in pulling other floats across and in beaching heavy equipment. Each load being floated should have a rope or cable attached to it with a buoyant object such as a stick or log tied to the loose end which will rise to the surface and mark the location of the cargo in case of accidental sinking. This line should be strong and attached so as to make salvage a simple job. Other than the large paulins used to float trucks larger than the quarter-ton truck, the stream-crossing methods described here only require equipment and materials usually on hand within an infantry regiment or materials usually found at a crossing site. The major items of equipment and materials needed are:

  • Canvas paulin, 20 feet 6 inches x 40 feet (not issued to infantry units)
  • Canvas cover, 2-½-ton truck, 14 feet 6 inches x 14 feet 8 inches
  • Canvas cover, 1-½-ton truck, 11 feet 4 inches x 13 feet 11 inches
  • Canvas cover, ½-ton truck, 8 feet x 13 feet 11 inches
  • Shelter half
  • Inner tubes, from truck tires
  • Saplings and brush

jeepfloat2The quarter-ton truck with a normal load (including men) can be launched, floated across a stream, and beached if both stream banks slope gently. Four men can do the job using any of the following methods: First wet the bank at the site of the launching in order to make it easy to slide the truck into the stream. Then spread the canvas cover of a 2-1/2-ton truck on the bank at the water’s edge and drive the quarter-ton truck onto the center of the canvas.jeepfloat1

Raise the edges of the canvas at the front and rear of the truck and fasten the short tie ropes to convenient points on the truck. Next raise the edges of the canvas at the sides of the truck and tighten the draw ropes about the sides of the truck and tie them, but be careful that the canvas is not folded sharply at the ends (like a clerk does in wrapping a shoe box) because the canvas may leak at the creases.jeepfloat3  Four men can slide the wrapped vehicle with its normal load of equipment into the water. It will float easily if correctly wrapped and tied.jeepfloat4d

jeepfloat5There are several ways of getting the vehicle across, the method used depending more or less on the depth and current. If the stream is not too deep the men can push it across by wading; it can be poled across by three or four men sitting in the vehicle using saplings or paddled across by three or Four men sitting in the vehicle using shovels as paddles. It can be towed across by using a light towing line such as a field telephone wire which is first stretched across the stream by a swimmer; towed across by running the cable of a truck winch on the near side of the stream through a snatch block attached to a tree on the far side, thence back to the floating vehicle or pulled across (hand over hand) by men on the vehicle; or along a rope or cable stretched across the stream and anchored at both ends. When the vehicle reaches the gently sloping bank on the far side of the stream, untie the ropes of the cover, drop the canvas and drive the vehicle out under its own power.fltjeep2Another way of getting a truck across a stream is to use two box frames made of saplings, each 1 foot 6 inches x 3 feet x 11 feet. The saplings should be notched and lashed together with small ropes or short lengths of field-telephone wire. Each frame is then wrapped in the canvas top of either a 2-½-ton truck or a 1-½-ton truck, which makes improvised pontons of them. The canvas is held in place by ropes tied around the pontoon. The quarter-ton truck is driven to the water’s edge between the two pontoons. Large saplings are securely lashed, horizontally, to the front and rear bumpers, with the ends of the saplings extending along the sides of the vehicle and above the ends of the pontons. The pontons are then securely lashed to these cross pieces, thus raising them a few inches off the ground. Disconnect the fan belt of the truck so that the motor won’t be flooded and drive the truck into the stream under its own power.fltjeep3Any of the propulsion methods used to get a wrapped-up truck across a stream will get the ponton job across. Then untie the bumper lashings, take off the front pole, and drive the truck out of the water under its own power. Don?t forget to replace the fan belt. If the bank of the stream is so steep that the vehicle can’t be driven out of the water under its own power, it may be pulled out by using the winch of a truck emplaced on the near side of the stream, the cable running through a snatch block attached to a tree on the far side. Another type of ponton can be made by constructing two outriggers each consisting of five inner tubes, 9 inches x 20 inches (from 2-½-ton trucks), and two stout saplings (upright poles for the large wall tent can be used). The inner tubes are inflated to a pressure of about eight pounds and lashed to the poles. If smaller tubes are used more of them will be needed. The quarter-ton truck is driven to the water’s edge and the outriggers are placed on the ground, one on each side of the truck. Large saplings (or ridge poles for large wall tents) are securely lashed horizontally to the front and rear bumpers, with the ends of the poles extending beyond the sides of the vehicle and above the ends of the outriggers. The outriggers are then securely lashed to these crosspieces. An additional inner tube is lashed under the front bumper of the vehicle to provide flotation for launching. The fan belt of the truck is disconnected and the vehicle is driven into the stream under its own power. Anyone of several methods of propulsion may be used and the vehicle is beached as described above. After beaching, the cross poles are unlashed from the bumpers and the rigging is lifted by hand over the truck and floated back to receive another vehicle.fltjeep4These methods of crossing the quarter-ton truck are not practicable when the current is very swift or the banks are steep and high. Here the aerial cable ferry will be found useful. In constructing a cable ferry it is important to have the ends of the cables anchored as high as possible so that there is considerable slack. Too little slack in the cables may cause enough tension to break them. Since winch-cables are normally 300 feet in length the spans of such cable ferries are limited accordingly. Two 2-½-ton trucks equipped with power winches are anchored against trees on the high, near bank of the stream. Light ropes or lengths of field-telephone wires are stretched across the stream and tile two winch cables are pulled across with these lines. The cables are secured to stout trees on the far bank at points well above the ground. The cables should be roughly parallel and about twelve feet apart. A quarter-ton truck is placed under the cables and rigged to snatch blocks by tow-chains attached to the front and rear bumpers. Slack is taken out of the cables by the winches to raise the vehicle off the ground. A sapling is lashed to the snatch blocks on the cables to keep the vehicle from swaying while being pulled across the stream. A bridle in the towing line will also prevent sway. An additional snatch block is attached to the base of a tree on the far bank. A light towing line is stretched from the near bank through this snatch block, returned to the near bank and attached to the vehicle. Four men on the near side can then pull the vehicle across. A quarter-ton truck may be rigged to two snatch blocks placed on a single cable from a 2-½-ton or 1-½-ton truck winch and pulled across in the same fashion. Picture Sources: Infantry Journal, May 1942

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.


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.