Look out, Maw, here he comes again!

While the 4×4 jeep was a new concept in military vehicles, the 4-wheel steer jeep was a wild new concept.  The following article is from Army Motors, November, 1941.

There’s a strange new jeep out in the field. Not very many of them but the minute you see one hopping across a meadow, you’ll know it’s something new under the sun.

It’ll be tearing along a perfectly straight course, when suddenly at a flick of the driver’s wrist, it’ll make a right angle turn that’11 make you blink your eyes and look again. At cruising speed it will do an “about face” smartly as a bee stung donkey.

You’ll rush right home and throw the bottle out the window.

Bantam BRC60 4 Wheel Steer. Photo courtesy of Jacco van Snippenberg. The Netherlands.

Bantam BRC60 4 Wheel Steer. Photo courtesy of Jacco van Snippenberg. The Netherlands.

But you’re all right – you’ve just been watching the amazing performance of the jeep with the Four—wheel—steer.

The four—wheel—steer is another step toward making the 1/4 ton reconnaissance a right-tight little car fully able to scoot out promptly from under the bright face of danger and fly away home. It has no arms (so far) and it has no armor — so it’s got to have git—up—and—go.

The idea is not new — back in the last World War, many a driver gasped and turned pale as the terrifying quad beneath him responded too quickly and too much to the slightest touch on the wheel. Imagine threading delicately in and out of traffic with a truck that answered the wheel like a crazy grasshopper?

But today’s four-wheel—steer has a delayed action on the rear wheels that permits the driver to make all those delicate curves and turns without the rear wheels coming into play. Perhaps an even better device is the declutching arrangement that allows the driver to throw out his back wheel steering.

This is not to say that driving today’s four—wheel—steer jeep is a cinch. It still has keg of dynamite characteristics. Its the closest thing on the ground to piloting an airplane. That’s why every Tom, Dick and Harry won’t be driving one — that’s why, in the final analysis, the four—wheel—steer may not even be accepted.

But if it is, you’ll see some artful dodging that’ll make lubricated lightning look like Grandma Pettibone doing the big apple.

Ultimately, the 4-wheel steer 1/4-ton trucks were not to be built aside from a few built for experimentation.  It was not for a lack of interest.  The Cavalry was very interested in the 4-wheel steer because of it’s extreme maneuverability which I suppose reminded one of the agility of the horse or Army mule.  However, this interest was over-ruled on at least two practical counts.  First, agility of the 4-wheel steer was a plus. But in the same breath it was also a negative in that it took greater skill and care to drive the vehicle.  Second, manufacturing of the u-joints needed for 4-wheel drive front axles was a bottleneck to production.  One of the reasons Ford was asked to produce the Ford GPW.  Introducing, the 4-wheel steer “jeep” into production would have effective doubled the bottleneck.

As history played out—the 2-wheel steer, 4×4, 1/4-truck was an extremely effective tool of war.

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!

Which vehicle was better? It all depends on what you were most interested in.  Certainly, the Willys had the more power but it also had the heaviest weight.  While the Bantam was the lightest and slowest of the three but also had the best fuel economy..

Bantam Ford Willys
Overall Rating 2 3 1
Grade Climbing Ability 2 3 1
Braking tests 1 3 2
Cross Country Ability 1 1 1
Highest Level Road Speed 59 mph 64 mph 74 mph
Fuel Consumption, speed range 20 to 50 mph 23.2 mpg 20.9 mpg 20.2 mpg
Turning Radius 20.4 ft 17.3 ft 19.4 ft
Grade Climbing 28° in low ratio second gear Succeeded, no reserve power Failed to reach top Topped raise at 10 mph, great reserve
Best Features steering handbrake seats engine, superior, greater torque
springs springs top
headlights transmission, greater ease of shifting
front brake line protection front brake line protection
tire carrier radiator
gear shift location stronger frame
Unfavorable Features inaccessibility of handbrake performance poor driver’s position
difficulty fastening top gear shifting difficult leg room
carburetor failure on severe slopes steering unsatisfactory, wanders accelerator pedal location
difficult top setup handbrake location
carburetor failure on severe slopes gearshift lever location
carburetor failure on severe slopes
Price, net $946.04 $925.00 $949.41

For more information you might be interested in Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942.  It’s available from Amazon.com and other booksellers.

Do the WW2 manuals tell you to tighten the jeep head more than once?

Do the WW2 manuals get it right?

Do the WW2 manuals get it right?

It depends on which TM you look at. Maybe tightening the head more then once after installation was a common knowledge then for 1940s mechanics? At any rate, you have to have more than one manual with these jeeps. I found the answer on page 69, No. 18, TM 37-2810, March 1945.“Caution: Cylinder heads should not ordinarily be tightened unless there is a definite indication of looseness or leaks. If tightening is necessary, use a torque-indicating wrench and tighten in the sequence and to the tension specified in the vehicle Technical Manual. When a new gasket is installed, tighten three times as follows: First, upon installation, second, after engine is warmed up, and third, after completing final road test.”
Here's to a great New Year!

Do the research before starting your project and all should go well!

For the WW2 jeep you would follow the pattern as indicated in the graphic below:


See Cylinder Head Tightening Chart for more info.  You might be interested in learning about how to rebuild your jeep engine.  This is covered in various collection of manuals but the original manual was TM 9-1803A Engine and Engine Accessories, Willys Overland Model MB and Ford Model GPW 1/4 Ton 4×4 Technical Manual.  This manual is available as a reprint.  Check it out.

When you put your combat rims together you should use a torque wrench and set the bolt to 60-70 ft. lbs.

Incorrect handling can kill you, so don't mess around...do it right!

Incorrect handling can kill you, so don’t mess around…do it right

The WW2 jeep came with bolt together rims.  The theory being that it would be easier to change the tire.  These original wheels are now close to 70 years old and I can attest some of them can be very hard to separate!

When working on two piece combat rims make sure they are deflated. Serious injury or death can result!

When working on two piece combat rims make sure they are deflated. Serious injury or death can result!

Combat wheels are identified by eight bolts holding together the two halves of the tire rim. When removing a tire, first remove the wheel and be sure to deflate the tire before removing the rim nuts. After removing the rim nuts, remove the outer rim nuts, remove the outer rim then remove the tire after which remove the beard locking ring and tube from the tire. Mounting the tire is the reverse procedure. Do not put too much air in the tube when mounting.
Don’t forget to get the books when you are looking for a WW2 jeep!

Don’t forget to get the books when you are looking for a WW2 jeep!

A book that has been in my collection for a very long time and is still in print, WW2 Jeep Military Portfolio 1941-1945, is a book worthy of your consideration.  It has a number of period articles and even some from years after the introduction of the jeep to the world.  It isn’t a book that will help you with your restoration but adds a bit of knowledge to your kit of facts to help you understand the jeep.

If you are interested in a book that will help you with your restoration then you want to get The Complete WW2 Military Jeep Manual (Brookland Military Vehicles). It includes all the manuals you will need to help you work on your WW2 jeep. There are other versions of the manuals to collect but this is a good start.

And if you are more into history here are two great books to look at (while you search for your own jeep or save up the money to buy the parts you need!): Project Management in History: The First Jeep (Project Management in History Series) (Volume 1)
and Jeep – Its development and procurement under the Quartermaster Corps, 1940-1942. Both are pretty good reads and include a lot of foot notes or end notes so you can do your own research.  Order them all from Amazon.com or any book seller today!

You need this book when you want to work on your WW2 jeep.

You need this book when you want to work on your WW2 jeep.

You need this book if you have a WW2 jeep or are looking for one!  If you own a WW2 jeep or are interested in purchasing one, you need The Complete WW2 Military Jeep Manual.  This is a reprint of several jeep manuals you will need to operate and repair your jeep.  It won’t be especially helpful in restoring  your jeep but the manuals do contain a ton of information on how to operate your “new” jeep as well as steps on how to repair it.  Need to rebuild your front or rear axle?  That’s covered.  Want to rebuild your transmission? Covered as well.

It’s a good collection and well worth the price while you look to collect the originals!

You also might be interested in my book: Trouble Shooting and Rebuilding The T-84J Transmission is an aide designed to help the novice to decide whether or not to rebuild the T-84J themselves. It covers all sorts of “tricks” and “how-to’s” for tearing down, cleaning, inspecting and then assembling the rebuilt transmission. You will learn trouble shooting tips. Why is your transmission jumping out of gear? Is the T-84J really supposed to be noisy? And much, much more!

Bantam Pilot Model (replica built by Duncan Olds)

The 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 end notes so that you can do your own research.