CONVERTING A CJ5 TO M38A1

1950 - 1952, M38, questions, discussions, regarding anything related to the M38.
skyjeep50
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Re: CONVERTING A CJ5 TO M38A1

Post by skyjeep50 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 4:27 pm

One big difference is the tailgate - a M38A1 did not have one - just a solid back end to which the jerry can holder and spare tire holder were bolted. You could weld in a solid panel but that is a big step. Don't forget the pintle hitch and bumperettes! The right paint job, markings and stars get you about 90% of the way as most people can't tell the difference between a M38A1 and a CJ5. A lot of people asked me about my M38A1 - "is that a real military jeep". But I get the same about my M38. If it's OD, it looks military.


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Re: CONVERTING A CJ5 TO M38A1

Post by BAKER-M38A1 » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:31 pm

Thanks for reply, I am looking fwd to order some parts - copy later grill for M38A1

Excellent advice on part search

I have vacuum wipers - I too figured that they would not be the best performer

Are there any swap meets that I can attend for parts?
Southeast region would be cool but any where on the east coast would work
THANKS
db

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Re: CONVERTING A CJ5 TO M38A1

Post by leadfarmer » Thu May 06, 2021 7:48 am

I've been doing the same conversion over time. Works great for parades, I usually avoid static displays for military events, but no one says anything at the local car shows.

I bought a bone stock 63 CJ5 back in 2005.

Painted it OD green with krylon spray cans, added some white stars and markings with home made stencils.

I bought NDTs from coker tire for my original civilian 15" wheels.

One simple thing I did was put a strip of black electrical tape down the center of the windshield on the inside and outside. Instantly I had the correct two piece windshield! That tape has lasted about 15 years!

I made a sheet metal bulkhead to replace the tailgate and mounted the spare tire and a fuel can on the back. I ended up having to make a support bracket inside the bed to keep the tire from bouncing too much.

I had my original seats re-covered with green canvas material, that way I could keep the CJ5 frames.

I picked up a fender mounted blackout light from a local person parting out some rotted M38s.

Grabbed some thick rope at Lowe's and wrapped it around the front bumper.

From all the dimensions I could find online I reproduced the gun pedestal with a reproduction pintle socket from Sarco (they have these in stock right now if you plan to make a gun mount, they have been sold out for years). I have a semi 1919 I've mounted and shot off the pedestal a few times. I made a dummy out of wood and PVC that I cover with a canvas 1919 travel cover when I plan on leaving the jeep unattended at an event. The 1919 gets to feel the wind for parades.

The jeep has done a 100+ parades over the years and only one time did someone say "hey, that's a CJ5!" but they were just making conversation, nothing negative.

I also restored an M416 trailer to tow behind it. I sure wish I had the M100 with round fenders so I keep looking for a deal on one of those.

Now that I have more resources I considered buying a genuine M38A1 or M38 but I have a bit of a sunk cost and emotional attachment scenario here so I decided to do a few more things to sell the look.

Just in the past week I did two more modifications.

I got a aux power socket cut out of a tub from someone on the steel soliders forum. I cut the hole in the passenger side of the tub and spot welded it in, so now it has the big aux power socket in the tub.

I picked up a fairly complete M38A1 grill assembly locally (the early model version with hinges). I found the frame mounted hinge brackets from an online parts seller (the name escapes me). I got reproduction blackout marker lights, a new welt strip, and NOS headlight gaskets from ebay. The blackout lights are single element bulbs, so I will lose my front turn signals, but that doesn't bother me.

The only modification to the jeep that I had to do (and you will have to do this with either style M38A1 grill) was cut a piece out of the front of the battery tray support. The support is very heavy duty, so it won't hurt it, but you need to do this to clear the passenger side blackout marker light and the piece it mounts to. The battery ground wire mounted in the area I cut out so I easily relocated it else where on the battery tray. It took longer to type this entire post than do the mod.

The single center bolt grill would of been easier to mount, but the hinge mounted grill kind of fell into my lap so I went with it. Right now my hood to fender gap is too large, and I can barely latch the hood. I'm going to see if the new welt strip compresses before I try to jack up the fenders and close the gap. My tub has some rust issues and I think it has sunk in the front under the firewall over time, which is probably the real cause.

Just make sure you get a complete grill with all the headlight hardware. It will save you a lot of time and money. I saw lots of stripped grills for sale and waited for one with all the small parts.

So what else could I do to complete the look on my conversion...

I thought about doing more work to the tub, such as adding the correct tail lights, trailer wire plug, and the larger fuel tank filler neck some how, but I think that would be a waste of time given that my tub really should be replaced one day.

I would convert the dash, if I can find someone parting out an M38A1 and I could get all the parts in one shot.

I'm keeping my eyes open for a set of factory wheels that don't have the civilian hub cap nubs on them. That's the most likely modification I'll tackle in the near future.

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Re: CONVERTING A CJ5 TO M38A1

Post by JMZ421 » Fri May 07, 2021 3:32 am

You have to appreciate all the work you have done on your CJ. I would keep your current Jeep and find a M38A1 and put all your efforts into that. From what you have explained you have the know-how to get things done and there are many A1's out there that can be purchased at a very reasonable price. Good Luck, John

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Re: CONVERTING A CJ5 TO M38A1

Post by W. Winget » Fri May 07, 2021 6:11 am

IMHO
I would paint it OD, add Stars, reupholster the seats in OD and find tires in 15 or 16 for her and leave it at that. (just received three 15" NDCC tires I have no use for, but one's too rotten for driving)
It will never be an M38A1, and you can buy them fairly cheap, one we didn't buy was fairly intact needing clutch up here for $2K the other month.
So why spend 2K in parts converting it for Pops quick memory when just a paint job and cushions/seats would do that same effect.
Your money, but KISS is always present.
V/R W Winget
Looking for 1918 Standard B 'Liberty' truck parts

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Re: CONVERTING A CJ5 TO M38A1

Post by Zane Gross » Wed Jun 09, 2021 7:29 pm

Just food for thought, why not just build a m606A2/3 . They were basically cj5’s militarized. Your build would be more correct and easier/cheaper.
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43' Ford Gpw
45' willys MB (currently under restoration)
51' M38 , m100 trailer
53' M38A1
62' M38A1
61' M151 , m416 trailer
84' m1009 blazer
53' m43
53' Dodge M37
48' Cj2A
51' Cj3A
54' Cj3B, 60' cj3b
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Re: CONVERTING A CJ5 TO M38A1

Post by dpcd67 » Thu Jun 10, 2021 7:24 am

That is actually a good idea, but I think I read that the OP needs a new body anyway.
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