Factory Class Restoration of Old Pal - *GPW 13551*

1941 - 1945, MB, GPW Technical questions and discussions, regarding anything related to the WWII jeep.
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Old Pal
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Factory Class Restoration of Old Pal - *GPW 13551*

Post by Old Pal » Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:08 pm

It has been my intent for some time to do a restoration thread. I have enjoyed many hours of reading other restoration threads like zepher11, etc. One of my biggest reasons for wanting to start a restoration thread and posting it in the technical knowledge base section is that, even though there is a wealth of knowledge on the "g", I will almost undoubtedly run into project specific questions.

Hopefully, I will get most of my questions answered that may also help others and give other members a way to kill some hours in the form of "g" rated entertainment.

I will preface this by stating, I have already begun the restoration process and I was a little light on taking pictures in the beginning. The pictures will get better as I catch up to the point I am at now.

I hope you all enjoy the thread and thank you in advance for those of you who post answers to the future question I will have.
Last edited by Old Pal on Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:01 pm, edited 4 times in total.


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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:53 pm

THE HISTORY OF OLD PAL - PART I

Old Pal is a 1942 GPW, serial number 13551, with a date of delivery of April 1942. I am unsure of the day, as it is not stamped in the data plate. From what I understand, this is indicative of a delivery from the Richmond, CA plant.

As with most MBs and GPWs, the war era history of each jeep is difficult to track unless your specific hood number happened to be found in an old photograph somewhere. I do know that after the war the jeep was purchased from the federal government by the California Department of Forestry and stripped of everything not needed to aid in fighting a wildfire. Fortunately, that didn't include much. The front marker blackout lights were removed and the holes welded up. There were also other miscellaneous brackets welded to the inside of the tub to mount other equipment. In addition the jeep was painted forestry red.

I'm not sure if the jeep got the standard motor pool treatment of left fender b/o light, jerry can holder, etc. but there was no evidence of a fender b/o light or trailer receptacle. There was a jerry can bracket though.

My family eventually purchased the vehicle in the mid-50's along with several other jeeps to serve as work vehicles on the family owned resort in Cobb, CA. There it stayed until my great grandfather decided to use it as a hunting jeep. A bracket was welded to the the inner tub on the left hand side of the driver to hold a hunting rifle.

After my great grandfather passed away in 1962, the jeep was given to my grandfather who used the jeep as both a hunting vehicle and third vehicle in the snowy winter months to get to work and rescue people in the snow. It was given the name 'Old Pal' because it was the pal that would get you through the the bad weather.

One fall in the early 70's, Old Pal stopped running after a hunting season at a ranch about 20 miles from my grandfathers house, Old Pal was towed to a friends gas station and stored there for the winter. Once winter came and went, it was decided that Old Pal would be towed back home to get worked on. Unfortunately, Old Pal was flat towed with the t-84 in neutral and the transmission was toasted by the time it got back to house and for some reason the transfer case sounded like a coffee grinder. Many hours were spent in the garage with my dad and uncles "helping" out. After several years of scraping up parts and the funds to get it back on the road, it was finally road worthy again.

It was taken over the Rubicon Trail for the first of 16 times in 1976.

Here is picture taken in 1976 of Old Pal going over the Rubicon Trail. The roll bar was added, reluctantly by my grandfather. He wanted to keep it as stock as possible. There was something that he really enjoyed about taking a relatively stock GPW over terrain that many thought required large tires and expensive off-road vehicles.
Old Pal - Rubicon 1976 POSTED.png
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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Thu Oct 02, 2014 6:15 pm

Skipping to the somewhat present….. Old Pal was wrecked in 2010 (I'll get into the details at a later date). After sitting in my garage for three years, I finally found a replacement frame that was located about 2.5 hours away from me and was in decent shape (or so I thought). It also came with a script tub, fenders, windshield, grill, and some other odds and ends (steering box, gauges, etc.); all for $400. I drove over an a day that was pouring down rain and picked it up.

After getting it home, I started disassembly on Old pal and, at first, was just going to do a direct swap onto the new frame. So I lifted the body off of the old frame as it was and then the OD green bug hit me. Over the next few months, the bug would go from a sniffle to surgery as I have finally decided to do a factory class restoration. A couple month job has now turned into, what is more than likely, a several year job.
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There is something very satisfying about working on a vehicle that my great grandfather, grandfather, and father have all worked on with the idea of keeping it running and keeping it relatively stock. I look forward to spending much time with my father, a professional mechanic, learning about my family history and how everything works on this Old GPW.

The next thing on the punch list is sand blasting the new to me frame and disassembly of the old frame.

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by TBowman » Fri Oct 03, 2014 12:21 pm

Hi Old Pal

Great story and project. Looking forward to watching.

Best regards
Tim

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Marty, SoCal » Fri Oct 03, 2014 1:06 pm

Any way to save the original frame number and transfer that to the new frame?

Would some of the repro frame ends Ron sells be able to fix the damaged frame?
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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Fri Oct 03, 2014 9:33 pm

Marty, SoCal wrote:Any way to save the original frame number and transfer that to the new frame?

Would some of the repro frame ends Ron sells be able to fix the damaged frame?
The original frame was beyond repair, at least for my abilities. I did salvage many parts of the frame for use on the new to me frame, including the original frame number.

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by nick peters » Sat Oct 04, 2014 5:36 am

Nice Story Mate :) Good luck with your rebuild.
regards Nick

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Beers » Sat Oct 04, 2014 7:00 am

Great family history Old Pal. So rare for someone to know where their vehicle has been for so many decades, thanks for sharing. Looking forward to watching the restoration -

Paul
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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:17 am

Nick Peters: Thanks. As most anyone who has done a rebuild knows, I'll need a bit of luck.

Beers: I am lucky to have had the GPW in my family for so long and am thankful that my dad will be helping me on this project. It is just too bad that my grandfather died when I was so young. I would have loved to hear the adventures that Old Pal has been through.
Last edited by Old Pal on Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:37 am

Here we go. Frame disassembly:
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And here is a photo of the front left frame horn. We had to torch off the bumper to roll the frame around, as it was hitting the tire. In addition to the bent frame horn there was a hairline crack along the side of the frame and the frame was no longer square. I do think that it is pretty cool that the accident caused some original OD paint to become exposed.
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Knowing what I know now, I may have attempted to salvage the original frame.

I should have taken some over all pictures; you can't see the forest for the trees.

Next up is body disassembly. My friend owns a body shop and industrial bead blaster. I want to get him working on that while I prep the new frame and drive train.

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Tue Oct 07, 2014 9:39 pm

Well, the disassembly of the tub began. Aside from some stuck bolts, maneuvering the tub around, and some mouse remnants in the glove box, it went pretty fast. This pic shows the placards that were issued for anyone that went on the Jeepers Jamboree over the Rubicon Trail. I think the last trip with the Jamboree was in 1992. More than likely, it will be the last.
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Luckily, I should have to replace very little metal panels. Maybe a small rust spot near the driver "door" and the fuel tank sump.
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Does anybody know what this square panel is for? This may have been some kind of bracket that was added for forestry equipment in the 40's or 50's. It was red and green underneath.
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Ready to go to the glass blaster. Initially, I was going to have the tub acid dipped. I found out that the acid would probably seep out after paint and it would destroy the wood in the hat channels, which appears to be solid and not rotted. I'm in no hurry to get the tub back as I have plenty to work on in the meantime.
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Next up is working on the new to me frame. It is currently getting sand blasted and I will have to weld up some holes, repair the front frame horns, and weld ups some tabs for the rear crossmember, at the very least. I'll know more when all of the crud is blasted off.

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Thu Oct 09, 2014 7:37 pm

While waiting for my friend to blast the frame, I thought that I'd get started on tearing apart the front axle.
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I removed all of the components and sand blasted the housing, tie rods, bell crank.

Old Pal was converted to 11-inch brakes, locking hubs, and 5.38 gearing. Of course, I will be converting everything back to original. I will need to find 9-inch brakes, drive flanges, and new gearing.

Once I get a coat of paint on the axle and find a new ring and pinion, I will get started on changing the gearing.

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:57 pm

I got the frame back from sand blasting and found it to be much worse than I thought. Not only did it need a fair amount of welding (i.e. holes, spring brackets, etc), but the inner frame rail had major cancer (This picture was taken after I took the frame apart and let this portion flash rust by accident):
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The outer frame wasn't too bad, as far as rust goes. There was some rust wherever there was hidden metal, like under the shock towers and where the pintle brackets and cross members attached to the main frame:
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After completely disassembling the frame and making the required repairs, I will be re-riveting the frame using the methods on this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=177497

I'm sure that I will be posting some of my riveting journey and riveting questions and problems there.

I will use the inner frame rails from my old bent/cracked frame on my new to me frame.

The main, outer frame will be getting many more hours of attention than I thought. I will be replacing small sections of pitted metal, welding up not original holes (one can be seen on the front cross member picture above), repairing the front frame horns (someone welded on 1/4" plate), and the frame isn't 100% straight.

My original frame had squared off frame horns. I can't see any evidence of a butt weld and can't think of a reason why someone would have made this modification in the past. Does anyone else have a VEP GPW with squared off frame horns? How many are like this.

More frame work to follow….

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:13 pm

My new frame did not come with a pintle bracket, rear crossmember, or original bumper (surprise, surprise). I ordered replacements from Ron and test fit them in place to see how bad the frame was bent and out of square. The side frame rails looked like bananas, were a little twisted, and the rear driver side frame rail was pushed up.

For the frame straightening and fabrication, I enlisted the help of my dad. One of the biggest tasks was to reposition the rear driver side frame. We originally tried weighing down the frame with 3500 lbs of chain, sticking a floor jack underneath, the pushing up bent portion of the frame. This did nothing but jack up the entire frame.

We decided to go big or go home so we used a dump truck to weigh down the frame. Luckily, this worked.
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At this point the frame was relatively straight. The final straightening would be done once the fabrication was completed and the frame and cross members could be assembled. We knew that the inner rails would pull the outer rails a bit more straight, as they were a little banana shaped in the opposite direction.

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Re: Bringing Old Pal Back - Another Restoration Thread

Post by Old Pal » Mon Oct 13, 2014 2:48 pm

Over the course of a few weeks I came across a donor GPW rolling chassis. The frame was very badly rusted, was covered in welds, had 6 shock mounts, custom cross members and bumpers, rebuilt original axles (rebuilt in 1945), right hand low fill t-84, a transfer case out of a willys, and…… 9-inch brakes. The best part about the deal was that it was all free. :D

Most everything was totally rusted on the frame (we'll call this frame #3). Luckily the gearing was in good shape and was 4.38 gearing.

I also came across a couple of donor axles, original front springs, original bumperettes, pintle (mine was bent from when my grandfather loaned the GPW to a friend who was pulling out oak tree stumps using a running start and a long chain). :o

After hours and hours of leaning up against a cabinet blaster, I finally got many of these parts cleaned up and decided to squirt some paint.
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Not shown are the axles.

The paint I used was GCI 33070 and their red oxide. For some reason, the paint came out really glossy. I also ordered a box of GCI spray cans that, when sprayed, are much more "lusterless" than the gallon. I used xylene as a reducer (almost impossible to find in California) and a 4:1 ration. I let the paint bake in the sun for several days and no big change occurred.

I discovered that Ron has his own paint and will give that a shot on the next go-around.


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