Oct 23 2012

A box full of grease

After another very productive weekend of work on Ike, I’m just about ready to assemble the front axle. Nearly all of the parts are here, and everything I have has been blasted and painted. The last few things I need are the spindles that I had previously had but put on the parts Jeep thinking they had the wrong bushings (turns out I had the right ones from the beginning) and the brake lines for the front axle that will be easier to install before it’s hanging from the frame. Unfortunately, I ordered the brake lines late, so hopefully they’ll be here in time for the axle to be completed this coming weekend, otherwise it will be another week before I can put everything together.

One of the things I needed to resolve last time was the Rzeppa joints for the single Rzeppa shaft that I was reusing on the passenger side of the front axle. I found a seller that had a rebuild kit for a Rzeppa front axle (2 full joints) and it was on sale for 50% off ($30 plus shipping). After being told by many online that a rebuild kit was likely too expensive or difficult to find for the joints, I figured I’d make a $30 gamble to see if I could save myself from buying a new shaft for $125. Now, I’m happy I did. What came in the mail was not only far better than the cheap Chinese knockoff parts I was expecting, but actual NOS parts from decades ago when this stuff was not only made in the USA, but still made all together. The box was wrapped in some sort of waxy grease paper, and inside was a bundled paper ball with grease packed parts. A LOT of grease with some parts mixed in. I felt like a kid on Christmas getting that one toy that had been sold out all over the place that I knew all my friends wouldn’t have been able to get. The only down side: cleaning. This grease was thick and really stuck to everything. After about 2 hours and 2 cycles of cleaning with Simple Green, the parts were nice and shiny again. Only thing left to do with them is clean out the screw holes, oil them up, and build the joint again.

After spending all that time cleaning greasy old metal (that looks nearly new), I moved my attention to all the other little parts that I had that needed additional coats of paint. I also (finally) remembered to get the lower shock plates prepped and painted after neglecting to do them last week. Kind of an important part if I plan on hanging these axles any time soon. Of course they were turned into a sort of ornament while hanging to dry.

With most of the small parts wet with paint, I started pulling the masking tape off of the knuckle spheres and the various small parts that had all their requisite painting done and dry. There really is nothing like pulling back tape to reveal sharp paint lines, clean metal, and crisp black paint on a part that only a few weeks ago looked like it was pulled up from the bottom of a greasy swamp.

Once the masking tape was removed from the knuckle spheres I was able to get the brand new bearing cones pressed in. And by pressed, I mean more of banged. However it happened, they are in and aren’t damaged. They also look WAY better than the worn ones I removed.


So next week is the big reassembly of the front axle. Assuming, that is, that I have brake lines, can swap out these spindles, actually purchased all the parts I need, painted everything I needed, and didn’t lose anything in the process. I’m also really hoping that all these new parts go together tight enough that the suggested 600 W oil I purchased for the knuckle lubricant will stay firmly where it’s supposed to and not leak out all over my garage. I think I may put some drip pans below the knuckles while filling just in case 🙂


Oct 12 2012

Short week

Due to some other obligations, today was the only day this weekend that I’ll be able to do any work on the Jeep. Luckily, I got some good stuff done with the short time I had.

First off, I got the long axle shaft down to the driveline place to get the joint replaced. The new part won’t be in for a few days, so I’ll have to wait until next weekend or so to get that back. After dropping it off, I got the rest of the front axle parts prepped for their first coat of paint. I got the differential cover painted, as well as both hubs, one side of both backing plates, both drums, lower anchor plates, brake hose guards, and a couple of rocks in the front yard on accident. Oops. Next week, I’ll get the other sides painted on the backing plates, and get the final coat on the rest of the parts. I’ll also get another coat of paint on the axle tubes and differential housing before starting to put everything back together. Maybe if I get some time tomorrow after my obligations I’ll get a few more coats put on. Hopefully by the weekend after next, I’ll have a completed front axle that is ready to be hung on the frame.

Oct 9 2012

Rzeppa setbacks

After another weekend of work, I’m getting fairly close to having a rolling chassis in my garage. This weekend was all about getting the pieces for my front axle prepped for paint and final assembly. This meant sandblasting, sandblasting, and more sandblasting. I got the rest of the brake parts blasted and ready (both backing plates, drums, and lower connecting plate), the hubs completed, and the differential cover blasted and cleaned. I’ll have to go back and get the spindles that I swapped out when I did the axle shaft removal from the parts Jeep though, since the correct bushing are on those ones, and they’ve already been cleaned and painted.

With all that blasting done, it was time to get down to the axle shaft disassembly. I started with the short shaft since it was easier to wield around and deal with. After getting enough grease off of all the ends and parts I noticed that there were three small screws on a retention plate holding the whole thing together. I also noticed what I imagine to be some sort of “locking” procedure to make sure the screws didn’t back out. Once the screws were set, a punch was used to deform the metal around the screw and plate to keep them together.

Once I “reformed” the metal and slowly backed the screws out, I was left with the two cages and ball bearings. It took me about 45 minutes to figure out how everything came out, since everything appeared to be too big to actually come out of the casing. After pulling out the middle pilot pin, I was able to rotate the cages past their normal travel and pop out the ball bearings. Then, I removed the inner cage by aligning the races with the wide windows on two sides of the outer cage, and from there it pretty much all came out. Moving on to the next shaft, the first thing I noticed after unwrapping it was the chipped spline on the differential side. I was not happy to see that. Here I thought the $400 parts Jeep was about to save me $375 in new axle shafts. Now it looks like I’ll have to at least replace that shaft unless I can get the other Spicer jointed one fixed. We’ll find out on Friday.

After the disappointment with the shafts, I decided to tear into one of the locking hubs I pulled from the parts Jeep.  These Warn model M54A locking hubs were one of the things that I was hoping to put onto a finished Jeep that would be non-stock (the other big one being an overdrive). The front axels are full floating which means the wheel rests on a fixed spindle. Since the spindle is fixed, the hub is driven by a drive flange that ties the end of the axle shaft with the hub, thus enabling the transfer of power. A lockout hub, like these Warns, have an adjustable drive flange that can be disengaged from the tip of the axle shaft to allow the wheels to move without the whole axle being engaged. Even when in 4×2 mode, the movement of the front wheels causes the entire front axle, drive shaft, and transfer case to spin, putting unnecessary load on parts that aren’t actually being used for a transfer of power.

The goal now is to get the parts painted on Friday and take my axle shaft down to a driveline place to see if there is any actual problem with the shaft (the yolks look bent to me) or if the joint is just crooked. If that shaft is good, I can get a new joint to install, purchase a rebuild kit for the remaining Rzeppa joint, and be on my way. Here’s hoping Friday is filled with good news.

Sep 30 2012

Rolling with the joints

First, the really good news. The frame has had both bumpers bolted on, and has been let down from its precarious perch. Overall, the paint job is exactly what I’m looking for. Nothing perfect, and nothing glaringly wrong. I had a drip across the front bumper that got mostly taken care of. With that mostly taken care of, I turned my attention to finishing the front axle.

The first thing on my list was dealing with the shafts. If you’ll recall, my front axle had 2 of the 3 types of axle joints that Willys used, the passenger’s side had the Bendix style and the driver’s side has the Spicer style. The third type is the Rzeppa (pronounced Cheppa) style joint. In working on the axle shafts, I determined that the Bendix shafts were far too warn for me to put them back in. Together with the fact that the joint wouldn’t stay together under it’s own weight, it was time to retire them. On the Spicer side, the yolk on the long shaft was pushed in to the point where I couldn’t get the cardan cross out. So there went that shaft. As I began to come to grips with the thought of spending close to $300 on new shafts, a thought hit me…

I have a parts Jeep that likely has good front axle shafts, or at the very least is worth pulling out to see if I can get one or two of them without making another purchase. On Saturday I set out to do just that and headed over to my brother’s place where I’m storing the white Jeep. The tires on the white Jeep were so rotten, that the front tires had collapsed under the weight of the Jeep and had come off the bead, making rolling it away from it’s tight hole very difficult. After getting it moved, and the parts banged on, I had two nice Warn locking hubs that will need a bit of restoration, and two potentially usable axle shafts with a …. Rzeppa joint.

From offroadvehicle.ru

From offroadvehicle.ru

So now I get to learn all about these joints when I get around to taking them apart next weekend. In my initial research, one of the major positive points of this joint is its increased turning angle (29˚ versus the 23˚ of the Bendix and the 27.5˚ angle of the Spicer joint). Along with that, it’s fairly strong. The down side? Finding replacement parts can be difficult and expensive. That being said, if these end up being good shafts and joints, having one of the earliest constant velocity joints in my Jeep will be pretty cool 🙂

From Wikipedia

From Wikipedia – click for animation

I also got a bit of sand blasting done today, with both hubs now blasted and ready for paint, and half of one of the brake backing plates done. Unfortunately, it just got way too hot to continue blasting, so I had to put it up for the day. I’ll have to remember that next weekend when I fall asleep on the couch after getting up at 6:30am with the dogs.

Sep 23 2012

Painting the frame (Dexter Morgan Style)

In what is easily the largest single bit of restoration I’ve done so far, I finally have a frame that is fully painted and ready to start holding a Jeep together again. Ike’s got good bones 🙂

Last week, I built the contraption necessary to hold the frame in mid air for painting. For the actual paint process, the frame was lifted a few feet higher than last week. I also stapled up plastic sheeting to make a Dexter Morgan Paint Booth™ in the garage. With drop cloths on the floor, and 540 square feet of plastic hanging from the ceiling, it was time to start priming.

With a High Volume Low Pressure gravity-fed paint gun, and a quart of MasterSeries Silver primer, the old metal got a very even coat of primer. It looked so good after, I wasn’t sure it could look any better then it did at that point. All of the various areas of discoloration, surface rust, and other ugliness all disappeared under a silvery blanket.

One of the things I was rather wishy washy on, was how to deal with the front bumper and rear crossmember. They fit so tightly against the frame horns, that painting them separately and putting them on would result in the scraping of the paint as it went on. At one point, I figured I’d prime them and then when dry put them on the frame before painting. With the advice of my father-in-law who was instrumental in making this happen this weekend, we primed the inside of the bumper pieces and the outside of the frame horns, then put them together while wet. This meant that we got good coverage on the metal, without having to scrape anything up to put the pieces together.

With the silver primer dried, and with the Dexter room repaired as much as possible (the plastic started stretching and with the exhaust fan on was being pulled inward WAY too much), we started with the paint. Unlike the primer, and to be frank unlike anything I’ve ever painted with before, it was a two part paint. Having never painted with a paint system like this, I was really happy to have someone with me that’s done this more than a few times. After a few hours of work, here is what I ended up with:

Needless to say, I’m pretty damn happy. It looks great, and I can’t wait to take it down from the ceiling and start attaching pieces.

Sep 16 2012

Fantastical Frame Floating Apparatus

You know when you set yourself a goal that is months from now with every intention of completing it, only to realize that months have gone by and you haven’t done anywhere near enough work to complete the goal? Yeah, that’s what I did with getting my frame done. I had wanted to spend the summer getting the frame completed and get the axles back on the Jeep before I started class again. Now that I’m 4 days from starting class and the frame is still bare metal, I figured it was time to get moving.

Being as indecisive as I am, I went back and forth between doing the frame painting myself versus having a professional do it. I spent so much time not deciding that I completely neglected to do anything one way or the other to finish the frame.

This weekend was the end of that.

After not getting a quote I was comfortable paying for a professional to finish my frame, I got to work figuring out how I was going to turn a normal suburban garage into a paint booth. After discussing the process with a few people that have done it online, the plan would be to hang the frame upside down from the ceiling of the garage, then use plastic sheets to contain any overspray. The major issue with this plan, is that I have a finished garage, so the studs are hidden behind drywall. On top of that, the drywall is spaced from the studs with steel strips that make it impossible to use a studfinder.

So, after making a few trips to the attic, I was able to get the areas marked for the ceiling hooks. I was also hoping to utilize pulleys to allow for easy change in the height of the frame if necessary while priming and painting. However, after putting the pulley system in place, I realized that the rope I was using had far too much stretch in it to be of any real use. It’ll do for slight height adjustments, but it just isn’t able to do what it needs to. If I were to do it again, Id’ get some natural fiber rope or do away with the pulley system all together, but for now it will do.


In addition to the frame apparatus, I also got the last coat of paint on the knuckles and spindles for the front axle. Can’t wait to get the masking tape off to see how they turned out. With the knuckles and spindles painted, I still need to get the hub assembly prepped and painted and I’ll be nearly ready for re-assmbly. I’m leaning towards pulling the axles from the parts Jeep to see if they are both Spicer style, and if they’ll be more cooperative to a new set of joints.

With those axel shafts, I should be able to get a new set of joints in them and start re-assmbling the front axel. It’s been long enough that I’m unsure if I already purchased all of the other parts for the re-assmbly or not. I know I still need the brake lines from the front and the frame rails as well as the master cylinder, but hopefully that’s all I’ll need to get the rest of it together. As much as I want this frame and brake system to be put together, I’m not looking forward to bleeding the brake system in the least bit. 🙂

Aug 26 2012

Getting back to it

With my self imposed goal of having a rolling chassis before I start school up again in about a month, it’s time that I get back to working. With the extreme heat over the last few months, it’s been too hard to get motivated to do much of anything outside. Now that it’s cooled down slightly (97 instead of triple digits), I figured I’d get back to work.

Last weekend I got a few small things done. The holes for the rear crossmember have been drilled, and the leaf spring pivot hanger can now be attached to the frame. I also finished cleaning the knuckles and spindles today, and got those prepped and painted.

Next step is going to be getting the frame painted. I’ll be calling around to get some prices for the work. I had originally planned to do it myself, but with the heat not showing any signs of letting up, and since I haven’t painted anything like this before, I think I’ll let this one be done by a professional and stick to my smaller parts and pieces.

Mar 11 2012

Found some time

I finally got enough of a break in the MBA program to spend a few hours on Ike today.

After blowing all of the dust off of everything, I cleaned up the knuckle spheres and removed the kingpin bearing races. Instead of spending more time on the front axel and not having a frame to hang it from, I decided to turn my attention to the frame.

The frame itself was nearly perfectly cleaned by the sand blaster, but as can happen with such an intricate assembly, some spots were missed. Before I spray the rust encapsulating primer on there, I wanted to make sure that all of the old paint, grease, and other baked on crap was completely removed. I rolled the frame out into the driveway, and got to work.

One of the first things I needed to do was remove the handful of rivets that were still in the side rails from the outriggers that I had removed after the sandblasting was done. I also used a wire wheel to get off some areas of “baked-on” grease. I also went ahead and took off some of the remaining surface rust, even though it won’t be necessary for the primer I’m using.

Once I got the frame back into the garage, I did a test fit of the front bumper and rear crossmember. They were both a bit tight, so I’m not sure if I’ll adjust the frame horns, or if it’d be better to pull the bumpers open a bit. At this point, if I were to prime and paint the frame and the bumpers and then try and put them together, I’d be scraping an awful lot of paint off in the process. I want them snug, but I also want there to still be protection on the metal.

That’s it for now. I never thought doing my masters would take this much time away from the Jeep project. I expected to be done with frame and axles by now, so I’m a bit behind schedule. Luckily I’ve got a new quarter starting soon which should give me a few weeks of less school work and then summer break is just around the corner. At this point, I think I need to shoot at having a rolling frame by the end of the summer break.



I thought I’d include this too as a point of reference. This was the frame back in June 2011.

Feb 5 2012

Big Weekend

In what will surely be only the first major component that needs to be farmed out for work, I finally got the frame sandblasted. Performance Powder Coating in Apple Valley did a fantastic job, especially considering how long it would have taken me to do the same work.

With the help of my buddy Joe, I got it picked up and we took it over to his dad’s place. After what seemed like just a short time, the old spring pivot joint was gone, and a new piece of metal was welded in.

Above you can see the before with the horrible weld job that was done. To the right you can see that the joint has been removed. While he was at it, I had him remove the remaining outriggers so I can be sure the frame gets painted under them. I’ve got a little clean up to do and then it will be ready to paint.

Today, though, I didn’t do any additional work on the frame, but instead focused on getting the front axle blasted and the first coat of paint out on. Since most of the axle was already wire wheeled, sand blasting went extremely quick since it was more or less just touch up in areas that I couldn’t get to with the wheel.

After getting it back up on the bench (I found out about half way through getting it back from the drive way that without the knuckles installed, I can carry the axle without the assistance of other tools). Much like I did with the rear axle, I ‘ll complete the full housing before I do the differential cover. It has got some serious baked on something or other on there that will need special attention.

The first coat of POR15 went on relatively easy. There are a few spots that I’ll need to pay special attention too, and the whole thing will get a second coat before getting a final topcoat of Rustoleum for the gloss and UV protection that I’m looking for.

This coming weekend I’ll hopefully also get the most stubborn U-Joint removed from the long axle shaft. I’m also going to clean up the knuckles, backing plates, hubs, and spindles in preparation for their reconstruction. I’ve also gotta start either looking for a place to get the frame primed and painted the way I want, or determine if it’s something I can do in my garage.

But, there is one more thing…

I was also the lucky bidder on a rather nice looking original Carter W-O 636SA carburetor on eBay today. So yeah, a pretty good weekend for Ike. 

Jan 29 2012

Very little work

Due to a homework assignment for one of my Master’s classes, I wasn’t able to get much done this weekend.

That being said, I did get a bit done with starting the final clean up process before painting. The axle tubes are clean, and I was able to at least get the spicer-jointed axle shafts partially disassembled. The short axle shaft side came loose as expected, but the other half, not quite so much. I’m giving it a bit of time to sit while I think of how else to approach it. The good news is my frame is done, and I’ll be picking it up from the sandblast place on Friday.