Posts Tagged ‘Willy’s’

Gather ‘round because it is story time! This is a story of a little grille in a small world.

There was once a Jeep build by the name of FrankenJeep. Many of the parts were already had, but there were still a few that needed to be gotten before we could start to see the machine take form. A big piece that was missing was the grille. Yes, there was the one from its previous life, but that would not suit the needs of this little Jeep, for he needed something with a point to it, unlike the long beginning of this story…

Get on with it, will you?!

Okay, okay… if you remember, I gave you that spoiler alert and told you there would be a plot twist; there was a mock up picture of the FrankenJeep that I put up.


Actually, let us go back even further, back to the beginning. Remember when I told you my initial plans for the Jeep; the ones that abandoned making a right hand drive CJ5 clone, and instead turning it into a flat rod? I showed you some pictures of two similar, yet very different flat rod builds – the red Jeep made in Texas, and the green Jeep made in Arizona.


If you remember correctly, I explained to you that this O.D. Green Army Jeep gave me a lot of ideas, and it was that very Jeep that made up my mind to go the way of the flat rod. At the time, I failed to tell you the name of the builder. It was Randy Ellis; his shop, Randy Ellis Designs (R.E.D. Inc.), in Phoenix built the Army themed flat rod you saw on these pages and many other pages around the internet. Now, I did not maliciously try to discredit Mr. Ellis, or even purposefully fail to give him credit, I was just not as diligent back then about ensuring that I shelled out the names of strangers just because they gave me an idea.

That’s nice. To the story already!

So, to the point; the grille I showed you in the mock photo? I found it on Craigslist.


That’s it. That is the story of the grille; I bought it off a guy on Craigslist.

WHAT??!!! That is your epic story?!!


Haha! No, that is not the entire story. Yes, I did buy it off a guy on Craigslist. In fact, I drove more than 120 miles, round trip, to get that grille. But not even that is the best part of the story.

I drove all the out to West Glendale, about 65 miles away, to get that grille from a guy named Mike Johnson. (You see Mike? I told you your time would come!) I could tell pretty quickly that Mike was a like-minded gearhead, and that he would probably have some good stories to tell me. Boy was I in for a surprise.

Mike got me talking about the Jeeps and the different ideas that I had. Then he led me on a little journey to the side of the house and he opened up his back gate to show me a Jeep he had built when he was just thirteen. He had kept it, and kept it running for over forty years! In its own right, the Jeep was a rat rod. You all know I hate the term, but it was built in the truest form of the word. Mike used whatever he could source to make it work, even using scrap steel to fabricate parts!

After I saw that, I knew we were akin of twisted minds, so I started giving him better information about the FrankenJeep build, showing him pictures and explaining what I started with, what I had already done, and what my plans were for it. I went in to detail about the build and asked him if he knew about Randy Ellis and the Army flat rod.

“Yeah, I know Randy. I was with him when he built that.”



It turned out that I drove 65 miles to buy a Jeep grille from a guy… to use in a build in which I got the idea from a similar Jeep… that this very guy helped build.


 20160814_15324420160814_165634WHOA!!! I did NOT see THAT coming!!

Remember way back in January, of two-thousand… and FOURTEEN (*gasp!*) I had mentioned that I wanted to take a Willy’s truck cab and graft it onto the little Jeep, chop the top and have a cabbed vehicle?

(Check out Genesis – The Look if you have forgotten.)


I take your Willy’s truck cab and raise you one Kenworth cab!

Yep. That just happened. Everyone knows that I brought home the Kenny cab, and I wanted to chop it up and use the metal for Frank…

So, I bought this little DJ-5B for a Jeep project in 2012.
 DSCN1326 DSCN1327

Originally, I was going to turn it into a 4×4. Although I have only seen a few guys actually convert these little DJs over to four wheel drive, most of the time very little is left of them for wheeling (maybe the grille, and the fact that they are right hand drive). [To the credit of the guys at Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off Road, they built a very capable 4×4 DJ-5, but it was more of a work horse than an off road machine.] And then there was the fact that there are three other DJs in Arizona that have been converted over to 4WD.


After I thought about the technicalities of a (cheap) four wheel drive, manual steering setup for this right hand drive Jeep, I figured that maybe I was about to start another project doomed for the chop shop. [After all, after owning it for two years, the only thing I had done to it thus far, was have it moved from Glendale to Queen Creek, from Queen Creek to San Tan Valley, and from my old house to my new house (next door). Although, I suppose if you look at the distances, and take that into account, you can see that I actually did make progress with each move, but I only brought it closer. Now it was time to really work on it.] And then I decided to go the way of the flat rod, except I know it can be done with much more… well, much more my style.

I caught wind of this thing called a Flat Rod, and I had to look more into it. I had seen a couple of them done and loved the idea. A flat fender Jeep, a hot rod… a flat rod. It is a Jeep… a hot rod… a custom build… What else could I do with this? My mind started racing, and the idea floodgates were opened wide.

I started looking on the web for ideas from pictures of built flat rods, so I could see how others had done it before me. As I have seen a few of these done, I have only found two done that were built with any style. These are some pictures of the two Jeeps that helped give me the idea.

A shop in Texas built this:


And a shop in Phoenix built this one, the one that got my attention:



The little Jeep started life as a DJ-5B, a postal Jeep.
Of course, life was simpler back then, going house to house, on its little postal route. Then, funny as life is, it ends up in my garage, destined to become something… well, all I can say is it won’t be the same little postal Jeep it once was.
This is an idea of what I will be going for; except, I believe that it can be executed much better.
I want to combine this idea here, of the postal hot rod, with the idea of the flat rod, and build something a little different. I want to use a Willys pick up cab roof, grille and (possibly) hood, instead of the DJ-5 metal.
IMG_0612 IMG_0613
The cowl is the same shape and size, so they should carry over quite easily. I will be chopping the roof of the cab, before grafting it onto the DJ.  As far as the hood goes, if it needs to be cut in order to fit the engine, it will just be skipped, but I have ideas for either with or without it.
Speaking of the engine, I have located a line on a group of 4BT diesel engines, here in Phoenix, and the idea is to make this into a diesel rod. The 4BT is practically cast from the same block as what was found in the first generation Dodge/Cummins, 6BT diesel trucks (1989-1998), less two cylinders.
The diesel rat idea came from this beast.

Might I suggest you watch the whole two minutes, the ending is pretty good!

In case you were wondering, that is a 1928 Dodge Brothers Sedan with a 6BT, Cummins twin-turbo diesel. It puts out 1270 lbs-ft of torque, 693 rwhp, and weighs in at 3800 lbs. He runs 11.69 at 118 mph in the quarter mile, and it also consistently gets 23-25 mpg.

Now, I know, I am notorious for talking about projects and not following through. I am turning over a new leaf here, and have decided that if I can’t get something, anything, done to the project while I am home on my off time, then it is time to reassess the situation, and maybe I should not have a project right now.
My last time in, my son Jaiden helped me and my buddy, Tony, take off the tub and strip it all down to frame. Jaiden got to remove the dashboard and the pedals, all by himself.
This is what we got done that day.
My goal this time in, was to clean the frame and prepare it for the drop channel to be welded. Tony came back over, and we re-rearranged the garage (again) and stripped the frame, then set it at ride height… 6″ above ground.
*EDIT: After I talked it over with multiple people, I found that my ride height will be more along the lines of 1-2″ above ground. It will still park frame.
Now that we have established ride height, it is necessary to fabricate a front end suspension for the chassis and to C-notch the rear end for axle clearance. I will be using the AMC 20 axle that came from my ’84 Wagoneer as a rear axle, and will be driving 33″ tires, front and rear.
. . .
Ultimately, I would like this to park and lay frame, but I find me going Jiminy Cricket on myself, and I have been trying to keep the scope creep to a minimum. This means that I have an original idea, and I need to stick to it. I need to keep from adding to it, and complicating it more than I already have. So, I may find that ride height, and park height are the same. We will see how that all pans out.
I had to check the frame true.
 IMG_0989 IMG_0990
Looks like the bubble is happy!