Thursday, January 26, 2017

A CJ 2A Jeep

During WW II the military was searching for a small vehicle that had no specific purpose, but could and would be used for anything and everything short of flying.  After design work and testing a ¼ ton four-wheel-drive vehicle was selected for manufacture by the Willys Company.  As it was an improved model from the original concept it was labeled MB for Military B model.  Well over half a million of these were produced and used during the war.
After WW II came to a close Willys decided to build a model for the general public.  They thought of it as a general use farm vehicle, and it thus was outfitted with various extras, such as a power take off shaft, for that purpose.  As opposed to the MB military version this one was labeled CJ for Civilian Jeep, starting with model CJ 1, and progressing from there.
In 1968 searching for a vehicle, in my price range, suitable for rabbit hunting, I located a 1949 model CJ 2A that was more or less all together.  It started and ran fine but the front differential had stripped gears and an axle was broken.  In two wheel drive it was fine.  Not being a real perfectionist, yet wanting to get full usage from my Jeep, I located a 1950 Jeep with an intact differential, but with no axles in it.  Not to worry, the gentleman I purchased it from threw in a 1951 front end with a no-good differential, but the axles were just like new.
So, like Johnny Cash and his “one piece at a time Cadillac,” I built me a 1949, 1950, 1951 Jeep.  Well, as I recall forty plus years later, the differential gears fit right in fine, but when it came to the axles that was a different matter.  Now I’m sort of mechanically inclined, but in a crude way.  No matter how I tried I couldn’t seem to fit that right front axle in where it belonged.  Ultimately I got it about 99 % in place, and then drove it in the final bit with a 12 pound sledge hammer.  Then it fit, sort of.  When I threw the proper levers it went into four-wheel-drive okay, and with another lever movement it would shift from low to high range, but was it ever a bear to steer that thing.  Obviously it didn’t have power steering, but it could have used it.  It must have been something to do with that axle installation method because it was fine prior to that, but never again did it steer normally thereafter.

I drove that thing for two more years that way though, and then sold it to a fellow rabbit hunter who was aware of its peculiar characteristics as we had hunted together on many occasions.  I moved several states away from Mississippi so never heard of it again, but maybe it’s still in use.

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