Willys Pickups?

Discussion in 'Jeep Utility Tech' started by colojeepguy, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. Oct 22, 2016
    colojeepguy

    colojeepguy Colorado Springs Sponsor

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    So, my son is 12 1/2, and loves old trucks. He's decided he wants a Willys pickup when he turns 16, and I'm thinking about a dad/son project for the next 3 years. But, I honestly don't know a lot about Willys pickups, other than they share some of the early CJ mechanicals. My idea would be a resto/mod type vehicle...keep it stock looking, but with a more modern drivetrain and better steering & braking. Any thoughts? Things to avoid? Are certain years better than others?
     
  2. Oct 22, 2016
    Tumbleweed

    Tumbleweed Senior member

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    Willys pickup cabs are really small sized, might suggest a wagon instead. I would say that upgrading complete drivetrain would be necessary for a rig that will be driven more than a few miles. If it was me, I would look for a donor rig that had all the modern drivetrain and swap into the Willys. Wish I could have kept my wrecked 2004 Chevy half ton 4x4 for a project like this. It was totaled for body and frame damage but all mechanicals just had 100k on them and worked fine. Around here there are a ton of wrecked Tahoe's that might be a good candidate.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  3. Oct 22, 2016
    timgr

    timgr Jeepin' Nerd Sponsor

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    Well, I don't know that much about them, but I do know that the earliest ones came with the L134 or F134 (totally inadequate for modern highways), and later with the 226 flathead, and in the last few years, the 230 OHC engine. These trucks ended in 1965. replaced by the Gladiator/J-trucks.

    If I was going to replace the drivetrain, I'd think an ideal donor (especially for a young driver) would be my 1977 J-10, which has the right track width, good brakes (power front disks), and the 258/T-15/D20 combo. It also has Saginaw power steering. To keep things simple, I would use the original frame and weld new spring mounts.

    There may be a Jeep Utility forum out there, but I don't know of it. I think if you post your general question on the "full size" Jeep forums (ifsja.org or fsjnetwork.com), you'll get some feedback about axles and such. I'm sure there are a lot of different donors that could be used. The Willys body may drop on a J-truck frame pretty easily, but the wheelbase will be different. If you select a J-truck as a donor, pick one 1974 or later, which will have an open front 44 with (almost certainly) disk brakes.
     
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  4. Oct 22, 2016
    Tumbleweed

    Tumbleweed Senior member

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    Timgr brings up a good point. Newer donor rigs are going to have a bunch of wiring, sensors, and crap to reuse; not to mention likely IFS. A late 70's or early 80's pickup might be a better donor.
     
  5. Oct 22, 2016
    Bostonbob

    Bostonbob Delta Colo

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    I think the Willys forum has a write up on swapping to a late model chevy frame . the guy lives in Evergreen or Conifer , A buddy of mine runs Homers Garage out of the Springs [ rt 24 ] area does a lot with Willys trucks /wagons
     
  6. Oct 22, 2016
    Howard Eisenhauer

    Howard Eisenhauer Super Moderator Staff Member Sponsor

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    Many of the guys here are into the trucks/wagons-

    Yahoo! Groups

    H.
     
  7. Oct 22, 2016
    ITLKSEZ

    ITLKSEZ Volvophilic

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    I don't know how big of a project you're looking for, but if you can find one, an IH Scout Traveler is a perfect donor for a frame and axles. Close to the same width and exact same wheelbase.

    [​IMG]

    I'm one of those weirdos who actually like IHs, so I'd say keep the whole drivetrain. The IH V-8s were built to run for a long, long time. They're just heavy and not very efficient. Power steering, brakes... and many had AC.
     
  8. Oct 22, 2016
    timgr

    timgr Jeepin' Nerd Sponsor

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    Is the rear track width of a Scout enough for the Willys truck? It's my understanding that the flat floor of the truck bed is more than 4' wide. I know the J-trucks have a wider rear axle so that the bed is wide enough for 4x8 sheets to lay flat. That's the main reason the J-trucks have their prominent flares - so they can share body design with the Wagoneer.
     
  9. Oct 22, 2016
    nickmil

    nickmil Super Moderator Staff Member Sponsor

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    The full size vehicles, including Jeep Pu's had axles that are way wide for a Willys pickup except for the rear axle. A '75-'79 Wagoneer front axle works well for a Willys PU as can a Scout 2 front if you deal with the long steering arm and lack of positive caster issue. Willys PU's are the oddball in that the rear axle is wider than the front. The rear axle of the pickup is also a different width than the Willys wagon. I'd look on Craigslist as I see them pop up all the time where someone has already done most of the hard work then cannot finish it or gets bored with it. Like any of the old Jeeps look for rust. It can be difficult to find a cab that doesn't have severe rust issues. I'd stay away from the earlier ones with the pushbutton inside door releases as these can be problematic in my limited experience.

    If you find a stock one that you like a 4.3 v-6 Chev swap works well in these as can an inline 6. There is more room under the hood than an early CJ or Flatfender so that helps considerable. A steering upgrade should be considered as they also use the Ross system. The later ones used Bendix 11" drum brakes and work well. The earlier ones used 11" Lockheed brakes (cam adjusters) and can be maintenance pita. Just like the CJ's and Flatfenders, these can easily be upgraded to disc brakes. Try and get one with the 44 rear axle as it opens up possibilities. The Dana 53 is an oddball at best and can be difficult to source parts or to perform upgrades.
     
  10. Oct 22, 2016
    Glenn

    Glenn Kinda grumpy old man Staff Member Sponsor

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  11. Oct 22, 2016
    ITLKSEZ

    ITLKSEZ Volvophilic

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    I found this on the WillysTech Knowledge Base.
    I built a Willys pickup on a Scout platform with a Wagoner front axle and a narrowed J-truck D60 rear. My rear ended up a little wider than the front, but it was because of other limiting factors. Now I can say I planned it that way. ;)
     
  12. Oct 22, 2016
    Danefraz

    Danefraz Sponsor Sponsor

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    may be you can get more info out of this gal for a place to start... quick search on CL for Willys, Willies, etc. turned up this:

    1956 Jeep Willies
     
  13. Oct 22, 2016
    FinoCJ

    FinoCJ 1970 CJ5 Sponsor

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    Everytime I get an interest in Wagons (by association PUs) - this forum seems to be the one for info.

    Maybe you guys should buy this one so I don't have to see it on CL anymore - it just kind of bothers me (in a bad way)
    1949 Willys truck. Beautiful! One of a kind! LS1!

    One other question: How committed is your son or you to this project? I love the idea, but worth considering the possibility that 3 years from now your son's interest changes. High school is a 'unique' period for our youth these days. I have a jeep to keep me sane from the HS environment I am in everyday. The same students change a lot over the course of a year or two, for both better and worse. Even if the truck doesn't become his daily HS driver, its may still be worth the father son time and you might end up with a cool truck!
     
  14. Oct 22, 2016
    timgr

    timgr Jeepin' Nerd Sponsor

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    IIRC some of them had the Timken rear axle, which is also a headache.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Oct 22, 2016
    duffer

    duffer Rodent Power Sponsor

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    Like any early Willys product, the sky (and money) is the limit when you get into the mods. In stock form, only the 226 and 230 engines were what I consider adequate for power and either of those will go 70 mph with the right gearing or an OD. The axles pretty much suck. Either the Timken or the D53 as Nick noted and very difficult to find stock parts for and near impossible to find traction devices.

    The front axles are just wider versions of the CJ's-either D25 or D27's. Barely adequate for the CJ's and leave a lot to be desired for the heavier trucks and FC's.

    So as always, what is the use anticipated to be??????? That will determine what sort of driveline will be required.

    Doug, if you want to make a trip here, I will donate you a reasonably decent cab, hood, fenders and frame (at least I think I still have a pickup frame)-all likely from different rigs. But you will still need something with a title and preferably something mostly complete for all the rest.
     
  16. Oct 22, 2016
    dozerjim

    dozerjim Member

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    I have put a willys pickup on a '77 chevy pu 2 wheel drive frame,wheels hang out about 1 1/2in on each side with stock wheels,I was told the other night at a cruise night that '88 and later have a bigger off set and might help tuck the wheels where they belong.Wasn't a bad project,shorten the frame and making new cab mounts that use the original Willys cab mounts and making clutch linkage were the biggest things as I recall.I was looking for better steering and braking with a modern v8 that cruises down the road easily and at cruise night makes scratch there heads,lol.oldwillys forum has a ton of information on swaps and conversions,good luck...Jim
     
  17. Oct 22, 2016
    PeteL

    PeteL Member Sponsor

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    I had a 1950 F-head Willys-Overland FWD truck as my only vehicle for ten years. Comments….

    Absolutely a fantastic work vehicle around the farm and in the woods - wish I had it today.

    Very heavy capacity (true one-ton with the HD springs), but small enough to be nimble in tight places. Good in snow and mud. Tremendously useful with a PTO winch.

    On the highway, okay around town but very limited top speed/acceleration. The Timken "clamshell" axle was only in the earliest 4-cylinder models like mine and was very low ratio. My longest trip on an Interstate was 300 miles in a single day, but that was in a blizzard with few other vehicles on the road.

    OEM heater and defroster were placebos. A mouse can breath harder and hotter. In winter I'd drive with the windows open to prevent icing on the inside of the glass. Vacuum wipers in all their mightiness, also.

    Cab is indeed very small.

    They had a tendency to break the frame in half, right behind the cab, but only because they were such workhorses. It is very easily repaired in any case.

    Intact beds, tailgates, and rear fenders are rare - at least in the North-East. If you are doing a drivetrain swap, I believe you'll discover the rear track was wider than the front track, IIRC. The bed will indeed carry a 48" panel.

    These days they seem to be collectible and increasing in "cool-factor" desirability.

    A great truck, but within the limits of 1950's type use.

    As the father of a new teen driver, I would add that the safety systems we expect in newer vehicles are entirely absent.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  18. Oct 22, 2016
    colojeepguy

    colojeepguy Colorado Springs Sponsor

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    I do worry that his interests will change...but I still would like to try it. If nothing else, it'd be nice forhim to get his hands dirty and learn about mechanical things.
     
  19. Oct 22, 2016
    Glenn

    Glenn Kinda grumpy old man Staff Member Sponsor

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    Of course I'll be the one to say keep it stock if you get one. The flathead 226 is plenty of engine and is reliable and as simple as can be to maintain. The wagons and pickups drive and handle much better than a CJ. The totally stock 11 inch brakes stop my wagon fine and they are not difficult to adjust.
     
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  20. Oct 22, 2016
    wheelie

    wheelie beeg dummy Sponsor

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    Rear window went from small to big somewhere around '55, give or take. Split windshield became one piece around '60 I think.
     

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