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Thread: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations

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    Default Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    I have a '55 Jeep willys that runs great but needs a few mandatory upgrades:

    Need decent seats and seat belts installed. Current seats are terrible and appear fabricated and no seatbelts at all.

    The steering components also need fixing, it works but steering is very loose and something needs replacement in the steering linkage.


    Bonus upgrades (not mandatory but definitely want to do):

    Roll cage - does not have anything currently so this is almost a required upgrade if this truck will see anything steep and tippy.

    Suspension - current is the original leaf spring & probably original everything I believe. Would love to convert to coil and lift this thing to fit bigger tires (currently 31" tires).


    If anyone knows a good shop or does this sort of stuff, please let me know. This thing runs great and crawls like a tank but would be so much safer and drive better with the above upgrades. I'm just starting to look around so any suggestions are very much appreciated
          

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    I would strongly suggest joining the earlycj5.com forum - alhtough you have an m170 of course. But there is no better forum for info on the F134 (which would be OEM for the m170) or any other component. There are a few on there that have swapped to coils - its not trivial at all, and no kits are made for it so its a custom piece it together type mod. CJ6 rollbar will work fine for the m170 if you can find one - and like the look of it (I don't). The aftermarket options for the cj6 rollbar is only a center hoop with back supports - no front hoop. Fabricating is another option (my preference_ - lots of help with that from forum members here. Check the early cj5 forum for lots of pics of roll bar designs for long wheelbase jeeps. One nice thing about the m170 is it should have a boxed frame and slightly larger Ross box steering as compared to standard f134 cj6. But, the Ross box is not ideal in any sense (although I still run mine), and there are not upgrades other than to remove it and replace. Most go with a saginaw power set-up mounted inside the left front frame rail horn. Assuming yours hasn't had anything done to it, it would also change the double tie-rod set-up standard on early jeeps to a single tie rod with drag link.

    Just my opinion...and I guess a lot depends on your experience with fabricating and modifying (not I don't say upgrade as that implies more 'off the shelf' as opposed to fabricating upgrades). Almost nothing is made to 'upgrade' these jeeps. I am not as familiar with the m38a1 and m170 family of military jeeps - but generally most start with brake upgrades (11" drum is easy and common - just did mine but backing plates must be found - many other go with a disk kit off-the shelf). After that its steering. Assuming you have f134 engine, lifts and bigger tires come at a huge performance cost for an already taxed engine. If its already been swapped, then go for it. For suspension, the YJ or holbrook upgrade is probably best (but still leaf spring) and requires some spring mounting mods at the frame. Otherwise, the BDS and skyjacker kits for early cjs are probably the best of the bunch off the shelf. These are still the 1.75" leafs - anything else requires some mods.

    Finally, my favorite mod has been my spare gas tank - the underseat 10 gal tank doesn't have much range. So you can add a 15 gal between the rear frame rails (with some mods) that distributes the weight better and gives a lot of range. I run a simple electric switch between the tanks and thus have 25 gal. By far the most useful, and I love my 11" brake drum upgrade as well. I also have the stock v6 so its got plenty of power for up to 33s, but that's about it with 4.88 gears.
    ___________
    James Orofino
    1970 CJ5
    1958 Willys Wagon
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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    Wow, you know your Jeep stuff! I was thinking is there a shop in the area that does this sort of thing? I did oil changes for the engine, gearbox, diffs and transmission but that's about as mechanic as I get. I could budget $5-10k to get things done but I won't be doing the work

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    I really like old iron 4x4s - I just know about early jeeps because I have one. How long have you had it? Assume you drive it a lot?

    These old jeeps are a lot of fun, and quite capable in stock form...but at the same time, what was the most capable 4wd from 1950 is now pretty much less capable than a side by side atv. With a little luck, you have a powr loc in the rear Dana 44 - pretty much the best limited slip ever made. I would suggest, unless your ready to go all out with modifying, make the safety mods you feel you need (for me that is full rollbar and brakes - I had dual reservoir with 10" brakes with the v6 which were ok, but the standard single reservoir 9" brakes are scary), and then drive it a lot as is. I run mine pretty much in stock form (v6) with a small lift kit using stock width leaf spring with 33s (although mine are crappy stiff ranchos). Keep the tires narrow - your axles and steering knuckles will thank you and traction is way better given the ridiculously light GVW of these things. I have no power steering or brakes, the manual shifting with the various marginally inept shift cables and linkages willys used over the years will frustrate you when you need to shift the most, the through the floor pedals will bind and stick in the worst possible situations, and you'll either love or grow tired of the insanity of keeping it running, driving and wheeling it. Plus, when you go to the parts store - most of the counter people will have no clue what you are asking for. (Points? what are points?)

    I think a 55 would have a twin stick D18 transfercase to go with a t90 transmission. The D18 is stout - but its always in gear even when using 2wd - so it has that wonderful gear 'whine' that slowly causes you to go deaf. Guessing you'll have 5.38 gears, which will give you a crawl ration of just over 41. It will seem like it will crawl over anything...that is just because its slow. A CR of 41 isn't particularly great (although better than my cj5 which was 37 stock). I put Tera Low gears in mine last summer to get close to 50 (not sure the 55 D18 would allow for that). When these things were built, 31 inch tires were unheard of - not to mention the D25 front axle doesn't love big tires, and the closed knuckle steering has it limits. My extended cab tacoma can make a tighter turn than my 81"wheelbase cj5. But, even with smallish tires, the ground clearance is phenomenal (although less so for the long wheel base m170). I always say of my jeep, its never a matter of clearance, its a matter of traction (the m170 wheelbase may actually help with this - and a powr lock as well - and a flexy suspension). Any trail with a TD rating up to 4 is no problem in stock form. 5-6 is kind of the limit.

    Of course, if yours has already been modded with engine and drivetrain swaps, then go for it. Just remember that the frame, steering, brakes and narrow inboard suspension doesn't love high performance driving - and nothing was designed to handle big tires. As mentioned before - its just not comparable to any type of new 4x4 jeep. Its a HUGE project to try and make it more modern. I think they are a blast to drive and wheel as is - but in a sort of masochistic way. I like keeping it mostly original and just enjoying the historical aspect - it will definitely improve your driving skills! There are some old 4x4s around here - would be cool to get an old iron run together. Louis has a 78BJ40 and Doink has an old scout. A few others have some old jeeps, land cruisers, broncos etc sitting around, but I think many have migrated to newer 4x4s for most of their runs.
    ___________
    James Orofino
    1970 CJ5
    1958 Willys Wagon
    2010 Tacoma TRD

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    I've had it for about 4 years. Sat for almost three of those years but after moving to Allenspark we drove it a lot last summer. It stays on our property most of the time, but it's cool and always starts up even if it was sitting for months.

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    Any suggestions for a decent 4x4 shop to help me with these things?

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    My main recommendation would be to NOT use Republic Park jeep (pretty much the only early jeep guy around). Maybe I should say do a little research on them before you go (BBB etc) and make your own decision. They do have a nice collection of hard to find salvage parts - but he wants a lot of money for them (which is sometimes understandable given how hard they can be to find) - but more importantly can be very difficult/unpleasant to deal with.

    I used to have good luck with predator 4wd in the Springs and they were very CJ focused - their shop seems to be much smaller and less active than it used to be. I might suggest looking into Bullhide 4x4 - I know they have shop in Ft Collins and think they have a Boulder shop(?), but I have never used them. Ray Schlepy and his brother own or manage the shop, and they have a large private salvage collection of early jeeps near Bellvue, CO that they use to rebuild and restore old jeeps as side projects. He often has parts for sale on Craigslist and has been helpful with me. I've never paid for shop work at Bullhide, but my interaction with Ray has been positive enough that I would consider his shop first. And at least the owners/managers know old cjs.
    High Country performance 4x4 on sante fe is probably ok, but like a lot of 4x4 shops these days they focus on new stuff and these old jeeps are not necessarily in their standard wheelhouse. The have been helpful for me a couple times when trying to get info, but again never paid for work from them. Have ordered a couple parts though as a thank you (could have found them cheaper online, but knowledgeable people are worth some extra expense).
    Serious Off-road is a member on here - might contact them (I have no personal experience with them). Dieseldoc might have some other suggestions for smaller shops and operations. Timbuktu also advertise lots of of jeeps stuff - but I think there have been some pretty negative experiences from members here with them (please correct me if I am wrong - don't want to give anyone an undue bad reputation).

    One thing to consider - do some basic work yourself. Mostly, I am thinking of lift kit is really easy if your using replacement style leaf springs. Literally its 6 nuts per spring and they are all easy to access. Brake upgrades are pretty easy as well. These can be done in a couple hours each - as long as you don't run into some stubborn, rusted on, beat the eff out of it nut, bolt or whatever that is 60 years seized in place. Steering is a bigger challenge - that is why I've yet to undertake it. Bending tubing or DOM for a body mounted rollbar (use large footpads and backing plates) doesn't require a specialty 4x4 shop (more in the fabrication area) - and their are lots of members here that might be able to help you out (Brucker comes to mind, maybe Skinny Fabrication). Same with bumpers/spare tire carriers. If I did it again, i would make my own rear bumper/carrier, but a number of years ago when i was a complete fabrication noob (now I am just a partial noob), I got Tomken Machine near Buena Vista to make my bumper carrier - their quality is great, but a bit pricey. As for seats, you can get stock OEM replacement seats from KaiserWillys or the like (Walcks, Debella Jeep Parts, Vintage Jeep Parts). If you want something more modern, lots of options from the standard aftermarket 4x4 dealers (morris 4x4, quadratec, etc) but its the mounting/bracket options that are more difficult. I still use only a lab belt, but with lowback seats it seems appropriate. I may one day go with high backs, then I would add shoulder belt to the rollbar post. Oh..and as you probably already know, when searching for jeep parts, m170 is not very common so use m38a1 (if an option) or go with early cj5 (1955-1975) as they share a lot of the same parts.

    I am just a shadetree, work on my jeep and learn as i go type (don't call myself a mechanic), and I have done almost all the work myself. Obviously there is a time commitment that could be spent doing other stuff - we each make our own judgement as to what that time is worth. Some stuff I'd be happy to try and help you out, if nothing else I can show you what I have done...others on here like working on stuff as well, so could get a group of 3-4 members together and see what they can get done for a few beers and some pizza!

    I will put a little plug in here - I have some 10" drums with backing plates for the front axle that are an improvement over the 9" you probably have.
    ___________
    James Orofino
    1970 CJ5
    1958 Willys Wagon
    2010 Tacoma TRD

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    RockyMtRebel previously posted:
    "I could budget $5-10k to get things done but I won't be doing the work"

    For that kind of money you can buy a built Wrangler and wheel the snot out of it: http://www.frontrange4x4.com/forums/...r-rock-crawler

    If it were my choice to make, new seats, seat belts, roll bar, and fresh steering sound reasonable. Past that, I'd enjoy it for what it is.
    ___________
    The Lost Boys motto: We don't know where we're going, but we'll be there for awhile. :)

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    Hypoid previously posted:
    "For that kind of money you can buy a built Wrangler and wheel the snot out of it: http://www.frontrange4x4.com/forums/...r-rock-crawler

    If it were my choice to make, new seats, seat belts, roll bar, and fresh steering sound reasonable. Past that, I'd enjoy it for what it is."

    I agree, new seats, belts, roll bar (basic) and fresh steering.... that's all I'm going to do I think, maybe brakes also.

    That one for sale is pretty sick, $6K seems like a good deal too. It's only money right? ;-)

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    RockyMtRebel previously posted:
    "It's only money right? ;-)"

    Even better, it's YOUR money I'm spending!
    ___________
    The Lost Boys motto: We don't know where we're going, but we'll be there for awhile. :)

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    LOL, haven't spent it yet though..... I have a 2009 Pontiac G8 GT that I'm considering trading/selling for a 2000+ Jeep Wrangler built up with big tires, winch, etc. Hardest part is committing since I've had the Pontiac forever and it's a bad ass muscle car!

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    for the money you have, buy the jeep from Alex, spend some on the need parts for the old iron to make it safe and such, keep it as it is'ish.

    stay away from timbuckthree expecpt for parts.
    moose had to rebuild and engine that had never fired as this guy could get base timming right then bent veavles, the crank hard to see the machine shop, mind you this was a new crank never been run.

    as for work we have a few folks here with the skills and tools.
    i dont have a bender or I would do this for you and make it fit under the soft top no bow kit.....

    the rig alex has up for sale is sweet

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    I have a 2004 Rubicon for sale can't take trades since I owe money on it it's the red one on my Profile

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    Default Re: Who can help get my '55 Jeep updated - taking recommendations



    Kurtis previously posted:
    "I have a 2004 Rubicon for sale can't take trades since I owe money on it it's the red one on my Profile"

    Post a for sale ad with pictures and info, how much are you looking to get?

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