Sunday, July 28, 2013

Willys-Overland Industrial Equipment Book, Part Eight- Barden Bumpers

Today we have one of the final parts of the 1952 Willys Overland Industrial Equipment Binder. Its a small section and Fall catalogue for a product that probably isn’t well known amongst fans of the jeep, Barden Bumpers of California. I had never heard of them before finding them here, but Barden Bumpers apparently had a reputation of making tough, sturdy bumpers available in a few configurations. They were available for all of the major trucks of the 1950’s from Ford and Chevy to International, Dodge and GMC and yep, of course, the Willys pickup. They also came with these unique and optional side braces on the Deluxe model. They also made spare tire mounting brackets, side brackets for carrying things like pipe and front grill guards. In trying to find more about Barden online I’ve found alot of interest in the owners of vintage pickup trucks. they had a reputation of being super tough and super heavy!
Barden is sadly no longer an active company. I tried finding what was in their two former locations in California and like so many other former active manufacturing companies there is little to no evidence of their presence. See the original post to see what I found in those locations.
Thanks for being patient this week. I know that I said that I wanted to present the final section of the binder today long with a short history of the winch, but I got way too wrapped up in well... life. Been extremely busy this past few weeks and I didn’t have the time write the article much less even scan the pages (and there are ALOT of them!). You can click on the thumbnail above to view the entire album. I’m hoping to get caught up on that this week, so stay tuned and come back next week!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The 2013 Calendar- July

Coming in today we have the July page of the 2013 calendar. I found it the perfect photo for July as it reminds me of many a summer. And a perfect summer activity is a picnic. Not to mention that this picnic happened way back in July of 1953 according to the inscription. It reads “Jim, Ellie, Stel & Al, 3- Bar Creek- Picnic 7/1953.” The photo came from Auburn, Washington which is about three hours from the location that I believe this was taken. There is even a handy National Forest Service road leading to and crossing Bar Creek. You can view it on Google Maps. Search for “Bar Creek, Mt. Baker National Forest, Whatcom, Washington.”

I had planned upon revisiting the Industrial Equipment binder today and doing a short writeup upon the last of its contents, winches, but a big dose of a shortage of time has sidelined it for at least another week. I’ve been working on redesigning the Zazzle marketplace. For awhile now there has been an issue with some of the t-shirts not printing correctly and for that, I apologize. I spent most of the day yesterday fixing those problems and now it is almost finished. So, another reason why I hadn’t been able to finish of the binder, but I hope to get back to it next week. I’ll keep my fingers crossed! Click on the thumbnail above to view the rest of the 2013 calendar pages and remember that you can still buy it from the link listed here. Check out the rest of the store in the meanwhile. I plan on designing new tee shirts and other products soon. Stay tuned right here for more on them and come back next week!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Letter From A Young Fan Of The Jeep

Last week I received an unexpected but very welcome email from Cameron Danner who lives in California. Cameron was excited to tell me about the story of his jeep. And its not just any jeep, but an awesome 1948 CJ2-A that he more or less entirely rebuilt with his own two hands. Now as any of us who have owned and built and restored an old jeep know, that’s ALOT of work for anyone. But Cameron isn’t just any guy working in his backyard garage. Cameron is 19 years old! And knowing first hand how much work and dedication and just plain perseverance is needed to carry off a major project as fully tearing down and rebuilding an old jeep that says alot. Any old jeep with its rust and previous owner’s modifications, the missing parts, the stuff that just plain needs to be stripped of old paint and new paint applied, the broken and stripped nuts and bolts and all of the busted and scraped knuckles is a major project! Cameron certainly knows that but stuck with it and now has a jeep that any of us would be proud to own.
Cameron’s love of jeeps began early on as I suspect it did for many of us. As a young boy he got to sit in the “army man’s jeep,” an MB owned by a neighbor of his grandmother. That early experience translated into Cameron becoming an apprentice in a welding and metal fabrication shop for the past four years. One day he was helping out his boss, Carl, with his project, a 1948 Willys-Overland pickup and a light bulb went off. Cameron asked Carl what he was going to do with it after it was finished and Carl, naturally wanted to keep it. Well, Cameron decided then and there that he needed a jeep of his own and set out on a search for a flat fender. Cameron soon found the jeep he was looking for and begged his boss to take him to take a look. It was owned by a little old lady and as Cameron puts it, “Once we got closer to it I noticed it was defiantly showing that it was 70 years old. The floors where rotted out, It had no motor or transmission, and hadn't been driven since 1989.” Sounds like what most of us encounter, but like any fan of the jeep, he wasn’t daunted and soon he was the proud new owner of a 1948 CJ2-A!
But Cameron, unlike many of us, got the full history of his jeep as well. The lady, Faye, told Cameron that he was now just the third owner of the jeep. The original owner bought it after returning home from the war. Like many GIs he must have been impressed with the jeep’s capabilities and bought a new civilian model for use on his almond farm in Stockton, California. The original owner used it until the flat head gave up the ghost and then decided to sell it. It was then that Robert and Faye came across. Robert fell in love with the jeep and brought it home to Vallejo. Robert replaced the little L-head with a Studebaker inline 6.
Cameron knew that the jeep was special to Robert. He even has this story, that robert and Faye’s “oldest boy, Sean who was only 2 at the time, would ride in her lap while Robert would drive them around town in the Jeep. She said it would scare her because she was always worried that baby Sean would end up falling out of the Jeep because it had no doors but luckily nothing ever happened like that.”
With the help of another friend of his boss and jeeper, Cameron soon sourced a replacement L-head from Steve who has been a mechanic since 1956. Cameron says that he loves flat heads and that was a determining factor in his picking a flat fender to restore. Cameron admits though that at the start that he had no idea how much work he was about to undertake. With this start Cameron joined a long line of fellow jeepers and formulated a plan. He says that he had decided that he “wanted to make my jeep as stock as possible but to still make it modern enough that I could drive it around town with ease.” The engine went off to the machine shop and Cameron started the total frame off resto. The engine needed a major amount of work including an 
.080 bore over to eliminate a ridge that had developed in the cylinders, new valves and seats, crank and pistons, rods and a 12 volt distributor.
One of the biggest parts of Cameron’s work had to have been restoring the frame back to its original condition as Robert had cut out parts of to make room for the old Studebaker engine. Once the running gear and frame were back in shape, Cameron fabricated a seat so that he could drive the still bodiless frame around Carl’s parking lot. He says that “people used to park in the parking lot (There is a 24 hour gym that shares the parking lot with our shop) and they would give me some interesting looks because around the corner would come this strange contraption with a kid grinning from ear to ear with several other teenagers sitting in various places on the frame driving around doing about 25 mph in a parking lot.” Awesome!
Once he had what sounds like an amazing amount of fun even helping Carl tow vehicles into and out of his shop with the bodiless jeep, Cameron began the next big project of repairing the body. It was daunting he admits. “The body of the Jeep was hammered from its tuff life living on a farm and just being that it was 70 years old. I started out by cutting out the floors and welding thousands of patches in place over the rusted out old tub.” Luckily yet another jeep fan stepped in and helped out Cameron in the form of Jeff. Jeff helped Cameron strip paint, repair dents, apply filler and sanding it all out.
And from there on Cameron filled in all the little details. “Each weekend I would add something to it like lights or some other thing would be wired and built to be in the Jeep. Jeff spent many hours teaching me every thing he could teach me about building a car so I could then go off and work on my own. Jeff builds hot rods and custom cars out of his shop so he had more than enough experience and expertise to teach me how to build my simple little Jeep.” As he learned from Jeff, Cameron gave it a test run around Jeff’s shop working out any tweaks and bugs. As Cameron did this he also learned another valuable lesson for the do it your selfer that not only was it rewarding, but that it was flattering to members of the fairer sex! “I also found out that it was a great way to get my girlfriends to like to go out for a ride in it but don't tell them that I said that hahaha :).” Hope that I didn’t give away any of your secrets there, Cameron!
When everything was assembled and running to his satisfaction, Cameron then proceeded to pull everything apart to begin painting. Talk about patience! He labelled everything but was by now very familiar with where and how it all went together. He painted his ’48 an olive drab because he loved the look and its hard to argue with that especially considering how it all turned out! 
I also asked him about the invasion star on the hood and Cameron had this to say about it. “To address the invasion star question is because when I was building that 48 when I was in the process of looking for a Jeep I was given a 43 MB that was a basket case. It was cut in half for some reason and had so much rust on it when ever I would move any parts they would literally fall apart in my hands. Then I ended up with my 2a I decided that I would use the MB and 2A to make a nice Jeep. So my 2A has many military parts on it such as clutch linkages,battery box, hubs, gauges, and some other small things here and there. So I decided to honor the MB by making my 2A sort of military.”
With some help from a couple of his buddies, Cameron had it all back together within three days after the finish paint. And so after more than 20 years the jeep was registered and on the road again! 
Cameron hasn’t finished quite yet with his jeep. He’s also adding a neat twist to adding a stereo with these custom ammo box speakers! He says that people love them and I do too!
I asked Cameron what he thought was the jeep’s biggest contribution to society and America because I’m curious about what the next up and coming generation is thinking about in terms of the jeep. He had this to say: “And (the) biggest contribution to our modern society I think was the Jeep. It might sound cliche or odd but as General Patton said we wouldn't of won WW2 without the Jeep and the M1 rifle. It couldn't of been more contributing to the war with the invention of the Jeep for WW2. The Jeep saved lives, provided protection and even just made life easier for a GI in making it so he didn't have to march from one mission to another but rather be whisked away in a Jeep to arrive in battle quickly and rested.”
Cameron adds that “It is far from finished but it is to a point that instead of welding holes in the floor boards I am trying to pick out what kind of tires to put on it, or what kind of winch I want to put on it. Its been a long haul building that Jeep but it is something that I can look out the window and see it sitting in the drive way and know there sits something that I literally poured my blood sweat and tears into. I makes me proud to know I own a little slice of American history.” Well said, Cameron!
So I want to thank Cameron for sharing his story and experiences with us. It’s definitely rewarding to get stories like this and not only get to see an awesome restoration, but to know that the next generation of jeepers are well represented by young men like Cameron! Stories like this and of jeeping and jeepers in the past are one big part of why I began, to help preserve the history and present it for others to find. I’m honored that you shared this with us, Cameron and thanks again!
As a PS. Cameron told me that he has a friend who would soon be modeling with the jeep in a retro-style pinup girl photo shoot, so we’ll get to see more soon! You can read the rest of what Cameron has to say herein the story section and see the rest of his photos as well! Come back next week for more of the timeless jeep!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Willys-Overland Industrial Equipment Book, Part Seven, More Equipment

Today we have the next to the last section of the 1952 Willys Overland Industrial Equipment binder. Its a three ring binder that a dealer would have used to show prospective customers and clients in the market for any option or piece of work equipment that was available for any model from the CJ3-A to the Pickup truck and wagons direct from the factory. It includes many, many detailed photos, brochures, detail pages and prices, hand typewritten price info and a bunch of other neat stuff that made the way around a dealer’s showroom and office. I only wish that I knew where or what dealership it may have come from.
The last few pages are filled with more of the diverse and unusual pieces of equipment that you could equip your jeep with, from the National Lift Company’s Lift-O-Matic hydraulic tailgate for the pickup, the Hydro-Lift Elevator Trailer, the Manley Wrecking Crane, the Canfield Tow Bar Company’s Wrecker to perhaps the best known of the bunch, the Auburn Machine Work’s Jeep-A-Trench. The Jeep-A-Trench still pops up now and again but are certainly not that common. It was a large trenching tool that looked like a sort of large chain saw and worked off the rear of the jeep’s PTO that could cut a trench up to six feet deep and 14 inches wide. And at 1,500 pounds they were a sight and definitely an investment priced at anywhere from nearly $2,300 to $2,900! In today’s dollars that’s roughly equivalent to over $20,000! I think that the Jeep-A-Trench is probably one of the very best examples of how versatile the uses the jeep could be put to work for.
Where are the companies now? From what I understand Auburn Machine Work became Great Dane and manufactures mowers today. You can see and read more about the Jeep-A-Trench on the CJ3B Page and you can also read a bit more about the man who ran Auburn Machine after he bought it out in 1946, Glen McIninch, who also ran a Jeep and Packard dealership. His house in Omaha, Nebraska is featured here.
As far as the American Chain and Cable Company, ACCO, they seemed to be involved in manufacturing everything from chain to hydraulic presses to tire repair machines. You can view some vintage photos of the factory on the Library of Congress’ website.
The Hydro-Lift Trailer Company of Findlay, Ohio seems to be a self-storage company today at 400 Walnut Street. The National Lift Company of Waukesha, Wisconsin doesn’t seem to exist either with only an apartment complex standing at the address listed 225 Madison St. I think that this is the owner though-Garfield Wood, inventor and entrepreneur and wooden speedboat racer and builder. According to the Wikipedia page he built speedboats until 1947 but also built winches and truck bodies for companies like International Harvester. He began way back in 1911 by building a hydraulic lift to unload coal from rail cars.
The Canfield Tow Bar Company of Detroit, Michigan no longer exists either. Formed in March 1946, it was dissolved in 1991.
This is sadly what seems to exist at 6033 East McNichols Rd in Detroit nowadays. Like much of Detroit, the urban death is saddening and heartbreaking to the American manufacturing legacy. But let’s try to remember happier times. I’ve in my collection a series of old scrapbook pages showing off the capabilities of the Canfield Tow Bar Company’s wrecker. There are two that I’ve shown off way back in the 2011 calendar and I have two more to reveal one day soon! Come back next week when I’ll be showing off the 2013 calendar page for July and in two weeks I’ll try to have the rest of the Industrial Equipment binder along with a short history of the winch and jeeps for the final section of the binder that is dedicated to winches! Have a great week and check out the whole album here!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More Myron Davis Of LIFE Magazine At Fort Holabird

I had some minor outpatient surgery yesterday and so I have a few days off from work to recover (and just plain enjoy summer with my two sons and wife!). So seeing as how its a rainy and miserable day and my duties are limited to nothing strenuous, I felt that I may as well get right into those additional Myron Davis photos that I mentioned on Sunday. I had found these through the Google archive of LIFE magazine photos some time ago last summer and had just plain forgotten about them as I was presenting the bulk of his and other LIFE photographers work. But this was a nice surprise and I hope that you enjoy these rare views into the history behind the jeep.
The credits given on the photos list them as having been shot at Fort Holabird, just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Originally titled Camp Holabird it doubled as a testing and training ground as well as an Ordnance, Quartermaster and Signal Depot and of course, as the site of the famous delivery in September 1940 of the very first “Old Number One” Bantam. These shots are listed as being taken in the cold of February 1942 which made for alot of great mud slinging and trail riding action. The men in the photos are listed as of being ‘generals,’ but I haven’t a clue of who they are. They sport armored division patches of the 4th Armored Division which was officially activated April 15, 1941, less than a year before these pics were taken.
Another great thing about these photos are the pure joy that you can see in these guys faces. I mean, what jeep lover wouldn’t love to splash through the mud and dirt in these Willys slat grills, Ford GPs and Bantam BRC-40s! At the time they were driving the newest innovation in military transportation, something that the public was excited and ramped up about and the new war effort. Keep in mind that these were taken just three months after Pearl Harbor, so the excitement to get into a new military vehicle would be high.
Wondering what Fort Holabird looks like now? Abandoned since the early 1970’s unfortunately, but the three testing hills, hill climb obstacles built in stair configurations apparently for testing different types of surfaces like mud or sand or dirt were built up in easy, medium and steep grade climbs and have become a bit of a mecca for jeep history lovers. Last January, my friend Mike Gardner took his restored 1945 CJ2-A to Holabird to climb the obstacles. You can see his videos on YouTube. Here’s one and for more info on what’s left of the fort, read up on Derek Redmond’s piece for the CJ3-B Page here.
Come back next week when I hope to have more of the Willys Industrial Equipment binder and over the next couple of days off I hopefully will find time to update the whole of the LIFE Archive section. In the meanwhile, check out all of the photos by Myron Davis here!