Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jeeps On The Beach

Its very nearly the end of the summer already so I figured that it was about time that I posted these. Plus, I’m on vacation and I’m not sure if any beach time will fit into it, so I’ll have to live vicariously through these. Over its long history the jeep has been seen in many places including the beach. Usually it was wartime during an invasion. But it wasn’t all work. The jeep has seen its fair share of beach time, leisure-wise and a different sort of work helping out lifeguards. The above photo was taken in 1946 and indicates that the WW2 MBs were “redeployed” on the beaches patrolled by the Los Angeles County lifeguards. Many of these maybe not surprisingly were found through either the Los Angeles County or City websites. Leave it to the west coasters to know how to enjoy their beach time. I’m just glad to see that the jeep was included in that fun and sometimes got a break from work!
You can see the full sized photos in the These Old Jeep Website Finds album here. Come back next week for another update of the very best of the jeep since 1940 only at

Saturday, August 24, 2013

An Update From Cameron Danner And His 1947 CJ2-A

You may remember 19 year old Cameron Danner who bought and painstakingly restored a 1947 CJ2-A. I profiled him last month right here. Not only did the 2A get a second lease on life, but a second career as well, as a pin up model! When we spoke, Cameron had promised me a glimpse at future photos to be taken with his model. And here they are. This is Jennifer N. Lee in a retro style photo shoot with Cameron’s jeep at an old pipe mill in Napa. That old mill made for a great background to many of the photos that Cameron sent me detailing his build and made for an awesome background for these photos with Jennifer. Cameron wanted me to share them with his fellow jeepers, so here they are! Cameron also said that another friend is interested in posing for another retro shoot, so stay tuned for more. Great work again, Cameron! Your jeep is looking good and its company too. Thanks again for sharing and check out the rest of his photos here. Come back tomorrow for an end of the summer update.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Willys-Overland Industrial Equipment Book, Part Ten- A Short History Of The Winch

Today I want to present the final section of the 1952 Willys-Overland Industrial Equipment Binder. Its dedicated to the winches available in the day. There were two big ones in those years, Ramsey and the King Winch by Koenig Iron Works, the Houston based company best known for their hardtops. But while Ramsey and Koenig were the best known they were not the only names out there. There were companies by the names of Fairey, Link-Belt, Aeroparts, Braden and even Willys own winches. But these were not the familiar style of winches that we see on the front bumper of many a jeep today, but were capstan winches.
But let’s back up a bit. Winches have been around long before the jeep. In nautical history, the winch isn’t exactly a ‘winch,’ but instead a capstan and the first capstans were seen in use way back in the 4th century B.C. A capstan is a winch that has a drum mounted vertically and applies force on a rope or cable usually for sails on ships. The winch evolved from the nautical windlass, basically a winch as we know it, but man powered by a crank or a belt system rather than electricity to move a weight. The drum or fulcrum of the windlass was mounted in a horizontal fashion and from there we have the basic look of what we are familiar with as the winch today. While capstans are still found on sailing ships, the term ‘winch’ is now generally regarded as a mechanical device usually powered by electricity rather than by hand power.
Capstans were pretty simple, you just loosely wrapped the rope around the top bollard (the top post that turned via clutch driven power from the front crankshaft...) but it required the driver and possibly helpers to tug on the rope and the friction of the rope then increased and grasped the turning bollard. Capstan winches were found throughout WW2 and seemed to be a response to the jungle fighting in the Pacific theater where the little 1/4 tons were frequently bogged down in heavy mud.
As a helping hand, winches were pretty useful in getting a jeep unstuck, but along with a bit of ingenuity their uses were expanded. As this page from a 1959 Ramsey catalogue shows, their C7R capstan winches came in handy for a variety of tasks. Images courtesy the CJ3B Page.
Eventually the design of the capstan was replaced by a conventional style winch mounting the cable on a horizontal drum enabling the user to control the winch from inside the jeep as well as equipping the winch with more pull. These early winches that we see in the Equipment binder are controlled by a PTO set up that could sometimes be a bit complicated. With a long drive shaft that had to be routed either to the front or back from a power take off mounted on the transfer case to the winch itself there was plenty of driveshaft. Before they were replaced by the electric winch these were the common set up in the jeeping world and now are sought after by collectors and restorers. You still see a great deal of interesting combinations and winch mounting locations that gave you both front and rear as well as a bed mounted winch that could be used as a wrecker.
While there two listed in the binder in 1952, there are a whole slew of winch manufacturers today all battling for the lucrative recreational 4X4 market share. Ramsey is still out there after a beginning as a tool and die company that manufactured parts for Douglas Aircraft during the war. They designed the Model 101 in 1945 and renamed themselves as Ramsey Bothers Winch Co. two years later. Koenig and their King winches don’t exist any longer. At least not exactly. According to they yet exist as RKI due to a merger. Where was Warn in all this as they are now the world’s largest manufacturer of winches? Well, back when they were incredibly diversified and according to their company history they made everything from beer keg tops to aircraft parts, they began to sell Belleview winches made by Belleview Manufacturing starting in 1959. The Belleview’s design was later acquired by Warn and became the builder of the iconic Warn 8274. But in the early 1950’s they were primarily making the free wheeling hubs that started out this binder. Sort of ironic that they’ve gone from making the hubs showcased in the first few pages (and that are still made, but have nowhere as near a demand for as their winches) to having taken over the product that their closest competitors in the final pages were known for.
Thanks for hanging in there and I hope that you’ve enjoyed this piece of jeep history. I think that it shed a valuable light on the sheer versatility of the early days of the jeep. Kaiser inherited a very large and important piece of history when they acquired jeep from Willys-Overland. This binder dates from the final year of Willys ownership and the beginning of the stewardship by Kaiser. I think that Kaiser did a fine job in making the jeep as marketable as they possibly could in the beginning while helping to create a new ‘breed’ of 4X4 with the Wagoneer and early Cherokee models. Kaiser also brought the jeep out from the slightly stodgy 40’s with the 1960’s Buick oddfire 225 V6. They continued to allow the jeep to evolve from the 2A to the 3A, the 3B and the legend that is the CJ-5. They built the Forward Control models This transitionary phase is evinced by this binder and shows a peek at what is sure to come.
Come back next week for more from the legendary jeep! I hope to have some new t-shirt designs as well as a few other products in the Zazzle online store soon!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The 2013 Calendar- August

The photo that holds the place of the August 2013 page in the calendar was undoubtedly taken in France as shown by the caption on the back, “Viva La France.” I have no idea where it was taken precisely, but I chose this photo as August marks the 69th anniversary of the Liberation of Paris next week. Way back on August 19th, Allied forces were rumored to be near and the uprising led by the French Resistance and irregular French forces began. Parisians were elated and were ecstatic in their displays of affection for the Allied forces led by the 2nd French Armored and the 4th U.S. Infantry Divisions. This M.P. certainly seemed happy to be sandwiched between these two women. Vive La France indeed!
I will hopefully get to the very last pages of the Willys Industrial Equipment Binder next week along with a short history of the winch. I was hoping it would be up today, but doing research on the winch and the jeep is harder than I thought it would be. Plus we have friends coming over soon, so time is just not available. This is the last time that I’ll announce something without having finished the majority of the work beforehand! Thanks for your patience and come back next week. Remember to check out the 2013 calendar here and soon, there will be new t-shirt and water bottle designs in the online store. I’ll announce them here when available. See you next week for more of the jeep!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Willys-Overland Industrial Equipment Book, Part Nine, Ramsey And King Winch

Well, it took me some time, but I finally got the last pages in the 1952 Willys Overland Industrial Equipment Binder scanned and corrected. However in so doing that yesterday it didn’t leave me any time to research the winch’s history in conjunction with the jeep. I’m not making any promises, but I hope to present the last pages full of parts lists and prices and brochures for both Ramsey and Koenig Iron Works’ offering, the King winch next Sunday. It all depends on how much time I have and how long it will take to finish the research and write the piece.
For today we have the actual W-O pages listing what was available in the early 1950’s for a PTO driven and non-capstan type of winch, namely Ramsey and Koenig’s. Where’s the best known winch today, Warn? Their winches weren’t developed until 1959 a few years shy of inclusion here. Ironic in a way. Also its fitting that the binder started out with Warn’s freewheeling hubs which aren’t as synonymous with Warn as their winches nowadays.
So enjoy these four pages and come back next week for more. Click here to be taken to the full album. The summer is flying by and I’m trying to get a few projects done around the house as well build my boys a tree fort and continue work on my 1953 CJ3-B project. Curious? Looking for a friendly and flame-free vintage jeep forum? Check it out at the forum. See you next week!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Pacific Body Builders of Portland, Oregon

About two weeks ago I received an email from a reader by the name of Dale who had purchased the 1948 CJ2-A seen here. With it was this very interesting hardtop he had never heard of before. He found my February 17article on hardtops and decided to ask me if I knew anything about the company whose badge is still attached to the side. Pacific Truck Body Equipment Co. of Portland, Oregon was a bit of a mystery to me and still remains so. The references that I found are disjointed pieces, but start to form a larger puzzle and so I’ll just present them here.
I’ve found quite a few mentions of the company across the web, but not alot too solid yet about their eventual fate. It was known as ‘Pacific Body Builders’ to begin with and they apparently specialized in heavy and mid sized truck body conversions. One of the first things that I found was this mechanical pencil on Ebay with the following address: “Pacific Body Builders, 1812 N.E. Grand Ave. Portland, OR TR 1128.” They are listed as being a distributor for Reliance Trailers, (a company that is still around...) that makes heavy truck dump beds. Portland Body Builders manufactured “truck, trailer and commercial bodies” according to the pencil.
A search of the address brings up nothing, unfortunately. Mainly fast food restaurants and gas stations are all that remain along that address.
Dave Eilers of eWillys gave me the following tidbit when he found an obit for a former employee, Herman C. ‘Pete’ Blumhagen: “Mr. Blumhagen was born Oct. 26, 1919 in Polson, Mont. He moved to Portland in 1946 and was a sheet metal fabricator and truck body designer for Pacific Truck Body for 40 years.” Well, they certainly inspired loyalty and dedication in their employees!
As a side note, their factory at the time is listed as having been designed by a famed Washington State architect Day Walter Hilborn in 1946. You can see the full list of his projects here. Man, was he prolific!
Pacific seemed pretty diverse, probably a winning formula for any company, and there were two references to them building bookmobiles. A little snippet about ‘Celeste The Bookmobile’ for the King County Library System can be found here.
“A second book mobile, on order for several years but never delivered due to wartime restrictions, was finally received and put into service in 1947, generating much publicity and an immediate jump in circulation. The vehicle, known fondly as Celeste, was one of eight built for Washington libraries by Pacific Body Builders of Portland and Vancouver Chevrolet of Vancouver, Washington.”
They are also listed in a 1955 California Library system directory as a recommended supplier of bookmobile conversions. The side note lists a Thomas M. Murphy as a contact, but I haven’t been able to find anything on him yet.
But their bread and butter seems to have been truck conversions of which I have found three references to:
One, a PDF of an official Dodge listing of recognized and accepted companies that perform utility body conversion work on Dodge trucks. Pacific Body Builders is listed as performing ‘line construction bodies and utility service bodies (for telephone and plumbing)’ conversions. This listing dates from 1948. Pacific seemed to have thrived for awhile. In the summer of 1964 I found a newspaper article from Eugene, Oregon that not only would the company be changing its name from Pacific Body Builders to Pacific Truck Body And Equipment (the tag that exists on Dale’s jeep bears this name, so it would appear that his top was manufactured post-1964...) but that they would expanding into a second location in Eugene, Oregon. It was to be their first expansion since they opened in 1945 and great things were expected for the company that “specialized in the construction of crew bus and van bodies for the forest industry and other custom truck equipment. The firm will also repair and service truck bodies.”
On the forum (for owners of pre-1973 GM trucks) someone was asking about Pacific and if anyone had ever heard of them. 
The poster states: “I just sold my very nice 1968 Ford F250 and there just happened to be this 1960 Chevrolet Apache 30 Panel truck parked next door. The owner (who's a supervisor at the Korbell mill) had bought it with intentions of doing something with it.
When I asked about it, he just said "Make me an offer." I did just that, and after a few days he agreed to sell.
This classic truck was built in Oakland, California and sold by the local dealership (Sacchi Chevrolet, in Arcata, California). It was originally equipped with an ambulance conversion done by Pacific Body Builders in Portland, Oregon.
The factory color was white. That has been repainted red, with a silver interior. After ambulance duty, the Panel was later used as a Haz-Mat vehicle.
When I took title to the truck, it only had 5,131 total miles on it. The Fire Department Logo (which my friend had painted on it about 20 years ago) is still there which I think is pretty cool. In my opinion, I think it adds personality, and helps to preserve the rich history of its earlier service.
I plan to use it as a tow vehicle for the many other cars that I own.
Thanks, Doug
The only solid answer on the Stovebolt forum is from an old GMC dealer who stated that Pacific installed beverage bodies (a delivery truck, I’d guess...?) and crew cabs in the mid- 1960’s.
On the Ford Truck Enthusiasts forum another thread highlights yet another Pacific conversion, a Chevy 3100 with the badge that reads: "Pacific Custom Panel Conversion - Pacific Body Builders - Portland, Oregon." No one had any further info.
And so that’s it. Anyone have anything further for Dale or I? I’d love to find out more and be even more excited to learn that there is more than one out there. (And even more excited to own one!) It’s a really very unique looking body. Dave Eilers suggested what I suspect is true, that it was a one off custom build or a prototype that was never mass produced. Check out the rest of Dale’s photos and the details at the original post here. I love the swing out windshield and dash tray (something that I wish that all CJs had. My ’64 had one...). Along with the very unique angled windshield and FJ-ish looking rear corner windows I really wish that this had seen a production run! Please email me if you have anything else on this company, (jeep related or not...). And thanks to Dale for sharing this great piece of jeep history with us! Come back tomorrow for more of the 1952 Industrial Equipment Binder!