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Coverage of the PA Jeeps 11th Annual

2006 All Breeds Jeep Show, York PA

Offroaders.com's pick for "Best of Show"

It's not often that you see a Jeep restoration like this 1951 CJ-3A.  Mike Hardesty of Littlestown PA spent years on his 1951 Jeep Willys to produce not just another Jeep restoration, but a show stopper.  What makes this restoration different than others is Mike's attention to detail.  The closer you look at this Jeep the more amazed you become at the quality of the restoration.  Every detail, every nut and bolt of this Jeep is immaculate.  The Jeep is all original equipment aside from the tub and the paint color, which is slightly off from the stock color Michigan Yellow from earlier years of Willys in the CJ-2A schemes.


  

History of the CJ-3A - The CJ-3A was introduced in 1949, and replaced the CJ-2A by the next year. It featured a one-piece windshield with a vent in the frame. A bare-bones Farm Jeep version was available starting in 1951 with a power takeoff. 131,843 CJ-3A's were produced before the series ended in 1953.

The CJ-3A used the "Go Devil" L-Head 134 I4 engine. The transmission in the CJ-3A was the T-90 3 speed sending power through a Dana 18 transfer case. The front axle was the Dana 25, and either the Dana 41 or the Dana 44 rear axle.

 

 

Rear Power Take Off
(PTO) designed to run farm
equipment and power tools.

 

 

There's something about
the Simplicity of an old Willys.

 

 

Original Hubs

        


Click to zoom in.

 

 

The Restoration

Mike Hardesty acquired the 1951 CJ3A at Redding's Auction in Gettysburg, PA in May of 2004. It came from a farm in Braddock Heights, MD (near Frederick). He's at least the 3rd owner but couldn't find any more of the history on the Jeep's past. It cost him $530...

According to Mike, little did he know at the time, that was the cheap part, but in any case a great deal on a project vehicle. The photo to the right is from the auction. What you really can't see is the bondo, fiberglass, and wooden floor pans and bed.

Mike worked closely with his friend Glen Sanders (Glen's Repair Westminster, MD) to do the restoration. Glen did the heavy mechanical and major body work, while Mike restored the chassis, steering components, and all of the smaller body parts (wheels, seats, brackets, clamps, widgets etc.)  Mike also took care of the detail stuff like the lettering, lock-out hubs, and restoring the horn, starter, mounting footman loops, and those kind of things.  After the wooden bed and floor were removed, they were not left with much (see photo below), so they had to look into patch panels.  The cost of all of the patch panels was more than a good repro tub, so they stripped off all of the small attachments, hinges, footman loops, and so on, then ordered a new tub.  The original hood, grill, windshield frame, and fenders were all salvageable and reused in this restoration.

  
Mike spent a few days in March of 2005 cleaning and restoring the frame. It was in surprisingly good shape underneath. The only rusted out part was the rear cross member. No breaks, bends, or previous repairs making it an idea base for his Jeep restoration.  After hours of high temp pressure washing, scraping, wire brushing and sanding, Mike had the frame ready for the 2 step undercoating process.
  
  
The engine, transmission, and transfercase all had to be rebuilt and Mike tracked down all of the parts for every aspect of this restoration on the internet and on EBay.  The engine is the 134 cubic inch "L-head" in-line 4, also known as a "flat-head" or "go-devil" engine. The transmission is the original T90A-1 date stamped 5-2-51.  The CJ-3A also retains the original Dana Spicer 18 twin stick transfercase, Dana 25 front, and Dana 44 rear axles.  The original springs were good, but obviously they had to replace the shocks, brakes, wheel cylinders, seals and all of the age sensitive stuff.

Mike recently acquired a used flat belt drive unit which he's restoring which can be attach it to the rear mounted PTO, a very scarce option.

Mike's resources for lots of useful and valuable historic info on CJ3A's was found at www.cj-3a.com "the CJ3A Page".  Mike says he went there often for help.  Bob Westerman, CJ3A researcher and writer also provided him with advice and photos via e-mail to help keep the restoration fairly accurate.  Mike also says every person he has met associated with the old Willys Jeeps has been awesome. They were all willing to help as if they were his family or close friends and says "This Jeep Fraternity we are all in has deep roots!"

Mike's restoration is one of the finer examples of preserving old Jeeps.  Too often the old flat fender Jeeps are hacked to bits and transformed into trail machines and eventually beaters until there's little original left of their historical significance.  Don't get use wrong, we love to see flat fenders on the trail but it's great to see preservation of these original Jeeps as well.  Mike's Jeep was one of several great examples of a Jeep restoration found at the All Breeds Jeeps Show this year.  We hope to see him again next year at the show where we can find inspiration again.  Maybe with a little luck we might find a $530 dollar flat fendered Jeep somewhere ourselves!

Visit Mikes Web Site!
If you would like to read more about Mike Hardesty's 1951 Willys Overland CJ3A Universal Jeep restoration project including a ton of great pictures, stories and information, Mike has put together a great web site for the CJ3a Fans out there: www.jeepchasm.com


 

 

 

 

 

 

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