Len Antinozzi's Restoration Project

Part I

Last November we received a jeep from my neighbor.  He was a good friend and well into his 80ís. He wanted his old jeep to have a good home. Then it happened, my neighbor signed the jeep over to my wifeÖher name on the title and all! Thank God for community property.

This vehicle was equipped with a very nice snowplow and heavy-duty plow frame.  The top was of the homemade plywood variety. It appears that a great deal of time was spent on making it with Plexiglas windows and all.  The tailgate was nowhere to be found.

My neighbor thought and the title he gave me indicated that the jeep was a 1946 CJ-2A.  Unfortunately any data plates were gone maybe taken off for painting but never replaced and never found. 

Our restoration goal is to make the jeep as original as possible but with better reliability. This includes doing a 12 volt conversion with electronic ignition and a Delco single wire alternator, all LED lights except the headlights. We will install a fiberglass body tub and new fiberglass fenders. The engine has been rebuilt completely, including reboring .040 oversize with the installation of new pistons and rings.  A new plastic fuel tank will also be installed.  We will be reusing the original hood and single piece windshield because they are in great condition.

The cost of the project will be in the thousands of dollars. I will not discuss the exact cost because my wife has internet access.  If I do decide to break out costs, than I will redirect you from the CJ-3A page to the obituary page, because that is where you will find me.  Right next to the want adds where you will see OLD JEEP FOR SALE.

Once I decided that I was going to go through the thing from top to bottom, I spent some time doing detective work on its history. There were only three owners including me.  The last time the vehicle was registered and on the road was 1968.  The jeep was in fairly good shape being stored indoors most of its life.  But things didnít add up.  You can see by looking at the windshield that it has a later model single glass windshield.  But several other factors indicated that it couldnít be a CJ-2A. 

Cast into the top of the head was Kaiser Supersonic, the engine must have been replaced sometime after Willys was purchased by Kaiser in 1953.  Thatís not all, as I started to dismantle the vehicle; I began to see dates on castings, which indicated a year of 1949. I found dates on castings in several locations, which are hard to find. In fact the only way to locate them is to pretty much strip the body and frame down and clean everything.

One casting number 10-20-49 was located on a flange on the bell housing. The date was applied with a metal tag that the foundry attached to the wood pattern or sand core before casting. The numbers were stamped on the metal tag with a die set specifically designed for use on foundry patterns as the numbers and letters were reversed. 

The number on our title is not a serial number for the vehicle but, it looks like it might be the original engine number (3J39667A).  I have been told that early on the DMV used the engine number as a serial number for vehicle titles. As you would expect with the replacement engine the number on the title does not match the number on the newer engine, (R3J150100, boss above water pump) you can see the similarities between the two numbers. 

Once I got down to the rear axle I could see that the jeep was equipped with the earlier Model 41 axle, and in fact, right next to the model number is a four digit number which may also be a date cast into the housing (9149) Appling a little imagination this number may be 9/1/49? Looking at the photo of the housing cover it is easy to see that it is of the Model 41 configuration. It is round as opposed to the newer more square cover. 

Also, the T-90 transmission has a date applied to the original casting on the driver side of the case.

 In addition, the jeep has the early 1-1/4Ē diameter drive shaft which is pre-1952 so that eliminates the possibility of the jeep being any later than 1952.

 When all is said and done, the little jeep is a 1949 CJ-3A, with a replacement engine circa 1953.  The original color was Picket gray. The wheel color is unknown and the serial number was in the  37xxx range.

The body color as you can see in the photo is gray.  The tub has been removed and flipped upside down. I cleaned the layer of heavy grease off of the section of the firewall and low and behold the original gray color comes through. 

Thanks to Bob Westerman, Jonathan George and Harold West people that I consider to be experts in the area of old jeeps. These folks were a great help in identifying with a 95% level of confidence the date and model of my old jeep. 

I will be sending additional progress reports in the near future.