New front springs

When I was restoring my ’54 M38a1, one of my top leafs of the spring pack was broken. I ran across D&L Bensinger who sold the top spring only – NOS. I had forgotten where I bought the top leaf from until I was searching last week. Anyhow, I saw it on their website and gave them a call – Daryl said they still had them in stock, so I ordered 2 to replace both of my broken front top leafs.

They arrived today. When I opened the package up, they looked like USED leafs – pretty rusty. One of them still had remnants of a toe tag left on it though. I’m guess that he sent out the best condition ones first (years ago) and he is getting to the last ones he has in stock. Regardless, I paid $20 ea and $15 shipping for 2 springs that AREN’T broken!


I went out and spread some stripper on the center section of the hood and another coat on the serial # tag. I am trying not to scrape the tag if possible.


While that was working, I went back to the shop and wire brushed the springs, blew them off and brushed a coat of rust converter on them. Tomorrow I’ll paint them up.

I went back out to the Jeep to check on the stripper, but it hadn’t done too much. I’ll leave it to work overnight. Hopefully I can just scrape that hard paint away tomorrow afternoon.

Maybe I can finish up the hood and take the gas tank and grill off tomorrow.


More blasting and priming this weekend

I started training on my new job last Monday, so I am working Mon-Fri 7AM-3:30PM. By the time I get home, there’s no time to get the equipment out to work on the Jeep.

So, yesterday I got very little accomplished (in my opinion). I burned through 80# of sandblasting media and you could barely see that I had done anything! I blasted the slave receptacle port and worked on the interior. The interior still doesn’t look much different!

I bought a 90# gravity feed sandblast setup from the guy that did my front wheels. It was a pretty good deal for $25. He made me a deal on a blast cabinet that I couldn’t turn down too – even though I already have a blast cabinet. This one is an older model Dee Blast cabinet that is all metal, has a glass view port, has a built in vacuum and is on a roller cart. It needs new gloves and a piece of expanded metal for the bed. I have an extra pair of gloves that I bought for my other cabinet, but I will have to locate a piece of expanded metal.

This morning I went to Tractor Supply and bought 3 bags of Black Diamond media. It was $7.99/bag. It cuts pretty good and feeds well through the gravity blaster. I also bought a set of tips for the blasting gun since the one that was in it was worn out – $7.99 for a set of 3.

So today I got the cowl blasted. I found a little rust in the gap between the cowl and windshield frame, so I made sure to blast that really good. When I sprayed the primer I got an extra heavy coat down in that gap. I also found a couple of dents – one above the glove box and the other was a small one beside the battery box. I will blast the battery box cover in the cabinet.



The hood is holding out. I worked on it for about 45 minutes yesterday – all I accomplished was finishing the passenger side and about 12″ of the center. I still don’t know what kind of paint his is, but it eats 60 grit paper real quick! The blaster takes a while to eat through it too.

After I blasted and primed the cowl, I moved to the rear panel. I started out with the grinder (and wire cup). I took the blue and white paint off with that. Then I switched over to the blaster to get the places that the grinder and DA wouldn’t reach. Lastly, I switched to the DA to smooth everything out. I wiped it down and sprayed a couple of coats of primer.



I still have the bodywork to do and weld up a couple of holes from the civilian tail lights, but it’s looking good!

I have a ton of small parts to blast, so I need to get the cabinet finished this week. I have the tail lights, front and rear shackles, pins and brackets, top bow brackets, wiper motors, reflector bezels, filler neck bezel, hood latches and right bumperette.

After I put all of the tools and Jeep away in the tent, I moved into the shop and finished up the fuel sender to gauge wire that I started the other night. I found a wire in my new wiring harness that was used for the Fuel ignitor (?) on the M35. It was supposed to be about 10′ long. I cut the wiring harness open and extracted this one wire after verifying that it was a single wire (with the multimeter). After I got it out I measured it – exactly 8′ long. That’s what I needed, 8′! I ordered a 10′ long piece of 3/16″asphalt covered cotton wire loom (only needed 6′) and received it last weekend for this purpose. I caught hell getting that wire through the loom! I ended up cutting one end off of it, feeding a piece of wire through the loom and soldering the other wire to it to be able to pull the new wire through. That was the other night. Tonight I crimped a new end on it to finish it up. Vintage Wiring of Maine quoted me a price of $48 + shipping for that one wire – I have a total of $10.63 invested in it ($9.38 in the loom counting shipping and $1.25 in the Packard connector). AND about 3hrs of work – splitting the loom and fishing the wire out, getting the wire through the loom and installing the Packard connector. But at least I saved around $40!


The plan for this week while I’m working? Who knows. I hope to be able to get the tank out and take it to a shop to boil it out and remove the grill to get ready to blast it. Maybe I can get some more blasting, sanding and priming done.

More body work

I ran to Harbor Freight to pick up some 60 grit paper and a new backing pad for the DA. I found another (half used) wire cup brush yesterday and installed it on the grinder. When I got home I got started stripping the rest of the passenger side. It took me a couple of hours to finish. I went to work with the DA after that. I went ahead and stripped what paint was left on the front bumper next. Then I moved on to the rear panel. When I started stripping with the grinder I noticed some more stenciling, so I stopped and only stripped where the gas can carrier and spare tire carrier are. I went ahead and removed the other bumperette so that I could strip the rear crossmember. I used up the rest of the second wire wheel!


I painted on a thick coat of stripper on the rear panel that still had paint. Last of all, I poured some Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer in the spray gun (the spray can was almost empty and I didn’t go buy any) and sprayed a couple of coats on the body. The stencil was found in the lower left under the gas can carrier area – exactly where the damage to the rear panel is!

As you can see, I got about half of the passenger side of the hood stripped too – I ran out of sunlight. The 60 grit works better, but it is still slow going. I would use the grinder, but I want the hood to be as smooth as possible.



I still have to blast the slave cable receptacle port, grill and windshield frame after I finish stripping the hood and cowl.

Well, my time is up for the week off. I will be getting off work at 3:30 for the next month or so, so I am planning on trying to get some stuff done in the afternoons. One thing it looks like I am going to HAVE to do is pull the tank out and have it boiled out – and maybe replace the front fuel line too. The carb is plugged up again – won’t even try to fire. I’m guessing that the needle is plugged AGAIN


Body work

I spent the whole day working on the body. I started out working on the interior and within 15 minutes I was working on the body! I don’t know why I don’t want to work on the interior. When I first went out, I realized that I had left some stripper on the passenger cowl – evidenced by the bubbled up paint. I stripped it with a paint scraper and this is what was revealed.


Any idea what it means? This is the exact location. The characters are 3/4″ tall.

UPDATE: 2320-835-8319 is the ordinance stock number for the M38a1 – Wes from Willysmjeeps confirmed this.


I quickly figured out that the DA and 80 grit paper wasn’t going to work. So I grabbed the grinder with a wire wheel. That made quick work of stripping the white and blue paint. I finished up with the DA. I stripped the whole driver side and the right rear quarter before I used up my wire wheel.


I had to do a little hand sanding where neither of the power tools would reach, but not much. I went ahead and primed all of this and used the DA to strip about a third of the hood. I still don’t know what that white paint is, but 80 grit has a hard time with it! I think I’ll buy some 60 grit to do the rest. I also sanded down the front of the passenger side fender.


I’m pretty sure I am going to pay somebody to blast the grill – it would take FOREVER to sand it!

It looks like a little more body work than originally thought, but nothing major – other than the rear panel, passenger floor and fenders.


Tires and more painting

I went out first thing this morning and loaded up the wheels and used tires. I took them to a local tire shop to have them mounted. While they were doing that, I ran to the parts store(s) looking for a wheel stud and belts. I went to Advance Auto – they had one belt and a 2″ stud (the M38a1 takes a 1.42″ stud, but a 1.5″ will work). Next stop was NAPA. Again, they had 1 belt (you really need to get a matched set of belts). The guy showed me a picture in the book of the different types of studs – I decided to press the old one out before I bought a replacement because there are so many different types of knurl.

I went back to the tire shop to pick up my tires. When I backed up and got out to load the tires, one of the guys noticed smoke coming from the right rear of my truck. Upon inspection, we deduced that the caliper was stuck. After removing the wheel and a bunch of prying, it was loosened enough to drive home while trying not to use the brakes – 12 miles. The tire shop charged me $36 to remove 4 tires and mount 3 used ones and 3 new tubes. I limped home and only used the brakes twice! When I pulled up at my shop I got out to sniff around the right rear – I didn’t smell anything burning. Ford trucks are known for the caliper pins freezing up – I am guessing this is what happened to mine today.


First job was to finish stripping and painting the underside. I spent about an hour to finish stripping the front end and about 45 minutes painting everything – turned out very nice! Also, the spring is broken in 2 places – it will definitely need to be replaced!


After that was done, I put the tires back on and —- it actually looks like it is supposed to look now! The front springs ARE sagging a bit though. Both of them being broken might have something to do with that, huh? Might have to replace those for it to look right.


Last thing I did was to start stripping the paint. I bought some citrus paint stripper at Walmart yesterday to try. Turn out that it doesn’t work as good as aircraft stripper – let it sit for an hour and it only took the top layer off! After a couple of hours of work, I finally got the fronts of the front fenders stripped – pretty much! Going to have to come up with another plan for stripping the paint!



New parts and painting

I took my front wheels to JTs Powdercoat to get them blasted on Monday. 

I went back to Piedmont on Tuesday to exchange the bad light switch. I came home with a pair of new (insides looked new,  and he gave me new lenses) front B.O. marker lights,  new (looked new inside)  left rear tail light and 3 used NDCCs.

I stopped by to pick my wheels up from sand blasting on the way home.  Once home, I quickly sprayed them with primer to keep them from rusting. 

Yesterday afternoon I threw a coat of paint on my freshly primed wheels,  spare tire mount, bumperette, b.o. marker lights and lenses and light switch. I screwed up and thinned the paint too much and it wouldn’t dry!  

So this morning I went out,  scuffed and sanded everything and sprayed everything again!  Turned out MUCH better this time an’s dried quickly. I also went ahead and pulled my spare wheel off the old m100 – scuffed and sprayed it too. 

Accessories painted

After the switch had time to dry a little I installed it back into the dash to finish that off. I used a piece of 220 grit sand paper to reveal the letters on the switch. 

New switch installed – dash is DONE!

Last thing for the day was to get started on the front springs and axle.  Man,  chipping and scraping those hubs was a pain! I used a paint scraper,  flat screwdriver,  gasket scraper and a wire brush. I don’t what kind of paint that white is,  but it IS tough!  After about 2hrs I finally had it stripped and painted all the way to the the diff housing. 

Left side done and looking good!

I started stripping the right side – I got the hub done. I guess I’ll finish this and the rest of the axle and springs tomorrow.  I’m also planning on getting the tires put on. 

Worked on spare tire carrier

I worked on the spare tire carrier today. I spent about and hour grinding, welding, grinding again and priming the spare tire carrier. I welded up one crack and 2 holes that weren’t supposed to be there. I also did a little grinding on some previous welds (I thought I couldn’t weld!). I smoothed out a lot of welds, but some I couldn’t fix. I know these things were made as cheaply as possible, but come on – these were crap welds! I finished off with a real heavy coat of brushed on Rustoleum Rusty Metal Primer to fill in the rust pitting. Hopefully I can do a little sanding next week and you won’t be able to see the rust pitting on it. 

Got the extra holes welded up, cracks welded, grinded off the wells on the top and straightened some of the metal.

2 coats of primer to hide some of the pitting.

After working on the spare tire carrier, I grabbed the new M35 wiring harness that I got from Saturn Surplus. I used my list of standard military circuit numbers to mark all of the connectors on the harness with masking tape and a Sharpie. One thing that I found was a large 8 pin connector that I thought was for the turn signal switch – I don’t know what it is for! I found all of the wires for the turn signal flasher or junction box (with ring connectors), but no small 8 pin connector for a turn signal switch or 3 pin connector for a solid state flasher. It looks like this is going to turn into more of a job than I thought! All of the wires I need are there, but the turn signal part will be a little work.

Well, that’s it for this week off. I guess I’ll get back to work on it again next week when I get off. Hopefully I’ll be able to go pick up my tires and replacement light switch next Thursday. The plan for the next time I’m off is to get the interior stripped and painted, engine compartment stripped and painted, wheels stripped/painted/tires changed, front springs and axle painted, windshield frame stripped/painted/assembled and engine running properly. The only major thing left after that will be repairing the rear panel, fenders and small hole in the floor. Then I can paint it and install the new interior.