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Projects My Willys Gas Coupe build

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by langy, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. I will start by saying I will be using a Fibreglass body, Here in England there isn't much chance of finding a Willys shell and the fibreglass bodys that are available are pretty rubbish.

    This will also be a bit of a budget build but hopefully look Ok.

    A chance came up to take a mould off an imported fibreglass american body that was known to be a good mould so a mould was made and here is the first body out. The doors & trunk are moulded in 2 halfs to make the fitment of hinges, locks and window mechanisms easier to install.

    Pic by Martin Drake





    Parts list so far is

    GRP 41 Willys bodyshell
    1948-58 FX3 Taxi chassis
    Cadillac 500ci engine/TH400 auto
    9" Ford axle
    4.5" x 15 Ansen slot mags (front) 5 x 4.75" pattern
    8.5" x 15 Ansen slot mags (rear) 5 x 4.75" pattern
    Vega steering box

    As you can imagine Willys chassis's are bit thin on the ground here so I will be using a 1948 FX3 London taxi chassis, Yep I know its an unusual choice but its already boxed and has a forged front axle and parallel leaf springs and looks old :D
    The frame i picked up had been cut into several pieces for storage :rolleyes: :cool: So will be put on the chassis jig after its sand blasted ready to be welded back together.



    The front axle is quite a nice looking thing with just a few lumps and bumps that can be ground off. I will also be drilling it.
    The front semi elliptics should cope with the added weight of the V8 Cadillac 500 i'm using as its a little further back than the 2.5 oil burner, If its a problem its easy to add leaves or get the springs uprated.


    I'm going to deal with the front axle first, The stock rod operated brake obviously had to go along with the spindles, the spindles could be modified to accept other brakes/hubs but i found with a simple mod and spacer 37-41 early Ford spindles will fit a treat and allow the fitting of either 40 Ford or F100 drum brakes or if you wish a 11" GM brake kit.

    The main mod is with the kingpins, on the FX3 axle the kingpins measure 0.875" the Early ford measure 0.811", The mod will be to drill out the axle boss to 1" and then ream to accept a sleeve to take it down to the ford kingpin size.



    There is also a difference in the axle boss thickness, The FX3 is 2.152" whereas the Ford spindles are 2.914", A spacer approx .250" will take up the extra space and if fitted below the axle boss will give a little extra lift to the frontend :D



    The kingpin angle is the same on both so we got pretty lucky there :)


    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  2. Got the chassis back blasted and took it to my mates workshop who stores my chassis jig for me (its to huge for my shop), The *back door* had a half built frame on it so will have to wait

    Seeing as i was somewhat stumped on the frame i decided to sort the various bits out on the front axle, The shock mount holes are tapered 3 degrees.


    I turned up some tapered bungs with 1/2" holes to suit the shocks i have already.


    These are pressed into the tapered holes and are really tight so don't need anything else.


    There are some eared brackets cast in the axle for some sort of jacking system so were not needed, I will keep the upper ear as i may fit an anti roll bar and they are just in the right place.


    Next i dealt with the kingpin size difference, The existing holes were bored out to 1" and a sleeve spun in the lathe with a 1" OD and 13/16" ID, These were then linished to be a press fit into the axle and then the holes was reamed to 0.815.




    While the pillar drill was warm i decided to drill a few lightening holes in the axle, First i had to make a simple jig to hold the axle as the I beam sides are different widths so the axle won't lay flat on the table.


    The jig was clamped to the table and a steel block wedge was put under the other side to keep it steady.
    All had gone well with drilling the holes until i got up to the 1/2" drill, then the steel became incredibly hard and was taking the edge of the drills in seconds, after sharpening the bits several times i resorted to using carbide drills and these chewed through it much better, I don't know why it suddenly got so hard, anyone know ???
    The holes were taken out to 3/4"

    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
    Gary 4T950 Chevy Guy likes this.
  3. GaryB
    Joined: Dec 19, 2008
    Posts: 3,537

    from Reno,nv

    nice work,seen those backing plates before?
  4. Found a few spare hours yesterday so welded the various chassis bits back together as the original owner had cut it into several pieces to make it easier to store I've kept the original front crossmember as its a nice looking piece, someone had been at it with a gas axe so there were a few holes to repair.
    Once the frame was back together i noticed the front fixed shackle brackets were missing so had to make a pair, made them a little longer to get some lift on the front, I'm reusing the front shackles as they are nice pieces.

    The FX3 was originally 112" wheelbase so 10" of the frame has been removed to bring it down to 102"

    I will take some chassis pics tomorrow.




    Here's the frame so far, It needed a lot of welding as the cuts wern't that neat, strong now though. Next job is to fit rear crossmember.
    I'm going to get the front axle and rear axle in and then hopefully the engine.



    Well the frame is now straight and true, had to take it off the jig as paid work was queeing up. Now i have the basic frame sorted i can start adding the various brackets etc etc.

    I left the frame out last night and it rained and i now have a bit of patina on it , not a big problem as it will be media blasted again anyway and i just clean the metal where i will be welding. Its surprising how quickly things start rusting

    The rear coilover crossmember, centre section & front crossmember was put in on the jig so it keeps it all nice.
    I dragged the frame into the garden today as it has been really sunny for a change and the workshop is packed out anyways.




    I wanted to get the front springs in place to check height etc etc, I had to cut the rear spring mounts i made as i made them to slip over the frame rails but i didn't notice that where they mount the inner of the frame was bulging slightly (probably been like it since it was made) anyway i decided to cut the legs off and tack weld into position just incase i need to move it. All the welding on this project is MIG.

    I made some front brackets to give a bit of extra lift and welded them into position, the shackles are the original rear ones as they are a little longer than the old front shackles and give a bit more lift.


    The centre section is just a K at the moment but i will add legs going forward once the motor is mounted. the lower rail is dropped for 2.5" diameter exhaust clearance



    I next got the spindles out and reamed them to accept the early ford kingpins and slipped them into place, next i put the disc/hubs in place, the disc kt is a Speedway GM kit for early ford spindles and fits very easily, I'm not keen on using old brakes and this kit is a very good price. It made a nice change working in the sun :D


    Last edited: Apr 30, 2013
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  5. Yes Gary I borrowed them off my 26T to check the fit, They will be going back :)

  6. woodienut
    Joined: Feb 17, 2009
    Posts: 349

    from So.Cal.

    Super please keep it coming. I might of made the sleeve and the spacer as one?
  7. Your right of course but the only material i had at the time was only big enough for the sleeve unfortunately.

  8. BEAR
    Joined: Sep 10, 2007
    Posts: 1,310


    nice work keep going man
  9. styleline
    Joined: Feb 14, 2009
    Posts: 868

    from so-hol

    i be watching this one interesting

  10. Thanks guys, this has to be a bit of a budget build so some corners may be cut slightly, them Willys parts are a bit spendy :(
  11. That frame and front axle setup look perfect for a Willys build! I know this is going to be a great build! Looking forward to following along.
  12. Blacktop Graffiti
    Joined: May 2, 2002
    Posts: 927

    Blacktop Graffiti

    Dude I don't care if it's glass or not looks good to me.
  13. Thanks Kev coming from you it means a lot, Your own car was a huge inspiration to me. I particuarly like the no nonsense look on yours, it looks tough !!!

    Having seen your problem with the spider gears has made me decide to go with a 9" ford rear, I have a 8" rear but i'm concerned that the 1970 Cadillac 500 i'm using may well kill it fairly quickly ??? do you think i'm right ???

  14. An 8" Ford is a weak rearend for a Willys if you ever plan on stepping on it. Would probably last forever if you just drove around normally, having an automatic also is easier on it but if you ever want to make a run at the nostalgia drags or lay a patch for the boys you are risking breaking something. It would be hard to break an 8" in a roadster with skinny tires but a full bodied Willys with cheater slicks is a little harder on parts. 9" is surely a better choice.
  15. My thoughts exactly Kev, thanks for the input, its appreciated.

  16. Weasel
    Joined: Dec 30, 2007
    Posts: 6,720


    I will be following this one with interest. FX3 chassis looks like a great choice....
  17. Thanks Guido, Its a little long at 112" but that bit was easily sorted :D interestingly the Austin 16 has exactly the same chassis and running gear but is 104" wheelbase.

    I would like to publicly thank you for all the measurements and advice you gave me during the body process, Your a star mate

  18. Thanks for that blacktop, its appreciated.

  19. Hot Rod Willys
    Joined: Nov 10, 2006
    Posts: 1,665

    Hot Rod Willys
    from Ohio

    I also will be watching your build, your frame is a very good choice as it looks very close to a Willys Chassis. Your skills are very impressive. Keep up the good work!
  20. BrerHair
    Joined: Jan 30, 2007
    Posts: 3,661


    Learn so much from watching pros like you, langy. I'm in.
  21. BadgeZ28
    Joined: Oct 28, 2009
    Posts: 708

    from Oregon

    I am in also. I look forward to your progress on this project.
  22. wlspdshop
    Joined: Jun 15, 2005
    Posts: 1,586


    This will be good.... very nice work.
  23. Thanks Dave, yes the frame is pretty close and you won't see much of it once under a body so i'm sure will be fine.
    This started out as something to promote the glass bodys but i've always had a hankering for a Willys so will see it through to the end but my 26T project is getting priority.
    Thanks for the input, its appreciated.

  24. I don't know about the pro comment as this is the first Willys i've done, I will try my best to get it to look right.
    Thanks for the positives.

  25. gasserkiwi
    Joined: Sep 24, 2009
    Posts: 26


    hey, nice job on the frame, its good to see that you are using what is at arms reach, looks like the car is going to be awesome, looking forward to following the build.
    cheers Chris
  26. BrandonB
    Joined: Feb 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,558

    from nor cal

    After watching the build of your roadster and admiring your talents I know that this one will be just as impressive. Some people got it and some don't, you definitely do.
  27. Thanks Chris, nice avatar !!! Is it your car ???
    Yep on this one i will be using stuff i have around but i will have to buy certain parts as it wouldn't look right without them, the headlamp surrounds spring to mind, The grills are also expensive but thanks to my many friends on the HAMB i have a 58 Ford grill to fit, Thats saved a lot of money already and i also prefer the Ford grill.


  28. Racrdad
    Joined: Jul 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,209


    Fiberglass or not this is going to be one heck of a build I'm sure. Looking good so far, waiting for more updates!
  29. koolkemp
    Joined: May 7, 2004
    Posts: 5,637


    Nice work on the frame ! I am not a fan of glass cars but a Willys is definately an exception to that ! Looking forward to the rest of the build!
  30. RDR
    Joined: May 30, 2009
    Posts: 1,178


    vERY IMPRESSIVE!! I feel the same way you do about using what you have and adapting or fitting it to work...nice work and lots of ingenuity going on here langy.
    Am enjoying this one for sure!

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