Dad's Footsteps

by Walker Gaulding, 1954 CJ-3B, Virginia, USA

Walker Gaulding is a guy who inherited his father's love of Jeeps, and it doesn't seem to be going away. The latest Jeep that found him is a 1954 CJ-3B with a Lilliston "Mow Hawk" bush hog, and here's the whole story. -- Derek Redmond

Patina I stumbled upon CJ3B.info while searching for serial number info on my CJ-3B. I am from a Jeep family, and the short story is, I am now driving this old 3B and wouldn't take five grand for it (though I'm sure nobody would offer that!)

I rescued the Jeep by cutting down a tree that had grown through it, towed it home and began pulling things apart. More on that below.

But first some family history.


Melvin Gaulding and his 55 Jeeps

Dad My dad pulled his first GPW out of a patch of briars in 1955 after cutting down a 3-inch gum tree that had grown through the tub. He had it running in three days. Here's a photo of one of his projects in the 1970s.

Dad He continued rescuing old Jeeps well into his 80s. This is a photo of his next-to-last project. He's holding up fingers to denote this is the 54th Jeep he had rescued/restored or owned.

Dad He probably owned nearly every model ever made by Willys, Ford, Kaiser and AMC up to the early 80s models. We hunted out of most of them, did light farming with a few, and he was known to use them as shaving mirrors when camping to groundhog hunt.

Slat grille His crowning glory was a slat grille MB he bought from Army General William McFadden. The General told Daddy that this Jeep was his personal runabout during his military career, and that, upon retirement, his staff purchased the Jeep and gave it to him. We're not sure about the validity of the story, but it was only titled by one civilian... William McFadden. What's funny is, Daddy was never a guy who cared about all the historical details. He'd never heard of a slat grille, and he thought it was a home-made replacement for a damaged grille! He was in the process of ripping it out to replace it with an MB grille, when a friend stopped him!

Dad Daddy acquired dementia, and at 90, he no longer knew where he was. But even in the nursing home, he could tell you (this is for real) how to disassemble a T90 transmission, and put it back together from memory. This is a picture of him the year before he died at the nursing home. I would bring my current driver, a '65 CJ-5A Tuxedo Park, to let him look it over. It was a brand new Jeep to him every time he saw it, and he would compliment me on such a great acquisition! He would insist on hearing it run, and then give me advice on how to eliminate the tapping in one of the valves.

Groundhogs Jeeps were a love of his life, but mainly just to hang dead groundhogs from!

1973 In 1973, at age 13, I had bought my first CJ-2A (1946) and restored it. It was my daily driver to school and work (and occasionally on the trails) until I was 18. I sold it to get money for college.

Hunting This is Daddy and I hunting groundhogs with our respective machines. Note the bull-horn and incorrect parking lights on mine.

CJ-5A I am a minister, and after re-locating to Warsaw, Virginia in 1987, I bought a 1960 CJ-5 which I restored and later sold when babies came along. I have no pictures (of the Jeep.) I later discovered a VECJ-2A ('46) with military rear end and hood. But it had the column shift. I sold that one, and again I have no pictures. About ten years ago, I located a '65 Tuxedo Park. Much like the slat grille story, I had never heard of one, and thought the column shift was a backyard mod. It was surprisingly complete, though the fold-down license plate frame and rear bumper were long gone. I semi-restored it. That CJ-5A is still my daily driver. Here it is being played with by my daughters and one husband.

Softball team The local high school softball team considers it good luck to sit in it before a game!

The CJ-3B Shows Up

CJ-3B Knowing I like old Jeeps, a guy calls and tells me he wants to get his dad's old Jeep off his property, and would I be interested in a purchase? It "might need a little work to drive."

I go and can't find it. I call him from the field with my cell and he says I've got to be standing right beside it. Looking closer, this is what I see.

CJ-3B OK, yep. Needs a little TLC! I start pulling vines away. He's got my attention so I dig further, watching for copperheads and ground bees. At this point, I'm pretty sure I'm in love. I need to go home and get bug spray and boots. I can see a PTO shifter so I'm coming back! Next day I bring a chain saw and lopping shears. I call the guy from the field and make a deal and buy the Jeep.

CJ-3B Now the real work begins. I remove the first wheel in the rain and cut the trees growing through the snowplow attachment and bumper. Rain runs me off, but I can see that the Jeep is not buggered up. It's very rough but with the exception of the plow, it seems to be original and complete. I can see a bed extension on the back, but I still can't see the PTO. The engine is seized, tranny stuck in gear but transfer case shifts easily so the front wheels at least will roll. I'm going to pull the wheels off my '65 so I can move it.

CJ-3B I believe this thing might possibly have potential. I finally free the Jeep by cutting down a tree growing through the bed extension (100K JPEG), and tow it home. It has a license plate from 1967 so I assume it was not a road vehicle at any time after that. The guy said his dad mowed with it.

When I removed the top and shoveled out 20 years worth of leaves, I was not disappointed. All original, and all present and accounted for. Even down to the factory x-wrench and jack. The body was horrible of course, but I was more interested in the drivetrain.

Brake I had to rip out all brakes forcing the hubs off -- because everything was fused together -- just to get the wheels to roll. I replaced the entire brake system. Master cylinder, all lines, shoes and wheel cylinders. I knew that the first thing I wanted to be sure of, was that I could stop the thing, if I ever got it going.

Key Dimmer switch, ignition switch, headlight switch and choke cable were all balls of rust and had to be replaced. The ignition switch is a cool story though. When my Dad died in 2012 I sold his cabinets from his shop to a friend. He had not yet cleaned them out. I went to his home and started going through the junk. I found NO Jeep parts . . . except one ignition switch!! To me, that was a nod from daddy. If you look closely, you'll see the keyring still had a tag from "Richmond Motor Company" where my father worked. That tag will never leave that key.

Starter The transmission and T/C were next. Upon draining, liberal amounts of water poured out. Filled both with diesel fuel. Poured Marvel Mystery Oil into the cylinders of the block and did other things while they soaked for 2 weeks.

Rebuilt the starter and refurbished the clutch controls. The bottom half of the air filter was about the only missing original part, and I found a used one to replace it. Installed clutch, pressure plate, pilot bearing and throw-out bearing. When I popped the top off the transmission, it was not nearly as bad as I had anticipated. With a sawed-off broom handle as a punch, and a claw hammer (!) I got all the gears and synchronizers moving smoothly on the shafts.

Dash The electrical system must have shorted out at some point because there was not a shred of cloth on the original wiring, and it had obviously cooked. At this point I had been able to manually turn the engine over and the shifter was freed up with liberal amounts of penetrating oil. I had high hopes so I proceeded to replace every inch of wiring.

I installed new plugs, points and condenser and blew out the cylinders and oil pan and filled it with 30 weight. Hooked up a new 6-volt battery and filled the radiator. Tried the starter and she would turn over, but no gas to the bowl, and water poured out of the water pump. I replaced both the mechanical fuel pump and the water pump.

Seat With a new fuel cell and sending unit also in place, I used a little starting ether and to my surprise, the Hurricane fired. Some adjustments and patience, and in 15 minutes it was purring like a kitten at 180 degrees and 25 pounds of oil pressure. After burning off all the residual oil, it runs as clean as you can imagine, no smoke, even after sitting a week between starts! Starts every time.

My wife showed me how to sew, and I recovered the seats. Not show quality, but very serviceable.

Workshop Then there was the question of the body. I was amazed at how straight the hood, fenders and grille were,and I've never seen an old Jeep with a straighter bumper. I believe the snow plow protected the front from damage. Rotten body from the windshield back, but I liked the "as found" look. So I installed new floorboards, scraped off all the loose paint, sanded the whole body lightly and sealed with clear enamel. Not for everybody, but I love it. Holes and all.

Workshop The Koenig body extension was too far gone to save. I am keeping the hardtop; it isn't steel but apparently aluminum. No rust, but corroded especially where it connects to windshield. I think the steel and aluminum interacted and corroded the aluminum. It could be fairly easily repaired. But I'm an open-Jeep guy so I will keep it, but not use it. I plan to bring out the 3B in warm weather only, mostly for short joy rides and regular bush hogging.

The Mow Hawk

Bush hog I started driving the Jeep on short test runs and was amazed. So, realizing that I've got a mechanically sound machine with the PTO working perfectly, I called the man I bought it from and asked him if by any chance he still had the bush hog his father used with the Jeep. To my delight he said he did and I was welcome to it. But it was in an old barn with woods grown up around the barn and I was going to have to cut trees down to get to it. If I was willing to cut them into fireplace lengths and stack them at his house, I could have the bush hog.

The "Mow Hawk" was built in the mid-50s and like a Navy ship, by Lilliston Implement Company (130K JPEG). I've never seen such heavy steel plate on a farm implement in my life!

Bush hog It is a single spindle set-up with jointed (hinged) blades for stump protection. Have you ever seen such heavy steel outside of the military in your life? I put new tires on it, repacked the wheel bearings and went through the gearbox. It now looks better. Same deal as the Jeep. Left the "patina" and sealed it up with clear enamel.

The stenciled "WILLYS" on the bush hog I just did for fun.

Grass I have bush-hogged two pastures with it behind the 3B. People said it wouldn't work, but with the 3B in low range I believe I could bush-hog over a Chevette and it would barely slow down! The first time I was in the pasture bush-hogging with the 1950s era equipment, people were slowing down to watch. They couldn't believe a guy was farming with a Jeep. Two people actually parked in my farm road and took pictures! I need to fabricate a debris guard though. After mowing, you can't see the back of the Jeep for all the grass.

Note: see also Running a Bush Hog From a Jeep PTO on CJ3B.info.

Bush hog This summer, I plan to take Jeep and bush hog to a couple of small-time classic car shows. They should create a special category: multi-purpose road vehicle/farm machinery! When the guys with the pristine Studebakers laugh at me, I'm going to say, "Yeah but I'm the only person here who can arrive early and mow the field before the show!"

Hood Nothing leaks and the steering is tighter and more responsive than my '65 Tuxedo Park. Mechanically, I think the 3B is better. I never liked 3Bs; just thought the high hood was ugly. I learned the "horse face" nickname from CJ3B.info and thought it was highly appropriate.

But after going through this little bugger, seeing its resilience and toughness, I've begun to really like the 3B! I think I'm converted; don't tell anybody, but I like driving it more than the CJ-5A!

-- Walker Gaulding

Thanks to Walker for the story and photos. -- Derek Redmond

See also Running a Bush Hog From a Jeep PTO.

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Last updated 12 February 2020 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond