My 1960 CJ-3B: A Rebuild Diary

by Don Hull, Ontario, Canada


FinishedThis is a must-read for anybody contemplating their first restoration of a vintage Jeep. Don Hull in Ancaster ON spent nearly 2,000 hours working on this CJ-3B during 2009-2010, and he has edited his diary of the project into a very readable summary of the good and bad milestones he experienced during those two years.

Would he do it again? Well, he's doing it again! Don is now working on a CJ-2A. -- Derek Redmond

The following is a summary of the milestones in my rebuild diary.


Sunday, May 17 2009 -- A retired co-worker gave me a call about a vintage Jeep in a farmer's field just outside of Port Dover, Ontario, about 45 minutes south of where I live. I had been thinking and talking for quite some time of building a replica car. I have also always had an interest in Jeeps, having owned one almost continuously since 1980 including a 1980 CJ-7, a 1986 Quadra-Trac, a 1993 YJ, a 2003 Liberty, and drove a Grand Cherokee as my work vehicle.

Monday, May 18 -- My son Brett and I drove out to have a look at it. My first reaction was: "basket-case", not a chance, it was too far gone. Brett, however, pressed and said I could do it when I insisted I couldn't. He took a keen interest in Jeeps when he saw my off-roading pictures from when I lived in Calgary. He is incredibly well researched on Jeeps and is doing an outstanding job on his rebuild of the '93 YJ I passed on to him. The owner advised that he had the 3B for quite a number of years but hadn't driven it in some 6 or 7 years and that he mostly drove it on trails on his own property. He advised that he had never had licensed it nor did he or the previous owner have any ownership. Apparently, the previous owner used the Jeep for moose hunting. He was demanding $1,000. No sale today -- I would have to think about it.

May 2009Monday, May 25 -- We settled on $900.00. It would be my birthday present to myself. Upon arriving at home with the 3B on a float, several neighbors were mulling around. After some looks of disbelief and some pretty snarky comments, I corralled them for assistance in getting the Jeep off the trailer and into my immaculately clean garage. This poor old 3B looked pretty desperate as it listed to one side. My daughter Allison's first reaction upon arriving home as we all stood in judgment of the work ahead was her typical giggle and with no hesitation she dubbed the 3B "WALL-E" out of the apparent resemblance to the animated movie character.

Monday, June 1 -- 4 hrs. Lose the CJ-5 top and doors. Great first decision! The 3B immediately took on the look of the vintage Jeep we envisioned.

Tuesday, June 2 -- 3.5 hrs. Lose the home-made plow. This Jeep was never going to see another plow as long as I owned it. It had done its time of hard labor as far as I was concerned. One neighbor has offered an opinion that based on the beer empties in the first couple of days of working on the Jeep, the redemption value of the empties should pay for the cost of the rebuild. A little panic and anxiety set in. Started with penetrating oil on every nut and bolt I could identify.

Wednesday, June 3 -- 3 hrs. Research night. I found a website called "The CJ3B Page" that enabled me to date the Jeep. I bought it without papers and keys. The VIN plate has the numbers 65548 -- a 1960, probably manufactured in late May 1960.

Sunday, June 14 -- In Whistler BC for work. Flew from Vancouver to Kelowna to visit a long-time friend. He got me started off-roading on the forestry cut lines around Kananaskis before it was plowed under for an Olympic venue.

InteriorSunday, June 14 -- Today I removed the heater/defroster assembly. It was stuffed full of batting, taken from the driver's seat by rodents to build a nest.

My oldest brother arrived from Ottawa. He has rebuilt several vehicles -- he disassembles them completely to the last nut and bolt. He looked over the Jeep and quickly estimated that if the tub was in fact recoverable, I should budget around $4,000. This was a major shock for me. I never planned to spend this amount of money on this project. This was the first of many learning experiences for me.

A little while later, Janet's brother John arrived. John further deepened my discouragement with his assessment of the amount of work required to restore the Jeep, and further, he felt that the frame would likely be severely rusted and may not be recoverable. All in all, a very discouraging milestone in the history of this project.

Thursday, June 16 -- I ordered two manuals recommended on the CJ-3B Bulletin Board: Jeep Owner's Bible and The Jeep Bible (see The CJ-3B Bookshelf.)

Wednesday, June 17 -- 4 hrs. Though it can be a little frustrating contorting to access all the parts, I am really enjoying the exercise and all the stretching.

Sunday, June 21 -- Today was a reading and research day as I received two more manuals as gifts from my wife and kids for Father's Day. Mounted a wheel puller on the steering wheel. It's not going to come off without a little persuasion. Choosing patience over brawn, I torqued the puller on tight and left it in position for the night. Returned several times over the next few days to put a few more turns on the puller.

June 2009Sunday, June 28 -- 9.5 hrs. Rolled the Jeep down to the curb from the garage. A few taps with the bead hammer and the steering wheel released. Summoned the guys from the neighborhood and with Janet rolling the video we hoisted the tub off the frame. Looks pretty scary. Salvage of the tub may not be possible or practical.

ChassisBrett spent a couple of hours applying engine degreaser and pressure washing the engine and drive train. I swear that more than 50 pounds of dirt came off. Some parts were so badly caked in grease you couldn't tell the real shape of the part. Hard to imagine that's pretty much the end of the really dirty work and crawling around under the Jeep with a steady flow of crap dropping in my face.

July 2009Thursday, July 9 -- 8 hrs. Removing the drive train, I take off more and more nuts and everything is separating. Nuts and bolts all over the floor -- I've lost my composure. Damn it! The transfer case is loose but not releasing. Maybe if I pull the shifter assembly, I can see what's going on. Now that the entire unit is hanging there suspended by the shaft, the unit pulls off leaving a half dozen needle bearings dropping down into the tranny housing.

FlywheelI decide at this point that I have to be a lot smarter about my approach to this project. Time to clean up and resort to my trusty manuals that I've paid a lot of money for. Guess what? The manual advises not to separate the transfer case from the transmission if not necessary. And the manual also advises that letting the assembly hang by the shaft is very bad and can be very expensive to fix.

Lesson learned: buy the manuals, and read them, before you begin the project. Absolute musts in my opinion include: Jeep CJ Rebuilder's Manual by Moses Ludel, and Jeep Model CJ-3B Parts List.

Sunday, July 11 -- 4.5 hrs. We're approaching the end of the free ride. From here on, we're pretty much going to be spending money -– big money.

July 2009Friday, July 25 -- 7 hrs. Strip down the engine. Thrilled to only find oil in the pan with no sign of metal, water or other contaminants.

August 2009Saturday, August 15 -– 7.5 hrs. Delivered the frame for sandblasting and epoxy coating.

The block has been stripped and bored out, washed and ready for new pistons, rings, tappets, exhaust valves, etc.

Sunday, August 13 -- 8 hrs. Sandblasting, priming, and painting parts. Great set-up at work with sandblast and paint booths. A really enjoyable day. Felt very productive.

Tuesday, September 1 -- E-mailed a guy named "Derek Redmond" out of Kingston, to register my 1960 CJ-3B on "The CJ3B Page".

Saturday, September 19 -- 3 hrs. Picked up the frame. It looks great. Three layers of epoxy undercoat and epoxy paint. It will never rust.

September 2009Sunday, September 27 -- 8 hrs -- Long day sandblasting, priming and painting small parts.

Friday, October 9 -- 7 hrs. Drove to Willys Acres, north of Toronto. Bought a clutch kit, a master brake cylinder, thermostat and throttle pedal assembly. In conversation with him, he convinced me to replace all my brake lines.

November 2009Monday, November 23 -- 8 hrs J.P. prepped engine for start--up. A little Quick-Start in the carburetor. It fired! One more time for good measure! Time for a glass of wine.

Engine readyWednesday, November 25 -- 8 hrs. Lots more running around. Purchased parts for Hot Wire Box, following directions on The CJ3B Page. Rolled the engine over. Another great day!

Engine doneSunday, December 6 -- 3 hrs. Both J.P. and J.G. on hand for the big day. The first real start-up of the engine. After just a few seconds of waiting for the fuel bulb to fill "Wally 60" fired up and ran more smoothly than I could have imagined. Wally had great oil pressure, carburetor vacuum, idled at 850 rpm. After a modest adjustment on timing to bring to 5 degrees, smooth idle at 650 rpm. What a great and rewarding day!

Saturday, December 13 -- 9.5 hrs. Had to remind myself to slow down. This was recreation, not work. Steering was far too sloppy, will need a fix. Place on "outstanding to-do" list.

Fired it up to listen to it run. DISASTER! Gas puking out of the carburetor. After initial shock realized that the muffler was plugged with yet more stuffing from the Driver's seat from the rodents living in the muffler. Blew a 3-foot pattern of stuffing onto the garage wall. Used the sewer snake to clean out the exhaust, re-installed it and re-started engine. It purred like a kitten.

Sunday, December 20 -- 7 hrs. A big day. Another milestone. First drive with the partial tub on the chassis.


Friday, August 6 -- After months of waiting, the tub kit arrived from Willys Overland in Toledo.

August 2010Saturday, August 7 -- With the assistance of the neighbours we fitted the tub directly onto the chassis. All body mount bolts aligned, as promised by Willys Overland. Dry fitted the windshield frame, tailgate, fenders and hood. Generally, everything went well. Willys Overland didn't pre-cut all the holes they had committed to. Used original cowling to make a template of the dash holes.

Seam sealingMonday, August 16 -- 2 hrs. More seam sealing.

Friday, August 19 -- 6 hrs. I made a conscious decision to leave all spot weld impressions to retain an original look and to minimize the use of any fillers.

Sunday, August 21 -- 4 hrs. Without a word of a lie, I'll bet this is the 6th time I've had this assembly out for one reason or another.

Monday, August 22 -- 6 hrs. My brother Dave and his wife drove down from Ottawa for the weekend. We spent most of the day fitting the fenders. They needed a lot of work, some trimming, drilling out missing bolt holes, etc.

Saturday, August 26 -- 4 hrs. Gary McCourt and I delivered the tub, fenders, grill, hood and tailgate for painting at Ken Timson Auto Body and Repair in Caledonia, the brother-in-law of a co-worker.

Sunday, August 27 -- 11 hrs. Completion is in sight and I'm back in obsession mode. Sandblasted, primed and painted various parts.

Tuesday, August 28 -- 3 hrs. Painting parts using the small booth at work.

Saturday, September 5 -- 9 hrs. General maintenance. Sloppy with my diary lately.

September 2010Saturday, September 25 -- 8 hrs. Picked up body from paint shop. Assembled the neighbors and mounted the tub directly onto the frame right from the trailer to avoid excess handling and opportunity for paint damage. Went very well.

EngineFriday, October 1 -- 12 hrs. Installed wiring harness from Walck's and tested all connections. George, a retired Electrical Engineer and neighbor spent the day helping me. All went very well. By the end of the day we had all electrical working. Diagrams provided with the wiring harness worked very well, with few exceptions.

Saturday, October 2 -- 10 hrs. A very frustrating day. One of those days where everything you touch turns to crap.

Off to the license bureau for ownership. They're a surly group. So as expected, no ownership today, need an affidavit from a Notary Public. We returned home to work on the gas tank mounting. Had a 60-inch braided gas line made up as recommended in the readings on the Bulletin Board.

Monday, October 11 -- 9 hrs. Gary and I drove to Belmont to meet Mark, another 3Ber we found on the Bulletin Board. Picked up 5 rims to use with my son's 31-inch mudders he agreed to loan me.

Tuesday, October 12 -- 2 hrs. Met with appraiser. Got the bad news that apparently most first time rebuilders make. The appraiser advised me that the MTO would charge me 13% HST tax on the current value of the Jeep. I was looking at a $1200 bill that could have been mostly avoided had I got the ownership prior to the rebuild and based on the original purchase price of $900.00.

October 2010Saturday, October 16 -- 11 hrs. Finishing off loose ends I made note of. I mounted the VIN plate, saved that until second last. And finally, I mounted the signature license plate – Wally 60, named after my father. And off I went for my first drive. I drove to Home Depot, a few km's up the road and ran out of gas on the way home. My wife Janet came to the rescue.

Saturday, October 30 -- Drove to Gary McCourt's. He's rebuilding a '57 3B and is building the body from scratch.

Saturday, November 7 -- Short drive around town. Beautiful day. Getting cold. I'm going to try to get one more drive in before I have to put it up for the winter.

FinishedWednesday, November 10 -- Drove the 3B to work to show the gang. A number of my co-workers were interested in seeing it. We have number of maintenance staff with vintage vehicle rebuilds. All went very well.

Friday, November 12 -- A depressing day. Put the Jeep up on the dollies and rolled it into the corner of the garage for winter storage. Would never have made it this far without the support of my son, my wife, licensed co-workers, and my buddy Gary McCourt, who never let me quit!


Sunday, November 3 2013 -- I purchased a 1947 CJ-2A, S/N 59232, and started all over again. It is a nuts & bolts restoration with original body and mechanical. I have been able to trace back to the original owner, now deceased, and his daughter-in-law currently residing in Northern Ontario. She cried when I contacted her and advised that I would be restoring the Jeep her father-in-law bought new, and made me promise to keep in touch. I hope to have it on the road later this fall, and I will be selling the CJ-3B. I can't drive both of them! -- Don Hull

Thanks to Don for his diary and photos. -- Derek Redmond

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Last updated 16 May 2016 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
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