I stopped by Glenn Byron's place in Smithfield, Maine recently, looking forward to seeing his Willys collection, and the opportunity to tour Joe Hall's reproduction wiring harness company Vintage Wiring of Maine (which was located not far away, but as of 2018 has been sold and moved to Alabama.)
It wasn't hard to spot Glenn's house, with this DJ-3A from California in his driveway. Among his many other Willys finds are a CJ-3A with PTO buzz saw (240K JPEG) and a 1962 CJ-3B plow Jeep (200K JPEG).
The DJ is currently Glenn's daily driver, at least for local trips. The paint and upholstery clearly aren't original, but otherwise the Jeep is pretty much stock. What's strange though, is that it has a stick shift, and there is no sign of it having been converted from the three-on-the-tree column shift which was standard on the Dispatchers.
Glenn pointed out a narrow diagonal indentation in the passenger side of the rust-free floor, asking if I knew what its purpose was. I had seen it in original CJ-3B floors also, but it is typically ignored when floors are restored, and neither Glenn or I knew why it was there.
I was surprised later to realize how few photos there are on CJ3B.info showing this indentation. It's visible in a photo by Rus Curtis of the floor (50K JPEG) of Lawrence Wade's 1955 CJ-3B, and can be seen from below (60K JPEG) on an Arena Yellow 1961 CJ-3B. But I hadn't heard anybody explain it.
Well, it turns out that a World War II jeep restorer could explain it; when we later got to Vintage Wiring of Maine, Joe Hall showed us the underside of a Willys MB body leaning against the wall. The indentation is right beside the hat channel support under the floor, and creates a level spot for welding a muffler hanger, part of the MB's exhaust system. When the exhaust routing was changed for the CJ Jeeps, the indentation stayed there unused. Great piece of Jeep trivia.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Glenn offered to let me drive the DJ-3A the 10 miles or so to Joe Hall's place, and I hadn't been in a Jeep for a week, so I was eager. As we enjoyed the scenery and the mild September weather, we discussed plans for trying to expand the amount of Dispatcher and Surrey information available on CJ3B.info.
We stopped by the location of Glenn's buy-and-sell business known as "Glenn's Vintage Tin" (with a CJ-3B on the sign!) where he also has his nice original Kaiser Manhattan out front. I didn't ask Glenn whether his wife Toni might prefer to have this sweet ride parked outside their house instead of a couple of the rusty Jeeps that were currently there...
We arrived at Vintage Wiring of Maine, and Steve Towle also showed up in his beautiful 1966 Sunbeam Tiger. Joe Hall has lots of garage space for Jeep restoration work, and his wiring shop is seen here in the background.
The shop has long workbenches where the paper template for any wiring harness can be laid out, so the appropriate gauge and color of wire can be measured, cut and clamped in position. Terminal ends are then crimped and soldered, using NOS or the best available reproduction connectors.
Rolled up underneath the workbenches are hundreds of different patterns Joe has made by hand from examples of original harnesses, mainly for vintage trucks, Jeeps and military vehicles. Civilian Jeep patterns on hand include the CJ-3B (early and late), FC-150, FC-170, CJ-2A, CJ-3A, 1947-1949 pickup and 1950-1956 pickup.
On the wall are hundreds of varieties of wire. The stock room (160K JPEG) shows the quantities of wire Joe has to purchase.
Joe, Steve and Glenn trade shop talk while I take some photos. Laid out in the foregound here is a CJ-3B harness kit (160K JPEG). Harnesses are shipped with each component bagged and labeled, and an instruction book with installation instructions and drawings. Some popular harnesses are in stock and ready to ship, but most are built to order and may require several weeks to assemble.
Some of the older and military harnesses cover the wires with a cloth braid or wire braid (90K JPEG), and a couple of rare braiding machines are one of the things that makes Joe's products authentically vintage. It's amazing to watch the braid being spun from multiple spools of tinned copper wire, as the cable is pulled up through the middle of the machine.
Joe is also well known as a military vehicle restorer, and he showed us his M38 and his national prize-winning Dodge WC6 command car. There were also plenty of Jeeps waiting for attention (150K JPEG). Good luck Joe!
Note: Joe Hall has now retired and sold the business to a new owner who, as of 2018, is operating it out of Silas, Alabama.
Thanks to Joe for showing us around, and to Glenn and his wife Toni. See the fate of Glenn's yellow DJ in 2015 New Hampshire Trail Ride on CJ3B.info. -- Derek Redmond
See also some Bulletin Board comments on Replacing the Wiring Harness.
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