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Two RAAF Brothers

by Ross Holdway, Queensland, Australia


From Ivan Collins

A bloke needs his head read! Completely new to Jeeps, I was steered toward an ex-military Jeep -- Royal Australian Air Force -- and bought it, restored it (as well as I could), and then in a weak moment bought another. They are, as Ivan Collins put it, "brothers". My first Jeep's chassis number is 57348 47869L and the one I bought off Ivan ends 72L -- probably born on the same day in '58. Interesting though is that the Willys Australia serial numbers are 18 apart -- 1082 for the ex-Follow Me Jeep (now blue) and 1100 for Ivan's.

Willys 57348 47869L

BeforeThe first one was parked up in 1989 after a hard life as the previous owner's first car. He had bought it from a government auction in 1970 and it was painted in the black and yellow check pattern of a Follow Me Jeep. He kept the paint scheme in deference to his father who had served in the RAAF; even to the extent of painting the hard doors he had made up in checks too. As well as the doors, he did a great many modifications to the vehicle: refashioned the seats, built a hard top, added an extra fuel tank, added more leaves to the springs, added lift blocks (150K JPEG) to the chassis, two sets of LARGE tyres -- one for road and one for beach -- and bolted large numbers of accessories on, from a heavy bull-bar to a roll bar to a motorcycle rack on the back. I kept the doors (90K JPEG).

ChassisBruce (the PO) had done a lot of hard miles in his beloved Jeep which included more than thirty fishing trips to Fraser Island, and even a run up to the top of Cape York -- a long and very rough trip when he did it (it's not exactly a day trip even now.)

So I inherited a good bit of rust and numerous chassis cracks. The front crossmember only stayed in place because the front bumper wouldn't let the rails part far enough for the thing to fall out! The chassis repairs were sorted first, and then the "mods" were removed (150K JPEG).

DashThe body rust came next, along with patches to mounting holes for the endless number of modifications done to it. The dash shows the hole for the T-handle parking brake, which right-hand-drive Jeeps in Australia got three years before they appeared on 3B's in the U.S. The hole we got though is rather interesting -- it appears to be roughly cut out by joining numerous drill holes. I suspect that the repositioning had something to do with ergonomics (a phrase not often linked with flat-fenders!) as the original position would have made use from the right hand side of the vehicle impossible. The hole where the left-hand-drive handbrake was, had a cigarette lighter fitted -- the same as Ian Hall's Retired RAAF Jeep.

You will also notice the two gauge holes for the oil pressure and amp gauges fitted to RAAF Jeeps, which seem not to have been fitted to the civilian vehicles, and which are neatly cut into the dash.

FenderI had to completely rebuild the front of the right hand mudguard; I decided I'd save myself some money. I won't be saving myself money that way again any time soon! (See it ready for welding, 110K JPEG.) A second hand windscreen frame was fitted, with the original inner frame and glass. A pair of new bumperettes (90K JPEG) replaced the flattened and rusted ones it came with. All the gauges apart from the speedo were replaced and I fitted chrome switches to the dash. Everything was bolted back using stainless bolts where appropriate.

Mechanically I had some wins and losses: the engine runs well -- it was once turbo charged -- but I will have to fix a large crack in the top face of the block when I can afford it. (Did I tell you I had two Jeeps?) And the diffs and gearboxes seem to be fine. Apart from the steering box itself, the steering gear was very tired. I had to rebuild the swivel housings and idler (bellcrank) and the brakes were non existent, so a few bob went their way too. There were, as usual, a lot of smaller parts replaced -- universal joints, water pump, shackle bushes etc. The rewire job I did myself -- the generator and starter only needed cleaning and a mate gave me a regulator which works fine.

Holdway 3BI also decided fairly early on that I would paint the vehicle blue -- it's MD43 which is a Spectrum colour and as far as I know never used by the RAAF. It seems that RAAF blue-grey is an esoteric colour that must have been randomly chosen by the various airfield workshops as there were many different hues of blues used on the various vehicles I found pictures of.

The hard top had been made using the original hood bows, so I had a win there. I bought an old industrial sewing machine and made the top it has on now out of an old tarp, as a practice run for one made out of new canvas that I have bought for the job.

I fitted five new bar treads to wheels I picked up as the resto went along. I now have a set of "road" tyres as well, on a set of Suzuki wheels, that should wear better than the NDTs would have. The bar tread tyres are now only for special occasions.

DoorsThere remain a few modifications from standard. The hard doors were refurbished and kept and also two built-in toolboxes in the rear wheel boxes. It had a non-standard carburetor and I decided to keep it too. I have also fitted a remote reservoir for the brake fluid. It has halogen headlights (old but work real well), indicator lights, and I fitted circuit breakers when I rewired the vehicle. I will probably refit the roll bar, but I haven't really decided yet.

The seats looked nothing like original fittings, but the frames (130K JPEG) were still there under all the padding and arm rests and head rests and leopard skin covers! My sister took care of the seats for me -- she said she'd sew up new covers but instead had them professionally made -- thanks Sis.

TailgateI bought a reproduction bonnet (hood) and tailgate. The bonnet is a little misshapen but will do, and with help from Ian Hall in the shape of some photos of his Jeep, I managed to recreate an RAAF spare wheel carrier for the tailgate (see the interior support, 100K JPEG.)

Willys 57348 47872L

From Ivan CollinsNumber two belonged to Ivan Collins and he bought it over twenty years ago. It has spent a lot of time on his parents' farm and he made very few modifications to it. See the original front lifting rings (180K JPEG). It will still be a fairly big job to restore, as the floors on both sides, and much of the side quarter panels themselves, will have to be replaced.

EngineI have decided that mechanically this one doesn't have to be too perfect as she will be a show pony and used only on ANZAC days and the like. I don't have any history at all on this Jeep, but I do know that she was painted a dark charcoal grey when in service. I have a mate who served in the RAAF in the sixties and he drove a few yellow 3Bs and remembers seeing a few dark grey ones at the time. I shall be broke for quite some time to come (and busy too) but I am most definitely happy to have these two old "brothers" from the RAAF.

Ross Holdway

I have had the first project on the road for a little over a year now and after fitting an overdrive from Herm, it has become my only vehicle. We have managed to rumble and roar over nine thousand miles.

This photo was taken at the Mudgeeraba Light Horse field day in 2007. The Jeep was only going to be a standing display but the Albert Battery needed another vehicle to tow a 37mm anti-tank gun, so I lent them mine.

Mudgeeraba Light HorseThe Mudgeeraba Light Horse and the Albert Battery are local reenactment organisations whose members make themselves and their vehicles or their horses available for fairs and especially commemorative celebrations.

Thanks to Ross Holdway for the story and photos. -- Derek Redmond

Note: Rossco was also out to the ANZAC Day parade (180K JPEG) on 25 April, 2007 where his CJ-3B was joined by a few WWII jeeps. ANZAC day commemorates the personnel of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who died at Gallipoli in WWI, and in other wars since.

See Details of a Right-Hand-Drive Universal Jeep for more photos of Rossco's finished restoration of 57348 47869L.

See also more Jeeps in Australia on CJ3B.info.

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Last updated 6 April 2008 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond