Dom Serong's 1958 CJ-3B "Betsy" shares space in his garage in East Brighton on the south side of Melbourne, with his 1984 CJ-7 "Daisy" and 1942 MB "Henrietta".
When Dom purchased his 3B from an elderly farmer, he discovered that the rotting wooden blocks on the hood had been notched from their original rectangular shape into an "L" shape, in a way that appeared to be original. He also remembered seeing Jeeps with similar blocks years ago, and he guessed that the purpose was to protect the channel which holds the canvas top across the top of the windshield, when the windshield was lowered onto the blocks.
For details and dimensions on the standard rectangular hood blocks, see Air Conditioned Jeep on CJ3B.info.
Once I started to look, I found that there was indeed surviving documentation showing these notched hood blocks on other Jeeps assembled in Australia in 1958. This drawing comes from a secret 1958 report on Australian Army tests of the Jeep, which was published on CJ3B.info in 2000. The notches also appear in photos in that report (see The 1958 Australian Army CJ-3B Trials.)
This Willys Motors Australia photo shows a Jeep provided as a safety vehicle for a 1958 road rally (see Promoting the Australian-Made CJ-3B.)
The chronology of Australian assemblers and distributors of Willys vehicles in the 1950s is difficult to unravel. In addition to Willys itself, name plates were attached to Jeeps by Dominion Motors in Brisbane, U.K. Motors in Brisbane, or Stokoe Motors in Melbourne. On the west coast, M.S. Brooking Ltd. (80K JPEG) assembled Jeeps in Perth.
Dom's Jeep carries plates from Willys, U.K. Motors and Stokoe Motors (70K JPEG), so one of these firms probably fabricated the blocks.
Dom describes where he first saw this advertising photo: "Stokoe Motors in North Melbourne were distributors for Willys, Hudson and other marques; the business dated back to the 1930's. It's now long gone; the big old building that was once a treasure trove of parts is now apartments. I used to go there to buy bits for my first Jeep, a 1980 CJ-7.
"Back then, the 'shop jeep' was a CJ-3B and it had the notched hood blocks. The guys had a big pile of copies of a 1958 press release, reviewing the 'new' CJ-3B. I had a copy stuck up on my wall for years -- always wanted a 3B just like it!"
The photo above, and another one showing the Jeep in mud up to the axles, appeared in that review of the "New Jeep" (370K JPEG) from the The Melbourne Sun of 6 May 1958. Unlike the Army's assessment, this newspaper review was very complimentary. There were minor complaints related to the right-hand-drive conversion: the instrument cluster and starter switch remained on the left side of the dashboard.
A photo of the dash of Dom's Jeep prior to restoration, shows the inconvenient dash layout, as well as a fuel tank cover and an ammeter hole which may be original. It also shows another mystery of the 1958 Australian Jeeps: the T-handle parking brake which wasn't used on CJ-3Bs in the U.S. until 1961.
Dom fabricated a new set of blocks for his restoration: "What the notched blocks don't do, is allow vacuum wipers to traverse fully outboard with the windscreen folded down, although the hand wiper can. But what they do, is allow the windscreen to sit almost perfectly flat by making a space for the soft top channel to sit in."
"My hood blocks are notched a little further forward than the original example; I had to do this to get the channel to enter the notch. I'm using a repro tub, and everything doesn't precisely line up like it used to. I could get the notch working at the original length by adjusting the windscreen rearward, but then the measurement from the windscreen to the rear of the body (for correct canvas top fitting) would be short."
Here, Dom and his son are enjoying the breeze that you can only get with no top and no glass. This photo was taken as they headed to the beach during the hot Australian summer weather of January 2014. But you can see here, why the 1958 newspaper review had commented that the spare tire on the right side obstructed the RHD driver's rearview mirror.
Some Australian Jeeps did have the spare tire moved to the rear or the left side (90K JPEG).
Dom still had the top off when he picked up a trailer load of redgum firewood for the winter. The trailer is known as an "Aussie No. 4", built in Australia in 1945.
Dom also sent some photos taken with the tub off, which show the RHD pedal setup. He notes the following: "clutch actuating tube is cranked to avoid the front driveshaft, and brake master cylinder mounts outboard of the frame rail.
"The pedal assembly is attached to the frame (120K JPEG) using a reversed M38 (I think) mounting with greased plain bearings. Pedal tube is located left to right by spacer sleeves riding loose on the tube either side of the mount. Clutch pedal is still rigidly attached to the pedal tube (as per LHD) although this has no practical use as the linkage is attached directly to the pedal."
See also Details of a Right-Hand-Drive Universal Jeep on CJ3B.info.
The RHD conversion was the biggest but not the only change made to CJ-3Bs assembled in Australia. Dom says, "Out here, the vehicle import laws in force at the time adjusted the rate of duty payable on the basis of the amount of locally manufactured content, so everything that they could make or source here, they did. Seats, fuel tank, fuel tank cover, wiring, locally-made Lucas electrical components, etc. Possibly even the canvas tops were a local knock-off of the original. It seems that the notched hood blocks were also a local creation."
Thanks to Dom for bringing this unique detail to our attention. -- Derek Redmond
See also his comments on finding the right green paint.
Return to Jeeps in Australia on CJ3B.info.
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