Mini Slat Grille Runs Like a Deere

by Colin Peabody

ColinIn 2008 I finished building a WWII mini Jeep for my grandkids in Maryland. The body is a 1/2-scale BEMAK replica of a 1941 Willys Model MB "slat grille" military jeep. This photo shows me driving the jeep and towing my friend Greg's 1944 GPW.

EngineIt is sitting on a 1979 or 80 John Deere Model 111 lawn tractor with an 11-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine with 5 speed + reverse manual transaxle, meaning that it has a clutch that has to be used in the conventional manner. I had to "channel" the body a bit to get it to fit down on the chassis, and I had to fabricate a shift linkage for the transmission.

FrontI built the front and rear bumpers to replicate the ones on full size jeeps and then built the winch mount for the 2000-lb capacity winch, which came from Harbor Freight. I also fabricated a receiver hitch for a trailer. The winch controls are mounted in the dash, rather than in the remote control plastic thing that came with it. The headlights were Harbor Freight items as were all 5 tires and wheels. The windshield is fitted with Lexan.

RearI made the bracket for the jerry can, which is actually the fuel tank for the Jeep. It has an on/off valve located at the bottom of the tank. The front marker lights are WWII vintage blackout marker lights fitted with 12v bulbs. The rear taillight is a WWII blackout marker light lens cover fitted with a red LED bulb. I got those items at the military vehicle show at the National Guard Armory in January in Phoenix. The spare tire mount is one from Harbor Freight that I modified to fit the body.

ChassisWhile it is only 2WD, I had to modify front hubs from an EZ Go golf cart to be able to use 4-bolt wheels. I also had to modify the rear axle hubs to accept 4-bolt wheels. After I got it all put together and running, I took it apart to paint it. All the wiring is run through looms and it is painted US Navy battleship gray with appropriate WWII markings. It was a big project, but was a lot of fun to do.

BatteryI modified a seat frame out of a 1950s Willys station wagon, narrowed it to fit and cut the seat back to lower it, then fabricated a mount that allows the seat to tilt forward to gain access to the rear floor and battery.

DashThe steering column outer jacket was one I cut down from an old Jeepster I cannibalized years ago and it now has roller bearings inside both top and bottom to support the actual column. I fabricated a bracket to hold the column to the dash. Greg Bowles made up the to-scale WWII rifle mount for the back of the windshield, and I found a small toy rifle that fits.

In keeping with the Willys theme, I modified the clutch and brake pedal arms to accept the old clutch and brake pedals from my CJ-3A. The hood holddowns and headlight switch were also extras from my 3A.

KidsHere's one of the grandkids driving it in Maryland, towing a wagon loaded with grandkids and friends. Top speed in 5th gear is about 7-8 mph, but it has plenty of power in each gear, even reverse. I built a small Harbor Freight trailer to tow behind it also. The Jeep has my son's name and rank on the side as it went to Maryland last summer as a "working toy" for him and his 4 kids. -- Colin Peabody

Thanks to Colin for documenting his great project. -- Derek Redmond

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Last updated 7 March 2009 by Derek Redmond redmond@cj3b.info
All content not credited and previously copyright, is copyright Derek Redmond