Willys Hotchkiss Jeeps
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Dodge Command Car strip down..

The Dodge has now been garaged and work commenced to generally inspect - strip down and upgrade.

First thing was first and it was removal of the tatty roof and doors and rip up the rubber flooring holding moisture against the metal floor!

The floor is pitted but not holed and certainly not cut - so strikes me as original.  There are a few holes drilled in pairs here and there, so I guess this was to fasten down the legs of the radio table and hold the generators in place. In the spares that came with the vehicle was an ariel bracket and radio junction box - so I guess it was a radio vehicle (the voltmeter in the dash gives this away!)

The battery box floor was badly corroded (probably due to an acid spill in the past) but apart from that these was some small rust to some top hat sections and a bit in the rear wing.  All very encouraging.

All the captive nuts held when I took out the interiors, rear wings and tailgate - so nothing to complain of there.

The battery was past its prime - so a new one sourced and I could see it has been rewired in the past as the original wiring loom is still in the vehicle, but just tucked away!

I took the running boards off (very fiddly on the drivers side as the bolts want to come upwards but hit the body work) both sides and decided to cut out the battery retaining tray and floor as it was beyond repair.  In went some strengthened steel and a rubber mat to hold the base of the battery.. all srayed with a few coats of paint to avoid rust any time soon.

In the bottom of the seats (wooden bases) were some small holes I guess for drainage, but a clever little mouse had knawled one of them bigger and made his home.  Unfortunately he had perished and was mummified - one wonders if this was a ww2 mouse?  Ha ha no it wasn't as the bottoms of the seats had french markings meaning front and rear.. so definately post war...

There really isn't much to a dodge and it comes apart really easily.  This has enabled me to get on with the flattening back of the paint work.

The dodge had four coats of paint, first red or yellow oxide, olive drab, then dark nato green, then a hand applied lighter green (badly applied at that - more runs than a meeting at newmarket.. )and finally another very light drab, put on by the last owner to 'tart' it up.  I also found filler - not on rust but filling small dents and crumples.  Obviously it had a small whack in the rear - but I removed the filler and preserved the dent as it is the history of the vehicle.. (call me mad..)

Four coats of my 'special' mix of paint matched to the first dark green layer put on by the poist war french,,, and voila.  Unfortunately there were no markings to be found anywhere, apart from a very large black square on the rear 'hind' of the vehicle'.  I think it has been very well sanded before one of its previous resprays - so only a faint flaming grenade on the drivers side and the number plate are left.. Both will be recreated..

I did find fist fulls of sand in the outriggers, but unfortunately because of the off roading exploits of the previous owner, I could more or less guarantee they weren't soil deposits from any theatre of conflict it may have found its self in!

I'm now cracking on with the reassembly of the rear of the vehicle and next wil be the front, dash, screen and cowl.  After this the mechanics..

 Picture 1 - The dodge as it appeared when I first got to france - doesn't look too bad - but those canvas items are all shot!

Picture 2 - After touching up the rear number plate and an inspection it gets ready to be taken into the workshop for disassembly

Picture 3 - Stripped down in the rear , surface rust removed and primed - outriggers in good condition

Picture 4 - View from rear with seats out - only took about 20 minutes!!

Picture 5 - A view of the floor - dented, slightly pitted but whole and not cut about!

Picture 6 - The reenforcing of the drivers side of the body.  They were rotted out where they joined the floor.  Both the floor and the last 5 inches have been cut out.  I recreated the correct curve from a willys jeep top hat section cut with lots of angular cuts - then it folded together to give a curve.. after two coats of primer and three top coat these will look fine..

Picture 7 - 8 - 9 More pictures of work undertaken - tyres are Klebers fitted by french army in early 60's..

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