Willys Hotchkiss Jeeps
Willys Hotchkiss JeepsWillys Hotchkiss Jeeps

Dodge WC58 Command Car rebuild - the next stages

Here we have the latest blog from the workshop...

The Dodge has been stripped down short of removing the body from the chassis. All works can be completed without the need to lift the body as there is lots of room underneath to work!

The pictures to the right show very clearly the work completed this week - pictures tell a thousand words etc so here goes...

Picture 1

The bonnet has been removed to give better access to the engine. One thing about these dodges, they do come apart easily to work on!  Here you can see the zenith carb clearly and the the original engine.  The wiring is 1970's and although robust - very clearly french!! (slightly chaotic!)

Picture 2

The engine with the inner wind being removed.  Dodges have two 'inner wings' both are not structural as the engine is mounted on the chassis, but this is a louvred panel with another 'dust' panel that sits next to the engine on a horizontal plane ( stopping dirt entering the engine bay.)  These former panels are usually removed and disposed of - so good to find these still in place. The inner wing is being held in postion in this picture by the fuel pump linked to the replaced fuel line coming through from the tank... a quick 'pull' and it comes away easily

Picture 3

Viewed from the passenger side, once the wing and inner wing are removed, we are left with the pure mechanics.  Notice the free wheeling hubs that have been added.  With the current price of fuel they will stay attached!! You can see how the chassis arcs over the front axle like a jeep and the suspension is a simple leaf type.  I noticed that there are serial numbers clearly handwritten in the springs so looks like they are rebuilt units. The brake drums are also a little larger than I am used to dealing with but a little heat (from a plumbers gas torch from B&Q for 10 ) the grub screws ease out to release the drum (no big nut like a jeep) ...simples...

Picture 4

The 12v (because its a radio vehicle) battery had in the past suffered from a leak and the floor of the passenger running board was very rotten.  Here we have welded in another battery tray floor and added a restraining frame based on the new 12v sealed battery unit dimensions. With a new rubber-lined holder the battery fits in well (at only 90 for a high quality type I think the battery is excellent value for money) Also everything has been sprayed with a plastic coating to elimatae corrosion with any potential acid splash.  All metal work is but welded and all rust cut out completely.  Dont forget to include strengthening under this part of the floor as the battery weighs a good deal!

Picture 5

The refurbished battery cover box is added, but with silicone sealant between  new body part and the chassis to ensure no more rot sets in due to moisture capture! This is the only real issue I have found on the truck to date.

Picture 6

On the dash the french army have removed the ww2 original dataplates and put in place a simple 'all in one' information plaque - this will be saved as the truck is going back to french livery. I think the plate was added in the rebuild by ERGM in '61

Picture 7

This rebuild plate by ERGM clearly shows (along with plates on all the refurbished parts; gearbox, axles etc) that the truck was rebuilt mid 1961.  Interestingly I found a chalked on date on the glove box of 20 10  61 under the french army paint.  Perhaps this shows the truck was scheduled for its final factory respray around this date - (?) a whole six months later..

Picture 8

The numberplate now 'touched up' and looking like new.  Unfortunately this number wasn't found on the front bumper - so it will be copied and reapplied to the front.  This helps us realise the front winch was added at a later date as it doesn't have this plate in place.  Perhaps the truck may have been issues a number starting with a six after its ERGM rebuild. (?) and these plates may have been tin ones fixed over the original by rivets (I found two sets of holes - ones were for the french civilian plates were fixed when I bought it, but there were holes further apart than this indicating a longer perhaps military plate - as civvy plates aren't that length)

Interestingly the flaming grenade and tricolour were also hand painted but in bad shape - therefore I have recreated them more clearly on the plate.  Although a flaming grenade ususally denotes the gendarmarie - I'm not so sure of this here as its before the tricolour and may just be an 'armee de terre' symbol.  Another flaming grenade was found on the passenger side front scuttle panel and this will be recreated as well.

  The winch assembly is fitted extremely well with correct lever in the floor with a gate and leather 'shield' - so although not on the vehicle originally it seems to have been fitted by a workshop and not a postmarket 'bodge' as you see on many civilianised veicles.

Picture 9

The rear lights (same as a jeep) go on.  I put the indicators inside these units by removing the black-out-light innards and painting the resultant slot with orange nail varnish!  Very satisfactory finish, but I do get some odd looks at Boots when I'm buying the varnish - you must get the right shade!! This enables me to remove the horrid post market indicators.. For the front I do the same but in the small black out lights on the wings.

Picture 10

Lastly for this week we add the rear wings back in place.  They were very sound and just needed a good clean and respray.  I used the canvas piping joints for that finishing touch (a short cross sectional bit shown sat on top the wing)

In conclusion - we haven't really started the mechanical work yet, but the body is coming together nicely. Next week the partial rewire where needed, attacking the dash (checking and replacing switches) and we will try to set the valve clearances in the engine block as its so much easier when the wings are off!


Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge