Willys Hotchkiss Jeeps
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Dodge Command Car blog - update

The Dodge has now been resprayed completely including the front wings and bonnet - and is now ready for re assembly.

Job 1

The valve gaps were hard to check as the engine needed to be turned by hand - and to do this you need a starting handle long enough to pass the front winch and engage with the front timing flywheel.  As I haven't got one that long the engine was turned by hand (literally) with the plugs out to ease movement.  The fan is so close to the rad. that this is near impossible - to get your hands in to turn the bu**er  Eventually all 12 valves were checked with exhaust at 0.010 and inlet 0.008 inches.  You really do have to have the front wing and inner wing removed for this as you cant get at the side of the engine unless these are removed completely.  I would even do this with the front passenger wheel removed to get better access. See picture to right for the location of the valves and the difficulty of reaching them under the manifold..

Job 2

To set the timing you really need mark the front flywheel and then use a strobe taking its feed from the cylinder 1 spark cable.  Do you think I could find the timing mark on the front flywheel??? Not on your life!!.  Ok it had years of gunk on it, but I scraped this off and couldn't find any markings anywhere.  In the end I guessed a position by looking at the valves.  Just as the first inlet valve was opening we had just gone by TDC.  I marked the wheel with some tippex. (see confusing picture to right!)

With the strobe illuminating the fly wheel whilst running this marking was about 20 degrees off the indicating arrow ( arrow at about 12 o'clock on the block) at 10 thou revs.  Reading up in my old crappy Dodge manual - this is actualy the right point!! Then with the distributor freed off (a 14mm spanner on the retaining collar nut) and i turned the distributor to the left and it brought the timing mark back  anti clockwise to an earlier point  - retarding I think..(looking  at the flywheel from the passenger side of the engine that is) so I had about 20 - 22 degrees before TDC now.  I marked this on the front timing chain housing with tippex so I had two markers to align (roughly) next time.

  The engine sounded much happier here as the revs increased and the laboured turnover became more 'fluid'.  I couldn't rotate the dizzy any further to the left - so left it at this.. I guess this will do until I get a road test under my belt. (see picture to right of dizzy)

I have done this before where it seemed the dizzy should turn a further 45 degrees to give the engine the correct setting - this turned out to be the fact the spark plugs were in the wrong order on the cap and I was at least 180 degrees out - so do check your leads are in the right order before trying any of this (if you can even get it to start!!)

Fortunatley the Coil, leads and dizzy cap are new - so I replaced the plugs to make sure we had a robust electrical system.

When the engine was timed right - THEN adjust the idle air mix (the screw on the top of the carb - I have a zenith).  This then helps the engine stop choking on fuel and flattens the revs out to a more even tickover.  At this point I was re warded as the engine started to 'gurgle'. The fumes didn't smell of fuel and the blackish smoke went from the exhaust.  It seems the dizzy was at leat 10 degrees out - infact it was loose in its mounting as the previous 'mechanic' hadn't tightened it back up after a fiddle!! The air mixture screw was tightened up until the egine laboured, then backed out about 2.5 turns until the engine was at its happiest.. (See picture of carb and new fuel filter to right)

Now the dodge runs well - but a road test will help indicate if it maintains consistant power on hills and give me more of a clue about if the timing is correct.  A loss of power on the climb and I have 'retarded' too much.

I did try using my Gunson gas tester but its never been accurate, and the noise of the engine is a good indicator that told me it was 'good'..

I then cleaned out the carb as it had sand in it - never a good sign and replaced the gaskets for a good tight airtight seal.  I also noted that a couple of manifold studs were only hand tight = so I nipped these up as well.

A lumpy turnover on these dodges can be air sucked in from cracks in the inlet maifold or the vacuum branch (for the windscreen motors)  I sealed this up with a self tapper in 'liquid steel' to ensure no more gasping here.. again this helped the running,  Listen for gasping with a hollow tube placed against your ear and the other end on the engine block/ manifold and it makes a sharp hissing noise when you find it!

Next thing was a pressure test on the cylinders.  I removed one plug at a time and then turned over the engine on the starter motor (the high tension lead disconnected from the coil to avoid ignition). Cylinder 1 was 7 bar - then it was 7.5 all the way along to 8 bar on the sixth cylinder. This is ok - not fantastic  - as this means that 1 is over 10 lbs difference than the rest  - so we have a slightly worn first cylinder.  7 bar is fairly good, but 7.5 would be better!

Job 3

Now all the engine tests are done - I put in some new fuel as the stuff in there must have been a couple of years old!  but do note french petrol isn't as aromatic as our fuel and it smells off in only a few months - ours can last longer!!

Job 4

Back goes the wing, with some more canvas piping - and some new bolts.  Also the blackout lights turned into indicators.. (see picture of wing with french blackout light fitted)

Job 5

Problems with the brake sender unit on the brake lines meant that I either had to replace - and drain the braking system down and bleed - or this time, I added an electronic switch that senses the pull in the brake pedal lever and activates the rear lights,  Very satisfactory as it activates the brake lights even under the slightest braking - unlike before when youy really had to whollop the brake pedal to get anything to illuminate at the rear of the truck.

Job 6

A last bit or rewiring and then in went the seats. To finish off the interior some rubber floor matting made from recycled lorry tyres was used.  This way the floor can breath unlike before and therefore avoid trapping moisture and rotting out the floors. It also saves the floors from having the paint scraped / rubbed off by passengers boots!! (see to right, three mats joined together for the floor at the rear of the Dodge)

Job 7

Nearly fully reassembled - just the front number plates to do.  I also freed off the front winch and oiled/ greased up the mechanism so it will work.  I also added new leather floor gaiter in the drivers cab to replace the stiff rotting original. All of which are only attention to detail I know - but I think if you have this attention, it at least indicates you have looked at the larger more serious stuff first (??) or am i in a dream world... pictures last two to right..

Next will be markings and the fitting of a new roof..

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