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1954 DJ2a

LongDong Fab

Active member
May 22, 2020
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little back story,

I have been wheeling a 1999 jeep TJ for almost 10 years (shown in the first 3 photos ) . It has been through many iterations like many wheeling rigs, but has gotten a bit stale in my opinion. The tj does very well in the woods, however I enjoy driving it on the road also; because of sentimental value I have had an issue wheeling it harder. Ruining the Tub has always been a deal breaker..

Over the past year I have been developing plans to build a tube buggy, not super radical since some trails require road miles. I have been buying parts when good deals come by. In late July a friend of a friend mentioned that he had a willys DJ-2a He was looking to part with. The price was beer money, so I said "Ill take it " sight un seen

A few weeks later the willys was delivered in the driveway. This is my new wheeler ! (photo 4,5,6 are how it showed up )

This is where the purists cry. everyone has told me to restore it since it is fairly rare bla bla bla... the motor that came with the willys is not correct. at some point in its life the motor was switched to an F head. The willys has been in a barn since the mid 1970's, it only has 33000 miles. Im suspecting the willys was parked because the head gasket for the rear cylinder popped, and filled the cylinder with coolant. After not being able to turn the motor over, I pulled the engine within 2 hours of being dropped off.

The build plans

4.3 vortec V6


Dana 300

high pinion dana 60 rear

High pinion dana 60 front

Scout steering box,

Full cage

37'' tires

Yj leafs in the front

cherokee leafs out back

Size is going to be key, The willys will retain almost factory length with narrow axles. This will not be a hill killer, due to the short wheel base. However it should do well on tight technical trails. The axles will be narrowed to 64'' with 5 '' back spacing rims

The rear axle will be all custom garage built. it will start with a dana 60 high pinion housing. the center will have new tubes installed, and then 14 bolt spindles

the front will get narrowed 4 inches on the long side,

This should get the project up to its current state,
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This is what the willys looked like when it made it to its new home, the body was in really decent shape for the year. the engine on the other hand was completely whooped.




Once I decided that the willys was not worth restoring, it was time to start the build. Originally I had been stock piling parts to build a tube buggy, So 2 front dana 60's were now the axles of choice. The first issue was the width.. The front axle was easy to narrow, After looking through the spicer catalog, there was a axle shaft that was 5 inches narrower for the passenger inner. Not chromo but plenty for a light jeep. with that on order, and the width set it was time to noodle on the rear.

Ruff stuff had 14 bolt spindles, so it seemed like the natural direction. I set my efforts to removing the original short side tube for the other front axle. A little bridgeport work later and all the plug welds were removed and the old tube was pressed out. What a PITA, with the housing bore cleaned up and measured a new long side had to be ordered




While waiting for the tube and shaft to come in, there was a local swap meet and I picked up these totally RAD seats... This really set the tone of the build



With the shaft in, it was time to cut the front down, Now the below posts make it look like I almost knew what I was doing.... Bullocks.. this was pure wing it garage fab.

it basically went like this,

1) measure a million times
2) squint and cut axle tube with porta band
3) contemplate life decisions and hope I didnt make junk
4 ) set the "c" up in the lathe and start boring out the remaining tube
5) hope it fits





Luckily everything fit perfectly, although there was not much of a press fit.. with the front pretty much buttoned up, it was time to get the rear semi mocked up.

It was time to do garage math, whiteboard style. It was the only way to visually layout what was happening. Then it was time to start turning some tubing !




With the tube end turned down, it was time to hammer it home. No fancy presses here, just a big sledge hammer and some anger....

Unfortunately I lost the photos of machining the spindles down and then installing them along with the hubs and shafts.. you'll have to take my word for it


At this point there was about 6 month hiatus to work on a couple customer rigs, so the willys got placed on a rolling cart and shoved outside under a tarp. Once spring time came around it was time for a change of pace. I really wanted to get a feel for what the seating configuration would be, and where things spatially had to fit. First step was hacking out the rear fender wells to fit normal size seats, followed by a new rear floor





In true professional form, the roll of blue painters tape made an appearance.. and then some tubes were bent




the seats were custom ordered from mastercraft. I purchased them from the original owner at a swap meet. They were intended to be installed in a gasser