Old Autos
Saturday, August 28, 1999

My 1946 CJ2A Jeep…
By Jim Rolfe, Pembroke, Ontario

Back in October of 2000 I wrote an article for Old autos on my M-38 Military Jeep. I have since sold that vehicle to a buyer in Chicago. This left me without a project vehicle to keep me busy during our long Canadian winter. A search for another Jeep began in the spring of 2001 with a visit to Willys Acres (an Old Auto advertiser and perhaps Canada's largest supplier vintage Jeep parts) near Barrie, Ontario. The owner, Markus Schneider, showed me quite a few restorable Jeeps but nothing of interest to me at that time.
So the search focused on the Pembroke area as this locality has hundreds of hunt camps scattered throughout the hills of the Ottawa Valley. Frequently I had been told by friends that there were plenty of derelict Jeeps at many of these camps. However, most had been left outside for so long that they were not worth the effort to restore or they had their frames butchered to handle snow plows. Repairing the frame of such a vehicles means removing reinforcing plates and mounting brackets, a task requiring the use of cutting torch. Then the job of restoring the frame is long, tedious and labour intensive. I did look at several but soon gave up as each one seemed worse than the last.
In the summer of 2001 I was in the local mall having a coffee with an old friend, Sheldon Rowe, who sold me the land on which my house sits. With him was a fellow by the name of Camille Charette who said he was the owner of many Jeeps over the last fifty years of so. As it turned out he had several to sell and we set up a visit to his hunt camp to inspect them.

Several had been used for snow plowing and I was not interested, but one, a 1946 CJ2A looked restorable. In the end I bought it and a second, a 1970 M-38A1 Military Jeep. After several days of inspecting the two vehicles, I decided to restore the CJ2A and leave the other one for a future project.
In August and September of 2001 I had my dream workshop built complete with furnace and excellent lighting. The workshop measures 28 feet x 28 feet. In October after all my tools were in the shop I brought the CJ2A in to start my winter project. A careful inspection of the body revealed that it was full of patched areas and modifications with plenty of rust. As I had completed my M-38 Jeep several years ago by repairing the body I soon discovered it would by cheaper to purchase a complete new body assembly. The cost of labour was the deciding factor. New bodies are readily available from suppliers in the USA and the Philippines, but I secured mine from Markus Schneider of Willys Acres. He imports them from the Philippines for resale and I felt more confident in dealing with him than some offshore outfit I did not know. In due course, the vehicle was completely disassembled down to the frame. The frame was not in bad shape with only surface rust. However, several areas needed welding repairs and my buddy Ron Roy did the work. Two cross members were replaced with new parts made up for me at a machine shop in Pembroke. All the power train assemblies were taken apart and inspected. I replaced some bearings and all seals and gaskets.
The engine had a cracked block and therefore was beyond rebuilding. Thus began the search for an engine to rebuild. Several were found in my locale but proved to be as bad as mine. I could have purchased a complete unit from Willys Acres but I wanted to do all the mechanical work myself, as I am a former Army mechanic.


An ad on the Internet turned up a suitable engine in nearby Petawawa. After stripping the engine I found one valve seat was missing. It had come loose and blew out the exhaust system. As I am not equipped to do a seat replacement I took the block into a machine shop and had them do the work plus replace all the valve guides. I did the valve job and all other work. The rings, all bearings, one piston and all seals and gaskets were replaced.
The Jeep is not a military version, rather it is a civilian model. The Military Jeeps after WWII have the letter "M" before the model number, ie: M-38. Civilian Jeeps of early vintage were given the "CJ" designation, meaning Civilian Jeep. However, I did want mine to look military so it is painted in olive drab colour with the seats in canvas like all military models. Also the canvas top is of WWII design, as are the tires. I mounted the spare tire and Jerry can on the rear to be consistent with military vehicles. Except for the above modifications, the Jeep has been returned to its original condition. The electrical system is 6 volt with a new reproduction wiring harness

The drivetrain is completely original. WWII Jeeps are in high demand and command very high prices if restored to original. Jeeps from 1945 to 1952 with the flat fenders are equally desirable, even if they are civilian models. As often seen in the pages of Old Autos military vehicles are becoming common at shows and meets. The most common being Jeeps as they are more plentiful and the parts easy to find. Even the newer military vehicles that the government has disposed of since the 1970s are being picked up by collectors. A visit to the military museum at the Oshawa airport when they have their open house (usually in early June) and invite collectors to bring in their vehicles, will open your eyes to just how popular this aspect of old vehicle restoration has become. There are many vendors selling parts and manuals for vehicles and every kind of military equipment, including radios and weapons.