View Full Version : Restoring Ham's 48 Willys; My First Test Drive

03-13-2016, 02:06 PM
Last week the weather finally co-operated and I decided to take the truck out on public roads for my first time to drive it since, as far as I can recall, about 1978; about 38 years.

I decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Even though I could drive the truck a long time ago, neither one of us is what we were back then. It has a lot fewer miles on it (essentially zero) and I've accumulated a lot more. A couple of short blocks from the shop there is an abandoned grocery store with a huge parking lot. I decided that would be close to home - a good place to reacquaint ourselves.

It started easily, and it drives very well. The new steering gear, components and the Tight Steer pin make it an easy truck to drive - not at all like it was in its last lifetime. As I drove over to the lot, I did notice a lot of noise from the transmission. Not a gear whine, a rumble and a grumble..

I got there and made a loop or two around the lot under the watchful eye of a local policeman who was taking his lunch break. He was curious, so I stopped and told him the story. After a couple of more turns, I noticed that the temperature gauge was pinned in the direction that tells me that the engine is hot. I checked the heater and it was blowing cold air. Things were starting to smell hot, so I beat feet back to the shop. Things weren't right. I stopped the truck at the shop door, shut it down and opened the hood. There was a little plume of steam coming out of the overflow tube - she's HOT! I barely had time to say "The thermostat's in upside down" when - WHOOSH, we got a hot coolant shower. The bottom radiator hose blew off the water pump. Nobody got burned, but antifreeze doesn't taste very good.

The cooling problem was an air bubble in the cooling system. And, the hose clamp wasn't very tight either. It wasn't my first guess about the thermostat. No problem, just a bit of a mess. We let it cool, added fresh coolant and made sure the system didn't have air in it. Things ran well then. We rigged a temp gauge to the system (mine in the panel reads bass-ackwards because of the wrong temp sensor in the engine) and verified that the system was running at the thermostat temperature. We'll probably go to a cooler thermostat (175 degrees) for the long term.

But, the transmission noise was a problem. We had the tranny in the shop early on and they replaced a synchronizer and all the seals, but the first check said no bearing issues. Well, we checked lube level -OK, then drained out a bit of lube through the drain plug. Uh, oh - metal! Given all the choices, I sure do hope there is a bad bearing in there. Right now the transmission is out of the truck and back at the transmission shop. We're working with them for a quick turn-around.

These are the things you find when you start to drive one of these - it's just taken us all winter to get to this place.