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Thread: Hi from central ohio

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Hi from central ohio

    Wanted to introduce myself. I'm an "older shade tree mechanic" that has an opportunity to pick up a supposedly restored to original 1954-55 military jeep, he wasn't sure of the year. (Pic attached)

    My web digging indicates that it is a gen 1 M38A1. I arrived at this from the split windshield, hinged grill, cowl battery box with thumb screws. I will be going to look at it and take it for a drive and will check the run of the mill stuff (fluids, rust, any bondo, frame and things that do or don't work.

    Having no experience with these older jeeps, what would you recommend I look for to verify it was restored to OEM ? I believe it should have a solid back or no tailgate?

    Thanks in advance,
    Frank
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  2. #2
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    Welcome Frank F,

    From the description that you provided, the Jeep looks to be a 1952 or '53. The first two years of production had the hinges on the grill. The main rust problem areas are the floor, the fuel tank well under the driver's seat, the passenger side tool box, and the battery compartment in the cowl. I will share some photos of a A1 that I had the pleasure of working on. This one was a worse case scenario, as far as rust was concerned. You'll get the general idea of what to look for. The last picture is of the final product. I did all the floor and metal work, then the final body work and paint was done by the owner. Pelago is just finishing up his A1, and he can be found in the restorations section of this forum. He has done a great job covering his adventure on his Jeep. He tells the highs and the lows of being a one man show.



    Included is a link to a kind of a one stop point of information to help figure out what year you are looking at;

    http://www.m38a1.com/models/models_original.htm
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  3. #3
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    gmwillys, thanks for the information and pics on what to look for, much appreciated..

    The owner says that he has (2) batteries. so I am making the assumption that this is a good indicator that it is a 24v system ? 12v x 2 =24v ?

    If it is a 24v system, are there parts available ? or is lack of parts the main reason folks convert to 12v system?

  4. #4
    Super Moderator gmwillys's Avatar
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    Sounds like he has kept the 24 volt system.
    The parts are available. The great thing about the military is that (1) they don't change the design of their components very often, so the parts are interchangeable with a lot of vehicles. (2) the military stocks loads of parts as spares, and the NOS market is plentiful. Prices do vary, so shopping around is the best policy.

    The electrical systems for the 24 volt are robust and are designed to take a beating and still function. The reason folks do a conversion, is for ease in finding spare parts at their local parts house. I like to keep my 6 volt systems stock, and also the 24 volt systems as well. I don't like hacking up harnesses, or cobbling in alternator brackets, but that is my opinion.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bmorgil's Avatar
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    Thank God for "Old Shade Tree Mechanics"! I wonder how one of our new young computer tech/mechanics would do with an old WO carb. He would have a hard time finding the ADL to hook up to haha.

    Nice Jeep Frank F! I Agree with gmwillys. If you can keep it all stock that would be awesome. My project was converted from 6 to 12. I am keeping it 12 because all the 6 volt stuff is gone. Even the mount was hacked. I love the military Jeep. I wanted one for my first choice but, finding one that was restore able or, all there was difficult to say the least. The military Jeeps are getting more and more expensive. You have a sweet one for sure.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator LarrBeard's Avatar
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    24-volt Electrical System

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank F View Post
    The owner says that he has (2) batteries. so I am making the assumption that this is a good indicator that it is a 24v system ? 12v x 2 =24v ? If it is a 24v system, are there parts available ? or is lack of parts the main reason folks convert to 12v system?
    I would guess that the 12-volt conversion is for parts availability. GMWillys and I come from the "keep it original" school. I left the '48 truck 6-volt when I restored it. If you pay attention to cables and grounds, 6-volts works fine. In a 24-volt system, starter currents are a lot lower and cables and grounds take less attention once you get them right.

    The M38A1's were all equipped to be outfitted with a radio communication package and the radios needed 24-volt power. 24-volt parts really are more expensive, but you'll usually only replace something once - and if its working now it will probably keep on forever with just minimal attention. It was built to be abused and ignored and you're not going to treat it very roughly.

    The only issue with 24-volt systems is a tendency for batteries to self-discharge - it's kind of a mystery - with a lot of reasons. You might want to keep a battery minder on the vehicle to keep the batteries topped off.

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