Reviving the Willys


Now that the truck is home, it’s time to see if it will wake up. The first day home I put a couple squirts of oil in each cylinder to start the penetration process. A few days later, another squirt. At one week, we wanted to see if the motor would turn.

Put the truck in gear and roll it back and forth. Hmm, nothing. It doesn’t seem to be going into gear. I suppose it’s possible that my complete ignorance of four wheel drive and the use of 3 shifting levers could be the reason for this. After a bunch of research and question asking on the Old Willys Forum (which by the way is a great group of guys er folks), I found that my ignorance had fully disengaged the drive system from the engine. No wonder the wheels wouldn’t turn the engine.

Once figured out, my oldest son and I started pushing, really hard too and finally, it rolled about 6 inches. Hmm, that should be enough for some movement. I had previously marked the engine and pulleys to determine if there was any movement and sure enough it had moved. Likely for the first time in about 20yrs. We decided to keep pushing back and forth to get it freed up some more and we wanted to see if the engine would do a complete revolution. I had my youngest son watching the engine while we pushed several more feet. He didn’t say anything so when I asked if it made it all the way around, I was surprised when he said “yeah, three times”. Very cool. The last step for the evening was to put some jumper cables on and see if it would turn. Cables on, check. Key on, check. Lights on the dash came on, cool, check. Turn the key and it moved on its own. That’s enough for the night.

The next night I put a battery in and got it cranking on its own with more purpose. I checked a plug and no spark. A little filing on the points and then I had good spark. Cranked for a while with a gas can hooked to the fuel pump (who knows what’s in the tank) and nothing. I tried a bunch of things including starting fluid and no luck. During the initial testing I did a compression check and had about 30psi on 2 cylinders, about 10-20 on 2 other cylinders and zero or nothing I could see on the gauge for the last two. I suspect that once it gets going it might seal up better and give some better results. I eventually killed the battery for the night and had to put it on the charger. Oh well, another time.

The next night my brother came over and we poked at it for a while. Since I had good spark I hadn’t checked it again but we did and found there was again no spark. More troubleshooting. I went back to clean/file the points a bit and in doing so, one of the contacts fell off into the bottom of the distributor. Well, there’s your problem. Done again for another evening. Now to get a new set of points.

I found that there’s an old style auto parts store not far from home (actually the closest one to home) that I didn’t know about (we’ve only been here about a year). You know the old style shops that had guys who knew about cars and how they work? Well I gave them a call this evening and asked about some points. Apparently there are a couple types depending on the manufacturer of the distributor. Once that was determined he said they had a set in stock. Really? Nothing has points anymore, maybe that’s why they were in stock.

$14 later and I have a new set ready to install. Now for the rain to stop to get them in and see if the truck will start. I think it will live. 

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