• Welcome to the New OffroadSC - We have successfully migrated to our new Non-Profit Servers. Our team has been working hard to make this migration as smooth as possible. If you experience any issues, please let us know via the Housekeeping > Technical Problems Section.

Family Jeepster Build

#1
The time has come to finally start a new build. I thought that my single seat buggy was next on the list since it was already on the chassis table, but having a son changed my priorities. I picked up a farm fresh 1969 Commando for a pretty good price, or so I thought. It turns out that it is a little more rotten than I expected after my initial inspection.

20151018_110956.jpg

This is a two owner 1969 Jeepster Commando built by the Kaiser company. It has the original 231 V6, automatic transmission, and dana 20 transfer case. I was told the motor got a knock in it back in 91 right as the owner was getting ready to leave for college. He parked it out in the field and bought something more reliable. 24 years later it was drug out of the field and to my shop. Apparently he thought he was a pretty good mechanic because this thing is pretty much butchered. There was an additional heater box installed and ducked to the back. I am sure that it helped, but it was cobbled in and plumbed with PVC. The hardtop clearly became friends with a tree at some point. The hardtop seems pretty roached so it might not make it back.

The original plan was to pop out the drivetrain and upgrade it to a 4.0L, ax15, NP231 and dana 44s. Toss some 33's on it and a cage. Once I realized what shape it was in and how much work I was looking at I turned this ship onto a new course.

The current plan is a full custom box tubing frame. Four link and coilover the front, leaf springs in the rear. 4.0l, ax15, and a dana 300. Then custom tube fenders front and rear, a full family friendly cage, soft top, fix the roached metal, and armor the crap out of it. Toss on a set of 35" km2s and go wheel it.
 
#4
It shouldn't be to hard.... Just lots of hours.

I got the hard top pulled off and out of the way. There are a bunch of little bolts holding this thing on. Most of them snapped or got cut out.

20151129_134338.jpg

The interior came right out. Well what was left of it. Then I started to split the body and drivetrain. It was the easiest separation I have ever done. 12 body mounts on the tub and not a single seized or stripped bolt in there. Not even a spun nut!

20151204_125419.jpg
Split with some 4x4s to separate things.

Now I have a chassis for my 2a body.
20151204_145238.jpg
 
#6
Wow, That is amazing. You planning to media blast the body and frame?
It is getting a new frame. I might get it powder coated once it is finished. If not I will wipe it down and cover it in chassis black. I am still debating on blasting, dipping, or just sanding the body. Blasting and dipping add a lot of $$ to the budget that I wasn't planning on. Sanding just adds time and the rust is all getting cut out anyway. My biggest concern on the sheet metal is that the few seams that exist have some rust in them. I am not sure I am up to cutting the factory seams apart and cleaning it all up. That might just be a little over my head.
 
#8
I say leave the body as is , its a trail rig not a show car.
I would but a big push for this is to get my wife on the trail. That means some creature comforts and a drastically reduced chance of tetanus. The body won't be perfect. I am no body man and I am not going to pay a premium for one. A lot of the rust will disappear to be replaced with armor, but there is some that needs to be repaired to bring some structure back to the body. I am really using a lot of the body work on this to learn sheetmetal work for future projects.

The new frame is going to be built out of 2x4x3/16 box tubing. The front and rear bumpers will be the main crossmembers. I am planning on only one additional crossmember that should be located between the transfer case output and the rear axle input. I just don't know exactly where that will end up. Rather than miter cutting the frame rails to get the step ups for the axles I am carving out metal and then bending the tube to get the appropriate angle. These "notches" will get internal hidden fish plates to strengthen the joint but to keep the frame super clean.

I made a sheet metal template that allows me to cut a repeatable notch with the plasma. There will be 8 of these on each side so I have a lot of notching and welding to do.

20151215_100652.jpg

This notch puts my step up at 18.5 degrees. I shouldn't have to do anything but clean the slag off and grind a bevel for a stronger weld.

20151215_102524.jpg

My first notch was close, but I am going to have to tweak the template a little to get a slightly better fit. Hopefully I can knock out the frame pretty quickly. All of the suspension parts should be at the house before Christmas so the goal is a rolling chassis before I have to go back to work.
 
#9
I would but a big push for this is to get my wife on the trail. That means some creature comforts and a drastically reduced chance of tetanus. The body won't be perfect. I am no body man and I am not going to pay a premium for one. A lot of the rust will disappear to be replaced with armor, but there is some that needs to be repaired to bring some structure back to the body. I am really using a lot of the body work on this to learn sheetmetal work for future projects.

The new frame is going to be built out of 2x4x3/16 box tubing. The front and rear bumpers will be the main crossmembers. I am planning on only one additional crossmember that should be located between the transfer case output and the rear axle input. I just don't know exactly where that will end up. Rather than miter cutting the frame rails to get the step ups for the axles I am carving out metal and then bending the tube to get the appropriate angle. These "notches" will get internal hidden fish plates to strengthen the joint but to keep the frame super clean.

I made a sheet metal template that allows me to cut a repeatable notch with the plasma. There will be 8 of these on each side so I have a lot of notching and welding to do.

20151215_100652.jpg

This notch puts my step up at 18.5 degrees. I shouldn't have to do anything but clean the slag off and grind a bevel for a stronger weld.

20151215_102524.jpg

My first notch was close, but I am going to have to tweak the template a little to get a slightly better fit. Hopefully I can knock out the frame pretty quickly. All of the suspension parts should be at the house before Christmas so the goal is a rolling chassis before I have to go back to work.
Do you think that just the bumpers and one additional crossmember will give adequate torsional rigidity? I have visions of a rusty tub twisting into a misshapen lump and body filler popping out each time things get in a twist!
 
#11
Do you think that just the bumpers and one additional crossmember will give adequate torsional rigidity? I have visions of a rusty tub twisting into a misshapen lump and body filler popping out each time things get in a twist!
The factory frame was built with just three crossmembers. I am just beefing the front and rear up to be bumpers too. The tub also won't be rusty once I finish. The cage will tie in through poly bushings as well. Hopefully everything will help prevent to much frame twist. This won't be a crazy crawler, but something for the family to trail ride in. The single seat I just pulled from the chassis table to work on this one will be finished for doing stupid stuff.
 
#12
Looks good. I love commandos. Have seen a few lately that are awesome.

I wouldn't blast the body unless your looking to really repair the sheetmetal as blasting it will show you every things that's wrong with the body and make it thin. Clean up around the seams that are bad and weld them all shut and grind the welds down. Maybe throw some stop rust on it or just seam sealer.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
#13
Looks good. I love commandos. Have seen a few lately that are awesome.

I wouldn't blast the body unless your looking to really repair the sheetmetal as blasting it will show you every things that's wrong with the body and make it thin. Clean up around the seams that are bad and weld them all shut and grind the welds down. Maybe throw some stop rust on it or just seam sealer.
I wanted the older 50's commando, but stumbled upon this one for what I thought was a good deal. It helps to have the entire drivetrain I want to swap in. I already know where the metal problem are. I was lucky enough that whoever did the bondo work wasn't good at it so it has flaked off already. Blasting would definitely reveal a little more, but probable nothing that I am not already planning to cut out. My problem is 100% cost. I can probably strip the tub clean with a sander in two days. Certainly I won't get into all the cracks but neither is a blaster. I would have to dip it for that. Right now I am leaning toward phosphoric acid soaking the seams. Then cleaning them and welding them up. I might skip the welding and just go with sealer.

It looks like my quest for a rolling chassis over break is already lost. All of my brackets for the suspension haven't shipped yet. Even with a CNC table it was easier to just order everything I needed from Barnes. I guess that got swamped and a couple of the brackets I want are back ordered. Hopefully they get shipped today, but in reality I don't really care. I have a lot to do before they get here.
 
#14
It's a good thing you like to build things from scratch. There's not many cookie-cutter parts available for these things. If you care for a resource specific to Jeepsters I'd suggest JeepsterCommandoClub.com There are several guys on there who have extensive knowledge of Jeepsters, and there's a few that have pretty good parts reserves.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you cook up.
 
#15
Thanks. I will check them out. I need some parts to convert to a soft top.

Got some time at the shop yesterday. The drivers side frame rail is all welded up and ready to be dressed down and smoothed. The notching setup worked great. I added a couple holes to each notch to put an internal fish plate on each joint to keep it clean.

20151226_164107.jpg

20151226_134010.jpg

The passenger frame rail is notched, drilled, and ready to weld up. The rough front and rear bumpers are built. Hopefully I canget the frame together and start on the body mounts next time out.
 
Last edited:
#16
I've got a small northern tool sand blaster gig if you'd want to borrow it your more then welcome to. I've never tried it out so I'm not sure how well it works. Doesn't have any abrasive in it but I think harbor freight sales it.

I'm in Greenville so if you'd ever want it just let me know.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
#17
20151230_153325.jpg

Thanks Steve. I have a small blasting out and can get my hands on an engine driven 40 gallon pot if I need it. I think I am going to try to avoid blasting if I can.

Got the rails finished up today. Tomorrow I will be adding the main body mounts and hopefully the cross members. This will let me position the body, motor, trans, and axles. I am still waiting on the tabs from barnes. Luckily they aren't holding me up right now.
 
#18
I was up early this morning so I got a couple hours at the shop.

20151231_095113.jpg
Cleaned up the four body mounts that I will be reusing.

Then I put the frame rails on the table and squared everything up. I added the front cross member for the grill body mount and another in the back right in front of the axle to tie the rails together.


20151231_095055.jpg
 
#20
Thanks Brooks.

Only got a couple hours today. The body is on the frame. I need to adjust one body mount and then build the last four.

20160102_161303.jpg
The front fenders line up pretty well with the stretched axle hump.

20160102_161316.jpg
The rear fits like a glove. The cross member clears by a quarter inch.

20160102_161247.jpg
Even got the rear bumper in place.

Now the trick is going to be shoving an inline 6 where a v6 was.
 
Top