Ole Blue is a 1946 Willys CJ-2A that has been a friend and part of my family since I was about 7 years old. Ole Blue belonged to John and Irene Brown, my parent’s best friends while I was growing up. My Dad and John would hunt together; deer, quail, rabbits, whatever. I was always with them, from their cabin in the pines to the hunting trips in the desert, I never missed a minute. When John passed away from cancer, Rene told my Dad that John wanted him to have Ole Blue. For several years after John died we continued taking Ole Blue hunting and giving rides to all the kids. My niece and nephews and sons and daughter had all enjoyed riding around in Ole Blue. In October of 2007, upon my return from a deployment to Iraq with the Army National Guard, my Dad told me he was giving me Ole Blue. My wife and kids and I immediately began dis-assembly. While I had planned to restore the old Willys, I wasn’t necessarily planning a complete frame-off. As I kept removing parts, I kept finding more parts that needed to be replaced. Every part was kept in various buckets, boxes and piles. We stripped the frame and repainted it. We boxed the front part of the frame. We rebuilt the axles, differentials and added all new brake components. We worked on the body. We rebuilt the transmission and transfer case. Then I went to “freshen-up” the old L-Head 4 cylinder motor and the block was cracked. Well, I got lucky. I found a guy selling an L-Head on Craigslist and jumped on it. I bought new rings, bearings, gaskets, etc. to freshen up the old L-Head motor. My buddy, Ron Wilson, did the engine for me.
When I started restoring Ole Blue I wasn’t sure if I was going to try to go all original or not. It didn’t take long to decide which way I was going to go. John Brown had made up my mind for me. He had done some interesting modifications to Ole Blue. He had welded a complete second skin on the body. He had converted the steering from Ross steering over to a Saginaw box and removed the entire bell crank assembly. He had replaced the original Willys cylinder head with a Kaiser cylinder head, which is actually a common modification as the Kaiser head adds a bit more horse power. There were a few other cool modifications “JB” made to Ole Blue that I actually enjoy… not for any other reason than it still feels like John’s Jeep. I did a few things to Ole Blue myself. I installed a modern wiring harness. I updated the steering so it will turn all the way in both directions. I found a temperature gauge that will work with the Kaiser head. I installed comfortable low-back seats. I also notched the rear fenders so I could move the seats back about three inches. I replaced the floor pans and built my own floor bracing out of 1” X 2” tubing. I built front and rear bumpers out of 2” X 4”X ¼” wall tubing and put a Rancho 2 1/2” suspension under it.
Well, I guess that is it for the story of my Ole Blue, for now. She looks good and runs great. I have to thank my kids for helping me working on her. I have to thank my wife, Jodi, for helping me work on her and for allowing me to spend the money it took to get the old girl back in shape. I have to thank my Mom and Dad for believing in me and my ability to restore such a treasured piece of our family. Last, but not least, I have to thank John and Irene Brown for years of friendship and lasting memories. I miss them both tremendously. I know they are both looking down and I pray they are at least a little proud of what I have done with Ole Blue.