Tech Tips 2020 no. 3

Steve Turchet dives into what is ailing your military vehicle
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Tech tips Jeep

LIKE IT OR LUMP IT?

I have a 1942 Ford GPW. I have kept its original Army appearance but since it is my daily driver, I finally decided to install locking hubs on the front axle.

The directions say to take off the nuts on the ends of the axle and saw off the threaded part. I don’t want to do this because I want to keep the jeep as original as I can. Are there enough advantages to locking hubs to make up for taking this drastic step? Or is there any brand of locking hubs where you don’t have to saw off the ends of the axles to install them?—D. Perry

None that I know of, and I’ve installed a lot of hubs. For a daily-driver there are a lot of advantages to having locking hubs, such as no useless wear on the front axle and drive train, slightly better fuel mileage, and less chance of a front-end shimmy. But you could always buy an extra set of axle shaft outboard ends so you could restore your jeep to its original configuration anytime.

ONE WORD, BEN...PLASTICS

While using my (name-brand) pneumatic 4” angle grinder, I let go of the switch but it wouldn’t shut off. I took it to a repair man who didn’t have the part but said to drop a ball bearing in the switch mechanism to replace what broke. I didn’t have any loose ball bearings, and that didn’t sound right anyway. I figured I needed half a ball with a stud sticking out of the flat side.

In my parts stash I found a chrome acorn nut that would fit a quarter-inch bolt. I put a short bolt in it, cut the head off and dressed the end. The nut fit inside the switch and the short stud fit inside the return spring. This works perfectly, and no more plastic parts to fail!

I really hate to spend top-dollar for a name-brand product only to find it booby-trapped with a cheap part that the manufacturer should know will fail. I know you normally write about MV tips and repairs but I thought you might want to bend the rules and write something about repairing the tools that most people use to make those repairs. Keep the good stories coming!—Lee Nardi

Over the course of forty-odd years of turning wrenches on everything from M38 Jeeps to C-47 airplanes, I’ve made a lot of “special tools” as well as many repairs to tools. Two of my favorite power tools are a 3/8” electric drill and a 1/2” electric drill that my dad bought through war surplus in the early 1950s. I assume they were used aboard an aircraft carrier since both are stamped “Arresting Gear Shop.”

I have worn out many modern “plastic” name-brand drills within a year or so after buying them, but the two old-timers—both well-used when I got them—are made entirely of metal, weigh a ton and go on and on like the famous battery bunny.

Your experience with your grinder reminds me of TV commercials for toothbrushes and now razor blades that supposedly tell you when it’s time to buy a new one. The key words, of course, are “Buy a new one.” While I’m certainly not a rocket scientist, I don’t need a razor blade that tells me when it’s too dull to shave right anymore!

I’m also reminded of when I worked as a mechanic for a construction company. One morning I got a call from the boss who was on a job site. They couldn’t get the crane to start, and twenty people were sitting around doing nothing.

When I got there, I picked up a nail off the ground and used it to jump the contacts on the starter solenoid, and the crane started right up. The problem was a cheap plastic switch on the control console in the cab. The switch probably cost the manufacturer about a dollar, but had kept a hundred-thousand dollar piece of equipment and many people sitting idle for hours.

The more high-tech and “plastic” we become, the more we need guys like you who can still make something work with a little old-fashioned common sense and stove-bolt ingenuity.

REV BEFORE SHUT-OFF? CAN’T HURT

My grandfather, who served in the Army in Europe during WWII, has always had a habit of revving the engine once before shutting it off. He has done this on every vehicle he has ever owned. He says that doing this “fills up the carburetor” so the engine will start better. Is there any truth in this? I am the proud owner of a “brand new” 1944 Willys MB.-—Josh Madison

When telephones first came out, many people blew into them to “clear the line” before speaking. This habit may have evolved from speaking-tubes on ships, which provided communication between the engine room and the wheelhouse before electric intercoms. Blowing into a speaking-tube sounded a whistle at the other end, indicating a “call.”

Likewise, the habit of revving a vehicle’s engine a bit just before shutting it off evolved from the days when most vehicle carburetors didn’t have accelerator pumps. Revving the engine would usually fill up the float bowl, because the fuel pump would pump faster, which often make the engine start more quickly.

Similarly, after accelerator pumps were added to most vehicle carburetors, pumping the gas pedal once or twice just before cranking the starter often made the engine start faster because it squirted gas down the carburetor throat...though this could also flood the engine, especially if it was hot.

Habits once formed are often hard to break; and though either revving the engine just before shutdown or pumping the gas pedal just before starting won’t do anything on vehicles equipped with diesel engines or fuel-injection, it may help on your “new” jeep (or most other vintage military vehicles). In any case, like chicken soup for a cold, it probably can’t hurt.

Send your favorite Tech Tip or question to Steve Turchet, c/o Military Vehicles Magazine, 5225 Joerns Dr., Suite 2, Stevens Point, WI 54481 or e-mail JAdams-graf@aimmedia.com