After all of the fit up was done and body gaps established, it was time for the body to come off of the chassis. The body was lifted up off the frame and placed on a dolly and the chassis was brought back home for dis-assembly.
I originally had intentions of directly filling the fuel tank which is mounted in the trunk between the wheel tubs. That meant opening up the trunk and potentially spilling fuel on everything if I wasn't careful. Besides, I happen to live in one of the only two states in the country where we can't pump our own gas. So, I decided to go with an external tank filler. I got one of the Hagan fuel door assemblies which was installed high up on the rear fender. The gas cap doesn't need to be removed either, as the gas nozzle just gets inserted into the fill-through cap. The installation came out real well and doesn't detract from the smooth body lines.
The last time I posted was over a year ago, and the Willys was on its way to the shop for bodywork and paint. This was one of the jobs I knew from the beginning that I was going to farm out to others who had the experience and equipment. I probably have a hundred or so photos of the entire process, so I'm going to compress it down quite a bit and just show some highlights.
I brought the Willys out to Tim Leiphart's Hot Rods and Restoration shop in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania for the bodywork and paint. Tim is a few hours away from me, and although I was able to travel out to his shop from time to time and lend a hand with the work, almost all of the photo credit and work belongs to him.
All of the seams on the fiberglass body were sanded down, and low spots were filled in. The curved area around the trunk lid needed some attention to make the lid and body match up. At this point, the body is still on the chassis, and will remain there until all gaps are fit up. The tilt front shell posed a lot of fit up problems and took a long time to get everything to line up. The cutout in the tilt shell is just large enough to clear the blower scoop. There is no lip around either the scoop or grille opening, just a slightly rounded edge.
With just about all of the mechanical work finished up, I decided to have the bodywork and paint done now. The electrical and interior work will be done later on after I get the car back. So, the Willys was taken off of the lift and loaded onto the trailer for a trip to a buddy’s hot rod shop for the finish bodywork and paint. Once all of the fit-up and gaps are done, I’ll pick up the chassis and bring it home. While the body is being painted, I can dis-assemble everything and send the frame and some of the chassis parts out to be powder coated. If all goes well, the chassis will be finished and re-assembled in time for the body to go back on for the final time.
The latch was removed from the door in order to attach the solenoid cable to it by looping the cable through the latch arm and securing the cable with a crimp sleeve. The solenoid itself is attached to a thin steel plate, making it easier to assemble/disassemble the unit as needed. The third photo shows the entire assembly mocked up. The solenoid actually fits inside the door; this photo used the solenoid from the opposite door in order to show how everything fits up.
Once I assembled everything, I found out that it was difficult to adjust the cable for the proper length at the solenoid end. I ended up cutting another access hole in the door just so I could get at the clamp that adjusts the cable length. The cable needs to be adjusted so that the stroke of the solenoid is just enough to unlatch the door and have a little free travel left over. The last photo shows the completed layout of the solenoid/latch mechanism.