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Tips for Restoring a 1946 Willys Jeep CJ-2A Frame

Tips for Restoring a 1946 Willys Jeep CJ-2A Frame


Before the beginning of World War II, the military was in need of a manufacturer of lightweight reconnaissance vehicles for their soldiers, so they put out a bid for such a task. During the bidding process, one of the manufacturers stood above the rest; Willys-Overland. Because of their prototype, Willys-Overland was the manufacturer of the military vehicle known as the Willys Jeep throughout the duration of the war. After the war came to an end, Willys-Overland chose to alter their jeep design to create the CJ-2A, which was meant for civilian use. As you can see, the Willys jeep is the perfect vehicle that appeals to collectors because of its rich history.

However, if you have a CJ-2A that’s been sitting around collecting dust for years, or you’re about to purchase one, you’ll have to go through a hefty restoration process to get it fully functioning and looking nice again. These tips for restoring a 1946 Willys Jeep CJ-2A frame will break down the essential steps you need to take to guarantee a successful restoration process.

Strip it Down to the Frame

The first thing you have to do is strip the jeep all the way down to its frame. You’ll need to take your time removing each component, from gauges to seats, until the vehicle’s bare frame is all that’s left. This is because you need a solid base to build off of in order to ensure a successful restoration process.

Your jeep has probably been accumulating quite a bit of rust and other blemishes over the years. So, after you’re done stripping it down, you’ll need to properly clean and restore the entire vehicle frame. It’s important to inspect the frame properly so you can seek out and repair any damages.

Media Blast for Rust and Debris

The best way to remove some of the damage from your frame is with a media blast gun. Use a media blaster to remove any debris, rust, and paint from the frame. You need that frame looking spick and span before you can begin making your jeep fully functional again. Additionally, if there are any holes due to rusting, you’ll need to patch those up as well. Luckily, that shouldn’t be too much trouble. All you need is the right sealant, along with some patience and focus, to get rid of those holes in no time. If you have a blasting station at home, you can do it right there. However, if you don’t have the equipment, you can take it to professionals who can do the job for you.

Media Blasting

You may not know what media blasting is, or maybe you know about it in relation to another process; “sandblasting”. What a media blaster does is propel an abrasive, which comes in a variety of material types such as steel or glass, from the gun to thoroughly clean the component you aim it at. Sand and media blasting are similar, but what really splits them apart is a material they use for blasting, with a sandblaster obviously using only sand as opposed to steel or glass.

Media blasting is the best way to prepare your jeep’s components for repainting and restoration. If you choose to do this from home, it’s important to have a media blast cabinet at your disposal. A blast cabinet will contain the media, so you can use it for restoring your jeep parts while keeping your work environment safe and secure.

Painting the Frame

Now that the frame is good as new, it needs to look the part with the help of some paint. This process will give you a clean, functional base for your restoration project. After thoroughly cleaning and repairing the CJ-2A’s frame, it’s ready for a new coat of paint. Whether you want to be period-accurate or get a bit more creative with the color, the frame will need a new look. After painting the frame, you’re ready to move on to the next part of the restoration process, which is restoring the mechanical components.

Mechanical Components

Part of stripping down the frame requires the removal of the vehicle’s mechanical components. After working on the frame, it’s time to start restoring those mechanisms which include parts of the car like the brakes, steering system, and engine. Each of the components should undergo a thorough cleaning process. If you discover some of the parts are broken, you’ll need to replace them. After you gather all the functioning parts for your jeep, similar to the frame, you can begin repainting them. After painting each of the components, you can finally begin reinstalling them onto your chassis.

Begin the Body Work
Now, you’re officially ready to begin the bodywork. If the tub of your CJ-2A has too much rust or other damage on it, you’ll need to replace it. This same principle should go for any other sections on the jeep’s body, such as that iconic Willys grill. Once you restore or replace the tub, you can begin painting the entire body of the jeep. After painting the body, it’s officially time to put it back onto the CJ-2A frame.


Now that all of the big steps are complete, you can begin reinstalling the smaller parts of the car. For example, you can now begin putting the seats back inside the vehicle. You can also begin adding the gauges, wiring, and the other remaining components you need to get that jeep up and running.

As you can see, restoring this iconic jeep is no simple task, but it can be a fun and eye-opening task as well. With these tips for restoring a 1946 Willys Jeep CJ-2A frame on your mind, you’ll be able to get the final results you’re looking for. Restoring a car is a great way to learn everything about it, not just its history but what makes it function properly as well. At Army Jeep Parts, we can provide you with the right Willys Jeep CJ-2A parts to ensure a successful restoration process for you and your classic vehicle.

Jeep Restoration Infographic