’59 Willy’s Project Update V1.0

For the original story click the link below:


Remember my latest project – a Willy’s Jeep?  If so, and interested, here is the latest update to keep me on track and possibly on budget.  Ongoing yes, progressing yes.  And yes, the guy who traded with me for ‘Old Blue’ my 2007 Seadoo GTX straight across, still has the upper hand on this deal but, I’m steadily closing in.

Sometime before the heat, rain and snow the Willy’s was towed out to the high desert to a Craigslist found fabricator who on the phone talked a good story.  Prior to this I interviewed at least three restoration or renovation auto metal fabricators and they all start about the same way. …. by telling you their entire life story.  In my short jeep renovation project life I have found that no amount of prodding, or effort to steer the conversation back to the said Willy’s project will occur, until the Bubba Gump like story is said and finished.

A metal fabricator is a guy who if so inclined can build you just about anything out of metal by cutting, bending, and assembling.  This is the type of guy I found myself needing on account of me; not leaving well enough alone, wants to be able to stop this here V8 powered Willy’s.  First project – build the new braking system into a power brake system. What this entails is nothing short of dispensing away with an over 60-year-old foot pedal, single master cylinder disc brake system and fast forwarding myself into front disc brakes, with a power steering power booster and a new Summit Racing brake pedal and voila – stopping without wandering to the left, right or anywhere but straight and in about a quarter of the stopping distance.

If the Willy’s was still sporting its original four banger L-head or F-head engine then possibly no-problem; fortunately, for me as I said earlier, the previous owner updated to a Chevy small block V-8, with an automatic transmission. Project 2 is the repositioning of the driver and passenger seats.  They need to be correctly repositioned requiring upgrades to the roll bar, the safety belt harnesses, adding grab bars and while he is at it a few other safety features.

Project 3 –  The fuel tank; the current 10 gallon gas tank is located just under the driver’s seat.  Not good for a freeway speed capable V8.  The upgraded set up will utilize a 20 gallon under the frame in the rear fuel tank – just like the rest of the jeeps now calling themselves anything from a Lareto, Sahara, Wrangler to a YJ (87-95); TJ (96-06) etc.

My metal fabricator is yet to deliver even though I have heard his life story countless times.  Why just yesterday the wife timed me at 90 minutes on a phone call intended to switch from our search for updated CJ axles, to a full on rolling chassis to back to just upgrading the current set up with a drum to disc brake set up.

Rolling chassis options:  77 CJ7’s

Due to shortly arrive is a drum to disc brake conversion kit courtesy of eBay. In case I didn’t make it clear the donor rolling chassis is now out.  Now just in case you don’t know; a rolling chassis is the chassis of a car or truck, minus the body, engine and transmission.  My plan of course was to upgrade the bottom of the Willy’s by about anywhere from 12 years to as much as 62 years.  Amazing how many wrecked or near wrecked jeeps are available for anywhere from just a few hundred dollars to several thousand.

The WWII jeeps below are not for sale but, were previously used for movie shoots, today they just sit.  1941-1944 era jeeps.



Should’ve kept the old one – my old 04 Wrangler X Crawler with Rubicon axles and a power chip capable of easily propelling me down this Alaska road at 100 mph.

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My 2016 year in review

My 2016 Year in Review

Last year from Halloween to New Years day I was extremely happy and content living aboard our boat, the Western Flyer, berthed in La Paz, Baja.  …… And then the extreme heat started and then I started to miss my Patti and then my visa was about to expire.

So, apart from our recent move into a new home these past three months, I can’t remember much about 2016 without looking at pictures so, to start the recall process, let’s go down picture memory lane.


An anniversary road trip to Julian.  Yes, she is back doing road trips.  Remember when I banned her from road trips?  YES/ NO.  If no, then I leave it to you to find the Baja road trip from HELL in this blog but, only if you are interested.

Patti and I are extremely happy and content grandparents; wonder what we’ll tell them (grandkids) about 2016?   Elections. Our moving from very near coastal living to the high desert is a very high point for us in 2016.

That we love everything about our new home and just to give you an example; a short while ago (December 25, 2016) I picked fresh grapefruits and lemons from our fruit trees.  The other 16 fruit trees of various types (plums, peaches, guava, etc) will most likely be producing the better part of 2017.

In 2016 I traded ‘Ol Blue for a 59 Willy’s Jeep.  Does this mean that I am finally getting out of the personal watercraft sport?  Possible, but not likely. Only time will tell.  For now the 59 Willy’s is going through sort of a complete rebuild.  V8, power brakes/steering/more roll bar, new paint.  More to follow on this Willy’s in 2017.

I/you/we are all getting older!  At age 60 I have not yet felt the growing old part; other than when I stop to look in the mirror and say, who’s that old guy looking back at me.

All of us; it doesn’t matter who is always getting older, that is just a way of life. Face it. Enough said.  Even the littlest five month old grandkid Greyson; every week the little guy is one step closer to figuring out how to work our amazing human body.

In 2016 I took a little road trip, or two, or three.  I drove down to La Paz and back.  While in La Paz I got the 4Runner painted and it continues to look better than new.  Got my motorcycle license – after 20 years of non-riding.  I also joined a great group of guys to backcountry adventure bike ride all of Colorado; and even did a multi-day motorcycle taco run too.

To make it easier to complete this year in review here is my short check off list.

  1. What single achievement am I most proud of:  a) in 2015/16 getting the Western Flyer safely down the Baja coastline; b) getting back into riding motorcycles; c) moving
  2. What was the best news you received?  Newest grand baby coming January 2017 (Mike/Lisa)!
  3. Number one go-to person that helped get our home/yard/59 Willys Jeep up to speed:  Nestor/Lisandro/Leandro
  4. Which new skills did I learn?  Combination boating/gardening/mechanics
  5. Who am I most thankful for?  Patti
  6. What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2016?  Learnt in 2011 while hiking the PCT; you only need three things in life; something to do; something to look forward to and someone to love.
  7. What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?  Good food and drink and taking a nap top the list.  The rest is gravy.
  8. What cool things did you create this year?  A garden shed

In 2016, I finally completed two pwc bucket list items a) ride out the golden gate bridge (San Francisco) and ride up the Delta to Sacramento.

In 2016, for fun, I did the baja bash.  Helping a friend bring up a catamaran from La Paz to Los Angeles, California.

And our boat has never looked better!

For me, eating food in Mexico is like, well, “it doesn’t getting any better than that”.  About as close to I’ll get to an Anthony Bordaine moment.


What a ride it been so far!  Life.  And to stop and think that it’s no where near over for me.  Health.  Check!  $$.  Double Check!  Things to do.  Check!  Things to look forward to.  Check!  Someone to Love.  Check.

Wow.  Just brings tears to my eyes.

God bless. And may you also take the time to reflect on your 2016.


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Taco Ride – Day 1

Day 1 of 3 – Our Taco Ride

The 10 adventure bike riders met at the local IHOP in Lake Elsinore for the start of a three day taco ride. BMW was well represented along with KLM.  The other single bikes included a Super Tenere, Yamaha and Africa Queen, Honda.

 It’ called a taco ride because we were suppose to sample tacos along the way. As of day one non sampled until dinner a little while ago before they sweep up and put away the sidewalks in Yuma.

  Dinner at Tacos No Rancho, Yuma, Arizona.  Nothing to brag about.  LA has the best tacos and we know it.  

Our goal:  A taco run put on by gpskevin who is not on this ride because he is still healing after dumping his Africa Twin Honda on a ride.  Two broken ribs and a punctured lung. Kevin is the best spokesperson for this sport.  Non humbler.  Did I tell you he rode a scooter across America?  

Today we stood near the border fence. And on this side of a moat.  The guys asked if this was Trumps fence as parts of it looked a gold color.  Must’ve been a mirage or the setting sun.  

No tacos on the border but, the view was amazingly pictureresque and the air much warmer the further south we rode.  Temperature is about high 60s to 70+. Met two guys 31st the gas station grim Oregon who trailers their bikes down.  Said it was 10 degrees back home. 

Why tacos?  The perfect food?

1)  You have your shell.  – i.e. the shell is healthy only if handmade.  

2)  Then you have your protein part.

3) Then you Salsa.

Taco salsas are divided into two categories: red and green. 

If you’re lucky enough, there might be a runny Green sauce called – guacamole (yes, it is watery on purpose to better dress your tacos.

4) Then your toppings

Standard toppings for tacos are onion, cilantro, and lime. A good taqueria should have finely minced onion and chopped non-wilted cilantro, unless you like biting on a huge chunk of raw onion and soggy greens. 

If eating fish tacos, toppings should be finely minced crisp cabbage. These chopped vegetables and fresh herbs are here for textural crunch and for their fat-cutting vegetal qualities.

Our final destination today and lodging is in Yuma, AZ ad the Coronado Hotel.

 Yuma is still a place where traces of the old western way of life still exists.  Take for example the downtown area and our lovely Best Western – Coronado hotel.

During 1849, more than 60,000 people headed to the California gold fields from here after crossing a rope ferry bridge that would carry them across to Colorado.  If you were after gold in the 1800s then you probably came through Yuma.

Just an hours ride away, near Fisher’s Landing, you can enjoy the pristine landscape formed by the Colorado river.

Our day 2 takes us to Twentynine palms.  Our day mileage was 291 Mike’s.  Not bad for less than 4 gallons or so of gas used.  

Tomorrows mileage is about the same.  Maybe I will eat more tacos.  

Today we went down the great spurn divide and two, country two, deserts.  The Anza Bodega and Yuma.  Lots of Indian Reservations spotted.  Lots of mansions in them hills, and orchards everywhere.  

Calexico is probably as close to crossing into Mexico as we got.  Tomorrow Blythe for gas and lunch.  And a visit to Bosnia Tree National park.

During WWII General Patton’s troops trained here (Yuma) or nearby here before embarking across to fight in Africa.  Bob Hope held USO shows here and there is still a USO lounge somewhere in Yuma.  Yuma is one of the largest military testing grounds for the military and has a museum open to the public.

Yuma Territorial prison is another landmark, it operated for over 75 years. The local school uses the school mascot name, they call themselves the “Criminals”.  Not making this up.

Amelia Earhart also landed in Yuma while competing in the powder puff airrace.  She is also said to have nosed over her propeller while landing and required a new propeller to continue the race.  Of course we won’t get to see any of this as we came to ride.  

Pictures are on my camera so they will be loaded here later.  

Adios from Yuma.  

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1959 Willy’s Picture Preview

Yes, I am sharing the before pictures before I get too far ahead of myself on this rebuild project.  Thank you Nestor.  Also, the blog gives me a place to stop and look at the before and after.  I am planning on using the Willy’s sooner rather than later so, the restoration may stop and go, as required.

Pictures above:  New brake pedal coming to accommodate the power steering master cylinder and booster.  The wheel above – we needed to cut off the wheel nuts and replace all wheel studs; they snapped off as i tried to get them off.  Note the damage done by the twisted front drive line – new pan was given to me.  Tomorrow we tackle removing the master cylinder and brake system.  Thank you Nestor!

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1959 Willy CJ5 Renovation

As you are now reading, I now own a December 2016 project.  Thanks to Craigslist, I was easily able to trade my Seadoo straight across for this 1959 Willy’s CJ5.  Short term – he got the better deal!  Long term – I get the better deal!

This Willys is already equipped with a “crate” small block Chevy V8. No need to add one.  Crate as in that is what the engine came in; it is not from a donor vehicle.  Also, the front hood and fenders are a one piece fiberglass unit.  The entire unit comes up.  The last owner also gave me a stack of receipts going back to 1997, (two previous owners also added receipts to this stack) showing every $$$ spent from shocks to bearings.  Woopeee!  And now I get to add $$ to this stack as well.

So, this is a 1959 Willy’s, serial number 57548 85297; presently equipped with a Chevy small block V8; Mallory Uniflite SPC Pro Master Ignition; Edelbrock fuel, carburetor, also a Cagle feedback fuel control, Edelbrock manifolds; mated up to a THC 350 automatic transmission three speed, connected to a Sprinter 18 transfer case.  It has a four-inch lift kit; warn premium manual locking hubs and a Warn M6000 winch with the Warn fairlead to keep the cable from wearing.

The Willy’s also has headers, and it is too loud, as soon as I can drive it to the muffler shop it will get quieted.  One of the previous owners spent a little $$ and added a new dash and Auto Meter competition instruments; they all work, 160 mph speedometer, fuel, water, amps, oil and even a transmission gauge.  The gas tank is under the drivers seat; not a large tank so, a new tank will be ordered and placed below the rear bed – like newer Jeeps.

I am having the 4 Wheel Supply street seats upholstered and they should be ready tomorrow.  Sommers Brothers did the axles and someone added rancho springs and a Con-Fer Mfg. spring shackle lift kit. Says so in all the receipts.

Also, MD45 Lockers – LOC 2413 purchased from 4 Wheel Supply, out of Phoenix.  The chevy heads were rebuilt in 4/18/1989; and sometime later spent $$ on a HD Dodge Radiator at a cost of $338.00.  The overdrive kit – M3329-3SP TH350 autoshift kit cost $995.00

The LM1 engine may have originally been purchased for a cost of $1426.46 on 7/13/1996 at Chapman Wholesale, Tempe, AZ

There is a 2″ bar tubing that was constructed for the roll bar.  The Rancho Springs lift kit is 4″ and the current BF Goodrich tires at 33″ mud-terrain tires; preceded by a set of Yoko tires back in 1994.  So there you have it!


And now here you have it!  So far, we have disassembled the following:  removed the headers; tires and wheels (the front left tire needed all studs cut as they would not come off); the front axle also needed attention as it was already twisted.  Custom Axles has this piece; Nunez Upholstery has the seats.  The Sandblaster gets the entire tub soon.  4WD parts has already overnight delivered the shocks and I did not have to pay shipping.

The Willy’s already has power steering but, we are now waiting on delivery of master brakes and overhead pedal from Sumitt Racing.  Can you imagine trying to stop a V8 with a single master cylinder, it just won’t do.  Safety first.  Address brakes, noisy mufflers, driveline, fluids, then simultaneously cosmetics.

Yes, a stack of more receipts is starting to pile up.  Blew the December project budget.  First I needed to start with a compressor and tools.  Also part of the budget.


Also no – don’t confuse me for a mechanic, having mechanical skills, maybe.  I just know how to read manuals and watch YouTube.  Besides, a CJ5 Jeep is less complicated than one might think.

Seriously.  UTube saved my butt on two occasions and taught me lots of other things.  1)  The front differential pinion nut would not come off.  Turns out I needed either a metric 28 mm or a 1 1/8″ socket.  Purchased both and voila, one end was 28mm and the other US Standard.  I ended up grinding through the u bolt clamp to get the twisted differential off.  2)  How to add power steering or upgrade from a single master cylinder.  3)  What are those two gear shift levers to the right of the transmission shifter?

Much, much, more to follow.

The how to books supplied and small stack of the large stack of receipts.  And I also forgot the soft top, brand new rear seat etc, etc, etc

More to follow – 1959 Willy’s Jeep CJ5 rebuilt project.

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‘Ol Blue and PWC Riding the California River Delta

Sunday, October 30, 2016 – 1:15 PM

‘Ol blue as she is affectionately now known has until recently sat quietly with a blown engine since our last ride up to the California River Delta.  And now in her old age she can easily be compared to an old rescued pound dog, as she has found the shelter of a three car garage; compared to her old life of a cement car port slab, albeit about a five-minute drive from an ocean launch ramp.  In her PWC world she outlasted one single and one double brand new Zieman trailers; both dying an agonizing constant battle with salt water metal fatique before succumbing to the scrap heap.  Ol Blues Seadoo Icatch trailer now supports an eight year old hull that is timeless.  This same boat hull has pounded some of the roughest seas the San Pedro channel from Ventura county to LA County down to San Diego can dish out.

Fortunately or unfortunately as you may now see it our small group of West Coast PWC club riders tempted fate the day her rotax engine blew by taking a run way out past the San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge and returning on an ebbing tide.  Two of my bucket list PWC rides in one; riding out the Golden Gate and California River Delta.

Yes folks, with winter and snow skiers now starting to look upwards at the mountains and slopes; we are proudly the snow boarder equivalents of the boating world.

And this weeks West Coast clubs upcoming Delta Wussie Ride is now just the perfect opportunity to put Ol Blue back in the water, starting at Ouray with the cold California river delta that eventually turns brackish as we head north towards Sacramento and the cold unforgiving Pacific ocean.

Simply put the last time we rode this way, on the second day of riding Ol Blues rotax engine ingested some bad fuel mixed in with maybe a little saltwater that subsequently steamed up; blowing out an exhaust valve that finally seized the Seadoo rotax.  With her hull at nearly 300 hours of running time and her engine modified and rebuilt several times in her career, she is the $$ equivalent of a small Mercedes.

Thank you Ol Blue for going out when you did and in style.  Thank goodness we were fairly close to the start of our run from Ouray, California to Sacramento when you died.  As fate would have it, a welcome short tow back (forever humbly grateful to Lewis) and loaner Kawasaki 300 Ultra from David is the difference between a great ride and an ordeal.  Fast forward to the first week in November 2016; and returning to California delta waters.

Thanking you in advance Jim Walker for a most excellent rebuild.  For those not already familiar Ol Blue is a 2008 Seadoo GTX LTD purchased new from the LA boat show the same year at a cost with trailer for 15k.  Sort of my learner ski that continues to take a beating and still keeps on ticking.  She has outlasted two Ultras; one sold for parts.  Ol Blue is a real veteran of the PWC world.  She has made at least fifty runs to, from and around Catalina island; including the inaugural first and multiple trips from Los Angeles to San Diego and back, plus riding to far away places like Lake Mead.  Ol Blue was loaned out at least once to compete in Northern California and at least once in a S. Cal race; she is a twice Mark Hahn 300 mile endurance race veteran in Lake Havasu, NV, once in the stock class where she trophied.  In the race modified class she did not fare as good; she has also competed in the Long Beach to Catalina Island race, Dana Point to Oceanside and Dana Point to Avalon.

“There are other things that I could do but, there is really nothing I love doing as much as I love riding ‘Ol Blue”.




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For Sale By Owner


1989 41′ Defever Trawler

No – not for sale yet but, it may happen if I don’t get back down to La Paz and start cruising soon.  Earlier today, a quick and easy FaceBook comment about cruising to Key West, Florida via Cuba.  A firm YES comment by someone also willing, able and ready to make the trip with me may be all it takes to get this new adventure rolling.  When?  Cruising season 2017.

So what happened?  We came home after our first year of cruising and decided to sell the little beach home and soon a gentlemen farm came in the picture.  Can you say lots and lots of work.

And if I were selling the M/V Western Flyer the asking price of $125k (Nov 2016) would include FREE delivery to either U.S. coast.  Over $100k spent on getting her cruising ready since purchased.  Custom hardtop, all new electronics, liferaft, detailed engine room, everything on the twin Ford Lehmans is new, dual racors, heat exchangers, starters, alternators, etc.  New refrigerator and stove, air conditioning, new water tanks, etc.

She started in Poulsbo, Washington and then moved to Portland, Washington before making her way to her home port in Los Angeles, California.  In 2016 she cruised with over 140 sailboats on the Baja-Ha-Ha to Cabo and presently is enjoying the facilities at La Paz, Marina Costa Baja.



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On Any Sunday Part II

First a hike, then a mission visit and then lunch; and all before noon.  And in case you wish to visit here is a short recap:  The San Juan Capistrano mission was founded in 1776, by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order and the area (San Juan Capistrano) has the honor of being the oldest building in California still in use, a chapel built-in 1782.  And don’t forget the swallows who return every year.

The “Mission grape,” was first planted at San Juan Capistrano in 1779, and in 1783 the first wine produced in Alta California was from the Mission’s winery.

After 1850 U.S. statehood, numerous efforts were made over the latter 19th century to restore the Mission to its former state, but none achieved much success until 1910.  Over 500,000 visitors, including 80,000 school children, come to the Mission each year.  $9 per person to visit.

And while the ruins of “The Great Stone Church” (which was all but leveled by an 1812 earthquake) are a renowned architectural wonder, the Mission is perhaps best known for the annual “Return of the Swallows” which is traditionally observed every March 19 (Saint Joseph’s Day).

Mission San Juan Capistrano has served as a favorite subject for many notable artists, and has been immortalized in literature and on film numerous times, perhaps more than any other mission


This koi was begging to be fed!


A Filipino lemon tree.


Your table is now ready for lunch!  Adios!




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On Any Sunday


We’re sort of in limbo.  Our home is now sold and we don’t yet move into the new one.  So, why not take off on a little hike.  Today, I decide to take Patti to see and visit the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary, just outside of Lake Forrest, CA.

Once there I easily recognize the canyon as a place once hiked with Rick and Shane.  Rick does his research of all California hikes and on any given Sunday he hikes the higher elevation when its hot and lower elevation hikes when it’s cool.  Years ago we hiked our way to Harding Falls; and if I recall correctly we encountered tons of poison oak.  The falls is hidden in the pristine depths of Harding Canyon.

“The canyon itself is a sylvan gem – a tranquil riparian wonderland that gets relatively few visitors, especially as you travel further back. Reaching the falls is not a trivial effort – dangers include lots of boulder hopping, some climbing over larger boulder sets, poison oak, and although there is a use trail for some of the hike, eventually there is no trail at all.”

Best on-line description above.  However, the wrong footwear led us from the trail head that begins at the Harding Truck Trail entrance to the Tucker Wildlife Sanctuary close to the end of Modjeska Canyon Road.  To hike you need an adventure pass.


And of course the area is replete with history.  Look up Juan Flores and you can learn lots about the areas colorful history.


Take a nature trail hike through Tucker and you too may start to feel like setting up your own nature preserve.



I am always keeping an eye out for good old time natural ingredients and this is one good find.  Think I’ll send some to my son Michael.

We did not find the plant but, found some great looking bird houses.  This is what Tucker is known for, as a bird sanctuary.  Supposedly, also the place made famous by the hummingbird feeder.




And if you live near why not take in Bat Night or a Cowboy Country Fair.


And if you can readily name this tree then you get a pass at this station.


The Sycamore Tree





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More Colorado Motorcycle Ride Picture


On a training ride with Ed.  Note the RotoPax.  This is where I carry all my tools to fix a flat or other roadside emergency.


Since I enjoy hiking in the back country but, don’t necessarily enjoy getting lost.  Marking the trail.


Tacos and beer at the town of Durango.


Mother and calf got separated with calf on one side of the road and mother cow watching from the other side.


Ride to Mesa Verde National Park and visit to the Anasazi Heritage Center.  One of the best unplanned stops and riding.


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