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1952 M38 - Mercruiser 3.0, SM465, Dana 18, Build

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Noah View Drop Down
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    Posted: 12 Jan. 2022 at 5:33pm

Over the summer I picked this 1952 M38 and have been working on it since so I figure its about time to share my progress. Most of the military parts are missing, the rear frame has been cut and welded and someone rebuild most of the tub with 1/8” steel! I plan to address all that once its up and running. It hasn't seen too much salt and the metal is in surprisingly good shape since its been stored inside for the past 15 years. The transmission shifts but is in poor shape otherwise and the engine needs a rebuild. Its past the point of doing an original restoration and I plan to use it as intended off road anyway. The tired flathead and T90 will be replaced with a Mercruiser 3.0/140, SM465 and 1-1/4” dana 18 with a warn OD. I'm keeping the 2 piece dana 44 for now but eventually want to convert it to a full float or flanged 44. The front dana 25 is staying unless it doesn't hold up in which case, I'll replace it with a CJ dana 30 or a narrowed front 44. Lots of photos to follow until I catch up with my current progress.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote otto Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jan. 2022 at 7:46pm
Keep us posted on your project's progress.

BTW, my jeep runs a Mercruiser 140 with a T18. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jan. 2022 at 7:02pm

First thing was to trim this homemade bumper to make it look a little better. It still might go when I relocate the fuel tank to the rear. I need to lower the drivers seat to be able to see through the windshield.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jan. 2022 at 7:09pm

Starting disassembly, also tried some spray paint to see how it would look. A nicer paint job will follow.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jan. 2022 at 7:15pm
Pulling the tub off. Of course the fenders were fully welded because bolts would be too easy.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jpoole Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan. 2022 at 9:27am
Thanks for sharing, always fun to see this process play out.

Interesting Tub, what's the story on the missing 2nd battery tray, etc.?  My knowledge of the variants is limited but I thought all M38s had the 2nd battery box/lid.  Except for the dashboard it looks more like a 3A to me and I'm guessing there could be an interesting history/story for how this Jeep was built or evolved.

Regardless of how/why it looks like a great project that won't require excess work to turn out awesome.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan. 2022 at 11:07am

The tub is interesting on this one. It is an M38 tub but at some point a previous owner rebuilt the back half, sides and fenders out of 1/8" sheet steel. Its actually well done but is way heavier than it needs to be. The 2nd battery box is there but it has been welded and body filled over, there's still lots of OD green poking through on the original metal. For now, my focus is to get it up and running with the new drivetrain and put the body back on as is. Later I want to rebuild the body to make it look more original, passenger side tool slots, battery cover etc... keeping as much original metal as possible.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan. 2022 at 11:09am
Will do. There's still lots of pictures to catch up with my current progress.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan. 2022 at 8:09pm
Frame painting
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan. 2022 at 8:18pm
I bought the jeep not running, it would turn over with no spark. After replacing the points the flathead still wouldn't start. It took some time but all the plug wires were connected in the wrong order. It started and immediately went to full throttle. After some investigation I found the issue... that's the throttle valve sitting in the intake port.


Edited by Noah - 15 Jan. 2022 at 7:30am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan. 2022 at 8:32pm


After finding the throttle valve in the intake I decided to pull the head and check for damage. Luckily nothing made it into the cylinders and there was no damage. I did some light clean up, new head studs and gaskets and put the head back on. After screwing the throttle valve back into the carb it fired up and idles nicely with no blow by. This engine will still be swapped out but it has std pistons and no visible cracks, it would be a good candidate for a rebuild or to be run as is. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote 64CJ5 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan. 2022 at 9:33pm
I will watch your build closely.  My 52 M38 came to me with out an engine.  The Jeep had been hacked to get a 350 chevy in.  I installed a rebuilt Pinto engine that did not work out as planed.  Now there is an original RMC engine powering the Jeep that is working as it should.  RMC = Replacement, MC was Jeep's designation for the M38.  Willys made lots of replacement parts for the Army to use.  My Jeep is not military correct.  Good luck with the project.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan. 2022 at 11:32am
Ideally, I would like to keep the flathead in the jeep but it will have keep up will traffic and short stretches of highway. I'll probably still keep it though for a future project unless someone local wants it. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan. 2022 at 11:45am

1-1/8" Dana 18 disassembly. This was before I got the 1-1/4" one, it will still be rebuilt as a spare.


Edited by Noah - 15 Jan. 2022 at 12:00pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan. 2022 at 11:50am

Cheap 1-1/4" dana 18 I picked up and a set of blackout light housings. The housings are empty so I'm thinking of putting in amber bulbs to make turn signals or marker lights.


Edited by Noah - 15 Jan. 2022 at 12:01pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan. 2022 at 11:58am

Here's what I found in the T90. Deeply pitted gears and a spun thrust washer that took about 1/16" out of the case.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote muley Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan. 2022 at 12:06pm
Interesting that your L134 still has the YS637 carb, that's generally one of the 1st things swapped out. Is the engine sn prefixed by MC or RMC?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Noah Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan. 2022 at 12:21pm
It starts with 4LR.
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