We have written about the role the Farm Jeep had in making hay. While doing some research on another topic, we were reminded of another hay making story. At one of our first shows, we heard a story about raking hay with a Farm Jeep. The story teller’s father had managed a dairy farm and had asked his young son (he was 10 or 11) to help with the hay making by using the Jeep to rake the grass into windrows. The father was careful to tell his son to not drive over the windrows. He didn’t explain why, but the son was just too excited to get to drive the Jeep to worry about the warning.
Forgetting his father’s instruction, he drove the Jeep all over the hay field. Suddenly, the Jeep began to slow, no matter how much gas he gave it. It finally rolled to a stop. When he got out of the Jeep and looked underneath, grass was wrapped around both drive shafts. It was so tight that it had stopped the shafts from turning and the driver spent a long period with a pocket knife freeing the shafts. Needless to say, after that experience, he listened to his father.
We recalled this story while reading through some very early Service Bulletins. In June of 1946, Willys announced the introduction of a “Propeller Shaft Guards” kit. Ten days later, they sent out another bulletin urging dealers to install the new shields as soon as possible. What happened?
While we may never know for sure, it is possible that farmers, treating the newly introduced Jeep as they had their tractors, were encountering the same problems as the boy above. Wording in the Special Equipment description would indicate the possibility of damage to bearings and even possible fires from grass or straw wrapped around the shafts.
These service bulletins certainly give us clues to how the first Farm Jeeps were being used. Given the short period of time between the bulletins, this must have been a common and serious issue. Along with the PTO shield, these guards seem to be among the hardest to find Farm Jeep accessories. Perhaps it is because when service on the shafts was needed, the shields were removed and not re-installed. Tossed in a corner they became another forgotten item.
Always hopeful, we keep looking for a set of guards. We doubt that we will be able to purchase them for the original $11.15 price.