Our last post introduced our search for more information on Ted’s American Bantam plow. Over the past few weeks, we, along with a few Bantam, Newgren and Monroe experts have been searching for answers to our questions about where and when the plows were produced.
We received a note and pictures from Ted, who had purchased one of the two plows pictured. The plows are branded American Bantam, the same company that built the first WWII jeep prototype. The company located in Butler, PA is also known for its small cars. Some background information is provided here in this Newgren History.
Barry has been working with a few collectors and the American Austin Bantam Club to learn more about these plows. We are in agreement that the plows are re-branded Newgren models. But none of us had ever seen an American Bantam plow before. Both plows where found in northern VA.
We are still researching a couple of questions. We would like to know when Bantam dropped the Newgren name and began branding the implements as American Bantam. We believe it to be in the 1948 to 1954 time range. Second we would like to know how many and what type of implements were sold under the Bantam label.
We will post more information here, as we uncover it.
|A look down the radiator to the new pump|
“I have attached a picture of the NTX’s we displayed at the Rice Lake WI Show in June of this year. It is the most NTX Jeeps we have ever gathered in one place. However, there are still at least 18 more out there we know of (in various degrees of restoration of course) that did not show up. There were 840 built (which we are sure of) and really don’t know how many have survived. They are a really fun vehicle to own. My NTX is gray, the closest one in the picture with the American flags.”
Other MM folks were quick to point out that Willys had stolen the “jeep” name and had been sued by MM to stop them from using it. Hmmm, the Farm Jeep doesn’t have the word Jeep stamped anywhere on the body. Could it be they are correct? After this quick history lesson, it is clear that this was the first vehicle with the “jeep” name and it was not a Willys. For more info on the NTX, check out this article- The Industrial Jeep – 1943 NTX
|Above is pictured a portion of the pump bracket and the crankshaft pulley with the “special nut” installed. Set screws (small dots) are visible on either side of the threaded crankshaft|
The pump connects to the crankshaft with a “special nut” (a steel bar with a short stud at each end), a rubber disk and a matching steel bar with studs that fits on the pump shaft. We have installed and removed the pump probably a dozen times over the years, so don’t need the installation instructions. Or so we thought.
Sometimes, months slip by without an update, because there isn’t much going on. But the last months have been filled with lots of activity in the Farm Jeep garage. We’ve spent time researching and bringing our Newgren lift up to specifications. In doing so, we discovered we really do need a Newgren plow to make it work correctly. Added to that battle has been the continuation of leaking pumps. The rebuild vs. buying new discussion continues.
Over the summer, Ole Blue developed some engine issues. As long as most of our driving was on/off the trailer while going to antique tractor shows, it hasn’t been an issue. But we want to do more and the time was right to get Blue running around the country roads. Readers also might remember that we had purchased an engine on a stand, to use as a replacement engine. Coupled with the clutch noise, we decided the time had come to do an engine swap. Along the way, Barry developed a nifty tool for removing a flywheel and we also discovered that there isn’t much information out there on engine installs.
One of the reasons for developing Farm Jeep was to have a place to collect information and as a resource for us as we discover the joys and frustrations of collecting old jeeps. Over the next few weeks, we will be updating the Web pages with our latest achievements and lessons learned.
Somehow summer slipped into fall and suddenly it was Thanksgiving again. Time to gather firewood. Ole Yeller has been the tool of choice for gathering and processing firewood. The farm jeep hauls chainsaws and fuel and tows trailers full of wood to the splitter. Even though we have farm tractors that can be used, the jeep is the better tool for the job.
Ole Yeller doesn’t get much attention. It sets in the barn, waiting for the next job. It has been a constant helper, starting and running without missing a beat. But late this summer the jeep didn’t want to start. Once it did start, it ran fine and we continued to just go about business as usual.
When Evan came down for a “jeep day”, Barry thought a quick check of Ole Yeller was in order. The jeep started perfectly and so it was just assumed Ole Yeller had a case of bad gas. But a couple of days later, the jeep wouldn’t start at all.
Jeeps, like old cars and tractors are pretty simple machines. If you have fuel, spark and compression (timing) they will run. So Barry started to check those things. First, he pulled a plug wire and used a screwdriver to ground it to the block. Cranking the engine produced a spark. It was possible that the spark wasn’t strong enough to jump the plug gap. Barry pulled the distributor cap and the cap and rotor contacts appeared tarnished. Not a good sign. He pulled the plugs, three of which were slightly rusted in place. Not a good sign. The plugs were worn with a much larger gap than normal and needed to be replaced.
Maybe it was a time for a tune-up. Barry couldn’t remember when Ole Yeller had been tuned. A note to Evan and a check of the Farm Jeep chronicles showed the plugs had been changed in ’03. Almost a decade! Definitely time for a tune up.
After a trip to the local NAPA parts store, Barry pulled the wires and reinserted them in the new cap. He also install the new rotor and plugs. Trying to start produced nothing? Maybe he replaced the plug wires incorrectly. A quick check of the manual and Blue showed the plugs were wrong!
With only four wires the switch is pretty easy. Try again. Nothing. OK, time to check the fuel. It is dark in the barn (even with the lights on) and but it didn’t appear much, if any fuel was getting past the carburetor. The after-market fuel filter is clear and appeared to have a number of rust particles inside the case. A quick trip to town produced a replacement filter.
Clearly, fuel flow was an issue. After the filter change, cranking the engine produced a visible flow of fuel. But the engine still didn’t start. OK, time to check the timing. At least with a quick check and adjustment of the points that seems fine. But no engine fire. Time to head to the Internet.
A note posted on the CJ2a forum said to recheck all my work, including making sure the plug wires were correct. There was also a link to a very good paper on timing the engine and in there was a note on how if the distributor had been changed or the oil pump replaced, it might not have been installed in the original position. This would not change the way the engine operated but it WOULD change the location of the plug wires on the distributor cap.
It was at this point that Barry remembered an email from Evan early in the process which said “Are you sure you didn’t have the plug wires in the correct order before you fixed them? I seem to remember battling this before (although it could have been on the ’49) and that there was something odd with the firing order.”
Barry moved the wires one position clockwise AND the engine fired immediately! What a marvelous machine.
NOTE TO THE GRANDKIDS: When you do a tuneup in 2022/23 be sure to watch for those pesky non-standard plug wires…