Ryan Frankenberg’s 1962 CJ3b

Ryan Frankenberg’s 1962 CJ3b has led multiple lives. It started life as a Farm Jeep, became a racing Jeep, retired and became a hard working Farm Jeep once again.

Part 1 of the story is told on the the 3b page – Line Mountain Race Jeeps – and reproduced here –

“This ’62 CJ-3B has been with me for around 25 years. I was 20 years old, living in Pennsylvania, when I bought it for $100 with no engine, from my buddy Eric in New Jersey. The body was fair, by east coast standards. It was a farm Jeep; Eric literally pulled it out of a manure pile and dragged it home just before finding out his wife was pregnant, so his ownership was short. The right rear corner of the body was buried in manure and was dust. I brought it home in the bed of my dad’s ’74 IH dump truck, and built it into a budget race Jeep in two months.”

“I found a good-running F-head for $400, threw in a Saginaw power steering gear and tilt column, bent up the cage, welded the spiders in the rear 44, and did a YJ spring-over with dual Rancho 5000s at all four corners. The ends of the frame were raised a few inches in order to gain as little lift as possible from the SOA swap. The tires were junkers I found for sale on someone’s lawn.

“The Jeep was purpose-built for the Line Mountain 7-Miler. This photo was taken minutes before its inaugural run, lined up in the staging area.”

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Ryan’s racing CJ3b

“It was/is a brutal course through the PA woods that my wife described as ‘a three-hour plane crash.'”

“That first race didn’t go well; I made it a few hundred yards before I broke the rear driveshaft. But by the following spring, I had it pretty well dialed in. Out of 140-something racers, that old F-head posted the fastest single lap time. I struggled to finish that race after a rollover and lost brakes from a pinched brake line, but fun times were had.

“Here’s our after-race repairs. Note the crunched fender from the rollover.”

By 2000, Ryan’s CJ-3B had made it onto the official Line Mountain T-shirt, but he points out that he generally did better in the 3-1/2-Miler race in the spring which is more technical, while the 7-Miler in late summer had faster sections that the underpowered 3B didn’t do as well with.

Ryan says, “This pic is from ‘the waterhole.’ It was the smelliest, most stagnant water, and the hidden ruts were so bad, if you didn’t hit it right, there was a risk of rolling over in it. A lot of rigs hit the water and died from electrical issues. That’s what happened in the pic; I think it was a Ford Ranger that was dead, and the bypass was often worse than the main way, so I was pushing the truck out of the hole from behind.”

“This one is from the dirt track at the Kempton PA fairgrounds, where the Willys Picnic is held. It’s a funny story; this was the week after receiving the fastest lap time trophy at Line Mountain, and I was by far the slowest vehicle on this course. Many of the racers were the same. It just shows how a vehicle specifically built for one terrain can be worthless on another.”

“I eventually licensed this Jeep and used it as a commuter to college, while continuing to race it two or three times per year. In 1999, I moved up to New Hampshire. I worked at an ironworking firm, and I struck a deal with the owner to let me use the shop’s brake, shears and rollers on weekends to rebuild the body, since the previous race was the body’s final coffin nail.”

“I cut the body straight down from the dash and rebuilt the rear half to factory dimensions.”

Here’s Ryan’s Jeep next to a military HMMWV (nearly twenty inches wider than a 3B.)

Ryan explains: “One of my employers was involved heavily with the New Hampshire National Guard. They held an event to display the abilities of their HMMWVs, and he invited me to see how the 3B would do on their course. The little F-head was too underpowered for the hill climb, but everywhere else, it drove circles arounds the military rigs.”


“A year later, I moved back to PA, and I continued to race it and drive it to trail rides all over the east coast. The T90 was replaced with a custom-adapted T18 from a J-truck, the D18 was replaced with a D20, the stock axles were replaced with a 30/44 from a ’74 CJ-5, but the F-head still remains.

“Here’s a pic at a Willys trail ride in western Massachusetts with three other 3Bs, from around 2001.

“In 2003, I moved to Idaho, and I met my wife. A few months after we met, we flew back to PA, and we gave the 3B one final race. A few years later, I had it shipped out here to Idaho where it now serves snow plowing and stump pulling duties. It’s going under the knife in spring 2021 for another grand rebuild.”


The next phase of the 3b’s life

Part 2 founds the 3b back on the farm in 2017. Here is a summary of the Snow Plow Redo post on the EarlyCJ5 page.

The story begins like this –

I’ve been fighting with this ancient Meyers single-action plow pump forever. Before my dad shipped it out to me, I plowed with it for years on a scout back east. It’s been through multiple rebuilds, a few (expensive=obsolete) solenoid replacements, and a pair of permanent vice grips is all that’s holding one of the stripped-out plugs in place. It needs another ($) solenoid replacement because it won’t hold weight without rapid fade. I’m done with it.

My first step was to find a location for the control valve. I wanted it close to the pump and cylinder so I didn’t have 10′ hoses running everywhere. The only logical place was an inch above the radiator. I made a mount off of the rollcage crossbar in the engine bay.

Next up was the cylinder. Since it’s taller than the last one, I had to mount it out in front of the crossmember, rather than over it like before.

Everything is in place. Waiting on a trip to Ace for two 90° fittings. Fabrication-wise, all that’s left is to run the linkage and controls into the cab.

So, the fluid will go from the pump, to the control valve, to the steering box, to the cooler, and back to the pump. It’ll probably look like a lawn sprinkler when I start it up

I got the cantilever linkage mocked up out of some scrap I had sitting around. The rectangular tubing is windshield frame off-fall from my modified Arctic Top windshield. Keeping it in the family!

It‘s finished. It just needs paint and some cotter pins. If this works as planned, this will be a major improvement over the old setup.

And the first test.

I braved the blizzard conditions outside and hooked up the plow. It is easily 5x faster than the old way, even just at idle. Loving it!!!!

I had one more thing on my “plow wish list” that I bit the bullet and got done today. I do 99.9% of my plowing at a left angle. At full angle, the 6′ plow doesn’t quite cover the path of the tires, so I’m constantly compressing fresh snow and causing hardpack. I widened the blade by 9 1/2″ on each side. I started by bending up these wings, tacking them in place and building around them.

And here you can see how short it was before, vs. how wide it is now. Should be much better.

I do lose my power steering while lifting or lowering at full capacity, but 99% of the time I’m using the hydraulics with one hand and shifting with the other with no hands on the wheel, so it’s really a non-issue.

If you use down-pressure for plowing snow, you might get into trouble by digging into dirt or catching on every little snag in the road. I’m still using a chain to lift the plow. I’m not sure how you could just apply “some” down pressure with still allowing it to float over surface variations. I’ve added weight to my plow by hanging a row of cement blocks off the blade to cut through hardpack with results that were satisfactory.

 I cut up two old tires today and made a guard across the top of the plow, trying to keep the blow-over to a minimum. I also stuck a spring-mounted 1/2″ bolt up through the corner, and stuck a piece of plastic sprinkler pipe over it as a marker.

I went ahead and dug the windshield out of storage too so I can run a bikini top. I’m sure I’ll rip it back off the first time we have freezing rain…

Bring on the snow! I’m ready this year!!

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Ryan’s snowplow rig

Part 3 – What else can I do?

Part 3 shows just how creative Ryan and how useful the 3b can be. Below is a summary of the Plow Hydraulics Turned Log Splitter post on the EarlyCJ5 page.

August 2021 –

I’m finally at a point in my life where splitting wood by hand is no longer fun. Maybe “fun” is the wrong word, it was never fun, but now it feels like work.

I decided to try to see if I could make the plow hydraulics on the 3b work for splitting at least the most monotonous of the woods I burn. Dry lodgepole pine is actually so easy to split, it’s hard. If you hit it too hard, it blows apart and cartwheels down the hillside.

I made the platform for the wood to sit on out of 3 1/2” square tube, and it fits into the brackets on the frame for the plow with two hitch pins, and two chain supports link onto the A-frame.

My first attempt was a failure. The cylinder just doesn’t have enough force on the downstroke to do the job.

So, I moved the cylinder to the back side of the A-frame and modified the arm to work as a cantilever. If my math is correct, the “push” has 46% greater force than the “pull”.

After this pic, I swapped the lines at the valve so the controls weren’t backwards, and I re-routed the hoses so they weren’t kinked.

I ran some more linkages through the grill with a handle so I can operate it from out front.

The result –

I used this for about an hour this morning and got all my wood split. I love it.

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Another job well done for the 3b

I took the kids in the blue jeep up into the woods yesterday to get one last load of wood. This massive Grand Fir was too convenient to pass up. It was pushing 36” at the base, and it shook the ground pretty good when it landed. I could only fit the middle 2/3 on the trailer. I’ll go get the rest next spring with the truck.

With wheels this big, the support chains weren’t allowing me to split where I wanted, so I made a trip to Ace for some bigger chain and clevises. I capped the tubing, mounted the chain to the ends, and welded new tabs onto the cage.

Now it should be able to handle anything I can throw at it.

Well, this thing just became even more useful. I made an attachment that bolts onto the wedge…

For popping beads! I got 8 tires done in just about 15 minutes.

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Another use of the 3b

If you would like to see more of Ryan’s 3b adventures, check out “Another Rebirth for the 3b”

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VisibilityPassword ProtectedPublishSeptember 22, 2021 6:52 pmPost FormatAsideAudioGalleryImageLinkQuoteStandardVideoStick to the top of the blogAuthorBarryEvanFarm Jeep adminMove to trash3 Revisions




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