Rummage Box

Summer 2002


With our country fighting again, I suddenly realized this was the fifth major conflict in my life span of 62 years! Gee! Ask any veteran what he or she “ did in the war” and somehow the conversation will get around to a “Jeep story.”

In the days before WW I, a North Carolinian, Captain Alexander E. Williams, saw the future of a motorized army. Despite being a West Point graduate, the Army “brass” thought him short on practical experience and quickly pointed to the 12 trucks owned by the U.S. Army as a gracious plenty. After all, NOTHING would ever replace the horse!

But, when hostilities started in Europe, the inventory had risen to 2,400 trucks and, in 1918, U.S. builders produced a staggering 227,000 units for the U.S. and its allies. The Corbitt Company of New Bern NC was a major manufacturer. But the horse was not out of the race. As late as 1924, horses outnumbered trucks in the U.S. by 3 million!

The Jeep idea originated with the American Bantam Car Company. In the mid-1930’s this struggling firm produced America’s first compact car…the Bantam. Their president, Frank Fenn, discovered the army’s need for a lightweight reconnaissance vehicle and saw a government contract as a ticket for survival! In 1938, Bantam gave 3 vehicles to the Pennsylvania National Guard for testing. Based on this experiment, the Quartermaster Corps published bid specifications in 1940 for a small four-wheel drive vehicle weighing 2160 lb., with a minimum ground clearance of 6-1/4 inches. Other requirements included blackout lighting, a fold-down windshield and bucket seats. 135 companies were invited to bid and have a prototype delivered in 49 days! Bantam’s test cars were 2-wheel drive. Bad news!

This meant designing an entirely new vehicle. With a phone call from William S. Knudsen, former General Motors president, maverick engineer Ken Probst joined the team. With 48 hours of marathon drawing [There was no CAD-CAM computer in 1940!] the plans were completed. By September 21, 1940 the hand-built prototype was finished, powered by a Hercules four-cylinder engine hooked to a Warner transmission and Spicer axles. It was quickly driven to Baltimore, MD, and arrived just a half-hour before the deadline at 5:00 PM. After 3,000 miles of all terrain driving, Major Herbert J. Lawes made a prophetic remark- “I believe this vehicle will make history!”

But Bantam was not alone. Ford and Willys also submitted prototypes based on the Bantam plans. Ford called theirs the “Pygmy”, Willys, the “Quad” and Bantam, the “BRC” (for Bantam Reconnaissance Car.). The competition was fierce. After testing, Willys was found to be 263 pounds over weight. Enter engineer Delmar B. “Barney” Roos. Even after changing the frame from heavy carbon steel to a light alloy, it was still too heavy. Studs, screws – even the cotter pins – were shortened. Finally, the paint was weighed. Only one coat could be used, as a second layer would exceed the 2160-lb. specification!

The government saw the financial quicksand of the Bantam Company and did not let them build their vehicle. Instead, Willys got the nod with Ford a second producer.

Both would make the same vehicle-even with the Willys 60-hp “Go-Devil” engine. For all their efforts and genius, Bantam was tossed only a gristle of a contract for landing gears and trailers.

Willys later renamed their product the MA and MB while Ford called their GP and GPW. The “GP” did not stand for “general purpose.” Rather, the “G” was for government and the “P” for a class of 80” wheelbase units. A quick identifier was the front frame cross member. The Ford had an inverted U-shaped design and the Willys used a tubular brace.

There are several stories about the Jeep’s name. In 1941 Major E.P. Hogan wrote a history of the vehicle and said, “ ‘Jeep’ is an old Army grease monkey term dating back to WWI and was used by shop mechanics to refer to any new motor vehicle received for testing.”

For those old enough to remember the Popeye comic strip [remember, I told you I am 62!], it will be fondly recalled there was a character called “Eugene the Jeep.” Eugene was a “do it all” figure who could solve all sorts of complex problems. The public became so taken with his abilities; a capable person or thing was referred to as a “real Jeep!”

Before the Bantam designed vehicle, Dodge produced a gangly, massive Command Car on a ½ ton chassis. It was a 4x4 design and for a while was called a Jeep. Later, they were called “Beeps,” or short for “Big Jeeps.”

The name Jeep finally stuck when the chief test driver for Willys drove a prototype up the steps of the Capital Building and a bystander asked him, “What is that THING?” He yelled, “It’s a Jeep!” Washington Daily News reporter Katherine Hillyer overheard the remark and captioned the picture with the name…Jeep.

In all over 640,000 Jeeps helped the GI’s win “the war”…WWII. [Remember, I told my age!]

Nuts, Bolts, and Washers

  • The evolution of the Jeep:

1908 John North Willys buys Overland and it becomes Willys Overland 1953 Kaiser buys Willys Overland and changes the name to Willys

1963 the name changes to Kaiser-Jeep Corporation
1970 American Motors Corporation buys Kaiser and changes the name to AMC

1987 Chrysler buys AMC

1998 Chrysler merges with Mercedes Benz

  • Ford also produced an amphibious Jeep called the Seep! – I think I could have come up with a better name for a floating vehicle!

Just for the editors

... from the editor

By Brooke Davis

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right!” This is my all time favorite sayings credited to none other than Henry Ford himself. I even have a decorative plaque on the wall at my home office with this saying.

So why am I quoting Henry Ford, you ask. Very simply, try the unknown — try exploring the many capabilities of your computer as an example. About twelve years ago I took a course at the community college which instructed you on how to start a computer and do some basic things with it. And this was on a classroom computer with no hard drive! And, its operating system was DOS (Disc Operating System) which was the beginning of the computer as we know it. Believe me when I say that the Windows operating system is like automatic pilot compared to an old Model T! Well, today I do just about everything on the computer — on line banking and bill paying, three dimensional architectural house plans, newsletters, e-mail and file transfers on the internet, and on and on.

Since the first issue that I have done is now history and has been posted to the AACA web site (aaca.org) I have experimented with what it can do for the editors. After many e-mails to Peter Gariepy in Arizona who administers the AACA web site, and Master Editor Judy Edwards of the NC Region AACA newsletter who has been posting the actual content of the Rummage Box to the web site, the Spring 2002 issue has been up and running. Since web sites carry their own technical language (file format) I can’t just copy and paste it to the site. But you can, as in the past, copy and paste to your newsletter. And I have seen many newsletters lately that have been taking advantage of this service — more than ever before.

Just to review this process, go to www.aaca.org, click on “Publications” which takes you to the “AACA Publications” page. From there click on “The Rummage Box — Spring 2002”. You then have a choice to click on specific articles which places you within a specific “chapter” within the issue. From there, to copy text directly to your computer and to your publication program simply highlight the desired text and “right click” on your mouse. The same procedure is done for pictures — “right click” on the picture and copy. The beauty of the text copy is that you can rework the text within your own publication software. By that I mean you can change the point size of the text and the font just as if you had entered the article by retyping it yourself.

With pictures you can do quite a lot too. By a right click with the mouse button you can “copy” the picture and “paste” it directly into your newsletter as well as the ability to resize the picture within your newsletter. This is very useful for many reasons. Let’s say you have a page that is not quite full and you need to “expand the material”, or you need to “reduce” the size of the picture to make room for more text. The best way to accomplish this is by the resizing of pictures (I hate to see someone increase font size to fill up a page!). My newsletter, the Members’ Parade, Hornets Nest Region, uses pages folded to 8 1/2” x 11” using 11” x 17” paper. This requires that the number of pages be divisible by 4 which is the number of pages that a folded 11” x 17” sheet of paper produces. This makes picture sizing extremely useful.

Another aid to “sizing” material is line spacing and paragraph formats, but I’ll save that for another time.

Take a look at the picture of the Duryea below. It came directly from the home page of the AACA web site — right click, paste, right? After you have placed the picture in your newsletter you can do several things—move it around, resize it, stretch it out of proportion, copy it to other areas, etc. Experiment with it and see what you can do.


Whenever you buy a new software package the store clerk will more than likely say, when asked how to use it, “Just take it home and play around with it!” And that is the way to learn new tricks on your computer — try new stuff, see what the task bar has to offer as far as tools to use. The only way to learn is to experiment and spend time developing your skills.

How about the above pictures? Pretty neat, huh? And, did you notice how I filled out the page with the pictures?

See you in the next issue!