Ed Wilson had a problem: "I ripped the rear crossmember (bumper) in half yesterday, right next to the pintle hitch. You can do this with a military trailer full of wood when it jackknifes on an old mountain logging road. I would appreciate any tips on replacing this piece, or sourcing a quality replacement. I haven't looked yet, but I would think it is a fairly straightforward procedure."
Meanwhile, Walt Snelling was thinking about restoring his bumpers to original condition: "My 1954 CJ-3B has a steel reinforcement inside the rear bumper sheet metal. The holes and how it is attached all seem original. This Jeep had the standard drawbar. My 1955 CJ-3B does not have this reinforcement, but was a Navy Jeep with a pintle hook. My question is, was this reinforcement just used with the drawbar, or is the Navy Jeep missing the reinforcement? Secondly, if one elects to replace either the front bumper or rear bumper, what is the best way to replace the rivets that hold both items to the frame? My bumpers are not perfect, but they are good enough that I would not want to use a replacement bumper if that meant bolts in place of rivets."
Right: Frank Porfidio rivets with a "heat wrench" (torch).
Buck Toenges: "My two CJ-3B's both have an inside channel rear crossmember that is riveted between the frame. I think that this inside rear crossmember is welded to the outside rear crossmember. Classic Enterprises makes a repro inside crossmember."
Bob Christy: "This thing is a two-piece deal, one inside, one outside. I think all CJ-3B's had the inner reinforcement on the back bumper. The bumper is tack welded to the frame and another flange from the 'A' frame is welded to it also. I don't think the inner bumper was welded at all, but it's hard to tell as mine was pretty much gone. I would definitely get something in there to prohibit rust.
"I ordered one from Classic. The thing looks nice but still needed a few holes drilled in the right places. I used stainless steel caphead screws to put it back on. Don't do like I did and put it on centered to the frame. It looks right, but it's not. It is supposed to stick out on thedriver's side more than on the passenger's. I don't know why this is, but I had to take mine off and start over. I paid $85 for it. I think if I were not out for the original look, I would just make one... it'd be stronger."
Leslie Moore suggests another source: "There's a guy in Branford, Connecticut who makes an exact replacement. He owns Brian's 4WD Parts, phone 203-481-5873."
Hubbard's Halfcabs: "The right side is shorter to get the tailpipe up and out of the way.
"Sounds like a lot of pressure on that pintle. Not so much weight, but the leverage from the jackknife must have done the damage. Can you open your tailgate with the pintle in that position?
"The standard OEM straps (from the drawbar) usually only have the top four holes drilled. On mine if I had used those top four I wouldn't have been able to open the tailgate without ramming it into the top of the pintle hook, so I drilled 2 more holes in the straps to correspond with the holes in the rear cross member (bumper). I put the two safety chain eyelets in the top 2 holes and the pintle in the bottom four holes.
"This setup in one way is stronger, in that the force through the pintle is taken by the rear cross member and the v-brace. With the pintle in the upper position the full force is taken by the v-brace and only indirectly by the rear cross member, since the v-brace is usually welded to the rear cross member (bumper) and has a plate welded in there to tie them both together.
"My trailer is level due to the addition of the add-a-leafs in my Jeep spring packs -- i.e. the Jeep sat up higher."
Alan Haley: "I had to replace the crossmember when I rebuilt my 3B as it had rotted out completely. I used a piece of channel iron. I believe it was 6-inch but in any event it has to be slightly larger than the original crossmember as there is a slight radius in the inside of the channel and you want to be able to bolt it up flat against the frame. To get the recess in the middle I cut a slice out of the channel that was 1/8 inch larger then the contour on the original piece. I then welded a piece of 1/8-inch strap iron that was as wide as the thickness of the channel to one end of the cut, heated the strap and pounded the first few inches into the cut channel and welded it there. I then heated a few more inches and welded and continued with this process, until I got to the end of the cut that I had made in the channel.
"After the process was done I ground the welds down and rewelded any places that I screwed up. I clamped the piece up to the frame and bored holes, using the original bolt holes in the frame as a guide. I am not much of a metal fabricator or welder but I was amazed at how well the piece came out. It took me about 2 hours to do the whole thing. I can also guarantee that no jackknifed trailer will break this cross member in half. Of course you may prefer that to ripping out your whole rear end because of an overbuilt crossmember."
Ed Wilson: "I went to the local machine shop with the pieces of the old crossmember and measurements. We determined standard 4" channel would work. They duplicated the cross member, right down to the elongated license plate holes for $100. I have done much the same thing as HH describes with the two extra holes in the pair of center straps, except I am simply bolting the two straps to the new cross member for added strength.
"I primed and painted the new piece and the drawbar assembly, and the installation was fairly straightforward. I used grade 8 bolts in all assembly. I am confident the 4" channel is stronger than the original at near the same price. I have a new respect for the trailer and a much stronger 'hard point' for the hitch. At 10 feet you can't tell it from original, and all the other components are intact should I want a full resto in the future. The tailgate is bolted through the chain eyes for... uh... structural integrity, so opening the tailgate is not a factor for me."
Thanks to all the contributors, and to Ed Wilson for editing the material. -- Derek Redmond
Return to the CJ-3B Tech Tips page.
CJ3B Home | Site Map | Updates | Search | Links | Bulletin Board