The following is information that I received from Turner 4WD when I asked them about repro tub quality. There are three grades of bodies available. Naturally the price goes along with the quality grade:
I believe that MD Juan in the Philippines uses several sub-contractors to build bodies. Perhaps there are quality differences and he can grade them and sell them at various prices.
I purchased the low-grade 3B body from Steelhorse. It worked out OK in the end, because I was not trying to build a restoration Jeep, but a driver. I had to remove the tool box and gasoline filler unit from the old body and install them in the new. The fuel filler is only spot welded in, and with some paint remover (first) and scraping you can find the spot welds. There's about a million of them holding this thing on. Drill out the spot welds and voila! A piece to put in your new body.
I had to drill the holes in the dash. There was no place for an emergency brake handle. The floor panels were similar to CJ-5 panels, and not like the classic 3B floor panels. There was no hole for a PTO. Alignment with the brake and clutch pedal holes was tricky.
The dash was shorter than the original, and I had to modify a bracket to make the steering column fit correctly. The original windshield frame did not fit at all, so I used the repro frame that came with it. There is still a gap between the frame and tub when the windshield is up. The original hood fits OK, but not nearly as nice as the original hood/tub configuration. There is a gap.
The primer that came on it looked as if it might have been applied with a mop. I had to put in body putty in many pin holes near welds. The seam on the 4" piece in the tub that makes it a 3B height was not welded through and one could see daylight through it. I patched it with body putty.
I cannot say that it didn't come out OK, but as I said before, I was not into a restoration, but to build a reliable Jeep. Were I doing a restoration, I would have sent the body back and rebuilt my old tub. Think of the body work you could do for $1,600. All of the panels are obtainable, so all you need is someone who can weld and you are in business. Sounds easy? Well like the song goes: "Simple stops when you reach out for something".
Back to the repro body. Same gauge steel, and the fenders were great, but I had to do a lot of body putty work on them to repair minor defects in the primer or steel. If you have a post-1956 model, be careful that you dont get a tub with the holes already in the dash, 'cause you want one big one, not five small ones. Steering column and emergency brake mounts will be problematic, but do-able.
I'd mount grille and fenders, then fit the body to the fenders and frame. I'd also put the rod between the body and grille back on before drilling any mounting holes. You might even want to re-mount the hood before drilling to be sure of alignment. Before painting, I'd verify that the windshield frame will fit properly. I'd also do all of the mounting holes before painting. I know it seems a little odd to put the body on, then take it off, but you'll get a better fit and less collateral damage to the paint finish doing it that way.
Most importantly, do not throw away the old body until your jeep is back on the road bouncing your kidneys into oblivion again. You'll be surprised how many times you want to measure someting original, or need a spare thing-a-ma-jig (a technical term) from the old tub!
P.S. Speaking of Turner 4WD, I recommend them often, and have nothing to gain by doing so, but I have found that they are generally the best quality and lowest price for that quality for Jeep parts anywhere. The Jeepsterman is another dealer who knows Jeeps very well.
Thanks to Jyotin for these comments, originally posted on the CJ-3B Bulletin Board. -- Derek Redmond
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