Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor are Postwar Rarities

Farm Jeep and Jeep Tractor are Postwar Rarities

By John Gunnell

A 1946 Willys CJ-2A Jeep loaded with Farm Jeep options was the centre of attention at the 2015 Off-Road Success Centre that was part of that year’s SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Omix-ADA and Rugged Ridge sponsored this display of collectible Jeep vehicles and the 1946 Jeep with the farm equipment added really stood out as something historically interesting.

Willys-Overland, the company that made the CJ-2A Jeep, had been interested in manufacturing equipment for agricultural market for many years. Way back in 1918 or 1919, company founder John North Willys bought the Moline Plow Co. which already owned the Universal Tractor Company.

Fast forward to the early to mid-1940s. During World War II, Willys cranked out thousands of military Jeeps for the Army, Navy and Marines. But, the company figured the war wouldn’t last forever and that old Army Jeeps would flood the market in the postwar years and hurt its sales of new models. One solution to the problem was to open a new market by creating versions of the four-wheel-drive Jeep that could do double-duty farm work as a small truck and a tractor.

The result of the company’s advanced product planning was the Farm Jeep model with a hydraulic lift, drawbar, prop shaft guards, heavy-duty springs and a variable-speed belt-driven governor installed at the factory. A second model, called the Jeep Tractor, added a power take-off, a front bumper weight and a radiator chaff screen. The field-use-only Jeep Tractor lacked front shocks, a spare tire, a windshield, a fuel pump vacuum booster, a tailgate, lights, door curtain holders, an oil filter, a speedometer and a horn.

Factory-built Farm Jeep (FJ) or Jeep Tractor (JT) models were offered as 1951 or later CJ-3A or CJ-3B Jeeps. While factory records indicate that none of these units was actually built in 1951 or 1952, at least one CJ-3A designated as a Farm Jeep has turned up in the hands of a Willys collector. A good number of older Jeeps—such as the Omix-ADA unit–were also turned into Farm Jeeps or Jeep Tractors by purchasing part or all of the equipment package and installing those pieces. No one knows exactly how many CJ-2A and earlier CJ-3A Jeeps were retrofitted as Farm Jeeps or Jeep Tractors.

In 1953 and 1954, factory-built Farm Jeeps had a special serial number prefix—453GC2—that differed from the standard CJ3B prefix of those years, which was 453GB2. In 1953, a Farm Jeep Power sales brochure was issued by the company, now known as Kaiser-Willys thanks to corporate mergers. The orange, black and white brochure illustrated a number of ways the CJ-3A Jeep could be used in farming applications. The Farm Jeep specifications listed in this brochure included a standard governor and engine-driven gear-type Pesco hydraulic pump, as well as an optional Power Take-Off.

The Farm Jeep was suitable for Row crop cultivation: A rotary hoe allowed working 40 to 60 acres a day safely with operating speeds up to 12 mph. With its brakes locked, the Farm Jeep could deliver belt power in excess of 30 hp on the pulley.

The brochure pointed out that the car-based Farm Jeep was more comfortable than a conventional tractor because it had heavy-duty leaf springs, double-acting shock absorbers, a cushioned seat with a back rest, a windshield and a completely hooded and weather-protected engine. A cab and heater were optional.

In 1953, the CJ-3B Farm Jeep underwent Nebraska Tractor Test No. 502, which was part of a series of tractor tests conducted by the University of Nebraska College of Agriculture. The Test recorded the data from a series of horsepower tests, while the Farm Jeep was driving a belt or pulling a drawbar.

Nebraska Tractor Test No. 502 also recorded speed, torque and fuel consumption. The observed maximum belt horsepower for the Farm Jeep was 35.23, The observed maximum drawbar horsepower was 25.40 with the Jeep moving at 4.11 mph with 8.32 percent wheel slippage.

Only 77 of the CJ-3B Farm Jeeps were built before they were dropped as a factory model. Willys continued to advertise, promote and sell the 3B to farmers. Even after the CJ-5 came out in 1955, the stripped-down 3B economy model continued to find agricultural buyers on a tight budget.

The 1946 Willys CJ-2A owned by Omix-ADA is outfitted as a Farm Jeep. It is one of 214,760 of the CJ-2As built. It has a 134-cid Willys “Go-Devil” L-head engine, a T90 three-speed transmission and a Dana 18 transfer case. Up front is a Dana 25 axle with a Dana/Spicer Model 41 axle at the rear. CJ-2As had an 80-inch wheelbase and 122.75-inch overall length. Farm Jeeps were 59-inches wide and 69.38-inches high (with the top up) and weighed 2,137 pounds.

The Omix-ADA Farm Jeep has a front PTO winch, an engine-driven air compressor, a General Electric 6WD 200-amp arc welder in the passenger seat, a side arm mower bar on the driver’s side, a Canfield folding wrecker made by Canfield Tow Bar Co., of Detroit, and a Newgren Buzzsaw with table. The dual tires front and rear provided stability and traction when the Jeep was used in farm fields.

Categories: Features, Off-Road Plus