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Death Trap

1923 Willys T-bucket with too much power and zero safety in mind

Shawn

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This little hot rod is very sentimental to me. It use to belong to my brother Scott who passed away a couple years ago. He died doing something we all love to do here... working on and fixing up cars & trucks. Unfortunately another car he was working on (1930 Ford) came down on him as he was trying to get the transmission and engine in place. It was a tragic accident. I don't like to talk it but I do because its a good reminder how we sometimes forget about safety. If he had some extra jack stands underneath the car, he'd probably be ok and be alive today. Just keep this mind next time you are under 2 tons of metal. It doesn't take much time to get some extra stands or a wood stump or tires or just to be on the safe side.

RIP Scott. You are truly missed brother! :(

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tRustyK5

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Your brother looked like he was a pretty cool guy, I'm so sorry to hear he passed away so tragically. I can only imagine the emotional conflict you must be feeling as you begin to work on one of his old hot rods. I'm sure he would want you to find joy in it though!

So what are your plans for the 'bucket?
 

mrk5

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Sad story buy I appreciate you sharing it and this build.
 

ZooMad75

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So tragic to hear about your brother. I know we've all got under a car without enough support but I make an effort every time I do to get stands under it. My techs in the shop probably hate me because when I catch them in that position I really come down hard on them. Better me coming down hard on them than the darn car in my opinion. Thanks for the reminder though.

I'm excited to follow the build as it looks like a riot to drive.
 

Shawn

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Shawn

Sorry to hear that about your brother Scott.


Look forward to seeing how you progress on his project
Thank you. He was the older brother I always looked up to.

Your brother looked like he was a pretty cool guy, I'm so sorry to hear he passed away so tragically. I can only imagine the emotional conflict you must be feeling as you begin to work on one of his old hot rods. I'm sure he would want you to find joy in it though!

So what are your plans for the 'bucket?
Thanks! He was one of those guys that would give you the shirt off his back. Very talented to what he could build including houses.

As for this T-bucket, its 454 engine could use a little more power. I was thinking some decent alum heads along with a pair of turbos hanging off each header and just low boost gate pressure. Its only 2000 lbs so that should be fun. Also the gas tank needs to be relocated to the rear trunk so I can drop the seat down. Right now you ride too high and your eye level is the top of the windshield frame but the tank is under the seat. This will allow me to drop the seat height. I also thought about doing a top like this and taking the top glass part off the windshield. Same year of Willys:
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Sorry about your brother and thank you for the reminder.

cool hot rod and I look forward to hearing more about it.
Appreciate it!

Sad story buy I appreciate you sharing it and this build.
Him and I were really close so it was tough for me. It really shook our family and that was mess too since my father wanted him buried and my mother wanted his ashes spread somewhere. He didn't have a will.

So tragic to hear about your brother. I know we've all got under a car without enough support but I make an effort every time I do to get stands under it. My techs in the shop probably hate me because when I catch them in that position I really come down hard on them. Better me coming down hard on them than the darn car in my opinion. Thanks for the reminder though.

I'm excited to follow the build as it looks like a riot to drive.
Thank you! Yeah I just wanted to remind everyone to think safety. I've done it myself and get underneath a car with one floor jack holding it up, no tires. You just never think it will happen.

Car is definitely "interesting" to drive! No power steering, no seat belts, 2000 lbs, big engine, very short wheel base, it was scary the first time driving it. Thats why I call it the death trap. Not much protecting you or holding you in. I plan to add seat belts in the future.
 

max 02

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Really sorry to hear what happened to your brother.

Unfortunately I know of a couple guys that had the same thing happenen to them. Thanks for reminding us. Happens so quickly.

That Willy’s is sick looking! You guys have some very quality looking builds!
 

Shawn

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Thanks. Sadly, Its something most of us are guilty of trusting one floor jack to our life. Just not worth the risk. I know Scott was in a hurry to get the car done to make a car show.

Appreciate the compliment! :)
 

Shawn

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Little Willys was being stored up at my Moms house in Montrose, CO for he last 2 years. I took it up there so my parents could get to see and drive it. This also gave me some extra garage space at the old house since they had a free garage bay. They have never seen the car in person and it was like a having a piece of Scott with them during that time. 6 months later, my step father happen to pass away so at least he got to see it and enjoy it with the time he had left. :( Its been a tough couple years for my mom and I.

Denver to Montrose is about 300 miles so I rented a truck from Enterprise Truck rental. At $110 per day with unlimited miles, they give you 3/4 ton 4x4 truck. Usually a diesel but this time this one was a 2020 Ford F250 King Ranch with the 6.2 gas engine. It pulled the 4000lbs ok, but not as good as any turbo diesel. Uhaul transport trailer is $55/day. For two days total, the price isn't too bad but it still adds up plus the gas.

Last time I was visiting my mom, the T-bucket wouldn't run right and it was leaking fuel from the rear carb. I took it apart and replaced the top gasket. I was in a hurry and inadvertently put the floats upside down. Fuel came pouring out of the top. WHOOPS! So this time I took my time with and made sure the floats were correct position and adjusted the float height and drop. After I put it back together, the 454 started and ran normal again. Took it for a spin around the neighborhood and forgot how scary this car is to drive! Took it to fill it up and forgot you can't fill up the tank with the nozzle fully squeezed or it spits back at you. Have to go super slow filling this up. Something else I need to fix...
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Anyway, got back and loaded it up on the trailer. Kept the scoop off since only 2 bolts were holding it on. Long drive back along with having to taking the trailer and truck back late last night. Finally back at home in the new house/garage. :)

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Shawn

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Minor issue with a broken valve cover bolt stuck in the head. GOT IT!
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Identified the heads as 049 oval ports. Good flowing GM iron heads. Roller rockers but not sure what brand they are. Want to switch to aluminum heads and a roller cam since big blocks are notorious for eating cam lobes towards the rear due to lack of lubrication. Eventually will upgrade but for now I need to focus on seat height, rear springs and front shocks. Tires seem to have flat spotted so need to see if that can be fixed with max pressure in the tires temporarily.
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Shawn

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I need to start doing that. Put the car on jack stands over the winter. These are radials too.
 

ktmoutfront

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Sorry to hear about your brother. I think of the "what would happen? " scenario every time I am under a vehicle and nobody is around.

And I miss my T-bucket. Cool to see one getting some love.
 

Shawn

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Sorry to hear about your brother. I think of the "what would happen? " scenario every time I am under a vehicle and nobody is around.

And I miss my T-bucket. Cool to see one getting some love.
Appreciate it. Its a good reminder for us all. Have any pictures of your old T-bucket?
 

Shawn

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I snapped a few pictures of my seat height issue. Right now my eye level is at the top of the windshield frame. This is annoying and blocks my vision. I need to sit down lower in the car. Plus I want to take the top pane of glass off to make it look more modern with a shorter windshield and cut the top side posts in half. I hate to do that to an original 1923 piece but I don't feel like making one from scratch.

The only problem with making the seat lower is the gas tank is under the seat. My brother had built the seat to fit around the tank which is why it sticks up so high. I'm thinking of putting a new tank in the rear trunk. This will inhibit any hauling ability in the back but it will help with the seat height and I won't have a gas tank under my ass in case of an accident. Found some cheap tanks on ebay for $110. Thoughts?

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skunked

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A shorter windshield will look much better IMO so I would be moving the fuel tank too. Plus I’m 6’4” so I understand the desire to sit lower too.
 
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