I Bought The Crappiest Jeep On Earth. Cleaning Its Interior Was Horrifying

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Photo: David Tracy

I’m writing to you now from just outside a laundromat in Stanwood, Washington. I’m covered in grease from head to toe after a weeklong battle with the crappiest Jeep on earth: a 1958 Willys FC-170 that hasn’t run in probably two decades at least. The Jeep was mouse-infested, its body has crumbled to rust and the engine isn’t even trying to run. It is hopeless, and yet I cannot stop trying to fix it.

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Here’s a look at what it was like cleaning out the interior of the crappiest Jeep on the planet.

“Cars out West hold up better,” was my thought process when buying this 1958 Jeep Forward Control for an EV conversion project, a $1,500 sight-unseen purchase.

“It can’t be as bad as a Michigan Jeep,” I thought. I was wrong. Extremely wrong. This Jeep is by far the junkiest registered vehicle I’ve ever seen.

The Jalopnik reader who bought the Forward Control on my behalf after notifying me of its existence has been storing the vehicle on his property since last summer. His name is Tom Mansfield, an awesome guy with an awesome family. Tom did warn me that the Jeep was going to be bad, I must admit, sharing this photo back in July:

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Photo: David Tracy

Even after reading what Tom wrote about all of the animal feces in the cab, I don’t think I truly understood how disgusting this machine really was — until I arrived last Wednesday in my Lexus LX470, also a sight-unseen purchase.

After one quick look in the cab, and one sniff of the stench emanating from the mouse droppings, mold and who knows what else made up the first few layers coating every surface inside the FC, I bought a bunch of bleach, degreaser, and Pine-Sol. Then I got to work.

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Photo: David Tracy

Here’s a look at what I was up against. Watch as I struggle to contain my amusement as a mouse runs out of the piece of trash I just picked up using the giant rubber gloves I’d bought from Harbor Freight:

Speaking of the rubber gloves, I think it’s smart for me to mention that I’m taking extreme precautions here. I don’t want to touch any rodent droppings, nor do I want to breathe in the fumes that they naturally emit simply by their filthy nature. I’m wearing a face shield, gloves, a respirator and coveralls — the first three of which I bought dirt cheap at Harbor Freight. I’m a sucker for dirt cheap things.

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Photo: David Tracy

The cab corner behind the driver’s seat was a truly horrendous concoction of mouse droppings, mouse nests, and rust flakes:

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Photo: David Tracy

Here’s a closer look at the mouse excretion under the seat:

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And here’s the gigantic mouse apartment complex behind the seat.

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I did my best to use my gloves and a shovel to get the debris out of that area:

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In the process, I met this mouse:

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And I nearly grabbed this one:

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In the end, to clear out that corner, I just grabbed a stick, and poked it straight through the cab, allowing all the trash and mouse abodes to spill out. Who knew you could build such a convenient feature — a mouse nest extraction hole — with nothing but a weak stick?:

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There was also a large mouse nest under the passenger’s seat:

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Once I got the seats and large rodent nests out, I doused the whole cab with Pine-Sol, degreaser, and bleach, and then went wild with the power washer:

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Photo: David Tracy
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Unfortunately, the power washer literally created holes in my floorboards.

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Right now, I’m 2,500 miles from my house in Michigan trying to fix this Jeep up to at least get it running and driving well enough to let me explore a singular off-road trail in Washington prior to my departure back to Michigan. But the Jeep is almost certainly too far gone. If I weren’t such a fool, I’d give up and just explore this beautiful state, especially since I plan to rip out the engine and convert the FC to electric power anyway. But the idea of a long-sitting motor firing up...oh, god. It lures me in, igniting a borderline obsessive tendency to ignore everything and focus far too hard on getting compression, spark, fuel and air into those cylinders.

I’ve slept in my Lexus LX470 for three days. I haven’t changed clothes. I have oil in my hair, on nearly every square inch of my hands and arms and face. My feet are killing me from being in these boots for three days. I’m learning that Lieutenant Dan’s advice about changing socks (from the Forrest Gump) was right; I’ve got Twrenchfoot, I’m convinced. Each day I wake up, and wrench-mode comes on full swing. I cannot stop thinking about what I need to do to get that Continental 226 cubic-inch inline-six running. (Continental was an engine manufacturer for various vehicle companies. The famous military deuce-and-a-half had a multifuel Continental motor).

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I know this Jeep can run. I just know it. But at what cost to my wellbeing? I’ll think about that later. I’ve got some ratchets to spin.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.

DISCUSSION

felixthegrumpycat
felixthegrumpycat

Dude, just stop. Even if you make it run, you will die trying to off road this pile of weakened rust that will disintegrate on the first pothole.