Ah, yesteryear. It was a simpler time, not only in the pace of life but also in the engineering that powered the vehicles of the time. The 134-cube Go Devil engine that was the motivation behind every WWII and civilian flat-fender Jeep from 1941 through 1953 was a relatively simple, very durable, and (for its time) relatively powerful design.
The design was so good that when the U.S. Military standardized jeep production in WWII, it had Ford use the Go Devil engine design in its GPW jeep in lieu of the 45hp 119ci Ford engine that powered the prestandardized Ford GP. But even the best engine designs can fall prey to the ravages of time, wear, and neglect.
When we purchased a ’48 Willys CJ-2A with a crankcase full of oil-water milkshake, we immediately suspected the head gasket had let go. Follow along to see how we replaced the cylinder head gasket in a 134-cube Willys Go Devil engine at home in our driveway with only common handtools.
1 The design of the Willys Go Devil engine is super simple and easy to work on in the field, which is probably one of the big reasons it was so beloved by the GIs who depended on it during WWII. The carburetor, intake manifold, and exhaust manifold are clear of the cylinder head, so other than removing the upper radiator hose, oil filter canister, and air filter, there’s nothing in the way of removing the cylinder head.
2 There are 15 studs that retain the Go Devil cylinder head. Before you go removing the nuts, it’s always a good idea to soak them in penetrating oil and resist the urge to use an impact. Trust us when we say you don’t want to be drilling out a broken head stud from an L-head engine block. It took us a full two weeks of soaking and gentle pressure from an open-ended wrench to finally remove all 15 nuts. Notice we also let the penetrating oil puddle in the spark plug recesses. Like the head hardware, the spark plugs on our Willys were somewhat corroded in their bores and didn’t want to spin freely until they had been soaked for several days.
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