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CJ Body Tub Replacement – Making the Case

Guest post by Michael Grayen

My Jeep body needs extensive rust repair and straightening. Is there an easier way to bring it back to perfection?

When it comes to automotive restoration, experts in the field say you’ll have better luck and spend the least amount of money when you start by finding the best example of the year and model you’re interested in. Sound advice – however, finding a high-quality Jeep CJ in original condition is not so easy to do. High-quality originals in stock condition are rare, and ones that are command extremely high prices due to the widespread, fanatical fan base. Jeep enthusiasts themselves uniformly agree it’s harder than ever these days to find one that hasn’t rusted into powder, been chopped and modified, or been beat on badly off-roading.

A CJ under a frame-off rebuild

If your Jeep restoration is at this stage, there’s no better time to invest in Mopar-licensed reproduction Jeep body tubs and body panels made of 16- and 18-gauge steel. (photo credit:

A badly mangled flatfender in need of a lot of love.

Classic Jeeps still in original condition are out there, but usually require a great deal of bodywork. (photo credit:

And what if the only Jeep that matters is the one you already own? Perhaps yours is one that you’ve had personal history with that can’t be bought at any price. Restoring a Jeep is a labor of love — hard labor at times. Taking things apart, sourcing replacement parts, rebuilding mechanical items, test fitting, disassembling, painting, then reassembling again is daunting enough without performing extensive bodywork.

Reproduction body parts available from Omix-ADA

Omix-ADA steel body tubs are shipped pre-assembled, and can be ordered with or without front fenders, hood, windshield, and tailgates. (photo credit: Omix-ADA)

While mechanical disassembly and reassembly can be learned as you go, bodywork processes that involve cutting, welding, filling holes, smoothing surfaces, and painting are best left to experts if you want the best results. We’ve created this article to help the Jeep enthusiast facing substantial body issues find an easier way to bring their rig back to perfection again.

Looking across various Jeep forums, there are many accounts of hidden rust discoveries that were far worse than expected. Some express distress when seeing the full extent of how panels were chopped to provide clearance, and realizing that numerous body panels may never line up again after the vehicle was off-roaded hard. For those realizing they’re beyond minor body work, Jeep specialist Omix-ADA manufactures new steel replacement body tubs for Jeep CJs that are officially recognized by the factory as official restoration parts.

FCA has determined that these are such accurate reproductions of the original that they allow trademarked “Jeep” or “Willys” logos to be stamped into the fender panels. Their seal of approval comes in the form of a “Mopar Official Licensed Product” branding that you won’t find elsewhere.

Unlike fiberglass CJ body shells that can be flimsy and hurt the value of your restored vehicle, Omix-ADA bodies are crafted from thick 16- and 18-gauge steel that more accurately represents the strength and durability the original engineers had in mind. Body tubs are shipped pre-assembled, and can be ordered with or without front fenders, hood, grille, and tailgate.

A new CJ side panel

A new CJ side panel, a common place for rust issues. (photo credit: Omix-ADA)

Jeep header panel (credit: Omix-ADA)

A replacement Jeep header panel (phtoo credit: Omix-ADA)

Body tubs will include rear fenders, rear wheel housings, a front cowl panel, dash panel, and glove box. These separate components have been fitted, aligned, then welded in place. According to the Jeep owners who have installed them, areas of the body line up in perfect harmony to factory mounting spots. Tubs or individual panels go on easily without modification and line up nice and straight once installed.

Omix-ADA body tubs and body parts are treated with a process that’s far more extensive than original parts were at the factory. First, the metal is submerged in five separate tanks of chemical cleaners to strip any foreign contaminants. After the metal is brought to as pure a state as possible, phosphate and acid rinses add the corrosion protection layer and provide a surface for superior paint bonding.

If you’re facing serious body work to save your beloved CJ, consider going with Omix-ADA body panels or an entire tub to do it right and do it once, with the best possible results.

Michael Grayen is a technical writer at and a Jeep nut.

Filed Under: Freek GarageTagged With: body panels, body repair, Body tub, CJ, Jeep, Jeep CJ, Jeep restoration, omix-ada, repair panels, rust


Body Tubs

Omix-ADA Drakon Wheel Banner

Drakon Wheels

This aluminum alloy constructed wheel gives a sleek style to your JK Wrangler. Available in a variety of sizes and finishes some would say it emulates rotary style phone.

Omix-ADA Jesse Spade Wheel Banner

Jeese Spade Wheels

Exclusively designed for Rugged Ridge this new wheel offers exceptional performance styling as well as functionality with built in valve stem protection.

Omix-ADA XHD Wheel Banner

XHD Wheels

Rugged Ridge's modular designed wheel that comes in a variety of sizes and finishes. Optional rock rings and center caps can allow you to customize your wheels.

Omix-ADA D-Window Banner

D-Window Wheels

The classic D-Window wheel is one of the most recognized wheels in the industry. Made of stamped heavy gauged steel with a black powder coated finish.

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Jeep Body Tubs & Body Kits

Jeep Body Tubs & Body Kits for CJ-8, CJ-7, CJ-5, CJ-2A, CJ-3A, CJ-3B. Call us today to purchase your new steel body tub or steel body kit.

Prices include shipping within the United States lower 48 Contiguous States.

We are unable to ship to Alaska, Hawaii and outside the US. No hidden fees, no extra charges for crating like some other companies do.

All Bodies are 18 gauge steel used in the front and rear flooring, all mounting brackets, top cowl assembly, and wheel housings. 16 gauge steel used on body tubs for all side and tail panels. Manufactured using a seven-step metal preparation process, including: A 5 bath dip to totally eliminate rust, dirt and grease; a phosphate and acid rinse step to ensure corrosion resistance and proper adhesion of the primer; new primer formula and application method that is designed for smooth and even finish. Includes all major factory mounting locations, including channels for body mounting. Dashes and shifter tunnels left blank in some applications with varied OE locations.

Jeep Body Basher's Buyer's Guide

Steel vs. Aluminum vs. Fiberglass

Whether your Jeep body is beaten by use and abuse or it just lost the fight with cancer, many of us have thought about buying a replacement body tub. It is a big purchase, and there are many factors to consider when weighing the options. Everyone is fairly familiar with the pros and cons of a stock Jeep steel body tub-but once you start talking aftermarket steel body tubs, things change. Start talking about rust-proof aluminum and fiberglass options and things change even more. Only you can decide which one is right for you. Here are some of the pros and cons of each body material type and some specifics from various manufacturers.

Used Jeep tubs are a known entity, but what about replica steel tubs? A little known fact about replacement tubs is that there is only one manufacturer and it is based in the Philippines. The quality control of the tub as it comes off of the boat leaves quite a lot to be desired, and the price you pay will typically reflect just how much work the reseller has put into it to make it right. As we all know, there are many differences over the 70 years of Jeep production, and unless you do your homework, you might end up with fitment issues. Once you get the tub installed, it will behave the way your stock Jeep tub always has.

• Easy to weld if damaged
• No electrical grounding problems
• No rollbar mounting worries
• Looks just like stock

• Can still get cancer and rust away
• Once bent and repaired it's more likely to rust

Willys Overland Motors
Every steel body is born in the same hospital in the Philippines. Willys Overland used original bodies and frames to get correct specifications and built jigs off of them. The company corrects the incoming mal-formed bodies to OE specs. The company adds brackets and moves holes so it will bolt in just like your stock body did. Willys Overland tells us that 11/2-inch variance on hole locations, body channels, and other items is expected of the incoming bodies. The company adds emergency brake brackets on late 5's, 7's, and 8's. The company is so particular that it has separate MB and GPW bodies, three different CJ-5 tubs, CJ-2A (with or without tool cutouts) and CJ-3A (different bodies), CJ-3B, '72-'75 CJ-6, and two different CJ-7 bodies. The tubs are made from 18-gauge steel which is the same gauge as original. The company also offers new and used fenders, grilles, hoods, tailgates with logos, and windshield frames. Information: Willys Overland Motors, 888/265-5337

Rugged Ridge
Rugged Ridge also offers 18-gauge body tubs but they are sold under licensed agreement with Chrysler. There are minimal firewall openings in these tubs, depending on the model. Typically there are holes for the steering column and brakes but you will likely have to locate and drill holes once you get the tub. The cowl on the later models is stamped for the factory heater intake. The bodies are E-coated, which means they are electrically charged and dipped in huge vats of coating that is also charged. This dipping process results in better rust resistance than any stock CJ tub ever had. Rugged Ridge offers bodies for every short-wheelbase Jeep built from 1942-1986. The company also does body panels for YJ and TJ, hoods, fenders, logoed tailgates, grilles, windshield frames, and doors. Information: Rugged Ridge, 770/614-6101,

While Land Rovers and HMMWVs have successfully used aluminum bodies for years it hasn't been until relatively recently that aluminum replacement tubs have become available for our Jeeps. As with the other body materials, there are both pros and cons to aluminum. Like fiberglass, the aluminum will never rust. A self-etching primer will be needed to get paint to adhere to the aluminum. There also needs to be a barrier between regular steel and the aluminum body or electrolysis will occur. Aqualu suggests stainless steel mounting hardware. By using rubber body mounts, there should be no problem between the body mounting bolts and the body tub itself. You can use an old inner tubing to create rubber gaskets for under the seats and rollbar. Unlike fiberglass, there is no electrical grounding issue with aluminum.

• No problems hooking up electronics
• Won't rust
• Pound per pound, it's stronger than steel

• Difficult to weld if damaged
• Paint can be tricky
• Electrolysis is a concern

Aqualu is the only game in town for aluminum Jeep bodies and has been in business for 19 years. All Aqualu bodies are 0.156-inch-thick which is about three times thicker than steel. Pound for pound aluminum is 30-percent stronger than steel. The body mounting pads are a 3/16-inch-thick 6061 T-6 extrusion and the tub attaches using through-bolt style mounting. The company offers body tubs for the CJ-2A, CJ-3A, CJ-3B, CJ-5, CJ-7, and CJ-8. The company also offers a bobbed CJ-8, a truck cab, and a truck box. All factory components can be bolted back in, but you will have to cut and drill holes. Aqualu has been using a couple of its bodies on-road every day for 10 to 15 years, and has had no electrolysis problems so far. All the factory components such as doors, windshield, roll bar, and so on can be bolted back into the Jeep. There is a scribed template for the steering column, pedals, brake master cylinder, and clutch master cylinder. The radius of the corner of the body is the same as the stock radius, so aftermarket armor can still be added. While you might expect these aluminum tubs to be way lighter than stock, they are in fact only slightly lighter than the OE steel tub due to the thickness of aluminum used. Information: Aqualu Industries, 888/765-6714,

The big attraction with a fiberglass body is that it will never rust. In the past, however, some cheap fiberglass bodies have given it a bad rap for not being able to take a hit. All the company reps we spoke with were confident in the strength of the bodies with regards to trees and rocks. Plus fiberglass is easier to fix than a steel body. The companies also mentioned that if you are contemplating or need body armor on your steel tub, it would be a good idea to put it on the fiberglass body as well. One of the downsides to a fiberglass body is that it is more difficult to add electrical components, since fiberglass won't conduct electricity. Grounding blocks can be used in the rear and front of the Jeep to make this problem a little easier to deal with.

Fiberglass itself isn't strong enough for the forces that a Jeep tub normally sees, so the companies sandwich reinforcements directly into the fiberglass. Some use wood, some use steel. Which is better is as subjective as apples versus oranges. You can drill and tap the steel, but if water gets in there, it might rust. However, you need to through-bolt the wood and even the best hardwoods can eventually rot if exposed to water. Even with these concerns, in wet climates a fiberglass body is expected to last at least three times longer than a steel body.

• Will never rust
• Better insulation properties than steel
• Takes paint just like steel
• Easy to fix when damaged

• Need to run ground wires to complete circuits
• Should tie even the stock cage back into the frame for safety
• If hit when really cold out it might be more likely to break

Kentrol offers Jeep body tubs for short-wheelbase '55-'06 Jeeps including CJ-5, CJ-7, CJ-8, YJ, and TJ. The tubs are built as two pieces, then put into a jig fixture where they are fused together using fiberglass. There are steel plates for body mounts, door hinges, hood hinges, the steering column, and the pedal mounts. The steel is 12-gauge-thick in the firewall and 1/4-inch-thick for body mounts, tailgate, hood, and door hinges. There are no steel reinforcements for the seats. The company recommends 2x2-inch by 1/8-inch-thick steel plate or 21/2-inch diameter fender washers for distribution of load. There is no steel where the rollbar contacts the tub, but the company offers frame tie-in kits for rollbars. Overall the tub weighs about 50 pounds more than other fiberglass bodies on the market, but it is still about 75-100 pounds lighter than a steel tub. The body is single wall and varies from 1/8-inch-thick to 1/4-inch-thick. There are no holes in the cowl for the heater. The company suggests making a template to transfer locations from the original body and includes instructions on how to do so. The company also offers windshield frames, one-piece front ends, hoods, cowl-induction hoods, scoop hoods, tailgates, fenders, and grilles. Information: Kentrol, 330/549-2235,

4WD Hardware
The 4WD Hardware body is a true double-wall construction with Styrofoam insulation between the inner and outer walls. It is made from GP polyester resin and chopped strand fiberglass with the highest quality knitted fiberglass reinforcements. This special material is also used in the construction of hockey sticks and snowboards which are constantly getting beat-on. Nida-core honeycomb reinforcement for body mounts backs up the sandwiched carbon-fiber mat. There is 14-gauge steel embedded in the firewall for the steering column and hanging pedals. The steel is pre-templated for easy drilling of mounting holes ('76-'95 models only). Door, hood, and tailgate hinges are meant to be through-bolted. The bodies also have Nida-core seat mounts and front and rear floor reinforcements. There is a deluxe replacement body available for the CJ-7 and the CJ-8 which includes threaded inserts for the fenders and the dash. These kits include the tub, two front fenders, a hood, a body tub mounting kit, a hood safety latch, and an installation DVD. The company offers body tubs for the '55-'75 CJ-5, '76-'83 CJ-5, CJ-7, CJ-8, and the YJ. Information: 4WD Hardware, 800/333-5535,

Shell Valley
Shell Valley has 40 years in the fiberglass business. The company's body tubs consist of two 3/16-inch-thick layers of fiberglass. The cowl, bottom of the windshield, and perimeter is one piece, then it's flipped upside down and the inner panel which consists of the floor and inner walls is dropped in. The firewall is then a third piece. This construction results in a dual-wall tub that is very stout and provides added insulation against the elements. The standard body has some Kevlar in it. The Kevlar body is a standard fiberglass body with an extra layer of Kevlar sandwiched between two layers of fiberglass. The heavy-duty tub has an extra layer of fiberglass on top of the Kevlar mat. The regular body has Kevlar where the pedals mount, and in the hinge and door latch areas. The floor gets gel, fiberglass, plywood (flat areas), hardwood blocks, and then fiberglass on top of it. A steel tub weighs about 500 pounds, the Shell Valley equivalent weighs 250 pounds. Plywood under roll bar mounts makes them about as solid as stock. The company suggests rubber body mounts but warns against aluminum body-lift pucks. Shell Valley also offers hoods, fenders, one-piece front ends, tailgates, and windshield frames. You have to cut all your own holes as there are none precut. The company offers three different CJ-5 tubs as well as tubs for the CJ-7, YJ, and CJ-8. Also available is a colored gel coat which is more durable than regular paint. There are nine standard gel coat colors and custom-match colors are available for a small additional fee. Information: Shell Valley, 800/356-9198,



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