Henry is originally from Williamsport Pennsylvania. He lives in Lancaster, PA and owns and operates a jeep restoration business. He started life designing robot systems for IBM, but switched to restoring vintage Rolls-Royce and Bentleys as his full time job. Eventually customers started requesting Jeep restorations, and that is now the exclusive effort at his shop. His first car ever was a 1964 CJ-5, that he is currently restoring to take on this trip to Alaska.
The photos are of his father when the Jeep was near-new. This jeep has covered the United States multiple times and has well over 300,000 miles on it, one last rebuild for the trip to Alaska should last the rest of its life (or at least Henrys’ life).
Henry notes, “I’ve got plenty of stories to tell about the last few trips around the USA in this Jeep, it will be nice to add a few more. If all goes well, we can do this run without melting pistons in Arizona, seizing transmissions in Canada, or being stranded on a commune in Vermont while waiting for parts to be delivered….”
LONG TRIPS IN JEEPS:
Henry’s jeep trips across the United States remind us that the jeep wasn’t just used offroad. People used it to travel far and wide. The Alaska Or Rust crew follows a long, proud tradition of exploring via the jeep. Here are fourteen early great adventures:
- Bantam BRC in 1940: The earliest documented trip occurred September 29th, 1940. That was the day the very first jeep—the original Bantam BRC constructed in only 49 days—was driven 270 miles from Butler, Pennsylvania, to the testing ground in Holabird, Maryland. It was an amazing accomplishment given the newly designed vehicle had been barely assembled, let alone tested.
- Wolf Blint in 1945: Near the end of World War II, Wolff Blint escaped fighting on the eastern front by driving across Europe to Paris. He documented his story in his memoir, By Jeep To Freedom. The book is out of print and difficult to find.
- Soldier and Bride Return from Europe circa 1945: An unconfirmed event, the story unfolds with a U.S. soldier marrying a woman in Europe following WWII. Somehow, he is able to secure a jeep. Together, the pair drive to a port in France or Germany, have the jeep shipped to America, and then drive the remainder of the route to the man’s hometown in Illinois.
- Ben Carlin in 1948-1958: In 1948, Australian Ben Carlin began a trek around the world by heading east over the Atlantic Ocean in a modified 1943 Ford GPA (a jeep made to float over water) named ‘Half-Safe’. Over the succeeding ten years, Ben and Half-Safe traveled 50,000 miles over a period of ten years. His exploits filled three books, each book covering his voyage in different ways. Half-Safe can be seen in action in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-Gqi-RlbO0
- Helen & Frank Schreider in 1954-1955. Helen & Frank Schreider first jeep ended in a failed attempt to cross Panama in a Willys wagon when their jeep was beat to death as they drove across a long train trestle. For their 1954-55 attempt they purchased and customized a Ford GPA, naming it La Tortuga. Starting in Alaska, the pair traveled all the way to South America. Subsequently, they wrote a book called 20,000 Miles South: A Pan American Adventure in a Seagoing Jeep From the Arctic (A nearly identical version is published under the name La Tortuga). They also filmed some of their trip and toured the United States giving lectures about their experiences.
- Three Boy Scouts Travel 44,000 Miles in 1955: Dubbed Operation Pineapple, three Sao Paulo Boy Scouts—Hugo Vidal, Charles Downey, and Jan Stekly—drove from South America to Alaska and back as part of their effort to attend the 8th World Scout Jamboree in Canada. The CJ-3B Page has an excellent overview of their trip.
- Dorothy Rogers & Louise Ostberg in 1955-1956: Dorothy and Louise were two college professors from New York who met while traveling in Europe. They successfully circumvented Africa in a jeep wagon. Dorothy later wrote a book about their adventure called Jeopardy and a Jeep.
- Joe Ceurvorst in 1956: Joe wrote a book called Africa in a Jeep about driving around the northern part of the African continent.
- Roy Follows and Noel Dudgeon in 1958: Joe and Roy were two Colonial Police officers fighting Chinese Communists near the end of the Malayan Emergency. Ready to head home, the pair bought a Willys MB in February of 1958, then begin a long journey home full of obstacles, broken parts, encounters with unfriendlies and more. Their tale from Singapore to the United Kingdom unfolds in their book about the trip: The First Overland: Four Wheels and Frontier.
- Jack & Doreen Shakespeare in 1958: Jack and Doreen drove their early wagon from Australia to England. Lucky for us, they filmed their trip. You can relive their adventures on youtube.
- Helen and Frank Schreider in 1960: Ready to his the road again, Helen and Frank rebuild a second Ford GPA that they use to float the Ganges River in India. Their five month 1960 India adventure from the mouth of the Ganges to its source filled forty-two pages of the October, 1960, issue of National Geographic.
- Helen and Frank Schreider in 1960-1961: On the heels of their India trip, the Schrieders, again with National Geographic support, tackled the breadth of Indonesia, a 17,000 island archipelago, going to places and completing a trip that few, if anyone, has replicated. Their 4,000 mile trip lasted a year. Their ability to shuttle between islands and over land took them to places no vehicles had gone. Helen and Frank wrote two subsequent articles for National Geographic (May 1961 & August 1962) and a second book, the Drums of Tonkin: An Adventure In Indonesia. They went on to work regularly for National Geographic, though their jeeping days ended.
- Harold Stephens in the mid-1960s: Harold drove around the world in a CJ-5 and Toyota Landcruiser. He wrote about his experience in Who Needs a Road? Harold went on to become a travel author.
- Dorothy Rogers & Louise Ostberg in the mid-1960s: In the late 1950s, Willys Motors introduced two Forward Control jeep trucks called the FC-150 & FC-170s. Dorthy and Louise thought the latter would make a great vehicle to tour the world. So, they bought one and set off on their second major jeep trip. Dorothy later wrote about their experiences in Highways Across the Horizon.