You Can’t Start a French-Rebuilt Jeep Unless…

Instructions for dealing with Jeeps with Solex carburetors from Army Motors, September 1945.


A quick way to go stark, raving nuts is to sit at the wheel of a jeep equipped with a replacement French carburetor, and try to start it without previously having been tipped off about what’s what with these carburetors.

Hundreds of batteries have been ground down because People Didn’t Know, and international relations have not been so shaky since cognac went up to 50 francs a snort.

When you start a jeep that has the original American carburetor, you naturally step on the accelerator to feed it gas, or maybe pull out the throttle. In true Yankee fashion, the truck responds with a happy roar and you are off in a shower of genuine Willys parts.

But French carburetors speak a different language. They are Solex non-standard carburetors–and if you know anything about Solex European carburetors, you remember that many of them use a fuel primer to spray gas into the engine for quick starting instead of choking as on American vehicles. But these non-standard Solex carburetors do not even have the fuel primer–they depend on the choke to furnish fuel for starting. And there the resemblance to your American carburetor stops–because there’s no direct connection between the accelerator pedal or throttle and the carburetor accelerating-pump. In other words, when you hit the accelerating pedal or work the throttle button, the accelerating pump in the carburetor does not throw a spurt of fuel into the engine to help you get started. All the accelerator does is wave the carburetor butterfly around.

So when you sit there mashing down on the accelerator pedal, all you do is open wide the carburetor butterfly. This breaks the vacuum in the manifold and the choke can’t operate fully (the choke operates on the vacuum in the manifold to draw gasoline from the carburetor bowl through a by-pass around the butterfly valve). With the choke not operating properly, there’s nothing–absolutely nothing–throwing enough of a charge of gasoline into the engine to help you get started.

You sit there in a fit of blind rage working away at the accelerator pedal and grinding down the battery.

Wake up, man, wake up–the whole division’s laughing. The only true way to start your jeep, if it has a French-rebuilt engine featuring the non-standard Solex carburetor, is to leave the accelerator pedal and throttle button alone and use the choke for starting. As follows: Switch on the ignition. Pull the choke out all the way. Step on the starter. Do not touch the accelerator pedal or throttle.

Since many of these Solex carburetors will be finding their way to the Pacific, it might be a wise idea to stencil these instructions on these jeeps for all to see.

For the benefit of mechanics, an ETO bulletin announces that there are no repair kits available for reconditioning these carburetors. In the ETO, they will be returned to the Salvage and Reclamation Officer, Depot 0-644, for repair. In the Pacific, you’ll probably just have to replace them.

To identify these carburetors, the bulletin says they will be marked with two diagonal blue stripes around the main body. Also, engines rebuilt with these carburetors will be so tagged.