By Jon Maib
No, this isn't a line from the movie Forest Gump! The term bubba modification has been around for a long time and is believed to derive from old gun modifications that were non original or were just a really bad modification. The 'bubba' term is used a lot in the off-road community as well, especially when it comes to older vehicles. A lot of older vehicles were generally used for lively hood; on a ranch, farm, work, etc, not necessarily for recreation or restoration like they are these days. So when your vehicle is your lively hood, you sometimes have to make 'bubba mods' to keep the vehicle running.

Take our 1948 Willys CJ2a (Project Rex) for example. Bubba had his hands over this entire vehicle (see some of it here). We believe that this old Jeep spent its days on a farm and was possibly used as a hay bailer. There are frame repairs, things welded on to help out with the farm work, even the heart of this Jeep has been bubba modified. At this point, we should probably admit that we are guilty of our own bubba fixes at times. Rex's exhaust manifold has been broken since we purchased the Jeep and we have had to do our own bubba mods to keep it together. Due to broken casting on the exhaust manifold, we have bubba'd it together with some welds and then wrapped the whole thing in a heat wrap to keep exhaust from escaping.

Recently we pulled Rex out of his parking space and took him for a drive. We like to drive him a few times a week to keep fluids running, gas from going bad, and to keep the battery charged. This drive was like all the rest, right up until it Rex sounded like he was running poorly. We pulled over and opened up the hood. Looking in, we noticed that the exhaust pipe was hanging only by the heat wrap. Not a major issue, so we drove Rex back home and removed the heat wrap, to see what had actually happened. We've had our own bubba mod in place for so long now; we forgot that bubba got crazy with a stick welder on the exhaust just near the exhaust manifold. Over time, the vibrations of the engine cracked bubba's exhaust fix and it finally gave up the farm.

That meant it was time to do the repairs properly. We had already purchased a replacement exhaust manifold some time ago, knowing we needed to do this repair, but have put it off. Mainly because bubba had broke off an exhaust stud and used JB weld to keep exhaust from leaking out around that stud. That meant, when we removed the manifold, we would have to tackle the removal of that stud as well. The difficult process here is to remove the manifold without breaking any of the other studs/bolts as most of these have been here for over 60 years. 3 of the studs had nuts and then Bubba replaced the other 3 studs with bolts. We shot all of them with a good amount of PB blaster and let it sit for a while. The 3 nuts came off with no issue; the bolts were a whole different story. When dealing with frozen bolts, if soaking them doesn't work, you can also take a torch and heat them up, which causes the metal to expand and can free up a seized bolt. That's what got ours to come free.

With the manifold off we could also see a large crack in it.

Here you can see the wonders of a bubba modification!

We then tackled the broken bubba stud. It was quite a chore to try and get that out. We broke a couple of our cheap drill bits, including one inside the hole we were drilling. We had to purchase a Tungsten bit to work through the broken stud and the broken off drill bit. Once we got that out, we were able to drill the bolt out and re-tap it. With the stud fixed, we assembled our new intake/exhaust manifolds with new gaskets and used Permatex Indian Head sealant to ensure radiator fluid didn't leak from the bolt holes that enter the water jacket on the block. (The bolts should technically be studs with a nut, but we used what we had on hand). We bolted up the new manifolds and torque'd to about 32 lb-ft. (Proper torque on these is between 29-35 lb-ft).

We ordered the correct 'J' exhaust tube to ensure that the bubba mod was properly disposed of. Placing a new gasket in between the manifold and the 'J' tube and then spliced the new tube into the rest of the muffler

We understand the need for bubba modifications and sometimes do our own but, when you are going to do one, make sure it's a good one because, one day, someone else will have to deal with it!