Sunday, April 24, 2011

New Set of Shoes

Spent the day upgrading the tires and wheels on the Jeep. The set of tires that the Jeep came shod with all 4 tires being of varying age, brands, dry rotten and fairly cracked. The rims were scraped and rusty. To top it all off the spare wont hold air for more than a few minutes and is nearly completely bald, not to mention it the lug nuts securing it to the back were completely seized...........It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to figure out perfect recipe for getting yourself stranded on some lonely desert back road.

Again I stole parts off the old Jeep. (poor girl is starting to look a bit picked over) The tires are nearly new but the rims cosmetically had seen better days. The clear coat was pitted, peeling and would never come clean. If fact this is what they look like after a good blasting from a pressure washer and some scrubbing with a stiff brush:

Like the center console I smeared on some aircraft part stripper and removed the clear coat. A little sandpaper, pressure washing, several coats of wax and two really sore arms later....... almost as good as new:

Mounted them up only to find out they just barely fit and would definatly rub after hitting the slightest bump:

The Wrangler they were previously bolted to had a 2 inch body lift......I am not a huge fan of body lifts so I got out a utility knife and started trimming. Surprisingly it only took 15-20 minutes to trim all of the fender flares:

So far they seem to fit without rubbing, even without the 2 inch body lift. Went on a short test ride to check for fit; so far so good! Monday I am going to "forklift test" the suspension to get a better idea if they will fit once the suspension flexes and the axle articulates........wish me luck!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A stereo possessed by demons

Finally finished reinstalling my stereo today. This install took a bit longer than normal because all the wires had to be lengthened to reach the new location. Once the lid is flipped over and locked the CD player is pretty much impossible to steal. (not that anyone would steal this old POS)

I also installed some new speakers for the sound bar (another component scavanged from the old jeep):
I decided that some cheapy $35 Walmart speakers would suffice, especially since the speakers are only 6 inches away from the top of your head. I still cant figure the CD player out.......sometimes it wont turn off for 20-25 seconds after removing the key! I checked the connections over and over and the wiring is done correctly, I am convinced its just possessed by demons and is in need of an exorcism. I don't think I will be using the CD player much on my adventure much anyway. CD's and washboard roads don't usually go hand in hand..........waste of time.

Onto my Bengals Juice Box. It is the perfect solution for secure storage for a few extra quarts of oil. I decided to go with a 5 quarts box. 4 quarts is enough to do a full engine or transmission change (Jeep specifies engine oil for the ax-5 transmission nowadays), one quart of ATF will cover the transfer case and the power steering and in a pinch the differentials can survive with engine oil for a few miles. Here is the the box:


 To open it you unscrew a small thumb wheel and slide the front panel up:



I had intentions of installing the box under the hood, but the it just looked too cool to hide where nobody would see it. So I decided to mount it just behind the drivers seat:

I have been VERY pleased with this purchase.  The box is very well constructed, holds the quarts rock solid, handmade in the USA and is reasonably priced! The flared holes add quite a bit of strength and must add at least 5 horsepower ;) They only drawback that comes to mind is due to the design you are limited to certain shape bottles/ brands of oil. On a trip to the local parts store I discovered that Autozone, Quaker State, Pennzoil, Costal and a few other brands fit.

To order yours click here: Bengals Juice Box  and shoot Metal Twister a PM.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

120 volt power

Today I installed a power inverter to charge phone, laptop and camera batteries while i am out on my trip this summer. Earlier this week I installed my CD player in the center console and now had a vacant hole in the dashboard that just happened to be the perfect size for my inverter! I decided to go this route because of the flexibility of being able charge most anything without the need for a second 12 volt charger. It also makes it possible to run other low watt appliances. 

I bought a 200 watt inverter from Amazon. For charging  batteries 200 watts is sufficient for my needs.

I started by taking it apart and snipping the wires that run to the plugs:

I then cut a piece of black plastic to cover

It didn't have to be pretty, but it cant block any of the vent holes:

Next I reattached the wires that I snipped earlier and reassembled with the plastic piece sandwiched an-between:

Then I carefully drilled some self tapping screws through the base of the inverter (being very that the screws wouldn't contact any of the parts inside) and the old CD tray.

Here it is all installed and ready for use. Much better looking than an empty hole:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Polishing a Turd

Today it was a nice spring day outside so I decided to work on getting the Jeep one step closer to heading out on the trails. I pirated the grungy old Tuffy security console out of my old Wrangler and refinished it to go in the "new:" Wrangler.

I have always loved the set up for its bullet proof construction, secure CD player slot and all around functionality.....however the finish on it has always been less than up to par. At some point along the way it was spray painted and was badly faded.  9 years ago I painted it with a "do-it-yourself bedliner"........and regretted it within a week. The texture was rough enough unlocking it often resulted in skinned knuckles. Not to mention it was impossible to keep clean. Here is what I started with:


I applied a coat of aircraft paint stripper and let it do its business:

After the first application/ scraping with a razor blade.........starting to wonder if I had made a big mistake, it looked a mess:

 Two hours of scraping and a rattle can of rustoleum later..........
I took the liberty of adding a padded armrest. I used a scrap of plywood, an old sleeping pad, 4 screws and some vinyl from the craft store. Total cost: around $30......new one $260 + shipping! I think it turned out decent don't you? 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Introduction to my faithful steed.

One night just over a year ago my friend’s wife texted me and asked if I would be interested in buying a Wrangler for $450. Needless to say my interest was piqued. A short phone call later I found out that it was a red Jeep with a hardtop that just started "running funny" one day.......that is all the owner could really tell me about it.

A half hour later I was heading south in a borrowed and beat up farm truck armed with $450 cash,  bumper pull hitch, cordless drill and a small tool kit. After driving two hours into an approaching snow storm I met the owner, handed over the cash, drilled four holes in the bumper, bolted on the drawbar and drove my way back home as the snow began to come down with increasing intensity.

On the drive home I learned why using a draw bar to to tow a vehicle is not recommended in the ice and snow! Even a tiny Wrangler is about 3500 pounds of dead weight back hanging onto your bumper with no brakes. After nearly every turn the front wheels of the Jeep wouldn’t return to center on their own as they normally would because of the icy conditions. This caused the Jeep to lurch, push and pull all the truck all over the road! The ride home was hairy and took nearly 5 hours instead of the regular 2 but I made it home in one piece…..

In the morning the storm had cleared and I discovered that the rig I had brought home was in reasonable shape……minus the engine (more of that in a bit)



Pleased with my purchase I decided to hop in and see how it ran. To my surprise it fired right up, a bit of clicking at idle but not too bad. I cracked open the throttle and revved the engine only to be greeted with a great CLANK-BANG-THUD as the engine sputtered to a halt......I proceeded to look under the hood and discovered two ragged fist sized holes in the side of the engine and parts lying in the snow that shouldn't have been. **insert a selection of four letter words here**

After a bit of sleuthing around the engine bay I discovered that there wasn't a drop of oil in the battered oil pan, snapped connecting rods in cylinders #1 and #4 and an oil filter dated almost two years earlier. Indicative of an engine died from oil starvation…………I didn’t have the time or money due to school so she was put out to pasture to await her time in the sun.



Along the way I got my grimy mitts on a lightly used Roof Top Tent for a good deal and couldn’t pass it up (delaying the engine rebuild a couple of months in the process) I mounted it up to "old" Jeep and enjoyed it for the summer. I quickly fell in love with the fast set up, sleeping on a smooth rock free surface, off the ground away from bugs and the mud.......with a comfortable mattress nonetheless!



Driving up Mineral Basin, American Fork Canyon:

I went to a local pick-and-pull auto wrecker with my friend Kyle and we surgically removed a new donor heart for my steed. I dropped it off at a machine shop and a month later........






By the time I was done with the rebuild I had replaced the:
  • Engine (full long block)
  • Clutch, flywheel
  • Thermostat
  • H20 Temp sensors
  • Oxygen sensor
  • Crank position sensor
  • Cam position sensor
  • Radiator
  • Coolant hoses
  • Full fluid flush and change: differentials, transfer case, engine, coolant , etc, etc.......
  • Distributor cap, rotor, plugs and wires

The entire Jeep up to this point had cost me $2800. Pretty reasonable for a "new" engine and a Roof Top Tent! (the tent sells for just shy of $1200!) In the process I upgraded to a hard top, wing windows, tilt steering wheel, heater that actually works, crank windows instead of zippers AND intermittent wiper blades!