Shocking Christmas in May

Still unpacking from the big move beginning of this year and I stumbled across the prize I won ad the last LSJC Christmas Party –  A Rubicon Express Steering Stabilizer.  I was bored for a change and so I decided I should go ahead and replace the 2002 stock one, aftermarket=better right? So i busted out the hi-lift, and then spent another 20 min digging for Jack stands…..All that finally located I set to getting the ZW up high enough to work on.

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2 bolts, no sweat, right?  Wrong.  so much of my stuff is still packed that it took me an hour to locate an air ratchet and t right sockets, then I could’t reach it, then my arms were tired form working overhead and busting my knuckles for an hour.  Finally pried all the old hardware loose and then realized I couldn’t’ go with stock silver — it must be ZOMBIFIED….out with the green spray paint.  While at it I went ahead and hit the jack in som rusty spots and wiped down the Dana30 Diff cover and sprayed it green too….

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That drying gave me a break to go have a cold one.   Getting it all back was just as much of a pain for my non-mechanic hands.  But after much cursing and beating with a hammer and way more green fingerprints than you can make out in these photos I got it all put together.  Note to others tackling this for the first time.  Lube the rubber isolator bushings and insert the sleeve and the pin BEFORE spray painting.  Sticky holes not good.  Topped it all off with the sticker I found in the bottom of the box, I like stickers.

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Mobile Air

I haven’t Been diligent as I wanted to keep the blog rolling.  Kiddo starting 4th grade, and cub scouts (that I get to help lead).  Girlfriend keeping me busy, and work rolling into overdrive getting ready for a big remodel of our whole suite. Blah Blah Blah, not much free time…

But something I suddenly realized this week was that I never told y’all (all 4 people that follow me, thank you) about, was all about my Smittybilt “Compact air system” or CO2 bottle.  Got this little beauty for Christmas and it sat around in the box with all the other Jeep parts for months before I finally headed down to the Metroplex welding supply and got it filled – they charged me $18 for the 10-lb fill.  Then it rode the bench again for another couple months until I finally made a point to remember to take it out to the trail.

Brought it along on the Palo Duro Jeep Jamboree and used it both days to fill all 4 tires from 14-15 lbs back up to 30 PSI.  The springy hose came with Standard 1/4 NPT quick-connects on both ends and  had no problem reaching 10-15 feet to the tires, and did fine with the cold air that comes from expanding CO2.  Since then I’ve used it one other time, at a local OHV park, again half fill on tires, and for 2 week it rode around in my girlfriends car which had a slow-leak tire that we never had time to go get patched at Discount Tire.  the best part – It’s still over half full!!!

The handle does a good job guarding the end of the bottle, and the valve closes tight for a leak proof seal.  The Regulator and liquid-filled gauge disconnect via an easy threaded end located after the main bottle valve making it easy to remove without the bottle emptying in a big woosh.  Love the carry back, the plastic buckle makes it easy to attach to roll bar or other item so it doesnt’ fall over in flight, and the padding keeps the bottle shiny and dent free (so far). Only complaint is the brass nozzle got a little uncomfortable to hold from the cold while filling tires, recommendation, like many Jeep trail activities, wear gloves.

Smittybilt Part s/b2747 - Compact Air System-RH1

You light up my life

It’s dark half of the day.  That’s why cars have headlights, they are not options, or part of some upgrade package, they come standard on every vehicle.  But for real Jeep people standard isn’t ever good enough.  One of the iconic accessories for Jeeps is lights.  Jeepers put them on the bumpers, hood, windshield, even add bars of them over the roof.  After 2 years of upgrading my Jeep I decided it was time for something better, After stalking forums for a while I was steered to a guy in our local club who had hooked up with a LED manufacturer that made some great clones of the Rigid LED pods.  These shock proof, water proof, aluminum enclosures looked more rugged than the Rigid LED pods and were half the price.  So I asked him to order me a pair and picked them up that weekend at his house with every intention of installing them immediately.

Life happens.  I don’t remember what it was that got in the way, but I didn’t get them installed that day, or that weekend.  Honestly they sat on my shelf for a month, probably like 6 weeks before I finally got a round tuit.  First thing I noticed getting them out of the box was that these  were solid blocks of aluminum.  They felt like they would survive crashing through a building.  Good, I drive a Jeep.

These instruction-less straight off the boat from China specials only pull 1A each so I just wired them straight to the Fuse box under the dash and up to a Daystar rocker switch in the bank right under the radio.

First time I hit the switch I was impressed – it’s like having one of those halogen work lamps on my hood.  It was creating  shadows in the daytime.  Took a couple pics on the road that night and you can see the reflective signs and things that appear out of nowhere 50+ yards out when I switched them on.

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Regular headlights are not even enough for the iPhone to focus, and you cant’ even see the Cross street on the right yet, much less the fence on the left or the signs way out ahead.

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Disconnected

My Very first off road trip I had little street tires, no armor, no recovery gear, and most importantly no knowledge of any of the mechanics that make a Jeep off-road-worthy.  In the last 2 years I’ve learned more about automobiles than I did in the previous 30, and been putting it to good use.  I also like sharing what I learned, and where I learned it from.

On that first trip I kept hearing the term “Disconnect” and finally asked someone what that meant.  My first Jeep mechanics lesson was about the sway bar, how it stops body roll on the road which keep you stable at higher speeds, and how disconnecting it allows the axle to flex more and pivot independently of the body.  Genius, unless you don’t have a 18MM deep well, and a Torx T-55 socket.

So that wheeling trip I spent connected, but I rushed out for the tools and next time I was ready.  It only took me about 30 min in the hot Texas morning sun, laying on dirty ground, with rocks, and 3 bloody knuckles to break loose the bolts that had been holding that sway par in place since 2002.  Then some zip ties to the front bumper to hold up the links and I was good.  So much nicer a ride off road, not as much flying left to right over obstacles, great improvement.

When we got done the bolts proved more annoying to replace, taking about 45 min, a tree branch, several rocks, my tire jack and help from a girl. And by then it was almost 100 degrees in the steaming hot Texas afternoon sun.  What a Pain.  There has to be an easier way.   According to the Jeep outfitters, sure there is – $150 replacement links.  WOW! that’s a lot for 2 10″ bars that I’d be using half a dozen times a year.

So, I did what any good nerd would do – started searching the internet.  I found a great tutorial to replace the bolts with $15 in hardware from your local Tractor supply store – Thanks 4×4 Explorer.  I ran to the TSC literally a mile from the house got the parts and set to changing them out, you an also get them on Amazon.  The Pin is a 1/8″ x 2″ Amazon has 10-packs for a couple bucks.  For the washers I tried them on the bolt in the store to make sure they fit.

• 2 – 2-1/2″x7/16″ Clevis Pins (I bought 4 just in case)
• 2 – Cotter Pin (ditto – get extras)
• 4 – 7/16″ Grade 5 or better washers
I also got half a dozen 3/8 washers for spacers to make sure holes lines up

Here are the pins

Hairpin Clevis

Here is how I attached them – Put in a secondary cotter pin for a failsafe

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What prompted this write-up was last time I was wheeling – I pulled them out and wanted to be able to show that they really work.  After over a year here is what they look like – a little worn, and the regular washers really took a beating.  I def. recommend the Grade 5 washers, I’ll be picking them up soon.   And I am going to go ahead and get some new hitch pins too, they are getting bent.  The big washers were the ones that were on there already with the factory hardware.  Could not find any fender washers that fit on the bolts.  You can also see the regular bendable-type pin in here, I keep a dozen of those in a pill bottle along with some misc screws and things in the Jeep toolbox.

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Flex disconnected

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Here is a pic of the link zip tied up to the bumper.  And proof that my girlfriend isn’t imaginary.

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I still might get me some for the JKS – TJ disconnects, if $150 ever falls into my lap, or if I lift the jeep anymore, 3+ inches needs longer links anyway.   For now, these are just fine.

HAPPY WHEELING

Objects in mirror are LOSING! – My $20 Mirror Mod

Been meaning to write this for a month, but can’t get the photos together, nor find the time to write…  Actually it’s the time to edit, because I type so badly it takes twice as long to spell check than it does to compose.

It’s summer, and my Jeep’s A/C was out, so that means no top.  Maximum airflow.  I know what you are thinking there is a way to get more air – the doors come off too.  But the TJ problem is the mirrors are on the doors and I am pretty dependent on at least the driver’s side mirror to save me from turning around to look before I enter the highway or merge left.

Problem: Want doors off, but also want mirror – broke so needs to be $20 or less

Solution : Install mirror on door hinge

Picked up a bolt on truckers accessory mirror at auto zone for $15.95 – kinda like this one

Then I took off goofy mounting hardware and held it where I wanted – marked horizontal axis.  Then I put it in my bench vise and mashed the round tube down to flat on the marks.  Used grinder to chop off the end.  then drilled hole in it.  Found leftover carriage bolt in my bucket of misc metal parts, couple washers and a nut and VIOLA – mirror.

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Pretty Stylish – The mirror, not the crazy 10 year old hanging out of the Jeep  … :-/

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And then added the final touch – The $2 amazon mirror sticker to remind you of all the losers behind you… I bought half a dozen of these and have them on all the mirrors attached to my various Jeep doors.

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Grill Bling

Ok so it’s not on the grill, it’s on the hood, and my gangsta cred it only about a 2  (on a 1-100 scale) so my use of “bling” and “grill” are probably not correct.  Anyways, here are the wicked J-double skull E’s-P  “Jeep letters” I’m now sporting front and center on my Wrangler.  Very Zombie-esque and unique, just like me.

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Harvey Hustle is a cool dude, I met him in a back alley after paying off half a dozen peeps for the password.  He’ll probably kill me for telling y’all but you can find him in a dark corner of cyberspace block 137, lot19, aka HarveyHustle.com.    OK, pardon the subterfuge, honestly, I saw some of his cool merchandise on FB and messaged him, and got in on his first run of “Suh-weeeeT” Jeep lettering.

Great at communication of stock available, finishes, and shipping was so fast he must have a wormhole straight to Texas.   Josh even took all my nerdy-wordy emails full of praise and didn’t complain.  But don’t call him that, I wasn’t supposed to say his name.   Especially not 3 times, while looking in a mirror, on a Sunday….Oh no, I may have just started the Zombie Apocalypse.   On second thought – Yahoo!!  I’ll go grab the shotgun…

At $10 a letter these milled aluminum jewels would still be cheap.  I am happy to have caught him during the ‘Alpha’ phase and got mine for $25.  I feel obligated to make up the difference in exposure and marketing.  If you get in quick he might not sell out, you will certainly enjoy the good deal.  But you better chime in fast, sounds like he is going to rotate his creations like those awesome seasonal beers you can only get at certain times of the year, and these might be gone if you don’t hurry.

His Web Site HarveyHustle.com.  sums it up best:

Get your ass in here and shut the door.  Duck down for a minute and make sure nobody else saw you. 

Alright, look, Harvey Hustle™ got that murdered-out, one-of-a-kind, jaw-dropping, swag for tricking out your Jeep.  BUT it ain’t for EVERYBODY. 

It’s made in America.  Limited production run stuff.  And Harvey is pretty damn picky about what he’ll put out.   He ain’t greedy either.  His parts are priced for LESS than the OEM plastic garbage.  And his parts are made to stand up to zombies, forest fires, and mud of any nature.

But here’s the thing.  Harvey don’t like whiners.  Like people who whine about paying their taxes.  Or working hard.  Or missing out on something because they didn’t order it when they had the chance.

Shipping is a flat $3.  Harvey don’t make no money off that either.

Harvey Hustle™ is gonna be rolling out 2 new items a month.  If you want them, you better get at me son.  Before they’re gone.

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For mounting I opened the hood a bit and clamped a piece of 1/4″ pylwood to the egde with some of those big 2″ spring clamps to give me a straight edge and something to mark on.  Measured the hood and marked center and then measured the distance between the letters while still mounted to the cardboard.   Once they were all marked I used some 3M mounting tape on the back, cut out (rather poorly) with a xacto knife.  I put them on backwards – (R-to-L starting with the P) – and used my carpenters speed square (right angle triangle) to move marks up from the board and keep letters straight.  Wish I took some better photos of that part, I got so involved I forgot about my camera.  It’s not perfect, but I’m cool with that.

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Nicely packed in padded envelope and stuck to cardboard so the letters don’t get scratched rattling around in the bottom of  a baggie

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My “Awesome” job of applying the mounting tape – I got a 1″ x 60″ roll of the 3M stuff at home depot – for “Permanent Outdoor” mounting on a variety of surfaces.

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Pic after install – and shameless plug.

THANKS HARVEY HUSTLE.

Raising Cane

Had a Cruise in with the Jeep Club this weekend, and unlike some clubs, you DO talk about Jeep Club!    I joined the Lone Star Jeep Club (LSJC.org) about a year ago and met some great people and had some great times.  Almost all my wheeling trips have been with these guys because they are organized and always willing to lend a hand if you get in over your head.

They have the “Criuse-ins” periodically across the metroplex for local members to get together talk jeeps, and share some grub.  This weekend it was in Arlington at Raising Cane’s Chicken.  Only a dozen or so miles from home I thought it worth going.  Met some great peeps, got to see a bunch of TJ’s sporting many configurations and accessories, and ate some chicken fingers.

Things I learned at this event:- Raising Canes’s is just like Chicken Express, but with less sides – Coleslaw, toast and fries . Their sauce was good though and price was ok.  Iced Tea was great.  I’d eat there again but won’t be driving to Arlington for it.
– I will be getting a SPIDER WEB shade top, couple guys had them and they both had nothing but praise.  And they can stay on under my existing soft top.
– I have the tallest CB Antenna in the group.
– I need to upgrade my axles to at least 4.56 gears or 4.83’s guy there with a 4-cyl did it and gets better gas mileage and got back all his acceleration, and he’s got 33″ tires to my 31’s.

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