Category Archives: Jeep

Monsoon vs. The Big Green Box

Almost anyone will tell you that I like weather. I pay attention to the weather like no one I know. I’ve always done that, but I have an even heightened interest in it since I bought my Jeep last year. I like knowing when I can take the doors off, when I can take the windows out, and when I can keep the roof down. Today, the doors were off, and the windows were out. No biggie, I thought. After all, knowing about the weather is something I kinda pride myself of, which is what makes today so weird.

I had to go to SoCo this morning, and didn’t really pay any attention to the weather. We had gray skies, and nothing threatening, so I didn’t even give the skies a second thought. While in SoCo, I started hearing thunder. Again, I didn’t think much about it. I’ve driven my Jeep in the rain without the doors on in the rain, and never really thought too much of it. However, today, about ten miles from home, I encountered a moonsoon with rain blowing all the way across the interior of the Jeep. To say the least, I was totally soaked.

Becky (who wasn’t with me) and I started doing some damage control, drying the carpet (drenched), drying the seats (wet) and trying to figure out how to dry the thing out. We learned new things about the Jeep today — how to remove the rear carpet, and where the drain plugs are. And man, did the drain plugs need to be removed. Small rivers drained out of the bottom of the floorboard, and the removed carpet drained and drained.

Like Beck said, if you’re smiling when you’re driving, it was worth it. And I smiled. I smiled while I couldn’t see through my glasses and the windshield at the height of the storm front. I smiled when I aimed for the puddles on the road. And I smiled while we dissected the Jeep to help get the water out of it. I even smiled when I set up the fans in the garage to help dry the seats.

I’d still put a wet day in my Jeep up against a dry day in just about any other vehicle!

Cool Spring Morning

There are some mornings when things just click for me.

This morning, the air temperature was 49. The roof was down, and the doors were off the Jeep, leaving nothing but a windshield and seat belt between me and the glorious, slightly damp feel in the morning air. And as I plowed along beneath the slightly lightening sky, Sirius treated me to a great collection of music to fit my mood: Anticipation, If Not For You (Dylan, not John), Solisbury Hill…

Just a perfect, perfect start to the day. Now, if only my stop were the fields and meadows for some photography, or perhaps the hills for a little hiking. Maybe even the Trail for some cycling.

Yep, that’d just take the perfectomometer to eleven.

Jeep Hardtop Dolly

Since I took the hardtop off a few weeks ago, I’d been trying to figure out what to do with the hardtop now that the Jeep wasn’t storing it. I’d contemplated hoisting it into the rafters, but finally decided on a dolly.

I found the plans here. This was an extremely easy build! I just used scrap lumber, and was able to put the thing together for just the price of the casters. (I didn’t have any on hand.)

I didn’t do build photos — I should’ve — but you can take a look at the final stand-up, and see what you think.

My Future Jeep?

Once upon a time, I said that I hoped my ’08 Wrangler was my last gas-fueled Jeep. While Chrysler’s latest announcement ain’t entirely dinosaur-friendly, it could be a great baby step.

Chrysler has spun up a website to talk about the Jeep Wrangler EV, an hybrid electric/gas Wrangler. They say that it’ll go 40mi on batteries, and another 400mi in the city on a combination of 8 gals of gas and some electric whizbang.

I have to admit that I’m more than a little interested in how this new-tech Jeep would perform in the big out of doors. I mean, 400mi of city-based hybridicized driving isn’t likely to equate to a whole big bunch of climbing when on all-gas.

The proof’ll be in the pudding, I guess, but I’m hoping this stuff takes off, and is able to perform like my fossil-eater. ‘Til then, it’s happy expensive trails for me!

Fallen Soldier

About a week ago, I got a notice from the folks at the JK Forums (a Jeep JK forum) that one of the forum members had been killed in action in Afghanistan (you’ll need to sign in to see the page links below):

I’ve just been given some tragic news and regret to inform you that Gregory Rodriguez, also known as 150, was taken away from us yesterday while serving his country in Afghanistan.

For those of you who didn’t know, Greg was an SSD Handler (special search dog) K9 MP and loved his job very much. Apparently, the SF team and him were just outside their fire base when they started getting small arms fire. From what I was told, he suffered a gunshot wound to the head and that his death was quick.

What I knew of Greg is that he loved his country, loved serving it, loved his wife and family very much and of course, loved his Jeep. Truly, he was a beloved member on this forum who enjoyed hanging out with us and helping out wherever he could. Certainly, he had been a big help to me personally on more than one occasion and even helped to get this Armed Forces Area created for all of you to enjoy. Without a doubt, Greg is a true hero and will be dearly missed by us all.

If you would like to contact Greg’s wife, Laura, and offer your condolences to her and their family, she can be reached at the following MySpace account:

If you would like to share your thoughts on, you can post them on this thread here:

With Sorrow,
Cindy, Eddie & the Project-JK Staff

Of course, this would be tragic no matter what Greg’s situation would be. However, being a Jeep guy, and based on an e-mail I just received, the JK Forums community has come together to help his wife:

It always encourages me how people can come together as a community and through their support, can offer strength and hope to those who have suffered a tragic loss. As most of you know by now, Gregory Rodriguez was taken away from us a week ago yesterday while serving his country in Afghanistan. And, for those of you who had been asking for a way to help Greg’s wife Laura and his family financially, I am pleased to inform you that the following PayPal account has been established just for this purpose:

So everyone knows, this PayPal account belongs to Laura Rodriguez and all contributions made will go directly to her and her family.

If you are new to and/or this is the first you’ve heard of our fallen hero, Greg, I would invite you to please click on the link below and see the memorial that we’ve created in his honor:

With gratitude to all of you,
Cindy, Eddie & the Project-JK Staff

I’ve gotta tell ya, the more I hear about the exploits and charity of the folks that I’ve started identifying with, the more I’m impressed with the bulk of them. I couldn’t have hooked up with a better bunch of folks.

The Jeep at 9k

I just passed 9000 miles in the Big Green Jeep, and figured with that many miles and a couple of months with it beneath me, it was time to lob some of my thoughts into the ether.

Handling. In 2WD, this thing corners like crazy! I absolutely feel like I can turn it on a dime, and it feels solid as I make turns with some speed. As I discovered this last weekend, the turning radius in 4WD isn’t quite the same as in 2WD. That’s expected, so I’m not disappointed in that by any means.

Suspension. This thing is stiff. I’m convinced that if you ran over a bug in the road, you’d feel the bump. 🙂 In reality, I like that better, but it does force me to slow down for advertised bumps in the road, lest I lose all the fillings in my teeth. In the TrailBlazer, I didn’t worry about the bumps too much, as they were dampened out pretty well. I don’t mind this though, as it makes me feel like I’ve got a better sense for what’s under my tires.

Cabin annoyances. Generally, I like the way things are laid out. But… (and there’s always a but)

Anytime you raise/lower the soft top, or install/remove the hardtop front panels, you have to use the latch hooks at the top of the windshield. Unfortunately, you have to move the sun visor out of the way in order to have access to the latch hooks. Were it me, I would’ve changed the design somehow to keep from having to do this.

I love running with the doors off, but there are some caveats. With the doors off, there is no chime to let you know that the headlights are still on after the engine’s off and key’s removed. That hasn’t bit me hard… yet.

That same thing also affects the radio to some degree. With the doors on, once you’ve killed the engine and removed the key, the radio shuts off as soon as the door is opened. With no doors installed, you can either turn off the radio manually, or just wait for the regular timer to turn it off after a few moments.

My guess is that both of these are tied to unplugging the wiring harness between the door and body when the doors are removed.

My only other cabin complaint surrounds the power windows and door locks. The lighting for these switches is abysmal, both on the front and back console (for the windows switches) and the door switches for the locks. In the dark, they are not very easy to find! Were it my design, I would’ve put the door and window switches on the doors. I mean, if you’ve opted for the power door/lock package, you’ve got different doors anyway, so why not put both switches in those special doors. I’d also have added a power option for the side mirrors. I know, I know… real Jeeps don’t have power accessories… but it really would make things a little nicer on the inside.

Radio. While we’re on the radio… I really don’t like Sirius. There’s no option for XM, and I really prefer it. The XM birds are in geosynchronous orbit, and I’ve never really had much problem with hearing them. The Sirius birds use a tundra orbit configuration. Dunno if that’s the issue, but I get pretty frequent dropouts with Sirius, especially crossing under bridges or across bridges that have an overhead suspension system.

And one more thing about the radio. Chrysler has moved to using a single electronic harness for a lot of the onboard systems. Unfortunately, this means that you can’t just swap out the radio for something else. Oh, you can put another radio in the Jeep, but you also have to drop a Benjy on a special harness to interface with the Chrysler electrical plumbing. Urgh.

Overall. I really have no major complaints with the vehicle, and after a lot of miles in a short period of time, crossing long highways and rocky trails, in dry and wet, I can’t imagine having a different vehicle beneath me… except maybe a Rubicon. 🙂

New Gear: American Outlaw Mirrors

I’ve been looking for a mirror solution for when I have the doors off the Big Green Jeep. Shortly before I first took the doors off in July, I picked up the Mopar add-on mirror, and discovered that I missed having a passenger side mirror.

That led me to ponder moving the mirrors from the front doors to the front window post. While the solutions for doing that work pretty well from what I’ve read, I’ve also read that the passenger-side mirror is almost unusable after the move because it sits kinda low on the post. That’s kinda a shame, as I really liked the idea of getting the mirrors off the doors — it makes it easier to store the doors when the mirrors are sticking out (even when they’re folded in).

So then it was add-on mirrors to fit in the door hinges when the doors were off. After looking at several types, I selected the American Outlaw mirrors. They slide over the hinge, with a set screw that runs through the upright part of the AO mirror mast. Having run with them at Washita this weekend, it sure seems that they stay in place quite well. However, I’m sure the set screws are messing up the paint on the hinge, so that’s something I’ll need to stay on top of to ensure no rust is forming.

All in all, this is a nice solution, although not my preferred route. Ideally, I’d move the mirrors from the doors to the window post, and yet have them high enough that I can see them with the doors on and allow the doors to open with them installed. One of these days, someone’ll make those!