Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jeepin' through the snow

Since my last post, I put larger, more aggressive tires on the Jeep project. I had to do a little trimming of the fenders to keep them from rubbing, but we got them to fit. So it was time to take it up on it's first trip to the mountains. And I must say that other than a couple of stalls, it did really well. And how nice it was to be able to drive home in the same rig we took up... (reference last June if you don't know what I'm talking about).

A friend of ours has some property up on Basket Mountain, so we decided we'd make a weekend of it. Once we got up on the mountain the fog cleared and it was 50 degrees and sunny. It was a perfect day to take the Jeep out and see what she could do. One thing she's very good at is digging holes... :-) Honestly though, we only got stuck a couple of times, and I only had to dig once... er twice.

Dena had a lot of fun driving. The Jeep fits her much better than the truck did, and the Jeep didn't come home with additional body damage like the truck did. It's a little easier to manuver the Jeep around the trail than the long box Chevy we had. :-)

Anyway, here is a picture of the Jeep when we got it home. It's a little dirty, but to be fair it looks better that way. :-)
Dena really loves going through the mud and muck. All the way down the mountain if she saw a good patch of the sticky stuff, she'd swerve over and nail the skinny peddle. It's really kind of cute to see. She's 5'1" (on a good day) and just a petite little thing, but you get her behind the wheel of a 4x4, point her into the hills and she'll go anywhere you tell her she can... or even can't go. I have seen her go through things she shouldn't have been able to. I don't know if it's untapped skill or dumb luck, but what ever it is, it's working for her. :-)

Up on the mountain we were playing around in the meadows finding hills for Dena to climb. Erik and I were in his Toyota and Dena and Chandi were in the Jeep in front of us. We were probably 5-10 car lengths behind then following in their tracks when all of the sudden the snow gave out under our front passenger side tire. Dropped us so far that the front bumper on his truck was at the snow level. He's running 36" Irok tires, and you couldn't see any of it.

And no, Dena was not digging it out. We were able to drive it out by simply backing up. But as you can see, the snow was a bit unstable. The Jeep went right over it though. It's got a little better weight distribution.

There are some more things to do to the Jeep project though. I'm going to build some bumpers for it because the stock ones aren't strong enough to pull from or to jack the rig up from, and when you're burried axle deep in snow or mud, you really want to have a good strong point to pull from. I also am going to build a roof rack and a light bar. It's amazing how dim the factory headlights are. Extra lighting is really nice at night on the trail. Also coming this summer (hopefully) will be a roll cage. If you've ever seen Dena drive, you'll know why I want that. :-)

So if anyone is looking for a great project that is extremely capable off road, find yourself an older (87 - 90) Jeep Cherokee. They are easy to work on, reliable as hell, and cheap to find parts for. Stay tuned for future updates. It looks like I'll have this project for a while. Dena likes it too much to let me get rid of it. :-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's alive!!!

You may remember that a while back I traded our pickup for another Jeep Cherokee. Fully knowing that it had an overheating issue, but ran and started right up with no issues. Well, after lifting the hood I found it had more than just a couple of issues. It has a great many little issues. But they are little things that just need a little time to fix. Things like wiring that wasn't done right, a missing electric fan (Cherokee's have two fans), the center console is not bolted down... you know, little things.
It's been so cold around here lately that I have neglected to work on it. So last night I took it over to my friends house (heated shop!!!) and we tore into it. Within about an hour, we had the biggest issue fixed. It no longer overheats. Not only does it not overheat but according to the temp guage it runs cooler than my daily driver. We'll see how it does in July.... :-)
As it gets warmer I'll continue to fix the little things, but for right now, it runs and drives so I'm happy. I'll try and remember to post some pics when we take it up on it's maiden voyage to the mountains. :-)