Sunday, 25 February 2018

TJ Dash Upgrade... Upgrade?

A couple weeks back, I upgraded my dash tray to add a tablet mount, and deeper storage. 

After a couple test trips, it became painfully obvious that, as useful as the table was, it blocked enough of my view that right hand turns were dangerous. 

Today, using some flatbar, a cut off wheel, and a bolt, I relocated the table down and out of my way. It's a little harder to see, but I think infinitely safer. Still needs some minor tweaks, and a shot of pain, but I think it'll work better in the new location.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Jeep TJ Dash Tray Upgrade

I'll start with the big disclaimer. All products or services in this post are self purchased/downloaded. I receive no compensation for any product/service. I feel that this is the best way to remain unbiased and honest when reviewing. 

While the TJ really improved on actually giving Jeep owners a dashboard, the included tray for holding things isn't all that deep or useful. I decided that if I was going to be spending more time exploring the in the Jeep, I'd need a dedicated mount for a phone/tablet/GPS.

Enter the Rugged Ridge Dash Multi-Mount (Model 13551.19) and the Ilyever 2-in-1 Universal Tablet iPad Tripod Mount Adapter. The mount comes with a universal cellphone holder that seems to rest on all the buttons on my phone. However, it's a standard tripod screw mount, meaning any tripod accessory will work.

Installation is a snap. I started by cleaning the dash tray with some WD40 to ensure all dirt, oil and grime were removed. The first step is to attach the included 3M tape to the base of the Rugged Ridge unit. Once done, place and press the try into place on the existing tray. 

 Install the three self tapping screws directly into the stock plastic tray, and well, you're done. I had to use a stubby screwdriver as my mirror and dash cam were in the way of my full size screwdriver. Once done, the unit is solidly in place.
 I added the tablet holder to the mount, and there you go. It's easy to remove the mount and replace with cellphone or gps mount, or just leave it off altogether if you don't want to advertise. The mount seems solid enough. Being the dead of winter, and most of the trails being closed up this way, I won't be able to speak of how it holds up until I can get some wheels in the dirt this spring/summer. (See my update to the mount here )

I'm using a first generation Nexus 7 tablet with some great apps that I've found, and a bluetooth ODB adapter. I've had the Nexus 7 since launch, and lately it's been sitting in a drawer making me wonder what I should do with it. Guess I answered my own question

Apps that I've loaded, aside from the stock Google Maps, are as follows (all hot linked)

GPX Viewer
GPS Status
GPS Essentials
MapFactor GPS Navigation Maps
Torque Pro

I have used GPX Viewer and Torque Pro for a while now and can definitely speak to their usefulness. GPS Status, Essentials, and MapFactor are new apps I'm trying out. They all look like they work well, I think they'll find a permanent place on my device.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Nate's drive in his first Jeep

Back in June 2016, I picked up a Jeep for my son Nate. He was a wee one, and unable to reach the controls. That was ok, the Jeep needed a new battery, and well, I wanted to redo it with LED lights, a paint job, probably a working radio and CB (or FRS). I wasn't in a rush for him to learn to drive.

Fast forward to December 2017. The new battery that I had sitting in my Amazon Cart had a price drop for a day to $35. BOOM, Kev ordered.

The battery was charged, and then it sat. The weather did not cooperate, and I wasn't heading out to test it when I needed to wear multiple layers of clothing to not get frostbite.

Which leads us to this past Saturday.

My wife was working, and Nate and I were hanging out. It was warmer out, so I thought, lets try it out.

Nate was very excited to see the Jeep, to say the least. I had to show him how to push the gas to make it go, and he still needs help steering, but it was a good test for the battery, and well, as you can see by the video. Nate really enjoyed his time in the drivers seat. This kid is going to be a Jeeper. 

Overall, for the $85 I've got invested, I think this Jeep is going to be a win.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Looking Backwards and Forwards

So long 2017, and welcome to 2018. What a year it was, and well, what a year it's going to be.

2017 saw me back out at Ardbeg for the first time in over a decade. This was such a major accomplishment for me. It allowed me to banish some demons related to my congestive heart failure, and defibrillator implant. The plan is for this to be a yearly trip for me, just to get out and camp far away from everything that causes me stress.

I also managed a few things on the Jeep. Headlight upgrade, body mount replacement, fixed a leaky valve stem, to name a few.

That was a quick summary of 2017 in my Jeep life... so what does 2018 have in store? The biggest is my planned trip to Moab. The idea, as it stands right now, is to tow my Jeep out behind something (Our RV, a Truck, SUV, etc). More info to come in case anyone is interested in joining.
Another trip up to Ardbeg is a given. I think I'm going to make some plans up to get the Jeep more focused on overlanding than on trail riding. I enjoy getting somewhere that needs 4x4 and camping by a lake, much more than seeing if I can make it over some challenging obstacle or getting buried in a mud bog.

Outside of Jeeping, I am mentally planning for my wing man Nate to undergo open heart surgery to fix an Atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD) related to having Down syndrome. I can't imagine any parent wants to see their 3 year old under the knife, but you never know how strong you are, until being strong is all you have left.

Overall my ultimate life goal is to continue moving forward. I've been through a lot, I've survived it all, and today is the last day of my life... so far. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Father and Son Jeep (bed) Build

My little guy was starting to climb out of his crib (low muscle tone due to Down syndrome my ass). My wife and I decided it was time to roll in his "Big Boy Bed". 

It's a Jeep JK bed we bought when he turned one. Now that he's nearing three, it was time. The crib just wasn't cutting it. Not to mention, I actually caught (as in he was falling) him as he exited the crib and lost his footing. 

The bed was easy enough to put together, but at times it did need two people two hold things in place while screws were used. 

I swear it's probably the same physical size of a Willys CJ2a, but whatever, it's cool, and my son seems to love it.

 I'll give it credit. I'm not a small guy, but it holds both of us quite well, and all the lights work to boot! My little guy loves turning them on and off, and hanging out on it while watching The Wiggles, Paw Patrol, or while I read him his favorite book "Sheep in a Jeep".

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A Decade Later

A couple weeks back, I had an opportunity to return to an area I haven't been in over a decade. It's just outside a small town called Ardbeg, in Ontario. Ardbeg has always been a bit of a magical place for me. It's Crown Land, up here, Crown Land is land that's open to the public (within reason). You can camp, wheel, swim, fish, etc. It's 45 minutes from the nearest "city", and the view of the sky at night is the stuff dreams are made of. 

In any case, the reason I hadn't been back in over a decade was mostly all my own fault. Shortly after my last trip out there, I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, followed by recovery, and decision to do a frame up restoration of my YJ. After a few years of the restoration, I bought the TJ, and started building it. I moved, had a kid, got an Implanted Defibrillator, you know, the usual "life goes on" story. I have wheeled a bit here and there, but Ardbeg was always just out of reach. Mentally I was (am?) still dealing with the fact that this old body just ain't what it used to be. I finally put it behind me, and my buddy and I took off for a weekend of wheeling and camping. 

From my place to Ardbeg is a solid three and a half hours. I was ripping along the highway with the top down, wind in my hair and sun on my face. Happy that my little Jeep was able to hold 100km/h on the highway. 

We arrived just after lunch, setup camp, and hit the trails. A solid 6 hours was spent between the North and South trails, and we only ever completed about a third of each. Plans are laid to go back up and follow the North trail, it just kept getting better and better. 

We settled in for dinner around 7, enjoyed some canned cuisine on the BioLite, followed by a campfire, an awesome view of the stars, and a decent enough sleep.
The weekend rebooted me. Made me realize that my time here is limited, and that's OK, as long as I spend my time here doing things I love, with people I love to be around. I'm excited to go back next year and take on the North trail, and in a couple years, to bring my little guy on the trails with me. 

A seemingly innocuous trip to a little town managed to set me completely straight, and finally got me over the baggage I've been carrying so long. It's good to be back. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Pavement Ends Emergency Top

We finally had a break from the rain, and I had a few minutes with my Jeepin' buddy Nate to help put on the Emergency Top from Pavement Ends. This top is not meant to replace your soft top, it is meant to be a quick top to throw on when there's a threat of rain. I'm actually impressed with how easily it went on and off, and kinda wish I could find a real soft top (with windows) to run. It's slick.
 The top is very compact when folded, and they include two rain ponchos in the box. A nice addition for when you don't have doors on, or it's raining hard enough. May as well stay as dry as possible while getting it out.

The top has three adjustable straps. They attach to the top hinges, and hood tie down. Along with three elastic straps to hook over the tail lights and spare tire.

A nice feature, is that the back rolls up so you can drive at slow speed. I probably wouldn't go much over 60km/h (37mph) with it, it'll definitely be better than being soaked

Here's the top on and cinched down, as well as a view from the back all sealed up. There is a gap under the back flap, but it'll keep the water out for sure.