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.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Replacing a body mount on my TJ

While working on my tire a couple weeks back, I happened to take a forward glance while under my Jeep and saw something I didn't like. The under seat body mount was, well, not mounted. It had completely rotted through and wasn't actually holding the body up. Evidently this is a big enough problem that suppliers are now selling them new. They're called a "torque box". I picked mine up from 4 Wheel Parts.
 Closer inspection revealed that there was no saving this. The box had to be replaced through the mid-section. For now the front and rear mounts are in alright shape. This was the one that worried me.
 I dropped my rocker guard and pulled the three body mount bolts (which were in terrible shape too) and what was left of the mount practically fell onto the driveway.

I spent some time trimming to get the replacement to match up. Bolted it to the frame, dropped the body down, and with a mix of welding and rivets attached it to the body.

I had to take a short break to go to get some new bolts for the body mounts since out of the three that came out, only one (in the picture) had any threads left.

That'll do, that'll do.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

AME 51025 Quick Valve Change Tool

Ordered in from Amazon

I had to deal with a cracked and leaky valve stem on one of my tires, and I wasn't in the mood to break out the tire changer to break the bead and dismount the tire, so I decided to try out the AME 51025 Quick Valve Change Tool.

It definitely lived up to it's name. 

16 oz Bead Lube
Found at Princess Auto
The general idea is that you push in a hook and pull out the damaged stem, before using a funnel like tool, a gratuitous amounts of tire lube, and a plunger (for lack of a better term) to ram the new valve in from the outside. 

Despite not being able to hook the valve stem to pull it out, I was able to cut the stem off and push a new valve stem through from the outside. Surprisingly fast and fairly effortlessly.  Check out this video of my making the swap. 

I ran into further problems afterwards, and ultimately I did end up dismounting the tire to seal the bead with some polyurethane to stop the bead leaks I found (7 in total). I was getting tired of fighting this tire over the past couple years and decided that essentially gluing it to the rim was going to fix this once and for all. If you want to see me using the tire machine, here's a previous video I put together a couple years ago.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Trail side winch cable repair.

From Keller Mccowen's YouTube channel. If you're like me and run a steel winch line rather than synthetic, this is a must have tip for when you're out in the bush.