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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thought I'd throw out another couple shots of me and my Jeep from back in the day
Here I am after my first Jeep Jamboree in 1999, looking like a bad ass with my stock YJ. Had great times with that Jeep, met a lot of amazing friends through it. Learned even more about keeping it running.
Same Jeep, but with a TJ tub grafted on during my "Project What the Hell am I Doing" days. Actually managed to keep the cowl/hood and grill from the TJ, while getting the TJ tub on. Had to build new body mounts, but it actually fit quite well. I did what many said couldn't be done.
And as she sat on the last day with me. I had bought the TJ, salvaged all the good part left on my YJ and sent her off to the graveyard in the sky. I still miss the YJ. She was easier to work on (when not rusted solid) than the TJ
The YJ - Pavement Sucks - and I had some great adventures together. Road trips, wheeling trips, drive in movies, camping... we did a lot together. While I do miss her, a lot of what made her tick is in my TJ - Pavement Still Sucks - and I'm glad to still be in a Jeep.
Sit back, get a coffee, this is gonna be a heavy read.
After installing my relay wiring harness (here), I ran into a problem with my daytime running lights (DRLs). I noticed it when I drove to my train station in the morning and parked. When I turned off my headlights, there was a loud buzzing from under the hood, right where my new relays were.
After a quick check, I discovered that it only happened when my DRLs were on. For those not in Canada, DRLs are required (since 1990) on on vehicles. Basically it's headlights or marker lights on while driving and it's automated. To avoid the extra cost of having another set of lights, auto makers were allowed to use the high beams, at a dim setting, as DRLs.
The method used on the Jeep TJ is called "Pulse Width Modulation" (PWM). In it's simplest form, it basically means that a module turns the high beams on and off really quickly. With a standard headlight, this on off quick action has the effect of not letting the filament reach full brightness, essentially running them at 6v, or half brightness. (I'm really oversimplifying here). When the "On width" is the same as the "Off width", you have a 50% cycle, and 50% voltage (for all intents and purposes).
Normally, this is not noticeable, and to the naked eye, is just looks like a dim light.
Since I added a relay to provide direct battery power to my head lights. When the switch is on, no problem, however, when the DRL module is controlling the high beams for that 50% brightness, the high beam relay is being flipped on and off at a rapid rate, causing the buzzing sound.
https://goo.gl/o6fJx8 Photo via www.justanswer.com
The easy solution, disable the DRL module. On a TJ, it's a pager sized box on the drivers side of the firewall. Pull the connector out and that's that. Only downside is that the high beam indicator no longer works. Frankly, if you don't know you have your high beams on, please stop driving.
This isn't really upgrading the lights, it's about upgrading the wiring to the headlights. Stock Jeep (CJ/YJ/TJ apparently JK) have piss poor headlights. I was recently out with my wife on a stretch of road with no streetlights, it was as if I had no headlights. Cars passing me had these beautiful bright lights and I probably could've used a lighter and a mirror
and had better output than my TJ lights.
Enter Relays. Relays a triggered by a switch, but carry far more power through the relay than a switch can handle. It's safer for your fuses and switches, and relays should be used whenever high-draw items are used.
If you check out the diagram to the left, you'll see a basic relay. In this case when the switch is closed on the input to 86, it triggers a spring loaded internal switch, which is capable of much higher amperage, to close between 30 and 87.
After reading around I discovered that Jeep routed power through the switch in the cab, and than to the light. All that extra wire causes a voltage drop, which means less power to the lights themselves. By using a relay, you can have the power go directly from the battery to the lights, and use the switch in the cab to activate the relays. Better for the switch, and better for night driving.
So, last year was a bust, here's my updated To Do list for 2017. Sorta sucks that I only managed to really scratch one item off the list. But hey, I did at least see a trail!
For 2016 2017, this is what I have planned
Centre the steering wheel.
Despite my best efforts last year (July 2015), my steering wheel is still slightly off to the left. Annoying, yet easy to fix.
Front Fender repair.
As anyone with a TJ can tell you, the damn fenders just rot away into nothing. Mine are patched together with left over duct work and rivets. This is the year I take advantage of a brakepress and metal shear to cut me some new fender tops.
Front extended flares.
Thanks to changes in the MTO's vehicle safety standards, my front tires need full tread coverage. I blame the MTO, but in reality, I'm tired of the dirt and mud sprayed up the side of my Jeep due to the front tires.
Rear turn signals
Again, thanks MTO. The previous owner of my Jeep flush mounted the taillights, and under the new rules, I require a visible rear turn signal on the side of the Jeep. Already got the lights, just need the weather.
Need new taillights since mine rotted out inside. May go back to stock housings and lose the flush mount
Pretty self explanatory. Just need a nice warm night
Got new wiring on it's way in to make lights brighter (https://goo.gl/HFVs9V). So aiming will be a bigger priority
New Winch Cable
Again, pretty self explanatory.
Missing bolt in Winch
Snapped a bolt that holds the gear housing on. Has been fine for years. One of these days I'll head to Bolts+ and get a replacement.
Jerrycan and Mount
One day I'll get around to building a mount for a Jerrycan
See above. One day
Now that I have a kid, and need all the seats in, I need to build a new locking storage box for behind the back seat. Has to work with the CJ tailgate on the Jeep.
Hitch mounted vice.
I have a spare vice, I have spare 2"x2" square tube. I need to merge the two to have a vice that can travel with me.
Also, I plan to be on the trail more this year. Either doing some overland travel to awesome camp sites, or just packing up and running some trails a couple hours from home.
Also big this year, is planning my 2018 trip to Moab. Yeah, you heard me, Moab. It's my 40th birthday gift from my wife to our family. We're travelling 6000 kms (3728 miles) round trip to go from Ontario to Utah to experience Moab. I'll update the site with my planning and thoughts through the year.