Differential Skid Plates

While I wait for my full belly skid plates to come in (couple more weeks), my buddies at Cumberland Crawlerz advised me to get differential skid plates, since the front and rear would not be protected. So I ordered some Rough Country front and rear differential skid plates. They were pretty cheap, about $160 for the set.

They came in pretty quickly and today I put them on. To my surprise they weren’t hard to get installed. So glad I bought the impact wrench, made all the difference in the world. I lost less than 1/2″ of clearance, but happy that I have the protection!

Now I just need to take the time to replace some of my missing sockets, since I only had two of the three I needed. I’ve never bought a complete set, instead I buy what I need. In hindsight that was probably not the best approach. On the other hand, I’m now using impact tools, so I may need to buy a complete set for that reason.

After showering and having dinner, I realized I forgot to torque the screws. Heck, I’ll do that during the week. I need to get to sleep pretty soon so I can get to AOAA by 0730. Its more than a two hour drive, but its a nice drive, so I’ll need to be up by 0430 to be out the door by 0500. Jeep’s all packed, just need to get ice, sammishes, and gas at WaWa along the way.

I haven’t mounted the Baja lights yet, since I need to figure out how to handle the wiring. I’m torn between getting Jeep’s AUX switch kit, or go with a third party (so many options!). I don’t want to ride around with lights that don’t work. #notaposer

If I get a third party AUX switch solution, I’ll mount it on the Wayalife CBBAR that I ordered a few days ago. I’m kind of leaning in this direction. Seems like a very clean and convenient solution for mounting my CB, my GMRS radio, and a third party AUX switch solution.

Bumper Skid Plate and Roller Fairlead

The front bumper skidplate and roller fairlead came in just before this weekend’s Cumberland Crawlerz ride at Rausch Creek Offline Park.

Smittybilt’s low profile roller fairing was just what I wanted. I didn’t want anything sticking too far out in front, since this is my daily driver. The holes were 11″ apart, and the holes on my ARB Stubby Bumper are 10″ apart, so I had to drill a couple holes. Luckily I drilled the holes correctly the first time. It installed without much trouble. I added the WARN Epic Sidewinder to eliminate the hook, and to keep the low profile I wan for the front end.

I added a Quadratec aluminum sway bar skid plate to protect the front end. I was able to install it myself. Two steel brackets are bolt on, then the skid plate bolts on to them. I followed the usual best practice, install all bolts, then tighten them up round robin. I somehow stripped the fourth bolt, hope nobody notices. It might be aluminum but its heavy as heck! Very strong, I can tell it’ll pay for it self on weekend rides.

Lights should be in on Wednesday. Fender flares should ship on Sept 10. Skid plate kit should ship in a couple weeks. So more work yet to come.

Bumper and Winch

I got stuck a couple times at Moab and needed to be winched. Lucky for me I was with a small group most of the time, so I was able to take some calculated risks. When I was on my own I didn’t dare do anything risky, lest the vultures feast on me.

When I got back from Moab I had a list compiled, and the two things at the top of my list was to get a stubby bumper and a good winch. There’s a bunch of other stuff on my list that I’ll get to after this, but I knew I needed to get those two things done ASAP.

After researching winches and collaborating with the awesome Cumberland Crawlerz wheeler group, I knew I needed a which that’s 1.5 times the GVWR of my Jeep (1.5 x 5,000 = 7,500LBS). I decided on WARN since they’ve been around the longest, they have great support (very responsive on Twitter), and are known to be reliable.

I narrowed it down to two models, between $400-650. But then something unexpected happened. I went to Cabela to get some camping gear and noticed they had some 2nd generation WARN winches on the shelf, heavily discounted, like 50% off! Turned out they’re trying to clear their stock, so they had the last of each of the 2nd generation model on the shelf.

They had the 2nd generation WARN VR8 marked down to $289 (marked down from $599, and then from $499, and then from $399). Seems like these 2nd generation models got kicked to the curb by customers once the ZEON models came out. I’m a fan of buying last year’s discontinued models.

The WARN VR8 box was open, but according to the “comes in box” list, all the stuff was there. A store rep told me these winches were just put on the shelves the day before, so word hadn’t got out about it yet. I knew I had to act fast. I ran (ok so I wobbled) to the front of the store to get a cart.

Ok, so Weebles *sometime* fall down…lets not open that can of worms. 😉

Got back to the winch area, and after some careful analysis, I was able to get the winch into the cart. Wow that sucker was heavy! Ok, I was ready to head to the counter!

Must avoid grevious bodily harm.
There ya go

I got to the counter and was able to get a Veterans discount. After tax I paid $266! The lady at the counter called someone over, thinking I might need help getting the box into the Jeep. What, me need help? Um, SURE!

A week before, I found both ends of my bumper were heavily scraped up. Most of the damage was from Hell’s Revenge trail at Moab. I remember going up some extremely steep smooth rocks and hearing a sandpaper sound. Guess I didn’t hear or notice the damage at the time. Nonetheless, I knew I needed a stubby bumper.

I spent days sifting through videos, articles, and catalog options, and finally decided on the ARB USA. Its stubby, and has a sunken winch plate, but more importantly I love how the bullhorn leans back towards the grill. Not sure yet if I’ll take the ARB sticker off, maybe I’ll leave it there.

Some wheeling buddies helped with the install. Ok, as Batman would say, “full transparency”…really they did all the work, I just held the flashlight and hauled the rubbish. #hangsHeadInShame

I’m extremely happy with the bumper and the winch. Looks great, and after I buy some recovery gear, I’ll be able to get myself (or someone else) unstuck.

More mods to come soon…

Moab Aug 12th thru 16th

After the local Jeep dealer “fixed” the problem mentioned in my last post, off I went to Moab. I did:

Hell’s Revenge twice. Once with a Gladiator rider. Didn’t know about Hell’s Gate then. Then on the second trip I was prepared to do Hell’s Gate! But the spotter didn’t think it was a good idea since I didn’t have 35″ tires, and I didn’t have at least a rear locking differential. Hell’s Gate is optional on this trail. #nextYearDagnabbit

Fins And Things twice. Once with a group, with some difficult parts bypassed. Then I went on my own and did the whole trail. I stopped at the difficult parts to pick my lines.

Poison Spider once. I was solo, so there were a couple (ok a few!) spots listed as optional, so I bypassed. Next year it’ll be on my list.

Gemini Bridge once. It was listed as easy or moderate, depending on the source. I found it to be in between, mostly easy, but a couple spots that might be considered moderate. Jeep doesn’t offer a badge for this trail, since its not difficult enough. #fineFineFine

I learned a few things on this trip:

  • Most air compressors suck, unless its at least an ARB dual compressor with a tank.
  • The trick to disconnecting/reconnecting your sway bar links is finding a flat place to park.
  • Garmin DashCams beat GoPro for wheeling. 🙂 #sorryGoProNotSorry
  • Hotels.com savings tip…pay for additional nights after 12 noon. #halfPrice
  • 35″ is a must for the harder trails, though I held my own with 285s.
  • I no longer have to Google for “Petroglyph”.

20200812

First day at Moab.Went on Hell’s Revenge with a Gladiator wheeler. Bypassed Hell’s Gate (which I didn’t know existed.

20200813

Went on Hell’s Revenge again, this time determined to do Hell’s Gate, however our spotter told me he wouldn’t recommend it unless I had 35″ tires and at least one locking differential.

Regarding locking differentials, I think that’s a very old mindset, from before limited slip differentials became a thing. #whatever

Some guy with a JLU full of kids.

20200814

I decided to do Fins And Things on my own, so I could stop to take pictures.

20200815

20200816

Bambi!

20200817

On the way bac, home I jumped onto Route 66 a few times. But it was mostly deserted due to COVID, though gas stations were mostly open.

At one gas station I asked a truck driver about the tires he was hauling:
“Will those tires fit on my jeep?” – Me
“Yes, but the lift might set you back a pretty penny.” – Truck driver

On the way home I *finally* found an off road store (Desert Rats in Albuquerque, NM), that had the kit I wanted. I got it at a substantial discount (veteran, club memberships).

Sturgis Aug 6th thru 8th

As is the case every year, when I go to Sturgis, I don’t go to Sturgis. I mean, I never go to the town. I’m there for the beautiful rides like Needles Highway, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, Crazyhorse Memorial, Devil’s Tower, Million Dollar Highway, Custer Park (bisons), etc.

As I mentioned earlier, this year I’m going by Jeep since my left hand isn’t 100%. I don’t trust myself on my Harley-Davidson Road Glide just yet. Can’t modulate your clutch if your hand is sore and stiff.

Here are some pictures…

20200806

Prep for Sturgis and Moab

When it comes to Sturgis, you’ve got to plan in advance. Way in advance. Like a year in advance. Like I need to start planning Sturgis 2021 now. 🙂 So here I am, preparing for Sturgis 2020, while planning Sturgis 2021. If that’s not ironic, who would’a thunk that I’d be going to Sturgis 2020 in a Jeep. #damnedCager

My left hand isn’t 100% from my May car accident. I gave all my motorcycle buddies a heads up that I’m caging this year. A couple invited me to drive behind their group as sort of a Support and Gear (SAG) vehicle. It would actually be more of a “watch our backs” vehicle, since I can’t put much more into my two door Jeep.

Cobra 29 LTD Classic

Thanks to Quadratec’s excellent mount, the CB Radio is finally installed. The Teraflex antenna mount is very rugged. I put a spring at the antenna’s base. Running the coax cable turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. I ran it through the tailgate grommet, then hid it under panels and carpet. Took about two hours. Jeep makes it very easy to run wires, I’m impressed.

When I have a chance I’ll replace the CB Radio’s accessory power adapter with the wire that runs to the fuse box. I hate anything that sticks out of an accessory power socket, and hate exposed wiring even more. I ended up hanging the the RoadKing RK564P noise cancelling mic on a GearKeeper CB Mic Keeper. I was worried it would swing around bouncing off stuff, but it was quite steady.

The Jeep is all packed. Camping gear, wicking t-shirts, undies, socks, severs east to wash vented shirts and a couple pairs of cargo shorts. Some rescue gear, some weather gear, and of course my Yeti packed with ice, fluids, and some snacks. I don’t cook on the road, too much of a hassle for this small Jeep. If I had a four door, I definitely would go all out and cook on the road.

Regarding capturing video, I learned my lesson last year. I had high hopes for some great GoPro footage, but never got the hang of how to set it up so it was on when I wanted it to be on. This year I’ll rely more on my Garmin 46 Dashcam, since it always comes on when the Jeep is on, and turns off when the Jeep is off. It has fairly decent resolution and quality. I’ll use the GoPro when I get to areas that make it worth the trouble.

I had a long list of sights last year, but I kept running into old friends, so missed half of them. This year I’m not going to stress the need to see the sights. This vacation will be to relax and enjoy the drive. I’ll be taking some pictures and video, but that won’t be my goal.

I cleared out the fridge, took the garbage out, pretty much set for an early morning departure. Not exactly sure what route I’m taking to Sturgis, but now that I live in PA, there are fewer reciprocity friendly states, so I’ll be avoiding states that don’t honor my CHL. With that said, I have the two requisite lock boxes in the rear of the Jeep in case I have to travel through a non reciprocity state.

Reciprocity Map

After a few days at Sturgis I’m going to Moab…more to come. 🙂

Cumberland Crawlerz

First off, a huge shout out to Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps for the awesome advice, spec’ing, and installing the lift on my Jeep.

A while back I took the Offroad Consulting 101 and 201 classes to be ready for today’s trip. Limited by the low garage entrance height, I wasn’t able to get the 35″ tires I wanted, so I ended up with 285s. Because of that, I had to pass up on some of the more challenging climbs. When I buy a house I’ll make sure the garage opening is high enough for 35″ tires and then some.

Harley-Davidson Road Glide laughs at Jeep Sport S

I joined Cumberland Crawlerz this morning at Rausch Creek Off Road Park. I got there a little past 9AM since the planned exit was closed off. There were so many people there, it took a while to find them. Finally found a bunch of Jeeps with the club name on the windshield.

Ok time to get to work.

First task, deflate my tires. I bought a set of 4 brass deflators, and tossed them into my console. This morning I realized that I should have taken the time to calibrate them…ok so I whipped out my house keys and digital tire pressure gauge and went to work. I stooped over each of the four tires, and sloooowly let the air out of each of them until they were all 15 PSI. What a PITA that was.

Noticing my frustration, some of of the folks in the group suggested getting an ARB EZ Tire Deflator. I love how I didn’t have to ask, this group is friendly and generous with their knowledge. They shared some stories and reasons for going with 35″ tires which let them go to 10 PSI. I wish I could do the same, but limited to 285s, it was safer to go with 15 PSI. Good to know. #mentorshipMatters

I took off the driver and passenger hard top panels, slid them into their protective bag, and secured the bag in the back. The forecast for today was 90+ and humid. Not sure if others do this, but if it gets too hot and I have the panels off, I just turn on the air conditioner. The Jeep’s air conditioner is the most powerful I ever had in a vehicle. So for a quick cool down I just turn it on for a few minutes and we’re good to go. Helps to keep the passenger and rear vents closed.

Next, I disengaged my sway bar disconnects. Brilliant design, though they need to bundle a small rubber hammer with the kit. Shout out to the folks who lent me theirs at the start and mid way point. This allows a lot more articulation at the front axle. When I took the training classes, they advised leaving them connected, so you get used to having slightly limited articulation. Well, today I finally got to use them. Wow, what a difference it makes when crawling those larger rocks!

I was told I could have gone up a bit further.

I checked my GoPro 7 Black to make sure it’s powered on, aligned, and set to video. Even though I knew after spending months tinkering with its settings, there is still no reliable way to set it to turn on when I start the Jeep, and turn off when I turn off the Jeep. I’ve come to terms with the fact that GoPro is really a great design for short timeline activities, but not for Harley-Davidsions or Jeeps.

This is the last GoPro I’ll ever own, since its doesn’t do what I need. I’m better off using my Garmin 46 dashcam. When I turn on the Jeep, the dashcam comes on. When I turn off the Jeep, the dashcam turns off. Can’t get any easier than that. Bonus points for ignoring Jeep’s new “Alrightly then you’re at a red light, I’ll just go ahead and turn off your engine for you, even if it pisses you off” bug (er, feature).

I packed my Yeti with four 1 liter water bottles, four yogurts, and four PowerBars, and I added a 7 pound bag of ice at the gas station. I chucked one of the water bottles and one of the PowerBars over to the front seat to be ready. This was easy because I removed the rear bench seat when I bought the Jeep (it sits in my garage, on top of the original tires (pretty convenient when you’re taking brakes while working on the Jeep).

The ride

This trip exceeded my expectations. It started easy. It got rougher as the day went on. We went past a few challenging spots where some went for it, and some waited and watched (me included). For these spots the vehicles with 35″ or bigger tires had an easier time. There was some damage to a few of the vehicles on those challenging parts, guess you can’t escape that.

I realized during the ride that I need to get skid plates, and a front bumper with a winch installed next. This way I’ll be less of a chicken shit when these folks get to those challenging climbs. Even with 285s, I really believe I can do some of of those challenging parts once my Jeep has the right protection.

I can now say I’m glad I got the Builtwell rock sliders. They attach to the body frame, and come down a bit. That’s actually a good thing, since the type of rock slider that sits against the body don’t give you much of a crumple zone. The ones I installed hang down a couple inches, and they provide a gap between the rock slider and the edge of the body.

The transfer case slipped out of 4 LOW a couple times. Each time it happened I jumped out in a panic that I may have snapped my drive shaft. I must watch too many rock crawling videos. The guy behind me noticed and right away knew what happened. Apparently you’ve really got to push down hard to make sure its completely set. Knowing that, I was good the rest of the way.

A few things I learned

The most valuable lesson I learned is that you’ve got to survey those rough spots and take the best line.

The trip was also a reminder that you can never have too much liquid and food. I ran out after the first half of the ride.

Don’t signal your turns. It makes you look like a confused mall crawler. Besides, bears and deer don’t know their left from their right.

I started to air up my tires and thank those on the ride I got to meet, didn’t meet them all. I like this group, and I definitely want to ride with them again. When I got home I found a couple Facebook invites, of course I accepted and sent a few of my own.

One more thing

SUSUSUSIO ain’t got shit on me!

Lift finally complete

Before the lift was installed
After the lift was installed

Shout out

Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps did a beautiful job on the lift installation. So glad this time I asked them to choose the kit. That was the key decision, this bad boy has some serious articulation. Stay tuned for some offroad pics.

Rock Sliders

It took me a while to pick out a set of rock sliders. The whole idea behind rock sliders is to protect your side body panels from wrinkling and deforming if or when you hit a rock on the bottom edge of the side of the Jeep. They’re attached to the Jeep’s frame for strength, and most function as side steps.

I found one style to be more aesthetic than protective. The type that sit flush on the body edge, with no gap, so if you hit a rock hard enough, there’s no “crumple zone” to absorb the impact. Also this type doesn’t provide side steps. This doesn’t seem like a lot of protection for the investment. I’ll pass.

4 Wheel parts offers the Smittybilt Apollo Rock Sliders with Steps (part 76733). It provides the protection that I want. It sticks out farther and lower, provides a gap between it and the edge of the body, and provides a side step. You lose a bit of clearance, but my Jeep is lifted a couple inches higher than planned, so no big loss.

I won’t have to worry about parking lot dings (the other car will!), and runaway shopping carts will bounce off. I’m happy to have the extra protection, and they look great.

Rock slider closeup

Front bumper and winch

The last items on my mods list are front bumper and winch. I need to do some research on both. Will ask Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps for their suggestion, since this is their wheelhouse.

The front bumper will be steel, but I don’t want one of those stubby ones that offer no front wheel protection, since this is my daily driver. I found a couple that protect the front wheels, but still offer enough clearance for Blue level trails.

The winch will definitely be water proof. I need to figure out if I want the cable to be steel or synthetic, and not sure yet about capacity. I’m not going cheap on the winch, since it’ll need to work if there’s an emergency.

The winch market is mind boggling. Since they’re used by all types of vehicles, there are tons and tons of offerings. So finding a waterproof winch with the capacity I need and the type of cable I need should be fun.

July 4th quick getaway

Bummed that my lift installation has been delayed by a week (back ordered tires), so I figured I’d go out on a weekend getaway. I didn’t want to go too far, but I did want to be away for two days (at least). I had two places in the area I wanted to see. Three Mile Island and Bethlehem Steel. Lets avoid highways along the way. Why not.

Early Friday morning I packed a change of clothing and bathroom stuff in my Pelican Air 1535, and tossed it into the Jeep. I filled my RTIC 20 Cooler (a rebranded Yeti 20 Roadie) with half a dozen bottles of 20oz water, some bottles of apple and orange juice, some sammishes, and some yogurt

Three Mile Island is the other place I wanted to visit, near Harrisberg, PA. It opened in 1978 but had a meltdown in 1979. The whole place shut down last September, but official completion isn’t until 2053. I wasn’t able to get past the sign, and I was too lay to try to cross the river to get pics. So all I got a pic of the lousy sign. 🙂

On the way out of Harrisberg and on the way to Bethlehem, I pulled off the highway to look for a bathroom. Who would’ve thought I’d find a Cabela’s right at the exit! They have a bathroom!

Two hiking shirts secured for my next trip, I was soon back on the road.

Allentown (by Billy Joel) was mainly about the Bethleham Steel plant that closed down in 1995. I’ve always wanted to visit the plant, but as it turned out it was cordoned off for the July 4th weekend. I did manage to take a few pictures. Just didn’t get a chance to go inside the plant. Bummer

I saw a couple things along the way, like the home of Bridadere General Joseph F. Knipe, who I never heard of and I’m sure nobody gives a crap about. I stopped by South Point Marina since they had some food trucks there.

Not a very exciting holiday weekend, even if finally getting the chance to see Bethelem Steel plant was cool. Bad timing I guess.

So 285/70R17 it is!

Lift got pushed back by a week, Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps is flooded with business now that COVID restrictions have loosened. They’re worth the wait. 🙂

As it turns out the biggest tire size that’ll give enough clearance to get in and out of my garage is 285/70R17. That’s the size I had on the soft top Jeep that I totalled a month and a half ago, which had 285/70R17 Nitto Grapplers. Since I now have a hard top, pretty sure we’ll be good with that size.

I updated my previous post, but here is the comparison between the OEM size 245/75R17 and the new 285/70R17:

Someone turned me on to a site that gives you more technical info on the wheels and how they’ll sit under the vehicle. The new size will have more width (a plus given how BFG KO2 have much befier sidewalls). The OEM wheels have 44..45mm offset, and given how the lift and tire size match the last Jeep’s mods, I’m sure I’ll be totally happy with the end result.

My 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport S has 3.45 gearing, which should be fine with the new tires. #tongueInCheek

Read on JLWranglerForums.com that if you go up too much, and don’t adjust your wheel size (tazer or flash), you won’t ever get to 8th gear on the automatic. Luckily the lift kit includes a flash.

The Rubicon model comes with a 4.10 gear ratio which and 287/70R17, and Dana 44 axles front and rear. The Wrangler Sport comes with 3.45 and Dana 30 (front) and Dana 35 (rear) which appears to be to small to move up to 4.10.

Bro…do you even lift?

Tires and parts are all in. I’ll drop the Jeep off at Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps in the evening, they’ll do the work the next day, then the following morning I’ll pick it up. #excited

Having completed Offroad Consulting‘s 101 and 201 classes, the later had a taste of the Blue trail, I’m confident the new kit will enable me to hit the Blue trail in the coming weeks.

While AOAA and Rausch are great offroad parks, I’m on the hunt for more.

BFGoodrich KO2 (285/70R17) [delayed 1wk to get this new size]
https://www.bfgoodrichtires.com/tires/all-terrain/all-terrain-t-a-ko2.html

Tire size calculator URL: https://tiresize.com/calculator/

American Expedition Vehicles 2.5″ lift
https://www.aev-conversions.com/product/jl-2-5-dualsport-rt-suspension/

Performance Series 2.0 Smooth Body Ifp Stabilizer [UPDATE these are out of stock so might change to another]
https://www.ridefox.com/product.php?m=truck&t=shocks&partnumber=985-24-173&make=Jeep&model=Wrangler+JL&year=2019&position=Stabilizer

Quicker Disconnect End Links
https://jksmfg.com/i-24048402-quicker-disconnect-end-links-jeep-gladiator-jt-and-wrangler-jl-fits-2-5-6-0-lift.html?ref=category:326604

Synergy Hub Centric Wheel Spacers – Red 1.75:
https://www.synergymfg.com/synergy-hub-centric-wheel-spacers.html

Took plenty of Before pictures, it’ll be interesting to see the difference.

And yes, this time I will *immediately* report the mods to Geico, so I don’t end up having to out of pocket all the parts and work all over again.

Sorry Microsoft. Not sorry.

Microsoft’s “new approach” to retail stores: Closing them forever

arstechnica.com/information-technology/2020/06/microsofts-new-approach-to-retail-stores-closing-them-forever/

Microsoft stores have always existed within steps of an Apple Store. Never saw more than one or two people in any of their stores. That was their first mistake. Steps away from cool? Bye!

Second mistake was to try to be cool on a vulnerable platform. Not sure why Microsoft didn’t follow Apple and move to an alternate Unix based platform.

Third mistake was making an OS that has to support an endless number of hardware platforms, when security matters so much.

Microsoft shutters their doors?

Ron Johnson must be ROFLHAO!!!

Offroad Consulting 201 class

Sunday’s 201 class was the most challenging class so far. Mostly due to the Jeep not being modified. No lift. All weather tires. But I still made it! Like the instructor said, its all about doing proper analysis and picking the right lines.

Sucia meets Limpia

After spending the past month stressing about totaling my first Jeep, the nightmare has finally come to an end. A few days ago I logged on to my Geico account and saw the TOTAL LOSS statement. It was a bitter sweet moment.

With COVID making me look like Theodore J. Kaczynski (so much hair!), having to eat at home all the time (which I hate to do, how ironic that I’m getting better at it), my left hand not fully healed (so I can’t ride my Harley), and the rental coverage about to end, I found myself a bit on edge waiting on the final determination.

Ok, so I jumped the gun. With two days left on my rental (exhausted the 30 day limit, and there’s a 3 day limit after total loss is determined), I called the dealer and told them I’d be over the next day to buy the Jeep that I put a deposit on. I was told another salesman sold it to someone in New York. #shit

I arranged to go to the Jeep dealer and look at what low end two door 3.6L two door models they had in stock, since there were no more manual shift models within 100 miles. The dealer told me they had three 2020 Jeep Wrangler Sport S two door 3.6L vehicles in the lot, but they’re all automatic.

I absolutely love manual shift cars. You feel like you have total control. I don’t hate automatics, but given the choice, I’d go with standard shift. The problem is they’re so rare…heck even Jeep is sticking the fork in them.

I took one of the automatics for a ride, and as expected it has all the modern features you’d expect. Didn’t expect Remote Start and Homelink, even though the manual shift model I previously put a deposit on had homelink (but not remote start since it isn’t an option on manuals) and LED headlights. Now I don’t hate the suitcase sized key fob (yes the no feature model has the same gigantic key fob as the new one that has remote start, remote lock/unlock, and panic button). 🙂

The test ride was awesome. The heated leather steering wheel and seats are easy to use/adjust (yes I know it was 85 degrees outside). The electric windows and mirrors made me wonder WTF was I thinking when I bought the first Jeep (manual everything). When I got back to the dealer, I tested the remote start. Amazing how it works from 100 steps away!

Well, I was sold. It was an easy decision except that now I needed to choose the color. They had three of this model (red, white, and granite). White gets dirty as soon as you wash it. Red looks cool, until you get frig’n tired of driving around in a billiard ball. Granite is almost as nice as Black. So I went with Granite. It cost $150 or so more, not sure why, but I love the color. Not as much as black though. But it’s good enough.

I have very good credit so I was able to drive the car home before the finance stuff was done. I went in the next day to wrap things up. I missed the Employee Pricing For All offering, which sucked, since it was a $5K savings. But the dealer managed to work the numbers a bit, and my interest rate is incredibly low. Oh, and I said NO to all add-ons. Except GAP.

On the way home I called the repair shop to arrange for me to come over on Saturday to swap out the head unit. The new car came with a low end LCD head unit. The old Jeep had an OEM 7″ CarPlay that I bought through Infotainment and installed myself (the swap took all of ten minutes). I picked up a couple small items I left in the Jeep, including an 8 gauge power cable I had Jeff Daniel’s Jeeps run through the firewall for the subwoofer, and grips I added to the driver and passenger sides to make climbing in to the Jeep easier.

I had a bit of a scare when the CarPlay head powered up and asked me for a Radio Code. After fumbling through all my emails, notes, password app on my iPhone, I found it in my Contacts, under my Infotainment. Why the heck didn’t I put it in my password app like I do for all other important information?

When I left the shop to go home, I bid farewell to the five nearly new 285/75R15 all terrain tires I left behind. I dread having to get rid of the five (also) nearly new original 245/70R15 tires I have in the garage. I decided it would have been a PITA to schlep the smaller original tires to the shop, have them to swap out the bigger tires, and then have to schlep the big tires back home, so I could list them on Facebook Market. Its much easier to sell stuff there than through Craigslist, and cheaper than selling on eBay.

Now that I’m home, I feel like a huge rock got lifted off my shoulders. I suffer from a guilty conscience, so it’ll take some time for me to get over the fact that the accident was my fault, and here I am with a brand new, slightly upgraded Jeep. Compound that guilt with the damage to not only my car, but also the folks in the other car. Thankfully none of them were injured.

I’m ready for tomorrow’s 201 class. I’ll be there with no lift, and with all weather tires, instead of all terrain tires. Not worried about it, since Offroad Consulting recommends doing their 101 and 201 classes with a stock vehicle first. This way when you do it in a vehicle that has a lift and all terrain tires, you learn how much of a difference there is.

I reworked my GoPro mount, so I’ll finally be able to get some good footage. I have the Jeep packed with my Yeti cooler, a bag of ice, half a dozen bottles of water, a few ice coffee bottles, a few sammiches, Powerbars, etc. Heck I even took a few minutes to put my SUSUSUCIO stickers on the hood, even if it was meant for the old Jeep. I’ll have to come up with a clever intro video to show those off. 😛

A few suggestions to folks who read this blog. Always get GAP on new cars, even if you think you’ll never need it. Always report mods, so you’re covered later if you have an accident. Always find an independant collision safety advocate who can help identify/flag damage that the manufacturer will not allow you to repair, or that is too risky and may compromise the owner’s safety. Keep good notes, take plenty of pictures, and be prepared to wait during the COVID fiasco.

The Offroad Consulting’s 201 class we be held on Sunday at Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA…6,500 acres of off road goodness). That’ll complete the two training sessions I had planned for the Spring. Given how I lost a month, I’m guessing I may end up riding my Harley about as much as I take the Jeep offroad in 2020. That’s fine, it’ll give me time to save up for the tires and the Mopar 2″ Jeep lift (even if Mopar sucks at math).

Limpia comes home

I missed Limpia so much. She’s been in Winter storage over at Brian’s Valley Forge Harley-Davidson, since Feb 3. Today I was able to arrange to get her back home. Brian’s kept her tucked in, and connected to a Battery Tender all these months, and delivered her clean and polished.

The last time I rode her was back in the end of August. Geez, nearly a year ago! Why? Because I broke my ankle after safely getting home, moving stuff around in the garage at the Florida place, to make more room. Ugh.

So now I’m waiting for my Jeep claim to process, so I can get out of this rental and back on my own wheels…and I get to hug and kiss Limpia during the next few weeks while my left hand heals. #sigh

If all goes as planned, I’ll be back to where I was before moving to PA, having a Jeep and a Harley, both functional, and on the road with one of them. 🙂 Its like watching a pot of water boiling.