Don’t forget to wash behind your ears

Sunday was spent getting SUSUSUCIO cleaned up. The off road trail included mud pits containing (1) coal laiden mud, (2) red clay mud, and (3) plain old mud. The effect of these mud pits reminded me of Jackson Pollock. I could stare at his paintings at the Musium of Modern Art (MoMA) for hours. Unfortunately I had to resist the urge to do the same here, since I just needed to get the Jeep cleaned up so I could drive it to work on Monday.

Having driven an M151 Mutt in my US Army days, I know what its like to wash off this kind of shit. However unlike the Mutts which had an olive green matte finish making it hard to spot stains and imperfections, SUSUSUCIO is glossy black, so there’s no wiggle room here, you’ve got to do a thorough job.

First image:
SUSUSUCIO in full battle gear, three coats of mud (coal, red clay, and plain mud), ready for more action, the mud…worn as a badge of honor. #pffff

Second image:
I drove 8 miles to the nearest self-service car wash. I spent 10 minutes with a high pressure hose to the paint. Then another 10 minutes on the canvas soft top and wheels. Total cost $5. I was pleasantly surprised to see that no water got into the Jeep, testament to the excellent soft top redesign in the JL models. The guys waiting for the slot gave me the stinky eye, so I figured I did enough spraying.

Third image:
Next stop was the local car wash. I selected the package that included under carriage spray, wheel shine, and spotless drying. I read that it wasn’t a good idea to spray wax onto soft top on vehicles so skipped that option. After exiting the car wash I cracked open an ArmorAll container of citrus based wipes and started to rub out the coal laiden mud stains on the plastic trim, and the soft top.

All that cleaning left me exhausted. I headed to Dunkin Donuts to get a 20 ounce coffee to chase down about half a dozen Aleve pills. In about an hour I was good as new. Or close to it. Don’t ask how I felt the following morning. Not if you don’t want to get the stinky eye.

Some folks asked what the deal was with the 4 door Rubicon Unlimited climbing the steps on the course. Offline Consulting does a very good job of describing technical aspects of trail riding. Including articulation and swaybar disconnects. Rubicon models have electronic disconnect, however there the disconnect is limited. One reason I went with a low end model and had JKS Quicker Disconnects added along with the lift.

The top of the image shows how far the Jeep can flex if you don’t disable the swaybar. What’s a swaybar? There are some videos on the internet that can explain. Note the amount of flex on an unmodified Jeep is extreme, enough to make you cringe. Note how the front wheel is on the third step, and the back wheel is a few inches off the ground.

The bottom of the image shows you how much more a Jeep can flex if you disconnect the swaybar. I had no idea what a swaybar was until I bought the Jeep. Heck, I can’t even explain it…Google it! Not how with the swaybar disconnected, the front wheel went to the top step, and the back wheel is on the ground?

I asked the instructor “How often would you need/want to disconnect the swaybar when you’re on the trails?” His response is the reason I signed up for the 201 class next weekend. He told us “You don’t need to disconnect it on the 101 class. You’ll definitely want to disconnect it on the 201 class.” Cringe factor 10, and I’m signed up for the 201.

A detail worth knowing. The Rubicon model Jeep has controls for everything you can imagine. Disconnecting the swaybar at the press of a button, locking the axles at the press of a button, etc. I don’t have all those fancy buttons. My Jeep is so cheap, you have to get out to adjust the side mirrors…you have to crank both windows down by hand…you get the idea.

I’m not a fan of Rubicons. I think they’re overpriced, and a rolling box of bells and whistles. A low end Jeep saves you $15,000 that you can use to buy what you need, and not what they want to sell you. How is this a good thing? Consider Rubicon’s swaybar disconnect limits articulation, when compared with disconnecting the bars manually.

So for next weekend, I’ll finally get to use the JKS quick release swaybar connectors I had installed with the lift. I did my homework and decided I’d need them. Now I’m so glad I did. I just hope it doesn’t rain, since you have to crawl under the Jeep to disconnect them. Aw heck, I’m not complaining, I signed up for this shit.

Offroad Consulting 101 @ Rausch Off Road Park

Here are some lessons I learned on Saturday’s Offroad Consulting 101 at Rausch Off Road Park. It was an amazing experience, highly recommended for anyone with a Jeep.

1. Make sure you are in 4L and not 4H, to avoid engine stalling.
2. Don’t forget to let some air out of your tires before going on trail.
3. Don’t forget to fill your tires up before leaving and getting on road.
4. Don’t be that guy signaling turns on the trail, bears don’t care.
5. Find a better way to secure Yeti cooler, maybe add a net to tie downs.
6. Make sure you’ve got the right GoPro mount for your Jeep!

Here are some pictures:

Rausch Baptism By Fire :)

Wrapped up some work stuff, and now preparing for tomorrow.

Wait. Wat? Its gonna rain tomorrow??? YAY!!!

What does that mean? I don’t know to be honest. Tomorrow is going to be an Offroad Consulting101 Class Off Road Driving Experience” class, learning from the experts what driving on trails is all about.

Being a beginner, I’m pretty sure I won’t have to hit any hard stuff. But when it rains, even the easy stuff can seem hard. That’s actually good. Baptism by fire! 🙂

I want the Jeep to be as dirty as possible, so I hope it rains enough to cover it in mud, but not enough to wash the mud off. Jeeps are made for this kind of shit.

Got my kit ready:
– Air pump (since I’ll need to drop PSI to half or so)
– Yeti 20 Roadie (to pack sammishes, Powerbars, water, etc.)
– Fire extinguisher (attached to roll cage to look like I’m serious)
– First aid kit (not that it’ll help if I find myself pinned under the Jeep)
– GoPro Hero 7 (charged, extra batteries, extra cards, remote, etc.)
– Powerpacks (can’t have too many power packs)
– Poweful LED flashlight (and extra batteries!)

Now I just need some good luck. 🙂

Scouting Rausch Creek Off Road Park

Rausch Creek Offroad Park, in Pennsylvania, has been on my list since I bought the Jeep back in December (when I was still in Florida). It’s not as tough as Rubicon Trail in California, but it’s the best off road trailing around these parts. I plan to hit those trails next weekend.

They don’t reopen until May 8th, but today was such a nice day I decided to scout the trip. I took the slowest route, no highways. Boy was it worth it. The roads are a little narrow, but what beautiful curvy rolling hills!

Gas was cheap, but I’m glad I wasn’t on my Harley. Drove through some horse shit in some of the Amish areas. My Jeep didn’t complain. Heck Jeeps are made for this shit. 🙂

When I arrived I walked across the street to take a selfie, and then walked back the the Jeep. I left the place around 1800ET, which, given the COVID-19 stay-at-home mandate, is about the time I usually go out to get supplies.

Exhausted from my legal “walk in the park”, I found a slightly different scenic route back. Got back before sundown. Looks like a two hour drive.

Nary a car on the road, which was cool, but somewhat creepy…

Getting my Jeep lifted…finally!

Ordered all my lift stuff in Jan, and by the time it all came in, COVID19 became a thing. Well, this would have been done sooner if FedEx didn’t drop the ball on two of my Extreme Terrain parts.

Apparently if you punch in my address in Apple Maps, it’ll take you 3+ miles away to some other spot, whereas Google Maps takes you to the right place. So the FedEx driver dropped off $500 worth of lift parts at the wrong place, and it took Extreme Sports and FedEx over a month to duke it out.

Investigation, and eventual conclusion, and FedEx issued a credit to Extreme Terrain for the lost parts. I waited for all that to pan out, then I ended up buying the parts from Rough Country, since Extreme Terrain could only use FedEx. I call BS, but whatever. I have all the parts I need now.

Anyhoo…fast forward to today, and I get a call from Dan at Jeff Daniels Jeeps, asking if I’d like to bring in my Jeep to get the lift installed. I had to mute my phone, I was screaming, so excited! Sent them the list of parts, so we can go over the scope of the work and cost. We agreed I’d drop off my Jeep at 0630 on Monday (you read that right, I think they’re vampires) so they could get started. Two days later I’ll go back to pick it up.

They’re loaning me one of their spare vehicles so I can get back home, since they’re 40 miles away. Why 40 miles away? Well, when you want something done right, you go to the professionals. I heard of them when I moved to PA, always figured I’d go to them to get the lift kit installed.

So everyone be warned. After next week, I will no longer be referred to as a “Mall Crawler”, since I will have enough clearance to visit Rausch Creek for some serious rock crawling! How serious? Well, the pebbles at Wallmart are bout 1/4-3/8″ in diameter, which the stock 31″ tires could handle easily. I’m hoping Rausch Creek has a trail with at least 6-8″ rocks.

I have the low end Jeep model, but once the lift is installed, I’ll be as capable as the higher end Rubicon. The only thing that I forgot to include is detachable sway bar clips. Once I get that mod done, I’ll be able to disconnect off road and get that extreme axle flex to get over some of the bigger rocks. 🙂

So as I graduate from Mall Crawler to Rock Crawler, I’ll be making an untold number of mods to increase capability. I just have to be careful not to make the Jeep unbearable on highways.

Wait, highways…that’s what the Harley-Davidson is for! 😀