Thursday, October 20, 2011

JeepGirl And Her Great Adventure With The Great Race

JeepGirl And Her Great Adventure

This past June was a great adventure for JeepGirl and her friends. She was part of the Great Race. Actually she was with the rally staff not a competitor, but she had lots of FUN!

The Great Race started in Chattanooga, Tennessee and traveled the back roads to Bennington, Vermont. The first day we traveled to Athens, TN and stopped for lunch before heading to our checkpoint on the Cherohala Skyway. With all the motorcycles going by it was sometimes hard to know if it was another motorcycle or an antique car coming up the skyway. Our first day ended in Maggie Valley, N.C. at the Wheels Through Time Museum.

The next day would take us through North Carolina via the Blue Ridge Parkway. We made a short stop at the Linn Cove Viaduct welcome center. The view was beautiful and the drive was peaceful. Our checkpoint was just before the exit off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Jumping off Rock Overlook. After we left our checkpoint we traveled to Galax, Virginia for lunch at the Old Cranks Museum. After lunch we traveled the back-roads to Salem, Virginia where we crossed the Natural Bridge.

The next day we traveled from Salem, Virginia to Harrisonburg, Virginia for lunch. Many had brought out their antique cars for a beautiful day and car show. After lunch we traveled through a part of West Virginia and then into Cumberland, Maryland. To get into Maryland we had to cross a toll road. This was the most unique toll road I have ever seen. It was a one-lane bridge that crossed the river and then we came to a small tollbooth where we had to pay fifty cents for crossing the bridge. We had a hosted dinner at the Culinary Cafe' on the Town Center. The Culinary Cafe' is run by the Culinary School of Allegany College of Maryland.

On June 14 we traveled from Cumberland, Maryland to Chambersburg, PA for lunch and then we traveled to Hershey, PA for a hosted dinner at the Antique Automobile Club Museum. While in Hersey we visited the the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum. We also visited Chocolate World and drove by Hershey World Amusement Park, and YES! you can buy any Hershey's chocolate candy you love! The museum was filled with antique cars, motorcycles, buses, and much much more. I enjoyed all of the museum and how every car, bus and motorcycle was displayed. So much history of America is shown in the history of transportation.

On June 15 we traveled to Hazelton,PA where we had lunch at Hazelton Downs at Laurel Mall which is an off-track wagering facility. During the afternoon we crossed the Susequehanna River and journeyed to Binghamton, New York where we had a hosted dinner at the Veterans Memorial Arena.

Thursday, June 16 we head out for Cooperstown, New York and the Baseball Hall of Fame. I am not a big fan of baseball but I still enjoyed going through the museum and learning about a sport that has helped shape the lives of many Americans. It is here you can see the oldest baseball, Babe Ruth's jersey, and a cow dressed as a baseball player.(Yes I said cow.) From Cooperstown we made our way to our checkpoint which we thought was the coolest. We were parked in a hay field!! JeepGirl loved feeling the dirt under her wheels after being on so much pavement We finally arrived in Saratoga Springs, New York where we visited the Saratoga Automobile Museum.

On the last day we would cross the Hudson River, cross more covered bridges and entered the state of Vermont. (Our checkpoint was to be the last one of the day and the last one for the rally.) This is the most northern state we have been in with my Jeep and we would be traveling to Stratton Mountain, Vermont for a hosted lunch before traveling on to Hemmings Motor News in Bennington, Vermont. We had a hosted awards dinner at Mount Anthony Country Club. It was here we learned that the 1911 Velie H1 Racetype (the oldest car in the Great Race) won the event for this year. The driver and navigator were Howard I. Sharp and Doug H. Sharp. I have to admit this was my favorite car, and I was always excited to see that they made it through each day.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Return to Iron Gap Road

This weekend we returned to Iron Gap Road. This time we brought two lifted Jeeps to explore the road. I had still expected this top be a mild run so I had not brought my usual collection of spare parts or tools.

While Iron Gap is a county road is has not been maintained in years and is pretty rugged. We managed to break both Jeeps on the way back out.

Iron Gap is a beautiful area and we plan to return. Hopefully we will be better prepared next time as well.

To read more and see the pictures hit this link: Iron Gap Rd

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Back Up lights fixed

Jenny's Jeep had no backup lights. Often this is caused by the Neutral safety Switch failing. But we had recently replaced the switch on her Jeep due to it not wanting to start at times.

It turned out that the bulbs were actually bad in both her back up lights. We pulled the tail light housings and installed new bulbs. Now she can she behind her when she backs up at night. And more importantly, folks in her apartment complex can see when she is ready to back out of her parking space.

For instructions on removing the taillight housing, see:


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Cowan Railroad Museum

Cowan Tennessee is a cute little town between Sewanee and Winchester. It is interesting because it is the place where extra locomotives are attached to trains before they make the long climb up the mountain. There is a tunnel through part of the mountain but, I don;t think you can get there anymore. It is just out of town and I have been there before in a Jeep. However the last time I tried to get there the road was blocked and marked private CSX property.

There are some old train cars and engine son display right in the middle of town beside the rail road tracks. There is also a museum that is open May to October.

For some pictures of our last visit there see:


Monday, April 04, 2011

Iron Gap Road Scouting Trip

We took Janice's stock Jeep Cherokee to scout out Iron Gap road. Jennifer navigated while I sat in the back. Janice got to sample driving on a few challenging rocks while I spotted and Jennifer coached form the passenger seat. we finally stopped at a few bigger ledges that I thought she might have trouble getting back up.

We will take out big tired Jeeps back in a few weeks to see the rest of the trail.

To read more and see the pictures go to: Iron Gap Road Scouting Trip


Friday, December 17, 2010

Transfer case swap

This week I swapped out a broken transfer case. The chain had stretched to the point that it slipped off the drive gear and broke the bottom of the case allowing the fluid to leak out. Read the rest of the story here: Transfer Case Replacement

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

XJ List return to Harlan

After much deliberation, the XJ list decided to return top Harlan for their semi annual meeting. Harlan is always an adventure. Just getting the tow rig to the campsite is exciting. And then the trail from the camp top the mountain is a class three that has some exciting spots.

This year we had the added element of changing weather to deal with. We we arrived, we had blue sky and people were wearing shorts. By the time we made it to the top of the mountain we were in a hail storm. Then it started to snow. We had snow the rest of the weekend.

The normally challenging trails were made even more exciting by the snow and extra slick mud from the freeze thaw effect. Read more at: Black Mountain Adventure

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Potty Training Little Jeepers

Potty Training Little Jeepers

On our last trip to Golden Mountain Off Road Park, I enjoyed seeing a buggy with a car seat strapped in the back. Kids love off roading and they love all the bouncing around at any age. But carrying a diaper bag and finding a place to change a dirty one can be pretty tough on the trail.

So you need to get that little Jeeper potty trained ASAP!

My JeepGirl friends have the solution. Janice developed this method while she was teaching at day care teaching two year olds. She studied all the various methods out there and came up with one that worked for her and her kids. Jennifer has taken the original idea and developed it into a web site where you can learn the tricks and use them on your own little Jeeper.

Using the method will take a bout a week of prep work and a weekend of adventure time with your little Jeeper. This is not anything that we as Jeepers and off road adventurers are not accustomed to.

Check out her site at She will answer all your questions and even help coach you through the process if you need a little assistance. You can also see her Facebook page at She is a fellow Jeeper and mother of three so she understands your Potty Training Problems and Frustrations better than anyone.

Check it out and get that little Jeeper out of diapers and into some big kid underwear this coming weekend. Save the diapers for drying out a distributor.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

XJ List Spring Fling

This past weekend Janice, Jenny and I attended the XJ list Spring Fling in Harlan, KY. The off road park in Harlan is my favorite of all that I have been to so far. It has over 7000 acres and over 200 miles of trails.

This weekend, rigs form our group conquered the infamous Lions Den. This is short but extremely challenging trial with shear drops and very narrow passages.

Josh has been building his XJ for the last six months with this trail in mind. And all his work paid off by making it through with just a few scratches on his well designed roll cage.

Jenny got quite a scare after she conquered Rail Bed with her new Lock Right Locker. AS she chose the narrow exit form the trail she slipped her front wheel off the ledge as was dangling about eight feet above a huge boulder. I quickly stabilized her with a winch line form my Jeep while the others put straps in place and Neal Hoover brought up his rig to winch the other end.

After some careful maneuvering, she was back on solid ground with only a leaking power steering pump as damage. She was very grateful to all who assisted her.

Several of the rigs ran Profanity. Jenny's Power steering was really acting up so those of us with her made sure she made it out the main trail and met back up at Middle fork. Evan drove her rig back down the rather scary trail to the campground as she was having trouble steering withe failing pump.

Evan loaned Janice his BMW and she and Jenny headed into town to fetch a new pump while Evan and I pulled the old pump. We had it off well before they got back. But when they got back we realized that we needed a pulley removal tool to make the swap complete. Evan and I went back into town to get the loaner tool. Armed with eh proper implements, we finished up the swap just about dark and settled in by the campfire.

The next morning we headed up to see the vista that the group had discovered the evening before while we were working on Jenny's Jeep. On the way there, Evan broke a transmission line. We were able to pool supplies from the group to make a trail repair right on the spot and continue on.

We had lunch while we enjoyed the beautiful view. I warmed some hot pocket meals on the intake manifold. We also posed for a group photo there.

We then made our way to the lower rock garden to play around some more.

We ended the day with steaks and potato boats cooked over a wood fire. Campfire conversation continued well into the night.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Red Jeep Saga [Jeep reapirs]

For the past few weeks I have been working with a Jeep my son bought. This Jeep has been frustrating and interesting at the same time. Every time we think we have it all fixed something new has popped up.

They have all been simple fixes once the underlying problem was uncovered however.

I drove it to my office today and I really like the way it drives. Our plan is to sell it but I may just keep it.

Read the story here: Jeep Repairs

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The levitating cell phone

I remember when I was racing at Cherokee Trails, my co driver Josh had clipped his cell phone to the tray under the glove box in the Jeep. It seemed pretty secure there and had stayed most of the day. However on our second pass on the Oswald Dome stage, there is a series of yumps that I was getting more confident on the second pass through.

As we accelerated down the hill, I hit one of the yumps with a bit more vigor than before. Josh paused in his reading of the notes and I was distracted from the road as he pointed out that his cell phone was hovering in mid air. The impact of the jump had popped the clip loose and sent it up just as the Jeep started to fall down the far side of the jump. The phone seemed to just hang there for what seemed like a very long time before the Jeep landed and his phone crashed to the floor board. We were both laughing so hard that I had trouble making the next turn.

Unfortunately the battery came loose from the camera so we did not record it on the in car video.

To prevent such occurrence in the future, Natalie from Iphone Acccessories sent me a StayStuck phone pad. This silicone pad is made of an amazing friction material that sticks to just about anything. I have been driving around with it in my street Jeep this week and my cell phone has stayed put just like the product name suggests. I have stuck it on the dash and on the center console and it stays either place just fine.

I have not hit any bumps as hard as those on the rally special stage but I do think it would hold up to those conditions as well.

The sample she sent me also has a really cool feature in that it has a place to mount a suction cup device like a phone holder or a GPS navigation device. I plan to test it further in my off road Jeep to see how it holds up to bumps and dust.

However, right now my mom has it. When she saw it and I told her what it is for, she snatched it up to "test" it herself as she hates having to stick her GPS to the windshield. She plans to use the pad to mount her GPS in a more easily accessible position.

So, it you have trouble with levitating cell phones or just want to mount your GPS or other suction cup mount device somewhere besides the windshield, this is the phone accessory for you. Check them out at IPhone Accessories or go direct to the StayPut Pad link.

This might even come in handy for mounting a camera on the Tail of The Dragon where the law enforcement folks have gotten picky about things mounted to the windshield. If they ever get the rock slide cleared anyway.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Return to Prentice Cooper

For her birthday I took JeepGirl for a ride in her Jeep. We first went to look at Lula Lake but found it was closed. We made a bit of a round about trip off Lookout Mountain and made our way to the back side of Prentice Cooper.

We entered the park on Halley Rd. This is the only interesting trail I have found in the park and has the ominous looking warning about 4x4 vehicles only beyond this point.

Coming in the back way we found a bit of slippery mud and were surprised by some ice still on the road.

Climbing up out of the creek, I choose to climb over some rocks rather than risk the ice that was close to the edge of the road. We heard a small scrape but ignored it at the time.

We drove on to the top of the hill and headed to the south of the park. Just like every time before we found the gate locked just past the pond. I am not sure when or if they ever open this as it has always been closed when I was there.

We were also disappointed that Lusk point was closed. That was the main reason we had drive up there.

As we were leaving the park by the main entrance we stopped to look at the map. That is when I noticed the rear fender flare was missing.

We compared notes and both realized that the only scrape we had heard all day was back at the creek on Halley Rd. So I turned around and drove back. Sure enough right by the creek was her flare laying in the middle of the road.

There was nothing sticking out that could have hit it. I am guessing that when the tire stuffed in to the fender well, it some how caught the flare and popped it off.

Back home, a few tapes with a rubber hammer to straighten the bracket and then the flare bolted right back on.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Replacing Ball Joints

I replaced the ball joints on my off road Jeep this week. I am sure they contributed to the breaking of my axle shaft in Harlan. The completre story is here: --> Ball Joint Replacement Jeep Cherokee

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Trail Riding at Prentice Cooper

Prentice Cooper State Forest

This past weekend Mike, myself, our son Will , Jenny and her children decided to go to Prentice Cooper State Forest to check out the Jeep trails.  We had visited Prentice Cooper State Forest the day before and checked out some of the trails.  We were in our Suburban at the time. Therefore we stayed on the main trail.

The next day we went in the Jeeps.  We started out on Persimmon Trail and stayed on it until we came to a dead end.  We turned around and tried another way, but we got confused as to where we were on the map.  We turned around again and went back to the main trail.

We then found a trail that led to Lusk Point.  At this point we were able to overlook the Tennessee River.  It was a beautiful sight!  We could see Hwy 27 where it goes by the rock quarry at the foot of Signal Mountain.  It was here that we decided to eat our picnic lunch.  

After lunch we found Haley Rd.  This road was the most interesting.  When we turned onto the road we found a sign that said only 4x4s were allowed on this trail.  It started with a steep downhill leading all the way to a creek crossing.  As we made our way down the trail we came to a hill climb.  We kept driving until we found Hwy 27.  We then turned around and went back to the hill climb.  

There was a trail at the top that we took until we came to a couple of trucks.  The drivers said there were a few trees down.  We turned around and started to head back to Haley Rd. However,  Jenny's Jeep started to act up.  I don't think she the Jeep Princess) wanted to leave. Mike was able to keep her going as we coaxed her on, and we soon made it back to Haley Rd and Hwy 27 and home.

You can read more here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Aetna Mountain off road

This weekend I went with some friends to Aetna Mountain near Chattanooga. The recent rains made the rails very slippy. Even the main road up and down the mountain was a huge challenge to navigate. Places that can be accessed by car when dry were nearly impassable. I was very happy with my Maxxis Buckshots. Since trailer parking is limited and not secure, I drove the 50 miles to the trail head. I did not want to air down too much since I had to drive back. The Buckshots were amazing even at 25 psi.

We met some very interesting folks in he woods and had a great time. I was very appreciative to the guys it he Cherokee who showed us a shortcut out and to the guy in the Toyota who pulled me back straight when I got crossed up in the ruts on the way out.

Here is a video of Jenny playing on a waterfall climb: My favorite part of the video is the narration by her three year old son Hunter.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jeep No Start update

I just thought I found the problem when I found the bare wire going to the distributor. The next day when I was needing to leave my office to go to a very important meeting, my Jeep would not start. I used up most of the battery trying different wires and connections that might be bad. I finally borrowed Jenny's Jeep and made my meeting.

The computer was again showing code 54 - no sync. This sensor is mounted inside the distributor. Since I had a spare distributor, I elected to change the whole unit instead of just the sensor.

Working in the parking lot between rain showers, I carefully marked the direction of the rotor for the old distributor. Installed the spare making sure the rotor ended up pointing at the mark I made so that it would be indexed the same as the old one.

I reconnected the wires and even with the low battery, it fired right up.

I am happy to have it going again. Maybe this will cure this very annoying intermittent problem I have had for a while.

Monday, December 15, 2008

More electrical gremlins

I have been fighting some more electrical gremlins on White Jeep for the last few days. It would suddenly cut of and then restart while going down the road. I had trouble cranking it Friday and got codes from the computer.

Code 54 turned out to be no sync signal from the distributor. Sunday afternoon I went to move my Jeep and it would not start again. finally I had the no start condition at home where I could work on it!

The code 54 was back. After a lot of searching and running the battery down trying to start it, I found that one of the wires coming from the distributor had a bad place in the insulation and was grounding out against the engine. I put some tape of the wire and the engine started right up.

I am noticing that alot of the insulation on the wires near the engine is starting to crumble. That was what had happened to this piece of wire.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Air horns

I have not had a horn on White Jeep for a couple of years. I had thought there was a wiring problem or a bad relay so I never really looked into it. However, recently, I was testing a horn for a friend and I found that the wire to my horn was hot. The horns just made no sound.

JeepGirl and Harbor Freight to he rescue. For my birthday she got me a set of air horns. I hooked them up last night. I fished the wire from the driver's side horn back into the engine compartment. I hooked it to the positive terminal of the compressor which I mounted where the air box used to be. I had to add a ground wire from the compressor to the body. I stuck two of the trumpets through the hole where the air box normally breathes and let the other trumpet rest under those.

Now I have a real attention getting horn.

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Jeep repairs - seat belt latch

Last night I did a few repairs to White Jeep. My seat belt latch has been giving me trouble for a while. The little spring that forces the catch into the tang of the belt broke. I managed to get by for a long time by just shoving the parts of the spring back to together, but eventually that failed as well. I then stole the spring out of the center seat belt in the rear as the rear seat seldom gets used. However, the driver's side front buckle is slightly different from the rear in that it has a switch in it. I had to cut out the switch to get the rear parts in. This has worked well for a couple of months with the exception of being hard to disconnect.

Yesterday, it failed again. Part of the plastic from the old switch jammed the mechanism and bent the release mechanism.

I have made all the previous repairs with the seat belt still attached to the tunnel because I had not been able to get the bolt loose. Well last night I decided it would be much easier to make the repair on the bench so I used my air wrench to remove the bolt. It came out easily with the torque of the thunder gun.

Once it was out and I could see and move parts around, I cut out the remaining plastic from he switch and made the mechanism work smoother. I had to bend the tabs on the release button back into the proper position. After a few tries I was able to snap the cover back on and have every thing stay in place.

I have thought of buying a new belt but when I found the price was over $200 for the belt, I decided to fix mine again. It is amazing how motivating saving $200 can be.

It is nice to have a seat belt that stays fastened and comes loose when I push the button.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

300,000 miles

My daily driver know affectionately as White Jeep turned over 300,000 miles recently. This Jeep has really been a very reliable vehicle. The oil gets changed occasionally and it gets driven a lot.
It has been raced, rallied, rally crossed , run off road, towed trailers and generally been well used. It has even been overheated severely a couple of times.

Over the years I have had to change the alternator twice. I have installed a half dozen or so sets of spark plugs. Changed the plug wires a time or two. I have changed the rear oil seal once and installed a new harmonic damper and seal in the front.

I have swapped the radiator a few times and had the head cleaned out by the dealer due to overheating issues.

The front control arm bushings were replaced with poly years ago but it is still running the original track bar. I have swapped the front wheel bearings more times than I can remember and installed several sets of high performance brake pads.

The leather seats are getting a bit ragged and I have worn out three steering wheels. The Ac compressor recently quit but otherwise this Jeeps runs and drives great. I could not have asked for a more reliable and fun truck to drive.


Wooly's Off Road Park

On the day after Thanksgiving, Scott and I were getting bored sitting around waiting for our wives to return form shopping so we took Janice's Jeep to a place near Lewisburg called Wooly's off road park.

We felt a little out of place in her stock Jeep with her Motives Cosmetics ads on the rear hatch but we knew that a stock jeep is very capable of running mild trails.
The folks there were very nice and friendly and told us which trails they recommended. We signed the waiver and paid our $10 entry fee.
I drove around a bit and explored the east side of the park. There was lots to see there. We watched a couple of wranglers tip toe around on some of the rocks there.
As we were getting ready to cross the road to the west side of the park Scott was driving when we spotted the Wranglers working their way down what looked like a tricky hill. I quickly scouted it and saw it was easily passable in JeepGirls Jeep and I waved Scott on. He made it down with very little drama.
In fact remarked how easy it was. So I told him to turn it around a go back up. Even with both sway bars installed, and full street pressure in the tires, he made it up the hill. He only stopped once but a little bump got him over the rock. Not a Neal Hoover bump, just a little bump.
We explored some of the west side of the park but we got confused at a five way intersection. It was starting to get dark so we turned around and I let Scott drive back to the parking lot.
Wooly's is defiantly due for a revisit. It looks like a good safe place for Scott to drive his Woody Wagoneer. There are also some very interesting looking hills that I want to try Scuffy on.
I guess I will have to fix my winch before Christmas.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Jeep just quit!

Today I was driving along in my Jeep Cherokee and it suddenly lost power. I looked down and saw the tach was reading zero. I bumped the shifter into neutral and after a few tries, it started back up. I was pretty sure I knew what the problem was, but I did not want to mess with it in traffic. It ran fine after that initial failure.

Later that afternoon when I went to star up my Jeep, it started and then immediately died. I first checked the mounting for the ecu and the plug for the CPS. Both seemed fine.

I then moved to the grounding bolt on the back of the block. Sure enough one of the main ground wires had broken loose. I was able to position the wire where it made contact an the other wires held it in place so I could drive home.

I also found one of the other wires was loose in its terminal so I replaced both with new ring terminals.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Coker Tire and Antique Cars

Coker Tire Challenge and Antique Cars

During the weekend of September 19, 2008 I was involved with the Coker Tire Challenge in Chattanooga,TN. This event has run for the past three years and is sponsored by Coker Tire of Chattanooga.

This year there were 40 antique car entries. The event ran from Chattanooga, TN to Lynchburg, TN on Friday, September 19. Then on Saturday the entries ran from Chattanooga, TN to Etowah, TN. On this day the entries stopped in Cleveland, TN to have lunch with the National Antique Car Association. There were approximately 350 cars at this event at Westwood Baptist Church. On Sunday the entrants ran in the Chattanooga area.

Each day some of my friends and I helped out by working the checkpoints. These checkpoints were timed and each entrant had a certain time they were to arrive at each point and each entrant received penalties for either being early or late.

If I had to choose my favorite car I am not sure that I could. However, I did enjoy the Antique police car (Car 54) and the Jaguar from Puerto Rico. My friend Jennifer enjoyed the Model A that she got to ride in a the finish.

I enjoyed working the checkpoints, but my favorite part was getting to meet the people and see the beautiful cars. I enjoy events like this and the people involved have a wonderful love for the antique cars and trucks.

Corky Coker and his family did a great job with hosting the event and everyone had lots of fun. Thanks to the Coker family and what they do to help others enjoy playing with the antique automobiles.

For more information about the Coker Tire Challenge or to see pictures from the event go to

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Changing the rear pinion seal

Last night we replaced the rear pinion seal on Jenny's XJ. Her Jeep has the Chrysler 8.25 rear end. The gear lash of the differential is set partly by the amount of crush on the spacer under the pinion bearing, so changing the seal has the potential to up set the alignment of the gears.

After removing the drive shaft, we carefully marked the nut and the pinion shaft. Then while holding the yoke with a pipe wrench and turning the nut with a socket, we carefully counted the turns required to remove the nut. In our case it was nine turns exactly.

The yoke came off easily with the nut removed. I used a chisel under the metal lip of the old seal to drive it out. After cleaning up all the surfaces, and inspecting the yoke for wear, we installed the new seal.

I used a hammer and a seal driver to press the seal in flat against the differential housing.

We then installed the yoke being careful not to damage the new seal.

We then reinstalled the nut and carefully counted the turns to put it back into the right spot. A little dab of lock tite was put on the threads as a precaution.

After tightening the nut back to precisely the same spot as it came off, I turned it just a little bit more to ensure it was tight.

We then reinstalled the drive shaft and filled the diff with fluid to replace what had leaked out.

A quick test drive shaowed it was all sealed up. No more stinky burning diff lube on the exhaust!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jeep XJ Fuel Pump Relay

I have been dealing with a couple of Jeep XJ Cherokees lately that have had intermittent fuel delivery problems. The first one was Jenny's 92 XJ. Occasionally on hot days her jeep would appear to vapor lock. While vapor lock was common on systems where the fuel pump was at the engine and pulled fuel from the tank, the pressurized system of the Jeep should be immune to vapor lock. Jenny's Jeep would also occasionally read low fuel pressure ont he fuel rail and then at other times read the correct fuel pressure. Bypassing the ballast resister would sometimes cure the low fule pressure problem.

Next my son's 91 XJ began havign trouble starting. It would sometimes fire then stumble an ddie only to start right back up. At others times it would simply spin but not fire at all. Testing the fuel pressure at the rail would show fuel and checking spark gave me quite a jolt. But it simply would not start. Sometimes it would seem to start while holding the key in start but as soon as the key was released to run his Jeep would die.

The most annoying part was that after he would call me or my dad to come rescue him, we would get there to check it out and it would fire right up. Pull it in the shop to test it and it would start and run fine every time.

Finally, one day it failed to start while I was there and i had a chance to keep experimenting with it. After quite a bit of head scratching, I found that the fuel pump relay was not always making contact. I swapped his cooling fan relay in to the slot to get him home while I stopped by the parts store to get him a new relay. I picked up one for Jenny's Jeep while I was there.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Working with the boys

This weekend I took my younger son will to see his brother Scott. Actually Will took me along only because he needed a navigator.

We spent some time first replacing the master cylinder in Scott's XJ Wagoneer. He thought it was pretty scary to drive when the pedal went to the floor with no braking effort.

Swapping the master cylinder was an easy task once we got the right unit from O Reilly's. Getting parts for an XJ Wagoneer is always a challenge. When we went back to swap out the unit that was apparently for an SJ Wagoneer we simply asked for one to fit a Cherokee. That one matched up. Since he did not have a vice at his rented house, we went ahead an mounted it on the brake booster and did the bench bleed procedure there. After attaching the lines and quickly bleeding all four corners he has a nice firm brake pedal again.

Next we moved to Will's XJ. His dome lamp fuse was blowing ever since he changed his headliner. Assuming that there was a bad wire somewhere, we had removed the headliner an checked everything last weekend. We found nothing so we put it all back together.

The memory for the radio and clock are also fed from the dome light circuit so we made a plan to bypass the short and just power up the radio from another source. When we checked for a short at the radio every thing tested fine. We were able to power up the radio and clock with a jumper and ensure it all worked. So we looked further to find the short from this side. Everything we tried tested fine. So we went back to the fuse box and tested again. No more short. So we tentatively put it all back to getter and put in a fuse to see what would happen. Happily the fuse stayed an the radio, clock and dome light all work properly now. The clock did show 15:14 when it started up but it reset correctly when Scott pushed the buttons to set the time.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Gas Saving tips for your Jeep Cherokee

With increasing gas prices, I am having to take a close look at how I drive my Jeeps. I have looked at getting a more fuel efficient vehicle, but none meet my needs for getting me to the places I need to be and carrying all my stuff. I am looking at the idea of getting a dual sport motor cycle but I have not yet justified the cost in my mind yet.

For now here are some tips for improving the gas mileage of your Jeep: Jeep Cherokee MPG

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jeep Cherokee Trouble Shooting

I have started a series of articles relating to trouble shooting problems with your Jeep Cherokee.

I will cover topics like what to do when it won't start and instructions on common repairs like changing the alternator.

For more info see: Jeep Trouble Shooting and Performance Improvement

Monday, July 21, 2008

Making the Doors Removable

One of the most obvious modifications I made to my XJ before gong the the spring fling was making the doors removable. I love the modification!

The visibility is wonderful when crawling over the rocks. I also love the open air feeling. And not having to open the big heavy door when jumping out to check something is a huge plus as well.

At night and on the trip to and from the park, I put the doors back on and felt secure that all my tools and goodies were locked up safe.

For more on how I made my doors removable, click here.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Playing in the rock garden at Harlan.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Comments on Off Roading from another Jeep Girl

I really do not look like the typical off-roading, adventurous person. I'm just a 31 year old single mom of three children ages 10, 5 and 2. But I own a 1992 Jeep Cherokee Sport 4x4. It has a 3" lift, 31" Maxxis Buckshot Mudder tires, and Craggar Black wheels.
Last year I owned a 2000 Mazda MPV minivan. My kids enjoyed it since it had a video player, but surprisingly they were not sad to hand it over to grandma and grandpa.
In fact, all three of them are protective of "Princess." We have named "our" Jeep (XJ) Princess of the Mud.
I practiced off roading at my best friend's 26 acre property. He has created several trails all around his house along the creek.
Practicing helped prepare me for my first real off-roading adventure in October 2007. I was heading to Windrock located in Oliver Springs, Tennessee. It is 73,000 acres that a mining company has leased out.
I met up with several other XJ owners from the Yahoo XJlist, most of them from Kentucky. I managed to show them that a female in a stock Jeep Cherokee can keep up with the souped up XJ's. I made a couple of dents and scratches which is no big deal to me.
When you are off-roading the world's problems are forgotten otherwise you end up smacking a tree, the side of a hill or expect to go off a cliff/mountain. The adrenalin rush is awesome. Watching the XJ'ers in front of you take a challenging climb up a trail is exciting. When it's your turn, the adrenalin kicks in.
At Windrock on trail 39 I amazed everyone by making it up a part of the trail the rest of the group had trouble with in their lifted, off roading tires. At Windrock I had not made any modifications so mine was still just a street, stock Jeep Cherokee.
Then I blew them away on trail 16 making it up an up hill part of the trail on the first attempt while the veterans took two and three tries.
Nine months later we all meet up near Harlan, Kentucky at Black Mountain. This time my XJ is modified from the street stock it had been.
I have also brought along my oldest child, my daughter Shiloh who is 10 years old. After the Windrock trip she was highly upset I didn't take her so this is kind of a vacation for the two of us.
Myself, Shiloh and my best friend Janice meet up with her husband also my best friend, Mike. He had arrived a day earlier just to hang out with the guys. When I say meet up I mean out in the middle of the entire off roading map. Trail 45 looks innocent at the beginning since it is the main trail. But since it had rained there was mud and alot of slipping.
It was fun though to be able to do some trailing by myself without the guys around. Eventually we met up with them at the bowl. The bowl has numerous trails for ATV's and off-roading vehicles. After the guys kept asking me if I was going to go I got Janice to ride with me. I was looking forward to that adrenalin rush. I got it too.
The guys had been joking around with me since I had a chance to practice a few weeks earlier at Coppinger Cove near Jasper, Tennessee. Mike had me try out what looked like a tiny innocent hill. I nearly did a Dukes of Hazard jump which is why the guys were teasing me.
While in Kentucky, it kept raining. The first morning at camp (for us ladies) it rained and rained. Our plans had to be modified because some of the trails were going to be extremely difficult if not dangerous. We had all hoped to go to the Mason Jar area but that had to be cancelled since the rocks were going to be too slick. Mike had mentioned a section the guys had all been to before would require strapping to avoid going off the side of the mountain. With it being slick from the rain the guys just did not want to risk it.
Most of us went up trail 15 when it was nice and muddy. Half way up the first section it was very slick. It was fun though since I ended up being the last person. Neal, our leader and "expert" was in front of me. After the third section I made him look bad since I made it up all three on the first attempts. Apparently Neal forgot to put his XJ in 4 Low like everyone else had done.
One of the things I had the chance to do was try the beginning of the rock garden. Since I didn't get to have my rock rails put on before Kentucky (only one was ready to be put on), Neal decided just to let me try the first part of it. I hope on our next adventure to have the rails on so I can try a rock garden out.
After we got home, some of the guys expressed how they were continued to be amazed by me accomplishing the trails that some of the amateurs had difficulty on. We all had fun which is the most important part of the Spring Flings and Fall Crawls.
Living in the southeast part of Tennessee it is not unusual to see a lifted XJ or really any SUV or truck lifted with bigger tires. To some of us, off-roading has become a part of life. It is a way to get away for just awhile from a world that can be cruel at times. We get an adrenalin rush that tends to build confidence in a positive way.
Normally it's the men that are doing the off-roading. But for them to see a woman doing it makes it even more fun and exciting.
Jennifer Bryan -
Article Source:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The ultimate road trip? NEXT Road Rally

Is this the ultimate road trip?

The NEXT group is hosting a Road Rally in September. This road rally will be a tour of nine states in the northeast USA.

The event looks like a lot of fun with entrants competing for $25,000 in prizes.

The NEXT group is also recognizes the potential for environmental impact for such an event and has teamed with to minimize the impact of the event. However, I would have thought the north east would welcome some global warming.

Anyway check out this TSD road rally at

XJlist Spring Fling in Harlan KY

The XJ list returned to Harlan Ky for their annual Spring Fling this year. As usual the event was huge fun. We welcomed new member Evan and his Cherokee.

AS you can see in the photo, I made Scuffy's doors removable for the event. I really enjoyed the extra visibility. And I really did not have too much trouble even in the heavy rains.

I took on a couple of the rock gardens this time and found out how much fun they are. Naturally that got me thinking about more modification I would like to do to Scuffy.

My ARB worked well after the repairs. I now have a few more repairs to make as my alternator and wipers became intermittent during the weekend. Probably mostly from disuse.

I also have an exhaust leak that becomes annoying at times so I need to quieten that down before my next trip.

Look for a full writeup and photos later at

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Power of Focus

My Dad just bought a Ford Focus, but that is not the kind of focus I am focusing on today!

Today I heard a talk on the subject of focus. The speaker pointed out that much of the chronic fatigue that we have in our lives is because our energy is so scattered. Multi tasking in considered an asset, however when taken to extremes it actually reduces our productivity.

For example when working on my Jeep, I find I can accomplish much more is a shorter period of time when I am alone in the shop. Just having someone stop by and speak to me is often enough of a distraction for me to injure myself. even if just a little cut or smashed finger, the pain reminds me that I have been distracted.

I don't even play music in my shop anymore while I work. The work becomes like a meditation. When I am truly focused on the work I am doing, I am purely in the present moment. If I find myself thinking about the past - of maybe how this problem came to be or to the future like how this problem will effect the performance of my Jeep, then I will either make a mistake or cause myself pain.

When I am truly focused on the task at hand, turning the one bolt, locating a gasket just right, finding a locating pin or tab, or just visualizing the flow of electricity through a circuit, I am most effective if I am focused on just that one thing.

Working on my Jeep has become great therapy for me. Learning to focus on the present moment and getting the instant feedback of seeing myself become more productive is a fantastic learning experience.

I find that when I am focusing on the present moment, I can get great clarity and trouble shoot problems that have eluded me for hours or even days as my attention has been divided.

I am often inspired to test things that might not even be on the checklist and suddenly uncover the source of a problem. At other times, I am reminded to just follow the trouble shooting chart ignoring the history for the problem and simply focus on what works and what does not to get the the root of a problem.

Staying focused is the key. Maybe I need to borrow Dad's car.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Buy parts on line and earn rewards

Do you buy Jeep parts on line? Unless I am in a huge hurry I buy almost all my Jeep parts on line. And even when I am in a hurry, I can sometimes purchase parts on line and pick them up at my local store. Parts America is one company that offers this option. Walmart is another.

By clicking this link and signing in as a preferred customer, each purchase you make can earn you reward points good toward free products. There is no cost to join, just click "sign in" in the upper right of the screen and make up a user name and password. Each purchase you make through this simple portal will earn you reward points that can be redeemed for free products.

Also, many vendors offer special pricing when accessing their site through this portal , so be sure to check them out and compare prices. Save money, save gas, save time and earn free products. It doesn't get any better than this does it?

Click here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Starting problem follow up

Well it turns out it was not the NSS after all. My XJ finally failed to start at home where I had all my tools handy to check it out.

I first noticed that as I moved the shifter back and forth I could hear a relay click. That told me the NSS was doing its job.

I then hooked my voltmeter to the terminal on the starter solenoid and found that there was power there when the key was turned to the start position.

I used a screwdriver to tap on the solenoid and it started right up.

I promptly drove my Jeep to the barn and put it on the lift. I pulled the very muddy/greasy old starter off and replaced it with one from a ZJ that I am parting put.

Oddly the old starter tests fine now that it off the Jeep. I probably just needs a good cleaning. But after 295,000 mile it is probably due for a replacement. I will likely clean up the old one and keep it for a trail spare.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Go Now Girls

The Go Now Girls:

JeepGirl has teamed up with Jennifer of to promote a new home based business opportunity.

They are having a really fun time driving their Jeeps to meet with new friends to tell them about this new business opportunity that allows them the freedom to spend time with their children, as well as play with their Jeeps.

See to see what fun they are up to today.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Interesting NSS problem

Yesterday I had an interesting problem with my XJ. I had met JeepGirl and Jennifer to work on our Marketing business.

When I got ready to leave, I hit the key and nothing. Guessing it was the NSS, I wiggled the shifter around and tried both neutral and park. No go on the starter. I opened the hood and checked the other basics like battery cables and the wires to the starter. All good just no power to the starter.

JeepGirl took me home to get the Suburban and trailer. Jenny, towed me out in to the street and I let my XJ roll down the hill onto the trailer. Gravity works with you some days.

I finally got my XJ home and pushed it through the garage doors to put it on the lift. Note that I tried at every opportunity to start the engine but never a hint at triggering the starter relay.

I took a break to change clothes and eat supper.

When I got back to the shop I got pout the test instruments to see where in the circuit I was loosing the signal. When I clicked the switch to begin the test the engine started right up!

I was happy the problem was fixed but annoyed that I did not find the cause since it is likely to reappear. I tried several more test starts and it works fine in both park and neutral.

When I get more time I will clean the switch anyway. See my earlier post about how to clean the NSS.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Coppinger Cove off road trip

This weekend we made a trip to Coppinger Cove along the Little Sequachie River.

We decided to take Jenny's XJ to test her new lift and tires.

We met there with a group of Toyotas from Atlanta.

The rains and snow melt had the water much higher than normal so much of the road in was flooded. Once we made it to the river crossing however, we found the water very deep and the current very swift.

We then decided to return to the highway and come in from the north. We entered on Pocket road and went down the stair case in to the valley. We passed the waterfall that springs from a cliff and falls into a sink hole.

We finally worked our way back to the other side of the river which had dropped a little since the morning when we first tried to cross.

The water crossing was a little scary due to the swift current but we all made it across safely.

See more videos here:


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Maxxis Buckshot Mudders

This week we completed Jenny's lift by installing her 31" tires.

Photos and the complete story are posted at:

Her new tires and wheels have really transformed the look of her XJ.

A quick test drive shows they have greatly improved the off road capability as well.

To get your own set of Maxxis Buckshot Mudders, see

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My XJ broke in holiday traffic

Last night while doing some Christmas shopping, I heard a huge noise from under the hood of my Jeep. It would go away if I revved the engine and return at idle.

Since I was in the middle of holiday traffic I drove on a few miles before I checked it.

When I opened the hood I found the idler pulley had spit out its bearings.

The thing I found most interesting was that there was no warning. There was no squeak or roar before the bearing separated. I have heard others squeak for years without failure.

So I am now recommending that this part be changed as a matter of preventative maintenance. Luckily I was able to drive mine to the perts store and them back to the shop. I would hate to have been stranded in holiday traffic if the belt had slipped off.

See my post on for a special holiday offer.

Monday, November 05, 2007

XJ List trip to Windrock

The guys and gals from the XJ list met up at Windrock, Tn this month for what has become a semi annual meeting.

A short video of my Jeep on one of the hill climbs is posted at this link:

More info to follow.



Wednesday, June 06, 2007

XJ List Spring Fling

The XJ list converged on Harlan, Ky once again.

Since we saw so little of the park last time we went back for a repeat visit. We got in lots of play time this trip.

Friday's adventure ended in a slip and slide as we got caught in a rain storm on our way back to camp. The long muddy hill we started the day with was a big water slide for most of the group.

Saturday we ran a super fun trail called Mason Jar. This trail starts with what looks like an impossible obstacle. Our first Jeep made it over just to prove it could be done. Then the rest of us took the by pass. However this was no easy bypass. It was an extremely off camber run on the side of a cliff. Each jeep had to be strapped up for safety as we crawled through.

A few busted taillights and some new pin striping seemed to cover most of the damage in the group.

See the pictures at:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tennessee Back Roads Heritage Rally

This weekend, JeepGirl and I ran the Tennessee Heritage Back roads Rally.

This rally started at Motlow College just south of Tullahoma, Tn

The route took us on some very scenic back roads between Tullahoma and Lynchburg.

The rally consisted of some fairly challenging navigation but was scored based on the answers to questions about the route.

The navigation tripped us up only once when we read a little too much into some of the pre rally hints. We quickly recovered our course and finished the route to Lynchburg well within our allotted time.

Arriving at the park in Lynchburg early gave us plenty of time to tour downtown Lynchburg. Being the home of Jack Daniels distillery gives this small town square a unique flavor of shops and atmosphere.

We took first place in our class and if I understood correctly we were the only team to get all the questions correct.

We look forward to returning to Middle Tennessee in July for the Bell Buckle Park rally.

Saturday, April 07, 2007



I made a return trip to Coal Creek OHV area on Windrock mountain. The last time I was here was when I met the guys from the XJ list here.

There have been several changes since my last visit. Mainly the new windmills and the changes to the roads required to transport the windmills to the top of the mountain.

They now charge per person instead of per vehicle. This essentially doubles the cost for most trips but at $15 per person it is still a bargain.

Traveling with me this time was Robert in his Toyota pickup. Navigating for both of us was our friend Tom.

Even with three very skilled map readers, we got lost several times using the park provided map. Once we finally learned to ignore the new looking roads, we id much better at navigating, but still somehow ended up exiting the park in stead of back at the snack shack for lunch. We are still not sure how we did that.

What was most interesting about the day was the variety of trails. Most of the day we had dust to deal with. Then we found some rocks. Later we found these huge mud holes on the top of the mountain, I think my alternator fell victim to one of them as on the trip home it stopped charging. I drove 150 miles on the remaining battery.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mike Strawbridge in IMSA?

It is amazing what you can find when you Google your name. Seems there was a racer with my same name back in the 80's. I do remember one time someone asking me about a crash they had seen me in on TV. Was probably this guy.

1986 : Al Holbert last title, part 3By AlexGT Ron Canizares and Mike Strawbridge took a second place in a Tiga GT286 Mazda, just ahead of class Champion Jim Downing, who drove his usual Argo JM19 Mazda with friend John Maffucci. The GTO class was to be a big fight between ...IMSAblog -

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

100AW Rally

Once again this year I visited Salem, Mo for the 100 Acre wood rally.

This year my job was event steward.

Read more....

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mysterious Jeep CPS failure

Friday afternoon, I got a call form Scott saying his new stroker motor had died just east of Nashville, Tn. He was going 70mph and it just cut off.

I worked him through trouble shooting the system on the phone.

When I told him to check the connector on the CPS, he told me that he had found the trouble. The wires were gone!

I did not comprehend what he was saying at the time. I thought he said they were broken. He meant GONE!

While I loaded my XJ on the trailer and hooked up the Suburban, he was laying on the cold ground on the side of the interstate removing and rewiring his CPS.

By the time I got there (3 hours later) he had new wires run from the CPS to the ECU and had it running. One bolt was inside the Transmission however.

So we swapped XJ's and he headed on to Alabama to see his girl and I took his XJ back home to swap in a new CPS and repair the harness.

It looked like some gremlin had jumped in there and yanked the wires out. I can't figure out how it happened as that wire is pretty protected. I made sure the new one is tied up out of the way of anything.

I did enjoy taking his XJ back to him Sunday. His stoker motor has way more torque than my daily driver. I managed to take some tread off the rear tires when crossing the street to where we were meeting when I got into the gas just a little bit too much.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

New 4.7 L Stroker install

Scott's Wagoneer gets a stroker

88 Jeep Cherokee wagoneer

During Scott's Christmas break from college we installed a Titan Stroker motor in his 88 XJ Wagoneer.

He also added some lace wheels and a new gage cluster at the same time.

Due to the holiday season and some illness in our family, we have not really pushed to get the job done quickly. Working just a few hours here and there. Even at that pace it has taken just over a week to get the swap completed.

The motor started on the first revolution and after a few seconds of rough idle the computer began to adapt to all the changes: different injectors, new o2 sensor etc.

Once it warmed up it settled into a nice steady rumble. Since he has a quiet muffler on his and soft motor mounts, there is not much difference in the sound from stock. It runs so quite you can hear the injectors clicking.

Scott asked Titan to build this one to be as fuel efficient as possible. Chuck at Titan engines said he built it with lower compression and a milder cam than my race engine.

Scott will be keeping records to see how good the fuel economy really is. He may have to get past the period of enjoying the new found torque before he gets really good number however. I have had my motor for about a year now and I still have not gotten past playing with it every time I drive it. Just as well I don't keep fuel economy data on it.

So thanks to Chuck at we have another stroker in the family.

Friday, December 22, 2006

New Titan engines 4.7L Stroker install

4.7L Stroker Motor

We have been so happy with the first Titan Stroker motor that my son Scott decided to get one for his XJ Wagoneer.

We got it bolted in place yesterday. Now we just have to do the finishing touches like wiring up the alternator, starter and new injectors that are still in route via fed ex.

Hope to start it up before new years.

4.7L Stroker jeep

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Don't be a wuss!

David DeAngelo is one of the greatest writers I have read on the subject of not being a wuss. While I usually try to phrase things in a more positive way, he drives home the important point that the biggest problem men have these days is their lack of being men - being a wuss.I have posted two new article for you to learn from:
Ten most dangerous mistakes men make with women
A secret women know that men don't

Be sure to get his foundation book "Double your dating."

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sad day for the Green Mamba

The Green Mamba, a jet powered show car and dragster from the sixties has been stolen and stripped. I remember seeing this car at a car show when I was a kid. My condolences to Doug Rose on the loss of his prize possession. Maybe he can rebuild it.

Read the article here....

Monday, November 27, 2006

What makes a great kiss?

How to be a Great Kisser

The kiss near the end of Gone with the Wind is rated as the most memorable movie kiss of all time. Even after seventy years this one is still the greatest.

But what makes a kiss great? Is a kiss not just a kiss?

Read more about the five characteristics of a great kiss in this article:

Practice with your JeepGirl.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

First speeder caught in 1912

First Woman Speeder Is Fined $25 in Minneapolis;Accident Causes Arrest

Mrs. Margaret Speer, the first woman in Minneapolis ever charged with auto speeding, paid a fine of $25 today in municipal court for running faster than fifteen miles an hour on Washington avenue N.
A big hat, a high wind and an unlucky circumstance that put the police auto directly in the path of Mrs. Speer’s machine, caused her arrest. Otherwise the police say her speed was so great they never could have caught her.

Read more here....

Now if she had just had this information she might have gotten out of that speeding ticket.
Read more here...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Boosting our testosterone levels

John Alanis wrote this week about the declining testosterone levels of the American males. In his article he mentioned that few men do manly things anymore. Most of them just sit around on the couch and watch TV.

Well this weekend at least a few men went out into the woods and did manly stuff. Taking Jeeps off road this weekend turned out to be a bigger adventure than any of us planned for.

But we got a great lesson in how to work together and how to perform like men.

During what was planned to be just a quick warm up before we hit the hard trails we encountered a hill that few of us could climb. But once it started to rain, we were committed to getting up, down and out of the woods together.

This group of relative strangers pulled together and quickly formed a smooth working team. There was no whining about the cold and rain, there was a truck to get up the hill. No egos got in the way. Just the powerful relaxed confidence of knowing that we had the skills and tools we needed and we were going to accomplish the task of getting everyone safely out.

This type of activity is what John says in missing in our modern American culture. That is why so many men are having trouble in their relationships. They don't have that relaxed confidence in their masculinity.

If you want to learn more about being a man that attracts women, or just having the relaxed confidence to handle any situation, you don't have to risk your life or your Jeep, just click here to get John's course.

For the full story of the Harlan Adventure see

Monday, November 13, 2006

Harlan, Ky Jeep Cherokees Off Road

The XJ fall Crawl was in Harlan, Ky this year. The rain and steep hills of Kentuky made this the most exciting fall crawl ever.

The complete story is posted at:

Thursday, November 09, 2006

XJ List fall crawl

I am getting packed now for the XJ list fall crawl. This year we are headed for Harlan, Ky.

None of us have ever been but the pictures look awesome.

There have already been some great stories told about the adventure of getting there. Adam has lost his keys and some of the others are stuck in traffic trying to get off the interstate.

I still expect my trip to be relaxing and uneventful. I have the Suburban packed and the XJ is ready to go.

I raised the Co driver seat off the floor so Scott can see out. He will make a better spotter that way. A rally co driver does not need to see as well so I have the seat mounted low and to the rear normally.

We head out tomorrow.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Jeep Coaching

Are you absolutely thrilled with the car your are driving right now?

If not what are your car dreams? Do you want a lifted stroked Jeep that will go anywhere safely and reliably?

Or do you desire a powerful diesel pickup that will tow all your off road toys to the woods?

No matter what your car dreams are, I can help you achieve them.

I am now offering for a limited time a coaching service for men and women who want to enjoy the feeling of knowing they are driving exactly the kind of vehicle they always wanted.

So no matter what kind of car or truck or Jeep you want to drive, my car coaching will help you get there in the style you deserve.

Read more at or contact me at to set up a free coaching assessment session to find out if car-coaching is right for you.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Jeep Cherokee winch mount

lifted jeep cherokee flex

Instead of reusing the bumper form Scuffy I, I decided to mount my new harbor freight winch.

I used the base plate that came with the winch as the bulk of the bumper. I used angle iron to make frame attachment brackets and some of the square tubing let over from the old bumper to make the outriggers.

Cost $5 for bolts.

Jeep Cherokee winch mount

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Stroked and Lifted Jeep Cherokee update

A little spray paint helps to blend in the cut fenders.

Scott got artistic with the grill as well.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Scuffy II progress report

I just swapped the cut fenders from Scuffy I onto the race car and rolled the rear fenders to clear the big tires.

Now I just have to decide which front bumper to use or maybe fabricate an new one to hold my winch.

Snake Photo

Thanks to Jamie Perry for sending me this photo for our Course response vehicle with the mounted "trophy"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Crow Mountain Hill Climb

This past weekend I had huge fun working the Crow Mountain Hill Climb.

While it is technically an SCCA time trial event, the fact that they use a section of public road that is closed for the timed runs makes it operate like a single stage performance rally.

Because of my Rally experience, I was asked to assist in the function of course marshal.

This job consists of monitoring the safety and security of the course during the event. We also had Bill Perry's Jeep equipped with sufficient supplies to qualify us as a first response vehicle.

If anyone had an incident on the hill, we could respond quickly and determine the best course of action - like getting a wrecker or ambulance if needed or simply towing them ourselves if that was possible.

Our biggest surprise of the day was when turn nine reported unknown debris on the track. We were dispatched to investigate and discovered that a 44 inch timber rattler had made it on to the course and had been fatally struck by one of the race cars.

Sadly I swept the remains off the road. But after the event, I recovered the snake and mounted him on the front bumper of Bill's Jeep to show the unbelievers in the paddock area.

We used wire ties instead of duct tape so we don't really qualify as rednecks.

Pictures to follow.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Beasley Knob trip

I ran Beasley Knob today to give Scuffy II a trial run. I ran with Robert's Toyota Pickup as backup.

We ran trails A, C, D, and G
The above picture is from Trail D just before the Hill climb.

Trail C was blocked by a fallen tree between E and B so we could not make the whole loop.

The forest service has just done some grading and graveling on the main trail A. They have also run a dozer over some of the more difficult trails but they are still challenging on 30" tires.

We had the place pretty much to ourselves during the morning but after noon we started meeting ATVs and Motorcycles so we decided to head out as passing is very difficult on the narrow trails.

The red clay was slipper when wet but offered good traction when dry. The area has very few rocks. Mostly just narrow and sometimes steep clay roads.

Some places are very narrow and look like they would be difficult to get through in anything wider than a Jeep.

I was very happy with the way Scuffy II handled the obstacles. I only locked the front once and it did not help as i had the rear diff hung on one of the few rocks there so even all four tire pulling would not get me up the hill. Taller tires would have made a big difference.

The stroker engine was great all day. I still had to be careful not to give too much throttle or I would spin in the damp clay. The compression braking was way better than my old motor making going downhill very nice and controlled.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Scuffy II update

Stroked and Lifted Jeep Cherokee

This past weekend I stripped the lift springs and rock rails off of

Scuffy to swap on to the Rally racer to make Scuffy II.

Because I cut one of my 35" tires on playing on Scuffy's last run, I am running 30" for now.

The flex is amazing and the tight turning radius is nice on the tight twisty trails around my farm.

The torque of the Titan Engines Stroker motor is awesome. Even with the race cam, the power comes on nice and smooth. There is a noticeable bump in power as the revs go up. It caught me off guard on one side hill climb and got me in a scary spot for a while.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Proper use of the roof rack

Here is a story about a guy who lost 1.1 million dollars worth of paintings off the roof of his car.

And I worry about hauling my ladder on my roof rack.

Suntimes article

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Jeep Cherokee Blind Spot?

According to this article the Jeep Cherokee has the worst blind spot of any car they tested. maybe they see things differently in South Africa, but one of the things I love about my XJ Jeep Cherokee is the visibility.

I did relocate the rear view mirror higher up on the glass to rid myself of that blind spot , but they are talking about the A pillar.

Even in my Rally racer, we were able to fabricate the A pillar bars so that there was no loss of visibility around the A pillars.

The photo they show in the article looks like form a Lumina APV. My dad has one of those and I hate driving it due to the huge blind spot due to its massive A pillars and strangely sloped windshield.

Anyway, I don't get it. I don't have a problem with my Jeep Cherokee blind spots.

Electric trailer brakes or lack there of

My trailer gets a lot of use. When it is not being used to transport my RallyJeep to and event or Scuffy to the woods, it is being used to haul furniture or maybe scrap metal to the recyclers.

I often pull it with my Jeep Cherokee but if it has a heavy load I pull it with my Suburban. I prefer the long wheel base of the Suburban to keep things stable.

Well, recently I offered to haul a friend's minivan to my shop to replace his steering rack for him.

He lives at the top of a steep gravel hill. It would have been no problem if the trailer brakes were working - but they we not. Click here to read the rest of the story and how I repaired the brakes.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Be careful what you think continued....

Yesterday we again towed our Ski Supreme to Parksville Lake for some boating. It has been a while since we have enjoyed this activity. Normally, we go at least once a week, but this summer we have been busy with other activities.

I commented that it had been so long since we went boating that I would have to be retrained. My words proved to be all to prophetic.

After some time enjoying knee boarding and wake boarding, we headed back to the boat ramp. That is when I noticed the keys to the Jeep were not where I normally keep them. About that time I also remembered accidentally placing them in my pocket instead of where we normally keep them in the boat.

I am sure that if not during my first start on the wakeboard, then during one of my yard sale falls - you know the kind where your board, vest, shorts and gloves are spread out across the water like at a yard sale - the Jeep keys came out of my pocket and were likely swallowed by one of the giant catfish that live in the deep waters of Parksville Lake.

So if you happen to be SCUBA diving or catch a large fish in Parksville Lake and find a Jeep key, please return it to me.

And thanks to Dad for taking me home to get the spare key and the cute girl at the Ocoee Inn that let me use the phone since mine was safely locked up in the Jeep.

Oh and JeepGirl says thanks to the cute guy who towed her back to the dock after the boat vapor locked due to heat soak in the hot sun while waiting for me to get back with the key.

For more on the dark side of manifesting your thoughts, I again direct you to:

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Don't think about what you don't want

I was thinking about how I manifested that flat tire on my trailer by thinking about not having a spare. Sometimes I wish manifesting thoughts was not so easy.

To read more about the Dark Side of manifesting see my article on

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Trailer Spare tire mount

This past weekend, we made a trip to Cookeville, Tn.

We had the trailer and the Suburban loaded with Scott's furniture for his new apartment near Tennessee Tech.

I have always carried the trailer spare rather randomly and I don't really pay much attention to it as I have only had to use it twice in twenty five years of towing this trailer. Once in Missouri and once in Mississippi.

Well with all the stuff on the trailer and in the back of the Suburban, there was not a convenient place for the spare, so I just left it in the barn. I am sure my thinking about not having the spare helped to manifest the big screw that made its way into the right rear tire just before we got on the interstate. I noticed it in my pre entrance ramp check of straps and tires.

So I left Scott to guard the trailer and his stuff while I went back to the house to get the jack and spare and tire plugging kit. About an hour later, we had four properly inflated tires and we were on our way again.

So today, I fabricated a spare tire mount that slides into the receiver tube on the front of the trailer. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jeep Stroker Engine update

Jeep Stroker Motor

My stoker from Titan engines is continuing to provide great service.

Now that I am in the process of converting this Jeep from a dedicated racer to a multi use vehicle, I was a little concerned about my cam choice. I specified a high performance cam grind for my planed racing activities.

However, in my testing so far, the engine runs great a t low RPM as well as high. It will crawl along easily with the transfer case in low range and the transmission in second gear with the throttle still closed. It simply chugs along nice and smooth. (In first gear, you can use a sundial to see it move. That may change when I fit up the taller tires.)

I got a little scare on oil pressure the other day but that turned out to be a sending unit problem.

Overall, I still can't say enough good things about my Titan Engines stroker motor. I could not have built on myself for what they delivered this one to my door.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Mississippi Off road

Lifted jeep cherokee
Our trip to the lake involved using what was left of the old road, some creative bypasses around fallen trees and some horse trails.

We let our younger son Will get in some wheel time on the way back to the house.

Some of the old road had some big ruts but they were easy to straddle with Scuffy.

The hill that I remembered as being so big and scary as a child was no adventure at all. In fact I kept wondering where it went. We have had to winch many a tractor and pickup up that hill in he past but it was really nothing at all in a Lifted Jeep Cherokee. Except for the places where we had to push trees out of the way, I think I could have made the trip in my daily driver Jeep.
lifted jeep cherokee

Columbus, Ms

Touring Historic Columbus, Ms

While in Mississippi, we took a day to tour some of the surrounding towns. I was born in Pontotoc where we stayed and visited the lake in Scuffy. But I grew up near Aberdeen and Hamilton, Ms.

It took a while to find my old house in Hamilton as the roads have all changed. My Daddy Straw's old shop in Gibson Mississippi is almost invisible in the weeds by the new highway. I could still make out the cab of the old winch truck in the bushes.

We went on down the road to Columbus where Mom got her master's degree in Nutrition from MUW.

The visitors center is located in the old Tennessee Williams home. He wrote a couple of plays you may have heard of, Streetcar Named Desire and Fiddler on the Roof.

We took a short walking tour of the historic downtown area. I noticed that all the girls on the street looked really hot. In fact with the temperature around 100 every one looked hot.

We returned to Pontotoc through the Tombigbee National forest and enjoyed the curvy gravel roads.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Scuffy Safari

Jeep Cherokee off road in Mississippi

Today I towed Scuffy to Mississippi to make a trek to our lake there. The lake is way on the backside of the property on a road that has not been maintained in many years.

There was some evidence that some ATV's had been there some time ago but not recently.

We had to drive around fallen trees, over some small trees and through lots of kudzu and briars.

Scuffy enjoyed playing bulldozer.

We finally made it to Callaway Lake just before sunset.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Water Skiing on Parksville Lake


We spent some time on this hot July day at our new favorite restaurant - The Ocoee Dam Deli and boating on Parksville Lake.

My Jeep Cherokee ran just a touch warm towing the our Ski Supreme up the mountain but nothing to worry about.

The water was so warm it felt like a hot tub. After a run of wake boarding or knee boarding it felt good to just float in the water and relax.

I pulled my slalom ski out of the bag for the first time in about a year. I took a couple of passes at the course but I was doing good to manage six wake crossing much less make the buoys. Eating first was a bad idea, but since the Ocoee dam deli closes at 5 pm it was the only way to make both.

I though both the girls working at the deli were going to close up shop and join is at the lake but they decided it would be better to serve the waiting customers. Maybe next time girls.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

ARB Wiring Complete

Jeep Cherokee Accessories

Since it all works, I routed the wiring harness through a grommet in the firewall and mounted the cute little switch in the shifter console.

I connected the control wire to the accessory circuit by splicing to the cigar lighter wire.

Jeep cherokee accessories arb

In case you are wondering that is the horn button also mounted on the console. It is there to be within reach of the co driver.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Scuffy II's first stuck

Jeep Cherokee Stuck in the mud

Little stiff gravel race tires don't work well in the mud. Even with the ARB spinning all four of them.

jeep cherokee stuck in the mud

Had to get JeepGirl and the original Scuffy to rescue me.

jeep cherokee stuck in the mud

Temporary wiring for testing my used ARB

Jeep Cherokee Accessories

I was not sure about all those colored wires on the ARB compressor so I hooked it up temporarily to make sure it all worked. I did not get a wiring diagram with my box of parts.

The easiest hot wire tap I could find was the dome light.

ARB wiring Jeep Cherokee

Notice the use of my nomex driving suit in case of fire.

The cute little light in the switch works and everything!

The compressor is now mounted solidly where the washer bottle should be. Just need to route the wires in through the firewall and find a place to mount the switch.

arb compressor Jeep cherokee

Scuffy II Build up update

Jeep Cherokee performance

The Rally Jeep needs a place to race bad today. I now have the Chrysler 8.25 with a lock right locker in the rear and an ARB equipped Dana 30 in the front. Both fitted with 3.55 gears.

On the little race tires and all four locked up the acceleration in incredible. I left off the rear sway bar in preparation for off roading so the rear traction is enhanced even more.

In fact, if I were to race it today, I would try it with out the rear bar. With the locker in the rear, I can still kick the rear out under throttle even in 4x4. Huge fun!

More later.

jeep cherokee performance

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Peparing the Dana 30 for the front of Scuffy II

Lifted Jeep Cherokee

Scuffy II is getting the ARB I bought a while back. It is already installed in a Dana 30 front axle. The axle has late model knuckles that were damaged so my plan is to swap on the old knuckles from the existing front axle.

When I pulled the axle shafts they look quit a bit beefier than what I remembered a Dana 30 looking like. These may be some heavy duty axles. Nice bonus if that is the case.

Since I plan to use stock lower control arms, I clearanced the arm pockets adn shock mounts to get a little more drop before the arms hit.

See before and after pics below.