Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jeep Wrangler at King of the Hammers

Who would have thought you could take a bone-stock Jeep Wrangler, bolt on some off-the-shelf parts, and be able to compete head-to-head against drivers like Jason Scherer, Shannon Campbell, Tony Pelligrino, and Loren Healey in the toughest 1-day race in the world?  That's exactly what Poly Performance and Offroad Evolution have been doing for the last three years with their entries in the King of the Hammers race in Johnson Valley, CA.

Offroad Evolution put together this video preview of their 2012 race entry Jeep:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Canadians & Californians come together on the Rubicon Trail

Project-JK puts together some pretty awesome Jeep adventure videos.  One of my favorites is this one, in which a group of Jeepers from Canada drove down to run the Rubicon Trail their first time with a California crew:

Typical of any difficult trail run, there was no shortage of breakage and body damage, but everyone made it through and went home a better person than they were before the trip.

If you've never been on the Rubicon Trail and don't have a group of experienced leaders to guide you, this book is perhaps the best one to bring since its sole focus is on the Rubicon Trail itself.  If you are interested in exploring other trails in the Northern California area but are concerned that the Rubicon is more challenging than you or your vehicle are comfortable with, this is another great book describing 50 easy to moderate trails that allow you to explore deep into the backcountry.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon - 4X4 Rock-Trac 4WD System Explained

Jeep created this great video to demonstrate the Wrangler Rubicon's 4WD system, how it is different than - and superior to - the 4WD systems in lesser vehicles.

There are many drivetrain features that set the Rubicon apart from everything else on the road:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Rubicons on the Rubicon

Here's a fun older video from when the Wrangler JK model was first introduced; an international media introduction event allowed journalists from all over the world to give the Jeep Rubicon a try on its namesake trail:

Nothing groundbreaking here, but it's nice to see how well a bone-stock Jeep Wrangler can perform on the rocks, even with novice drivers behind the wheel.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Expedition Overland

Those of us in the off-roading community fully understand the appeal of 4wheeling, but those you who have never experienced the adventure of exploring The Great Outdoors probably don't understand why we spend thousands of dollars on equipment to go so far away from civilization and into the wilderness.

The guys over at Expedition Overland truly get it. They've put together some great videos of their backcountry adventures.  Check out a preview here:

Their videos show that you don't have to spend a fortune on vehicle mods to be able to access the backcountry, but it definitely helps.  It's funny to watch their near-stock Toyotas struggling at times on trails that are easy for a stock Jeep Wrangler - never mind a well-equipped Rubicon like I'm in the process of building!  At least they have high end recovery gear and survival know-how for when they bite off more than they can chew.

I'm of the belief that a great deal of safety comes from using equipment that's designed to perform well beyond the level to which it's actually taken.  The little 8-inch rear axle and fragile IFS with only a 7.5-inch front gearset in the Tacoma is the same as what's in the FJ Cruiser and 4Runner, and are the primary reason why I bought a Jeep instead of a Toyota.  Sure, the Toyota running gear can handle up to a 33" tire reliably, but the big solid axles and deep gearing in the Rubicon are designed with durability in mind for up to 37" tires.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Oil Filter Study

I'll be the first to admit I'm a bit OCD when it comes to the performance of the oil and filters I put in my vehicles.  Oil is the vehicle's lifeblood, absolutely critical to the performance and life expectancy of the hardware it protects.  I've never understood people trying to "save money" with cheapo oil and crappy filters that shorten the life of their vehicles.  You can have the best and still save money in the long run.

As an oil tech enthusiast, I've read lots of informative oil filter studies over the years.  I'm not one to fall for marketing propaganda or biased tests; I seek out independent tests by enthusiasts like myself.  I wanted to share a recent one that I found to be particularly informative.

I understand that most people find tech like this rather dry, so allow me to sum up this study's findings.  The most effective and best-built filter is from Royal Purple.  Thankfully, they can be found at Pep Boys' stores and on Amazon.com - much easier to source than the 2nd-place Amsoil filters.

You can see for yourself how well each filter cleaned contaminants out of the oil by looking at this compilation of close-up testing paper images.

As far as oil is concerned, I use Pennzoil Ultra which thankfully is available in money-saving 5-quart jugs from Walmart and some auto parts stores, and even better in 6-quart packs from Amazon.com.  It's a consistently high performer in oil tests while still priced significantly less than other premium synthetics.  If I find some useful oil studies, I'll share them here.

See?  You can still have the best and save money!

Experience El Dorado!

A great series named Experience El Dorado shows all that's great within the mountain county in which we live and recreate.  Their season finale was dedicated to the world-famous Rubicon Trail.  You can watch this episode's commercial on YouTube:

The full episode can be found on their website and it's well worth watching even if you know every nook and cranny of the trail.  You can find even more info on the Rubicon Trail in this handy turn-by-turn guidebook.  I've used it on every trip I've taken through the 'Con.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wrangler selling like hotcakes!

I was thrilled to read the good news in this post on Autoblog about the recent sales success Jeep has had with the 2012 Wrangler:

In case you hadn't noticed, sales of the Jeep Wrangler are on the rise. For those whose brains work best with hard data, Jeep sold 122,460 Wranglers in the United States in 2011, representing a 30-percent increase over 2010's results. Outside its home market, Jeep's 26,278 Wrangler sales marked a 10-percent increase.

Another epic commercial from Jeep.  Sure, it's an ad - but is there anything more entertaining than watching some awesome 4wheeling?

Well I suppose there's one thing more entertaining than watching: going out and doing it yourself!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mark Smith and The Rubicon Trail

Jeep and Jeep Jamboree put together this great video showing the beauty and mystique of California's Rubicon Trail.  You've got to appreciate how Jeep takes their engineering and off-road testing seriously!

Another new issue of JPFreek!

I'm always excited when a new issue of JPFreek Adventure Magazine is published, and the latest one is well worth the read.

Most free online magazines are pretty lame, but JPFreek stands apart from the rest - more along the lines of the expensive Overland Journal but with a Jeep-centric focus.  They cover the full spectrum of Jeeping, from road trips in Grand Cherokees to hardcore rockcrawling with TJ tube buggies to overlanding with a dualsport JK Wrangler.  Their reviews of offroading & camping gear are second to none.  Check 'em out!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rubicon - more than just a name

Every version of the Jeep Wrangler is extremely capable off-road - more so than just about any other vehicle these days.  The sad reality though is that most Wranglers actually spend more time mallcrawling than rockcrawling.

There is, however, a special version of the Wrangler that is designed with hardcore 4wheeling in mind.  Named in honor of California’s famed Rubicon Trail, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon comes from the factory with additional off-road equipment that any serious off-roader would otherwise choose to equip their standard-model Wrangler JK:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon COD:MW3

I’m not a fan of television.  In fact, I haven’t even owned a TV for several years.  But I enjoy creative car commercials, and Jeep’s ads seem to be among the very best. 

I love this new 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Edition.  I suppose it’s based on a video game, but I wouldn’t know.  All I care about is it’s an entertaining, high-action commercial that features a fancy Rubicon model kickin’ ass and takin’ names:

So why a Jeep?

There are many off-road capable vehicles out there to choose from, so why did I choose a Jeep?  My four primary criteria were the following:

1)  Affordable - obviously the most important factor, since a vehicle isn’t even worth considering if I can’t afford it.  A big car loan takes money away from the modifications budget for many years.  I factored in both initial purchase as well as modifications to meet my other requirements.  Everyone’s budget is different, so only you can determine what works for you.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An introduction....

I decided to start this blog to document the buildup of, and adventures with, my new Jeep.

Why would you care what I do with a Jeep?  Frankly, I don’t expect you to; this is primarily a means for me to share my thoughts, photos, and videos with my friends and family, but there are likely to be others out there who might appreciate a tidbit of info they stumble upon here.

Who am I?  You can consider me a first-time Wrangler owner although I am by no means a newbie: I’ve been around 4x4s since my folks bought an FJ60 in 1987; I bought my own first 4x4 in 1994; I went on to start my career in the 4 wheel drive off-road industry in 1996; my family and I have owned many different four wheel drive vehicles over the years: