Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Jeep Wrangler: On Top of the World

Another great Jeep Wrangler commercial!  It's 10 or more years old, but it's still one of the best ads I've ever seen.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Snatch Strap Recovery Techniques

ARB makes some of the best 4x4 protection, drivetrain, and recovery equipment you can buy.  They also put together some pretty great videos.

They recently published this video demonstrating the proper use of a snatch strap.  It's important to use them correctly, because a mistake can be painful or deadly.

Most vehicle recovery equipment (winches, Hi-Lift jacks, etc.) are inherently dangerous, but anything that stores kinetic energy such as a snatch strap must be used with caution.  It's always good form to keep bystanders out of range of potential flying objects.

A snatch strap should be considered a mandatory piece of emergency equipment (along with a clevis or two) that you keep with your off-road vehicle.  It's not a replacement for a winch or a Hi-Lift jack, but it's lightweight, compact, and inexpensive so there's no excuse for not carrying one with you.  Sometimes it's the only tool in your recovery bag that will work!

Here's a clear demonstration of the wrong way to use a snatch strap:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why brains are more important than throttle

This video is a classic example of why it's more important to drive using your head rather than your right foot:

Thankfully both the driver and passenger were okay.  The Jeep is going to need a lot of body work, but at least it seems to have survived mechanically.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

RS-2477: What is it?

In the interest of spreading the word Revised Statute 2477 and preserving this concise and readable summation of legal mumbo-jumbo regarding the federal law that establishes every American's right-of-way on existing public roads and trails, I am reprinting the following information written by Jody Czapla, edited by John Stewart, and published at

Hello all. I am Jody and I am going to be trying to help out here and inform all of you about Land Use Issues. Sound like something to read to put you to sleep? Well, some of it is. But, if you fall asleep reading it then you will at some time in the future be using that 4 wheel drive that you have built as a bed because that is all it will be good for. We are in a fight to keep roads and areas open for all to enjoy and without knowing what is going on, you are the biggest danger to your sport.

Environmental Extremism: The Wildlands Project

Land closure is a very real problem, especially for those who enjoy recreating outdoors in public backcountry lands.  The Wildlands Project (a.k.a. The Wildlands Network) is but one of countless "environmental" organizations that are desperately fighting to take away YOUR right to responsibly access and recreate on the public lands you cherish - and for which you pay taxes to the government to manage for your and future generations' enjoyment.

What's wrong with being an "environmentalist"???  Nothing.  I am an environmentalist, and every one of my 4wheeling buddies are environmentalists.  We all appreciate, respect, and protect our natural resources; none of us wants to see our backcountry's natural health and beauty damaged, and we're all members of clubs that actively work on resource preservation projects.  We prove year after year that mechanized recreationists are an asset to the community and to the environment by not only setting a good example amongst ourselves, but also by working side-by-side with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management rangers on countless land management projects.

Del & Stacie Albright's Trail Access Partnership Tour

I've mentioned before about Del Albright leading the fight to keep public lands open to the public.  He and Stacie Albright have come up with some creative ways to grab the public's attention and recruit more troops.  One of their current strategies is the Trail Access Partnership Tour which they describe as such:
TAPT is about saving trails and building support for organized recreation:
Join BlueRibbon Coalition Del & Stacie Albright on landuse fun convoys, dedicated to trail access awareness and building strength in organized recreation groups, while providing adventure stops and area orientations along the way.  every_trail_sacred_ribbon.jpgSupport landuse; have fun; hang with the big boys like Nemesis Industries, Burnsville Offroad, T&T Customs, Daystar and other partner businesses.     
Campfire stories will be unequalled!   Evening sessions will include landuse seminars, membership building motivational speeches, leadership tips, and vendor showcasing with tech tips as appropriate.
Our goals include: To increase awareness of landuse and access; to build support for organized recreation groups like the BlueRibbon Coalition; to promote responsible motorized recreation; and to secure a future for all of us to have access to our public lands and private OHV areas. (NOTE: "Every Trail is Sacred" ribbon used by permission from Rubicon Rockheads)
The Trail Access Partnership Tour is already underway; you can follow Team Albright's travels on their blog.  They also put together a short video from their adventure on Sleeping Princess and Cactus Canyon trails, outside Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, Arizona, which are two of countless trails across America that are currently under very real threat of closure by liberal politicians under pressure from environmental extremists:

If you want to learn more about these trails and others like them in Arizona, there is no better guidebook than Guide to Arizona Backroads and 4-Wheel Drive Trails.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Heated seat installation

Heated seats don't add anything to the off-road ability that defines a Jeep, but if like I am you're writing a blog with the tag line Building the Perfect Jeep for the Best Off Road Adventures, then they're pretty much a requirement.  After all, what could possibly improve a brisk morning trail run with the top off?  The warmth and comfort of heated seats!  Sounds like a worthwhile addition to the perfect Jeep.

There are numerous seat heater kits available, and like most aftermarket parts they are of varying quality.  A lot of people go with the factory original Mopar kit (part number 82210854AC) that Jeep dealers can install for you, but after one of our friends had great success with the kit from Roadless Gear in his Suzuki Samurai, I decided to go that route and save some money.  One of the other benefits to this kit is that these heater pads are dimensionally much larger than the Mopar heater pads as well as others that you can find on eBay and other vendors; on the Wrangler's seats, these heaters extend the full length of the bottom cushion, and the backrest gets heated from the base all the way up to the fabric's seam near the top of the seat!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Jeep Wrangler one of 2012's cheapest cars to own

Forbes has reported through Yahoo Autos that the Jeep Wrangler is one of 2012's cheapest cars to own when factoring in all ownership costs, including depreciation, fuel costs, insurance costs, financing, repairs, maintenance, and average state sales taxes and registration fees over a five-year ownership period.  You can read what they say specifically about the Wrangler on page 3 of the article.

The only fault I found in their calculation is the addictive nature of Jeep ownership; everyone who owns one seems to get hooked on modifying it!  Lift kits, tires, bumpers, winches, and skidplates aren't cheap...

Monday, February 20, 2012

Del Albright fighting to keep public lands open to the public

Del Albright of BlueRibbon Coalition is one of the leaders in the fight to keep public lands open to the public.  I have met him countless times and can personally vouch for his reputation; he is one of the nicest and hardest-working individuals I know.  His cause is preserving our natural resources FOR the public instead of FROM the public.

Del put together this video at King of the Hammers 2012 to show just one event in just one area of our country that is under serious threat of closure not only by the environmental extremists, but also by the Marines: is one of countless organizations that is working hard to preserve YOUR access to the public Johnson Valley OHV Area for which YOU pay taxes.  If you want to continue being able to recreate here, or even if you simply agree that the government has no business locking you out of YOUR public lands, please consider making a contribution to those who are down in the trenches fighting the good fight on your behalf.

Autoblog reviews the 2012 Jeep Wrangler is one of my favorite websites for automotive news and reviews.  Their review of the revised-for-2012 Jeep Wrangler included some of Oregon's rather challenging off-road trails in addition to the typical on-road media event.

The big news for 2012 is the all-new engine and 5-speed automatic transmission for improved liveability while serving on-road duty, but the off-road abilities carry over from the the 2007-2011 models.

They even include a couple entertaining video clips that demonstrate the Rubicon's ability to effortlessly crawl through obstacles that would challenge or completely halt lesser "off-road" SUVs.  Autoblog's staff may not be experienced off-roaders, but even newbies are able to get far into the backcountry with the right equipment.

Autoblog reviews the 2009 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited is one of my favorite websites for automotive news and reviews.  They aren't hardcore off-roaders, but they know enough to be impressed with the off-road abilities of the 2009 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited they lived with for a week-long road test.

As expected, the non-offroader who reviewed it found it to be slow, noisy, and uncomfortable in a daily driving context, especially when compared to the latest and greatest commuter cars and luxury cars they're accustomed to driving.  However, he had a change of heart after taking some advice:
After a couple less than comfortable days with the Wrangler Unlimited, this blogger felt compelled to complain to the Autoblog staff. Fellow scribe Jeremy Korzeniewski implored me to take the Rubicon off-road and said the experience would change my mind. Unfortunately, I had pictures to take and posts to write, so the fun would have to wait until the weekend. Then it happened. On the fourth day with the Wrangler Unlimited, the skies opened up and it began to snow. Two inches in about an hour, and right in time for the morning commute. In most vehicles, the ride would have been hell. In the Rubicon, snow is nothing but an appetizer.
That night we headed straight for some open land with a "take all the dirt you want" sign posted at the entrance. Hills, dips, mud, ice and snow were all there to enjoy, and enjoy we did. For 45 minutes, the Jeep took everything thrown at it. Not only was the Rubicon free of complaint, but it actually seemed happy, and the driver's seat somehow felt more comfortable. This is what Jeep owners are on about.
The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon was never intended to be a daily driver, but the fact that it performs this task as competently as it does is amazing, considering its off-road bias.  The 2012 Wrangler's new engine, transmission, and interior go a long way towards correcting the biggest complaints of the 2007-2011 models, making it an even better all-arounder without sacrificing its off-road abilities.

Now that Jeep has introduced the highly-desirable revised Wrangler, 2007-2010 models are flooding the used-car market.  If you're like me and don't need your Jeep to have the new hot-rod motor, can row your own gears to extract the most from the old motor with the 6-speed manual, and can do without the luxury-car interior, you can pick up a low-mileage early JK at an incredible discount.  The $14,000 I was able to save versus buying new will go a long way towards upfitting my 2010 JKUR with all the off-road equipment it will ever need.

Autoblog reviews the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport is one of my favorite websites for automotive news and reviews.  Their staff may not have any experienced off-roaders, but that doesn't mean they can't write a very entertaining review of the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Sport.  Follow the link to view a couple short video clips of their real-world off-road test of the Jeep at the Coal Creek OHV Area.

This may have been the commuter-car version of the Wrangler, but even with open differentials and weenie tires, it still demonstrated its superiority over any other off-road-oriented vehicle on the market.  A few key quotes summed up their opinion of the Wrangler:
The Wrangler remains one of the most capable off-road machines money can buy straight from the factory, and years of abuse, research and development from Jeep loyalists and engineers have turned it into a turn-key trail boss.
Make no mistake, this is quite possibly the best vehicle produced by an American manufacturer today. It excels at its given purpose in a way that's simply unparalleled by other products.
In a way, Chrysler has managed to execute a very Porsche-like development philosophy with the Wrangler. The iteration we see today is the culmination of decades of evolution instead of pathetic niche filling. This is the 911 of the off-road world, and its showroom capability is a testament to what Chrysler has accomplished.
Even with 3.21 gears and open differentials on both ends, the Wrangler Sport is an unstoppable force of nature and a suitable heir to the throne.
With the base model so capable right out of the box, imagine their opinion of the Wrangler's off-road ability if they had driven a Rubicon model!  At least they proved that even the Sport model is a true off-road vehicle.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jeep JK-8 in Jay Leno's Garage

VWerks brought their 2012 Jeep Red Jacket Edition over to Jay Leno's Garage, and the ultimate car guy was impressed!  How could any fan of 4x4s not appreciate a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited-based JK-8 that's then further modified with 5 inches of lift, 40-inch tires, and all the offroading equipment one could ever need, yet still drives comfortably on asphalt?

Follow this link to watch the episode of Jay Leno's Garage.

Government Closure of our National Forests

I just watched a disturbing documentary that shows how our corrupt government is locking the public out of the public lands we entrust them to manage for us.

It's important to remember that land closures affect all members of the public, not just OHV users.  Wilderness Areas are closed to everyone but hikers, no matter how environmentally-insignificant your chosen form of recreation may be.  Bicyclists, kayakers, hang gliders, equestrians, motor boaters, sailers, snowmobilers, and everyone else are banned - by YOUR federal government - from the public land your tax dollars fund that fall within the boundaries of Wilderness Areas.  Even Boy & Girl Scouts, veterans' groups, the elderly, the young, and the disabled aren't allowed to access Wilderness Areas unless they're able to do so by foot.

A political war is being waged by the "green elitists" against the rest of Americans.  Organizations such as BlueRibbon Coalition are fighting hard to preserve your right to access public lands in a responsible manner.  Access and enjoyment does not mean the environment will be destroyed; we all have a responsibility to respect and protect public lands for present and future generations of humans, flora, and fauna.

The liberal anti-access agenda does nothing to help the environment - it merely hurts those who work hardest to enjoy and protect our public lands.

Jeep Wrangler JK's at the 2012 King of the Hammers race

Jeep Wrangler JKs were again the dominant vehicles at this year's King of the Hammers race.  The lakebed was flooded with JKs of all shapes and sizes - if you wanted to see any possible combination of suspension, bumpers, and other mods, KOH is the place to do it!

I mentioned in an earlier blog entry that Off Road Evolution was competing in the 2012 King of the Hammers race in their Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.  Here are two videos from the race:

Qualifying lap beginning on Chocolate Thunder:

The actual start of the race:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon also wins 2012 4x4 Of The Year

I recently blogged about the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon winning Four Wheeler Magazine's Four Wheeler Of The Year award in both 2007 and 2012 for its superiority over every other 4x4 on the market.  The other top off-road magazine in the industry, Petersen's 4Wheel & Off-Road Magazine, has a similar annual competition in which they determine the winner of their 4x4 Of The Year award.

And guess which vehicle won?

That's right, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon won in both 2007 and 2012.

Yup, the JK kicks ass!

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon earns 2012 Four Wheeler Of The Year

It's always nice to see the press recognize true engineering superiority instead of falling for marketing fluff.  After Four Wheeler Magazine named the new 2007 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon the winner of its Four Wheeler of the Year competition back in 2007, they have again named the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon the winner, praising the addition of the new and improved engine & automatic transmission to the proven chassis and drivetrain of the earlier models.

It's not just the experts from Four Wheeler who are this impressed by the Jeep JK; the other top U.S. 4 wheel drive magazine awarded the Wrangler Rubicon with their own similar praise.

The number one gripe about the 2007-2011 Wrangler is its 3.8-liter engine and the archaic 4-speed automatic transmission.  Combine the two, and you have a very anemic vehicle, especially in the heaver 4-door Unlimited model.  However, with the 6-speed manual transmission (which is the same one used with the new 3.6-liter engine in the 2012 models) and the Rubicon model's 4.10 axle gears, I've found power to be more than adequate in my factory-stock 2010 Unlimited Rubicon.  Only time will tell how much my opinion will change once I install my suspension lift and oversize tires on my Jeep.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jeep Wrangler "Avalanche" Commercial

Jeep keeps on making the most entertaining commercials in all of advertising, and their latest "Avalanche" commercial raises the bar again.  I don't care who you are - this is pure entertainment!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jeep grille mod

One of the few poorly-engineered areas of the Jeep Wrangler is its distinctive grille.  It's not that the traditional 7-slat grille isn't attractive or functional, it's that the large openings allow leaves and stones to clog and damage the radiator's fins - there's nothing between the slats to prevent junk from getting in there.

While continuing to plan my big-ticket mods to the Jeep, I spent a free weekend evening performing this quick and easy fix: gluing some zip tie blocks to the backside of the grille, which secures some mesh across the grille slat openings.  I didn't happen to have any expanded metal lying around, and my local hardware stores would only sell it in bulk, so instead I opted to use some inexpensive gutter-guard material.

I could have used aluminum gutter guard, but I wanted this to be a subtle mod, which would have required painting the silver metal black.  The problem is that the paint is likely to chip off, even if I spent a good deal of time cleaning, primering, and then painting the mesh.  Instead of going through that hassle, I opted to use a cheap roll of black plastic gutter guard material and used some heavy-duty scissors to cut 7 individual pieces which I oriented vertically behind each slat and affixed with zip ties.  So far it looks great and is holding up just fine, but if the plastic winds up stretching or breaking down over time due to sunlight and ozone, I can always cut the zip ties and attach some aluminum gutter guard to the same zip tie blocks in place of the plastic gutter guard.

I didn't bother to post my own how-to because this is such a common mod, you can find pictures and discussion on just about every Jeep forum on the Internet. is worth checking out.

Wheel Alignment Explained

Most auto enthusiasts understand the importance of an accurate wheel alignment, but few know many of the details behind the various settings.  Four Wheeler Magazine's blog provided some good information that is definitely worth passing around to every 4x4 enthusiast.  Smithees Race Car Technologies has a great explanation of caster, camber, and toe settings, as well as more advanced suspension tuning such as dynamic camber angles.

Most of what you need to know for general 4x4 use can be learned from this 5-minute video: