Friday, November 22, 2013

AEV Jeep Wrangler Wins the 2013 Australasian Rally

Back in September, Team Lerner Reina and their American Expedition Vehicles-built Jeep Wrangler JK 231R took on one of the toughest endurance motorsport races in the Asia-Pacific region, the Australasian Safari.  Similar to the Baja 1000 and the Dakar Rally, this is one of those races where it's an achievement to even cross the finish line.  Their awesome driving and navigational skills, along with a reliable and capable Jeep, meant an outstanding finish.  Here is a summary of their outstanding performance:

• 100% Safari Finisher - Their AEV Wrangler was the ONLY production vehicle to finish 100% of the Safari
• Fastest Safari Female - Amy Lerner
• Winner Production Class A1.2
• Winner Overall Safari Production - Their AEV Wrangler had the best performance of ANY production vehicle entered in the Safari
• Winner of the Dakar Challenge - This earned Team Lerner Reina an entry spot in the 2014 Dakar Rally

Tricia and Amy are both awesome competitors and fantastic role models.  The capability and durability of the Jeep Wrangler and the AEV suspension is exactly why I chose this combination for my own backcountry adventures.  Check out the video below for footage from the 2013 Australasian Safari.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saving the Sierra Nevada from the Frogs and Toads

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana sierrae)

Cute little frogs and toads are the "poster child" for a huge push to lock the public out of massive blocks of public lands.  But don't blame the frogs; it's not their fault.  It's the anti-access faux-environmentalists who are the problem, as usual.

The innocent little Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs and Yosemite Toads are simply the latest tool being used by the anti-recreation groups in their ongoing efforts to lock the outdoors-loving public out of public lands, as a stepping stone of the U.N.'s Agenda 21 social-engineering program.

Defend Rural America has organized a lot of information regarding this issue and its implications to residents of California, but this threat extends to all Americans.  The red areas on the following map are zones in which people are to be essentially locked out per Agenda 21 and the "environmental" movement.  The largest swath of closed land encompasses the Sierra Nevada mountain range:

Agenda 21 Map of California and Nevada
Now look at the following map of the proposed frog & toad "critical habitat" and how nicely it matches the biggest chunk of Agenda 21 land in California shown in the above map:

The frogs' proposed "Critical Habitat" encompasses the entire Sierra Nevada mountain range
It's not just a few "deranged crackpots" who are worried about this very real threat to America.  As the government strips more and more liberty from the citizens they're supposed to serve, resistance continues to build and people are speaking up on Internet forums and in newspaper editorials.  This is really a case of Big Government versus the little guy.  Very few city dwellers are aware of this growing problem, but the rural citizens who make up the vast majority of the State are reaching their limit of tolerance for the federal government's land (mis)management policies and are calling for more local input because they're stuck dealing with government intrusion on a daily basis.

Thankfully, rural communities are finally organizing and responding to this federal government nuisance.  For instance, in this video El Dorado County Sheriff John D'Agostini speaks up against this proposed takeover of his county and the lives of the people he's been elected to serve and protect:

U.S. Congressman Tom McClintock is one of the few Congressmen left who actually serves as a representative of his constituents.  He gave a speech entitled The Real Endangered Species: The Sierra Nevada Hard Working Family was delivered on the House floor and aired on C-SPAN:

If the residents of and visitors to the frog's habitat were actually responsible for the decline in population, then perhaps it could be argued that we need to further regulate human activities in the forest (that is, if we decide that it is right to place the needs of the frogs ahead of the needs of humans).  In this case, however, the population decline is predominantly due to an African frog fungus that was inadvertently introduced long ago, not from today's recreational activities.  It's also not just these 3 species of Sierra Nevada amphibians that have been impacted, but over 400 species all around the world.  So why the big sudden push to throw the public out of the Sierra Nevada mountains?

The future of outdoor recreation in America?
Because this debate isn't about science or indisputable facts: the self-proclaimed "environmentalists" are clearly using the declining frog and toad population as the "crisis du jour" to advance their anti-human agenda, just as they've done countless times with the spotted owl, the sage grouse, global warming, global cooling, lead bullet bans, the milk vetch, dust, erosion, the Keystone pipeline, etc.  They use every tool in the drawer to force the government to erect gates and post signs closing the public lands that our tax dollars have paid to manage as "Land of Many Uses."  Ironically, it's the true environmentalists - the citizens who live, work, and recreate in nature - who are being punished with this "environmental" agenda.

If you enjoy being able to access Mother Nature, you should be very afraid of the U.N.'s Agenda 21 and the anti-access faux-environmentalists.  Please help fight to keep public lands open to the public!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Ruined the Forest Service?

Gifford Pinchot and Theodore Roosevelt, 1907
The Forest Service has a long history and a noble beginning.  Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the United States Forest Service, used the simple and proven laws of economics within the free market economy to develop a self-sustaining system.  Using proven scientific methods of forest management, and backed up by the natural managerial interest in long-term profitability, Pinchot oversaw a long, successful means of sustainable management.

With every system comes critics, and in this case environmentalists wanted less "commercialization" of our natural resources.  Nobody wants to see our forest lands turned into an industrial wasteland, but Pinchot's system ensured it was in our public's and our national resources' best interests to be sustainably utilized.  This was further ensured by 1960's Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act, which more specifically mandated equal protection for our renewable resources of timber, range, water, recreation and wildlife for the maximum benefit of people and the environment.

Then something different happened, and as anyone who has had the misfortune of dealing with the Forest Service in the last few decades can tell you, the agency has become the poster child for bureaucracy, ineffectiveness, waste, incompetence, and mismanagement.  One may reasonably argue that this describes every government agency, but the Forest Service is a special example.  The U.S. Forest Service has suffered the fate of a horribly misguided social experiment.

Christpher Burchfield's book The Tinder Box: How Politically Correct Ideology Destroyed the U.S. Forest Service details how the U.S. Forest Service was destroyed by a socialist experiment in human resource management instituted in 1981.

Available from Amazon
Read the book's eye-opening reviews on Amazon, many of which are written by former and current Forest Service employees.  Or read the thorough review by Don Amador, a trusted OHV recreation and management consultant:

Jeep Wrangler Copper Crawler

SEMA always has countless outrageous show vehicles that, more often than not, are completely over-accessorized.  As a result, a more realistic, more restrained show vehicle such as Mopar's Jeep Wrangler Copper Crawler really stands out from the crowd.

Autoblog reports favorably on the Copper Crawler, and includes a number of good photos from the SEMA show floor.

AEV on the Rubicon Trail

American Expedition Vehicles tests their vehicles and offroad components on a wide variety of terrain.  They're based in Michigan and Montana, but that doesn't stop them from traveling to far corners of our country on super-fun "research and development" trips.

The following videos were produced by an AEV customer who joined them on a Rubicon Trail run.  You can watch a full complement of AEV Jeep Wranglers, including the Brute Double Cab, make easy work of the world's most famous 4x4 trail:

Upcoming Jeep Models Include a Baby Wrangler?

News about Jeep's new-product schedule continues to leak out.  Fiat/Chrysler have ambitious plans for the Jeep brand, with a big focus on increasing European sales.  Unfortunately, it seems that plans are to continue offering more street-oriented, Jeep-branded AWD cars rather than heavy-duty, truck-based SUVs that emphasize offroad performance.

Of note to readers of this blog are continued reports that the Wrangler will be redesigned for the 2016 model year; a pickup truck variant of the Wrangler continues to be a possibility, and a diesel and a new 8-speed automatic transmission are planned.  Let's hope and pray that a proper 3-pedal manual transmission is still offered, not to mention the requisite front and rear solid axles and low-range transfer case.  From Automotive News:
Jeep will re-engineer the Wrangler, probably for 2016. Its styling likely will change little, but the Wrangler will get Chrysler's eight-speed transmission and an optional diesel engine. It will also shed pounds. A Wrangler-based pickup is being considered if production capacity can be found.
Other news includes a "baby Wrangler" that will be built in Italy alongside the Fiat 500X.  As the Wrangler has continued to grow larger over the years, the demand for a smaller, more fuel-efficient 4x4 has grown.  As much as I would love to see a "baby Wrangler" that's close in size and offroad capability to a Jeep CJ or Suzuki Samurai, I'm begrudgingly willing to bet that the Italian connection (and our federal government's incessant meddling in the automotive industry) will result in a Wrangler-looking faux-by-four with an independent suspension setup based on the aforementioned Fiat.  From AutoGuide:
The new vehicles will be designed primarily for regular road use with better ride comfort – a tall change from Jeep’s traditional of rugged, off-road vehicles. The new subcompact crossover will be built in Italy alongside the Fiat 500X and the American automaker plans to take advantage of the booming crossover market by selling around 150,000 units annually worldwide. Its styling will be similar to a baby Wrangler and will appear in North American dealerships next year.
It sounds like there's still some hope that the Wrangler may retain the heavy-duty features that make a Wrangler a Wrangler.  Unfortunately, there's little indication that any other future vehicle that wears the Jeep badge will ever be true to the brand's heritage.

Family Four-Wheeling

Ask the so-called "environmentalists" what off-roading means, and they'll paint a pretty ugly picture.  This false image is backed up by anyone who's watched a TV program on "extreme sports" and seen sanctioned offroad competitions held on private property.  People who do not partake in four-wheeling generally have little to no clue what Jeeping is all about.
". . . you just can’t beat enjoying the natural world around you."
Jeff Haley has written a great little article on OutdoorX4 that perfectly explains what off-roading means to the vast majority of people who actually partake in the sport.  He gives a good accounting of what to expect for newbie families just starting off in this family-oriented sport, so that everyone can have fun and stay safe.

The primary reason most OHV users get into motorized recreation in the first place is out of their love for exploring Mother Nature.  None of us want to see the environment damaged, and nobody wants to see the anti-access groups succeed in getting the public locked out of public lands.  This article provides some sound advice for parents who want to get their children on the right track early in life:
"You may also want to teach your family about a certain aspect of conservation of the environment and the resources that you are enjoying to make this not only an enjoyable experience but also a respectful one."
This is a don't-miss article that's well worth the read.  Keep public lands open to the public!

Teraflex Trail Review: The Rubicon Trail

Teraflex attended the 2013 Jeepers Jamboree on the Rubicon Trail and produced a terrific video that really exemplifies what makes the Rubicon Trail (and offroading in general) such a wonderful experience.  This video documents this year's Rubicon trip, interviews old-timer Mark A. Smith to get some background on this event's 6-decade-long tradition, and shines the spotlight on the fact that we all must join together to fight against the anti-access faux-environmentalist groups to keep this (and all other) public land open to the public.  If you watch one video on the Rubicon Trail, make it this one:

Jeep Wrangler Wins 2013 SEMA Hottest 4x4 SUV Award

Every year since its inception, the Jeep Wrangler has been awarded the SEMA Award for Hottest 4x4-SUV.  2013 marks the 4th year in a row, and there isn't any sign that the Wrangler's popularity with its owners and the aftermarket is waning.

To read about last year's win, click here.  You can watch SEMA's video announcing the Wrangler's win for 2013 below:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Warn Brute Jeep Project Vehicle

Warn has always been a leader in top-of-the-line offroad accessories for a full range of vehicles.  Their project vehicles not only exhibit, but also demonstrate the strength and durability of their parts, since these vehicles go on to see real-world use and abuse.  Their latest vehicle has pushed the envelope even further than usual, since they decided to build the ultimate Jeep Wrangler JK: an AEV Brute Double Cab.

Warn's 2013 Brute, before aftermarket upgrades
I've written about the turnkey high-end Brute Double Cab from American Expedition Vehicles before, but Warn decided to go their own path, by starting with a basic "bone stock" Brute and build theirs up from there using a broad selection of parts from across the aftermarket.  The folks at Warn must have good taste, because they used many of the same top-of-the-line parts I have on my own Wrangler, including the Warn Stubby Rockcrawler Bumper and Reid Racing Highsteer Steering Knuckles.  They chose to equip their Brute with a Warn Zeon 10-S Winch, which based on my own experience with the Warn M8000-S Winch on my own Jeep, is more than enough to pull their Brute out of any sticky situation.

Reid Racing's JK steering knuckles during the front axle's assembly

The finished vehicle was shown at the 2013 SEMA show, but not after Warn had a chance to test it out on the trails.  They produced this short video preview of what to expect from Warn's latest and best-yet company vehicle:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Could the New Wrangler be Emasculated with Independent Suspension?

2008 Jeep Renegade Concept - an independent suspension Wrangler?

Automotive News has rocked the 4x4 industry with a brief article in which they provided clues to the future (2016?) revision of the Jeep Wrangler.  They interviewed Mike Manley, the Jeep brand's head honcho, and he provided no guarantee that the next-generation Wrangler would still be equipped with the coveted solid-axle drivetrain.  The Jeep world has been turned on its head with this possibility.

Simply put, a Jeep Wrangler without a proper pair of solid axles is sacriligious.

With the exception of the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen, every other dual-solid-axle 4x4 has been abandoned by its manufacturer in the United States.  While marketing folks will attribute this sad trend to the quest for a smoother ride and better handling on-road, everyone knows that the Wrangler's popularity is due to the fact that it has always bucked this trend.  Jeep understands this fact better than anyone after having sold 194,142 Wranglers in 2012, set an all-time sales record in 2012, and based on an 11% rise in sales through September, 2013, they're projected to sell roughly 220,000 Wranglers in 2013.  Earlier this year they celebrated the production of the 1,000,000th JK Wrangler.  Clearly, there are a staggering number of people who don't want a sissy faux-by-four:

2013 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 10th Anniversary Edition - a real Jeep