Sunday, August 30, 2015

Shenandoah Mountains (Virginia)



After the series of repairs that the Jeep required, I thought it wise to throw in the towel on our trip to Knoxville, TN for somewhere closer. Rebecca and I loaded up the jeep with bikes and the dogs and headed west on Saturday after I bent out the last of the body work and fitted the new (junkyard) bumper on the Cherokee.

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Rebecca found the Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve as our first destination. The ride was only a few miles, but it was a nonstop climb to reach the halfway point. The descent, to my delight, was much more technical than the climb - even a bit more steep!

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That night we camped just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, not far from Love Gap. With its proximity to Sherando Lake, the next day's ride was just a short distance away from where we pitched camp.

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We rode a short out-and-back on Sunday. It was good we were conservative, as the dogs began to drag on our way back to the trailhead.

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We chose to camp near Crabtree Falls on Sunday night. There was plenty more dry wood at our disposal, so lighting a fire and roasting s'mores was considerably easier.

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On Monday we struck camp and headed back to Richmond. The dogs were spent and barely stirred the entire drive home, splayed out in the back of the jeep like a couple of bums.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Jeep Rehab



As readers can clearly see, the Sweet Bus is long gone. I sold it to my friends years ago, but the adventures continue.

My vehicle of choice since then has been an '02 Jeep Grand Cherokee. It's been a reliable, tough truck, but it has required quite a few repairs over the years, including:
        Cylinder Head Gasket
        Main Bearings
        Rod Bearings
        Oil Pump

My most recent barrage of repairs came after an accident. My Jeep was smashed early in the morning IN IT'S PARKING SPOT! I was so bummed to hear the crunch and look out the window to see my Jeep pushed nearly an entire car length. It crumpled the control arm mount and bent the axle, not to mention the body panels and bumper.

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I replaced/upgraded the suspension to a Rough Country Long-Arm Kit from Top Gun Customz in Tennessee. This upgrade relocated the control arm mounts, corrected some driveline angles, included quick-disconnect sway bar links, and increased my lift from 2" to 4".

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(the affected mount)


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The pile of parts replaced in the kit was quite impressive.

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I found the axle at Lacy Auto and tossed it in before our next weekend trip.

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The bumper was scavenged from a Laredo (mine's the Limited), but I actually really like the look of the textured plastic and unibody bulges.

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The final upgrade in this round of repairs will be a transfer case swap. My WJ features the Quadra-Drive 4-Wheel-Drive system. It's an AWD system that incorporates their Vari-Lok limited slip differentials front and rear. Its weak point, though, is the lack of a 2HI option for on-road driving as well as a more solidly engaged 4HI setting. In my experience, I've been forced to use the Quadra-Trac case in 4LO in order to guarantee even and constant torque to front and rear.

The solution comes in the form of the NV242HD transfer case. This case is found on the V8 Selec-Trac versions of the WJ Grand Cherokee. In order to swap in this case, I'll need to retrofit the 0.84" input shaft from an inline 6 version of the case (2.5" input shaft on the V8 version). Once that's done, it should be a plug-and-play install!

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