“Jeep Stacking” and Its Obvious Barnyard Origins

Human beings, by and large, are considered to be superior beings in just about every way. Just the fact that “we” have the wherewithal to put on pants and a shirt before we leave the house every day is clear indication that we have quite a lot going on upstairs, especially compared to other species. Dressing oneself is a totally manual process; one that requires vast mental aptitude compared to, say, a fish that merely changes its exterior coloring to blend in with its present environment. Do they have even the slightest regard for whether or not they are wearing white after Labor Day? I think not.

One symbol of man’s lofty intellectual standing is the practice of “Jeep Stacking”- the art of driving one Jeeps front tires up the perimeter of and ultimately resting atop another Jeeps tire. While this custom is relatively new to the Jeep community, I think the roots from which it stems goes back quite a ways- certainly before the age of smartphones and alcohol-free impaired driving.stackb&w

My first personal knowledge of the practide of stacking Jeeps was at a local car show a good number of years back. A guy pulled up next to me in a highly-modified Cherokee XJ and asked if he could “prop” on me. I honestly didn’t have any idea of what the prospect of him “propping” on me might actually entail but I felt sudden and sure concern that it might involve, at the very least, some sweaty hand-holding. So as not to be ostracized by the Jeep community I gave him permission to invade my personal space and then winced while I waited to what might lie in store for me.

After a few frustrating minutes, I came to full awareness that the idea of propping your Jeep on a neighboring vehicle might seem cool to some, but to those without a front locking differential ends up seeming more like an aggravating exercise in futility; an operation that seems hell-bent on either breaking your tire’s bead, your outer tie rod or both, depending on which poses the greatest inconveneince. MY newfound friend and propping partner became increasingly discouraged by his vehicles inability to perform the desired parking spot acrobatics, at which point he opted for climbing the curb and parking in a more mundane manner.

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It seems to me that this practice of Jeep stacking is really just a public display of Jeeps climbing capabilty, with a subtle insinuation of one Jeeps superiority over another. Any idea where this sort of animalistic behavior comes from?? Well…think no farther than your friendly neighborhood barnyard goat. In case you misunderstood,  I said goat.

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Goats were created with an inherent sense of climbing capability and they’re internally driven to show every other creature in the yard who’s on top, even the other goats. If you have some goats in the field, they’ll do their best to climb on top of whatever they find at hand (or hoof). Sheds, troughs, dirt piles, junker cars, dog houses and certainly tires. They don’t even show the same basic courtesy as a human by asking to “prop” before they mount your mud-terrain.  No, they just climb up there like it’s their tire and as though they were pleasant to look at- both of which are serious misconceptions.

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I intend to insinuate that, with no real proof or even reasonable evidence,that goats are solely to blame for our current automotive affliction known as “Jeep Stacking”- a scapegoat of sorts. But you may ask “How did a simple-minded barnyard beast gain exposure to our automotive culture?”. Let’s just say, somebody may have left the gate open…

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We unknowingly gave said goat unlimited access to our vehicular refuse that we so innocently put out to pasture.  And then, in a less-than-genius attempt to expand our own personal transportation options, we overlooked the goats inability to walk upright and harnessed them with the power to travel the earth as though they were gods. We willingly gave wheels to one of our more cockamamie creatures and expected no foul consequences in return? It seems to me that the horses and donkeys were doing a fine job of pulling our carts up to that point. If only we could have left the goats secluded in their pen, ramming their tufted noggins into tree trunks and perching themselves on tractor tires.

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While the above speculation borders on being a work of complete fiction, the similarities between the driven Jeep and the agility of a goat or ram is uncanny. Both are able to go where they want with minimal effort giving both a sense of near invincibility. That being said, I think it’s high time we drew some distinct lines between our beloved Jeeps and the behaviors of these boorish barnyard billies. OlllllllO

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Jeeping: Learned Behavior or Innate Instinct?

I recall the first time I took my mother for a ride in my lifted Jeep. This classy young lady is perfectly-aged and has seen an awful lot in her multitude of 80-some-odd years; not only giving birth to five children but sticking around to raise each and every one them too. She’s seen and experienced so much, so hopping into a Jeep for a sunset ride sounded like a perfect notion, even at her age. Nonetheless, it would appear to any onlookers that the task of climbing in or out of my precious Wrangler was far from a natural process, at least for her. In fact, I think she made her dismount from the passenger seat much like you would a bareback horse. You sling both legs over the side, aim your feet towards the earth, pucker slightly and begin a sliding sort of descent to ground. If all goes well, you land on firm terrain or, in this case, your son catches you clumsily, hence breaking your fall.

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Come to think of it, the art of climbing up into my Jeep is not the most natural of motions either. I can count on at least two hands the times I have either ripped the seat of my pants, banged my knee cap on the dash panel or temporarily lost my sense of balance while scaling the massive metal structure, scrambling to grasp at the steering wheel as the only hope of taking a tumble. Not to mention the number of times I have snagged a belt loop on the door latch plate on the way back out- every pair of jeans I own bares the mark in one place or the other.

So if Jeeping is not a completely natural way of life for humans, it must be somewhat a learned behavior. Or at the very least, one that takes a considerable amount of time to grow accustomed to.

When it comes to dogs, I really have to wonder if the opposite might be true. We have had the same family dog for the better part of ten years. She is a wonderful mix of several breeds, short and close to the ground (she takes after her grandma). She is openly and utterly incapable of climbing into the Jeep under her own power. Someone would have to not only pick her up to place her in the vehicle, but likely have to administer a sedative to keep her from coming completely unhinged and flinging herself to an untimely death over the nearest door ledge in a frantic attempt to get back out. She literally wants no part of going for a ride in the Jeep. For the record, the Jeep has never been used for trips to the vet for shots or gender reassignment surgery.  She rather dislikes it on a cellular level, despite only having had positive Jeep experiences.

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So, after much deliberation, we recently decided to increase the size of our family by one. We located a 5-year old Walker Coon Hound in a local rescue that seemed like the perfect fit. It was only after we had signed all the papers and posed for all the pictures that I was struck by a shocking display of familiarity by our newest adopted child. Our new girl “Rosie” ran around to the back of the Jeep and leaped through the barely- open tailgate. She didn’t even wait for me to lift the rear window! It was though she had ridden in a Jeep before. Our decision to adopt this hound was now firmly founded in my heart and set in concrete that this newfound stepchild was meant to be.

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So maybe Rosie had a prior owner that drove a Jeep which makes her familiar with her recommended means of entry. I can buy that. She is by birth a hunter, and a human hunter would likely drive a Jeep or some other four-wheel drive conveyance to get in and back out of the woods. But there is so much more to being a Jeeper than getting in and out physically. In the two weeks we have owned her, I have found that any physical motion that I engage in that evenly vaguely suggests that I am going to the garage, Rosie thinks it’s time for a Jeep ride. When I take her for a walk, she stops by and places her front legs on the Jeeps lofty rear bumper. She paces in circles by the passenger side door in hopes of gaining a coveted front seat position, despite usually being reserved for humans. She even whimpers a bit when I pull her past its perimeter. Kinda like the noise I make when I leave the Jeep behind in the garage at night.

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So if riding in a vehicle has become enjoyable to Rosie based on her past experiences, it would stand to reason that she would show similar excitement around our other cars. To the contrary, she seems to hold total disregard for more luxurious modes of transport; ones adorned with leather seats, snazzy NAV systems, and air conditioning. It’s only the Jeep that holds her interest. Maybe it’s the attraction of an interior she knows I can hose out if things go badly. Certainly the wind blowing herr floppy ears and across the nose is a favorite too, but I can’t help but think that maybe her love for Jeeps is more than that. Maybe it’s something she was born with? I guess she takes after her Dad. OlllllllO

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Photo Credit: Evan Coolidge

 

 

 

 

 

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Go Topless Day 2018…Are YOU Ready??

  If you are a Jeeper, you need to know that All Things Jeep’s Go Topless Day® 2018 is less than a month away and it promises to be the biggest one yet. If you’ve not yet made plans to attend or at least participate in your own celebration, time is growing short so we are here to help you make the best of this annual celebration. Join us as we revel in the return of warm weather in the best way possible… by taking our tops off! Here’s all you need to know:

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1-       Get your Go Topless Day stickers so you can help spread the word. All you’ve got to do is send a self-addressed envelope to the address below and they will send you a GTD2018 decal for FREE. That’s right, FREE!! Of course, you can buy them too so you have one for every vehicle you own. While you’re at it, snag an official GTD2018  shirt and lots of other awesome Jeep wear too at www.allthingsjeep.com

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All Things Jeep

GTD 2018 Bumper Sticker Request

20 Mill Street, Suite 136

Pepperell, MA 01463

 

 

 

 

 

2-       There are tons of special GTD2018 events happening all around the world. Fortunately for you, finding one to attend couldn’t be much easier.

 

        https://www.allthingsjeep.com/jeep-clubs-going-topless-2018.html

 Just one click and you can view an interactive map that shows you where all of the topless fun is at. There are club meets, Jeep shows, trail rides and loads of gatherings from coast to coast. Of course, even if you can’t make it to any of the official GTD2018 happenings, you can still participate by simply taking the top off your Jeep and getting out to enjoy the day. It’s that easy!

 

3-     While you’re out running around with your top off, it’s very important to make sure that your backside is properly covered and there’s no better-looking way to do that than with an official Go Topless Day® spare tire cover. You will soon find that the only thing better than driving around topless is that feeling of knowing that everyone is busy admiring your rear end. If you want to treat your backside, you can get yours at www.allthingsjeep.com/go-topless-day-stuff.html in a wide range of sizes so everyone can find adequate coverage.

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4-     Last but certainly not least- when Go Topless Day® 2018 finally arrives on May 19,2018, no matter where you are or what you choose to do, get outside and enjoy the outdoors in your Jeep. It’s that spirit of adventure and the freedom to follow your own path that makes driving a Jeep so special. So lose those tops, if only for one day, and let’s show the world that everything is better in a Jeep.           OlllllllO

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Identifying One Man’s Goodness as Greatness

It was with considerable sadness that we learned a few weeks back of the passing of our longtime friend and company spokesperson R. Lee Ermey, or as he was better and more affectionately known, The Gunny.

1The Gunny was, of all things, a movie star. It’s a little bit hard to see how a man who has made a name for himself by acting in movies could be held in such high regard by so many. Let’s face it – Ermey’s role as Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Full Metal Jacket may have been his defining role and anyone who has seen it would have to agree. His performance likely left you blushing a little bit and certainly breaking into a cold sweat at the thought of attending boot camp. Despite his sheer brilliance, that is not to say that this role defined The Gunny at all. He was remembered for his acting but he was only truly defined by his character.

It’s impossible, at times like this, to begin to gauge how much his presence will be missed. For anyone that ever had the privilege to meet the man in person, the experience could only be described as an honor. Gunny had a knack for making each and every person he met feel like they were important to him and, in some little way, I believe they sincerely were. His fans and supporters meant everything to him.

For those who never really had the opportunity to get to know him, the Gunny could best be described as a man that loved his country and his value for those who made it their job to defend her was beyond measure. He loved his family, he enjoyed his collection of firearms and his old Jeep, which he was quick to tell you was nothing fancy- just the way he liked it.

Part of our company’s relationship with The Gunny was his ongoing appearances, on our behalf, in the Rugged Ridge Off-Road Success Center at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas each fall. Despite being in his 70’s, Ermey would tirelessly tend to a never-ending line of fans and admirers for hour after hour and for days on end. Surrounded by military Jeeps and waves of adoring fans, never demanding a break from his post or neglecting to greet every face with a confident smile and a firm handshake. He always seemed to bubble with enthusiasm when one of his more dedicated groupies would beg to be called “maggot” or “scumbag” in that unmistakable stern tone they’d grown to revere. He would never decline and his followers couldn’t get enough.

And then there was the sweet lady who jumped into the line to meet The Gunny at the last minute, right as we were closing down for the day. She knew him, of course, from his role in Full Metal Jacket and was anxious to actually meet him. As we stood there and made conversation during her wait, I mentioned that she should tell The Gunny that she loved him in his role as the Sherriff in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. She clearly was not familiar with this obscure role, as most people aren’t. Take my word, this was by all accounts one of the most-vile characters anyone could ever imagine. Fortunately, she was trusting enough and wanted to make a real impression during her brief interaction with him. When she finally reached the front of the que, she delivered her prompted line so well that The Gunny froze, slowly looked up and stared back at her with a look so aghast, as though he might just run for the exit. It was though he could not fathom a female that would find anything appealing in such a despicable role; nonetheless, she was standing in front of him. Impression made!

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My own personal observations of R Lee Ermey in the times I was fortunate enough to be around him made a pretty deep impression on me too. The Gunny had given so much of his time over the years lending support to law enforcement and giving of himself for our military troops, that it was very common for fans to show up and spend an hour waiting in line to share just a few moments with him, often holding old pictures of themselves with The Gunny. Photos from a time past when they were stationed overseas or serving on a military base in some bleached-out desert somewhere and The Gunny was there for them. Two soldiers who, despite being world’s apart, shared common values and a mutual respect for the sacrifices each has made for the good of others. The Gunny truly got it and he wanted every soldier to know it.

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Ermey’s longtime manager and friend Bill Rogin borrowed from the U.S. Marine Corps Rifleman’s Creed as a written tribute to a man who clearly established himself in a class all his own: “There are many Gunny’s, but this one was OURS. And, we will honor his memory with hope and kindness. Please support your men and women in uniform. That’s what he wanted most of all.”

Semper Fi, Gunny

Godspeed

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The Fine Art of Computer-Assisted Time Wasting

Have you ever seen the children’s book series entitled “Where’s Waldo?”. The premise of the books is over-illustrated pages of mind-boggling artistic detail in which the reader is supposed to scour the colorful artwork in search of the books namesake Waldo, an odd French-looking fellow with a red & white striped shirt and coke-bottle glasses. The task of finding this whimsical character proves to be so eye-straining that I fail to see where the actual enjoyment lies. I usually end up slamming the book shut in frustration and mumbling ill sentiments about this Waldo guy, wherever he is.

But I recently had a revelation while utilizing Google Maps to map out a local wheeling trip. As I scrolled my wireless mouse along the low-res images of miles of back-country Georgia roadway looking for a landmark with which to demark an important side road turn-off, I saw it… a bright red 2-door TJ Rubicon in all of its pixelated glory. Complete with a mild lift and a winch!

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It occurred to me that I was quite possibly on to something and this something could be big. A pasttime for the ages in which one could drive around a virtual world, as captured by Google’s odd little camera cars, and look for random Jeeps, or maybe even Waldo’s Jeep if he were to have one. However, I think Waldo might actually drive a little Fiat 500 convertible or maybe a bicycle with a sissy bar and a basket. Since a retro-themed game is three times as likely to succeed as a completely original game title, I decided to call my new online endeavors “Where’s Waldo’s Jeep?”.2I have to admit that the game and it’s subtle intracacies do not makie it the obvious choice for scientists or people of higher intellectual stature. But if you’re like me and love driving around town spotting Jeeps in traffic and calling them out by their 2-letter designations, you might just find some satisfaction playing “Where’s Waldo’s Jeep?”. And with that, it was time to head to Moab!

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Of course, it didn’t take long to find a jacked-up YJ cruising the town with nothing but a bikini top and a set of balding mud-terrains. Although I can’t make out the text across his windshield, I suspect it says “As Seen On Where’s Waldo’s Jeep”.

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While out west, a short stop in Buffalo, Wyoming yielded this burnt orange JK Unlimited Rubicon parked outside of some random business, possibly a Bank & Trust or a General Merchantile, as they both seem to abound in the old west. With this rig sporting completely stock attire except for an aftermarket bull bar across the front bumper, it makes me ponder whether I should develop some sort of points systems where highly-modified Jeeps can accumulate a higher points value than a bone-stock vehicle. Or vice-versa?

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This Firecracker Red 2-Door cruising the Pacific Coast Highway with the hardtop ON is a true tragedy and honestly nearly drove me to abandon this game and it’s further development entirely. I amagaed to regain my composure and press on to my next destination.

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Stuck in downtown traffic in Haltom City, Texas is where I spotted this nicely modified JK. It’s really hot in Texas so maybe the closed roof is just so that he doesn’t suffer a severely scorched scalp.

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Ooops….that’s a rusty Geo Tracker in Lincoln, Nebraska. That AIN’T no Jeep!

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A blue Wrangler JK in Peoria, Illinois, once again with the hardtop firmly intact. Maybe there needs to be bonus points when you find soft tops or no tops at all. Or any Jeep spotted anywhere in Alaska for that matter. I even looked around four-wheel drive shops in the booming metropolis of Anchorage but still found nothing! I will assume the fact that soft top windows crack like candy glass in cold climates might be at the root of this rarity. I’m not done searching the great white North for a Jeep although I am convinced that they’re hiding way up in the mountains with the yetis.

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No bonus points for a hardtop TJ in Minneapolis, Minnesota but since it is parked in what might possibly be a high crime area, we will pardon this indiscretion.

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This 4-Door JK does have a soft top… BONUS!!! And it’s a fastback-style so that’s extra good. Pretty nice rig wheeling the pavement of Oklahoma City, OK. On a side note: If your vehicle is gonna be featured in a world-reknowned navigational app, you’ve gotta replace that passenger side turn signal bulb.

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Yet another soft top chilling curbside in Niagara Falls, NY. We’re in the Northeast so we might as well swing by the factory in Toledo, Ohio and see where they’re made. Lots packed full of newborn JK’s with no miles doesn’t hold the same thrill as seeing them out in their natural habitat.

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Admittedly, finding Jeeps in the parking lot at the manufacturing plant is much like shooting fish in a barrel; finding them wherever they roam is where the purest thrill is found. Like crossing a bridge in North Bend, Oregon or looking adventurous in full trail gear near the Rubicon Trail in South Lake Tahoe, CA.

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So go to your computer or laptop and log-on to Google Maps, switch to satellite maps and zoom down to the street view to see what you can find and, most importantly, have fun! It’s a tremendous day when your great Jeep adventures never have to end. OlllllllO152106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Rugged Ridge announces release of new Spartan line of Bumpers for 2007-2018 Wrangler JK/JKU

Tough, Trail-Ready Bumper Designs for Budget-Minded JK Enthusiasts

Suwanee, Ga. (April 17, 2018) – Rugged Ridge®, a leading manufacturer of high-quality Jeep®, truck and off-road parts and accessories, today announced the release of its new Spartan line of Front and Rear Bumpers for 2007-2018 Jeep Wrangler JK / JKU models.

The new Spartan Front and Rear Bumpers were designed to give JK owners an affordable alternative to today’s typical off-road bumpers by offering attractive styling and high-quality components that won’t break the bank.

Rugged Ridge’s Spartan line of off-road bumpers offer a variety of styles to suit any taste and budget. Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge’s Spartan line of off-road bumpers offer a variety of styles to suit any taste and budget.
Photo Credit: Rugged Ridge

Rugged Ridge Spartan Bumpers are assembled using high-strength steel plate featuring fold and weld construction, and are then finished with a rich black textured powder coat to protect from hazards regardless where the trail leads.

The Rugged Ridge Spartan bumpers are direct bolt-on replacements for stock JK bumpers, engineered to provide a uniform fitment and trouble-free installation. They also utilize the factory JK fog lights in the design to minimize the expense of a pricey lighting upgrade.

There are several Spartan front bumper variations available to suit a range of individual tastes, including models with standard ends or with a more muscular high-clearance end for an off-road oriented look. Each bumper can be fitted with an off-road winch using the included winch plate or can be accented with an optional over rider.

Each Rugged Ridge Spartan Bumper utilizes a pair of D-ring mounting plates and includes all necessary installation hardware as well as detailed instructions for the do-it-yourself enthusiasts.

The Rugged Ridge Spartan line of bumpers is backed by an industry leading five-year limited warranty and is available online and through select Jeep® and off-road parts and accessories retailers nationwide with an MSRP starting at 399.99.

For more information about the new Spartan line of front and rear bumpers, or any of Rugged Ridge’s complete line of high-quality Jeep and off-road products, or to find an authorized retailer, please contact Rugged Ridge at 770-614-6101 or visit www.RuggedRidge.com.

Part Number Description MSRP
11548.01 Spartan Front Bumper, HCE, W/Overrider, 07-18 JK $533.99
11548.02 Spartan Front Bumper, SE, W/Overrider, 07-18 JK $466.99
11548.03 Spartan Front Bumper, SE, W/O Overrider, 07-18 JK $399.99
11548.04 Spartan Front Bumper, Overrider, 07-18 JK $106.99

If I Say Work Load Limit and You Say Breaking Strength, Who’s Right?

When it comes to off-road recovery gear, there has always been a bit of a dispute when it comes to weight ratings and making sure you match the components in your gear bag to the potential use that they are lying in wait to fulfill.

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To begin to wrap our minds around the issue at hand, it’s vital to understand the terms and what they actually mean. If you went to buy a new car and the bold MPG numbers on the window sticker were in the single digits, you would be wise move along to some other dealership, wouldn’t you? But what if you thought that a lower number was actually preferred, like in a golf score? Could such confusion be the root of how our highways have become congested with massive fuel-guzzling SUV’s? We just didn’t know any better…right?

You will likely see two different terms commonly tossed around when shopping for shackles, straps and recovery appliances today. The first one is “Breaking Strength” which, admittedly, sounds about as cool as a term possibly can. Doesn’t it? This number is usually a gargantuan figure with tons of zeroes and it’s easy to be swept away by the size of the number when positioned next to a word like strength. The Breaking Strength can be defined as the average force at which any given product, in brand new condition, has been found to break when a constant and ever-increasing force is applied to it in a direct line and at a uniform rate of speed. Essentially, it’s a number arrived at in a testing laboratory under strict conditions; a number whose actual existence outside of that laboratory is highly unlikely.

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I like to think of the term Breaking Strength in a slightly different fashion that helps put its value in perspective. I’m reminded of a story I read once about a Soviet airman during World War II named Ivan Chisov. While embroiled in a heated and volatile air battle with German forces, Ivan’s bomber took on heavy damage. While disaster for the crew seemed imminent, Chisov knew that parachuting from the failing aircraft while in the midst of an intense aerial dogfight would give the German fighters a slowly descending target at which to take aim, making him an unwilling sitting duck. For that reason, Ivan exited the plane and rocketed towards earth, chute unopened, waiting until he was well-clear of the fray to deploy his chute and slow his descent. Ahhh…the beauty found in such a calculated plan!

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Contrary to his crafty plan, falling at nearly 150 miles per hour unfortunately caused Chisov to black out completely, making him a less-than-likely candidate to execute the timely pull of the ripcord, as his hastily-made plan required. Henceforth, falling from an altitude of more than 22,000 feet with nothing more to break his fall than the clothes he had on and the snowy bank resting below seemed a certain and fatal end. Somehow, despite insurmountable odds, Ivan Chisov survived the fall and lived to fly again, only months later, after recovering from his slew of injuries.

While Ivan’s story is pretty remarkable, it stands to show that amazing things can happen when the conditions are just right. It goes without saying that the Russian Air Force did not revise their training manuals based ON Ivan’s experience to show that a standard airman can survive a fall from 20,000 feet due to their incredible inherent breaking strength, although in certain scenarios under precise conditions it is somehow possible. It is certainly NOT the rule and to count on it as such would be a first step in the wrong direction.

That’s where the WLL, or Working Load Limit, comes into the picture. When defined, the WLL is the maximum load which should ever be applied to the product, even when the item is new, with uncompromised integrity and the load is uniformly applied. When the WLL is applied to any scenario, it introduces a factor of safety into the equation so that the margin for an accidental failure of equipment is virtually eliminated. For that reason, the WLL is usually 1/3 of the products breaking strength. This introduces a little bit of breathing room into the equation; accounting for things that are not as ideal as the laboratory conditions. Things like the resistance of the aired-down tires, the tree that is 25 degrees to the right of the vehicle instead of perfectly inline or the D-shackle that might have tumbled out of the tailgate a time or two in the past.

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Since the Working Load Limit is still founded on a straight line pull scenario, it is of vital importance that every effort is made to abide by this standard when rigging for vehicle recovery. This standard would make necessary a variety of items to suit the wide array of scenarios one would encounter on the trail: straps, shackles, pulleys, snatch blocks and the list goes on. Much like playing Red Rover in grade school, your recovery chain is only as strong as its weakest link. If you are wheeling in a newer Wrangler JK Unlimited, you need to know the weight of the vehicle is around 5,000 pounds and then plan your gear accordingly.

In the same breath, don’t outfit your recovery gear for your JK 4-Door and then think you can safely snatch a stray ditch-bound semi out on the way home. You’ll need some superhero-grade powers or an advanced Engineering degree…or both. Even if your snatch strap is rated for 10 million tons, the trailer hitch you hook it to is not even close to being up to the task. The importance of sizing up the task and assembling appropriate gear to accomplish it safely is critical; otherwise, we don’t jump out of the plane.5Bottom line? Consider a products breaking strength as a “good to know” while keeping the WLL as the number to count on. Prepare for any possibility, plan for every situation but always make sure safety is the tool you rely on most often. Keeping all your recovery gear in good working order is as important as selecting the right gear that is rated adequately for the job at hand will help insure a safe and rewarding wheeling experience. OlllllllO2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

The Name’s Bessie…With a Little Heart Over the ‘I’

I’ve noticed an alarming trend over the past few years. It’s not that there is anything inherently wrong with “it” but, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, it’s a fad that bothers me more deeply than I should admit to. What is the popular trend that I’m referencing, you ask? It’s the practice of naming your Jeep. There! I said it!!

1One of my earliest automotive memories was of my dear mother calling our car by name. Not talking to it like a member of the family or even an acquaintance as that might be insane. I can only remember her resorting to vehicular name-calling when things weren’t going pleasingly. When the turn of the ignition was met by labored sounds of a dying battery, she would mutter “C’mon Bessie” between consecutive pulses of the throttle pedal chased by turns of the key. Always calm as if coaxing Bessie to life hinged on this very personal utterance.

 

I can’t remember her ever referring to the car by name on any other sort of occasions. Never did I hear say “Go get in Bessie, kids! We’re going to the package store”- never…not once. She would, however, cheer on Bessie enthusiastically whenever climbing a steep grade that proved burdensome. Never did she comment to my Dad that Bessie was filthy and due a good cleaning. “Bessie” was only used in second-person dialog exclusively and always somewhat impersonally. In fact, I’m fairly certain that my mom used the same moniker of Bessie regardless of what car she was addressing. Whether it was the old VW Beetle, the ’84 Bonneville or any of my father’s vast collection of pickups he owned over the years- the name Bessie was always a constant. One could argue that a classic German model like the old Volkswagen might be more appropriately named with a label that points to its …maybe Ingrid or Helga. While a crude pickup might pass for a “Big Red” or “Ol’ Blue”. And yet Bessie still prevailed.

So what purpose does someone have in naming their vehicles today? I have a strong feeling that cars or, more importantly, Jeeps are given names as a means of expressing a close relationship between driver and carriage. I’ll admit that it does make sense to me that a person would desire to apply a name to an object that occupies so much of their life that it becomes a part of the family. Add to that the fact that I strongly object to calling a Jeep merely an object and I find myself pondering the possibility of beginning a search for a suitable name for my own Jeep. But not really.

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I do think that it would be cool to have a nickname for a car at those times when you take the vehicle in for service. Filling out the shop’s paperwork with only the Jeeps nickname and then requesting you be paged when it’s ready could be quite entertaining, especially if you choose the name carefully. Watching the looks on fellow customers faces as the intercom shamelessly announces “’Nobody’s Business’, Your car is ready” ranks fairly high on the fun scale. Maybe not as fun as having the neighborhood kids help search for your lost dog, who just happens to be named “Poopie”, but still pretty fun.

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We’ve established a questionably firm foundation for giving your beloved Jeep a name but that only brings me to another problem that is not so easily overcome. Why would anyone go on a public forum, such as social media venue like Facebook, and plead with a group of total strangers to assist with the naming of their own Jeep? How is it that this makes any sort of sense?? A creative consensus has never been reached before this day, which means you’re really just volunteering to be endlessly bombarded with horrible name suggestions, everything from nursery rhyme references to obscure movie taglines and everything in between. Nothing original or fitting, at least not in the eyes of those who have fully evolved.

I wrestle with the warped ideals of a person who entertains the thought of bestowing the privilege of choosing a proper nickname for their Jeep to a total unknown, possibly even the likes of a transient or no-account drifter. Is this the type of individual who would also toy with the thought of allowing their own human offspring to be so titled by strangers, Tweeting out from tense confines of the labor & delivery room asking for sir name suggestions for Junior? Is this how we end up with kids named Moon-Unit or Glitter?? Seems pretty likely to me. Who else would find it acceptable to name their children after compass coordinates?

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I would encourage anyone who fancies the idea of giving their Jeep a name to give the concept its due diligence and don’t just resort to soliciting the absurd input of outsiders. If you are unable to compile a list of at least a handful of potential candidates from which to choose, based on color or appearance, then maybe referring to your Jeep as just a Jeep seems a reasonable alternative; at least until the perfect name reveals itself to you in a fever dream or through an other-worldly voice speaking to you from beyond. It’s then and only then that you will know the perfect name for your beloved Jeep.

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And with such supernatural powers combining to reveal that perfect name to you, you’ll want to have special vinyl graphics crafted and tastefully installed on your hood and/or windshield; possibly even have your local tag office stamp your pride & joy a special vanity plate for all to see, so long as your chosen tagline is not considered potty-talk. The clerk at the tag office might not catch it but you can bet that your local peace officers will. Having your Jeeps name proudly displayed will help other motorists gain some sense of the admiration you hold for your Jeep. I can almost hear them muttering it as you drive by them in all your grandeur. “Hey…Look! There goes Dirty Girl!!” OlllllllO

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Kris & Lisa Lavery’s 2008 Wrangler JK RuBARKon

Our newest Jeep to be named an official Rugged Rigs honoree is a 2008 Wrangler X that belongs to the Lavery family of Old Forge, PA. It’s far from stock and since its painted Detonator Yellow, it’s pretty hard to hide in.

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If you’re wondering about the name RuBARKon, you’ll probably be happy to know that name comes from the Lavery’s two adorable kids who happen to be quite the Jeep enthusiasts themselves, Albie & Santina.  Boxers love to get out in the great outdoors and RuBARKon enables them to see places they never would have imagined.

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When Kris, Lisa and the kids bought the Jeep used back in 2016, it was basically stock. A short two years later and this rig is anything but. The addition of a vented hood, bumpers, tire carrier, GRID GD4 wheels, tube doors, snorkel, Hurricane flares, rails and an Exo-Top Roof Rack make this JK more than capable of stopping traffic.

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A full compliment of LED lighting is on board to melt the darkness while a winch recessed into the bumper stands by just in case things go off the rails.  Since Kris has fitted the front and rear diffs with 4.88 gears and armored covers, it seems like he’s kinda hoping things do go a little wrong so he can show his stuff.

20170819_141038_Film1It’s great to see a Jeep family getting out there and using their rig for what it was built for. And when the adventure develops into a full-blown expedition, you can always alter your Jeep to suit your needs. Great Job, Lavery family! Now, roll over and I’ll rub your belly.  OlllllllO

“Seems Like There Is Always a Hitch”

There are a handful of television program on any one of the hundreds of semi-useless channels on your satellite or cable lineup that fail to deliver on their given title. “Finding Bigfoot”, however entertaining it might be, has never actually seen a legitimate sasquatch, much less had any deeper level of engagement with one that c1ould be deemed as “finding”. They’ve certainly never coaxed one into the bed of the rust-stricken dually and toted it home to show the better half. Heck, the entire premise of “Dancing with the Stars” would lead a viewer to believe that the old soft-shoe would be glamorously displayed for us by actual identifiable superstars, rather than some lesser breed of reality show outcast or Hollywood ne’er-do-well breathing heavily and sweating profusely. It seems as though the title is quite commonly not an accurate description of what one can expect to observe.

Have you ever noticed that just about every Jeep you see is equipped with a trailer hitch? Even if not so equipped from the factory, the price of an aftermarket hitch is so minimal that adding one is a virtual no-brainer. Yet, how many of these Jeeps are ever tasked with towing a trailer? I would guess-timate less than 25% of the hitches mounted on Jeeps are ever used for pulling a trailer of any type, maybe even less. Two-door Jeep’s short wheelbase makes pulling a trailer a hair-raising venture at highway speeds while four-door models are often too under-powered for pulling any significant weight, especially on a grade. So what’s the payoff for hauling around the extra weight of a sturdy steel hitch, enduring the reduced departure angles and the constant threat to your tender shins?

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As it turns out, there are plenty of valid purposes for that rear-mounted hitch outside the confines of pulling a trailer. One that I have used on numerous occasions is to increase your Jeeps cargo carrying capacity with the addition of a cargo rack. In seconds, you can add a couple of hundred pounds of payload without sacrificing precious interior space. It’s a must-have for almost any outdoor excursion or a run to the home improvement store. http://www.omix-ada.com/receiver-rack-20-inches-x-60-inches.html

3Another practical use of a trailer hitch is to equip it to serve as a recovery point with the addition of a D-Shackle. While this might not appeal as much to a Jeep owner who stays primarily on the paved roads, the uses can extend well beyond those off-road scenarios. Using the hitch to pull shrubs out of the ground and other landscaping jobs are tailor-made for such a set-up. And then there’s an all-too-often ignored art form called
“Brute Force Lumberjacking” that begs for further exploration. Plus, it just looks cool! http://www.omix-ada.com/receiver-hitch-d-shackle-assembly.html

Maybe the practical and understated is not what you’re all about. If so, consider making a real visual spectacle with a Giga Hook. It has all the same pulling practicality as the D-shackle mount without any of the subtlety. It’s big. It’s strong. It’s a friggin’ gigantic hook. See for yourself- http://www.ruggedridge.com/giga-hook-black-2-inch-receiver-11237-20.html

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If your rig is one that actually spends any time on the trails, your hitch could really stand for a handy upgrade like this one. While there is no replacement for being resourceful when you go off-roading, it sure is nice to have the equipment on hand that makes the inevitable mechanical misfortune more manageable. If you have ever tried to replace a broken universal joint on the trail like a caveman, with stones and sockets, you can truly value the worth of having a press while in such a situation. But a press is in a shop or garage…definitely not on a Jeep. Hence the rocks and bloody knuckles.

That’s where the Mac’s Trail D-Vise proves invaluable. A simple and sturdy hitch-mounted vise provides the ability to press bearing caps, clamp suspension components for welding and any other mechanical wizardry you can muster.

Its simple design doesn’t incorporate a lot of excess materials or bulk, for overall lighter weight, and includes an onboard handle suitable for smaller jobs. For those major repairs, the vise works with standard sockets or a tire tool for greater leverage and maximum grip. Rumor has it that there is even a bottle opener built into the design- seems as though they’ve thought of almost everything. Check it out at http://www.macscustomtiedowns.com/product/TrailD-Vise/trail-d-vise

   Depending on your particular pastime of choice, there are any number of attachments and accessories for trailer hitches that can suit your needs; for everything from hauling bicycles to stowing snow skis. Putting that dormant trailer hitch to good use will help you get the most from your Jeep and help prepare you for that next adventure. OlllllllO

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