Weighing the Pros & Cons of Insanity

Over the years, I have come to realize that I do my best thinking at night. In that short period of time between lying down and actually falling asleep, I solve some of life’s largest quandaries. To be honest, what I consider to be “my best thinking” is probably substandard to most other people but, at least to me, it’s pure genius-level stuff.

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In stark comparison, I seldom if ever have a lucid thought when I first wake up. At the earliest hint of the first shrill tone from the alarm, my mind is prone to produce such mindless gibberish that I’m left wondering on what occasion I received a head injury. “Where’s the dog!?!!”…”Lefty Loosey” or even “Hello!”, as if answering a phone in my slumber, are some of the first things that come across my mind and therefore cross my lips in mornings earliest seconds. I’ve even been known to grasp desperately at a non-existent handrail, while still comatose, because my mind convinced me I was falling. Trust me…at night time, I am freaking brilliant!

I am currently deeply engaged in the planning of a cross country trek to Toledo, OH for the annual Toledo Jeep Fest in August. And this is not just any trek, but one taken in my 25 year old Jeep. As I laid in bed last night planning what mechanical tasks I needed to address this weekend in preparations for my voyage, it occurred to me that, amongst all the other pertinent planning, I needed to address how my Jeep was going to dress for the trip.

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If you have or have ever had a Jeep, you probably know what I mean. Anytime you take your Jeep out, you have to assess your itinerary and determine the best and most practical set-up for the occasion. If you have a hardtop, most of that decision making is pre-determined for you. Since my YJ is a soft top, I need to ask myself “Do I run the fastback soft top so I have my windows ready in waiting in case the weather goes south or do I roll the dice and don the more-risqué bikini top?” I decide that the fastback top would be the wisest choice and offer the most versatility. See! Nighttime-Me is ridiculously sharp. Isn’t he?

Then my mind progresses to the subject of doors. Do I mount up my half doors to the Jeep with a plan to then store the uppers in the rear cargo area when the weather permits or do I just leave home without any doors at all? I can even store the doors in the hotel room for short jaunts without doors. Or, do I drive half a dozen states away from my home with no means of protecting myself and my vehicles occupants from the elements during what might be one of the hottest Augusts in recent memory? Why, of course I do. Wait…what??

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I think if my wife was accompanying me on this trip, I would have to give the topic of going door-less for 1,300 miles some more intense thought. Bottom line is that I’m taking my teenage son and I love the open-air Jeep lifestyle as much or maybe more than anyone. Face it! I’m never gonna be able to tell my son about walking to school, ten miles each way, uphill in the snow. I need him to remember that time we drove across the country in a Jeep for no reason other than we could. And, worse yet, we wanted to! My exhausted and heavy-eyed self could not pose a single counterpoint as to why I would complete this trip in anything other than true Jeep fashion. Limited top and no doors!

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I hope, beg and pray that you will follow me along my journey beginning on August 8th, 2018 as we make our way to Toledo, the birthplace of Jeep. We’ll be posting pictures from the road and sharing the experience on our Rugged Ridge Facebook page and at YourJeepYourAdventure.com . We hope to see you then! OlllllllO

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How Old Is Your Jeep In Dog Years?

It’s pretty common knowledge that a dog ages quicker than people do. What is also commonly perceived is that one year for a dog is the equivalent to seven human years, which is a bit of a misconception. The very first year a canine is alive, it undergoes significant development and actually matures at a rate equivalent to 15 human years. The following second year of life, the dog ages around 12 years and declines a little each year thereafter. I guess the seven years is a bit of a mean average across a dogs suspected lifespan.

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I think that Jeeps, in general, have a somewhat similar aging pattern to that of a dog, but in reverse. The first year on the road for a new Jeep is equivalent to an actual year, taking for granted that the proper maintenance program is upheld and the mileage is kept to a civil rate. The new Jeep maintains its year-for-year rate of aging for the first few years of its life; until the day the Jeep owner’s curiosity for the unknown has them wandering away from the pavement and searching to discover a little more about their vehicles capabilities. On that day, the clock is quickened to double its original pace. Whether in the first year or the fifth, the Jeep begins to age at a rate of two years per year, once it has adopted the tendency for off-road driving habits.

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As the vehicle ages and compiles mileage, the wear and tear on the frame, chassis and mechanical components begins to compound. By the time the vehicle has reached 100,000 miles, or seven calendar years old, its rate of aging is around 3 years per year. That’s six years per if you’re busy climbing rock ledges or straddling crevasses on a regular basis. At this point, you’ll find yourself performing repairs at almost every turn. This aggressive schedule of addressing issues as they appear is the only thing that stabilizes your Jeeps rapid pattern of mechanical decline. Short of a complete overhaul and major rebuild, your Jeep will continue to age at a rate of 3 to 6 years for every New Year that passes, until that day when its fate is finally sealed.

My personal Jeep is a 1993 model which I bought in 2007. The first 14 years of its life, it was kept almost entirely stock and was fitted with highway tires that would turn utterly useless in the mud. It had compiled some 120,000 miles on the clock in its first dozen or so years. The 11 years that I have owned it, the old YJ has been plagued with massive tires, lift kits, heavy bumpers and tons of less-than-ideal driving conditions while enrolled in an extensive program of perpetual upgrade. By my calculations, my Jeep would be roughly 60 years old in dog years, and that’s if I grade on the curve. 60…That’s a pretty startling number when you stop and think about it; bottom line and best case scenario, it’s truly 25 years old on a regular Gregorian calendar making it an antique in the states opinion. Maybe sixty is not that outlandish…

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So for my YJ’s true 25th birthday, I am going to defy the odds, throw the proverbial caution to the wind and embark on a trek to the place it was born, Toledo, Ohio, and attend the Toledo Jeep Fest in August. In careful consideration for its propsed 60 years of age and the 1,400 grueling miles that lie ahead of it, I am undertaking massive amounts of maintenance on the old Wrangler in preparation for hours of driving at highway speeds. This includes touching virtually every suspension component to validate its integrity, replacing aging seals and bearings, renewing fluids and lubricants; maybe even a few cosmetic upgrades will be in order so my baby doesn’t necessarily look like an over-the-hill has-been. I’ve been around cars long enough to know that, even with the best of preparations in place, the likelihood of some level of catastrophe occurring is pretty favorable. With such impending doom, it’s understandable that I simply can’t wait…

To help document my voyage, we’ll be posting pictures from the road featuring sights and scenery from our travels and blogging a bit about the experience as we go. I am very hopeful that none of the coverage will feature dripping fluids, shredded tire carcasses or billowing plumes of smoke or steam. That seems about as likely as taking a trip to the zoo and hoping to not smell any unpleasantries…or you could say, pretty darn unlikely.

Our trip will begin on Wednesday, August 8th and we’ll share all the fun from the Toledo Jeep Fest when we arrive on Friday, August 10th and through the entire weekend. Make sure to follow the adventure on the Rugged Ridge Facebook page as well as at yourjeepyouradventure.com . We hope you can follow along! OlllllllO

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Find a Genie in a Bottle? Read On…

GenieJeepEver since we were little kids, we’ve been tempted with the possibility of stumbling upon a brilliantly-embellished jug that, when rubbed properly, would yield a beautiful, scantily-clad genie who would grant you three wishes. In all fairness, some of the genies are heavyset and male but my preference prevails in this story. While the possibility of such a wish-granting enchantress actually existing in our world is pretty darn low, what kind of person, when given such an opportunity, would then rattle-off a checklist of Jeep parts without ever addressing the bigger issues like world hunger and global peace? I beg of you…please don’t answer that.

I was recently talking with a magazine editor who was compiling a comprehensive ‘Top 10’ list of upgrades for Jeep owners. My responses to his inquiry seemed more and more difficult to assemble the more I thought about the question. Obviously, the chosen ten could vary greatly depending on the particular owner, the current status of the Jeep and would then need to be tailored to what it is they want to do with the Jeep. So what if the chosen Jeep was a bone-stock model and you needed the mod to fit the bill no matter who owned it or what path they have in mind for the Jeep in the end? What single upgrade or mod would you whole-heartedly recommend?

The easy answer for any Jeep owner to do as their first upgrade, in my opinion, would be wheels & tires. With such an incredible number of wheel styles available from the aftermarket, it’s the easiest way to make your Jeep distinctly your very own. A wisely-chosen wheel package can entirely change the look of a Jeep in one simple step. Unfortunately, it’s also the “gateway” mod to a never-ending list of other modifications. If you get larger wheels and tires, the need for a lift kit will make itself known almost immediately. And once lifted and decked out in new massive rubber, the drivability of the rig will leave you wanting for a re-gearing to recapture some of the prior performance or economy. Be warned that the pursuit for perfection never ends but the quest is massive amounts of fun.

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Even if the existing tires on the Jeep are in relatively good condition, replacing them with something more suited to your taste and personal preference is a pretty safe bet. You can even offset the cost of the new wheels and tires by liquidating the old set on Craigslist or through any number of online Jeep forums. There is quite a rabid market for reasonably priced factory wheels and usable tires. Besides, I think it was Ben Franklin who once said “It’s always better to have a few bucks in the billfold than a hi-rise spider hotel in your garage.” On second thought, it could have been Paul Revere.

What could you choose as a second wish that would be an upgrade to satisfy any Jeeper no matter the Jeep? I don’t think you can go wrong with a quality set of floor liners. Often the factory floor liners are made from auto grade carpet and just aren’t up to the conditions that a Jeep is prone to endure. Carpet needs to be protected from snow, mush and muck. Being able to climb into my Jeep with mud-caked boots with no real regard for the well-being of my floorboards is very liberating. Sure, you can get some universal vinyl mats from the corner auto parts store but the fit is going to be less than perfect, not to mention less than durable. Face it, your Jeep is worthy of so much more.

Floor Liners, Front, Black; 76-95 Jeep CJ5/CJ7/CJ8/Wrangler YJ Custom fit black All Terrain Floor Liners front pair, fits 1976-1983 CJ5 1976-1986 Jeep CJ7 and CJ8, and 1987-1995 Jeep Wrangler YJ Rugged Ridge Floor liners provide complete protection for the cabin floor of your vehicle while keeping it looking factory fresh. Each liner is perfectly contoured to your vehicle's floor for precise secure fitment (floor hook attachment where applicable). The raised lip captures all spills, water and debris keeping your interior pristine. The Chevron-shape patented Deep Tread Technology channels liquid away from your shoes keeping them dry. Made of a durable OE-quality Thermoplastic material that can withstand the rigor of daily abuse. Backed by our Limited Lifetime Warranty. Patent No. 8,163,369; D627,285; 2,699,641

Assuming that world peace & hunger have already been tabled for the purposes of this article, we are left with a single upgrade for which to beg our genies consideration. My answer to this final quandary will allow for a measured dose of personal inclination. Based on what you most want from your Jeep, choose an upgrade that takes you the farthest towards your goal.

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Maybe the vision of what your Jeep needs to be is clear or maybe not so much. Until you are certain what Jeep you want to build, don’t commit to many mods that determine any given outcome. For example, if you are going to be daily driving the Jeep, you might steer clear of enormous lifts and 40-inch tires. Likewise, if you plan to do some mild trail riding, you might want to invest in some armor to protect your exteriors appearance rather than things to beautify it.

Rugged Ridge Armor Fenders for Wrangler JK are not just another bolt-on accessory. We developed our Armor Fenders with such a brawny & bold styling; they’re capable of transforming your rig into an unmistakable, attention-grabbing shadow if its former self. High body lines and aggressively arched wheel openings provide greater clearance for larger tires and allow for improved wheel travel and articulation off-road. Each fender is constructed of heavy gauge 3 mm thick steel, utilizing fold-and-weld construction, for greater structural integrity you can appreciate. Each section is meticulously finished with a resilient black textured powder coat that protects from real-world road hazards. The rear Armor fenders revolutionary 2-piece design allows for full encasing of the taillight and allows for a fitment that is free of gaps for tight fitment and unsurpassed protection while the front Armor fenders integrated vent screen helps expel engine heat for better overall performance. Installation is simplified with the addition of our Gen 2 Inner Fender Liners so there’s no need to modify your factory parts in the process. Armor fenders work with all factory components as well as Rugged Ridge Spartan Grill, Aluminum Hood Catches and even Rubicon Rock Rails. Includes marker light assemblies, hardware and complete installation instructions. Patent Pending.

Many Jeep owners have no off-road aspirations whatsoever but still want to have an aggressive, capable- appearing trail beast that will likely never leave pavement. Outfitting any Jeep with narrow width off-road bumpers with recovery points and high-clearance fenders can be all it takes to covert a showroom stocker to a trail-ready rocker, especially when complemented by the larger rolling stock we secured in our first wish. Even if the benefit of the upgrade is purely visual, making your Jeep become the one you see in your dreams is what it’s all about. Getting to that point as efficiently and economically as possible is the goal…especially if you don’t have a genie in a bottle.  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

Justin Howling and his 2014 JK Unlimited #souperwulf

Our very first official Rugged Rig inductee hails from way up north in Windsor, Ontario. Justin began his Jeep journey as innocently as the rest of us. He bought a Jeep because he thought it would make a pretty cool daily driver but with the added bonus of being able to strip the roof and the doors if the mood were to strike. What Justin never counted on was that he was embarking on a whole new way of life.

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Justin has developed an acronym for his beloved Jeep JK that perfectly explains the difference that being a Jeeper has made in his life- Just Enjoy Every Possibility. Whether it’s trail riding, camping,  or exploring the majestic outdoors with any one of several different groups he rides with, Justin has learned the true value of owning a vehicle with no limits.

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“My Jeep gets me to work everyday, it gets me up the side of that mountain and it gets me through the roughest times in life.”…  well-said, Justin Howling, well-said.

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While the internet is full of well-built Jeeps that are shined and polished to perfection, I really prefer to see a Jeep in it’s natural habitat; getting used & abused in the manner for which it was designed. Justin seems to agree with me and he is really familiar with that filthy process. You can even check out his YouTube channel dedicated to his exploits where he lets you ride along on some of his wheeling adventures and see for yourself. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCBoXZyL9GLTmH1jvEIlH1g

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Justin is a great example of what the Jeep lifestyle is all about. There’s something about buying a new car and having it be a life-changing event that may only register with another Jeep owner. Coming to the realization that it’s Your Jeep. Your Adventure. and making the best of every opportunity you can to get out there and experience life is what it’s all about.

Submit your Jeep to be considered for the title of an official Rugged Rigs by emailing photos, details and even your Jeep story to us at ruggedrigs@omix-ada.com and we’ll send you a cool decal for your troubles. Be sure to follow the Jeep lifestyle with us at www.ruggedridge.com/blog 

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We’ll see you all out there!! OlllllllO

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