Legends of the Fall

I was fortunate enough to recently spend the better part of a week in the mountains of North Georgia with a group of journalists assembled from around the country. Our primary purpose was to get out and enjoy the backroads and wooded wilderness in a handful of Jeeps. And on this particular occasion the timing couldn’t have been better.

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Folks with an advanced level of knowledge can advise you on the virtues of the yearly procession of fall that they call the autumnal equinox. In the south, the event is usually marked by cooler temperatures and a welcomed reprieve from an endless cycle of grass-cutting and yard watering.

The “first day of fall”, as we call it, signifies what I would have to say is my favorite time of year. Besides the cooler weather, fall is a time for the spectacle of golden hues that adorn the trees just before they shed their foliage entirely for the winter. It’s a time for brewing up some homemade chili and for high school football on a Friday night. Best of all, it’s a time for Jeeps.

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This year, fall’s entrance has been marked by unusually warm temperatures. Certainly warmer than we are normally accustomed to in the south. But that doesn’t change the fact that fall is the perfect time to get out and enjoy your Jeep.

While I am a firm believer that Jeeps were meant to be driven without doors, I’m not usually one to set out for a drive without some sort of overhead cover. At the very least, a bikini top or sunshade to keep the scorching rays off of my head is how I’m prone to roll. However, once fall has made its entry, I find that running with no top at all is the ideal remedy for whatever ails you. Besides, you don’t need anything between you and the pageantry of changing leaves; not to mention those clear, starlit nights. But take the time to breathe it in…because in a few short weeks, winter will be here and such deep breaths will be much less enjoyable. And those Jeeps will be weighted down with doors and tops and heaters on full-blast. It is then that you will yearn for this day.

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So get out there and enjoy your Jeep and all the beauty that autumn brings us. There is plenty to see and experience and the legendary Jeep is the perfect place for you to take it all in. OlllllllO

A red Jeep Wrangler drives toward Cottonwood Pass through bright fall aspen trees.

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Space-Age Polymers and Advanced Technology Makes for Instant Fun – Just Add Water!!!

I believe that it is written, somewhere deep within the yellowed pages of an old Jeep owner’s manual, that you have not officially achieved full-fledged Jeep ownership status until you have been baptized into the Jeep church. Don’t get me wrong…despite the name this isn’t a religious ceremony of any sort. It doesn’t require a priest and is not likely to be followed by a reception, complete with little finger sandwiches, fruit punch or a cake. This ‘baptism’ is one of deep water, of pouring rain and probably of mud. Sure, it tends to be a messy ordeal but it always washes off and things dry out long before the memory ever fades.

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I can’t even recall the first time it happened to me, or begin to count the number of times that followed. What I can easily recall is that some of the best times I’ve had in my Jeep have been when things are NOT going the way they should. I could go as far as to say, with reasonable certainty that I’ve been set up. Jeep made plenty of allowances in their design to allow for the unexpected and undesirable to happen. The roof is configured to come off the vehicle entirely, as well as the doors, which both seem pretty suspect to me. There are even plugs in the floor that, when removed, allow for water to drain out of the cab, although the diameter of the drain holes are much too small to keep up with the water flow demand so your ankles will usually remain completely submerged in a heavy downpour. It’s like Jeep knew what kind of trouble Jeep owners were likely to get into and they wanted to make sure we were equipped to handle it and make a full recovery.

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My first ‘baptism’ was innocent enough. It was a sunny spring morning in Georgia and I opted to give my daily driver wheels the day off, choosing to enjoy a sun-soaked trek in to the office in the Jeep. The fresh aroma of budding trees triggered by winters end, accompanied by soft, cool breezes was just the right way in which to start your day and an even better way to end it. Mother nature, however, was hard at work in the background, enacting plans to make sure those blossoming trees had ample water- a plan she would put into full action about the time I began my homeward jaunt. As a steady stream of water trickled from my interior rearview mirror, as though a water faucet had been left on, it occurred to me that a bikini top was probably a well-chosen name for a product that basically guarantees that you are going to get wet. My thoughts then shifted to relative gravity of the situation that unfolded around me as my vehicles entire interior electrical system was being exposed to the one element of nature that it has the least in common with. All these years I spent avoiding the urge to use the hair dryer while lying in the bathtub were all for naught, as I was most certainly about to perish in a freak electrical fire.

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The most redeeming part of the Jeep baptism is probably the impression it makes on those around you that get to witness the event. The look of complete and total pity expressed on the faces of onlookers as they watch you brave the torrential floods must be seen to be believed. A look that could only be outdone by the shock and dismay that their faces would reveal, if they only knew that you were having a blast! I recall on one occasion a fellow in a black luxury sport sedan who pulled up next to me in one such monsoon, partially rolled down his window and made a verbal gesture of his compassion for my plight. “Bad day to own a Jeep! Ain’t it?” he said, to which I replied “No… Thursdays are as good as any day.”

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Of course, there is a flip-side to that coin. Every rose has its thorns; or at least that is the rumor I’ve heard relayed in a song. When it comes to having fun while in a Jeep, water is clearly the magical multiplier. Whether it’s a wide water crossing that runs up to your rocker panels, skirting a majestic waterfall on an isolated backwoods trail or adding equal sums of dirt and water together to make mud- the end result is always the same. Everything you do in a Jeep is “funner” when you add water, but be careful. When you are out wheeling and you add water, things can get really slick really fast! While I don’t mind an occasional struggle for traction, if your adventure has you on any sort of an incline, you will soon be unwillingly finding the shortest route down the mountain; bouncing off anything and everything that is in your path. While this still makes for vast amounts of fun, for those who value pretty painted sheet metal, this can be a real downer. For those Jeepers who are still sending the bank a monthly payment, it’s a downright unacceptable activity to use your Jeep to clear-cut forest land. For that reason, splashing through puddles is the recommended watersport until you have title in hand (with the top off, of course).

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So if you’re out in your topless Jeep and the dark clouds seem to conspire to rain on your parade, don’t despair. It’s just part of your baptism. Sit back, breathe in the air and enjoy it. Most importantly, try not to look too crazy. It’s a Jeep Thing! OlllllllO

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In Search of the Legendary Arctic Top

1Ever since I was a little kid, I have been fascinated with the unknown. If there was a TV show on about ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster or sasquatches, I was surely watching it! Sure, my sleeping habits were probably hampered as a result but I couldn’t help myself and at that age, sleeping was over-rated anyway. There was just something mysteriously captivating about such lore. I craved to view the evidence, however darkly lit or grainy it might appear, and then make a decision for myself. I wouldn’t even say that I was skeptical. Deep down I wanted to believe, I just wanted to see for myself. I remember the first time I saw the choppy 8mm video footage of what appears to be a Bigfoot walking across a partially open field that looked like it was in the process of being clear-cut. My heart skipped a beat! Heck, the creature even turned his head toward the camera mid-stride as if he knew he was being taped. I was convinced this thing was real, even if there had been an obvious zipper seam going up the front of the suit. I was a whole-hearted believer!

While hunting for Yetis in the Pacific Northwest and setting traps for the chupacabra have little, if anything, to do with Jeeps; there is an element of Jeeps colorful history that provides me the same sort of puzzling curiosity- the question of the first or original Jeep hardtop. While Jeep hardtops are as commonplace today as a traffic jam, this was not always the case. It’s a tall order to substantiate exactly when they came into existence.

I think it’s a fairly safe bet that a rigid, removable hard top was not anything that the factory concerned themselves with until the civilian Jeep, or CJ as they were known, had made its way to the farms and roadways of America. In fact, it’s not very easy to find any photographic evidence of a hard top mounted on an early model military Jeep at all, at least not one captured in black & white film as the period would dictate. And then you find one…

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Commonly, when you do find them, the tops depicted are obvious works of a craftsman skilled in some form of engineering outside the realm of the automobile. They are often contrived of wood, aluminum or some other building material pliable enough to be scabbed to a Jeep tub. They may have windows OR they may not. If so equipped, they will not likely be windows of a uniform size. I guess that’s why the picture above is so intriguing to me. It’s obviously a WWII-era Jeep and, based on the snow-covered banks in the background and the makeshift heat-capturing canopy covering the lap of the driver in the foreground, someone has made an exerted effort to devise a hardtop to keep the warm in and the cold out. And it looks like it belongs on the Jeep and not fitted with wheels and pulled behind your station wagon.

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By the late 1940’s and early 50’s, there were any number of companies that had ventured into the uncharted waters of Jeep hardtops and offered their wares to the civilian CJ drivers en mass. Sears & Roebuck, Koenig, Metro, Willys New England, Carson and JC Whitney, just to name a few and it’s fair to say that these companies were pretty good at what they did. Each had their own distinct designs and features and possessed an existence that can be well-documented through photos from the day. Again, largely captured in color film that would lead me to believe that they were existing comfortably in the 1950’s when color film had become affordable enough for common use. So, is it even possible to tell who may have been the first to craft and even manufacture hardtop for the Jeep?

In early 1946, surplus Jeeps that were left over from the war were treated to a custom “winterizing” by the construction of a crude sheet metal cab that was pop-riveted to the body tub as a means of separating the Jeeps driver from the harsh winter elements. The work was performed by Japanese citizens at the Showa Army Air Base in Japan under the watchful eye of U.S. military personnel using leftover airplane materials and a calloused disregard for aerodynamics. While this could possibly be the first documented hard top for a Jeep, it is certainly not of the “removable” variety and, by way of its semi-permanent method of install, is more likely a necessity than an accessory that can be removed at will like we are accustomed to today.

Photo Credit: Historic Images

Photo Credit: Historic Images

7So, despite the really cool black & white pictures of the Jeeps with suspected early prototype hard tops, I would have to concede that the first actual removable hard top could probably be credited to an aftermarket company and offered for sale only pages away from grandma’s girdle and pop’s thermal underwear. However disappointing that might seem, I’m gonna keep my chin up and keep looking until I know the truth. Besides, I’m pretty sure I saw a sasquatch cresting the snowy bank in the background behind one of those Jeeps. OlllllllO2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

I’ll Spare You the Details

1One of the most unique and differentiating features of the Willys / Jeep vehicle has always been the presence of an externally-mounted spare tire. In the early WWII-era models, the spare was first mounted to the rear of the tub but was relocated later to the rear side panel as civilian models were introduced in the mid 40’s, making way for the new rear tailgates on the CJ2 and CJ3 models. While the external mounting of the spare was most likely done out of dire shortage of interior space, the fact that it still resides outside of the frame rails today, some 75 years later, is somewhat surprising. With all of the creature comforts and niceties that have found their way into the current Jeep platform, one would almost expect to see the unsightly spare tire hidden underneath the rear end or tucked away discretely inside the cargo area. That just isn’t the way Jeep has ever done it. Jeeps are about no-nonsense utility…if we have a humongous spare tire, we want it right where we can get to it! Otherwise, we would’ve equipped them with teeny, tiny donut-shaped space-saver spares that tucks underneath your passenger seat.

I have information from very reliable sources, from people that have actually experienced an off-road vehicle roll-over firsthand, and they all unanimously proclaim that, in the event of such an occurrence, you do NOT want anything on the inside of your passenger compartment larger or heavier than a small stuffed animal. Cellphones, toolboxes, tire irons, roofing hammers or, heaven forbid, a 30 ounce stainless steel thermal tumbler filled with scalding-hot coffee are all transformed into barrel-rolling projectiles of terrifying mass that will dent, beat and bludgeon anything and everything in their path. While I agree that the spare tire mounted on the outside is still going to wreak unbelievable havoc if you go belly-up, I am much more comfortable with it not using my lap as a starting point for its dismount. For that reason, storing the spare tire outside the Jeep seems to make a great deal of sense.

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3Another dilemma that is not so easily solved is what do we do in the event that we have a damaged tire and need to use our spare? First of all, if your Jeep has even a small suspension lift and larger tires, you will find that your original equipment jack is of little OR no use to you, other than keeping the jack mounting brackets from rattling. You are going to need to utilize a hi-lift or farm jack and some level of ingenuity in your execution of its use in order to change your flat tire. You will also face a similar problem when it comes to decide where to stow your jack. I prefer a hood jack mount for two reasons: first, the fact that the jack is easily accessible regardless of your vehicles positioning. Secondly and more importantly, those unknowing passersby who seem to inevitably mistake it for some sort of machine gun mounting apparatus always yield some really humorous conversations at the fueling station. Many people opt for mounting the jack right next to the spare on the rear bumper or tailgate which has its own merits. Of course, you could mount the jack on the inside of your Jeep, too (see paragraph above).

Once you have a hi-lift jack mounted in a convenient location on your Jeep, yet another dilemma rears its ugly head. Gravity was happy to assist you when you removed the spare tire but now it’s time to remount the flat tire on your carrier and you have seriously underestimated the weight of a wheel and tire combination, even when it’s flat. Hopefully, you have someone riding with you that can assist with the task of lifting the tire. Even a 35” diameter tire can be cumbersome to lift, if not impossible for some, especially when physical exhaustion and uneven terrain become factors. If you have a 37” tire or larger, I might suggest digging a shallow grave to bury it in or hide it under an immense pile of brush temporarily and return later with a friend/accomplice to retrieve it. However inconvenient this may seem at the time, it pales in comparison to the deflation of being found days later, after an extensive search, with only your arms and legs protruding from under the giant spare tire.     

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Spring Accessories

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It’s time to come out from hibernation now that Winter is fading away slowly, Spring is here and that means warmer weather. And it’s time to switch up your accessories with some of Rugged Ridge’s to bring your Jeep back to life. Here are a few of our favorite things:

HALF & TUBE DOORS
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The cold is long gone and with that it’s time to open up your Jeep to enjoy the trails. So if you like the doors off feel but also want the added convenience and utility of having doors on the trail? Rugged Ridge Tube Doors are constructed from heavy-duty 1.5 inch mandrel bent steel tube that is E coated primered and then textured powder coated for a long lasting finish. Tube doors help increase visibility when climbing obstacles and trail riding. These doors interchange easily with the factory steel doors and require no body modification for installation. They are light weight and small enough to be stored easily in back of the vehicle when not in use so you can take them on the go!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL OF OUR HALF & TUBE DOORS

 

ECLIPSE SUN SHADE
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Now that you got your doors off it’s only natural to take the top off too. The Rugged Ridge Eclipse Sunshade gives the open air and “top down” feeling you want, while providing added protection from harsh sunlight. Featuring reinforced mesh construction, the half sun shade installs between the front portion of a JK’s sport bar and windshield to protect either front or rear passengers separately. The full-length sun shade is secured between the windshield and the rear crossbar of the JK’s sport bar to protect both front and rear passengers simultaneously. By using the mesh material with built-in elastic straps, this sunshade was designed from the start to eliminate the need for a header channel as with other similar products. An all-in-one package, this sunshade is simple to install and doesn’t require any modifications. By retaining access to the Jeep’s top clamps, drivers can keep the shade in place and preserve function of the factory top. The Eclipse Sun Shade installs with sewn-in bungee cords and a small mesh carrying bag for storage when not in use. Compact in size, the Rugged Ridge sun shade can be stored in just about any compartment of your Jeep for quick access.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW ALL OF OUR ECLIPSE SUN SHADES

 

SPLASH GUARDS
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As you go trailing your gonna need some protection from the mud. Rugged Ridge has you covered with our Splash Guards! Featuring high quality injection molded TPE material; these guards are paintable and offer styling accents to customize your vehicle’s look.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR SPLASH GURADS

 

DRAKON WHEELS
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Bring the look of your JK to a whole new level with our Drakon Alloy Wheels from Rugged Ridge. Rugged Ridge designed and built its new wheel from cast aluminum alloy and made it available in multiple stunning finishes to create a unique appearance. This gun metal 20×9 inch wheel from Rugged Ridge fits 07-14 Jeep Wranglers. Backspacing is 4.53 inch with a -12mm offset and 5 on 5-inch bolt pattern. These wheels feature a hub-centric design, meaning this wheel will center perfectly every time.

 CLICK HERE TO VIEW OUR DRAKON WHEELS

Monthly Give-Away: Summer Brief Top

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Enter for a chance to win a Rugged Ridge Summer Brief Top of your choice

Open to citizens from US and Canada only, give-away closes at midnight EST on 4/30/2014. Winner will be randomly selected on or around May 1, 2014.Void where prohibited.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Winterize Your Jeep

Winter is in full swing right now and with that comes the cold weather we all don’t look forward to if you have a Jeep. But have no fear, we have a couple of helpful tips to get your Jeep in gear for this cold weather.

Proper Accessories

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We all know how important good accessories can be during this season. Even simple accessories like a good pair of windshield wipers can help you out in a snowstorm especially. But lets not all forget that your interior can be accessorized as well, like with our All Terrain Floor Liners that will protect your Jeep from the daily grime that can accumulate. Also, it is the perfect time to change your tires to Snow Tires to help hold traction on the slippery roads out there.

 

Emergency Kit

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Being prepared for the worst can’t hurt. Having a small emergency kit with the essentials like a blanket, shovel, and other things can really come in handy for when you get stuck on or off the trails. With our Recovery Gear Kit getting unstuck can be done in faster time than without.

 

Full Gas Tank

Now it’s safe to say this is just common sense but we just have to remind you. You shouldn’t be riding around with a near empty gas tank and in the winter you don’t want to be caught on the side of the road. Make sure you’re regularly filling up to help prevent condensation from forming on the walls of the tank and dripping down into your gas.

 

 

New from Summit Racing Equipment: Omix-Ada Restoration Parts

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Factory-authentic reproductions of impossible-to-find original parts for CJs, Wranglers, Cherokees, Wagoneers—even that old Willys in the backyard. From complete body tubs and seats to carburetors, control arms, door handles, and brake lines, Omix-Ada covers every Jeep generation from Willys, Ford, and Bantam to AMC and Chrysler. Whether you’re doing a nuts-and-bolts rebuild of a CJ or just need a headlight for a Jeep Liberty, chances are Omix-Ada makes it. For authenticity, many of its parts carry an “Official Mopar Licensed Restoration Product” pedigree.

PRODUCT LINK
http://www.summitracing.com/search/brand/omix-ada?GroupBy=ProductName

Tallmadge, OH (PRWEB) August 13, 2013

MT Sees if the New Jeep Wrangler Can Compete with the Classic Willy CJ-3A on the Farm

Once the Second World War was over, the American vehicle manufacturing industry was still tooled up for production of military equipment, and while there were some factories that were able to quickly adapt to peace-time production, others were bigger and therefore their moves were cumbersome.

However, there was another category which is worth mentioning here – those companies whose products did find civilian uses with minimal modifications, like the iconic Willys Jeep, which got stripped out and sold to farmers who would plough the fields with it, or spread seeds.

Motor Trend wants to see if that purposefully-utilitarian philosophy to building off-roaders has been preserved until the modern day, or in other words, if a modern Jeep Wrangler can cut it on the farm. The chosen vehicle is a Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited, powered by the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, coupled to a manual gearbox. It proves that it has more than enough power and traction to do some really hard work, and while it doesn’t have PTO (power take-off) at the back to provide drive to the more advanced farming equipment, it really isn’t bad.

But all of this text would be irrelevant without the video, which is a nice history lesson and generally quite informative, as well as also being posted below.

From Carscoops By Andrei Nedelea