“Well If That Ain’t the ICE-ing on the Cake”

Maybe you’ve seen them or, like my Dad who is in his eighties, has seen them and didn’t honestly know the difference, but electric cars are everywhere. The first time I saw a Tesla with my father and explained to him some of the technology that is incorporated within its sleek chassis, he looked at me as though I were recruiting him for some fanatical cult. Then again, he looks at me like that quite a lot.

One component that comes along with the sudden growth of electric transportation is the need for recharging stations. If regular cars have filling stations on literally every corner, then why would an electric be any different? I guess I’ve only started noting them within the past 18 months or so, but they may have been around for much longer. You see, they’re not always right out in the open.

akrales_160419_1019_A_0257.0.0.png

Usually way, way out in the far stretches of the parking lot is where these “superchargers” are constructed. Out in the areas that are usually reserved for us car guys & gals who would rather walk three-quarters of a mile than come out to a wayward Target buggy bashed against our precious trail-rashed paint. So it seems as though some of these same car guys may have taken slight offense to the cordoning of these spaces for the exclusive use of car-charging and decided to partake in silent protest. And, hence, ICE-ing was born.

Tesla-Supercharger-pickup-truck-attack

What is ICE-ing, you might ask if your inquisitive nature is even partially engaged? Well, ICE is an acronym that stands for ‘Internal Combustion Engine’, which makes the better part of Americans “ICE-ers”, whether they know it or not (I can’t wait to tell my Dad- he’ll be so excited to learn).

It seems as though, at least one segment of these ICE-ers has decided to take a literal stand, or park, if you will, against the presence of these charging stations by placing their massive gas-guzzling behemoths in positions where they completely block access to the charging stations. Dare I say, they are acting like real gas-holes.

ICing2

The electric car community has reacted in the most sensitive and politically-correct manner they can devise, by creating a flashy little window flyer, printed in a color known as “Crabby Red”, to place under the wiper of the offending vehicles. The flyer simply states that they are confident that this whole thing must be a horrible mistake and they would appreciate it if you would muster a base level of courtesy when you select your next parking space. They then entice you with a link to a website where you too can learn more about electric cars for yourself. Maybe even begin to develop an understanding of why they exist on this crazy earth. I’m somewhat certain the words are fully wasted on the ICE-ers.

Charging-Hang-Tag-Kit-CourtesyNotice-OnCar-1_large

I can’t help but think that not all of this ICE-ing is intentional. I know the first time I saw a Tesla Supercharging station from a distance, I thought it to be a car vacuum or air compressor, despite its somewhat remote location. Certainly some poor dimwit has pulled up and tried, in great frustration, to refill their under-inflated tire, only to wobble off in failure. I know this as well as I know that Tesla drivers have tried to find the gas door on their fancy electrics…

7529540-0-image-a-32_1545063074782

So, what if there is a certain level of indoctrination that needs to occur to the general population before the existence of these charging stations becomes common knowledge? I mean, things are getting pretty hostile out there right now. People are getting offended, tempers are becoming heated, things are being said, flyers are being placed on windshields, for god’s sake!

Do_SFh7UcAEhmoW

Apparently somebody has already asked such probing questions of themselves and the solution was obvious. “We’ll paint the ground in front of the supercharging station, advising of the purpose of the parking spot, thus dispelling it’s use for any potential nere-do-wells”. Such painted images should be possess an easily deciphered image so as to be freely interpreted by someone with only a basic level of acuity. Cartainly, if they continue to park here, it is surely an intentional action.

ICEDTahoe

Oh, Geez! C’mon people!! I don’t know how much clearer it can be stated to you. Unless you have a place to plug in the charger cable, you have absolutely no business using this parking space. Do I make myself clear? Sticking the charging cable into your stake bed pocket doesn’t count either. Nice try…

7837226-0-image-a-14_1545835589713

That’s it! Until they decide to make all electric vehicles off-road capable, this problem may likely not have an easy solution. Or maybe it’s the mentaility of the electric car driver that needs to change. Be a little more like a Jeep driver. Quit worrying about everyone’s feelings, hop a curb and find a solution. There… now isn’t that better? OlllllllO

 

IMG_7293 - Version 2

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past

As a child there were always a handful of things you could always count on; things that are etched in my memory banks. Like the feeling of sitting anxiously by the radio waiting for the announcement of your schools closing for winter’s first snowfall. The certainty of one’s grandparents, aunts and uncles ceaselessly citing the way things were when they were young; always harder but somehow better than the present. And decidedly best of all, the anticipation and thrill of waiting for Christmas morn- from the careful crafting of your wish list to the hours-long slumber strike as you restlessly awaited the sound of sleigh bells in the night sky or hoofs scuffing across the roof. Christmas always fosters some of the warmest memories from my childhood.

ca. 1942 --- Picture shows Santa Claus in a jeep with a Christmas tree and presents. Undated photo circa 1942. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

So I’m not yet a grandparent but I am an uncle at least a dozen times over which more than qualifies me to make a few observations about how things are today. Things that are brought to light at this yuletide time of year.

First of all, it seems like the kids today are being shortchanged. It seems as though our society has become so technologically advanced that kids don’t feel the need to utilize their imaginations anymore. Any kid that gets caught going out into the front yard and pretending like he or she is engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a race of apes in attempt to foil their plan to overthrow the human race would be quickly prescribed a strong sedative and assigned to a special class secluded from the primary population. We did this kinda stuff all the time and it was completely normal.

1eccab35380cbec4ae9e93d15e2501e9

Kids nowadays literally have an entire world of possibilities in the palm of their hand. My teenage son can create a hi-res image of my wife and I, in matching Christmas sweaters, in a lovers embrace at the base of the Eiffel Tower, at no more than a moment’s notice. A pretty tall order considering I’ve never been to France and we don’t own any matching outerwear, or “unders” for that matter. With such powers at your fingertips, it gets pretty easy to shelve the old imagination in favor of the app-of-the-day delivered across a worldwide 4G network.

Christmas_64.preview

I, for one, miss the good old days. I long for the days when toys were made of metal, and wood, and things that were not so wisely-sourced because, well, that wasn’t even a thing yet. I remember Tonka trucks that you could stand on, and drop from a second story window, not to mention leaving out in the driveway so Dad could back over it with the Olds. Sure, after a few years it would get scratched up and start to rust but a few shots of Rust-o-leum and she’d be good as new.

index

I miss the days of GI Joe dolls. Yes, dolls for boys. But these dolls had accessories that made them anything but a girl’s toy. Machine guns, semi-auto handguns, grenades and even bazookas, which could all be grasped firmly with the startling complexity of Joe’s patented “kung-fu grip”. Toys like this challenged a child’s imagination to develop plots and storylines in which to your prized action figures, unlike today’s handheld gizmos that merely separate and desensitize. It would seemingly take hours to even set-up GI Joe’s base in preparation to play. I can’t say that I ever remember the actual playing taking any time at all in comparison to the eons spent in set-up and breakdown.

gijoe_750-600x283

 

I miss the days of my sister’s playing with Easy-Bake ovens, a toy that was clearly as capable of creating a semi-edible cake as it was causing disfiguring burns accompanied by substantial property damage, if not properly supervised.

And then there was Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars…I think every car guy / girl in the world owes a least of portion of their love for cars to an early infatuation with these tiny jewels. To find one of these stuffed in to your stocking on Christmas day was enough to distract you from your LifeSavers Storybook. As I remember, the sight of dozens of these cars lined up in the area under the tree was as commonplace a sight on Christmas as scraps of wrappings and ribbon.

the60s_www.huffreport.com_xmas

So my hope for this Christmas is that we will set our technologies aside and make an attempt to get back to some of the simpler things. Put together a model car, play a board game with actual people or even get down on the floor and play with some cars. Heck, maybe even venture outside? Can you imagine what the neighbors will think? OlllllllO

maxresdefault

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

“A Jeeper’s 12 Days of Christmas”

We would like to present to Jeep enthusiasts a heartfelt wish for a very Merry Christmas and a safe & prosperous New Year in 2019. Celebrate the season with us by joining in our little sing-a-long that details some of the things that might be on your wish list…

Day1Day2Day3Day4Day5Day6Day7Day8Day9Day10Day11Day122106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

As I Recall, Nobody Is Perfect

When I was growing up, I was probably viewed as some kind of a gearhead. I bought my first car at the tender age of fourteen. I spent a lot of my spare time tinkling under the hood or grinding away at the body. I always ran in social circles with the kind of guys who turned wrenches and found trouble by barking tires and practicing red-light launches, or “blatant displays of speed”, as the citation would always read.

I remember a tale I was told, back in the day, by a car-buddy of mine who drove a ’70 Nova SS. He said that you should never buy a car that was built on a Monday. His statement cleverly insinuated that the guys who worked the assembly line would show up for work on a Monday, still a bit hung over from the weekend, and, for that reason, would do a less-than-stellar job. I found it somewhat silly to make such a declaration when the process of finding out what exact week a car was built was as complex as advanced trigonometry, much less the exact day.

d5f8c35dd54aef01ff42c05a06999863

My friend’s statement was founded nonetheless. His Nova, as nice as it was, held a sort-of factory defect itself. His father was the original owner of the car, having purchased it in November of ’69, before passing it on to his son; so its history was pretty well known. On a hot June afternoon, while installing some wiring for a stereo amplifier, the passenger side kick panel was removed to reveal an old Stroh’s beer can crushed flat and nestled inside the hidden cavity behind. The fact that the metal can was heavy and had the old pull tab style top made it seem original to the era. It wasn’t like we ever heard an unknown rattle nor did we smell the stale funk that would surely emanate from a discarded beer can on a hot day, had it not been some 17 years later. We always joked that the UAW workers were literally “lit” while assembling his X-bodied pride & joy. And we may have not been wrong.

kick2

This old yarn was brought to mind recently when the new and highly-touted 2018-19 Jeep Wrangler JL was recalled for faulty welds on its track bar mounts. Nothing stirs up public speculation like a crack in the frame of a brand new vehicle. Is it even possible today that the guy behind the welding gun over at Jeep is all dizzied-up on malted hops? Surely today’s assembler would be sipping coconut water or a soy latte?

Track Bar Bracket Weld

After my recent tour of the Toledo Assembly Plant back in August, I can say definitively NO. In fact, a large majority, if not all, of the welding on the chassis is performed by robotic arms that work efficiently and with exacting precision. The actual temperature of the weld is a known quantity, as is every aspect of the welded union, generating a finished weld that simply can’t be duplicated by even the most skilled human with any degree of regularity. The entire process is monitored by sensors and carefully controlled by an advanced computer system that serves as the brain of the operation. And therein lies the only likely suspect for such a manufacturing flaw.

IMG_2068-1

So while the level of automation that is incorporated into the assembly of a car has all but eliminated the possibility for human error, the fact that humans are tasked with building the robotics and developing the programs that drive their systems leaves a wide window for such glitches to occur. If nothing else, such a recall should remind us that it’s usually best to wait for the second year of production on a new model before making a purchase; or develop a deeper comfort level with the possibility of such issues arising, knowing that solutions will be swift and exhaustive. That being said, I’m a long way from being comfortable with a computer driving my car for me…those things weld like they’re drunk! OlllllllO

IMG_7777

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

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.

mediatrip08

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.

mediatrip47

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.

mediatrip30

 

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.

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

My Retrospective Look at Toledo Trek 2018

It was many months back, early spring of 2018, that I forged the idea in my rat’s nest-of-a-brain to take my 25-year old Wrangler YJ and set a course northward. To drive to the land long-revered as the birthplace of the Jeep- Toledo, Ohio.

Looking back, I was a bit distressed that my old Jeep might not be up to the chore. She has been known to consume a little oil, which is not in any way uncommon for a Jeep. It’s not been assigned a quart of oil per gallon of gas ratio as of yet, so all is good. I will note also that, after years of dedicated efforts, I can proudly declare that the old 4-liter doesn’t leak oil, in any measurable quantity, at all.

All Photos Courtesy of Evan Coolidge

All Photos Courtesy of Evan Coolidge

So what was I really worried about? My antique Jeep, with its ostracizing rectangular headlights, seemed to make the 1,300 mile jaunt with no real struggles at all. So why would I be, in any way, surprised? She has been hauling my cumbersome structure to & from work faithfully every day for what seems like forever. So I can’t say that I am the least bit surprised. I do find myself cherishing a newfound sense of pride that I hadn’t held before…proud, but not surprised.

What I do find a bit surprising is how much I enjoyed my visit to Toledo. I had heard from more than a couple people how degraded and destitute the city had become. How the city streets were lined with shops that had been boarded-up long ago and either moved on or folded completely. While this perception is not untrue by any means, I can’t help but think that Toledo is a city in need of a second chance.

IMG_2108

To be fair, when you pack legions of Jeeps into one town, I’m probably gonna fall slightly head-over-heels for it. I can’t really help it. Toledo loves the Jeep and she wears her love for it right out on her sleeve for everyone to see. Having the city be completely overrun with Jeeps, if only for a weekend, seemed much like some kind of homecoming. Like all the kids who were born here, had grown up and moved on, all agreed to come back to Grammys house for a reunion. To share a meal, to play on the lawn and show how much they’ve achieved over the years.

IMG_2164

 

There is no discounting the notion that the Jeep and its loyal followers are more than just a community; they are indeed a family. But the attraction of the city of Toledo, at least for me, goes far beyond its relevance in the history of our beloved Jeep. It’s like the city, with its endless array of aging architecture, symbolizes a way of life that is seemingly nonexistent anymore. The city is romantic. It is historic and it is charming. The fact that time left Toledo behind was no fault of the city at all.

IMG_2083

The Toledo Jeep Fest was originated as a celebration of Jeep’s 75th anniversary, back in 2016, with the plan of it becoming a biennial event, or happening every other year. With such overwhelming success, rumors are adrift that the city of Toledo might try having the show every year. With such a swell of enthusiasm over the Jeep brand and the recurring boost to the local economy that an annual show would provide, I can’t help but dream of the possibility that the town that built Jeep might someday become the town that Jeep rebuilt. I, for one, will anxiously await the opportunity to relive my trek to Toledo once again. After all…my old Jeep can make it, no problem. OlllllllO

IMG_21152106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

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.

827ba68302d879abef5f98e7e081bd7d

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.

IMG_1998

 

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.

tumblr_n5inl2Xq5m1qat53so1_500

 

 

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.”

9-Create-Rain-Effect-in-Photoshop-600x300

 

 

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).

2018-Jeep-Wrangler-Wading-in-Water-copy

 

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

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

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.

827ba68302d879abef5f98e7e081bd7d

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.

Toledo

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??

image...........

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!

tylers-YJ

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

IMG_20180611_095551158_LL2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

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.

556af13bd53681994d258c519bf8b40b--ugly-dogs-ugly-puppies

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.

2dilzdn2i9cx

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…

IMG_7701

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

IMG_20180611_095831111

2106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9

Training Tomorrow’s Heroes

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in their life is a hero to me.” ― Fred Rogers

When it comes to turning wrenches on a Jeep, too many people would write it off as dirty, knuckle-busting work. While this conclusion is more than substantiated, it fully dismisses the larger truth that hard work, and in this case mechanical work, can be nothing short of good medicine.

In the foothills of southern Tennessee, there is an organization that really “gets it”. The Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer has made it their mission to not only erase the effects of childhood cancer but to optimize the quality of life for these kids as they experience the impact of diagnosis and as they brave the trials of their ongoing treatment. The Foundation has found a way to give these kids and their families a valuable tool with which to fight those daily battles- best of all, it’s a tool that already lies within them. They only need to learn how to access it and perfect it’s usage. In my opinion, what better subject with which to develop their craft than on a Jeep.

HatcherFoundation_26

While the Jeep seemed a perfect blank canvas for Hatch’s Kids to practice their magic on, it’s not every day that a brand new Wrangler JKU lands in your lap either, at least not in the real world. Fortunately, the fine folks at the Mtn. View Auto Group see things a little bit differently. They jumped in and fired-up a brand-spanking new Wrangler, hopped on the freeway and dropped it on their doorstep…literally. It still had the paper floor mats in it. But not for long.

ah1

The Austin Hatcher Foundation’s goal was to transform this bone-stock JK into a modern interpretation of the classic Jeepster Commando, an early-70’s rarity that added popular muscle car styling to the time-honored CJ persona. Rugged Ridge donated pile upon pile of parts to accomplish this massive undertaking while Truck ‘N Trailers USA provided enough shop space, lift and tools to build a space shuttle. And to top it off, they’ll accomplish this task with manpower sourced from the families that they serve on a daily basis. Yes…they’re gonna build this beast with kids.

rugged-jeep-front

It was a brilliant plan whose full perfection would not be realized simply or quickly, but through a series of scheduled “Build Days”. Days that were carefully planned to insure success with a project checklist for all to see. A list detailing what needed to be accomplished that day and providing a visual reminder of the team’s successes as items are checked off. While these were likely some tough build days, they are not nearly as tough as the kids who’ve fearlessly tackled them and found ways to laugh and smile through the entire process.

ah3

And now, with all those pesky words out of the way…bask in the glory of Hatch’s Kids building a super-sweet 2017 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Hurst Edition. It doesn’t get any cooler than this.

ah4

ah5

ah6

ah7

ah8

ah9 - Copy

ah10

ah11

ah12

ah13

So let’s hear it for the Austin Hatcher Foundation family and the outstanding influence this project has had in the lives of these young people. Be sure to keep any eye out for this beauty making appearances at automotive events over the upcoming year. It is possibly half-as-cool as the kids that built it but still way cooler than most anyhting else on the street.  You can find out more about the Austin Hatcher Foundation and the amazing work they perform in the lives of kids affected by cancer by visiting https://www.hatcherfoundation.org/  OlllllllO

ah142106b4ca367891a36776fcdb10f2edd9