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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“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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The Top 10 Reasons to Observe May 19, 2018- Jeep “Go Topless Day®”

1The 11th Annual Go Topless Day® is swiftly approaching; a day set aside to celebrate our beloved Jeep in the best way we know how…by removing our tops and driving around with reckless abandon (within the strict confines of your local laws and ordinances, of course). Even better, this year’s event is sponsored by the Jeep fanatics at Rugged Ridge! As if any pure-blooded Jeeper needed an excuse to take their Jeeps out and enjoy a gorgeous spring day on the open road; we’ve come up with ten, count them, TEN reasons why you should get those Jeeps out and expose the world to a little peek into what it’s like to be a diehard Jeeper:

#1Jeep is an American Icon – Very much like our countries stars and stripes, the revered Jeep deserves to be on public display for everyone to see, appreciate and enjoy. When darkness sets in, fret not; Jeeps are equipped with their own onboard illumination systems so that you can still see and be seen with the press of a button or pull of a knob (depending on your particular model). It is absolutely revolutionary!

2#2 Gasoline Prices Are Going Up – While this seems like more of a ‘con’ than a ‘pro’, just think about it for a minute. Driving the wheels off the old Jeep is gonna be cheaper on this day than it will be on any given day in June OR July. Consider, if you will, the kind-hearted folks of Finland who are paying in excess of $5.00 a gallon for petrol! With gas prices like those, you can very well imagine that, even if those poor Finns were lucky enough to have Jeeps, before “Go Topless Day” even got started, it would be Finnished. So fill those fuel tanks up to over-flowing and wheel those Jeeps like there’s no tomorrow. Do it for our Jeep-less friends on the other side of the pond.

#3 – This IS the 11th Anniversary of Go Topless Day® – Just think about it…this tops-off celebration is in its second decade of existence and it’s getting bigger every year. And it’s not just the western hemisphere, folks. We’ve got topless bashes as far away as Australia making Go Topless Day® a true global phenomenon.

#4 – Kids LOVE Jeeps! – I am not insinuating that you need to go out and adopt kids for “Go Topless” Day, if you don’t currently have any of your own. I am simply stating one of the simplest truths that exists today, and that is: if you take a kid for a ride in your Jeep, smiles will be sure to follow. Smiles so genuine that they can only be enhanced by the likes of ice cream and amusement parks- they’re that good. If admission to your rig is strictly limited to adults only, at least take the time to wave and smile at kids when you see them out on the road. You’re in a Jeep, so you can bet they will already be looking at you. You’ve gotta let them know how much fun it really is!

#5 – It’s Saturday!! – I would understand your hesitance to venture out too far from the house on a weekday school night but “Go Topless Day®” falls on the weekend, so any and all excuses fail. Get out there and enjoy a care-free ride knowing you’ll have all day on Sunday to recover.

4#6 – ‘Jeep Hair’ Looks Outstanding on Almost Everyone – With the exception of completely bald individuals, looking somewhat frazzled like you just came off a rollercoaster is a good look – crazy, but good. Case in point… Go to ANY dating website and browse through the hundreds upon hundreds of profile pictures. Every one of these hapless romantics is well-groomed with their hair perfectly in place and yet they are hopelessly single. What could they be missing?? You might try sacrificing those hairdos to the wind gods, jump into a Jeep and live a little. You won’t be sorry! If you just can’t take the risk with those precious locks, may we suggest a ball cap? Follow the link and you’ll see it’s really just a win / win situation.

https://www.allthingsjeep.com/jeephats.html

5#7 – You Get to Relive the ‘Good Old Days’ – Do you remember when you were just a kid and your neighborhood friends would come knock on your front door and ask your parents if you could come out and play? Well, your Jeep friends are going to be out playing on May 19th and we want you to come out and play too! The Jeep community is a family; a brother and sisterhood of people who share in the same enjoyment of the outdoors and an undying passion for Jeeps. You’ll see them out there, so make sure you wave and don’t worry about being home before the streetlights come on.

#8 – You Can Throw the Map Right Out the Window – Actually, if you don’t have a roof you are probably deprived of doors, as well. So the map kinda throws itself out with no help from you. Nonetheless, Go Topless Day® is all about the journey you’re on and not any given destination, so set out for the great unknown. You’ll never know what you might find when you chart a course for nowhere. Set out with a friend to find a new trail to hike, take in a handful of a postcard-perfect views or a new out-of-the-way restaurant to experience. This adventure is not scripted so you can make it up as you go. Most importantly, set out to see as much of the world around you as you can, from the best seat available.

6#9 – Man’s Best Friend Will Likely Lick You– The only characters that seem to love a Jeep ride more than Jeep owners are the Jeep owner’s dogs. When canines go for a ride in a normal car, they have to poke their heads out of the lowered window, which requires standing on all fours for a vast majority of the time, equating to much more work than dogs usually prefer. The well-known cliché “lazy as a dog” is somewhat unfair in that dogs actually prefer to exhaust their energies in more thrilling pursuits, such as chasing balls or Frisbees, scavenging for people food, disassembling consumer textiles and intently sleeping on pricey furniture. For this reason, Jeeps are the ideal method of getting around for dogs. They are able to be completely surrounded by refreshing breezes while enjoying a much more comfortable reclined position; so take your four-legged friends along with you BUT don’t forget a leash or lanyard so your pooch can stay safe & secure in the cab.

7#10 – Taking the first step is super easy!! – You can get an unbelievably FREE Go Topless Day® decal from All Things Jeep.com by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope (US addresses only) to the address below. Every request is opened by a living, breathing human so feel free to include a friendly note. We hope to see you out on May 19th! OlllllllO

All Things Jeep

GTD 2018 Bumper Sticker Request

20 Mill Street, Suite 136

Pepperell, MA 01463

For more information on AllThingsJeep.com’s 11th Annual Go Topless Day® 2018 sponsored by Rugged Ridge, please visit https://www.allthingsjeep.com/go-topless-day.html.  

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Living High on the Hog in Hand-Me-Downs

Growing up the youngest kid in a five child family has its benefits. Sure, I struggle with producing any particular benefits right now but, nonetheless, I’m sure they exist. Have all four of your siblings happen to be females and the difficulty in that question increases greatly. Take for example, having an older sister come to your rescue from the fury of the playground bully can work wonders on a prepubescent boys’ self-esteem. And then there’s the age-old prospect of hand-me-downs…you know, the old clothes your parents carelessly add to your childhood wardrobe to avoid spending money on new clothes? Do they have no care or concern for their lone male offspring? It’s a real challenge feeling secure about yourself, at what is likely the most awkward phase of your life, when you have to spend so much time making sure your shirts are buttoning from the right side! That jungle gym bully is really gonna have his way and then some with a timid twelve-year-old crossdresser riding a girls Scwinn bike with a basket.

1Being the benefactor of hand-me-downs takes on a whole new countenance according to the pages of LIFE Magazine, circa January 3, 1944. It turns out that, while the Second World War was still in full swing in 1943, some of the Jeeps that had been deployed to action were becoming tired and less than fit for such a rigorous detail. The Willys and Ford GP jeeps of that day were exposed to extremely cruel operating conditions, often suffering broken frames and catastrophic engine damage in as few as 5,000 miles. For that reason, units that were deemed as “used-up” were sent back stateside to be stripped of any serviceable parts.

2One particular dealership, a Berg’s Truck & Parts in Chicago, Illinois was able to acquire some of these old soldiers, ones that still showed signs of promise and give them a new life; saving them from a certain fate at the hands of the scrapper. Making repairs to all the critical mechanical systems and then making them available for sale to the general public, years before the civilian version was even a reality! While this doesn’t seem like a big deal by today’s standards, consider the fact that a Jeep was a bit of a rarity to most Americans. Unless you lived near a military base, you had likely never seen a jeep in person. They lived only on the pages of newspapers, periodicals and on the silver screen.

   The article details one such recipient of a military hand-me-down was Mayor Fred Heine of Lucas, Kansas. The farmer turned Mayor was able to purchase a 1941 Ford GP for the sum of $750 and put it to work around the property of his Midwestern farm. Of course a jeep of any kind made quite spectacle in a small town like Lucas. Cars were such an essential part of the American way of life in the 1940’s. People still impatiently waited for that special September day when the new models would hit the dealership floor, clamoring in droves to see what secrets the latest model might hold. With most cars of the day looking much the same, the jeep was certainly something entirely different visually; a vehicle with a storied past and an uncertain future.

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It was not hard to find all sorts of ways to put the little 4-wheel drive utility to work around the farm. Whether it was feeding the cows or pulling a wagon or plow, the Ford GP could have easily paid for itself in a short time. Of course, only a select class of folks would have had an extra $750 cash at their quick disposal for something other than shelter or primary transportation. The old Mayor must have been one of those fortunate select.

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Whatever you do, don’t surrender to the illusion that this new addition to the Heine Family Farm’s fleet is just for slinging feed or plowing a field, Oh no! With 8-inches of snow on the ground, it’s a perfect time for Mom, little Freddie Anne and Aunt Ethel to jump in the doorless & roofless jeep to do a little grocery shopping; maybe even pick-up another Douglas Fir for the guest bath. I’ve driven an early jeep but never in high heels, mind you, and the actual practice can be quite intricate at times. While I hope that this picture was possibly staged for the benefit of the magazine article, it is kinda cool to see the familiar face peeking out of the grocery bag from the front of a Cream-of-Wheat box. A warm bowl or two should have your insides thawed out by New Years.

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Given such a personal glimpse into what may have been the very first civilian jeep makes yours truly feel all warm inside too, if I say so myself. Having such a wholesome subject occupy two whole pages of a nationally recognized magazine reminds me of how far in the wrong direction we’ve come today. Sure…you can probably still find a Jeep for $750 but having your wife drive it around in the winter may only get your name in the newpapers (in the back where they list all the legal proceedings). Somebody should probably track down Farmer Heine’s jeep and store it away for future generations to see and enjoy. Turns out someone has already done that! The Ford GP is on display at the U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum in Huntsville, AL for all to view. See! Aren’t hand-me downs great? OlllllllO

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“Specializing in Genuine Knock-Offs of a Close Reproduction of the Original”

1Jeep has always been a curious brand and not just because they are like no other car. Let me explain: The “Jeep”, as we know it, was introduced in the early 1940’s as a utility vehicle explicitly for military use in World War II. Initially, it was never officially branded as a Jeep. It was rather an MB, or maybe even a GP but only referred to as a “jeep” in a slang manner as a shortened derivative for “General Purpose”, a term hurled about by those enlisted men who used them. The term “jeep” was then casually adopted by the general population, primarily because the “jeep” made them feel as though they were a part of the war; that they shared, in some small way, a little bit of something in common with those soldiers who fearlessly represented them. Most advertising from the war era uses the term Jeep as though it was the actual brand name.

 

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Imagine, if you will, going to your local grocery store to buy a pack of hot dogs. As you stand in front of the refrigerated display admiring the wide variety of weenies & brats, you might well choose to make your selection based on the color of the label, the attractiveness of the product glaring through the clear packing or maybe even base your selection simply on the price of the franks. The choice is yours with little at stake to lose. But what if the pleasing price was accompanied by the words “Hot Dogs” written inside troubling quotations on the packaging? What could this mean?? Could these “hot dogs” be some other food concoction masquerading as a genuine hot dog? Is it possible to fall short of such a low culinary standard?

3When the war was over and the Jeep was transitioning into a new life as a civilian all-purpose vehicle, Willys-Overland continued advertising the ‘Jeep’ but now book-ended the word with single quotations, as though they recognized it was not the original but an undecorated version of it. These single quotations always struck me as a little strange. Sure… the CJ was not really the original military version but it WAS surely a Jeep just the same. I can’t help but think of the ridiculous Dr. Evil character from the Austin Powers movies doing his “air quotes” as he describes the importance of “lasers” in his evil plan to take over the world. Why would Willys not just call their ‘Jeep’ a Jeep and leave the single quotations for something more sarcastic? Is there something more philosophical in play here that would cause them to only reference their product in quotes? What is Willys-Overland insinuating exactly? Never before has a pair of quotation marks resulted in some many question marks…

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As it turns out, Willys-Overland had been trying to get a patent on the name “Jeep” since 1943 and, unfortunately, were meeting quite a bit of resistance. The Federal Trade Commission had even ordered the automaker to stop making claims to any responsibility for the “jeeps” initial design or subsequent production. When Willys launched the first official civilian version of the ‘Jeep’ in 1945, they were sure to take the proper steps to have the name Jeep copyrighted. An official registered trademark followed a few years later in 1950 and yet the single quotation marks remained still, hinting at some level of illegitimacy.

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At any point was the Jeep, or dare I say ‘Jeep’, in danger of having the dreaded quotes stamped into the cowl sheet metal or added to the badging? Was the Jeep merely pretending to be something that it was not?? Was the iconic slotted grille not an adequate substitute for a genuine certificate of authenticity? “How long would it be until we could buy an actual real Jeep?” remained a question that begged an answer for well over two decades.

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Even in 1970, under the ownership of Kaiser, the ‘Jeep’ label remained, now accented with a somewhat confusing tagline “The 2-Car Cars”, intended to convince buyers that the ‘Jeep’, with it’s 4-wheel drive capabilities, was actually two cars in one. No mention was made in these ads if one of the 2-cars was merely pretending to be a Jeep leaving prospective purchasers with a bit of a dilemma.

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The year that followed for ‘Jeep’ in 1971 proved to be one of newfound promise. Ownership of the company was transferred from Kaiser to American Motors Company and instantantly the single quotations were gone. This vehicle was no longer a pretender and was not to be mocked. This was a JEEP and it no longer had to boast of being 2-cars in one. It was THE car, unlike any other and set on a course to revolutionize what people can do with their cars.

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From 1971 forward, under AMC and Chryslers ownership, Jeep grew stronger and more independent as a brand, never resorting to decorating its proud name with uncalled-for quotations ever again. While I think the original intent was to somehow isolate the Jeep from its heritage so as not to detract from it, the fact that the Jeep name was marketed in quotations for some 25 years is a question that begs for some great explanation. Or maybe it was all just part of Dr. Evil’s plan all along. OlllllllO

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Working the Night Shift

Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one. While this sounds like a vague introduction to some sort of seriously uncomfortable introspection. It’s really not. I often lay awake at night and I think about it. Certainly there are others who face the same struggles as I. Ones who, when they have some considerable task or project at hand, toil away at that task while they sleep or, at least, in the time set aside for sleeping. Does it occupy their thoughts, even while they sleep?

1I am unfortunately plagued with this anomaly and I’m not able to find a solution that enables me to move past it. For example, I am currently entertaining the prospect of upgrading the rear differential in my Jeep- something beefy and less prone to breakage than my factory Dana 35. Beginning around 3 a.m. each night, I find myself sifting through the makes and models of trucks that incorporate my desired differential from the factory; noting each one in detail so as to better focus my quest. I see virtual fields of these trucks and I inspect them from a hazy distance as though I am planning my most efficient attack. I ponder what specific drivetrain configurations and trim levels might best offer the possibility of finding the gear ratio that I need. Even in my sleep, I often stroll through the salvage yard’s automotive haystack perusing the array of vehicles; looking with stern devotion for that solitary hidden needle I long to acquire. Certainly this is some sort of odd syndrome that simply hasn’t been named yet.

While my nightly jaunts are usually centered around an automotive theme, I’m sure individuals with varied interests endure similar experiences with a subject that is tailor-made for them. I’ve heard that people whose jobs have a certain level of redundancy to them often find themselves performing that redundant action while they slumber. Like the guy who severs the heads from the chickens at the poultry plant or the lady who refills the soap dispensers in the rest stop bathroom. I much prefer my subliminal strolls through the imagined scrapyard to the ideas of making donuts or filling out tax forms in my sleep, much less decapitating chickens.

Unlike my real self, my subconscious self is extremely capable of multi-tasking too. I am currently committed to the task of rebuilding a Toyota 22R carburetor for a good friend of mine. I’ve already purchased the rebuild kit, with its abundance of gaskets and springs. I have the assembly diagrams printed and all the tools necessary to undertake its renovation. The only thing I have not afforded the mission is the ample portion of time to get it done. Not to worry though…I find myself meticulously dismantling the carbs complex series of linkages and cleaning its countless crooks and crannies. I labor not at a workbench however, as most would, but rather under cover of darkness while I sleep. Each venturi, O-ring and pump diaphragm is attentively tended to with exacting precision- like that of someone wholly awake.

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Despite the fact that I bring it on myself, I do try to justify my particular strain of insomnia with the thought that foolishness sleeps soundly while those blessed with a thirst for knowledge toss and turn in search of answers; ones that might only be found by the light of day. While previewing a job over and over in your mind doesn’t make you any better-prepared to actually do the job, telling myself it does helps me sleep at night, figuratively speaking, of course. I’m sure when I actually hit the junkyard to find my donor rear differential, I’m sure it will seem like I’ve been there before. Like my course was planned.

This past weekend, while I was engaged in another subconscious junkyard expedition, it suddenly occurred to me that I needed to get in my Jeep and drive to Toledo, the birthplace of the Jeep Wrangler and the hometown for the manufacturing of Jeeps since the very beginning. Since 2016, the city of Toledo celebrates their proudest export with a little celebration they call the Toledo Jeep Fest, featuring an untold number of Jeeps from across the country, all gathered in one place. The yearly event features an enormous parade of Jeeps wheeling through the center of town, which is often the highlight of the weekend. If I’m not sleeping, I should probably go!!! Or even if I am??

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And just like that, my semi-lucid brain concocted a haphazard plan to drive my ’93 Wrangler YJ to Toledo, Ohio- a distance much farther then I have ever ventured before in my rattle can. I even bolstered my newfound cause with the premise that my particular Jeep will officially celebrate its 25th birthday this year. What better way to celebrate Jeeps long-standing spirit of adventure than by casting caution strongly into the wind and embarking on a cross-country trek in my own Jeep? Curse the noisy off-road tires and meager fuel economy; let’s take this show on the road! We’ll drive north at speeds that will transform my beloved YJ into nothing short of a blur in the eyes of passersby. A cumbersome beast who has taken up a stationary residence in the slow lane; trudging along in hopes of finding my way to some like-minded individuals dabbling in my same breed of sleep deprivation. Or, at the very least, to take in some really cool Jeeps. Something to fuel my next wave of fever dreams upon my return home.

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And so I will spend many of my precious spare hours over the upcoming months readying the Jeep for the long trip ahead. I’m sure that many of the issues that I need to address in preparation for the journey will busy my mind much longer than they occupy my hands. I suppose it’s just the way that I’m wired. Fortunately for me, I find considerable enjoyment in the preparation for such a trip as I do in the trip itself. Much like the reward of spending time with your kids before they learned to loathe your existence. The pleasure of doing something with them almost paled in comparison to the joy of just being with them.

I plan to document my trip to the Toledo Jeep Fest in August with photos and a journal that relays the tale of my travels. Feel free to follow along at www.RuggedRidge.com/blog . Hopefully it will be all the fun of making the trip yourself without any of the sleepless nights. Maybe you can take the wheel for an hour or so while I catch a few winks?? OlllllllO

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Is “Jeep Therapy” Really the Real Deal?

1I was recently reading an article that expounded on some interesting data extracted from the 2015 U.S Census that stated the average American adult enjoys a daily one-way commute that is 25.5 minutes long. That is almost 26 minutes one-way , so double that unless you’re carrying a kindergartners nap mat to the office with you; we are on average confined to our cars interior for close to an hour a day, 5 days a week. The fine folks of the Dakotas, North & South, came in well under the average while Marylanders were 22% higher than the average. That is some seriously substantial windshield time!

So, as the gravity of this information began to sink in, I was reminded of a meme I had seen recently in one of the Jeep forums that I frequent. For those of you entirely unfamiliar with the term ‘meme’, don’t feel bad. Despite the fact you’re much better off in your current state of unknowing, I will tell you that a meme (pronounced MEEM) is a clever, inspiring or funny little picture or caption that has associated text cropped on it with the intention of spreading, by means of the internet (primarily social media), like a wildfire. It’s important to note that anyone can create a meme, so the cleverness, humor or inspirational qualities are by no means guaranteed, as you can only imagine. Accurate spelling is also less-than-vital.

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The “meme” in question alluded to the fact that driving a Jeep often proves to have an almost therapeutic effect on the driver. While I am a relatively new “Jeeper” by some people’s standards, having only been a Jeep owner for the past decade, I can testify with a great deal of certainty that this meme is right on point. It doesn’t matter how far off-track my day at work may have gotten, my ride home in my Jeep seems to set things straight once again. The wind in your hair can magically clear the muck from your mind. With older Jeeps, it’s often more of a trade-off.

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But the healing qualities don’t end when you put the Jeep top and doors back on, at least not entirely. Driving a Jeep just seems to put one’s mind in the proper state for reasons that I can’t accurately explain. I could argue that the driver’s vantage point being situated higher than most could be a contributor. The fact that the soft top possesses all the unrefined nuances of a camping tent could prove to be a factor for some while I think that the Jeeps overall essence of adventure and free-spiritedness seems to deescalate the stresses of the day for most.

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Bottom line is, anyone that has driven or even ridden in a Jeep doesn’t really have to be convinced at all of the therapeutic qualities exhibited on its occupants. If the single hour a day that you spend behind the wheel of a Jeep is truly therapy, then think of the money you’ll save on NOT having to see an actual board-certified therapist. A little internet searching reveals the typical psychotherapy session would run you around 76 bucks an hour, on average. Think of the money you’ll save! And the thing takes you places too?? Win/Win!!

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In fact, if my calculations are even remotely accurate, you stand to save a minimum of $380 a month, even if the therapy sessions your Jeep help you avoid were only weekly. The more drastic your particular internal instabilities, the more treatments you would have required and then the savings literally go through the roof! I’m thinking it might be time to splurge a little and start seeing a brand new therapist….Hmm. I think BLUE is a very calming color. OlllllllO

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A Modern-Day Drivers Lament

1I’ve always heard that those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. While this is largely true from my experience, sometimes looking at the past in the appropriate light is the cure for better accepting what is in the present.

This bit of enlightenment came to me while I was sitting, somewhat impatiently, at a traffic light on my daily ride home. This is one of the lights that I have to “endure” daily; one whose entire existence seems to only suggest a proper course of action to those who travel under its authority at any given time. People just proceed out into the intersection regardless of the lights impending change. If the lights directions were to be observed and obeyed, order would ensue; however, the light and its luminous suggestions are largely ignored, resulting in utter and total chaos.

Imagine a place like New York City without so much as a traffic light to limit the lunacy. Back in 1901, this was the conditions of the day. Travel by motor car was relatively new and there was an entire dynamic between loud cars and frightened horses pulling carriages to deal with. That’s why there was The Automobile Blue Book – a written manual for navigating the city by car and surviving with life and limb intact.

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Before there were traffic lights, signs and electronic gizmos to guide us along, the government saw the need to give us guidelines by which to abide. In terms of the right-of-way, there was very little regard given to whether you were pulling out on to a major thoroughfare. Rather the direction in which you were travelling determined who had the upper hand. Obviously, those going north or south were actually going somewhere while those going, say, eastbound were not actually travelling anywhere deemed important, what with the rotation of the earth and all.

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With the fundamental basis of right-of-way now firmly established for us all, it’s time to move on to matters of safety. All vehicles, including the dreaded ‘velocipede’, are to be equipped with a bell, or a gong if you’d rather, but not too big of a bell as to encourage one upmanship. This 3-inch or smaller merry noisemaker is to be sounded whenever you pass another vehicle from behind and when you navigate a turn. Oddly, no mention is given in regards to the gaining or losing of right-of-way with a change in vehicle direction. I would think that gaining right-of-way by means of a turn would warrant the ringing of ones own bell, as sort of an audible celebration.

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The act of stopping the automobile is addressed to a lesser extent back in Article 4 Section 1, by advising that nobody is to stop the vehicle, unless it’s an emergency, or to let another vehicle cross in front of you. Use of an audible signal is advised but it doesn’t seem as though the bell is suggested to be the source of the signal. Maybe a “whoop” or a “holler” is in order, based on where you are from? Or you can just raise your whip. Wait…what??

When you see pedestrians treated as the same rank as the horses, it’s not surprising to see the City of New York come down hard on those who choose to ride a peddle-powered means of transport. Having to suddenly share the road with not only equine but now motorized contraptions driven by whip-wielding whackos is a whole new thing. Bottom line is- If you’re gonna bike it, you’ve gotta leave the tike at home to fend for himself. These streets are no place for young children

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And the bad news doesn’t end there for the bikers! Strict rules are enacted to make it illegal to coast your bike. Meaning you have to be under constant propulsion if you’re not parked on the curb. In fact, you have been directed to keep your hands on the handlebars and your feet on the peddles at ALL times!! Of course, it goes without saying that you can’t have a Chinese lantern on your bicycle either. Afterall, this ain’t Hong Kong. And Rule #13 restricting any and all “instruction” from the bike path is really surprising and is surely going to prove a serious hindrance to any of those who ever hope to learn how to ride a bike in this town.

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Just when you think the drivers of century ago had it pretty good, it turns out that said drivers were instructed to maintain a log of their driving. This was not just a tally of dates and mileage though. This is a full-fledged written report of data involving complex mathmatical formulas that rival todays college prep exams. How many miles did I traverse? What was my fuel consumption per brake horse power? How much waste am I storing?? The though of calculating water consumption per mile seems like a sizable task. Can’t I just go back to dealing with traffic lights and moronic drivers?

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Even if I was to become accustomed to the considerable load of paperwork that accompanied driving privileges back yesteryear, the accident preparation kit that accompanied the Official Automobile Blue Book would have me seriously rethinking my decision. Having to quickly peruse a laymens description of artificial recessitation and familiarizing myself with the acknowledged ways to “test for death” seems a tad intense when compared to exchanging insurance cards and texting your agent. Afterall, I’m pretty sure I don’t even carry linseed oil with me on most occasions.

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Now, riding in a Jeep can make you prone to getting a cinder in the eye. I just need to figure out what a “lamp lighter” is and pick up a couple of them from Amazon when I order my new velocipede. OlllllllO

Forget What You’ve Heard…Going Commando IS Cool!

1Long before the days of social media and the illicit birth of situation comedies, Kaiser Jeep saw the potential in an abandoned automotive platform, the Jeepster, and took the vital steps to revive it. While the original Willys-Overland Jeepster had found less-than-splendid acceptance in the late 1940’s, much of its failures could be lent to the fact that it was, in all essence, a car. A two-wheel drive touring phaeton, or convertible, with little or no ties to an actual Jeep, bar its slotted grille and flattish fenders. While the initial Jeepsters were certainly a spectacle of class and charisma, they lacked the crass and crudeness of its elder Jeep namesake.

Kaiser however sought to change all of that, by offering a new Jeepster; one with the spirit of a true Jeep firmly intact. A four-wheel drive runabout that expands on the universal Jeeps utility by delivering off-road capability, street worthy styling and a variety of body configurations to please the masses. From a two-door convertible, to a compact pickup and then a station wagon- the Jeepster was rebirthed for the ’67 model year with a whole new look and an attitude its very own. And they called it, the Jeepster Commando.

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Built on the CJ6 chassis, the new Jeepster Commando’s 101-inch wheelbase was a whole 20-inches longer that the standard CJ5. Providing ample interior room for the wagon models or increased capacity for cargo when dressed as a truck. Standard engine power was provided by the tried-and-true 134 ci F-head engine creating 75-hp while an optional upgrade of a Dauntless V6 engine treated the Jeepster to a substantial increase of brawn, more than doubling the base engines power and torque. It was a new time for the Jeepster nameplate, indeed.

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The Jeepster Commando remained in production until 1972, when it gained another three inches of wheelbase and officially dropped the Jeepster prefix from its name. It was now known only as the Jeep Commando- a name it would maintain until its demise in 1973. With the Vietnam War in its waning years, how was AMC/Jeep ever to know that the name chosen for its symbolism of strength and bravery would soon become the slang moniker for the act of forsaking proper under-attire. The odds are about as good as getting oneself surrounded by a rafter of gobblers with a professional photographer close by; unlikely, but yet, more than plausible.4

In 1971, when sales of the Jeepster began to decline, AMC did the only thing they knew to do. Try to make the Jeepster Commando into a special muscle car offshoot of an off-road legend. By handing over design liberties of the Commando to the hot-rodding radicals at Hurst Performance in Westminster Township, PA, the Jeepster emerged with what is, still today, arguably the most collectable Jeep package ever offered- the 1971 Hurst Jeepster.

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With an exterior finished in Champagne White and accented by racy red and blue cowl stripes, the Hurst edition packed little actual punch. Since the special package added nothing in the way of performace upgrades, outside of wider Goodyear polyglass tires, the Hurst Jeepster made it’s mark with more visual flairs. Glitzy chrome bumpers, a fully-functional roof rack and exterior badging on par with any boulevard brawler all made lasting impressions on potential buyers. While many others were entanced by the speed shop goodies that, by all appearances, were built for speed. Automatic transmissions were shifted by means of a macho Dual-Gate shifter, while Hurst drivers peered over a giant scoop and a hood-mounted tachometer reminiscent of the Pontiac GTOs of the day. Hurst Commando owners must have felt a genuine sense that they owned the road.

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I think it’s fair to deem the 67-73 Jeepster Commando as an indirect hit in terms of overall automotive substance. Did it change the face of automotive styling or design in it’s day? I would have to say NO. However, it did serve as somewhat of a foray to the new Cherokee SJ platform that followed closely in 1974; a landmark of monumental proportions in terms of the evolution of the SUV in America. For that reason alone, I can’t imagine what could be cooler than wheeling the asphalt or ravaging the trails in a fully restored Commando? If you are able to find one, buy it. If you have opportunity to ride in one, take that opportunity and enjoy what it truly means to Go Commando. Of course, unless you’re wearing swimsuits, proper undergarments are strongly encouraged. OlllllllO

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