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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
9/10/19 9:41 p.m.

Quick update. I have found a design flaw. 

This ignition switch - including the two little ears - is made of metal. Not plastic. Which means that when the Jeep has been sitting in the hard high altitude sun all day and has reached nuclear interior temperatures, it is too hot to hold. But you can’t start the car without it, even to lower the power windows. 

Have I mentioned that old EFI usually has to crank for a moment or two before it fires up? You have to hold this thing against the spring for 5 seconds or so as it brands your flesh.

ow ow ow ow. 

Rodan
Rodan Dork
9/10/19 10:03 p.m.

I remember my Grandmother having some sort of 60's Chrysler product when I was young...  Every piece of that car, including the entire interior, was either painted steel, chrome, or vinyl.   In the Phoenix summers, touching any part of it with bare skin was good for at least a 2nd degree burn.

Several towels and a pair of gloves were always kept handy... 

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
9/10/19 10:27 p.m.

I recently started driving a 1980 Chrysler T&C wagon with metal door handles and I've rediscovered the childhood joy of having to wrap your shirt around your hand before pulling up on the door handle to avoid getting burned. Luckily for me summer seems to be leaving quicker than I expected. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/5/20 9:42 p.m.

So I haven't been to the red rocks in forever, and the weather forecast was for sunshine and 60F, and I had the day off...so it was adventure time!

Warning, a novel will likely follow.

First, I did a little overdue setup. The steering felt funky so I checked toe. It's amazing how this can really mess up a car. Also, why do I have I toe problems so often? It's hard to set on the big bulgy tires, so I pulled out the hub stands. Boy, it's always tempting to try driving this but there is no good way for that to finish...

Packing consisted of bolting my Jack-all to the roof rack using bolts and lug nuts. That's a nice double benefit, the lug nuts center themselves nicely in the holes in the jack and hey, bonus lug nuts! Also, a little bit of theft protection. I also threw my ammo box full of recovery gear (list of gear provided by Bill Burke, who trained me even if he may not want to admit it) and a bag of tools in. Also a small shovel because you never know. 

Hit the road a little later than intended thanks to life stuff, but soon enough I was buzzing down the interstate. I wasn't heading to Moab per se, I figured I only needed to go one of my favorite areas which happened to be 30 miles closer. I can actually get here by travelling overland, but the interstate got me there faster. I headed for the Top of the World trail in the Entrada Bluffs area. There's some great camping around here as well, we've done overnight mental refresh trips.

I stopped at that campsite for lunch. I should really post some panoramas, this spot has to be seen to be believed. There is no sign up humans day or night from there and it's right on the edge of a cliff. I saw no one, I heard no one. Aaaahh.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/5/20 9:55 p.m.

After soaking up the silence for a while, I headed to where the trail gets real. I'd aired down to about 20 psi, but that was the extent of the offroad conversion. Didn't even disconnect the sway bars.

Sorry about the exposure on this one. 

This trail starts off as a dirt road, then gets a little bumpy and progressively ups the ante. And yes, that's snow. The trail guides say to avoid this trail when it's wet because it gets very difficult.

Artsy version of that obstacle. It's gnarly, those steps are huge. I found what looked like a bypass to the side and it turned out to have some very interesting switchbacks as well as more steps. I had to get creative to get back down.

I then found a brand new easy bypass - perhaps it was just cut for the upcoming Easter Jeep Safari. I'm not stupid - I could have possibly made it up the not easy bypass, but I was alone and did not have a winch. Or a roll cage.

By this point I was really impressed with the XJ offroad. I learned to drive this terrain in a 1967 Land Rover named Basil. It's small - like the XJ - but has limited suspension articulation, no brakes to speak of, two open diffs and no horsepower. Seriously, 38 rwhp on our dyno. Corrected for altitude. So Basil taught me quite a bit, and the XJ rewarded it. I now had a squishy automatic that made it easier to creep and a reasonable amount of power if needed, but learning how to do the "Moab bump" where you time a little burst of power juuuuust right came in very handy. I wasn't relying on articulation to keep my wheels on the ground. The XJ was climbing more and more difficult obstacles without resorting to banging around or smoking tires.

But then I got to the final boss.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/5/20 10:01 p.m.

As always, that picture does not show how steep this was or how chewed up it was. If you squinted, you could sorta see a possible line to the left side. Ish. But as soon as I tried it, the truck would start to slip and walk sideways. That's wet mud on snow, not a high traction scenario. I tried a couple of times and allllmost got myself badly stuck - rear diff on a big rock (first time I'd made contact with anything!), front wheel pushing up against another and the truck moving sideways. I was able to get it out by exploiting the sideways movement a bit, but it was clear that I was done. If it had been dry, I could have pulled it off.

So I left the truck and decided to hike to the top - I was only a quarter mile shy.

That was worthwhile. Top of the World ends abruptly at a cliff that overlooks the Fisher Towers, Castle Valley and the La Sal mountains. I haven't been up here for 18 years.

Rodan
Rodan Dork
3/5/20 10:11 p.m.

Beautiful! yes

That's the area South/East of 128, right?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/5/20 10:14 p.m.

Unfortunately, despite not seeing a soul all day, I discovered a raucous crowd at the top. A giant tricked out Unimog, a handful of Wranglers on huge tires and a Gladiator. Loud phone calls in Spanish, a drone and the Unimog had an air horn - as was demonstrated enthusiastically. Everyone comes to Moab for something different.

Turns out they'd defeated my muddy ice hill, but it had involved the 16,000 lb winch on the Unimog.

So I headed back down to my little XJ and started back down the hill.

Hi Mom!

Unfortunately, all my photo stops meant the big posse of giant Jeeps caught me. I pulled over to let them pass, assuming that this meant they were faster.

They were not. Traffic.

The Unimog was just too big, and had to pick his way down carefully. The snakeskin Jeep behind him was so wide that it was teetering back and forth. Here's where the small size of the XJ comes in handy, I could drive between things the new rigs had to drive over.

At the obstacle with the double bypass, they stopped. Everyone got out to spot each other with walkie talkies and it was definitely going to be a while. The lineup of Jeeps was blocking my easy bypass, so I decided to take on the not as easy option. That was probably the most difficult move I pulled off, a series of very steep steps that were staggered. I had one rear wheel high in the air at one point. Unfortunately, it didn't work because the guys who had cleared the obstacle parked below it so they could supervise their friends. Sigh. I pulled out a book and waited.

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/5/20 10:16 p.m.
Rodan said:

Beautiful! yes

That's the area South/East of 128, right?

Yup. Turn at the Dewey Bridge. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/5/20 10:22 p.m.

After I cleared the pack of Jeeps - took a couple of tries to let them get far enough ahead - I headed down.

I had been hoping to take the overland route home, but it was too late in the day to do that intelligently. It would have started by fording this river.

So there we go. The first real test of the XJ. It was a trouper, climbing up a trail that's considered difficult in the dry. It did it in full on street mode and didn't require any real compromises. I didn't make up up that last little bit, but neither did the pimped-out Wranglers so I'm okay with that. And man, was it good to get back out there again.

I'll stop now :)

Dirtydog
Dirtydog Dork
3/6/20 9:43 a.m.

Great inhale of the beauty, and fun little trip.  Although not Moab, winter here in the Catskills has been fraught with a lot of ice, and not a lot of snow.  Our "driveway" is a 1/4 mile long, with a fairly steep grade.  My  four hundred dollar, 225000 mile, 99 XJ, all stock with regular MS tires, handled it beautifully. This and hitting a deer. Still runs like a champ.

The XJ may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it can handle anything I throw at it.  Easy enough to work on, and parts are plentiful, and fairly cheap.

Kinda makes you want go back up there, doesn't it?   Better trip with the XJ than the Caddy :)

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap Dork
3/6/20 9:50 a.m.

The want for a super mild xj grows weekly. 

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
3/6/20 10:47 a.m.

So is your friend ever going to pick up this Jeep?  Or is it yours now?

spandak
spandak HalfDork
3/6/20 11:36 a.m.

Keep them coming. I'm stuck at work, tired, and wishing I could be looking at similar views. I'll live vicariously for now. 
I like the XJ! Hopefully you're buddy doesn't need it for a while, it looks like you're getting good use out of it. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/6/20 11:38 a.m.

We have joked about it staying in Colorado and he just comes out here to have Adventures like yesterday's trip. Problem is that he travels a lot internationally for work, and when he's home his wife isn't thrilled about the idea of him going on vacation without her. And no, this would not be her cup of tea. I have the same problem at home, a trip like this last one is mostly fun for the driver. For the passenger (my wife) it's just a bunch of getting thrown around. So my offroading has dropped off dramatically since I got married.

Anyhow, we've been having trouble getting him out here - and I made "you have to come out here to experience the truck in its natural habitat before it is sentenced to a life in Ottawa" a requirement of this build. So he's mostly been living vicariously. I have way too many vehicles so I was kinda hoping to see it head home, but yesterday was fun.

However, after seeing those pictures and with trade shows and client meetings getting cancelled worldwide, there's a good chance he will make it out here soon. Fingers crossed, although I'll be sad to see the critter go after yesterday's trip.

I pumped another 10 psi into the tires this morning and took the XJ to work. That's when I discovered a problem that developed yesterday. The big nut that holds the steering wheel on seems to have loosened off so the wheel had a little bit of slop. I grabbed the tools out of the back, gave it a twist and the problem is solved. It's a Nyloc and I had it off forever ago, maybe I'll spin it off and add a bit of Loctite this weekend.

Vigo
Vigo MegaDork
3/6/20 12:41 p.m.

If Covid-19 can bring one man and his jeep together, well that's better than the rest of it! 

As for me, I have a pre-coronavirus planned trip to Seattle looming next week.. So, go from the city where they accidentally let an infected man out and he went to the shopping mall, to the city with the largest number of US deaths?? Hmm.  Kinda makes me wish my trip was to some mountains in the middle of nowhere!! 

pinchvalve
pinchvalve MegaDork
3/6/20 1:18 p.m.

My daughter wants to move to a newer vehicle when she graduates next year. I am already stockpiling parts for her XJ (which I own) with the plan of having some similar adventures in the PA back woods.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/6/20 4:11 p.m.

I was looking back over this thread and came across this comment from when we were discussing cargo capacity back in November 2017. "Ottawa" is the owner of this XJ.

Ottawa said:

You might want to consider the RWD Tahoe similar to PPV (Police Pursuit Vehicle) spec. Its a RWD SUV with what seems to be the highest duty cycle of any current Gov't vehicle based on the mileage at resale.

Guess what he bought last week at a government auction?

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
3/6/20 5:32 p.m.

We're going to Mexico at the end of the month for spring break.  I could honestly care less about the corona virus, more people die from the flu and pneumonia every year, by far.  If there's less people there, all the better for us!

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ Dork
3/6/20 7:53 p.m.

They’re great.  I DD’d this one for several years.  I traded it for a 4 door JK Rubicon back when they were dime a dozen (2013).  Took the $1500 they gave me on the trade.  Had a lot of good stuff:  Rusty’s springs.  Rusty’s adjustable lower control arms.  Bilsteins.  Slip-yoke eliminator.  Tom Wood’s custom drive shaft.  But I wanted the Rubi and had no room for 2 Jeeps.  Didn’t feel like putting up with every neighborhood tweaker who “might” want to buy it either.  This one was sorted and drove better than stock.  It was not easy to get it to that point.  

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
9/22/20 12:43 p.m.

Update time!

Given that Eric lives in Canada and the XJ and I live in the US, shortly after the last update it became impossible for him to come visit. The Jeep spent most of the summer parked with the battery disconnected, with just the occasional run to the recycling depot or the home depot when I needed some cargo space but didn't feel like awakening the Big Diesel.

But I've been going a little stir crazy and needed to clear my head from what's going on at work, so I decided to hit the mountains.

But first, some work. This has been a long time coming. There's a leak in the passenger's footwell. Given that we've had a grand total of 3" of precipitation so far this year, the rubber mats are able to catch and hold it so it's not high priority. But it's high enough. 

The problem is the HVAC intake in the sill. It's sealed with some sort of foam that breaks down over time and allows water to get in. There's no easy access. So it's grinder time. Luckily, this is hidden under a fake grill.

After that was done, it was a matter of drilling out a couple of spot welds to remove the flange at the top of the HVAC inlet. It's about an inch tall to provide a dam if the sill fills with water. Here's what was sealing the flange at the bottom.

I cleaned up all surfaces as best I could, flattened the flange out and then proceeded to go to town with silicone sealant. No pictures, that's messy work. Let's just say that there should be no more leakage around the bottom of that flange.

I then tack-welded the piece of sheetmetal back into place and went back to town with RTV to seal it up. It's not critical that it be weatherproof as there are other paths for the water to get into the sill, but it seemed like a good idea. This picture also gives you an idea of the location of the fix.

A bit of masking and a coat of Rustoleum. It may not stick to the RTV, but the RTV doesn't need rust protection.

I did not have a hose handy to test it, maybe I'll give it a shot this weekend. But based on what I pulled out, it should be effective. With the plastic grille back on, the repair is invisible.

ultraclyde (Forum Supporter)
ultraclyde (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
9/22/20 12:58 p.m.

I still like this XJ a lot, it almost makes me miss my ZJ. Almost.   If I had territory around me like your march trip I sure would have kept it.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
9/22/20 12:59 p.m.

Okay, with that done it was time to head out of town. I left at about 7 AM because it was about a 2.5 hour drive to the trailhead. I decided to hit the mountains this time instead of the red rocks because the high country will get snowed in soon enough. I headed for Ouray with plans to goof around in the Alpine Loop area. There are passes all over the place but I wasn't looking to do anything crazy, just get to where the air is thin and I wouldn't be thinking about work.

The San Juans have such a ridiculous skyline. It's like they were drawn by a 3 year old. You can see that our imported Californian smoke is making everything a little hazy.

Engineer Pass starts off rocky and pretty right from the trailhead. I didn't get a picture of the most dramatic sections because I was driving.

If anyone's looking for someone from Texas, they're all bouncing around the San Juans on a Wednesday morning in September. I've never seen so many people on this trail. It was a traffic jam in some spots. Not just Jeeps, also side-by-sides. But that's about it. Jeeps and UTVs. No off-brand vehicles like Toyotas or Land Rovers. Jeeps.

Waiting for a pack of 8 Texas/New Mexico Jeeps to clear an obstacle, the scenery is kinda pretty.

Finally, I dove off on a small side spur and discovered the prettiest campsite I've seen in years. I wish I'd brought a tent. I parked and spent some happy time sitting beside the stream reading a book and not stuck in traffic.

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
9/22/20 1:09 p.m.

All the trails are crazy busy this year.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
9/22/20 1:11 p.m.

After the mental break, I headed up to Mineral Point and the mill next to it. This was my approximate goal for the trip. I love the old ruins.

I've been here before. This was 2001.

I spent some time poking around the ruins. It's amazing what people did to dig valuable metals out of the mountains up here. A lot of these mines were silver, and were abandoned pretty much overnight when the US moved away from the silver standard.

Now that's a camshaft.

There are some very quiet trails around the townsite, they're not on the Alpine Loop trail maps so you can do some exploring. I spent a lot of time giving directions - there's no cell service up here, and everybody expects their phones to tell them everything now. I had maps. "If you want Animas Forks, head up this way and turn right". "Yes, Engineer Pass is this direction".

Finally I made my way back to the main trail and started the final ascent over the pass. I've been over this a number of times, and my mother in particular found it very entertaining that this is actually considered a Colorado Scenic Byway - complete with the road signs saying so.

I mean, you have to agree that it IS scenic.

Up to about 12,800'. This trail is difficult enough that you need 4WD and a functioning brain, but not so difficult that you can't get it done in a rental Jeep. Especially if you come in from Silverton and skip the bit closest to Ouray. I've done it in everything from a stock Grand Cherokee to a stock 1967 Land Rover - the latter in the snow. But it's gorgeous no matter what.

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