Jeep: Part Deux

We weren’t planning this but it seems like July has become “Jeep Month”, so we’ll probably keep it that way.  This’ll be the third Jeep we feature this year with many more likely to happen. Since first featuring Jon’s Jeep (we’re proud of that guy)  I’ve learned some things about Jeeps.  I’ve learned that although they are simple, rugged, and honest transportation, they have a tendency to  break weird stuff repeatedly.  I’ve learned that they aren’t the greatest when it comes to gas mileage. I’ve learned that they are probably the quintessential beater, or at least it’s turning out that way.

When we started this blog we thought w’d be getting old Corolla’s and Fiero’s that were reduced to rolling rust piles, but we have’t gotten those. We’ve had some pretty interesting vehicles over the last couple months. Land yachts and mini-trucks are sweet, but those Jeeps just keep coming in! Jeeps are iconic Americana, right up there with apple pie, the Yankees, the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Corvette. So, its only right that Jeeps would be favorited among commuters and enthusiasts alike.

Check out Jeep: Part Deux!


·         When did you get your beater? I got my YJ in Early April of 2015. I’d decided that I wanted a Jeep, but was having an absolute dickens of a time finding one in the St. Louis Metro for less than $5000– in any condition. My sister’s boyfriend at the time had this ’91 YJ hardtop with 200K+ miles on it, and he needed to unload it fairly quickly. So I picked it up for $3500, and the rest is history. It’s now got 266,000 miles, and it hasn’t missed a beat. Well, almost…

·         What do you like about your beater? The typical Wrangler allure– open top freedom, no doors, no frilly BS, No F’s given. The 4.0L I-6 might be the best engine AMC ever designed, and the torque curve is hilarious. It’s either bored stupid from 1100RPM to 2000, or really coming alive about 2200, and then it’s a beast on the highway. Until you hit 70, and then it falls flat on its face. The Jeep itself has tons of dings and wrinkles everywhere along with two rusty holes in the floorboards next to the body just for the character, they amuse me. The whole Jeep reminds me of that old, grizzly looking, bearded veteran that you see in a VFW Post that’s actually fairly well read, but is an absolute riot when shit-faced. It’s forgiving and friendly. I’ve also NEVER got the roof or doors on it, except in the winter.

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·         What do you dislike about your beater? The horn’s broken (watch for finger, heh) and every once in a while, the AX-15 5-speed likes to get a little cross-eyed. The driveshaft is out of balance, which means I’ve had to install 3 rear U-joints in the last year and three months. The previous owner also installed a 3-inch shackle lift without shimming the transfer case or adjusting the angle of the rear axle, and I’ve not had the time to fix it yet. So, I really have to take it easy while off-roading or on funky, broken back roads, because the slip yoke might bottom out, and blow the U-Joint. Also, the stereo currently isn’t working, but that just involves replacing the speakers.

·         What is the funniest thing that has happened in it? I currently work as a laborer for a local prestressed concrete firm, and as a purveyor of concrete and concrete accessories, we can’t really work in the rain.

One day we were sent home early because of a torrential downpour that lasted most of the day. Think 10am. Well, I’m rolling down the highway, sans doors or roof, in the middle of this big-ass storm. And well, apparently a local decided that was hysterical, because he apparently took a picture of me chillaxin’ with my foot out the door, laid back with my mind on my money and my money on my mind. I’ve not seen this picture, but it’s apparently made it around the Alton, IL facebook circle.

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·         Do you have any good roadtrip stories? Not really, I’ve been so damn busy in the last year or so, that all of the roadtrip opportunities that I’ve had, I’ve had to ignore unfortunately. The longest trip I’ve taken it on is from Edwardsville, IL to Bloomington-Normal, IL. About two hours. That said, I’ve taken it with some friends down a shit-ton of trails that we probably shouldn’t have been on…

·         Has it ever broken down on you someplace unpleasant/sketchy? Not really. It’s been pretty reliable for the most part. There was one time a tensioner pulley up and R-U-N-N-O-F-T while I was going to have dinner with my friend Sami, but I limped it to the closest parts store, and replaced it in the parking lot with tools that they loaned me. I started packing my tool-kit with me everywhere after that. Bolted to the floor, naturally…

·         What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to fix or take it to the mechanic for? The steering column started getting this weird wobble that I’d never experienced before. The tilt function was basically not locking, because it really wasn’t connected to the column itself. Come to find out, the same steering column is in my ’90 Cadillac hearse. (I’ve got a hearse too. That’s a fun story…) Well, apparently that wobble is called a Saginaw wobble. The hearse started doing the same wobble. It’s now perfectly fine, connected and functional.

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*all photos credited to Meg Fairless of Megyme Productions.

Heap Of A Jeep

Jeeps are like the Chickenpox.  Its seems as if everyone has owned one (or a mid-90s Corolla) and everyone gets the chicken pox. unlike the ‘pox though you don’t just a get a Jeep once. Most people suffer from multiple Jeep infections sometime of various mutations (Cherokee, Wagoneer, Comanche) throughout their lifetime.

I used to think of Jeeps as rugged almost indestructible vehicle when i was a tot, but after befriending Jeepers and reading several of your submissions it seems otherwise. I’m sure most of them are great vehicles, but I’m not sure they would have the kinds of stories their beater brothers have.  You gotta love a Jeep!

This week’s Beater Feature comes all the way from Rockford IL. Tom works at a Jeep dealership, so naturally he has a Jeep. This one is a bit special. It’s pretty , not a rust bucket, but somehow keep breaking on him! If you’re anywhere near Rockford Illinois stop by Andersen Jeep and check out his heap of a Jeep:

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“My name is Tom Perrin and I come from Rockford Illinois. I drive a 1997 Jeep Wrangler TJ that was purchased about a year ago with more rust than paint. This isn’t my first Wrangler, not even my first TJ. Call it a midlife crisis, call it reliving my youth, call it whatever you want. This Jeep stuck out to me on my quest for a daily wrangler. It was ugly, cheap, and pumped full of miles. What’s under the hood will make just about any Jeep owner cry, but I love it. The AMC based 150 cubic inch 4-banger that kinda can. Reliable, simple as all get out, and makes the most annoying sounds, especially at idle.

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My first car, a YJ wrangler, was also equipped with this iron paperweight, but it still got me around. As of most Jeeps of this era, she is a project. Cooling system has been upgraded a bit, 4in Skyjacker lift, some random “heavy duty” AutoZone clutch, 31in Cooper mud tires (yeah, I know), 1-ton steering components from Spicer, and a few other stuff tucked under the triple bedliner coated frame. No mid-life crisis is complete with a nice audio system. Kenwood head unit, overhead speakers, compact subwoofer and amplifier in the “trunk”, along with a 301 piece mechanic’s tool set just in case.

 

Since I’ve had her, and after sitting for 3 years prior, she has had her fair share of breakdowns. One of which was the water pump which let go on the coldest day of the year. Nothing like being stranded at 11pm at a gas station waiting for my very understanding girlfriend. After a fun day with our son, we thought a little missing adventure was in order. Well, being instantly sunk up to the headlights literally 6 feet off of the road wasn’t a fun time. $200 tow bill and way too many embarrassing pictures later, we finally got her out. I love my Heep of a Jeep and our family will continue to love her forever. This one’s a keeper. Well worth every penny.”

 

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Desk To Glory

Keep Up With Desk To Glory

If you’ve liked us on Facebook, you know that we’re huge fans of Ash and Rich at Desk To Glory.  We’ve posted a bunch of their stuff over the last several months.  They drive a little red Toyota all over North, Central, and South America.

They’ve just finished their trek to the bottom of South America in Ushuaia and are now getting ready to make a journey across their home country of Canada. We’ve been talking to them for a while now, more out of fascination and encouragement than anything else. We would’ve asked them some questions but it seems Petrolicious beat us to it. Check out their full interview with Petrolicious and if there’s any popcorn left here’s a quick video of Ash Rich and Little Red doing their thing.

Also, be sure to keep up with their build thread on Expedition Portal.

While your at it check them out at Desk To Glory (go buy a shirt or a sticker!)

Desk to Glory from KOYO on Vimeo.

Zen And The Art Of Beater

blue carI’ve shared my Sentra with you guys several times (you’ll hear about it a bunch). In a sense it is one of the biggest inspirations for this blog. It was old. It barely ran. Sometimes it even had oil in it. The pictures don’t show it too well but when I bought it there was a very noticeable scar on the passenger side.

At one point in its previous life with its eastern European family before me, it had been in an accident and was shoddily repaired, I assume, in the driveway. Not unlike any of the repairs I had to do on it. In the early years of ownership, the honeymoon period, I tried my best to keep it clean inside and out. I would take joy in spending hours detailing every crease and crevice. Invariably I would get to the bondo’d scar and then sigh because I wouldn’t know where to start. To be honest, looking back I should never have bough the car in the first place with a patch job like that so hastily smeared on the side.an side

As the honeymoon period wore off and detailings grew to be more and more infrequent, a sort of zen-like state grew over our relationship. I stopped caring about the Sentra’s outward appearance. I knew that it could handle pretty well, that it got incredible gas mileage. I also knew that it wasn’t quick or fast or even peppy. I didn’t care about these. I also stopped caring about the dings and scrapes and scratches that come with everyday car ownership. I no longer cared if someone ran their shopping cart into my car. As long as it started up when I had to leave again.

Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.” -Robert Pirsig

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Now, you could argue that this state of being calm and at peace with the chaotic world of grocery store parking lots was because my priorities were in check (as long as it started up I was happy), but I don’t think priorities had anything to do with it. I still rarely changed the oil in the thing. That’s a big priority. I went almost an entire year with a clicking front CV joint. Only repairing it after it disintegrated on me while I was changing the shocks out. I don’t think it was a case of priorities. I believe it was because I knew that whatever was going to happen out there on the road, as long as the car started up, I was fine. It’s looks couldn’t get any worse, could they?

Every person should own a beater at one point in time. Be it your first car, or fiftieth. Buy a beater. Bounce it off other beaters, and experience the zen of being within its existence. Pretty soon you’ll have that peace of mind. Pretty soon you’ll have reached Beater Enlightenment. I promise you, that you’ll be a better person for owning it. You will appreciate you “new” car more.  You will appreciate you life more.

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The $5K XJ

 

1KidsA couple weeks ago in our feature about the Sentra That Wouldn’t Die we mentioned that we were proud of some guy.  That guy was Jon.  Jon has had a collection of beaters, not unlike most of us, and seems to prefer the off-road 4X4 genre of beater the most. When we reached out to him we initially were looking for a story about his current workhorse, a Toyota Tacoma, but instead got a pleasant surprise with this lunk of a Jeep instead.  Here is Jon’s $5K XJ:

When did you get your beater?
-I purchased it in February 2010 for $5000 (dubbed the 5KXJ).

What do you like about your beater?
-Everything about it was cheap. It was cheap to fix, cheap to build, and cheap to run. It was simple and fun (when it ran). It was loud, tall, covered in mud most of the time, had tons of wheel travel, and had stickers all over it.

What do you dislike about your beater?
-Like I said, everything about it was cheap. It was an absolute lemon, everything broke at least once, and when you add up a bunch of cheap parts, it gets expensive, as I found out. In short it was a money pit that got single digit gas mileage. I had to staple the headliner to the roof to keep it out of my face when I was driving down the road.

332595_10150416130660939_206603881_oWhat is the funniest thing that has happened in it?
– While wheeling at Hollister Hills SVRA in California, my friends convinced me to drive over an obstacle that was too big for my Jeep. My idle air control sensor was already on the fritz so it wouldn’t idle and I had been power braking the thing all day. So anyways, when trying to get over this rock, my “spotters” said I was clear and I ripped my exhaust clean off. Had to drive home with essentially an open header.


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Have you been on any roadtrips?
-Well, I drove it from Philly to Florida pulling a uHaul trailer when I began my career in racing. Then I drove it from Connecticut to California with no A/C and cutoff exhaust in August.IMG_0081

What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to fix or take it to the mechanic for?
-Days before I was set to move from Connecticut to California, the Jeep broke. It was unloaded from a trailer after being transported from Florida to Connecticut and wouldn’t start. Unfortunately, I was on the road for work during all of this, so needless to say I was less than pleased to return from 3 months on the road to a broken Jeep. After several failed attempts to fix it, a smoked Optima battery and fried electronics, I had it fixed at a dealership due to time constraints. Picked it up, and drove it to California the following day without fault. It wound up being a faulty, shorted out coil pack.312657_10151331994805939_753669113_n

What is the weirdest thing you’ve had to fix or take it to the mechanic for?
-Worst thing that almost happened: The afternoon after I picked my Jeep up from the dealership, I returned to my motel to pack my bag for California. A severe thunderstorm rolled through, flooding the parking lot. Lightning struck the motel, arced through flooded parking lot, and fried all the electronics in the Dodge Magnum parked next to me, totaling the vehicle. My Jeep was spared, due only to the fact that I had larger tires on it, and the puddle never got deep enough to arc the lighting through my wheels, unlike the Dodge. So I got the hell out of there, thanked my lucky starts and continued on my merry way.
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-When I first put a lift kit on it, I backed it out of the garage, grinning ear to ear. On my way to the tire shop where I worked at the time (to install my big bad-ass tires that were sure to win the ladies over), the rear driveshaft exploded no less than a mile from the garage, due to a horrendous driveshaft angle. I removed the mangled shaft, slammed it in 4Hi, and kept driving. I drove it like that everyday for over a month while I waited for a custom driveshaft to get shipped to me. I eventually sold it in March 2013 for $6K (Score!)

 

Remember: WE NEED YOUR STORIES!!! Send your stories and some pics about your everyday cars to: BeaterLifeBlog@gmail.com.   If we like it. We’ll feature it!