Posts tagged: Jeep

Slackers? Maybe…

By , July 15, 2010 12:12 pm


We’ve been in with my sister, Wendy, and her family in Shelton, WA for quite a while.  She has a small farm with a number of critters…  horses, llamas, alpacas, geese, dogs, cats, etc.  I’ve been helping out a bit with some farm work (like loading hay bales) and Dasy has been doing some of the cooking.  We’ve also been watching the niece and nephews when needed.

While hanging out with the family one night, Jim and Wendy showed us some videos of people on a slackline.  Jim showed me a clip of how someone set up carabineers to make a primitive block and tackle and we started talking about how much equipment it would take to set up a slackline.  I mentioned that it wasn’t really necessary, as I already had just about everything needed, since that’s pretty much the same stuff I use to pull stuck vehicles out when off-roading.  One thing lead to another and we soon had an impromptu slackline in the front yard. Winking smile

For those who don’t want to go read the link above, slacklines are like tightropes, but generally are made out of web straps (kind of like a seatbelt) and are supposed to be a bit loose (“slack”) so that they flex when weight is on them.  This allows some people to do some really interesting tricks on them.  It’s kind of fun and turns out to be pretty good exercise too.  We might do this periodically, depending on where we camp and what the room is like.  I probably need something a little less “beefy” than my tow strap though… it has almost NO stretch.  Right now, that’s a good thing.  We set it up very tight, as that’s easier for newbie “slackers”. Smile

From here, we’re off to Seattle for a week or so.  After that, we’re kind of undecided.  We want to see Mount Rainier National Park and we may come back and visit Olympic National Park as well.  We’ll work it out on the way.




Our Time In Moab – Part 1

By , May 19, 2010 8:49 pm

Arches National Park

Note: There will probably be several entries for Moab, there’s just TOO much for one post.

We arrived in Moab, UT on Sunday, May 9th.  We got checked into the OK RV Park in very little time and immediately headed to…


We stopped at a few of the parking areas, including Balanced Rock and Fiery Furnace…

IMG_9985 IMG_0005

IMG_2384In spite of the area pretty much being a desert, we saw plenty of interesting flowers.


But, it wasn’t until we got to Sand Dune Arch that we really started to have some fun!

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IMG_0025 IMG_0036

Unfortunately, Sand Dune Arch is very well named… the wind started whipping up a bit and turned the entire area into a giant sandblaster (my zoom lens on my camera still makes little grinding noises because of the sand in it). 🙁

So, we booked out of there and headed on to Devil’s Kitchen, which happens to be the home of the famous Landscape Arch.


Landscape Arch is the longest freestanding natural arch known (according to the Natural Arch and Bridge Society).  The last large chunk of it fell in 1991, which is when the Park Service closed the trail that runs underneath it.  I’m not sure it’s going to be an arch for too much longer. :S  BTW… it’s a pretty decent hike out to the arch.  It was hot and we were tired when we got back to the Jeep.  So, it was time to go off-road! 🙂


Dasy didn’t have quite as much fun as I did, but she managed. 😉

We headed up Salt Valley Road to see Tower Arch, but somehow managed to take a wrong turn, so we missed that one.  Fortunately, that meant we had over 9 miles of off-road trail to cover before returning to pavement. 🙂


Note: That is steeper than it looks.  This is with “new Jeep”, which is completely unmodified other than a new front bumper.  Also, my air compressor broke, so I couldn’t deflate the tires.  Someone was a little nervous. 😉

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But, we eventually made it back to Balanced Rock without even scraping anything.  The sun was just starting to descend, which made the color in the rocks really come out.


By then, we were pretty much cooked.  That about wraps it up for our day at Arches National Park.   I included a video at the end of this post, but it’s mostly the off-road driving portion.  Enjoy!


The Plan… for now

By , May 6, 2010 10:35 pm

Gonzales City Limit

We’ve left Gonzales and are currently a few miles up the road in Seguin, TX.  We just had the front bearing seal replaced on one wheel and will be heading out in the morning.  We did some thinking and calculating and figured out that we had better pass on Big Bend National Park for now.  Instead, we’re working our way up to Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.

If I had to pick a place to stay in between those two, there’s really only one choice…


For those who aren’t familiar with it, Moab is somewhat of a Jeep owner’s paradise…  off-road trails of all kinds in just about every direction… time to break in the new Jeep. 🙂

We’ll post about the Gonzales gathering soon… we had a blast!

How We Roll…

By , April 22, 2010 12:50 pm

A few people have asked how we take along everything we show up with.  Here’s the quick and short version.


That’s us getting gas for the Star.  What you’re seeing is the Dutch Star, two mountain bikes, the Jeep and the TW200.  Let’s start from the front.


That’s the basic setup for the Jeep and bicycles.  The whole contraption starts with a Blue Ox 10″ receiver lift.  Welded on the top of that is a 1-inch receiver tube, which holds the Mopar bike rack.


The next bit of gadgetry is the Blue Ox BX7445 Aventa LX Tow Bar.  That goes into the Blue Ox riser and then attaches to the front of the Jeep.  We generally keep that covered with a Blue Ox Cover when we’re parked and we lock the whole assembly together using a Blue Ox 4-lock kit.

The Jeep has a Rock Hard bumper with tow brackets bolted through the bumper into the front frame.  The safety cables attach to the D-Rings and the other cable is what handles all the lights.  It’s a Mopar RV tow kit for the JK Wranglers (it’s a major pain to install, have a dealer do it).


That takes care of the Jeep and the bicycles, so let’s move on to the TW200.


The hitch rack is a HaulMaster motorcycle hitch rack.  It’s cheap and can generally be found at Harbor Freight.  I’d rather have a MotoTote, but the TW only weighs about 300 and the HaulMaster is doing a decent job so far.  It takes a lot of straps to keep the TW from wobbling around or stressing the handlebars too much.  There are strap locations on the hitch bar, but I prefer to strap to the safety chain loops on the Jeep.  If something catastrophic does happen to the rack, at least the TeeDub is attached to the Jeep and won’t go sailing down the highway into a truck or smthng.


The one major fix I had to engineer for the rack is the lights.  We actually got pulled over in Key Largo because the TeeDub blocks the view of the taillights on the Jeep.  I added these with some aluminum angle brackets and wired up a four pin trailer connector to plug into the Jeep.  This works fine and makes us WAY more visible to people behind us.

That’s the basic setup for our towing ensemble…  If you want to know anything more specific, feel free to ask.

Note: Product links are to Amazon and I get a small percentage kickback if you order anything using my links.

A Day With Wires

By , March 26, 2010 6:04 pm

Note: This is technical wiring stuff and might not be of much interest to those who don’t have an RV and/or flat-tow a vehicle.  I put it up here just to show some of the things we have to do to prepare and just in case someone else ever gets this wiring harness and can’t figure out why it doesn’t work.

I spent most of today running around getting pieces and fixing our towing connector on the RV.  It wasn’t actually broken, it just wasn’t right.


This is our 7-way tow connector socket on the back of the RV.  Whenever you’re towing something, it gets plugged into this.  When you hit your brakes, turn signal or turn on your lights, it sends electricity through the appropriate “prong” and lights up whatever light is necessary on whatever you’re towing.

Since we got a new Jeep, we’ve had to prepare it to be “flat-towed” behind the RV.  I took care of the physical stuff to hook it up to the RV hitch when I got the bumper done.  I installed a special wiring harness from Jeep to take care of the electrical stuff.  Unfortunately, when I plugged it into the RV I got nothing.  No lights at all.  I was just about to run back to Jeep crying like a little girl when I decided to test it on my step-father’s Chevy Avalance (he has the same 7-pin tow connector).  It worked perfectly!

That meant that the Jeep wiring kit was okay (and I didn’t kill it when I installed it), but something was funky on our RV.  I had to wait two days for any of the local trailer shops to get a 7-pin tester in before I could figure out what was going on.  When I put the tester on, it showed that one line (which isn’t necessary for most towing applications) was dead.  Here’s a quick description of the pins in the connector above:

1 – Ground (common return path)
2 – Left turn and brake light
3 – Tail and running lights
4 – 12 volt charging power
5 – Right turn and brake light
6 – Brake controller
7 – Reverse lights

Ours had everything except the brake controller wire (we don’t have a brake controller) and the 12 volt charging wire (pin 4).  The brake controller is generally used for towing heavy trailers and it activates the brakes on the trailer when you hit the brakes on the RV.  The 12 volt charging line is generally used for towing campers and it charges up the battery on the camper when you’re connected.

Unfortunately, Jeep decided to use the 12 volt charging line to “activate” the wiring harness that I just installed.  No charging line, no lights.  So, I got to spend most of the afternoon dissecting the socket and running a power line to one of our six batteries in the RV.

So, if you plan to flat-tow a newer JK model Jeep and you plan to get the wiring harness from Jeep to do so, there are some things you should know…

  • The harness part number from Jeep is 82211156AB.  You can find it on the Mopar Accessories site.
  • Installing the harness is a serious pain.  It’s not worth doing.  Pay a dealership to do it.  You have to remove body parts, pull up carpeting, drill big holes in the firewall and then fit a 2 inch grommet into a 1 inch hole… without crushing the wiring harness in the process.
  • Get a 7-way tester if you plan to tow regularly… no telling when something will stop working, it’s a useful tool to have.
  • Make sure the 12-volt charging line is active.  It should light up immediately when you plug in the tester (it’s supposed to be constantly on).
  • I don’t care what the description says, the harness does NOT include an “underhood battery disconnect”.  Plan on getting a battery disconnect.  If you don’t, the Jeep will rack up miles when flat-towed unless you disconnect the battery manually.

Oh, the numbers I used for the pins in the diagram aren’t “common”.  If you’re going to wire up a connector or anything, check the diagram that comes with the connector.  Don’t expect my number 3 pin to be the same as everyone else’s. 

Drive, drive, ride, drive some more…

By , February 12, 2010 11:48 am

It’s been an interesting time around here, hence the lack of updates.  Let me give you the rundown…

I drove the Jeep and the Sylvansport Go up to Virginia to pick up my KLR (motorcycle), which was being stored in a friend’s basement (thanks, Rob!).  While there, they got their first decent batch of snow.

The Jeep and Sylvansport Go in Virginia...  snow

After spending a couple days with friends and getting the KLR loaded up, I headed back home and made it with no troubles.  I then rode the KLR to work for a few days, but switched to the Jeep on a day when I had to take a bunch of equipment into the office.  On the way home, I noticed a rather odd noise from the transmission whenever I was slowing down in gear (like every time I have to come up to a stop light).  I checked it again later that evening when I got home and it was noticeably worse.  Not good. 🙁

Luckily, my step-father has a nice Chevy Avalanche 2500 that’s big enough to pull the Jeep.  I used it to flat-tow the Jeep up to Lake-Sumter Tranmissions, a company that he has used numerous times over the years.  The rapidly started to rip the guts out of my Jeep and strip down the tranny, so I left it with them to deal with.  Diagnosis: Unsure… it definitely something in the transmission, but they have no idea what until they disassemble it. :S

So that left us with a KLR as transport and no real estimate on the damage to the Jeep or the time it would take to fix it.  We decided that it might not be a bad idea to look for alternative solutions.  We managed to find a 4-door automatic 2009 Jeep Unlimited Rubicon on Craigslist for a reasonable price… in Atlanta.

The only way we could think of to quickly and easily get it was for me to ride the KLR up, get the new Jeep, then arrange to fly or take the bus back to Atlanta and ride the KLR back later.  The ride up was miserable.  It was right at 32 degrees almost the entire time.  I had ot get real creative with heating solutions…  garbage bags in the boots, Glad-wrap on the gloves, etc.  It wasn’t fun.

I arrived at about 7 pm, after riding through snow flurries in Atlanta. :S  The dealership closed at 8, so we got right down to business.  The Jeep was in decent shape and the price was reasonable, so we did the deal.  During the paperwork, they asked if I had a trade and I jokingly offered up the KLR.  They looked it over and had no problem taking it on trade.  We were planning on getting  a much smaller bike anyway and that saved me from having to go back to Atlanta to pick it up, so it all worked out pretty good.

Our new Jeep[/caption]

I grabbed a hotel in Atlanta for the night and drove the new Jeep back the next day.  It’s a little "shorter" than I like my Jeep to be, but we’re working on that. ;)  We actually have some work to do on it before it’s ready for full-timing behind the RV.  It’s going to need a new bumper that’s capable of being used to attach to the motorhome, plus some electrical bits for the tow lights and a few other small things.  I’m working on that, but am having a hard time finding a bumper that will do the job.  On this new body style, a lot of the aftermarket bumpers are weird shapes and the frame attachment points are exactly where I need to mount the tow bars to the bumper.  That makes it pretty difficult to find one that will work.  I’m hoping to go look at a few in a shop in Orlando this weekend on the way back from picking up something we snagged off Craigslist.

Of course, the old Jeep is still around for now.  The shop called me last night to tell me it was ready and I’ll probably go pick it up tonight.  The work wasn’t cheap, but it’s WAY less than I expected it.  Most shops charge twice what I’m paying just to pull a transmission, let alone rebuild it.  I can’t recommend Lake-Sumter Transmissions highly enough!  They were extremely helpful, they let me come get a few things out of the Jeep that I forgot, they didn’t mind any of my aftermarket skid plates and they showed me all the transmission bits that were all over the workbench.  From everything I’ve seen and the way I’ve been treated, they do excellent work.  I’ll post a followup once I get the old Jeep and see how it runs, but I don’t expect any problems at all.

So, we now have two Jeeps, an RV and no motorcycles.  Oh, I also brought the bicycles back from Virginia, so we’ll have something to toodle around on at campgrounds and parks. 🙂

Some lessons have to be learned the hard way…

By , December 21, 2009 11:20 pm

We’re now in Sarasota, which is approximately 150 miles from Ocklawaha, which is where we started.  I’m guessing that the emergency/parking brake on my Jeep lasted about 15 miles before the shoes completely fried.EBrake

That handle over in the picture over there to right… completely useless now.  Parking the Jeep now involves a complicated procedure that I like to call “leaving it in gear”. 

I was also going to post up a full account of what’s involved in flat-towing a lifted Jeep, but I’m not up to that right now (and I can’t find the pictures I need to help explain it).

So, the short version…  be sure to double check the emergency brake on your towed vehicle before you take off.  A diesel RV won’t even notice the difference.

I have an idea of what’s involved in replacing the shoes on a Jeep emergency brake and it’s not fun.  Hopefully I won’t have to replace the drums (which are also the rear disk brake rotors) as well, but I wouldn’t bet on it. :S

Our stay at Pocahontas State Park

By , November 3, 2009 12:26 pm

Note: This was a little over a week ago, we’re catching up on the posts. 😉

IMG_0143.jpgWe uploaded another review of one of the places we stayed, Pocahontas State Park (PSP).  You can find it and all of our place review under the Parks and Places menu above.  There’s a handful of pictures there, but the full set is available on our Flickr page.IMG_0144.jpg

We arrived on a Friday and settled in for a long weekend.  It’s a nice park with good camping facilities and we enjoyed ourselves.  On Saturday, Rany (Dasy’s sister) and her husband, Seth, came out to join us for dinner.  I procured a nice set of steaks and corn on the cob from the local grocery store and we had our first attempt at grilling our dinner.  It rained on and off, so I ended up making a shield of sorts out of tin foil.  It actually worked out really well and the steak turned out fantastic.  The corn could have used a little longer on the grill, but it was still good. 

We stayed outside under our awning talking about friends, family and our upcoming adventures.  All in all, it was a good time and we thoroughly enjoyed our first attempts at “entertaining” in our new home. ;)  It’s a bit small inside, but with the awning and good weather it works out great.

IMG_0141.jpgWe were at PSP for the weekend and planned to leave on Monday.  We got a call on Sunday, however, that one of Dasy’s cousins wanted to buy her car, which we had taken with us and planned to keep in Florida.  So, we extended our stay for another day.  Dasy drove the car to her parents back in Northern Virginia, while I ran some errands and then went up in the Jeep to retrieve her.

Unfortunately, the Jeep decided not to cooperate.  I noticed while driving up I-95 that it was wobbling quite a bit and I frequently had to “over-steer” to correct it’s path.  I’ve had this happen before and am fairly familiar with the cause.  I pulled into a Pilot truck stop to check it out and found I was correct in my assumption…  The main bolt that connects the drag link to the frame had loosened a bit and was allowing the front axle to wander back and forth a little bit.  IMG_0122.jpg

Since all my tools are in storage, I sent a quick email from my cell phone to a bunch of my off-road buddies in Off-Camber Crawlers and continued on my way.  10 minutes later, I had several offers of help from fellow members with tools and garages. :)  I made it without incident to Ed’s place and he promptly went at it with an impact gun and some loctite.  That fixed it right up!  I continued to Dasy’s parents place, had some food and some internet access and we headed back to our “home”, minus one car. 🙂

The next morning, we did some minor exploring of the park, then headed south.




Details, details…

By , October 21, 2009 11:58 am


We’re still in Bull Run Regional Park and will be for a couple more days.  We’ve been taking care of all the little details needed for us to actually get “gone”.  Here’s a quick idea of what we’ve been up to…

  • Jeff at Adrenaline Offroad installed new ball joints in my Jeep – I’m now comfortable towing it long distances, but still need a new front drive shaft.
  • We installed a new battery charger in the RV, as it still isn’t charging the engine battery when we’re plugged in – this is a hack until we can track down the real issue, but it works.
  • We dumped the waste and refilled the water tanks – I’ll probably write an article on this later for those who don’t know what’s involved.
  • We re-arranged almost everything in the basement storage areas.  We got a bunch of bins from Costco that allow us to stack much more in the basement.
  • I installed the TV, Playstation and HD antenna – We get a handful of very strange channels on the TV, so I’ve clearly got to figure out something there.
  • We bought a new radiator heater for our long-term wintering in Florida…  It should do a better job than the small forced air heater when we’re parked.

We’re going to be re-arranging quite a bit more as we settle in, but it’s getting there. 

I added a new tab up above for the parks and places that we’ll stay at.  There’s not much there now, but we’ll fill it in as we go.  My sprained ankle is slowly on the mend, so hopefully I can do some exploring in Bull Run before we head out this weekend.  I’ll update the page for that once I can.

Other than that, we’re just muddling along…  saying goodbyes to friends, remembering last minute things we need to put into storage (or reclaim from storage), last minute maintenance, etc.

Almost… ready!

By , October 9, 2009 12:43 pm


Whew!  That pretty much sums up everything since the last update.  Sorry for the lack of updates, but we’ve been really busy and that has pretty much left us in a state of perpetual exhaustion.  The result of which is that I’m now kind of under the weather.  Nothing major, just a lot of flu-like symptoms that I won’t go into. 

However, we’ve gotten a lot done and are almost ready to switch our living quarters to the RV.  The FJR is sold and done.  The Jeep is in relatively decent condition, but still needs some minor front-end work (new drive shaft and ball joints).  I’ll get that done fairly soon.  All the wiring and stuff needed to flat-tow the Jeep are done and she should be good to go.  The RV is in pretty good shape.  All the mechanical stuff that I’m aware of is taken care of.  I still need to install the TV and computers, but it’s otherwise livable.

Also, we have a renter!  It turns out that a bunch of circumstances all lined up and we found a friend who needed a place quickly.  All our other potential candidates bottomed out, so everything is good for our friend to move in.  The lease is signed on our part and there are only a few minor details to take care of before we’re out of the house.

The consolidation of our “stuff” is nearly done.  We have two piles of stuff we want to get into the RV, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have to cut them in half before that’s going to work.  There are some minor things in the garage that will also have to be sorted out, but the majority is complete.

We have to be back in the area for personal and family events by the 15th, so there’s basically not much point in us going anywhere.  However, we have to be out of the house before then, so we’re probably going to move into the RV and get a site at a local regional park I found.  It’s big, not too far away and peaceful.  :)  We’ll probably be there for about two weeks before we head off. 

The good thing about that is that it will give us a chance to actually live in the RV and determine what we need to fix or change before we really get out on our own.  I’ll still have tools and friends in the area so I can hammer out whatever needs to be done before I have to “give up” everything and make do with whatever we can fit in the RV.

We’ll post again if anything odd occurs, or when we actually get into the RV… whichever happens first. 😉

Our House Feels Like A Clearance Sale

By , September 12, 2009 12:37 pm

The list of stuff to do is still large, but it’s not as big as it was. Unfortunately, most of the items are only partly done.  Each seems to carry along some other task to complicate things.  Here are a few examples:

  • We’ve set up a new mail forwarding service, but still have to put in change of address stuff with the post office and notify a bunch of companies of the new addresses.
  • The RV has another temp tag and the inspection is done.  Unfortunately, we’re still waiting on a title so we can register it and get a real tag.
  • The basement shelves and most of the furniture are gone, but I still have to get rid of a bunch of stuff that was on the shelves.
  • I ordered new bushings for the Jeep because they disintegrated last weekend.  Unfortunately, they won’t be here until sometime tomorrow and the Jeep can’t really be used until they’re done.
  • We’ve got a lot of stuff to give to friends.  Unfortunately, I can’t get it to them due to the Jeep issue.
  • I’ve got all the hardware needed to get the TV installed in the RV, but I don’t want to do that until we’re done using it in the house.
  • The FJR is sold!  Gone!  Outta here!  No strings attached on this one. 🙂
  • KLRonGOI was planning on getting some errands run with the KLR (my other motorcycle), but it died today so I’ve now got to deal with getting it to a dealer for a factory recall (again, need the Jeep to tow it).   Thanks go out to Charles from OCC for the assist in getting the KLR running enough to get me back home! 🙂

Anyway, you get the idea.  It seems that everything we do gets us closer to rolling out, but also generates a bunch more work to go with it.  Actually, it’s much more likely that I just underestimated the amount of work that was needed in the first place.  😉

Ah well, time to do some more sorting of the garage.  Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to report in a day or two.

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