Wednesday, October 26, 2016

My First Mishap - I Broke My Jeep

The Lessons That Came With It

Rausch Creek Off-road Adventure

It's almost like a rite of passage. You can be as cautious as a cat on a hot tin roof, but eventually, every off-roader faces that inevitable moment—your vehicle takes its first real hit. For me, that moment happened during the Women's Wheeling event at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park. Let me tell you, it was as dramatic as it was educational.

Women's Wheeling Day 2016 👉 Read More

When My Jeep Met a Rock

The day was going exceptionally well. With the help of my stellar spotter, Brian from Southern Maryland, I had just conquered the infamous Pizza Rock obstacle with what I'd like to think was finesse. Feeling confident, we moved on to what seemed like a less daunting trail, sprinkled with smaller rocks. That was until one particular rock decided we needed to get intimately acquainted.

The impact came with a heart-stopping clunk. As soon as I tried steering away, it was clear something was terribly off. My steering felt weird, locked up almost. A quick inspection by the trailside, with the help of fellow Jeeper and impromptu mechanic Chris from New York, pinpointed the culprit: my steering stabilizer. The force of the rock had twisted its bracket on the tie rod, jamming the whole system.

Chris diagnosis's my Jeep troubles.
Twisted Steering Stabilizer Bracket

I broke My Jeep 👉 Watch Here

Improvising a Solution

Here's where the community spirit of off-roading really shines. Chris, among others, proved not just his driving skills but his mechanical prowess. We discovered that while the steering stabilizer is crucial, it isn't indispensable for limping your Jeep to safety. Off it came, allowing us some maneuverability to find a better spot for a more thorough fix.

If you check out my video titled "I Broke My Jeep," you can hear the blend of anxiety and adrenaline in my voice. That's the authentic sound of a new Jeeper facing their first damage scenario. Fortunately, my friend Amanda was there to inject some calm into the situation.

The Fix Is In

Brian to the Rescue! 

The actual repair was surprisingly straightforward. Over our lunch break, Brian turned mechanic and dove under the Jeep. With some basic tools and a bit of muscle, the bracket was realigned, and the stabilizer reattached. It was a fantastic learning opportunity, and honestly, next time I'm determined to be the one with greasy hands.

Key Takeaways from My Off-Road Oops

Holding my Steering Stabilizer

Reflecting on the whole episode, I realized how quickly I let panic set in over something that, in the end, was a pretty simple fix. It’s true what they say about learning from your mistakes. 

  • Always carry an 18 mm wrench. It's essential, and now permanently resides in my Jeep toolkit.
  • Stay cool under pressure. Easier said than done, but necessary.
  • You can drive without a steering stabilizer, at least out of immediate danger.
👉 Watch Here
  • The off-roading community is your best resource. Whether it's Rausch Creek or elsewhere, there’s always someone ready to lend a hand or a tool.
  • Respect every rock, no matter the size. 
  • Overconfidence on the trail can be your biggest foe.

This adventure wasn't just about dealing with unexpected Jeep damage; it was a reminder of the camaraderie and resilience that define the off-roading community. I came away with not just a repaired Jeep, but valuable lessons and deeper bonds with my fellow enthusiasts. Here’s to more trails, more learning, and yes, even more mishaps—because that’s how we grow, on and off the road.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Jeep Adventures: Women's Wheeling Day at Rausch Creek

A Jeep Journey Unlike Any Other

The Road to Rausch Creek, PA

October 2016, I punched out early, eager for a weekend of mud, gears, and good company. My Jeep was all packed, and I was Rausch Creek-bound for an exhilarating Women's Wheeling event.

Two Jeep Moms

After checking in, I darted to the hotel to link up with my co-pilot. Excitement buzzed through me; it's a rare treat to have a friend in the shotgun seat. Rewind two years—I connected with a fellow Jeep enthusiast, a mom who shared my passion. We planned to meet at a 201 off-road class back in 2014, but it took us two years to align our chaotic schedules.

Friday Night Meet & Greet

Our reunion kicked off at O'Neals Pub in Pine Grove, PA, for the Women's Wheeling Meet & Greet. Believe it or not, this was my first meet and greet. My friend Amanda and I spent the evening rekindling our friendship and mingling with other spirited Jeepers.

Amanda & I

The next morning, we were up with the sun, ready to conquer the trails at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park. Despite the rain, the parking lot swelled with Jeeps. The air crackled with anticipation. Everyone was revved up to hit the trails, myself included.

Jeeps lined up in parking lot
My Jeep front grille
Jeeps heading out to the trails

This event has grown incredibly—starting with just eight women four years ago to over 200 participants this year. The word had spread, and the Jeep sisterhood was stronger than ever.
Many drove their own Jeeps, while others took the wheel of their significant others' rides. Sharing a Jeep? The idea sounds wild to me!

My First Women's Wheeling Day 2014 👉 Read More 

Women's Wheeling Day 2015 👉Read More

Read Jeep off camber on trail

I took on the role of tail gunner, keeping an eye on our convoy from the back. My trail guide, Mandy, a first-timer at trail guiding, but handled it like a pro. We were Team Six, a dynamic group that meshed perfectly. The guys with us were fantastic spotters, navigating us through challenges with patience and encouragement.

Yellow Jeep heading to Pizza Rock 
Jeeps on the trail
Off-Road Traffic Jam

Cruising through Rausch Creek, windows down, listening to nature—it’s my kind of soul therapy. The parade of Jeeps against the backdrop of fall colors was a heartwarming sight. Recognizing familiar faces and exchanging Jeep Waves added to the joy.

In my Jeep on the trails

Hoodshot of Jeeps on the trail

Amid the excitement, a former riding buddy noticed my Jeep’s new lift—what a rush of pride!
Our group tackled a mix of green and blue trails. We even revisited Trail 11, where I signed up for another Jeep Badge of Honor. Fingers crossed they send the badge this time!

Trail 11 - Jeep Badge of Honor

Trail 11 Jeep Badge of Honor 👉Watch Here

Pizza Rock presented a fun challenge. We faced a minor mishap—a bent fender—but fixed it quickly. Each time someone went down the obstacle they would move rocks. That made each time a different experience for each driver. And yes, we learned later that we’d tackled the trail backwards. It's all part of the adventure, right?

Pizza Rock
My Jeep coming down Pizza Rock 
The final decent on Pizza Rock 

Pizza Rock 👉 Watch Here

The day closed on a high note, despite a little hiccup after smoothly descending Pizza Rock. Curious about my Jeep's fate? 

I Broke My Jeep 👉Read More

Reflecting on the event, I’m filled with gratitude for the women who made it happen. Running an event is no small feat—trust me, I’ve been there with all the volunteering I did with the PTA.  A huge thanks to Susan and Christie, the incredible women behind this event. 

Fall Colors in the PA mountains

Every time I take the Jeep out, I discover new facets of myself, my vehicle, and the art of off-roading. This weekend was no exception, brimming with lessons and laughter. More on that in tomorrow’s post. Stay rugged, stay adventurous!

One of the muddy trails that day 👉 Watch Here

My group from women's wheeling day

It was an incredible day with some wonderful women and encouraging, supportive spotters. 

Women's Wheeling day sign from 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fluid Essentials: Keeping Your Jeep Trail-Ready

Jeep Momma sharing Must Have Fluids

Be Prepared! 

When you're heading off-road in your trusty Jeep, it's essential to make sure your vehicle is prepared for the challenging terrain and unexpected adventures that lie ahead. While the right tires, suspension, and 4x4 capabilities are undoubtedly vital, often overlooked are the unsung heroes that keep your Jeep running smoothly – the fluids. 

Essential Fluids to Pack for Your Adventure

  • Engine Oil
  • Brake Fluid
  • Gear Oil
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Automatic transmission fluid
  • Coolant 
  • Bearing Grease
  • WD-40 
  • Starter Fluid
  • Extra Gas
  • Water
  • Funnel

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Step By Step Diff Cover Swap

Factory Diff Cover Replacement

Working on my Diffs

Finally, I got the courage to swap my diff covers. Doing this install all by myself was a huge boost to my confidence. The most difficult part was taking my own pictures and videos while swapping out my stock Diff Covers for new covers. 

Step By Step Guide to Diff Cover Swap 👉 Watch Here

Step By Step Guide to replace factory diff covers with  tougher aftermarket cover. 

Step 1 

Gather needed tools and supplies. 

Gear Oil 👉 Buy Here

Lube Locker  👉 Buy Here

Tools for gear oil change

  • Drain Pan
  • Riddler Manufacturing Diff Cover & hardware
  • Ratchet
  • 3" Ratchet Extension
  • #9 Allen Wrench
  • Flat head Screwdriver
  • Mallet
  • Razor Blade Scraper
  • White rags
  • 2.5 Quarts 80W90 Gear Oil
  • Brake Parts Cleaner
  • Empty gallon water bottle
  • Mechanix gloves
  • Plastic gloves

Step 2

Remove the lowest drain plug

Diff drain hole

I used the 3" Ratchet extension for this. I was not ready for the horrible smell once the oil came oozing out. Nor was I quick enough to get the drain pan under the draining diff. I got a little dirty. Next time I will not use something so deep. Then I will be able to keep the drain pan in position while I removed the plug.

Gear Oil spill

Step 3

Drain gear oil and let drain for several minutes.  

bucket of stinky gear oil 

Step 4

Remove all bolts from the factory diff cover. 
removing bolts from diff cover

removing bolts from diff cover 

I was worried about this part. I usually have a difficult time loosening bolts but with my Mechanix gloves, and a lot of determination, I did it! It took longer than most, but I persevered. 

Mechanix Gloves 👉 Buy Here

Step 5

Pry the cover off the housing unit. 

prying diff cover off

 I used a flat head screwdriver and a mallet to get mine off. Luckily for me there was some small gouges from the rocks. This allowed me to get the screwdriver in between the stock diff cover and housing unit.

Step 6

Completely remove the old gasket on the housing. 

Removing old gasket

This is critical for a good seal when putting on the new Diff Cover. It was the most time consuming of all the steps. I wanted to make sure I removed every bit of the old gasket "goop"

Removing old gasket with razor blade

Step 7

Clean the entire gear assembly.

Diff empty of oil

I used a brakes parts cleaner. I also had to put on a face mask as this stuff is potent. I did this in shifts as the fumes got to be too much.  

Brake Cleaner 👉 Buy Here

Close up of gears in diff

Step 8

Attach the lube locker or apply RTV. 

Lube Locker 

Line up the lube locker onto the diff cover. Then carefully get it ready for Step 9. This was a little difficult trying to do without another person.

Lube locker lined up on diff

Step 9

Attach the new diff cover to the housing unit. 

Aligning diff cover 

Step 10

Hand thread the bolts according to the Lube Locker instructions. It is a star pattern. 

Directions to tighten bolts on diff cover 

Step 11

Tighten the bolts evenly by alternating to assure the plate is mounted evenly with the same pressure making sure each bolt becomes tight but not super tight.  

New purple diff cover

Step 12

Put the drain plug back in using a number 9 Allen Wrench. 
diff drain plug 

Step 13

Fill with 2.5 quarts of 80W90 gear oil. 

Disclaimer: Any advise and information provided on this blog should be verified by professional sources prior to making any changes or modifications to your vehicle. 

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