Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I Broke My Jeep

It was bound to happen eventually. No matter how careful I am out on the trails eventually some sort of trail damage will come to my Jeep. 

And it did, during Women's Wheeling this past weekend at Rausch Creek. 

After wheeling spectacularly thru the Pizza Rock obstacle, thanks to my great spotter, Brian from Southern Maryland, I headed down the trail on some smaller rocks.

I ended up coming down hard on a rock the wrong way. Check it out in this video ~ I Broke My Jeep

When I heard the "clunk" I knew it was something bad. Getting back off the rock, and over it, was pretty easy. It was when I tried turning the wheels, I knew something just wasn't right. 

Luckily, there were experienced Jeepers, like Chris from New York, out on the trail able to figure out the issue. Turns out it was my steering stabilizer. 

When I came down on the rock it twisted up the bracket that attaches the stabilizer to the tie rod. The whole steering stabilizer got pushed up. That prevented me from having a full range of steering. 

Once again, those experienced Jeepers also were competent Jeep mechanics. And who knew... you don't need that steering stabilizer to drive. So we took it off until we could get to a dry, flat, out of the way of the trail, so we could get a closer look, and fix my Jeep. 

If you watch the video you can hear the anxiety and worry in my voice. I guess that comes with a Jeeper's first time damage to their Jeep. I was also concerned I wouldn't be able to drive home. Luckily, my wheeling buddy Amanda was the voice of reason. 

During our lunch break Brian from New York broke out his tools and got under my Jeep. It was a pretty easy fix ~ move the bracket back in place, and attach the steering stabilizer. It was a great experience to watch and help him fix my Jeep. Next time though I should be the one wrenching and getting my hands dirty.  

Just a couple of simple tools was all it took. The one tool I didn't have that I needed was an 18 mm wrench. A tool every Jeep Wrangler owner needs out on the trail.  

Looking back on the whole event, I realize I didn't need to get that upset. It was a simple fix. However, at the time, not knowing a whole lot of the mechanics of my Jeep was pretty nerve-racking. It was a great experience overall and I learned some great lessons. there is that old saying, "You learn from your mistakes".

Lessons Learned

  • Get an 18 mm wrench and put it in my Jeep.
  • Don't get so worked up about the damage.
  • You can drive without a steering stabilizer.
  • At Rausch Creek there is always someone who can help fix your Jeep. 
  • Never let my guard down while crawling on the rocks no matter how small.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Women's Wheeling Day 2016

I took the day off on Friday to pack up my Jeep and head to Rausch Creek for the much anticipated Women's Wheeling event on Saturday. 

I checked in on Friday and headed to the hotel to 
wait for my friend. 
I was so excited to have a wheeling buddy. It is very rare I have someone ride shotgun with me. 

Two years ago, I met a fellow Jeep Mom online. I invited her to ride with me during my 201 off road instruction class September of 2014. Finally two years later our schedules meshed. 

Friday night was the Women's Wheeling Meet & Greet at O'Neals Pub in Pine Grove, PA. Hard to believe, but that was my first ever meet and greet. Amanda and I spent the night catching up, plus meeting some new awesome Jeepers. 

Saturday morning bright and early, we headed for Rausch Creek Off Road park for a day of wheeling on the trails. 

The rain sure didn't hamper the day's fun. 

Jeep after Jeep kept rolling into the parking lot. 

You could feel the excitement in the air as many couldn't wait to hit the trails, including me. 

This was the 4th year for the event. The first year there were 8 women. The next year was the first year I went with 40 Jeeping women.

Last year, the year I drove the Clayton Off Road Jeep, there were 100 women Jeepers. 

As word of this fabulous event spread across the internet, more and more women signed up. This year there were just over 200 women Jeepers. 

Many of the women wheeled their own Jeeps. 

Several wheeled their husbands or boyfriends Jeeps. Some even share their Jeep with their spouse. Yeah Crazy!!! Can you imagine sharing your Jeep? Not me.

I volunteered to be the tail gunner. In case you didn't know the tail gunner is the last Jeep in the group - the Eyes in the Back. Making sure everyone stays together. 

My partner and trail guide Mandy was amazing for her first time guiding a group. We were group six. 


Our group was an amazing group of Jeepers. We all worked together well. The men in the group stepped up and guided us perfectly through the obstacles. They were patient, encouraging and very supportive!  

Bouncing down the trails at Rausch Creek with the windows rolled down listening to the sounds of nature refills my bucket and restores my soul! 

Seeing all the Jeeps rolling thru the trails ahead of me brings such  a joy to my heart. 


The fall colors were an amazing sight, but even more amazing for me was pulling up along other Jeep groups. 

Recognizing other Jeepers who I once wheeled with was awesome. Shouting out greetings to each other across the trails, and sharing Jeep Waves always brings a smile to my face. 

One former riding buddy was excited for me, noticing I finally lifted my Jeep! 

Group Six tackled some green and blue trails. We were even able to head back to Trail 11 so I signed into the Jeep Badge Of Honor. Once again earning a trail badge. My fingers are crossed Jeep sends me the Badge this time. 

Trail 11, a green trail, certainly felt a lot easier in my lifted Jeep. 

Trail 11 - Lifted Jeep Ride Click Here

Wow what a difference - definitely a lot calmer!  

Pizza Rock was another obstacle we all tackled. We had a fender casualty at one point but it was easily pushed back into place. 

I was the last one to crawl down Pizza Rock. Each time is different for each Jeeper as the Jeep before you moves rocks or pushes downed trees out of the way. 

After we finished this trail I was told we actually ran the trail the wrong way. Normally the Jeeps crawl up the rock not down the rock. 

One thing I learned is not to let up on my level of carefulness - is that a word? After crawling down Pizza rock so smoothly I hit a bump in the road sorta speak. Stay tuned tomorrow to find out how "I BROKE MY JEEP".

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

Every time I wheel, I learn so much about myself, my Jeep and off-roading. This day was no exception, so much was learned! I will share one of those lessons on tomorrow's post. 

As a former volunteer of the many, many school activities and PTA, I know how exhausting running an event can be. It is a lot of hard work with long, long hours and a lot of money out of your own pocket. Sometimes the work you do seems to go unappreciated. 

Two women, two amazing women, who I admire were the force behind this terrific event. Susan and Christie, a big shout out of my thanks and appreciation! Next year I am at your service! 


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Must Have Fluids

This weekend is the 4th annual Women’s Wheeling event at Rausch Creek Off Road Park in Pennsylvania. I can’t wait for this awesome event. 

I have been wheeling at Rausch Creek many, many times, and before every wheeling trip I make sure I am well prepared. That means pulling out my checklist and gathering all my needed gear. 

Top Essentials for the Off-Roading Trails -- September 2015

This includes my recovery gear, tool box, first aid kit, extra
clothes, fire extinguisher, portable air compressor, tire deflators, tire pressure gauge, lug nut key, camera, video camera and my lunch. One thing I have never brought on one of my trips to Rausch Creek is extra spare parts, nor have I brought extra fluids. Am I being a bad off-roader if I don’t have these extras? 

I do have a spare tire. Come to think of it… now that I am lifted will my jack that came with the jeep work? 

As for the fluids...what do I truly need? Here are some fluids suggested.

  • Engine Oil
  • Brake Fluid
  • Power Steering Fluid
  • Automatic transmission fluid
  • Coolant 
  • Bearing Grease
  • WD-40 - I have this :)
  • Starter Fluid
  • Extra Gas… well I fill up at the gas station right near the off-road park and never gone thru more than a quarter tank of gas. 

I really need to consider the possible breakdowns I might have. And of those breakdowns what would I be able to fix on my own. Then try to bring what I think I'll need. So with that in mind, the extra fluids I will start off with is gear oil, gasket maker, and coolant. I will work up from there as I get more knowledgeable. 

As far as spare parts.... Ugh... that is a toughy for me. So far my spare tire is it. Unless you count zip ties and duct tape. 

With the right tools and know how I am pretty sure just about anything can be fixed on the trails. I just need to work my way up to that.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Stocking Stuffer Idea #5

Stocking Stuffer Idea #5

Now I really, really want this one!  Find a tree to tie one end and the other end to your roll cage. They even have several colors that can match your jeep. 

DFO Hammocks ~ In Many Colors 

Other Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Magnetic Finger Tool
$9.95 - 

Door Handle Inserts 
Set of 5 inserts for $35.96

Shifter Knob -Click Here
Some ideas from Extreme Terrain 

Knit Jeep Beanie Hat

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Stocking Stuffer Idea #4

Here is a cool website that has lots of great stocking stuffer gifts. The Busted Knuckle Garage - a place for car guy gifts. I know what about the ladies. Well most of the items will work for the ladies too. 

The one I like the best and will be adding to my list is the Magnetic Finger Tool

Other Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Door Handle Inserts 
Set of 5 inserts for $35.96

Shifter Knob -Click Here
Some ideas from Extreme Terrain 

$14.99 All Things Jeep

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

UPDATE: Wax On My Fenders

If you have been following my blog the past year, you may know I have issues with the plastic fenders on my Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.

April of 2015, I decided to wax my Jeep. Well... I wasn’t very careful around the plastic fenders, and wax got on them.

I tried many, many “home remedies” suggested from fellow Jeepers… like Dawn dish soap, a pink eraser, Simple Green, Mr. Clean Eraser sponge, a blow dryer and wire brush, and yes, even peanut butter.

Now peanut butter seemed to work ~~ for a little while. But the wax re-appeared after a couple of days. Plus there was the threat of squirrels trying to eat my fenders. :-)

So I decided to try the Back to Black, just last month. Not only did I have wax stains, I had mud stains… and not just your regular mud. It was coal dust mud stains from the Pennsylvania coal mines.

So I gooped the gel onto the brush they provided. Then scrubbed away wiping off the excess with a mirco-fiber cloth. WOW! What a difference.

The wax disappeared! My fenders look new. The mud stains are gone as well. Now the real test. The test of time. Did the wax stains stay away. See for yourself.

It has been a little over two weeks. The Back to Black is still holding the stains at bay. I will keep my eye on it and report back in a couple of months.

Mother’s Back to Black can be purchased at any automotive store or on Amazon for $7.49. It claims ~ Removes light oxidation, dirt, wax residue and surface film with ease ~ Protects against further deterioration caused by sun, smog, ozone, water, chemicals and airborne contaminants ~ Cleans and protects exterior trim of all color ~ Brings back that like-new color

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Step By Step Diff Swap

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

Here is my Step By Step Guide on how I swapped out my stock diff covers for new tougher diff cover. 

Step 1 

Gather Needed 
Tools & Supplies

  • Drain Pan
  • Riddler Manufacturing Diff Cover & hardware
  • Lube Lockers
  • Ratchet
  • 3" Ratchet Extension
  • #9 Allen Wrench
  • Flat head Screwdriver
  • Mallet
  • Razor Blade Scraper
  • White rags
  • 2.5 Quarts 75W140 Gear Oil
  • Brake Parts Cleaner
  • Empty gallon water bottle
  • Mechanix gloves
  • Plastic gloves

Step 2 

Remove the Lowest
Drain Plug

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.

Step 3 

Drain Oil
Let Drain
For Several Minutes

Step 4

Remove all Bolts 
from the 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. 

Step 5 

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

Step 6 

Completely, 100% completely, Remove the Old Gasket on the Housing

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"

Step 7 

Clean the Entire Gear Assemble

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.  

Step 8

Attach the 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. 

Step 9 

Attach the new diff cover to the housing unit. 

Step 10 

Hand thread the bolts according to the Lube Locker instructions (star pattern)

Step 11 
Tighten down 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.

Step 12

Put drain plug back in using #9 Allen Wrench.

Step 13 

Fill the rear with 2.5 quarts
of 75W140 gear oil 

And what Jeep modification wouldn't be the same with out extra parts. Make sure you keep them because you never know when you will need them 

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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