Lets ask a different question, will it rub? You know that sound? It is the sound of the lugs on your tires ripping your fenders off. How about the sound of your tires hitting the tub? Back in January we took a ride to Hard Rock off Road Park in Ocala on a cold wet muddy day. We had The Bridgestone tires that came with a Sahara on 18” rims. Not much of a mud tire but good for light trails and daily driving. Enter the muddy hills found at the off road park. Steep, slick and rutted up, in other words a lot of fun. We spent some time looking into switching rims and tires until I found the Radar Renegades. 33x12.5x18 inch mud tires with big lugs. When I first put them on I asked the question, can you fit 33” tires on the jeep with no lift? Yes, yes you can, BUT… there was some issues that were identified by the off camber trails at Jeepin with Judd this year. The cow pen almost took off my rear fender; the Grasslands almost took off the front fender. No lift and the sway bar connected will have its limits. If you just ride light trails you will be fine. The Jeep right off the showroom floor is a very capable vehicle and I have seen some stock Jeeps do some amazing things. But when you are following Rich Hardaway thought Ocala or Citrus you need to be ready for an adventure. “Hold on, I’m gonna take the bypass” said no one ever. Better to try and fail then never have tried at all.
So what’s next for the 2007 JK? Ready for this?... Rough Country 3.5" Series II Suspension Lift Kit with Premium N2.0 Series Shocks. From Morris 4x4 center. We only have 33’s but what if I want to go to 35’s when they wear out? It will be ready. I will be putting this on myself in the driveway so expect a video soon. I have done some leaf spring changes and changed a few struts in my time, but from what I can tell, it’s not too hard. This kit is a bit more beefy and has new control arms. The YJ got a 2.5 inch lift to fit the tire and they still rub on bumps and when flexing. It will be 1 inch higher then planed but I think in the long run I will prepare me for the next set of tires. A little bigger, a little taller, and now maybe, just maybe when I do a water crossing we stay somewhat dry. So who’s up for some trails rides and where do we need to go next? 2018 has some good events planned and we hope to see you there.
NEVER WHEEL ALONE…
That’s one of the fundamental rules of Jeeping. Can I tell you a story from back in 1987? One day while riding down the power lines just south of SeaWorld in Orlando, we got stuck. We got stuck in a place with the nickname, “THE STRAND.” Because of all the people who have been stranded back there. Back then International drive had not passed too far south of Central Florida Parkway yet and the power line trails and side trails went down to hwy 535 and out to Shingle Creek. It was a good place to deer hunt, and for me, catching snakes. To put 1987 into prospective, 535 was only 2 lanes, one each way. Epcot and the Magic Kingdom were the only Disney parks in the area. That afternoon we traveled down some dirt roads that ran behind Sea World, we made a water crossing and traveled down towards the affluent sand filter areas. (Large sand pits that filter treated water.) As I approached a stretch of sugar sand we started to lose momentum. There is a morbid sinking feeling when you know you are about to get stuck, and that is amplified 10 times when you are wheeling without a buddy. The side of the trail looked more solid so I pulled to the right and instantly sunk. I started the forward to reverse motion and tried to rock my way out, but I soon sunk to the axels. STUCK… We were a good three miles from 535 at the time. It was now 4 in the afternoon. I had been stuck in the past at a place called Stone hill off Hiawassee Rd (A local mud hole from back in the late 70s and early 80s.) Normally a few friends give you a push and you’re out. I had only my wife and our 2 year old son. She drove, I pushed… Nope. I jacked up the rear and put whatever I could find under the tires… Nope, moved 2 feet and stuck again. After attempting for 2 hours to get out on our own, we decided to walk out. It’s now 6PM, and starting to get dark. We are deep in Diamondback rattle snake territory and I have found some big ones here in the past, so walking out in the dark had its own issues. Way off in the distance we could see a light. We had no flashlight, no cell phones back then, no winch, no come-a-long, and no CB… In my defense I was young and in my early 20s. We started our trek, with our son in a stroller. By the time we hit 535 it was around 9 at night. We went to Brian’s Cove and called a friend. Back at home we tried calling a tow truck.. Ha HA HA… We knew some people with trucks so we called them and asked for some help. They came to pick us up and back out we went, now it is around 11PM. Still there and not broken into or stripped down. With 3 people pushing we were out with no issues. That day I learned a valuable lesson, NEVER WHEEL ALONE… BUT there is a liberating feeling while being on your own trail and having the ability to decide where you want to go and setting a pace for your self. While riding with clubs has its advantages, I often think how it would be if I passed a large snake, or stopped to photograph flowers or birds. Stopping in the middle of nowhere can be a peaceful experience. No sounds only nature is very relaxing. You can stop and pause to take it all in.
So if you feel the need to go explore on your own there are some real basic rules that must be followed.
1- Stay on the trail. You never know what is hiding in knee high brush.
2- If it looks like you might get stuck, turn around. If you have to cross water, get out and walk it first.
3- Let someone know where you are heading and when you will return.
4- Have recovery gear. (Winch, shovel, High-lift, and traction boards.)
5- Make sure everything is in working order.
6- Don’t go to deep into the woods.
7- Have water. For you and your Jeep.
9- Know where you are. GPS or Compass.
8- Have a first Aid kit.
9- Basic tool kit.
10- Buckle up.
Now it time for some practical advice. We often hit the trails or WMAs on our own but have run into other issues beyond getting stuck. The clutch went out in Tiger Bay national forest. We PUT IT IN FIRST AND USED THE STARTER, that puts some heavy strain on the starter and battery. We did make it home from Deland to Kissimmee with as few stops as we could. My wife stops for flowers to take photos that she uses to put scripture verses on so we often wheel on our own and just LEAVE THE JEEP RUNNING, just in case. Me I walk around and look for reptiles to document. We carry PLENTY OF WATER for us and the Jeep. Snack foods and a field guide. Be prepared. And lastly we keep a couple of hammocks just in case we were stranded for the night. Wheeling with friends is always fun, or do like us and just get a second Jeep.
A few weeks ago we took a ride through Citrus WMA. Like most people while searching YouTube for places to ride, Citrus came up. It did not disappoint. The trails were pretty easy but offered some places to stretch your camber. I did manage to bend my side bar on the passenger side back about an inch and a half. The trail dropped off the side of a tree root and I took a "slight" hit. Remember I'm just running 33s with no lift. No new parts till you break something... The place is made up of mostly North and South tails intersecting with East to west. There are campgrounds and even caves to explore. One of the cool things are the trails that cut into a hill so that there is a wall on each side. We had around 30 jeeps show up that day, even a Cherokee Trailhawk. The Cherokee guy. The dust was on the high side and Randy likes the top down, after all it is a Jeep. The trees were in bloom and new buds were all around. It looks like at one time was that there must have been a bit more freedom at some time, because some of the trail areas are now closed off with barb wire and metal poles to keep you on the trail. We only stayed for the day ride and would have loved to camp. But having two big dogs, puts some limits on where you go and how long you can stay. Our trail leader was Rich Hardaway and he took us for a cool ride with some diversity. Sand, Hills, Trees, and Mud... The mud smelled like sewer, it had not rained recently so the mud that was there had been sitting for a while. Most went around the mud holes. I drove through one and immediately regretted it. Talk about who farted? If your club is heading out that way, go, you will love it.
This week end we had to work on Saturday and missed out on all the Jeepin, with Judd Rides again stuff. It looks like they had a excellent time.
A lift is in the works, so expect that soon.
Cutting my fenders.
And if all goes well We might head out on the 28th to take some video and catch some snakes, and Randy wants flower pics.
Till next time Keep on Jeepin.
Matt N Randy
Jeep Enthusiast, Pastor, Photographer, Artist, A husband and wife team that loves going out and seeing God's Creations.