MY SISTER'S 1997 JEEP WRANGLER:
I Always wanted a Jeep. Like Matt said - it is a family thing. So I made a bargain with the devil when I took a 10K raise not to leave a job that was in Downtown Miami; I told myself, If I have to spend an hour driving - better be something I like to drive. I drove right to the Jeep dealership, took a test drive, and bought the Jeep Wrangler Sport 1997.
It is now 2016 and I still own the Jeep. I can’t even imagine driving anything else. Poor little brother, he always said he wanted my Jeep when I was done with it. Finally he got one this year, but it wasn’t mine!
One time I almost gave it to my Daughter, but came to my senses when I thought “teenager, Jeep, off roading, beaches, not in school.” A Jeep is way too cool. I bowed out blaming my husband (LOL) and she got a used Toyota!
PS. I never put it in 4wheel drive! I don’t know how.
2 Jacks and Jack stands.
Cut off Grinder.
Sockets and air tools or Ratchets.
2 cans of Red Bull.
and Wire Cutters.
When you drive across a bridge and your jeep feels like it is going over woopty doos on a bmx track, it might be time to change out your suspension. Some times it felt like a bobble head on wheels. One of the first things on my list was to replace the leaf springs. The ones that were on, were original and definitely flat. After a bit of research I decided to go with the Rough Country 2.5 inch lift kit. The kit came with 4 new shocks and all the mounting hardware needed. The original perches would still be used. I knew that my goal was to get 33 inch tires on the Jeep so the 2.5 inch lift would be perfect without major changes to other components. From what I could tell with a 2.5 liter engine a 33" tire was as big as you would want to go without losing major power. I ordered my leaf springs and shocks from Amazon prime with free delivery. That was the easy part .
I had taken the springs off my last Jeep with no issues, at that time the CJ7 was only 11 years old. The Wrangler is 21 years old and all the parts are original. So it's been a fight with every bolt. I had been putting PB Blaster on all the bolts associated with the leaf springs and u bolts for a couple of weeks, it did not help very much. After spending about four hours on one side, I made the decision to just grind the heads off of each one of the bolts and try to knock out the stud. The studs themselves had rusted to the sleeves and would not budge. After grinding off each side of the bolt it was easy to pry the perch apart and get the Leaf Spring out. The rest of the Springs went fairly easy. One of the bolts sheared off when trying to torque the front spring to specs. Rough Country quickly replaced all the bolts. The only thing that I would recommend is to make sure that you put the shock Bolt in the proper way (The bolt head towards the differential and the nut on the wheel side.) or you will not be able change the shocks in the future without removing the U bolt assembly on the leaf spring. The new Springs and new shocks improve the ride quite a bit , it is a stiff ride but I'm happy to have the lift now there's room for the tires.
After lifting the Jeep there was a slight vibration in the drive shaft due to the change of the pinion angle. My options were a slip yoke Eliminator or a 1 inch transfer case drop. One was very expensive the other one was very cheap , I went with the transfer case and now only have a slight vibration at around 35 miles per hour. I also replaced both U-joints on the drive shaft. For this I bought a new hydraulic press. Go with the 12 tone they have more room for the drive shaft and u-joints. I have always figured if I do the job myself it's like getting the tools for free.
Side note: After a half a year I have had no issues. I have put SpiderTrax wheel spacers on and now my rear tires are less than an inch front the flairs, The wheel looks like it is a bit towards the front of the wheel well. I contacked Rough Country and ask if I could have put the springs on backwards. Their replay was The plus is used for checking purposes so that is nothing to do with install. The large eye will need to go toward front with smaller eye toward rear. Good to go.
My first Jeep was a 1990 Grand Cherokee Laredo. I bought it second hand, but it only had 11,000 miles on it. It was a classic 2-door model. I bought it -- quite literally -- to celebrate the beginning of my new adventures with Nuri. We were still courting at the time, and I remember the shocked look on her face when I picked her up at the airport! We headed off for an adventure in the "Jeep Paradise" of the San Juan Mountains in western Colorado. This photo shows me and the Cherokee at 12,000 ft at Engineer Pass. In the years that followed, we pushed this Jeep over almost every mountain pass in Colorado. It has been through raging creeks and churned its way through impossible debris fields of stone. ... In time, we became a two Jeep family, but the 1990 classic XJ lived on and on. Nuri drove it to work with nearly a 100 miles a day. With 320,000 miles on it (and a second engine) it met its end, serving us even in its demise: it was purchased for $4,000 in the "Cash For Clunkers" program of the federal government. "Ariadne," as we called this car, had always managed to bring us out of the most labyrinthian off-road adventures.
And then there is "Radwulf" -- a 1998 ZJ Grand Cherokee that we still own. There comes a point in every Jeep owner's life that one realizes that your Jeep is not a vehicle, it is a member of the family. For me that insight came when Nuri noticed that, while we were on vacation, I was taking more pictures of the Jeep than of people. It was true. Brand loyalty is a phenomenon well attested to in car ownership, but as the slogan goes, "It's a Jeep thing." This is a vehicle that becomes a member of the family for very good reasons. It isn't just "transportation", it is a form of freedom that allows you access to a completely different world. 4x4 is different than 4x2. Jeeps go places other cars cannot. For those who love the outdoors, a Jeep is a passport to adventure. Furthermore, the love affair we have with our Jeeps comes from the inter-dependency we have with these machines: we take them into uncharted territory and rely upon them to get us safely back to civilization. They, in turn, are very reliant upon us for a level of care and maintenance that will allow them to do what we want them to do. It says something that there are more "after-market parts" for Jeeps than any other vehicle. We baby our Jeeps, and treat them to untold improvements to enhance their abilities to do their "thing". Radwulf is now a respectable 19 years old and has logged 260,000 miles. He has a second, and more powerful, engine. Lift kit. Bigger and more aggressive tires. Armor plating below. Rock sliders on the sides. Better air system. Bull bar and Warn 9000 winch. Off road lights. Canoe rack and Yakima Rocket Box. Yes, it is a Jeep thing. And we love it.
Stephen the Elder
Eldest of the Clan.
The JEEP runs strong in my family, my Farther Had it, My Brother Has it, I have it, .... and my Sister has it. A big thank you to my Eldest Brother for sharing several Jeep stories from our family history. Stephen the Elder as we call him is a Professor of Humanities and Philosophy at the University of Central Oklahoma,
My Dad's Jeep. In Odenton, MD, Dad bought a Jeep Wagoneer. Mom can tell you if it was new or used. It was a medium/dark blue, similar to this 1966 model. We used it extensively in our Boy Scout outings, as by then Dad was the Scoutmaster of Troop 713 in the Baltimore Area Council. Meetings were on Friday nights, and I remember our coursing around for about 2 hours, taking scouts home from our gatherings. For camping trips, this was the ideal vehicle, as few had 4x4 vehicles at the time. When Dad passed away, we sold the VW Beetle we also owned, and moved to Shrewsbury, MA, with the Jeep as our primary family vehicle. In Amherst by 1969, the Wagoneer was still the only car we had. It was the first car I ever drove (albeit I was a motorcyclist until I was 28). Shutesbury in 1972 ... Linwood had a International pickup truck with a plow mount, and the Wagoneer continued to be the major family car. Only in Tallahassee did the Jeep get replaced by a VW. Mom sold the Jeep to a couple of guys who were looking for a vehicle that could handle sand. Unfortunately, the Wagoneer was not what they needed: years later, I found our Jeep abandoned and half buried in the sand on the western side of the cut that runs through St. George's Island. There are no roads on that side, so they must have dropped it there by boat. I knew it was our Jeep ... the pin holes in the roof-liner where we had a St. Christopher's medal were still there. In all probability, our family Jeep was eventually swept into the bay on the north side of the island in one of the hurricanes that hit the island. Thus ended the long career of the first Jeep in our family. - Stephen the Elder
WHY A JEEP?
Growing up in Central Florida has some benefits other than Disney. The weathers nice with the occasional hurricane and the summer afternoon showers. A few houses down from where I grew up was a family that restored cars. A blue Super Bird with the huge fin in the back, a GTO Judge, and most importantly for me, a Jeep CJ5. The jeep came into the yard looking pretty rough. I think it was a light green, where the paint still showed. It was taken apart to the frame and the body was taken to an acid dip up near the T-Bowl. After a lot of sanding and bondo work the Jeep was eventually assembled and painted a dark green. The owner was a herpetologist and had the name Bush Master Painted on the hood. Yellow letters with the B and M made from snakes. The tires were Desert Dog Extras, an awesome tire that had tread that looked like Xs. You could always tell when he drove by because the tread left Xs as a trail. The jeep was a sweet and perfectly restored ride. I would say that from then on, I knew someday I would have a jeep of my own.
Fast Forward to 1991, No web yet just Auto trader. That was were you looked for cars, it was a magazine, you know the kind with pages that you turn made from paper. A 1981 CJ7 shows up in south Orlando for $800. Runs but needs some body work and TLC ... My wife and I ride up and take a look. 258 with working 4 wheel drive. The tub is held together with old real-estate signs and patches of aluminum. It came down from New Hampshire and the road salt had taken its toll. The frame is rusted and the springs are about to crush through. But it ran! We gave the guy the $800 and headed home. Finally a Jeep in my driveway. Black and rusty, but it was mine. I drove it that way for over a year, all the while bolting on new plates of aluminum and whatever I could find to keep my feet from going through the floor. Really, it was a joke that you don't want to hit the brakes on the passenger side or your foot would go through. We did a lot of trail rides out behind Sea World and it did well. Doors off, top down, I LOVED IT!
Fast Forward another year, I find a 1982 CJ7 in a junk yard with no motor or tranny, It looked like the front end had caught fire, but the tub and frame were rust free. After a bit of negotiation to save it from being crushed ( Nothing talks like $800 cash ) the junk yard towed it to my house and rolled it onto the driveway. We pushed it into the back yard and my sons and I stripped both jeeps down to the frames. Sanded and painted over some time one Jeep rose from two. A replacement windshield from a 1993, So I kind of had a 1981-82-83 CJ7. It was painted with spray cans like a zebra, a tiger, and finally like the Jurassic park explorers. It was named Jurassic Parts. The 258 did well and I did a spring over the axle mod to fit the 35" BFG mud terrains. I drove it like that for almost 4 years. Then the itch started. I had a friend who's CJ5 had 44 mudders and we had done some events together. So I swapped out the 258 for a V-8 from a Suburban and a new 3 speed. And made room for the 44s that were to come. They never did. There were problems with all the mods to fit the motor and tranny. Over powered and squirrely. Broken U- Joint were a common thing. I got good enough to pull over and replace them on the spot. The Jeep never ran as a daily driver. After some time I sold it, and the left over parts to a kid up the street. We moved up to Georgia for few years. Jeep was still in the blood. Some day Some day.
2016, 18 years after selling off the CJ7, the time was right. I always looked for Jeeps but the money and the deal never came together at the same time. Till this year. Enter my wife, hey look there is a Jeep up in Sanford for sale. We drove it home that day. And this is just the beginning of my Jeep story.
Matt N Randy
Jeep Enthusiast, Pastor, Photographer, Artist, A husband and wife team that loves going out and seeing God's Creations.