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Month: February 2016

The Loveland Castle (Chateau Laroche)

The Loveland Castle (Chateau Laroche)

With less than a week left before we begin our 2016 wheeling season and a few late winter modifications that had yet to be tested, we knew it was time to get Dirty out of hibernation and blow the winter cobwebs out. As luck would have it, this weekend’s weather was again unseasonably warm so, rather than just go out for a long drive to nowhere, we set our sights on a place that had been on our “to-do” list for a long time.

Our destination would be the Loveland Castle, more formerly named the Chateau Laroche. The castle’s construction was lead (and largely done) by Harry D. Andrews. Andrews was a World War I vet and he chose the name in homage of the Chateau La Roche in southwest France (a castle turned military hospital where he served).

Many of the stones that make up the castle were excavated from the nearby Little Miami River. When the supply was used up, Andrews molded his own bricks from cement and milk cartons.

The construction began in 1929 and took over 50 years to complete. When Andrews passed in 1981, he willed the castle to his Boy Scout troop The Knights of Golden Trail (KOGT). The KOGT had always been a large part of the castle and remains the operating entity.

As you would expect, there are tales of the castle being haunted. However, they seem loosely founded and often sourced only from the Castle’s own volunteers.

We enjoyed our visit, yet were disappointed at the same time. While we understand we were not visiting in the ideal season, we still feel a much better job could’ve been done to pick up some of the trash and landscaping debris throughout the property. I actually had a really hard time taking pictures that didn’t have some sort of trash in it.

Another dissatisfying thing about the property is all of the “modern” things that now adorn it: Little knick-knack signs in the gardens, PVC conduit, signs, etc. I really wish more effort was given to keep the property looking and feeling old. I want to feel as though I’m stepping back in time…. I understand this can be tough to do with today’s need for security cameras, safety signs, and lighting. But even a little effort into hiding these features would go a long way.

Still, the price was fair for what it is. At $5 an adult, one can’t complain too much. We have been to many museums that offer much less and cost far more. All-in-all we did have a fun time. If you are passing through the area, I would recommend a stop but I wouldn’t plan a special trip for the destination.

JK/JKU Trailer Harness Install

JK/JKU Trailer Harness Install

When we purchased Lil Punkin’ she already had a receiver but she was lacking the accompanying harness. This has been fine because up until now, we mostly use the hitch as a rear recovery point and do not tow anything. This may change in the near future, so we thought it was time to add the harness in preparation.

We purchased a Rugged Ridge (Omix-ADA) item number 17275.01. I have seen these for sale between $25 and $40. We purchased ours through for $28.99 which included free shipping. I know, many of you are saying in your head, “Heck with that, I’ll make up my own!”

Before you give up on this article, hear me out…. I am a pretty savvy gal when it comes to wiring on vehicles and SSS is very capable as well. Still, we feel this is the better way to go. Some of the considerations are: Will your wiring be compatible with the JK’s CAN bus circuitry? Will the connections be water-tight? How well will the wires be protected and routed once done? Chances are that once you make provisions to accomplish all of the aforementioned, you will have as much money in materials for your DIY harness as we did in purchasing this one.
Assuming you are still with us, we hope the installation instructions below help you when it’s time to install your harness.

Begin by removing the two inside screws on the driver’s side taillight. (The left/outter two screws only hold the light together and do not hold it to the Jeep.)

Next, slide the taillight slightly to the right while pulling outward with the left side of the taillight. The taillight will free from the Jeep.

Depress the connector locking tab while pulling the two halves of the connector apart.

Once the connector is free you can set the taillight aside. This is a good opportunity to clean the painted area behind the taillight. As you can see, even with us having just washed Lil Punkin’ dirt and winter salt is still present and slowly sanding away the paint.

Now, feed the trailer connector and harness through the taillight and the small cut out in the foam plug at the bottom of the rear wheel-well cavity.

With the harness fed completely through, connect the black harness connector to the black connector that used to plug into the taillight. Note: The harness already had some dielectric grease preinstalled on the seals.

The trailer harness connector has a locating tab and push-pin already on it. Locate and secure this connector to the taillight as seen below.

Route the harness with the grey connector around the back of the taillight and connect the grey connector to the taillight connector.

Tuck the harness inside the tub/fender and secure the taillight to the Jeep. NOTE: We like to put a little anti-seize on the screw threads as they are prone to corrosion. Especially if you have removed the fender liner as we have.

Install the trailer connector into the retaining clip on the hitch. (Ours has a bit of trail rash )

The harness comes with push-pin style retaining clips. Route the harness along the frame and push the pins into the existing holes to secure it. Once you begin, the routing is fairly obvious. Note: We have seen many harnesses damaged on the trail from the intended routing. While we used two of the push pin locations (marked in green below), we did not use the one marked in red as it would cause the harness to go under the body mount and potentially be pinched by it. Instead, we routed that portion above the body mount.

Use an 11” zip-tie to secure the harness to the fuel fill tubes. If you do it as shown below, it will aid in keeping the foam fender/tub plug in place.

That’s it, you’re done! Be sure to check your trailer lights are working properly prior to pulling out on the road, but really this should be done every time you hook up a trailer… Hopefully this write-up will help you or a friend. Happy Jeeping and see you on the trail.


We already had the hitch portion on the Jeep, but what if you didn’t? Rugged Ridge (Omix-ADA) has a kit (Item number 11580.51) that includes, not only this harness, but the hitch and hardware. I have seen these listed for sale new as low as $75 including shipping and it’s hard to go wrong with it. While we are normally fans of the aftermarket hitches such as Curt, Draw-tite, and Hidden-hitch, their offerings for the JK wranglers are inferior to the factory piece. For those of who don’t know, Omix-ADA makes the factory hitch and harness.

2016 JK (Sahara) Grille Mod (for any year JK)

2016 JK (Sahara) Grille Mod (for any year JK)

Recently, I stumbled onto an odd JK grille on Craigslist (or what I thought was odd at the time). As it turns out, there were some changes to the Sahara JK grilles for ’16. My first impression was that I didn’t like it. The slots are slightly squared out and I wasn’t digging the two-tone.

The thing is, the more I looked at it, the more it started to grow on me. Also, it looked like lighter silver portions of the grille were inserts that could be removed and repainted…. I started to wonder what Lil Punkin’ would look like with a Billet Silver grille and Mango Tango inserts or what if I replaced Dirty’s grille and painted the inserts her accent blue?

Well, before you know it, I had shot an offer across the sellers bow to see if we could reach an agreement. Next thing you know, I was the owner of the grille and now I can post up some more details on it.  😎

Here it is in all its current glory. This is from a 2016 Billet Silver JK.

Upon a deeper inspection, I learned two things from the manufacturer’s mold stamp. One, it’s made in America and two, it’s actually just the JK Dragon Grille. You know, that hideous special edition Jeep offered in 2014. It seems I paid so little attention to that Jeep that I didn’t notice these very grille mods on it.

Here is a closer look at the inserts.

And from the rear…

So, are they in fact removable? Happily, yes. The slot inserts are a simple snap into place type and the headlight inserts are a combination of snap in and metal clamps to hold it tightly in place.

Here you can see the headlight insert metal clips. I was able to use a screwdriver to rotate the clip up and off of the tab. Then, I used a plastic pry tool to push the other plastic clips in and separate the insert from the grille. I would suggest having an extra pair of hands handy. It was fairly tough to lightly pry the insert up while releasing the clips and they wanted to snap back in place at the slightest relax.

Here is the grille with one headlight and one slot insert removed.

So, now what?…. I was pretty sure the inserts would be getting a coat of Mango Tango and then the grille will likely find a home on Lil Punkin’. If the whole thing went poorly, I really wasn’t out that much and the project would give me a little shop time in my otherwise cold and dormant season. I am the type to go in fairly committed, but if you were concerned, you could also use Plastidip. The inserts have a heavy coat of clear on them so I’m sure the dip could easily be removed.

…after a bit of thought and Alana (Mrs. SSS) and I going back-and-forth on what Jeep we wanted to gear this for… (If it were to go on Lil Punkin’ the inserts would be painted to match her Mango Tango body. If this were to be done for Dirty then the inserts would be painted in metallic blue to match her cage and other blue accents.)

The decision is… After much deliberation, we have decided to use this on Dirty. Our main sticking point was the fact that we are not a fan of different color grilles on Jeeps and the Billet Silver would detract too much Lil Punkin’s boldness that we have come to love. Also, we used to have blue grille inserts in Dirty that we liked, but had to be removed for interference with the PSC cooler.

With some direction finally in mind, we removed the remaining inserts in preparation for paint and learned a little in the process.

If you plan to do this mod, be mindful to not get ahead of yourself… The locations of the inserts are specific and not interchangeable. They are marked in two ways but one is misleading. The misleading and likely the first marking you will notice is the bar-code labels at the top of each insert. Just behind the part number on that label is a digit (1-7). While this digit does in fact indicate the individual inserts, they ARE NOT used in chronological order. So, if using this as identification, be sure to write down where each number should reside.

An alternate way to identify the insert location and what we will be using is the part description that is in the molding itself. While not in a consistent location, somewhere on the outside of each insert is a description of where the insert goes. NOTE: The locations are described as if you are looking at the grille from in front of the Jeep (not the actual Jeep side).

The labels for the slots are as follows from left to right when viewed as described above:
LT OUTTER VERTICAL (“Outter” is not a typo)
RT MID VERTICAL (Actual Location Indicated Below)

With all of this out of the way, I have some sanding and painting to do. Hopefully, Dirty will be sporting a new look soon…

Finally sanded the inserts and got the first coat of blue on….

Finally got the painting done… three coats of blue metallic and three coats of clear. Here are the inserts all done.

…and them installed into the grille…

Now, the money shots! Here it is installed back on the Jeep. I am pretty happy with it. I really like the grille slot inserts but I’m not totally sold on the eye-liner around the headlights. All-and-all, I am happy though.

Most of you know I have some awesome Honda lights on Dirty 🙄 😀 so here is a shot with them turned on. I know these are a love/hate and really I don’t care. We are on the love side of things and I enjoy all the banter they bring 😛

Anyway, that is it… all done. Now, go out and find yourself a 2016 Sahara JK grille and have some fun! 🙂 😆 🙂

RIPP Superchargers JK Cold Air Intake Install

RIPP Superchargers JK Cold Air Intake Install

Recently, we purchased a Ripp Superchargers Cold Air Intake Kit for our 2013 JKU. While installing it, we noticed that there were a few things missing or different. So, to help others that may be planning to install this same kit soon, we thought we would do a little install write-up.

The RIPP part number for the kit we purchased is 0114JK36CAI. We purchased it through Northridge 4×4 but it was not an item they had on the internet store. So, I am not sure what part number they may refer to.

Begin by removing the engine cover. Grab the front of the cover and pull up then toward the front of the Jeep. Set the cover aside. (Please excuse the dirt, our last run was a dusty one and we haven’t had a chance to clean the engine bay.)

Next, loosen the clamp that is at the outlet side of the filter box. A screwdriver will work, but I prefer to use an 8mm nut driver for this.

Release the filter box clamps as shown below.

Remove the crank case vent hose from the filter box (circled in green below). Note: The locations of the clamps are indicated in this image as well (red arrows).

Remove the filter box cover by lifting up and rotating clockwise a bit.

With the filter box cover out of the way, you can go to work on the intake duct. Begin by loosening the clamp at the throttle body.

Now remove the two 10mm head bolts that hold the duct to the upper radiator support.

Pull the radiator overflow tube from the clamps that are formed into the duct.

Pull the duct free from the throttle body and slowly lift to gain access to the air temperature sensor on the bottom of the duct (circled in green). Remove the sensor by rotating 90 degrees counter-clockwise and pulling out. Once the sensor is out of the duct, it can be removed.

The filter box is held in place by rubber grommets on the bottom. To remove the box, pull up and slightly toward the center of the engine.

Now that the factory filter and intake duct is out, we can begin the installation of the RIPP Cold Air Intake.

Install the 45 degree hose onto the 45 degree end of the air pipe and snug up retaining clamp. Then, feed a clamp onto the hose before installing the hose/pipe assembly into the throttle body. Once on, snug up the throttle body clamp. The goal is to make a soft 90 degree bend. Adjust the hose and duct for the best routing and alignment before tightening the two clamps.

Inset the air temperature sensor into the hole on the 45 degree duct. Be sure to insert the sensor far enough in the hole that you get past the retaining clips and to a smoother portion of the sensor body. Also, ensure the sensor is oriented correctly (the large tang off the sensor should point toward the air source as shown below).

Upon test fitting, I found that the RIPP filter housing came very close to a portion of the fan assembly. I decided to do a simple trim to help with this. The area I trimmed is marked in green below.

The RIPP instructions show the crank case vent tube being installed into the air pipe. In the kit I received, the vent tube inlet was designed to go into the hose that joins the pipe to the filter housing. I also noticed that this inlet was not exactly centered. I found it best if the inlet was biased toward the pipe and not the filter housing.

Install the filter housing and attach it to the air pipe using the straight piece of hose and two clamps. Only snug the clamps up for now.
NOTE: The clearance gained by the small trim done above.

Rotate the “S” shaped hose for the crank case vent 90 degrees counter-clock-wise so it points down. Fish it under the alternator wiring and attach to the RIPP CAI hose.

Install the filter housing front support bracket as shown below and tighten the clamp that secures it to the housing. NOTE: Now is a good time to look over the alignment and make adjustments. Once you are happy, tighten any loose clamps.

Secure the radiator vent hose to the top of the radiator support by running a zip-tie through the previously used air box bolt holes.

That’s it, you’re done! Hopefully this article helped.

You may have noticed that this was installed in conjunction with a PSC Motorsports reservoir. This was the main reason I switched to the CAI. The combination worked well together and opened up some much needed under-hood real estate. If I didn’t already have my compressor or switch box elsewhere, the spot in front of the air inlet sure does look mighty appealing.

How Internal Bypass Shocks Work….

How Internal Bypass Shocks Work….

Lots of rigs have them… and while I’m sure many are for looks or to brag about having them. Many don’t really know how they work. This video by Fox does a great job at describing what’s going on inside. If nothing else, we can all sound smarter at our next swap meet or Jeep event after watching it 😛 😎 😉