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Month: July 2016

parts on the way…

parts on the way…

We just ordered our first part(s)… Widening the stance of our KL Cherokee with some wheel spacers. The added advantage is replacing the lug bolts and having a more standard stud and lug nut. 😛

A New Project Begins!

A New Project Begins!

With the recent sale of our 2-dr JK “Lil-Punkin'” we were on the hunt for another project… HERE IT IS!

I know some are surprised at my decision to sell Lil Punkin’ in the first place, and then to replace her with a KL Cherokee only increased the shock. But, rest assured there is actually some logic to this shift…. While I enjoy the open air whenever the weather permits, most of the time we are either taking longer road excursions or she was taking me to/from work. Even when we did find dirt, it hardly warranted a rig built to the level of Punkin’ and she often lacked the storage space we really needed.

The final push we needed to change directions is when our oldest son Tommy gave us the news he would be stationed in Washington.

We decided we wanted more of a mild over-landing rig. While Dirty drives great, she is expensive to travel such long distances with. Our desire is for a rig that can handle our little excursions and mild trails, yet make longer trips more comfortable. When I have an itch for open air, well….. Dirty is just sitting in the shop, I’ll take her! 😀

So, this brings me to the build!

I don’t think we have a bunch planned right away but there will definitely be some changes. The first will likely be some wheel spacers to not only widen her stance but also convert from the lug bolts to studs and lug nuts. Another thing that bothers both Jay (SSS) and I are the warm headlight and fog light color in contrast to the LED running lights. We also will be adding a winch, making our own sliders and other armor as time permits.

We have a lead on a few companies working on suspension upgrades, so time will tell what happens there 😉

So, with all that said, how about some pictures?


The one that got away

The one that got away

This is both an introduction and a “good-bye” post…

Lil Punkin’ was originally named “Krate Jr.” and was built by a friend of ours that was swapping hobbies. Originally, we were not interested at all in the Jeep. It wasn’t that the build was bad, but it wasn’t in a direction that we were really happy with. But as the asking price lowered and lowered it got to the point where we became interested. Before we knew it we had another JK in the driveway.

As mentioned, we were not all that happy with the build as it stood, so our plan was to sell darn near everything that was currently on the Jeep and redo it to our liking. This process ended up revealing far more Gremlins than we were prepared for and ultimately soured our relationship both with the friend and Jeep.

Eventually, we got Lil Punkin’ squared away. While she drove great and looked even better, 2-door life wasn’t what we expected. Compound this and the fact that several components needed replaced for wear and the relationship (with the Jeep) was destined to fail.

When some news came from our son that he would be stationed out west, the final straw was broken and Lil Punkin’ was posted on Craigslist where she sold a week later.

While our time with the Jeep was short, we actually did a fair amount with her so her name comes up often. She was also very photogenic so she was used in several social media posts. So, this is why we thought it made sense to at least post up where her build was at the time of sale, even though she is long gone now…

2011 Mango Tango JK

K&N cold air intake;
Air Raid throttle body spacer;
Rear Eaton E-Locker;
4:88 gears;
Tom Wood’s drive shafts w/1310 joints;
RCV front axle shafts:
Front Riddler and rear Poison Spyder Bombshell diff covers

Suspension and Steering
2 ½” Synergy coils;
Bilstein 5100 shocks;
Synergy front tie rod and track bar bracket;
Drag link flip with stock right hand drag link;
Synergy steering stabilizer;
Rough Country FLCAs and RUCAs;
Rough Country rear track bar bracket;
Rubicon disconnect with EVO No Limits;

Armor, Bumpers, Recovery
Poison Spyder Brawler Lite front bumper;
Rancho Rock Gear rear bumper and tire carrier;
Rock Hard engine and transfer-case skid

Electrical Mods
Truck-Lite headlights;
KC HiLiTES LED fog lights;

Wheels &Tires
LT315/70R17 Wrangler DuraTracs;

Other Accessories
Rock Hard 4×4 front cage with Synergy Manufacturing weld in rear cage;
Trek Armor front and rear seat covers;
MCE carbon fender flares;
SpiderWebShade (premium mesh);

Rightline Gear Truck Storage Bag REVIEW

Rightline Gear Truck Storage Bag REVIEW

There is no denying that a short wheel-based two-door Jeep is handy when the trails get tight as they often do here in the Ohio River Valley. But, when the trips start to stray further from home, you realize a two-door is lacking storage space, especially if you’re more than a couple and can’t remove the rear seat.

We understand this all too well as the lack of storage has kept us from wheeling our two-door as of late. We just couldn’t pack all the tools and parts that we wanted and fit more than two people. So, when we saw a product made by Rightline Gearthat would not only amp up our storage but also add some organization without sacrificing the rear seat, we had to try it out.

We purchased the Rightline Gear Trunk Storage Bag through Scorpion Offroad Concepts while attending the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival for $130. This was a special event price that also came with a free t-shirt (score). I’m not sure what the bag would normally cost but MSRP is $145. While our purposes and testing was with a two-door, the bag is also made to work with a four-door JK.

We had a few concerns while reviewing the unit they had on display. The most important was the weight rating of the upper shelves, but once we were told they were made to hold 20 pounds this was quickly extinguished. The other was how the top would fold and work with the bag that protruded higher than where the top would normally sit. Since the jeep on display had a hardtop, this one would have to just play out and we would find out for ourselves.

The bag mostly comes ready to install with only the structural liners needing to be inserted prior to tethering to the Jeep.

While everything goes together and fits pretty intuitively, the included directions were more than sufficient should you get a bit confused. We also found them online at Rightline Gear’s website just in case the included paper copy gets lost or damaged.

Once installed, you can see that there is a large amount of storage available and the four cubbies offer a fair amount of organization.

The last step in the directions is to tighten all 4 of the top straps with the goal of making the top of the bag be a straight line across. We never did quite get the top of the bag to be perfectly straight. Our hesitation in doing so was the fact that we could see the threads showing a little bit of stress, even though the bag was still empty. (Both sides looked similar.)

None-the-less, we went ahead and began packing the bag with what we consider our essentials for the trail.

This is where we noticed that although the top shelves might be designed to hold up to 20 pounds, the supports are simply too insufficient to allow it without severely deforming the bag. Even with as little as 5 pounds in an upper shelf, we found lining up the lower Velcro closure difficult due to the deformation.

Still, we rearranged our contents so all of the light stuff was up top and this is how it looked…The upper left cubby held our toiletries, bug/sun spray, and a small fire extinguisher (~2.5 pounds); The upper right cubby held our air hose, spill kit, and small wind-up flashlight (<2 pounds); The lower left cubby held our jack stand, strap, tree saver, shackles, and a snatch block (Ironically, most of this is carried in the jeeps under storage cubby that now can’t be accessed); The lower right held our essential tools.

Once all loaded and closed up, we would be driving a bit over 130 miles of mixed interstate and state routes the following day for some trail riding.

Once we arrived at our destination we began to prep the Jeep for the trail and noticed that the right upper side of the bag was starting to pull and deform. This is the side that the liner and structural piece slides in from. Once that piece is in, there is nothing to tie the upper and lower fabric together. Since the top fabric is what’s holding the bag up and the lower is being pulled by the contents, this is bound to happen and seems like a design oversight. The left side of the bag is sewn together and therefore isn’t doing this.

We were happy to find that the top didn’t interfere as poorly as we had imagined. Sure, it sits on the bag and higher as a result, but not much higher than the rear seat back. I suppose it would also make upper shelf access a bit more difficult. For us, this point became mute as we decided to remove the top to enjoy the blue skies the day would be providing.

After a great day on the trail and another 130 miles of driving home, I can honestly report that the bag held up better than my initial thoughts. Still, it showed far more signs of wear and tear than it should for one trail day and ~260 miles of driving.

The upper structural liner (or lack thereof) on the right side did continue to distort and this is how it looked by the end of the day. Keep in mind the contents in the lower cubbies sit on the floor so the weight is not felt by the bag. This is from less than 12% of the “rated” upper shelf capability and only after one use.

The threads on the upper straps seemed to hold up but did show additional thread pulling. Again, this from a load nowhere near the load we were told the bag could handle.

With all of the above said the contents were still in place and well organized. While rain wasn’t an issue on our test day to test the waterproof claim, dust was. With absolutely no dust making its way into any of the cubbies, I feel fairly confident that the bag would hold up well against rain.

While unpacking we noticed that the upper shelf supports had deflected some. You can see in the image below that it was somewhat insignificant, but we really feel we shouldn’t have had any with the weight and type of packing we did.

I’m sure there is no surprise here, but the upper support was also permanently distorted.

Final Thoughts:

We really like the idea of this storage bag and for the most part it is fairly well executed by Rightline Gear. Unfortunately, there are some places of weakness though and they add up to be a rather large issue. The plastic support structures need to be much thicker than they currently are. If your need is for very light organization and storage for things like rain gear and/or jackets, this may be a good fit. But for our need of trail tools and gear, it isn’t.

We would also love to see some sort of supporting added to the lower two cubbies. As it is currently designed, the intention is for the Jeep floor to facilitate this. While this works, it makes access of the Jeep’s built in trunk storage nearly impossible. If the bag had its own bottom structure, it may be possible to pivot the bag up and still gain access to this storage area.

Some attention also needs to be given to the threading of the top of the bag. If the straps were sewn on the face and back of the bag, we feel they would be much more structurally sound. The way they are currently sewn, all of the stress is being out on just a few threads rather than the whole stitched area.

The bottom-line…this bag may be suitable for some needs but not ours.

Stillwell Stompers 2016 June Jamboree (Video Share)

Stillwell Stompers 2016 June Jamboree (Video Share)

Well, here it is…. I hope you enjoy. I’ll admit I’m not a huge fan of the music, but it was free and has no royalties so the video will not be restricted. It also worked well with the timing.

I will reiterate that it is VERY tough to spot, wheel, and capture video. Especially when you are the only one interested in doing the camera work…. Since I really prefer stills over video I worked some in. Tell me what you think of that. I have thick skin so be honest please.

Just in case you missed it… the picture share post is HERE

A leaf sprung JK?

A leaf sprung JK?

I came across this on the interwebs today and while I was trying to stay more focused on other things, was completely captivated. I must admit… I kinda want to do this (just because). What do you think?