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Month: March 2017

Project Ehu Update (3/29/17)

Project Ehu Update (3/29/17)

After a series of weekly updates on our overland trailer project “Ehu”, we skipped one last Friday. This was largely because most of the week we were going backwards, if anything, in preparation for paint and there really wasn’t much to share. In fact, the only additions that were made were the safety chain, front jack mount, and some tabs for lights.

Having said this, we have received several messages and emails inquiring about where we stood and if an update was coming. So… here it is! 😛

As mentioned, most of the week was spent removing items that were installed for test fit purposes in preparation for paint. We also swapped on a set of old wheels and tires so we wouldn’t have to worry about overspray on the wheels Mrs. SSS worked so hard to clean.

Saturday, we rolled the trailer out of the shop and gave it a thorough wipe down and cleaning with mineral spirits.


After some dry time, I did some seam sealing along where the box meets the lower frame structure. I didn’t want to fully weld this in fear of warping everything from the heat. After that dried, it was ready for the first coat of primer.


There was a brief moment I thought about getting fancy with the paint, but reality set in that it will likely need touched up often so I came back to our normal semi-gloss black. This needed to be applied in a series of pretty light coats since the temps were fairly close to the low range of what Rustoleum recommends.



As time permitted I also got going on some of the smaller bolt on items like the taillight brackets and fenders (which you may notice have been cut to look a bit more “Jeepy”)  :mrgreen:


This is pretty much where things wrapped up for the weekend. Monday night Kegan and I went out to run taps through all the threaded holes to clear any paint in them, but we wanted to let the paint harden and set up more before moving on.

Then, last night (Tuesday) we set the floor in and sealed it. This is the first step in the reassembly that we hope will go fairly smooth and quick.


The picture of last night’s progress wasn’t taken until this morning. You may have also noticed the trailer side of the Lock-N-Roll hitch is now on along with the caps for the upper cross bars. (Sorry for the horrible picture, my phone refused to focus and I needed to get to work.)


So there it is….. not much of an update at all, but things should roll more quickly now and we will try to keep up to date. Thank you to all that are following!

Klondike is one step closer to hitting harder trails!

Klondike is one step closer to hitting harder trails!

A full review is on the way, but Klondike finally got her winch mounted and is one step closer to harder trails. This winch was originally on Lil-Punkin’ but was removed as part of the negotiations in the sale. It worked out since the Warn M8000 is one of the only winches that will work in the very limited space the KL offers.

The job isn’t quite done as there are still a few changes I will be making to improve things I do not like about the bumper, but more on that later…

Project EHU Update (3/17/17)

Project EHU Update (3/17/17)

I made a bunch of progress this week, the largest part being over the weekend while Mrs. SSS was away being wilderness first-aid trained and certified. Apparently, she wants to keep us around and alive in the backcountry. 😛

Saturday morning I started to figure out how I was going to mount the Maxtrax to the trailer. I had already put a bit of thought into this and put the spread of the horizontal cross bars inline with the hole spread of them. This allowed for a pretty simple bracket and gusset to do the job.


This worked out pretty well and easily. In fact, the toughest part was testing them. Since the Maxtrax mounting posts are only supplied with plastic insert type locking nuts, I didn’t want to install them fully until everything is done and painted. The bungee strap at the top of the tracks is there to hold them in place for this picture, but if anyone had seen me contorting to get everything lined up by myself like this they would’ve had a good laugh!


With this done, I shifted to mounting the doors for the main storage box. I started with the front doors. Moments after having the first one mounted, I realized that the way I had positioned the angle iron for the frame would force some rework on the latching bracket. This was an error on my part that cost me a couple hours to make brackets to correct the problem. Alternatively, I could’ve cut the frame support out and re-positioned it, but I thought that would take even longer.


I went ahead and made both side brackets at the same time, so the other side door went pretty smoothly.

The rear door installation went smoothly as well, but once on, I realized I didn’t like having the door drop open. I originally thought it would be nice to have this like a little table. After seeing it in real life open, I’m not sure it will be as useful for this as it will be at making loading and unloading difficult. So, I decided to order some gas struts and this door will be flipped over on final installation. I’m hoping the bolts are lined up for this. They appear to be when I measured, but it would be easy for them to be off a bit and make for a big pain.


Next, I decided to cap the tongue tube and drill the holes for the Lock-N-Roll hitch. Capping the tube really isn’t needed, but all of the tube is (or will be) sealed everywhere else and I didn’t want it filling up with crud from the trail.


Sunday morning I didn’t have much I was able to do without hitting up the hardware store. I let Kegan sleep in a bit while I mounted the front box that, up to this point, had just been sitting in place. I pulled out several mounting techniques for this depending on what I was mounting to. It sits on 1/4″ wall tube that is thick enough to hold threads, angle iron that isn’t, and 0.120″ wall tube that I can’t get to the inside of. My fix: 2 tapped holes, 2 through holes, and 2 rivnuts!


After visiting what seemed like every store that sells hardware in the county, I headed back to the shop to begin cutting the rest of the box skin. This job ended up consuming far more time than I thought, but the aluminum sheet is pretty expensive and I certainly don’t want to waste any. So measuring 39 times before cutting is warranted!

I got the bottom, front, and one of the rear sides out of one sheet. Before I got the other sheet ready, I went ahead and cut the L-track rails since its bolts are what will hold the top sheet in place.

It’s sad to say, but this was where things ended Sunday evening. Some things just take far longer than you expect…..


Not much progress was made this week. It was just too cold for me to want to be in the shop.

I did get out to install the spare tire mount that will hold the tire back against the front wall of the box. The tire will also have a ratchet strap over it to hold it down once done.

After a test fit, I was pleased to see the front toolbox opens perfectly with the spare in place.


The last thing I did this week was test the rubber molding that I hope will solve the narrow fender issue. So far it looks really promising. I will leave it on to see if it sags a bunch this week.

For now, the fender is just sitting in place for this pic. It will be getting modified a bit before being mounted.


That’s it for this week’s progress. Check back next week for more!


…by simply selecting “avoid highways” on my navigation

…by simply selecting “avoid highways” on my navigation

I just wanted to make a quick share on some pretty cool spots I found today in between my morning and afternoon appointments. How? Well, I simply selected “avoid highways” on my navigation! That’s it… well, almost it… I did divert onto a dirt road, but I could see it was actually a cut through to where I was headed. After I turned onto it, it became the suggested path.

All it cost me was 15 minutes extra drive time! #Winning!

I hope you enjoy!

Getting Dirty ready for Spring!

Getting Dirty ready for Spring!

It’s been since mid November that we last made an update on Dirty. This is partly because we are nearing the end of her build (for now) but largely due to the fact we just don’t do much with her over the winter. Ohio roads normally see lots of salt and we just prefer to leave her inside when there isn’t a good reason to have her out. While we went into winter with some thoughts of doing some snow wheeling, mother nature had other plans and provided a pretty mild winter.

Fast forward… We now find ourselves looking at the beginnings of spring and need to get her ready for what is shaping up to be a very busy ’17.

When we last left off we were trying to decide if we should get bead-lock wheels to go along with our recent purchase of Pitbull Rockers. Sadly, this decision was made for us. Due to some issues with Pitbull crediting our initial payment and then wanting repayment via other means, we decided to cancel our order on the new rubber. This leaves us running another season on what we have. I think this will work out for the better in the long run anyway. We are pretty sure that we will be swapping in some 1-tons late this year or early next which means a new bolt pattern anyway.

So, with us running the rubber we have, we really only needed to handle a few odds-and-ends to get Dirty ready… All of which I knocked out this weekend.

The cross member and exhaust loop skid had been tweaked and was rattling on the exhaust. In fear of never getting them back on, I opted to cut/grind the skid plate in place to gain clearance. Then, I added a gusset to replace some strength that was lost with this removal of material. (Sorry, no pics.)

One of our last times on the trail knocked the front differential and broke the RTV seal on the cover again. It wasn’t anything serious, just a drop or two every couple of weeks. Still, oil out means water in and I knew it needed resolved before we hit the trail again. Instead of going the RTV route, we opted to use a Lubelocker reusable gasket. I must say… I have long thought these things are a waste of money, but now don’t see myself ever reinstalling a cover without one. In fact, had we not had one I wouldn’t even have been able to make this repair this weekend. It was near freezing outside and in the low 40s in the shop. This is too low for RTV to set-up correctly.

There it is… Not much after nearly a 5-month hiatus, but it’s all we have.


…next up, convert the 4-pin trailer wiring to 7-pin to work with Ehu.


Project Ehu update (3/10/17)

Project Ehu update (3/10/17)

Just like that another week has passed and it’s time for another update on the overlanding trailer.

I’ll begin with the upper load bars; we had been back and forth on whether we were going to put them on or not. The aluminum bars that the tent will mount with would’ve spanned the primary (outer) rails but I didn’t like the clamps being this far to the outside of the trailer and going this direction. The final push to us adding them was we were still a couple inches short of the minimum height needed for our tent’s annex. While we thought it would be okay, these bars will bring the tent to the proper height.

Even once we decided to add them they changed shape and length a few times. At one point I had them extending out off the edges more. The thought was this would be a good spot to mount the LED area lighting. The problem with this was the tent annex again. It will fasten pretty close to the side and there would be interference. So, I chopped them down to only be the width of the trailer.


The thing that took the bulk of our time this week was finally getting the tires on. Bolting everything up was easy enough, but the Timbren hubs needed to be aligned. I’m not going to lie… this was a bit of a PITA! It’s funny that the directions Timbren provide goes on-and-on about making sure the arms are mounted parallel and square to the hitch, but then there is so much play in the bolt holes for the spindle assembly almost all of this effort becomes a total waste of time. In spite of the fact our arms were perfectly parallel, The tires had pretty severe toe misalignment that needed to be adjusted.

The only way to do this is to loosen the mounting bolts (that have nuts intended for one use), make an adjustment, tighten and hope the adjustment held. Thankfully Alana was there to help me so this process wasn’t too bad with her measuring while I adjusted. But, if you are solo…. Good Luck!


One thing that worked out perfectly was the Bora adapter/spacer thickness. The Easy-grease hub cap sits exactly where I wanted it. Easy access, but fairly protected as well!


One place I got a little ahead of myself on was the fenders that arrived this week. As you can see below, they cover the tire, but not when mounted against the trailer.

I have some 3″ flexible rubber pinch molding on the way to hopefully fix this. The advantage to it is that it will move the fender back and out of harm’s way while the flexible trim covers the outer portion of the tires. My concern is if the rubber will sag and end up not providing enough coverage. Especially since I really need an additional 3.5-4″ in width.

I am also kicking around just making my own fenders and selling these. I’ll wait to see how I think the molding will work before making this call.


Finally, just last night I wrapped up the taillight brackets. They will do a pretty good job of protecting the taillights and wiring (which will run into the box). While I am pretty happy with them, if I end up making my own fenders, I may move a different type of taillight onto them. This would open up the rear corner posts for a swing away type carrier (future mod).


So, there it is…where we are after this week’s progress. We finally have her rolling and check out that clearance!


Alana has wilderness first aid training/certification this weekend so I hope to do a bunch of work on this over the weekend even though it’s going to be cold. My goal is to be able to make use of the next warm spell we have and get the frame painted. So keep an eye out for updates and tell us what you think by commenting.

JT pushed into late 2019

JT pushed into late 2019

It looks like the new Jeep Wrangler pickup (JT) has been pushed into late 2019. This is a significant delay from the original ’18 goal.

While this news was mostly skirted around in a recent article from  The Detroit NewsIt read as though the main reasoning is either budgetary with recent spending outlay on the Toledo Assembly Complex upgrades or simply timing with all their focus on the much anticipated JL Wrangler release.

Don’t let this little one-liner scare you away from the article though… It’s a good read and there is lots of insight to a possible name beyond the “JT” body designation.

In truth, this comes at a bit of a relief to us… We are pretty sure one of these will end up in our driveway as soon as they are available and 2019 is much better timing for us.


San Antonio, Texas — Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plans to begin producing a Jeep Wrangler-based pickup truck in late 2019, the head of the Jeep brand said.

That truck does not have a name yet, but Jeep head Mike Manley and Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne are considering some historical Jeep names.


The last pickup sold by Jeep was the Comanche. It was produced from the 1985 through the 1992 model years, when the company discontinued it to focus on a Dodge Dakota pickup (the Dakota was discontinued in 2011). Before that, the Willys Jeep Truck was built from 1947 through 1965, followed by the Jeep Gladiator full-size pickup from 1962 to 1971 and the J-Series from 1971 to 1988.


All of the Jeep trucks were built in Toledo, which is where the Wrangler-based pickup will be built.

Jeep for years has teased the idea of a pickup. It has shown pickup concepts before, such as the Jeep J-12 produced for the annual Moab Easter Jeep Safari off-roading event in 2012, and a Jeep Gladiator based on the Jeep Wrangler platform that was shown at the 2005 Detroit auto show.

Cox Automotive executive analyst Rebecca Lindland said automakers need to evaluate bringing back nameplates on a case-by-case basis. The Comanche name could be especially problematic.


“The issue they’re going to find with Comanche is, quite frankly, political correctness: Is it going to be seen as offensive,” she said. “The trick with bringing a nameplate back is understanding the current culture when you’re reintroducing this.”

Using Willys could also be difficult, as the name is seen “as the holy grail of Jeep,” said Lindland. She said Jeep might consider offering Willys as a trim line.

Many analysts had expected to see the Jeep Wrangler pickup begin production next year, which Jeep confirmed in January 2016 was coming. Analysts predict the likely midsize lifestyle-oriented pickup could sell about 40,000 to 45,000 annually.

LMC Automotive estimates a Wrangler pickup could have peak U.S. volume of up to 45,000 a year and likely will be priced higher than some competitors. Sales volume could be challenged by Ford Motor Co.’s midsize Ranger pickup that is expected to be reintroduced around the same time, the research firm said.


Manley said last week he expects the bulk of sales for the Wrangler pickup to be in North America and the Middle East. His comments came at an event in Texas to introduce the automotive press to the next-generation 2017 Jeep Compass.

Jeep will launch a new Wrangler SUV in the fourth quarter this year, Manley said. Fiat Chrysler is spending $700 million at its Toledo Assembly Complex to retool the north plant to produce the new Wrangler.

Manley said the Italian-American automaker is planning to maintain Wrangler production during the changeover to the next-generation SUV. The Wrangler is now produced in the Supplier Park part of the Toledo complex. Wrangler will shift to the north plant to give it more capacity, and Jeep will use the Supplier Park plant for the Wrangler truck, Manley said.

“The key thing for me is to make sure the new Wrangler is fully up and running,” Manley said of the timing for introducing a pickup.

Also in the works: Jeep plans to debut a new high-performance Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk at the New York International Auto Show in April. A facelift for the Cherokee is planned for next year.

Jeep production is being shifted at several facilities: Fiat Chrysler has stopped building the Jeep Cherokee in Toledo in order to move that SUV to Belvidere Assembly in Illinois. Production of the last-generation Compass and the discontinued Patriot ended in December in Belvidere. Manley said Cherokee production is expected to begin in the second quarter at Belvidere, where FCA is spending $350 million to retool.

In January, Fiat Chrysler said it would invest $1 billion to retool its Warren Truck Assembly Plant to build the all-new Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer and to retool in Toledo for the new Jeep pickup. The company said work for those projects was slated to be done by 2020 and would create more than 2,000 jobs.

Manley would not give a date on when work for the Wagoneers would start in Warren. He said it would be after the Ram 1500 pickup is shifted to the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, where Fiat Chrysler is spending $1.48 billion for retooling on a new Ram due out in first quarter 2018.

“That pushes Grand Wagoneer probably until late ’19, or early ’20, which from a timing perspective I’m very very comfortable with, given all that we’ve got to achieve in the next two to three years,” Manley said.

The Grand Wagoneer had been planned to debut in 2018, per Fiat Chrysler’s five-year plan released in 2014.

Manley said the Grand Wagoneer could be sold in certain global regions such as the Middle East, China, Latin America and some Asian markets. Analysts expect the luxury Grand Wagoneer will compete with SUVs from brands such as Range Rover.

“They have customers, they have owners, that play in that space and that have the kind of income” for more expensive SUVs, Lindland said.

Manley said he expects Jeep this year to exceed its 2016 global sales of 1.4 million vehicles. U.S. sales, which rose 6.1 percent to 926,376 in 2016 will have a harder time topping 2016 figures because of plant changeovers, completing the launch of the new 2017 Jeep Compass, because it has stopped production of the old Compass and Patriot and as it has reduced fleet and rental sales, Manley said.

Jeep U.S. sales fell 6.9 percent in January compared to the same period a year ago; in February, they were down 14.7 percent for a drop of 11.1 percent through the first two months of 2017.

“All of those things combined will mean we’ll be down to flat this year in the U.S.,” he said.

Hiking Cantwell Cliffs (Hocking Hills, Ohio)

Hiking Cantwell Cliffs (Hocking Hills, Ohio)

This past weekend had a split personality. Saturday was cold and started with snow while Sunday was in the 60s and warm. This worked out for us fairly well since we had our CPR re-certification to do on Saturday and were stuck inside for much of the day. Sunday would so nice that we wanted to make the most of the weather by getting outside.

Our destination would be the Cantwell Cliffs for a hike. While part of the Hocking Hills State Park, the Cantwell Cliffs reside to the far north and are fairly disconnected from the other hiking regions. Supposedly the result is a less busy trail system that is also touted as the most photogenic. At least on our visit, the trails were pretty darn busy and, while the area is absolutely beautiful in person, it’s tough to capture the scale and colors in a photo.


The trails themselves are fairly short and you can easily hike the entire network in a few hours. This said, they are also some of the most technical trails we have hiked in Ohio and (in our opinion) are not well suited for young children.

This point is made clear almost right out of the gate as you approach the steps at “Fat Woman’s Squeeze” (seen below). The steps are very narrow and have some loose stone and leaf debris that should be taken with caution.


As I already mentioned, vertical scale can be tough to capture in pictures, so I had Alana and Kegan stop about 1/4 of the way through this entrance for a quick picture as I stood at the top.


Those willing to make the “squeeze” and take on the steps are treated to an amazing rock cliff/cove and small waterfall at the base. In our case, the previous cold snap left some ice and icicles that had yet to thaw in the day’s warmth adding additional visual interest. This cliff itself stands about 35-40 feet above where I am standing and closer to 50′ total top to bottom.


We decided to start out on the Gorge Trail (yellow) first. This loop runs along a small stream crossing it several times. The hiking itself is fairly easy with exception of balancing on logs or jumping over the water crossings. This would be no biggie at all if you had a set of waterproof boots or didn’t care to get your feet muddy.


There really isn’t that much that differentiates this trail from others in southern Ohio beyond hiking so close to a stream. This may be why I took so much interest in the old cedar log covered in thick moss on the return leg. There was just something that seemed special about the orange wood and vibrant green moss in an otherwise monochrome brown landscape.


Rather than returning all the way back to the entrance before doing the Cliff Trail (Red), we decided to cross over a bit early. This path was a pretty steep climb, but took us along another cliff and waterfall view that made it well worth it.


This was still only about half way up the cliff/gorge as the small bridge (made more visible in the picture below) is the upper side of the trail we would be on during the return to the trailhead.


One problem with this bit of a shortcut we took is a smaller loop that had a third cliff face and waterfall had been bypassed. So, we opted to take on “the squeeze” again to visit this loop. This time, instead of making the full decent, we took an even tighter squeeze that shoots off to the right from where the picture below was taken.


Once we wiggled through the rocks, I took this picture before setting of on this final loop.


This little “adder” hike would turn out to be our favorite of the area and visit. If you only have time or desire for a quick hike, take this short cliff trail loop. It is sure to please and is full of interesting spots.


This little loop will take you right along the cliff and right under a trickling waterfall. Be prepared to make some elevation changes though!


Soon we decided it was time to make the hike up and out. As Alana and Kegan started the trek, I waited under a ledge for a final photo.


As I mentioned, the trails here are not very long. Even with us doing both loops and then adding another bonus variation of a third loop, we had less than 3 miles on us. I think this is about right though given the terrain. While we could’ve hiked a lot further, we did feel as though we had gone farther than we actually had.

While I have included an image of the trail map below, I would recommend visiting the park website HERE prior to a visit. Statuses, conditions, and rules are always changing and we are not able to keep these up to date.



As we left, we decided to take the path less traveled along some very remote and beautiful roads. This path would ultimately take us through the Clear Creek Metro Park. Beyond being Ohio’s largest state nature preserve, it also offers other activities like canoeing/kayaking, fishing, and hiking. We will be sure to revisit this park in the future, but for now we only stopped at a few Civil War era log cabins. The first wasn’t much to look at but the patina on the second had my attention for some time.


Although the cabins were locked, the windows were open and there was enough light coming into the cabin for me to sneak a few pictures of the inside with my camera held tight to the glass. 🙂


As Alana and Kegan waited for me to have my moment, they plotted our path to some dinner and home. I knew it was time to go…


I hope you enjoyed this post. If so, please leave a comment.

This week’s Project Ehu update (3/3/17)

This week’s Project Ehu update (3/3/17)

A fair amount of this week’s progress on the overland trailer wasn’t in things you can actually see. Instead, I put some effort into ordering several parts that would soon be holding us up and figured out some things that I wasn’t sure on. For example, I knew we needed tail lights and a way to hold the spare tire in place but hadn’t actually put much thought into how that would actually work. As you will soon see, I now have those things figured out (mostly).

Last weekend was spent focusing on other things and no trailer progress was made. Monday night we put it right side up and I mounted the spindles to the axle arms. I find it interesting that so much emphasis on ensuring the arms are parallel to one another is in the directions and then the spindle itself just bolts together with enough slop to undo all those efforts. Our plan is to check the toe again once we have the tires mounted and make adjustments as needed. I may end up welding a small spot between the arm and spindle plate to ensure it can’t rotate after.


Although I ordered a shackle tab from Ballistic Fabrication, I later decided that I wanted a hitch on the rear. This can not only be used as a recovery point, but offers more flexibility for things like a hitch mounted cooking station or even a small winch mount for swinging the trailer sideways on the trail.


Still waiting on the parts I ordered, I placed the front toolbox on the tongue again to check the mounting locations I added last week. I also needed clearances for the spare. This is also when I put some effort toward figuring out how I was going to keep the spare in place. I have planned since the beginning to use a strap over the top but I was still unclear on how I was going to keep it tight against the trailer face.


Another item I ordered from Ballistic Fab was some gussets that would be used with dual purpose. The obvious is to support the joint from the vertical to horizontal rack pieces. The second is the center hole will be used as a clearance light holder. (I know the LED in the picture is red… The amber LEDs hadn’t arrived and I was testing.)


Then, just about all of the parts showed up at once! Whenever we start a project like this “Brown Santa” becomes an everyday thing, but this was a bunch to get in one day and even the driver commented on it, wondering what we were up to. 😛

We received 2 sets of Maxtrax along with two sets of mounting pins, several L-Track tie-downs, a fuse/distribution box, switch/meter panel, seam sealer, and the flood lights that will go around the trailer. We also received a LubeLocker gasket but that is for Dirty. Yet to arrive is the L-Track itself and spare tire clamp/holder.


The following day we received the wheel spacers from Motorsport-Tech (A.K.A. BORA). They look great and fit perfectly. I have all the hub clearance I need and the grease cap will sit about 1/32″ proud of the wheel face which is exactly what I was looking for.  With these now in hand, we can get turn this thing into a roller and move it around the shop easier.

We also received the L-track pieces but didn’t take some pics.


…. and finally today we received the spare tire mount I mentioned earlier. It’s an aluminum extrusion piece that will hold the spare tight against the front wall of the trailer while still allowing some vertical play for different tread depths. We will be holding the spare down with a heavy ratchet strap (BAJA style 😉 ).


While all the parts have been arriving, I have been hit-and-miss with the taillight mounts. We are using some lights that we already had. They are LED and have a nice narrow style.

To protect them on the trailer, I split some 2×2 tube and I am mounting them inside it. The wires will be protected as they are routed into the trailer via a small angle piece I cut. They are still pretty rough and a bunch more fab work is needed to complete them, but hopefully you will get the idea.


This weekend is Mrs. SSS’s birthday weekend so the focus is on her and whatever she wants to do. This may mean shop time or a hike, only time will tell. Stay tuned… more to come!