Monday, February 02, 2009

Vegas and back for a 99 TJ Wrangler

I have been looking for a wheeln rig ever since I sold my 98 TJ last year.
I bought another 98 TJ Dec 30th 2008, but it was a 4 cyl. It was fairly cheap and I was going to build it up to a trail rig as it was bone stock. Anyway I search Craigslist on a regular basis and ran across a 99 TJ in Las Vegas with all kinds of mods: - 37" tires, Beadlocks, Tera Flex 6" lift, Teraflex 2wd low kit, 4:56 gears, and Detroit locker out back with lock rite up front. Did I mention I live in Oregon! I sold my newly purchased 98 jeep and flew out to Vegas. I saw it, liked it, but how to get it home 1200 miles away? I had the bright idea of driving it back. It only had a bikini top and it was winter but, despite it all I decided to just do it. :) I mean, I am tough and I had a jacket! I started out around 5:00 pm Sat Jan 31st 2009 north of the strip in sin city. Since it had the 7" lift I got some advice on the phone from my bud and wheeln buddy, Shane Carter, to ratchet strap it down for stabillity. This helped somewhat but, it still swayed the entire time I was able to drive it. My plan was to take Interstate 15 south to 58 west. This would put me on 99 N. to I5. I actually left Vegas around 6:00 pm on I15 South. I got a little turned around but, I made it to Barstow California around 10:30 because I was fairly scared of the constant control issues keeping it on the road, "yes I am totally nuts for trying this". I got gas at the crossroads gas station and headed out on 58 west. All four ratches straps had broke at this point and it was damn near impossible to control. I stopped at a Pilots half way across 58 west and bought a heavy duty trucker ratchet strap for the front. I made it to Kingsburg Cali on 99 N. and stopped due to fog, tiredness, and lets face it pure fear of being in the damn thing. OH, if you are ever near this area don't even think of staying at the Tavcam Inn. Anyway, I crashed for a few hours till day break now Feb 1st, and headed north. I started hearing a banging sound and a slight tug now and then toward the right. With all the side to side motion from the lift, tires and lockers I really didn't notice at first. I realized something was up so I turned down the stereo and slowed down as the wind was blowing in the cab, -->"not a full soft top".
I stopped off the highway somewhere in Modesto. The right front top shock mount was completely busted and the shock itself was banging up against the tire. The cheap tools I bought in Vegas were no good as the ratchet was busted. I decided to tie it off and continue down the road. Around 3:00 10 miles north of Redding Cali I lost all steering capabilities just past a two lane bridge.  The panhard bar lower bolt came out somewhere after the bridge.  Luckily I was heading up hill and was in the right lane on a left hand bank turn. Had it been down hill I would probably not be alive to tell anyone about it. After several hours I was able to obtain a tow truck through several phone calls with my insurance company and roadside assistance. The guy who came and bailed me out was the coolest dude on the planet. Gary who owns Northern Automotive in Redding towed me back to his shop and at 7:00 or so at night and we started working on the jeep. We got the track bar back in with a secure bolt and bolted up my shock with a big washer. I took a few minutes to admire his self built tubed race car and awesome shop. Anyway I was back in business, but with no top, at night, 4000 foot elevation in the pass I decided to crash for the night southbound at a motel 6. The next morning Feb 2nd I started out around 7:15 am. I made it all the way to Roseburg Oregon and lost the CV joint in the rear drive-line around noon. I tried to drive it with front wheel drive but since there weren't any hubs to unlock and the front was locked up I couldn't keep it steady. This was as far as I could get. I called a buddy of mine Jason Woods who drove all the way from East Portland and picked me up with his 2006 Chevy 3/4 ton and trailer. I made it home and will never try a stunt like that again. I do have a wheeln rig now and will be busy working on it after the dust settles from this fiasco!

Pictures of the rig



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