New Shoes!

While I loved my 31x10.50x15 Hankook Dynapro M/Ts, I decided with recent upgrades I would go ahead and order in a new set of tires. I debated for a long time whether or not I wanted to go 35s, and ultimately ended up deciding not to. I don't want my Jeep to be a purpose built rock crawler, I want it to be a "one-in-all" kind of machine. I want to be able to drive it to and from the trail heads, rather than throw it on a trailer. I was afraid with 35s I would lose a lot of the "drive-ability" of the Jeep and wouldn't want to take it as far.

Another question I had, was whether or not I wanted to run the same tires or try something new. I almost ordered a set of Nitto's, but again decided to run what I was happy with. I really love the Dynapro's, and think they are one of the most underrated tires in the off-road world. 

So enough of all that, let's get on to the good stuff... ordered a set of 33x12.50x15 Hankook Dynapro M/Ts online and they were at my local Discount Tire just a few days later.

Out with the old...

Out with the old...

Checking for any clearance issues... thankfully there are none!

Checking for any clearance issues... thankfully there are none!

All in all, I'm extremely pleased with these tires. Can't wait to get out on the trail and test them out!

Until next time....

A Couple Tuttle Runs

These past two weekends have been jam packed with fun. Saturday, May 20th was forecasted as a pretty crappy, rainy day. That didn't stop us from going out and having a good time. The trails were super wet and soggy, and we slid everywhere, but we still had a good time.

Sadly, my phone had to be restored so I lost quite a few of the pictures I took that day, but here's some that I was able to save.

All flexed out with Trenton and his awesome YJ.

All flexed out with Trenton and his awesome YJ.

Leading the pack through Squeeze Chute.

Leading the pack through Squeeze Chute.

Sadly, during the last half of the day, I got a call on the CB that Trenton's electric fan wasn't working and his Jeep was running a little on the warm side. At the same time, I tried going up a ledge that proved to be too much in wet conditions.

I should have bypassed it, but at the time, I did try driving up and slid to my left side. My rear driver's tire ended up against a rock and the next thing I knew I could hear air leaving the tire. I ripped the valve stem in half. Huge shoutout to Discount Tire in Papillion, NE for fixing it up the next day when I got home!

We ended up going again on May 27th for Memorial Day weekend. This trip ended up the same way as the weekend before, weather-wise. Super soggy conditions, and wet and muddy trails.

On the way down I bought a digital camera to replace my iPhone for picture taking. This proved to be a worthy investment as I got some pretty cool pictures and will for sure take more in the future!

Starting the day on some mild trails.

Starting the day on some mild trails.

Jared making his way through squeeze chute.

Jared making his way through squeeze chute.

Wet conditions make squeeze chute interesting.

Wet conditions make squeeze chute interesting.

Lunch time!

Lunch time!

The ledges

The ledges

After lunch, we made our way back to the entrance of the park and near the rock garden. Somehow...someway.... I got talked into running the trail. I'm glad I did, because I had a blast! My winch got a great workout too.

The rock garden.

The rock garden.

Hey... there's a rock there!

Hey... there's a rock there!

Stuck selfie!

Stuck selfie!

I gotta give huge thanks to Mark, Eli, Jared, and Chris for helping spot me through and pulling cable...multiple times.

Overall both days could have been better weather-wise, but I had a blast either way. To top things off, this was the sunset we got to look at on the way home...

Until next time......

Not a Bad Way to Spend a Saturday...

Another awesome trip to Tuttle in the books. Weather was beautiful; not too hot, not too cold. I'll let the pictures tell the story...

You know it's going to be a great day when you see a sunrise like this...

You know it's going to be a great day when you see a sunrise like this...

Halfway to Tuttle at Walmart in Beatrice, NE.... weather so nice I had to strip the Jeep down a bit!

Halfway to Tuttle at Walmart in Beatrice, NE.... weather so nice I had to strip the Jeep down a bit!

In the mini rock garden, waiting for Don to make his exit. Had to have a little fun and take some poser pictures on a rock. These two pictures were taken at the same time... notice how a different POV can make a big difference? LOL

Also ended up on three wheels at one point. Kind of hard to see... and I wasn't about to get out of the Jeep to find out for myself, so this was the best picture we got.

Having a little fun while we wait...

We ended up playing on 'the ledges' for a bit, and some other little ledges. Eventually we ended up at the rock garden. Took 28 minutes to run it this time.... not bad for the Banana Jeep! It was also Mark's first time in the rock garden. He did great! By the time I got out and walked back over to the obstacle, he was already out.

Jared and I ended up going back into the park for about another hour after that, while everyone else went to air up and get some fuel. We had a ton of fun running some easier trails like Squeeze Chute and Witches Loop. We both gassed it a little too much through a small mud hole.... whoops!

Wheeling, new fenders... more wheeling....

I've been so busy the past few weekends, either working on the Jeep or wheeling it. Finished up the Metalcloak front arched fender install, just after getting back from the Tuttle creek "clean up" run. It was an AWESOME time camping with good friends, and we had a ton of fun wheeling too.

We were having such a good time on the trails, we all neglected to take pictures. This is something I'm trying to get better at; but when you're out there having fun, it's hard to remember to take pics/videos.

I did manager to get a poser shot!

Flexing on a rock at the twin ledges

Flexing on a rock at the twin ledges

Far from an 'epic' campsite, but I stayed warm and dry all weekend!

Far from an 'epic' campsite, but I stayed warm and dry all weekend!

I also got my Metalcloak front arched fenders dropped off by UPS last Friday. I quickly grabbed them and ran to a buddies house for some help installing them.

Getting some help taking the old fender off

Getting some help taking the old fender off

Had to back it out so we could pressure wash the engine bay... lots of mud. Who knows where that came from ;)

Had to back it out so we could pressure wash the engine bay... lots of mud. Who knows where that came from ;)

Overall, I'm super impressed with the quality of these fenders and ease of installation. They are pricey, but worth it. I still have to paint the vented access panel, but once that's done they'll be complete. I'll most likely order 4" flares for them as well, only because over half my tire is exposed and I want to stay somewhat legal.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post. Until next time....

SOLID Axle Covers

One thing I've been concerned about on recent offroad trips, is my axle covers; specifically my Dana 30 (front) axle cover. So I decided to invest in some SOLID axle covers, and while I was at it I put LubeLocker gaskets in. There are many mixed reviews on the LubeLocker, but I have heard a lot more good things than bad. I decided I would give it a shot.. worst case scenario, I take it off and have to go back to good ol' RTV.

The process is fairly simple. Pop the old diff cover off, inspect gears, put new cover on. The one thing I will say, is the SOLID axle cover fluid plug calls for a "H14" hex bit.. I used a 5/16th allen key bit that was made for a 3/8" ratchet. I torqued all the outer bolts to 15ft-lbs in the order LubeLocker tells you, and again to 30ft-lbs. The fluid plug I torqued to 30ft-lbs as well.

I had no problems with clearance on my TJ, however the track bar does come very close. That's something you may want to check if you plan on adding these to your Jeep.

Overall, these covers are great for the price and will put my mind to ease on the trail.

A Snowy Day at Tuttle Creek

Sadly, the March 11th Spring Clean-Up run at Tuttle Creek ORV park in Randolph, KS was postponed to April 8th because of inclement weather. I had planned on camping at Fancy Creek campground for a weekend of work and fun, but after hearing the weather reports, I decided it was best to stay home and have a relaxing weekend with the dogs.

That was until the next morning, when I woke up to no snow in Omaha. The weather seemed really good down until just north of Manhattan, and made a spur of the moment decision to take a ride down. A couple friends were staying in a cabin in Manhattan, and I figured if the weather was too bad to wheel, I would hangout with them.

So I packed up the Jeep, said goodbye to my dogs, and hit the road.

The ride down was pretty uneventful. I did manage to find a historic landmark, one I've never been to (well, to be honest, there are a lot I haven't been to... but I'm narrowing down the list!)

I ended up getting to the Kansas border without seeing a single snowflake. All of a sudden, about 20 miles north of Randolph it started snowing like crazy. 

Thankfully the Banana Jeep got me safe and sound to Randolph, where I met up with a few other people who had gone down to camp the weekend. They were heading out on the trails, but I elected to proceed down to Manhattan to meet up with some other friends.

After meeting up and cooking a nice lunch with my other friends, we took a ride up to the park after the snow stopped. That is where the real fun started...

As I watched the Jeeps crawl over the rocks and make their way out of the rock garden, I heard there was a dead Jeep in the middle of the trail. Someone left their lunch box plugged in and killed their Jeep... lol. No fear... Banana Jeep to the rescue!

After jumping the YJ, there was only one way off the trail. To proceed forward. I have never done the rock garden at Tuttle, and being on 31s with open diffs, I hadn't given much thought to attempting it before. I figured, what the heck... I have new sliders and new skid plates, and I was itching to test them out. I had also just put a ton of spare axle shafts in the Jeep, so forward I went.

And boy oh boy, am I glad I did. I had a ton of fun crawling over rocks, pushing some out of the way, and even got hung up on a few.

Check out some pics from the day...

Jeep Parts!

After denting my TJ's oil pan and scratching up the transmission while playing in the rock garden at SideRoad Jeep Supply, I decided it would be wise to invest in a nice, heavy duty engine skid plate. The best option for the 2.4 i4 TJ is the SkidRow 4x4 skid plate. It went on fairly smooth, but since my center skid front lip was all bent out of shape, it took a little motivation to get it into place. Overall I'm extremely happy with the quality of the skid plate, and would buy it again; although I don't think I'll need to, this thing is BEEFY!

I also put a nice ding in the side of my tub after coming off the ledges at Tuttle Creek a few months back. I decided some rock sliders would be the next purchase, too. I ordered a set from Quadratec, and while I would have loved to buy some from PSC or MetalCloak, or another reputable company, these were in my price range and would do the job. The install was easy, after I got over drilling 16 holes in my frame. :)

Skidrow Engine Skid all bolted up.

Quadratec sliders to prevent future dings on the tub.

Another purchase I made, was the Smittybilt G.E.A.R. tailgate organizer. It's a relatively easy product to install, and is a great storage solution for stuff you need on the trails quickly. In the smaller bag, I store my ARB air compressor accessories, and in the big bag I keep my straps, tree saver, air hose, EZ deflator, etc. I added an American Outlaw tailgate stopper to keep the tailgate from slamming into me while parked on a hill. Two cheap, but great accessories to add to a TJ.

The last, and probably most important accessory I've added lately, is my ARB single compressor. I mounted it under the hood and while this isn't the most ideal spot, I didn't want it taking up any space inside. The TJ is already extremely small, and on long camping trips I didn't want to be limited to what I can bring more than I already am.

Air up times are quick, for what it is. I can air up from 15psi to 35psi (all four tires) in less than 10 minutes. Obviously a normal compressor will do it much faster, but there aren't normal compressors at every trail head. Airing up is as easy as opening the hood, flipping a switch, plugging in my air hose, and we are ready to go. Eventually I may add a small air tank, which will give me the ability to run small air tools if needed. Right now, I don't find that's necessary.

ARB air compressor mounted on the ABS tray in my TJ.