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Road Trip to Centralia, PA
- Underground Mine Fires Plague a tiny town. The Story...

Ramp Travel Index
RTI / Ramp Travel Index  What it is and how to calculate it, with and without the ramp.

Building a Garage?
Need a Garage Plan?
Check out:


   Project CJ-7

An ongoing Budgeted Rebuild/Build up of a Rock Crawling Machine.


Ron's Useful Tips & Cheap Tricks


  Finding your Way...

To determine direction without a compass, set a straight 3-foot stick in the ground in an open place where it will cast a shadow. Place a stone at the tip of the shadow. Wait 15 minutes, then place a stone at the new position of the shadow's tip. A line drawn from the first stone to the second runs from west to east. The shortest line drawn from the base of the stick to the east-west line points north.



Wax on, Wax off

Got a stubborn bolt that's rusted or seized?  Try heating it up with a blow torch and apply candle wax to the treads.  For really stubborn bolts you may have to reheat it a few times and re-apply the candle wax to the threads but as wax is applied to the heated bolt threads the wax is sucked down into the rust just as flux pulls solder into a pipe joint.  As the wax cools it acts as a lubricant, helping to free up the bolt.  A recent conversation with a friend in the racing business had the pleasure of an old spark snapping off with the threads still lodged in the engine.  Heating the plug and block around the spark plug and applying candle wax a few times allowed what was left of the old plug to be extracted with an extraction tool.

Submitted by Robert Norris



Coming Unhinged

Hinge FixIs that old molded plastic tool box coming apart at the seams?  Over time the hinge on the molded plastic type storage cases become weak and crack from repeated use.   Once they come apart and all your sockets drop on the ground it's time to chuck the box and dump all the sockets into a tool box drawer, right?  Wrong.  With this easy fix your box might outlast the tools.  Just keep an eye out for an old rubber inter tube and cut a piece to cover the hinged area.  Then apply generous amounts of a high quality rubber cement on the rubber and the case halves with then closed (take the tools out).  Let it sit for 10 minutes (to allow the cement to get tacky), slap the patch on firmly, let it dry and your back in business.  This also works well for the plastic latches the hold the case closed.



Rear Tow Hook

If you need a rear tow point and have a Class Three Receiver; you may want to check out the Warn Heavy Duty Receiver Shackle.

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I've used mine to skid half ton logs and I was more worried about my logging chain breaking then the Warn Heavy Duty Receiver Shackle. It's definitely not the weakest link.



Chip & Scratch Protection:

If your truck is relatively new, you may want to try this protection product on some of your trucks more exposed areas.

PROTECTIVE BODY SHIELD (Approximate Cost: $15 per roll)

 Avoid chips, scratches, dings !
 For lower body panels, front spoilers, wheel well openings, etc.
 Heavy-duty vinyl protects vulnerable paint from road grit, stones, tar, and salt
 Choice of: clear (shown in picture with white backing) SKU# 14ZX5497X
 black SKU# 14ZX5498N

Corrosion-resistant 3.56 mil vinyl conforms easily to body contours, can be trimmed to fit.  Self-adhesive backing assures easy installation.  Resists scale and surface rust, corrosion.  Not affected by fuel spills.  Includes one 5-7/8" W x 12' L roll and instructions.
It's made by a company called TRIMBRITE and it's about twice as thick as normal sign vinyl.

You can order it from the J C Whitney catalog.



Cut the Grease

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If you're like most 4x4 owners who are never satisfied with their vehicles as is, then you probably don't mind getting a little greasy on the weekend making modifications to your rig.  But by the time it's Miller time you now have a pair of pants and a shirt that are sometimes so thick with grease and grim that they can stand on their own in the corner...until next weekend.  Weekend garage warriors usually have a set of cloths that are only worn on those specific occasions when we have to get greasy because, well, those black jeans that were once blue denim are now permanently black.  At least they were until I tried using a product on them that most of us have and use frequently.  GoJo hand cleaner.  I thought that if they cut through the grease on my hands, why not try it on the jeans?  After helping a good friend put a Black Diamond suspension lift on his Jeep I took the quite greasy jeans and rubbed GoJo into the greasy spots on the jeans (which was mostly everywhere). Then I took a small scoop of the GoJo and threw it into the washer along with some laundry soap.   Might I suggest using the machines at a Laundromat instead of the home washer to avoid contaminating future wash loads with residual grease.  If you do use your own wash machine don't let the wife see you put those jeans in "her" washer.  I used my own while the wife was out at the store.  I didn't put anything else in the washer except the shirt I wore which was just about as greasy.  I ran it on about a medium load setting with hot water.  Afterwards I was surprised to see most of the grease was gone.  The only thing left wash paint and tin roof coating from previous jobs.  Of course you won't have that spring fresh smell, more like a petroleum aroma which is cool with me.  I don't know if I'd recommend running the white wash afterwards.  If you used your own machine you might want to do another load of wash with some of your not so new items just to be sure you got the grease out of the washer.

Another great product that cuts the grease and under the vehicle road grim is Super Clean by Castrol. Its great for transforming your suspension from greasy grim to looking like new by using this stuff, washing it off and painting your suspension with a couple of cans of Black Rustoleum.



Removing Vinyl Decals

When I buy a vehicle - one of the first modifications I make is to remove any objectionable advertising from it. If I'm leasing it - I'll let it slide. My spring cleaning project was to remove the address & phone number of the company that converted my 1986 Samurai. I didn't mind their name on it - so I decided to leave it on.

Click here to see how I do it: Removing Unwanted Decals

Note - if there is a permanent ghost image left after removing the original Decal you may want to cover it up with a more suitable Decal. Keep in mind that the image is caused by the UV rays of the sun damaging the paint on the rest of your vehicle. The old Decal actually protected the paint under it and the difference in coloration is what causes the Ghost Image.



Off Road Storage

I like to go off-road with all my gear onboard. I think my truck rides, handles, and performs best out there with some well-balanced weight in the bed. You don't however want the load shifting or flying around. I don't trust cargo nets or tie downs. I normally have 3-35 Gallon and 2-10 Gallon "Action Packers" filling the bed of my S-10. When I close the tailgate they're locked in tighter than a drum. On my Samurai (after taking the rear seat out) 2-35 Gallon Action Packers fit tightly in the rear cargo area. With the front seats in the full back position, when I close the tailgate the load is locked in.

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Three 30 gallon and two 10 gallon Action Packers 
fill the bed of my 1998 Chevy S-10 Bed.

They're not all going to fit in the back of my 1986 
Samurai even with the back seat removed.

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Two 30 gallon Action Packers fill the back of the Samurai. One for Camping Equipment and the other for Recovery/Emergency Equipment. The system works very well for me. 

Note: Since all rigs are different, take measurements of yours to see what size/combo works best for you.



Windshield Treatment

It's that time of year when I take my truck in to have the windshield treated.   The treatment I have done is with a product called Aquapel.  Aquapel does what Rainx is supposed to do only better and it lasts for months.  In fact (in my case) I have it done once a year at the beginning of winter.

You can check it out here: http://www.aquapel.com

It really helps my old eyes see where I'm going in foul weather.

Aquapel Rain Repellent Glass Treatment
Aquapel® Glass Treatment was developed by PPG Industries, leaders in glass technology. When applied to a vehicle windshield, this innovative product improves vision in the rain, day and night.
Aquapel forms a chemical bond with glass, unlike other products that simply coat glass. As a result, Aquapel can last up to 6 times longer than other products. One application can last for months!


Step 1: Clean - Thoroughly clean and dry the glass.

Step 2: Apply - Hold the applicator between the thumb and fingers with the pad down and level over the windshield. Squeeze the wings together until a popping sound is heard and liquid is released onto the pad. Use immediately. Wipe the soft pad of the applicator over the glass up and down then side to side to ensure the glass is well covered. Avoid painted surfaces. Remove liquid from non-glass surfaces with dry paper towel. 

Step 3: Dry - Wipe the glass with a clean dry paper towel immediately after Aquapel has been applied to the entire windshield. Dispose of applicator and paper towel. Failure to wipe immediately may cause hazing that requires additional buffing with a clean dry paper towel.


  • One single-use applicator will treat one windshield or two side windows.
  • Do not let Aquapel air dry onto windshield.
  • When applying to large surface areas treat and dry one half at a time.
  • Application conditions - Do not use in temperatures colder than 50º F or hotter than 90º F or in excessively humid conditions.
  • Once applied, Aquapel® Glass Treatment can be reapplied as needed.
  • Cleaning glass with ordinary glass cleaners will not affect product durability.




I'm currently shopping for a GPS receiver so I thought I'd base this Months tip on GPS information that I've uncovered.

If you're shopping for a GPS unit you'll want to check out this site: http://joe.mehaffey.com/. It has information and reviews on a lot of the latest GPS receivers including side by side comparisons. One thing that it has (that I couldn't find anywhere else) is visual comparisons of the various screen displays.

If you already have a GPS receiver you'll want to check out this page on the same site: http://joe.mehaffey.com/y2kunits.htm. It lists GPS receivers that are Y2K and EOW compliant and more importantly non-compliant. If your receiver has been acting up since Aug 22, 1999 it may have an EOW problem. What's EOW? It's an acronym for the GPS (End-of-Week) Rollover Issue.

This is the best explanation of the GPS End-of-Week Rollover Issue I could find:

"GPS time is based on a "GPS week number" ranging from "0" to "1023". Week 1023 will end at midnight (UTC time) on August 21, 1999, at which time the week number will "roll over" or re-set to week 0 beginning on August 22, 1999. If a receiver has not been prepared to handle this week rollover event, the receiver may calculate inaccurate position fixes, generate erroneous dates or have difficulty acquiring, satellite signals."

This page also has links to other pages that address the GPS (Y2K &EOW) issues.



Y2K and Off-Roading.

I doubt that any Y2K glitch is going to be directly responsible for keeping you off the trails in the Year 2000.

About the only problem I can think of is that your vehicle's computer may get confused about when it was last serviced and what service is scheduled to be done. It should run just fine though.

Off-Roading is an expensive sport (you've got pay for those big tires, lifts, winches, repairs, etc.) so you may be a little concerned about your cash flow in 2000. Since everyone's situation is different and there is no pat answer, I suggest that you check out this site: http://y2klinks.net/index.htm.

This is not an official site but it does have links to just about every Y2K site you can think of. It also has a mailing list that you can join and get your questions answered.



Cellular Phone Services
   Take that old cell phone offroad

Did you know that any cell phone whether connected to a service provider or not can call 911? All a non-serviced cell phone requires to be able to connect to 911 is that it is charged. If you have an old cell phones lying around that you are not using you might want to consider giving it to an elderly relative or neighbor to use in case of emergency.

Warning - if you're going to rely on a cell phone offroad (whether you're subscribed or not) be sure that the area in which you are going has cell phone service.



Transporting Gas:

"Be aware that metal containers (Cans, Lawn Mowers, Chain Saws) can build up a static electric charge while rubbing against other items in the bed of a pick-up truck - this includes the bed liner itself. The bed liner can insulate the electricity and keep it from discharging as it normally would. Always set the container on the ground before removing it's cap. Don't allow even the smallest spark to jump from container to cap to ground through you. Remember - it's the gas vapors that are dangerous."  http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/hid2.html



Protecting your Paint

Ok, so you've done a little fourwheeling down some narrow paths.  Your once spotless paint job is showing those numerous underbrush light scratches down the sides of your rig.   You've tried buffing them out with a good wax and a lot of sweat or maybe you've invested in a power buffer and worked on the surface scratches with the wheel.  But now your finding that you just don't have the time to keep up with applying the wax all the time and you've pretty much resigned to the idea that if your going to offroad, your going to have scratches, period.   Well, that's what I thought.  Although I washed the truck when it needed it I found the the power washes would blast off my wax and I just didn't have time to keep applying wax to the paint to hide the scratches.   Then I thought that a product like Armor All would be nice to because it could be wiped on easily and it hides the scratches.  Originally I was looking for something to replace Armor All for my large tires. Keeping my tire shiny can get expensive mainly because it lasts about two minutes and it's gone.  Then it dawned on me.  I'm looking for something that shines and holds up like a "wax".  A wax... Floor Wax!  I read the label and it's good for vinyl, rubber, linoleum and other stuff.  Rubber, great.  I put it on my Goodyears and it lasts 5 times longer than Armor All.  In fact I use my old Armor All spray bottle to apply it.  As I was putting it on the tires I rubbed a little on my paint scratches and they disappeared.   What the hell, the truck was just washed so using a terry cloth rag I coated the whole truck in about ten minutes.  No more scratches but will it hold up.  It held up for about two months before I thought I should put more on (even though the water still beaded).  It also helps to keep new scratches from getting down into the paint or clearcoat.  The only concerns are that the vehicle has to be very clean (no dirt at all.  clean and smooth)  Mainly because the floor wax sets up a layer of clear wax and you don't want dirt locked into the wax.  Secondly, don't get it on the Windows!  I got it on my cap windows six months ago and it's still there.   Third, apply it NOT in circular a motion but in a directional motion.  Like in the direction that the vehicle moves (like sanding with the grain of wood).  You don't see the streaks in the sun so much by doing so.   Another thought is that it may be more visible on darker colors.  I have a Silver paint job and I don't see any streaks from applying the floor wax with the cloth. A dark color like black or dark green my show the streaks from applying the wax.  But hey, try it in a small spot.  It may look better than the scratches. Test it first.   I like it.  You may not.   Last thought, I let it dry and then apply a second coat.  This not only helps to hide the streaks but adds more protection.   When I'm done I have wax on my hands so I use a paint thinner to get it off my skin. 


Got it Covered?

Ok, it's not exactly a "cheap" trick but using none the less.  Terry Blizzard, a Jeep owner who works for a large industrial painting company, passes on some tips for painting and protecting your axles. Sand blast your axles and coat them with Devoe's (formly Gliddens paint store) 235 urethane epoxy primmer.  Work excellent  on frames and is very tough.  Also you can use 379 urethane finish from Devoe.

If you want a harder  finish paint then you can get Polane T from Sherwin Williams. It is very expensive, about a 150 per gallon. the color will fade but the durability will last a long time and will hold up to a lot of wheeling.





Sundown Krawl

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