WOW! October is here already, leaves are changing, nights are getting frosty, and believe it or not, it’s less than 3 months till Christmas! Now is the time to take stock of where your Jeep sits, uncover hidden damage that might have occurred during summer wheeling, and make those all-important winter build decisions.
For us it’s been a heck of a wheeling season. We’ve been on nine 4WD trips, including 3 days of wheeling in Moab and some of Colorado’s most epic trails, including Holy Cross, Wheeler Lake, and Black Bear Pass. Lil’ Bruiser has performed admirably with no breakage and never getting majorly stuck, but all that abuse has taken its toll. This summer I had to replace a worn-out ignition switch and the u-joints in the rear drive shaft. It’s picked up a strange rattle in the bell-housing, and I can see from the front tire wear that the ball joints are getting rather worn.
On top of that, as I evaluate where my build level sits today and where I want to move it in the future, there are things I’d like to accomplish soon. I desperately need to replace the rear driveshaft with a Double Cardan shaft, along with the accompanying Slip Yoke Eliminator (SYE) kit. I want to replace the transfer case skid plat with a heavier duty, higher clearance Belly-Up pan. I would love to re-gear to 4:56s and add a selectable locker to the front axle. Of course I’d like to upgrade to 35’s, long-arms, d60 axles and a competition roll cage, but we’re talking realistically here, and building a Jeep for most people is truly one step at a time.
So what are my upcoming plans? They’re not solidified but here is what I do know. I’d like to get in at least one more wheeling trip before our trails are snowed in totally. My ball Joints are priority #1, as a shot ball joint causes excessive outside wear on the front tires and can strand you on the trail if broken. It’s been too long since I’ve cracked the diffs and checked for excessive wear and chunks of metal. Somehow I need to figure out what the noise in the bell housing is, but that’s going to be hard because to actually crack it open, the transmission and transfer case need to be pulled. If the budget allows I really want to get the rear driveshaft and SYE installed. As for the rest…it’ll probably have to wait till next year.
So I want to hear from you… What’s your plan to build/maintain your Jeep over the winter? How do you balance maintenance and upgrading capability?