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Water Pump

May 20th, 2013 No comments

Last week my water pump started leaking coolant through the weep hole.

After reading a bit on water pump replacement, the general consensus seemed to be that this was normal with the age of my TJ and that replacing it with a genuine MOPAR pump was best.

I called my two local dealerships to check prices on the pump.   The first dealer quoted me $186 and the second quoted me $220.   Those prices were just for the pump…

After a good laugh, I checked prices online and ordered the pump, thermostat and gaskets from http://moparonlineparts.com/ for $169.      I was a bit hesitant to order from their site without any good reviews to go off of, but I figured the savings were worth a shot…..and once the parts arrived in perfect shape, I will definitely be willing to order from them again in the future.

Since I was going to have everything apart, I also picked up a new drive belt.    The radiator hoses looked good, so I left them alone.

Installation of the pump was quite a pain and I made a big mess….so no pictures or write up of the work.   Regardless, it all worked out perfect and the leak appears to be solved.

Running Zerex G-05 HOAT coolant.

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Banks Torque Tube Header

September 28th, 2010 No comments

My parents came to visit for Addie Kate’s 2nd Birthday, which happened to fall on Labor Day weekend.  I took advantage of having dad in TX to install a Banks Torque Tube header on the Rubicon.

Installing the header was a frustrating job.   Pulling the factory parts off was easy enough, because there were workable shots at each one of intake/exhaust manifold bolts.   But, once we started putting the Banks header on, those same paths we had used to reach the bolts were closed off by the nice smooth flowing tubes of the header.   The engineer who designed the header for Banks was obviously way more focused on smooth flowing tubes for unrestricted flow than on allowing the installer to properly torque the bolts holding the header on.   On some of the bolts, we just had to tighten them down as best we could and didn’t even try to torque them to spec.

The project took the greater part of a day, including a lunch break and a run to town for additional tools.   But, the end result was well worth it.

The Rubicon has a noticeable extra spring in it’s step when you put your foot into it.  And the exhaust has a nice low rumble.   I actually expected the exhaust to be a bit louder, but that’s nothing a Banks muffler won’t solve….

Here’s a couple pics I snapped with my phone during installation.

Banks Header

Banks Header

Maintenance Day

August 2nd, 2010 No comments

Yesterday afternoon I got time to change the oil, clean the air filter and work on fixing the attachment points for shackles on the front bumper.   The previous owner had welded bushings into the Warn bumper tabs to accommodate pulling the TJ behind his motor home.   But in doing so, he had made the attachment point holes to small for a shackle to fit in.   I used my handy dandy Dremel tool and solved that issue by making the holes larger.

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Rancho Colorado Pics

July 12th, 2010 No comments

Here’s a couple of pictures of the Jeep from our Rancho Colorado camping trip in April.

Bluebonnets

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Vanco Big Brake

May 6th, 2010 No comments

A couple of weekends ago, I finally got to install the Vanco Big Brake kit upgrade on my Rubicon. I ordered this kit as soon as I bought my Jeep because the stock single piston calipers were severely underpowered and struggled to stop the 35 inch tires.

The install of the Vanco kit requires you to completely remove the front axle shafts in order to replace the stock knuckles holding the calipers in place. The Vanco kit includes an upgraded knuckle, calipers, pads and rotors for a 1998 Ford Explorer 4×4.  I was really impressed with the quality of the parts included with the Vanco kit….but not the installation instructions.

Vanco left out a few really simple details in the installation instructions. The most important missing piece of info was that the new calipers should be installed on the right and left sides when standing in front of the vehicle. I incorrectly assumed that Right and Left markings on the calipers would have been oriented from behind the wheel. So, I installed the calipers upside down on the wrong sides of the axles.

This tiny little detail kept the brakes from bleeding the air out of the system. My friend Jeff was helping me with the install and neither one of us thought to reorient the calipers. We worked for several hours trying to get the brake system to hold pressure before taking a stab at the problem by installing a new master cylinder. When the new master cylinder didn’t help, we called it a night and I turned to mrblaine on JeepForum for help. mrblaine helped Vanco design the kit originally and he immediately pointed out our issue.

The next day we flipped the calipers, bled the brakes and the Rubicon was back on the road with increased stopping power. I’m very impressed with the Vanco kit. The most notable difference over the stock brakes is the ability to modulate braking power. With the stock brakes, I would apply pressure to slow down, then try to apply more pressure to stop quicker and nothing else would happen. There wasn’t any more braking power to apply. With the Vanco kit, the braking pressure is extremely linear in that the harder I push, the faster I brake.

There was one more small problem after install in that my axles continued to leak diff fluid. This was never an issue before the install, so I decided to have Ellis Auto take a look at my axle seals. Sure enough, they were going out and needed to be replaced. Ellis fixed the seals up and now the Rubi is better than ever.

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Speedohealer

April 3rd, 2010 No comments

After some research on JeepForum, I found a solution to my speedometer and odometer being out of whack due to my larger tires and 4.88 gears. A couple of Jeep guys had installed the HealTech Electronics Speedohealer to correct their speedometers, odometers and transmission shift points. For the price, this seemed like the best solution. So, I ordered the healer on ebay and decided to give it a try.

My friend Jeff helped walk me through the install and taught me to solder in the process. I had to splice the speedohealer into the speedometer signal wire before it entered the Jeep computer and provide the healer with switched power. I ended up wiring the unit directly into the wiring harness by the computer under the hood. Install was simple and straightforward and I couldn’t have asked for a better result.

After driving a bit, I was able to dial the speedohealer in and correct my speed, odometer readout and shift points. Overall the Rubicon drives much better now that it is shifting at the appropriate times.

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Warn Grill Guard

March 10th, 2010 No comments

I added the Warn Grille Guard to my front bumper set up to add a little extra protection and because I like the looks. Install was simple with only four bolts and a little loctite.

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Expensive Oil Change

February 28th, 2010 No comments

Last weekend I decided to service both vehicles at home since I wasn’t having any luck finding a good time to take Summer’s van in for an oil change. After knocking out the oil change on the minivan, I started changing the oil in the Jeep. I drained the old oil out, replaced the filter and then climbed underneath the Jeep to replace the oil pan drain plug.

Given my past problems with over tightening bolts, I was being extra cautious. I threaded the plug back into the pan by hand, then set my torque wrench to the correct setting of 25ftlbs. I even double checked the setting on the wrench before tightening the bolt.

Thinking all was good, I started tightening the bolt. After a few pulls on the wrench, I could tell the plug was tight and I wondered why the torque wrench hadn’t clicked yet. I hesitated and thought “one more pull and the wrench will click.” Boy was I wrong…

That last pull on the torque wrench ended up being pretty expensive. I stripped the plug threads and boogered them up so badly that I couldn’t get the plug out of the pan. So there the Jeep sat in my garage with no oil and a stripped plug.

A tow and a new oil pan later and the Jeep is healed and back on the road, but the scars from my obsessiveness about tightening bolts are still healing. I hope to never have such an expensive oil change again.

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Seat Risers, Handles and Cleaning

October 4th, 2009 No comments

This weekend I got to spend some quality time with Ethan working on the Rubi.

  • On Friday night I installed a set of the Buchanan Machine Works 1 inch seat risers.  We’re talking nice quality parts here:  solid machined aluminum blocks powder coated black and HD hardware.  The kit makes the seating position much more comfortable and the added visibility is great too.
  • On Saturday Ethan and I spent most of the day in the garage cleaning out the last remnants of Montana from the inside of the Jeep.  There was a lot of mud, dust and dirt around the inside and under the carpet.  I even found a few stray coils and a bullet when I pulled the carpet out.  After cleaning her all up, Ethan and I had to take it for a quick spin down one of the rock/dirt county roads nearby.  Can’t have it being too clean after all…
  • I also installed a set of the Mastercraft 3 inch Grab Handles to help with entry into the Rubi.  The extra hand hold while driving is nice too.

One other note, we rolled 35k miles while Ethan and I were driving around.

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First Impressions

August 27th, 2009 No comments

My trip to Denver to pick up the Rubi couldn’t have been better.  Not only did I get my dream vehicle at a great price, I also got to spend time with my friend Jimps and his family.  Great times were had by all.

I was really nervous all day while traveling to Denver.  My mind raced with thoughts of whether or not I was about to get an absolute steal of a deal on the Jeep….or if I was simply about to get ripped off.  When I finally got to met the seller, it was obvious that option 1 had occurred.  The seller talked with us for quite some time about the Jeep and it became apparent that he just simply didn’t mind seeing the Jeep go to another enthusiast at a fair price.

My first impressions after living with the Rubi for almost a week are:

  • Rubicon Express 5.5 Long Arm suspension kit – simply amazing.  I haven’t driven a lot of lifted vehicles, but the ones I did drive had a terribly sloppy ride with way too much body roll.  They constantly felt like they were going to flop on their side.  This RE kit feels tight and well mannered.  The body simply doesn’t roll.  The ride is a little bumpy…but hey, it is a Jeep.  I would say this is as close to a stock ride as you can have with such a large lift.  I also have to give props to the Old Man Emu Nitrocharger shocks.  I’m sure they are a big contributor in the ride quality.
  • Gears – the seller had told me the Rubi still had the original 4.10s in it.  When I got home I emailed Mike’s Offroad in Boazman, MT to see if they would give me a list of modifications they had done.  Turns out, they put Yukon 4.88s in it when they lifted the Jeep.  Even with 4.88s, the Jeep has a tendency to run on the edge of the engine’s powerband at highway speeds (2200 rpm at 70mph).  I think this is mainly an issue with it being an automatic with an overdrive.  I’ve been researching online and many owners are happy with 4.88s and 6spd manual tranny’s, but the best option with the 42RLE auto seems to be 5.13s.  So, a regear will probably be on the upgrade list down the road.  When emailing with Mike’s I also found out that the front and rear driveshafts were upgraded to Tom Woods HD units.  Good stuff.
  • Brakes – need help.  Stopping those big 35s is just too much work for the stock single piston calipers.  To me this is the #1 safety concern and something that can’t wait to be addressed.   So, I’ve already ordered the Vanco Disk Brake upgrade kit.  It replaces the stock knuckle, rotors and calipers giving you a two piston caliper and larger rotors.  All the reviews I’m reading say it will lock up the 35s at will.
  • Tough Stuff EZ-Flip Lic Bracket – in TX we are required to run front and rear lic plates.  I’ve never liked having a plate hanging down off a front bumper exposed to damage.  So, I picked up the Tough Stuff bracket to mount my plate to the winch’s roller fairlead.  This product is top quality stainless steel, with all necessary hardware.  Highly recommended…plus it looks great.

So, I’m completely happy with the purchase.  The Jeep was in better condition than I expected.  It had less miles than I was originally told.  And the price was excellent to boot.

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