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.


Updated Pics

December 15th, 2009 No comments




Trans Service – 36k miles

November 20th, 2009 No comments

Took the Rubi into Ellis Auto yesterday to have the 42RLE tranny service done.  It was due at 30k miles, so running a little late.  Also had the transfer case drained and refilled while the skid plate was off and the tires rotated and balanced.

Ellis got a kick out of how well the Rubi was built.  He said their service guy got quite a shock when he removed the last bolt holding the skid plate on and it fell on him.  They were impressed with the build and the quality of parts used.


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.

Tags: ,

September 7th, 2009 No comments

Today I did a couple of quick fixes to the Rubi:

  • Adjusted the steering wheel alignment thanks to the instructions over at www.4x4xplor.com.   I was amazed at how loose the collar bolts on the adjustment were.  Kind of scary actually.  I think the wheel had simply slipped over time as the bolts loosened up, but now my wheel is nice and straight.
  • Added a couple of washers to the steering stops so that the tires won’t rub on the lower control arms.  I had to do this same issue on my old 97 Sahara.
  • Trimmed off some extra metal mounts on the exhaust.  Whoever put the custom exhaust on the Rubi did a nice job, except they didn’t quite meet my standards in a few spots.

Maintenance Day – 33k miles

August 30th, 2009 No comments

Yesterday, Ethan and I spent the day giving the Rubi some much needed TLC:

Billet Mechanical Door Stops

While we had fun monkeying around in the garage, I’m really happy to know these items have been completed.  The oil change was due after my drive home from CO.  The old spark plugs were all pretty worn and each had a gap between .50 and .65.   The factory spec gap is .35.  I think the Jeep was running a little smoother with the new plugs and synthetic oil…although it could simply be wishful thinking.

The BEST part of the day was when I got to take Ethan for his first ride in the Rubi.  He was really excited and loved it.  I had told him about the ooga horn before we went for a ride and he was scared to hear it, thinking it would be really loud.  During our drive I convinced him that it wasn’t too loud and hit the button.  He immediately started laughing a huge belly laugh and wanted to hear it over and over.   Later, as we were once again working in the garage, he was pretending to work on his Dale Jr. Powerwheels racecar and I overheard him “installing” an ooga horn of his own.

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.


2004 Rubicon

August 18th, 2009 No comments

Friday I fly to Denver to pick up my 2004 Jeep Rubicon.  It is a two owner Jeep with only got 33k miles.  The previous owner has mainly used it as a trailer queen, pulling it around behind his motor coach.  The story he tells is that he and his wife made one wheeling trip to Moab while it was in stock form and he decided to modify it.  Once all the modifications were done, his wife gently let on that she didn’t enjoy the off road adventures and would prefer to just ride their Harley.

Here’s a partial modification list of how it sits as I’m buying it:

  • 5.5 Rubicon Express Long Arm Lift w/ Old Man Emu shocks
  • 35inch ProComp tires on ProComp wheels
  • Edge Performance Trail Jammer kit (air intake, throttle body and programmer)
  • Warn rock crusher bumpers front and rear, with tire carrier
  • Warn gas tank skid plate
  • Warn XD9000i winch
  • Kilby rear storage rack
  • Husky floor liners
2004 Rubicon