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Trail Report: AAARRGGG!

Contributed By: John Jacobs

Here's my trip report from the June Daniel Boone Jeep Jamboree (Thursday, June 1st through 4th). Wednesday night I finished up prepping for the trip, I thought I had my tranny leak problem fixed and I could now shift into low-range. (..but now I can't fully open the glove box. I was a little over anxious installing the new cable, but that's a different story) We packed up the Wag and were prepared to leave at 11am. I got a call at about 10:30 from my friend saying that my Killer32 bumpers and nerfs were in, so obviously I didn't get to use them. This type of luck would keep up with me all weekend.

My friend with the 97 XJ and I were going down together so we could help each other out if there were any problems. We got on the highway, and all was going well. He was following me, and I quickly found that I could do about 65 MPH at 3000 RPM with 4.09s, and decided this would have to do. Around Monroe, Michigan (about 30 minutes down the road) I got a call on the CB telling me that I was spraying some fluid. We pulled off and I figured out it was tranny fluid. Couldn't figure out where from, but it wasn't too bad. I would now following him.

We stopped for our first fill-up in Bowling Green, Ohio, and all was going well. My fiancee was a little nervous about the fluid leak, but I checked the fluid and all was good. We got stuck in a traffic jam in Cincinatti, Ohio and my Wag got close to overheating (220) but luckily we got moving again and it cooled right off. It was the highest I have seen the temp gauge go up since the rebuild. We stopped for gas, and checked everything again. I now noticed a little bit of an oil mist, still not sure from what. Maybe a failed PCV valve? I noticed some oil mist down the oil fill tube.

On the road again.. notice a funny smell just after Lexington, Kentucky. Don't think much of it, since it only lasted a minute. Then we roll into the Jamboree at 8pm, three hours later than planned. Missed check-in, the camp site we wanted is full. We find a camp, put up the tent, change into my 31x10.5 M/Ts, fill-up and get some sleep.

6:30am, I wake up and try to start the Wag. Dead. Later figure out that ammeter had toasted, taking my new alternator with it. I miss both days of trails due to my stupidity and having to track down the parts. Did ride along the first day, and it was ok. Also found that my ATM card I used for 18 months in Germany and Europe was useless in Kentucky, go figure.. Luckily the fiancee's worked and we could buy a new alternator, regulator, and battery.

So, my Wag missed both days of trails. I was seriously bummed. Luckily, the camp we were staying at had some trails and we went out early Sunday morning before returning. We played for a couple of hours, and then hit some big obstacles and went back before we broke something. It did put my Jeep to the test, and I am happy with the 4.09s and the Detroit Locker in the rear. I also found that the Emergency Switch can make obstacles much easier, but the BW1339 QT does well on most stuff. I also need to work on my driving skills, as I put myself in a stupid position and could have put the Wag on its side on a relatively short but steep grassy hill. I safely backed down, put it in e-drive and climbed my way to the top on the second shot. Also, my 31x10.5s M/Ts on 15x8 wagon wheels rub under articulation with about 2 inches of lift. I think some fender trimming is in order.

The way home was even more fun. Somehow, the starter motor had gotten loose and was making unknown noises for me. I thought it could have been the tranny or t-case, and I could not figure it out because everything was tight. At the last gas stop, it became obvious when the starter motor did not grab the flywheel. I climbed under and when touched the started I noticed the upper bolt was gone and the lower was backed out, so I tightened the one remaining bolt and drove the remaining 30 miles home. I am not sure when the upper bolt fell out, and I hope no damage was done. I will pull the starter and check the ring gear for damage. And the next time I bolt the starter in, I will use loc-tite!!!

At the Jamboree I saw two nice Wags. One was a 79 Wag, the other an 83 (I think, early to mid-80s). The guys were traveling together, and I was bummed I couldn't ride along. I realised that my lift is nowhere near 3 or 4 inches after looking at their rigs. I think I will have to replace my springs with some 4" trailmasters, superlifts, or skyjackers. The new Wag had trimmed out the rear fenders and had mounted 33x12.5 M/Ts, and he claimed no rubbing. It was a nice Wag with fresh paint and rebuilt drivetrain.

If I travel this far (600 miles each way) with my Wag again, I am definitely trailering it there. It is too much worry and disappointment if something breaks. I haven't looked at my Wag yet, I want to give it some cool-down time before I start working on it again.

John Jacobs -
1975 Jeep Wagoneer
Detroit, Michigan USA

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