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Ground-Up To The Rubicon Part 1

Posted in Events on March 1, 2013
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As a general rule, taking a freshly completed project Jeep on an 820-mile road trip from Phoenix, Arizona, to the Rubicon trail, over the full length of said trail, and then driving the 820 miles back home is a fool’s errand. Why? Well, chances are better than good that something on any newly completed vehicle is gonna go wrong. So when our buddy Mike Tarvin and later our boss asked us if we wanted to do this very thing with our recently completed ’56 CJ-5 Project Ground-Up, we should have said no way! That’s what any sane, intelligent, wise person would have done. Luckily for you, the readers of Jp, none of the above descriptors fit us very well, so we said sure, let’s go!

Why would we do this? Well Mike and other members of the website were planning on running the Rubicon in vintage CJs, and the temptation to join them with our ’56 CJ-5 was hard to resist. Now keep in mind that at this point Ground-Up had been “completed,” registered, and driving for only about a week. We had just taken the Willys on its maiden run out to our local off-road area and had racked up maybe 50 on-road and five off-road miles. The first few miles of that trip the old Jeep was smoking like the Marlboro Man since a dry oil filter gasket was puking oil all over the undercarriage and exhaust. Yay for us!

Going on faith that the used Cherokee engine powering Project Ground-Up would get us there and back, we decided to focus on areas of the CJ-5 that we knew would be inadequate for the Rubicon Trail—namely the undercarriage. Our XJ Dana 30 and Chrysler 8.25 were still wearing the relatively thin stock differential covers. A pair of aluminum diff covers from G2 helps keep the gear oil cool and will allow us to bounce the axles off rocks with impunity. Plus, the rear cover has a cool dipstick and drain plug!

So it’s not like we did not know that the old Jeep would run, we just did not know that it would run for over 1,600 miles. Thankfully, we have a job that allows this kind of tomfoolery, and we did have a week or so to get ready to go. What did we do? What did we add? How did the trip to the trail go? This month we’ll fill you in on the pre-trip prep in order to get the Jeep ready and the ride to the trailhead. Tune in next month to follow along and see what happened next!

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Clackamas, OR 97015
Phoenix, AZ 85043
G2 Axle & Gear
Compton, CA 90220
Power Tank
Elk Grove, CA 95758

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