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Jeeping Across America Part 4

Posted in Features on July 11, 2015
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Photographers: Rick Péwé

Cobbling up Jeeps to get them going isn't pretty, but it is effective. When on a budget you tend to do the least got the most, the best bang for the buck. That's the case of our XJ I'm driving to the west coast. So far it's cost me a $500 junkyard tranny ( including fluid and parts and pieces) and some precious time. But the goal is to make it back to the office in LA on Monday, and a day in the shop doesn't help. Luckily Keith Bailey and the Off Road Connection had the used tranny swapped and ready to go in record time, so I hit the highway once again, after posing with the tank across the street from his shop. Tanks are cool.

Keith and Sam just returned from the Ultimate Adventure and had barely unpacked before attacking the tranny in my loaner Jeep. Thanks guys!

Trudging through the night I escaped the clutches of Alabama, and skittered through Mississippi and Tennessee. But it was dark and yes, still raining buckets, so this is the only photo you get.

Somehow the late night and noise and fumes took their toll on me and I zoned out somewhere in Missouri. I awoke to find myself at the Southern Missouri Off Road Ranch near Seymour. We had started the 2005 Ultimate Adventure here, and the park has flourished.

The SMORR has even more trails than when we first went. I attacked the Pee Wee trail with the XJ in the rain. It's only a two, but I discovered the Low Range wasn't engaging- so it wasn't pretty on the ledges.

The wheeling was great until the transmission shifter failed to engage any gear. No reverse, or Drive. Not that I couldn't go underneath and hopefully shift, but on a descent like this it was slightly problematic. And it was still raining.

With the tranny shifter reconnected and zip tied, I went and found tight trails at SMORR. While bypassing the deep mud trails, I figured it was time to continue westward. The muffler was rattling and getting louder, and my eyes were stinging a bit when going slowly. The holes in the floorboard weren't helping either.

Local mom and pop diners are far better than any chain. This one in Sparta, MO (home of the Trojans) even had Andy Griffith playing on the black-and-white TV. Yes I checked.

Once I realized that the rattling of the muffler and loudness behind the seat was contributing to my general confusion, I figured I was OD-ing on carbon monoxide. The noise, stinging eyes, and general exhaust smell crept up on me a bit at a time so I didn't get it at first, but some kid mentioned it so I headed for a real muffler store.

The muffler blew out due to ingesting the catalytic converter debris- it got plugged up and blew straight up through the holes in the floor in an attempt to kill me. I survived. Barely. I don't remember much of this.

Blake at B&M Tire and Muffler in Anderson, Missouri, eyed our prize and zapped a new muffler on her in record time. For under $70 bucks we had a new lease on life, and so did the Jeep.

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