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What Jeep should I fix?

Posted in Features on May 2, 2017 Comment (0)
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Photographers: Rick Péwé

How bad is it that I have a fleet of Jeeps, and none of them work? Sure they ‘work’ in one way or another, but none of the Jeeps I have work correctly, as in enough stuff works on any one Jeep to go on an event or trail ride. In many ways I am blessed, as I own a multitude of Jeeps. However it also means that I don’t dedicate enough time on any one vehicle to keep it as the mainstay, like a daily driver that also is my wheeler. When I first started out, I only had one jeep and it needed to do everything, such as take me to school, work, dates, wheeling, whatever. I spent all my spare time fixing, modifying, fiddling, and working on my jeep to the extent that I had no more time. Flash forward many years and the same problem exists- except I spend so much time working that I have no time to fix, modify, fiddle, or work on my Jeeps.

I realized this last weekend, just before the annual Tierra Del Sol Desert Safari. I’ve been attending this season opener for around 30 years, and it is one of my favorites. Almost all of my Jeeps have been out there and some more than once. This year’s event crept up on me so suddenly I had no idea which Jeep I was going to take until the day before the event. I figured I had plenty of time to revive something in my back yard, so of course I waited until Friday morning before the event. That was a mistake.

I started to revive my 1945 GPW, a fully restored WWII army jeep. It’s been to Alaska and Nova Scotia, and over the Rubicon a few times. I hadn’t driven it in about 4 years, but that shouldn’t have meant anything negative, until I tried to start it. Sure the battery was low from sitting, but I charged it up, hooked up the cables, squirted it with some ether, and hit the switch. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. I quickly traced the batter cables down to a frozen starter- and I couldn’t find the spare. Rather than rebuilding the starter, I moved on to the next Jeep- it would be quicker, right?

Wrong. The next Jeep was my Ultimate Adventure M38-A1 that last ran at the event a year ago. I had clutch issues then and a transfer case problem. I had ordered the new parts to fix it, which were still sitting on the driver’s seat. It’s a simple hydraulic clutch system, a hose, a master, and a slave. Heck, I could even drive without it. So I thought. I fired it up and the 350 Ramjet roared to life. On 7 cylinders. So now I had to change an injector, plug, wire, or something worse along with the clutch stuff. Time to move back a slot and dig out the CJ-2A with a 4.3 V6. But you get the idea. This one had a dead battery, broken alternator bracket, and mismatched tires. Finally, I found my CJ-3A in the far back that only needed tires and wheels and a tow bar. And last ran two years ago. Luckily I made it with hours to go at the event, and realized I need to concentrate on one rig. Any ideas which should be first?

Rick Péwé

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