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Jeeps Of Moab Easter Jeep Safari 2009 - Moab Meet N' Greet

Posted in Project Vehicles on August 1, 2009
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Photographers: Pete Trasborg

Relax, you didn't miss a touchy-feely get together like the title of this story implies.Rather, Trasborg and Hazel ran around like fools in search of leprechaun gold during the 43rd Moab Easter Jeep Safari in the spring of '09. And while no actual gold was found, they did run into more than one cool Jeep treasure while out and about. So, whether by casual conversation, covert clandestine operations, or simply by banging a U-ie and chasing the owner down, we were able to nab photos and specs of a few neat Jeeps we met up with. Want your chance at making this story next year or just want to enjoy some of the world's most killer wheeling? Check out the Red Rock 4-Wheeler's website at for info and factoids on next year's Moab Easter Jeep Safari. You bring the cool rides, we'll bring the cameras. See you there.

The Tool
Early Jeeps were built and marketed as tools; things of purpose and usefulness. And we can't help but smile when we see the current brass at Chrysler Jeep practicing what its forefathers preached so many decades ago. Year after year we've seen this little red FC-170 quietly serving as a wash and detail truck at Jeep's Walker Drug display at the past several Moab Easter Jeep Safaris. It's the little workhorse that lugs the cleaning supplies, waxes, and other detail gear in its service bed storage compartments so the big-ticket show rigs like Jeep's Lower 40 JK, Jeep Hurricane, and JT pickup can look their best for the media's cameras.

Hard Facts
Model: Willys FC-170
Year: 1962
Build time: 1 year
Owner: Chrysler
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Engine: Stock 226-cube L-head six-cylinder
Aspiration: Stock 1-bbl Carter WDG carburetor
Transmission: Stock T-90 three-speed
Transfer case: Stock Spicer 18
Front axle/diff: Stock Dana 44, open

Rear axle/diff: Stock Dana 53, open
Ring-and-pinion ratio: 4.88:1
Front suspension: Stock HD leaf packs
Rear suspension: Stock HD leaf packs
Wheels: 16x6 steel
Tires: 16/7.50-15 bias-ply
Other cool stuff: Factory service bed and rear bumper, added 150-gallon bed-mounted water tank with gravity-fed, gas-powered pressure washer mounted to rear bumper, complete arsenal for self-sustained detailing in the field, just over 20,000 original miles
Our favorite mod: Water tank and pressure washer

Looking To The Future
The JK Wrangler has been on the market now for about three years, but we haven't seen many of them out on the trail until this Easter Jeep Safari. It seems that when the TJ came out, it was on the trails instantly, and we were starting to worry about the JK. Well, we've finally started seeing guys just like us who are out there wheeling their JKs on a budget, and thanks to the capability of the platform, they're doing very well. We ran into Rick Hagan and his '07 Wrangler on Fins N Things taking every line that the so-called big dogs were taking and just having a blast doing it. While we are a bit leery of wheeling a Jeep that still has payments left on it, there is a lot to be said for the care-free kind of wheeling that comes from going out in a newer, more reliable Jeep.

Hard Facts
Model: Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited
Year: 2007
Build time: 1 year
Owner: Rick Hagen
Hometown: Laguna Niguel, California
Engine: Stock 3.8L V-6
Aspiration: Stock multiport fuel injection
Transmission: 42RLE
Transfer case: NVG241OR
Front axle/diff: Stock Dana 44, electric locker
Rear axle/diff: Stock Dana 44, electric locker
Ring-and-pinion ratio: 4.10:1
Front suspension: Rancho 4-inch lift

Rear suspension: Rancho 4-inch lift
Wheels: 17x8 Pro Comp Extreme Alloy
Tires: 305/55R17 Pro Comp Extreme AT
Other cool stuff: Body Armor front bumper, auxiliary driving lights, out of the box fun
Our favorite mod: The perfect combination of lift and tires to wheel Moab with no on-road degradation of performance

Kentucky Long Rifle
Why are we calling Jeff Kuehl's CJ the Long Rifle? `Cause last time we saw it on the trail it went bang. While screwing around on the Double Whammy obstacle on the Golden Spike trail, Jeff grenaded the Detroit Locker and a few ring gear teeth in his high pinion Ford rear centersection. But as you'd expect, he had it all put back together for a wheeling trip the very next day. Jeff's Jeep represents a nice mix of moderate components that don't break the bank, yet can generally withstand the rigors of hard-core wheeling in anything from Tellico slick snot to Moab slickrock. It's a combination you could duplicate at home with a little know how and not a lot of coin. Just let off the throttle a little earlier than our pal Jeff if you get your clone a hoppin'.

Hard Facts
Model: Jeep CJ-7
Year: 1985
Build time: 3 years
Owner: Jeff Kuehl
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Engine: Rebuilt Factory 258 six-cylinder
Aspiration: Howell TBI injection
Transmission: Stock T-176 four-speed
Transfer case: Stock Dana 300, twin stick
Front axle/diff: '77 Chevy Dana 44 narrowed to 64 inches, ARB Air Locker
Rear axle/diff : Moser 9-inch with Currie high-pinion centersection, Detroit Locker

Ring-and-pinion ratio: 4.88:1
Front suspension: Factory springs, spring over axle
Rear suspension: Double triangulated four-link with quarter-elliptic leaf springs
Wheels: 17x9 Allied beadlocks
Tires: 37x12.50R17 BFG Krawler
Other cool stuff: 14-inch travel Fox racing shocks, custom dash with Lowrance GPS, cutting brakes, recessed front main eyes into frame, custom shackle mounts, Moser rear axle brace
Our favorite mod: Howell TBI

Field Find
You hear the term "barn find" and "rat rod" bandied about so frequently that the mere mention of either phrase makes the true gear junkie want to barf. Hearing the term is one thing, but seeing a nicely executed example in the flesh is something very different. Hazel literally chased Jay Eller down on the street Hollywood-style to get the feature on his cool rat-built '46. What's the dealio? Well, aside from being a very competent machinist and fabricator, Jay is also a shrewd trader and purchased the CJ tub as part of a batch of Jeep parts which included a few other bodies, frames, and enough mixed components to make a couple such rigs. Jay's friends race Pintos, so a leftover Pinto engine made its way into Jay's life before getting mated to a T-90 and Spicer T-case. The drivetrain was slung on a good CJ-3A frame, hung atop some narrowed Waggy axles, and the field-fresh body was plunked on top. A nice cage protects Jay's skull and holds the body to the frame, but the gauges, paint, and anything else that matters is all neglect and patina. We're in love.

Hard Facts
Model: Willys CJ-2A
Year: 1946
Build time: A couple months
Owner: Jay Eller
Hometown: Tonganoxie, Kansas
Engine: 2.3L Pinto four-cylinder
Aspiration: Stock Pinto carb
Transmission: T-90 three-speed
Transfer case: Spicer 18 with 1-inch intermediate shaft
Front axle/diff: '78 Wagoneer Dana 44 narrowed 3 inches on the long side tube, Lock-Rite Locker
Rear axle/diff: '78 Wagoneer Dana 44 narrowed 3 inches on the long side tube
Ring-and-pinion ratio: 4.11:1

Front suspension: Black Diamond 3-inch spring lift
Rear suspension: Black Diamond 3-inch spring lift
Wheels: Wagoneer 15x6 steel
Tires: Mismatched 235/75R15 freebies
Other cool stuff: Genuine 63-year-old patina, broken speedo gauge glass, extremely low cost to build, starter moved to driver-side with custom bellhousing cut and weld job, new wiring and other stuff to make it safe and reliable
Our favorite mod: Resisting the urge to sand and paint

Fuelie Flattie
We know a hard-core Jeep when we see one. And Matt Ipaktehian's CJ-2A is one. We ran into Matt twice during the Easter Jeep Safari. One time was when he dropped into Mickey's Hot Tub on Hell's Revenge trail and another was on the Coyote trail, which is like Die Trying in Montrose, Colorado, only tougher. Matt is obviously about the `wheeling. A big engine, big axles, big wheelbase, big suspension travel, and big wheelin' make up for a Jeep that's admittedly a little aesthetically challenged. And as most of you know, the ugly ones are usually the most fun to ride.

Hard Facts
Model: Willys CJ-2A
Year: 1947
Build time: 2 years
Owner: Matt Ipaktehian
Hometown: Thorton, Colorado
Engine: '02 Chevy 5.3L
Aspiration: MPI injection
Transmission: TH350 automatic with manual valvebody
Transfer case: Atlas II, 4.3:1
Front axle/diff: Dynatrac high-pinion Pro Rock Dana 60, ARB Air Locker

Rear axle/diff: Dynatrac high-pinion Pro Rock Dana 60, ARB Air Locker
Ring-and-pinion ratio: 4.88:1
Front suspension: Custom four-link with coilovers
Rear suspension: Custom four-link with air shocks
Wheels:17x9 Walker Evans beadlocks, 3.75 inches backspacing
Tires: 37x13.50R17 Nitto Mud Grappler
Other cool stuff: Tub stretched on custom frame, full hydraulic steering, original Willys hood, grille, windshield frame
Our favorite mod: Modern 5.3L repower

For a while now, with all these Hemi-converted JKs running around, we've been saying that someone should take the JK engine and transmission and put them in a lighter Jeep where the power-to-weight ratio would make for a lot more fun. Half of the swaps we want to see happen, don't, and we just don't have time to do them all, so we were floored when we found this CJ-2A with exactly the swap we'd been talking about. If that wasn't enough, this flattie was basically built from the leftover parts of other Jeep builds. The engine and transmission was left over from a Hemi swap, the transfer case was leftover from a TJ, and the body was deemed too rusty to reuse for a frame-off restoration on another CJ-2A. That's our kind of recycling and Adam Scherer wasn't afraid to use it.

Hard Facts
Model: Willys CJ-2A
Year: 1947
Build time: 1 year
Owner: Adam Scherer
Hometown: Hurst, Texas
Engine: '08 3.8L JK-sourced V-6
Aspiration: '05 Chrysler Town and Country PCM, intake, and throttle body
Transmission: '08 JK 42RLE
Transfer case: TJ NVG241OR
Front axle/diff: '00 Ford Dana 60, Detroit Locker
Rear axle/diff: GM 14-bolt, welded spider gears

Ring-and-pinion ratio: 5.13:1
Front suspension: 14-inch Sway-A-Way 2.0 air shocks and custom links
Rear suspension: 16-inch Sway-A-Way 2.0 air shocks and custom links
Wheels: 16x8 black steel wheels with Staun Beadlocks
Tires: 39.5x12.5-16 Super Swamper Irok
Other cool stuff: 10-gallon fuel tank made from two "gerry" cans, tubular frame bolted to body and bolted to rollcage like a normal Jeep, and the deletion of the fly-by-wire after hours of staring at wiring diagrams
Our favorite mod: The reliability of a JK engine with the style of vintage iron

Low & Slow
We've been preaching the low-center-of-gravity thing for years now, so when you stick a veteran Jeep-basher in a TJ with 2 inches of suspension lift and 1 inch of body lift rolling on 40-inch tires you get the right combination of experience and stability that can go anywhere. We had been talking to Robert King while he was resurrecting this Jeep, which had a salvage title from an accident that left no body panel undamaged, but it wasn't until we ran into him in Moab on Moab Rim that we were sold. The Gen-Right Boulder Series armor replaced or covered the damage from the accident and paved way for the big-league tires that, along with a few well-chosen drivetrain components, put this Jeep squarely in the big leagues with a minimum of drama.

Hard Facts
Model: TJ Wrangler
Year: 1998
Build time: 6 months
Owner: Robert King
Hometown: Simi Valley, California
Engine: Stock 4.0L inline-six
Aspiration: Stock multiport fuel injection
Transmission: Stock AX-15
Transfer case: Atlas 4-speed
Front axle/diff: Currie Rock Jock, Detroit Locker
Rear axle/diff: Currie Rock Jock, Detroit Locker
Ring-and-pinion ratio: 5.38:1
Front suspension: Teraflex 2-inch lift and long-arms

Rear suspension: Teraflex 2-inch lift and long arms
Wheels: 17x9 Walker Evans beadlocks
Tires: 40x13.50R17 Goodyear MT/R
Other cool stuff: The bare-bones interior with just a pair of swapped-in PRP seats shows what Robert cares about: the drivetrain. Thanks to the low, low lift, this TJ still rides just like stock; it's really easy to forget the monster rubber that is under it
Our favorite mod: Going from a wreck to this in 6 months. OK, its not a modification... but it must have taken many, many sleepless nights

Flex Machine
We came around the corner on Moab's Golden Spike trail just as Doug Eberle was negotiating the famous Golden Crack obstacle in his home-built '99 TJ. Aside from the jaw-dropping flex afforded by the slinky coilover suspension, one thing struck us as unusual. Doug's TJ seemed pretty darn stable for a rig with so much wheel travel. Doug credits much of his rig's capability to a well-designed suspension, front and rear winches that can compress the suspension at will to prevent overboard unloading of the springs, and a bombproof drivetrain that can stand a good throttling. It's great to see an owner-built trail rig that has it where it counts without having had metric tons of money thrown into it. Doug's TJ has the wheel travel and durability of a moon buggy in a full-bodied package. Nice!

Hard Facts
Model: Jeep TJ Wrangler
Year: 1999
Build time: A couple years
Owner: Doug Eberle
Hometown: Floyds Knob, Indiana
Engine: Stock 4.0L
Aspiration: Factory EFI
Transmission: Factory three-speed automatic
Transfer case: Atlas II, 3.8:1
Front axle/diff: '86 High-pinion Ford F-350 Dana 60, Detroit Locker
Rear axle/diff: '79 High-pinion custom Ford F-350 Dana 60, Detroit Locker
Ring-and-pinion ratio: 5.38:1

Front suspension: Custom four-link, Bilstein coilovers and air bumps
Rear suspension: Custom four-link, Bilstein coilovers and air bumps
Wheels: 15x10 Alcoa Challenger with Champion beadlocks
Tires: 38.5x14.50-15LT Swamper SX
Other cool stuff: Gen-Right Off Road stretch fuel tank, bumpers double as air tanks, front and rear frame-to-axle winches to suck down suspension, solid aluminum links with Johnny Joint ends, full hydro steering
Our favorite mod: Slinky suspension

Clean & Mean
It is easy to say that the JK is a great platform, but when a Jeep like this is piloted by a relative newcomer to off-roading and still has no problems with any obstacles, it really brings the point home. Jim Rogers may be new to the sport, but he has a very capable Jeep that in the space of just a few days in Moab has drawn him further in than he likely ever thought he'd be. There is something about seeing Moab again through the eyes of a newer guy that helps remind us of just why we go to Easter Jeep Safari every year: there is nowhere else that compares to Moab. If we were to build a money-no-object JK, this would be it. This Jeep has amazing off-road capability and is more comfortable and stable than a stock JK is on-road. Jim really has the best of both worlds in one package.

Hard Facts
Model: Wrangler Unlimited
Year: 2007
Build time: 1 year
Owner: Jim Rogers
Hometown: Newport Beach, California
Engine: Stock 3.8L V-6
Aspiration: Stock multi-port fuel injection
Transmission: Stock 42RLE
Transfer case: Atlas 4-speed
Front axle/diff: Dynatrac Pro Rock 60, ARB Air Locker
Rear axle/diff: Dynatrac Pro Rock 60, ARB Air Locker
Ring-and-pinion ratio: 5.38:1
Front suspension: 6-inch lift with King coilovers and Full-Traction arms

Rear suspension: 6-inch lift with King coilovers, Full-Traction four-link, and Evo Lever conversion
Wheels: 20x8 Walker Evans beadlocks
Tires: 40x13.50R20 Pro Comp Xterrains
Other cool stuff: King airbumps, PSC steering box and ram, Beard Enduro seats front and rear, and 14 inches of travel in the rear and 16 inches of travel up front
Our favorite mod: The attention to detail. Off Road Evolution put this thing together and from the way the seats fit, to the slick access for the on-board-air, to the custom belly skidplate, this is a really nice Jeep

It is no secret we like Scramblers, so it should come as no surprise to find a Scrambler in this list. In 18 short months, Robert W. Johnson pulled this Jeep out of a field where it sat with a tree growing through the engine compartment and transformed it into this eye-catching rig you see here. With so many buggies out there that once used to be based on Jeeps, it is nice to see someone stay with the Jeep body and frame and fit all the goodies to it that make the buggies work so well.

Hard Facts
Model: CJ-8
Year: 1982
Build time: 18 months
Owner: Robert W. Johnson
Hometown: El Paso, Texas
Engine: '06 Chevy 6.0L Vortec V-8
Aspiration: Stock multiport fuel injection
Transmission: '06 4L80E
Transfer case: STaK 3-speed Monster Box
Front axle/diff: '80 Chevy Dana 60, Detroit Locker
Rear axle/diff: GM 14-bolt, Detroit Locker
Ring-and-pinion ratio: 4.88:1

Front suspension: 16-inch Fox coilovers with custom link arms
Rear suspension: 16-inch Fox coilovers with custom link arms
Wheels: 16.5x10 Allied beadlocks
Tires: 14/42-16.5 Super Swamper Irok
Other cool stuff: Huge rear wheelwell openings, wheelbase stretched to 113-inches, plated stock CJ-8 frame, and a huge Tuffy toolbox stuffed with recovery and repair stuff
Our favorite mod: The dimple-die peppered rollcage built by A Little 4x4 Company

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