My life with the YJ
I bought my 94 YJ in late November, 1997.
It was a stock 4cyl, Blue with a White soft top, and no options other
than the custom rims that the previous owner had provided. It was a Used
Car dealer sale, so of course I got jacked a bit on the price, but I wanted
a Jeep, and due to previuos bad credit experiances this looked like the only
deal I was going to get. So $3000 down, $1100 in trade and 62 bucks a week
for 4 years, and this baby was mine.
I picked it up the day before Thanksgiving, that night we had to find
some off-road action, but of couse we had no idea where to look. We ended
up down at the power lines in the same town where I grew up, 30 miles from
home in Boston, but worth the ride.
I'd bowhunted in the area before so I knew my way around by foot pretty
well, needless to say thats different than in a Jeep at night.
There was snow on the ground and the Jeep made it over every hill and
obstical that I had the balls to try, execpt for one icy extremely steep incline.
I was still very impressed and was already starting to fall in love with
The next day, Thanksgiving, I went to the parents, ate great 'Mom Food',
showed the Jeep off to Dad, and later that night took Dad for a ride in
the Jeep in the woods behind the house. We crossed a stream, about 10 feet
wide, maybe two feet deep in the middle, and a good deal of mud under the
Going over, there was ice on top and we made it no problem, on the way
back, the ice had been crushed, and when we went accross the Jeep's front
wheels made it over, but the rear were firmly stuck. Tires spun, then Dad
hopped out and noticed something, the front wheels were not spinning!
I think this is the exact moment when my utter respect of Jeeps occured.
Oviously I was pissed, cursed the dealer with everything I could think
of, but I thought to myself, "Everything we did last night was with 2 wheel
drive, this thing must kick ass when all 4 are spinning!"
A few hours with the Hand Winch and shovels, and so on, the Jeep was unstuck.
The bottom picture on the Pic page shows the mud from this little event.
So the dealer fixes the 4WD, it takes two trips to get it right, but now
it's working. In case you were curious, the vacuum line that engages the
front wheels was off.
I've only gotten it stuck once sience then, but you could argue that I'm
not trying enough. But now that it's May, and warmer, I'm sure I'll be using
that winch and chain again soon.
As I said, the Jeep had no options when I got it. The first thing that
I missed was having a place to put things. The glove compartment and the
little slit in the dash were not hacking it. So I ordered a
and Bestop Jamboree side and rear storage units,
installed them and mounted speakers, lighter adapters and interior lights
on the side units. Now I've got power in the back of the Jeep, light, cup
holders and a ton of storage space. Life got a bit better.
A week ago I replaced the rear soft top window. It was very scratched
and yellowing, and with the replacement I can actually identify objects
out the rear window instead of the smeared shapes I saw before. Well worth
the $75 to the Jeep Dealer. I used the zipper off of the old window to replace
one that snapped on the rear side panel. It was being held on by a safety
pin for about a month prior to that. I'd replace the entire top, but finding
a White soft top isn't easy. Bestop discontinued the color, and to get a
Jeep original, because they dont make my exact top anymore (in white anyways)
I need to get new hardware. So I can spend $650 for white from the Dealership
or $300 for charcoal or spice from Bestop. I'm probably going to just get
the top canvas from the dealer (and some new hardware, Joy), but that will
wait till Fall when having a good top gets more important.
I've just ordered the new bumper, an Olympic front end guard with the
brush guard and light protectors, and BFGoodrich M/T's will be replacing
the worn Dunlops very soon.
Well, if you've read this far, you probably know more about me and my
Jeep than you wanted to. Regardless, I'll keep updating this page with more
babble about my life with my YJ, and soon there will be more pics on the
I'm planing a trip to the Mohawk Trail in MA next weekend. I'm still looking
for maps and other info, but it sounds pretty sweet. Hopefully we'll get
lots of good pics
, and a couple of nice trout too.
For the Mohawk Trail story from 5/9/98 please click
. The story was originally entered in the BBS, and I'm to lazy to reenter
, June is here, and it's been a while sience I updated the history page.
I've made some improvements to The YJ and there will be more on the way.
I've recently added a new Olympic bumper, BFG Mud Terrain tires, Steel Horse
tail light protectors and a Jeep logo tire cover that will soon be airbrushed
to include the Web site address. All of these upgrades are documented in
the Pics page.
As I said earlier, I'd only gotten the Jeep stuck twice before, well after
last weekend, I'm upto three now.
Me and my roommate Mike (not the same Mike pictured on the "New Bumper"
page) went upto New Hampshire to see what kind of trails we could find.
We started in a State Park where the person at the gate stated that as long
as the trail didn't have a gate on it, we could take the Jeep in. We only
found one trail in the park that wasn't gated, and it was swarming with Mountain
Bikers that did not appriciate seeing a Jeep going down the trail. We left
the park disapointed and went looking down Rt. 156 for someplace to try.
We found a pair of logging trails about 30 feet apart from each other,
due to a wider than expected U-turn, we took Nothern entrance. It started
with a steep climb, that quickly came to an area where several hundred 8 inch
wide logs were strewn around in a random fashion, aparently this is the wood
that the Loggers rejected. After 75 feet of driving over these logs, which
made very pleasing noises under the weight of The YJ we again hit what looked
more like a trail. Not more than 100 feet later, however, we hit another
impass that required a bit of bushwacking by The YJ to make it thru.
We got this part on VideoTape, which will be captured and added to the
page as soon as I get a chance. After crashing thru to the trail on the
other side of the hill, we thought we were in the clear. That thought lasted
for about another 50 feet till we came upto an 'old growth' deadfall about
4 feet high, with barely enough room to squeeze The YJ thru on the right
between a large tree and the deadfall, up a steep, no traction inclince
and thru a few smaller trees. While we were scouting the area to see if it
was worth heading further into the woods, we noticed the Southern trail
that we didn't take about 50 feet away and down a steep incline populated
with 2 inch thich trees, rocks and sharp drop offs. That trail looked like
a super-highway compared to what we were driveing on, so we decided to try
to hop trails.
So thru the narrow passage to the right of the deadfall and then down
the steep embankment thru more small trees and brush and we were styling
on a nice little dirt trail.
The trial had some modeate chalenges, a small river crossing and some
rocks to deal with, but it was easy work for The YJ. We ended up at a lake
in Powtuckaway State Park where there were swimmers that made it in thru
a gated access road. After a short break and inspection of The YJ for damage
we headed out to see what else we could find.
We ended up on Steven's Hill Road in Nottingham, NH where we saw another
inviting trail leading into the woods. After a couple hundred yards the
trail started to descend and there were 3 foot deep wheel ruts on either
side of the muddy berm in the middle. I put the YJ in the left rut with
the right wheels on the berm and started heading down. Near the bottom of
the hill, the right side slipped off the berm and we were beached.
We got this on video also, the transcript would go something like this:
Happy Jeep noises, slip, thud, rev, spin, reverse, rev, spin, EB: "Shit!"
Out came the hand winch, chain, steel cable, and jack.
The temperature was in the High 80's, and once I turned off the Jeeps
engine, you could here a low hum that was the millions of mosquitos that
lived in the nearby swamp. These bugs laughed at the military grade bug
repellant that I carry and between the two of us we probably lost a pint
of blood to the little bastards before we made it out.
It was about 4:30pm when we first beached The YJ, over the next several
hours we had limited successes, and many failures, our tactic was to jack
up the right side of the Jeep, place logs, rocks, and what ever else was
handy under the tires, and try to get the right side back on the Berm. We
even used 'The Club' to try and get a bit more traction.
By 9pm we had bent the handle on the winch, been bitten by every variety
of insect in NH, and managed to get The YJ to within 50 feet of freedom.
It appeared that nothing short of a tow truck was going to get us out of
that last 50 feet, as we had slick mud under one side, had re-beached ourselves,
and the lack of light was making any further attempts at jacking and stacking
nearly impossible. It was time to walk out of the woods in shame.
About a hundred yards up the road, we saw a light and walked towards it.
We found a couple working on a fence and asked if we could use the phone
to get a tow truck. They asked where we 'broke down', we explained the situation,
they laughed and agreed to call a tow for us.
Bob and Linda were nice enough to invite us into there house, they gave
us something to drink, and we discussed the thrills of 4 wheeling, Bob's
job, Linda's love of horses, their dog's tragic run in with a school bus,
and various other topics for about an hour till the tow truck arrived.
They sent a long flatbed, and the driver looked at a pickup that was in
Bob's driveway and asked if that was the truck, we told him that he wasn't
going to get off that easy, and walked down to where The YJ was stuck. Before
we even made it to The YJ, the driver said there was no way he'd be able
to get his rig down there, and they would need to call for "Big Blue".
So the driver retreated back to Epping to retrive "Big Blue" and we hung
out with Bob and Linda for another 90 minutes or so untill the truck arrived.
Linda had just finished cooking a pizza for us and I had only time to wolf
down one slice before the truck arrived.
They brought 2 trucks this time, just in case, and when the driver went
to start "Big Blue" it made the classic low battery 'werrrrr werrrrr' noise
several times before starting. We got to The YJ, they hooked up the cable
and got us to the point where I could back up under my own power. The driver
told me to hang on so he could get out of my way, hopped in "Big Blue",
and promptly stalled it popping it into first.
'werrrrr werrrrr werrrrr werrrrr click click click'
Big Blue's battery had finally bit the dust.
Mike walked the second tow truck guy out of the woods to get his truck,
they came back and jump started Big Blue and we were free at last.
The tow only cost $125, (I was expecting $200+) and after a quick stop
to thank our hosts who were far more helpful and kind than we could have ever
expected, we were back on the road to Boston.
We got in at 3am, checked out the videotape of the days adventures, then
called it a night. Even though we had what most people would consider a
bad off road experience, we both still had shit-eating grins on our faces
and no regrets about the events of the day.
The distractions of work have broken my train of thought on this rant,
but thats probably for the best, or else this would have gone on for another
couple hundred lines, so I'll end here, and should have the pics of this
trip posted soon, as well as the final roll of the Gill pics from the weekend
So Now Its July
A lot has happened sience the last posting, both personal and with the
First, I've moved to a new hosting company,
. My previous service provider, SiteAmerica, simply could not keep my site
in the DNS tables, and KumaWeb was down far too often. The new provider
has much better rates, a staff that fixes things often within minutes of
me sending them an email, and is able to keep the site UP!
Second, I'm changing jobs. I'll be starting as a ClearCase Admin at John
Hancock Insurance in Boston on August 3rd. I have been doing ClearCase tech
support for Rational Software
for the last 18 months, and now I get to do the initial implentation of
the product and keep it running smoothly for JH.
I've also had to throw a new clutch in the YJ, it let go suddenly while
I was on vacation and cost me $635 to fix. Joy, joy, joy.
Well, your not here to hear about me, you want to know about where the
YJ has been lately.
I've only had one trip out sience the New Hampshire Beaching, but it was
a good enough run to make up for the 3 weeks of 2 wheeling around thru traffic.
I got an email from Steve who had noticed my page and decided to write me
a note. He eventually ended up inviting me to head out to NorthWest Rhode
Island where he said he found a spot that had about 30 miles of trails on
fire roads and powerlines. He asked that I keep the exact location a secret
to avoid the area getting gated, but if you want to hook up for a ride,
I'll be glad to show you where it is.
I've already posted the pics from my camera for that day, and I'm waiting
on the pics that Steve took so I can post them to the web. The story of
that day is on the Pic page, so I won't bother repeating it here.
Thats all for now, gotta get back to work...
Well, been nearly 4 years sience I wrote in the history
file. Long time.
Moved to Vermont over 2 years ago, got sick of Boston and headed for the
Two months after my last entry here I bought a patch of land on a hill
in the middle of nowhere, built a camp, firing range, bonfire pit, and so
on. You can see the progress at the Camp at
MyJeep.com got sold off to JeepAholics.com
about a year ago, he has a nice site great buliten boards, and it gets
updates a whole lot more than this one does.
The YJ has some extra dents, hit a deer, the brush guard saved the grill
but the right fender got whacked. Makes it look mean.
I'm going thru and finally fixing some of the broken pics, I think I have
all the contact sheets displaying again, but theres still about 100 files
that need to be renamed.
Well, I'm off to bed, more soon maybe :)
Early AM June 6, 2002
Well, I guess its time to check in again. Its now 2004 and the Jeep is still serving me well.
I hit the second deer with The YJ in the fall of '02. This one made it into my fridge after mangleing the drivers side fender a bit. I had already done the flat fender job to compensate for the first deer hit so it was just a matter of beating it back into shape cave man style to make it look passable. Again the brush guard saved the day, and the grill.
The YJ took about a year off the road due to first the clutch failing ($500) then a few months later the tranny failed and needed to be rebuilt ($900), then 2 days after getting it back on the road the radiator went (another $125 and a few weeks to get the cash), finally in September 03 the Jeep was back in running condition minus a valid inspection sticker due to some silly rule about having a tailpipe. Another few weeks and some exhaust work and the YJ was legal again just in time to migrate to South Carolina from Vermont.
In October I sold the camp (see link above for GoneNorth.com) and moved to Upstate SC with my wife. Oh ya, forgot to mention that I got Married on 2/3/2003 (see www.2323.us for another badly formated website about my wedding, honeymoon in Jamaica, and so forth). My wife drove her '90 Bronco with the 2 cats and the dog, and I drove the YJ, the trip took about 32 hours including breaks, the cats probably enjoyed the ride the least of all of us, but we all survived.
The YJ has passed 161,000 miles and makes an 80 mile round trip daily to and from work, I haven't done much off-roading with it down here yet, and probably won't stress it out for more than light trail riding anytime soon. The next fix that is overdue will be to replace the front wheel bearings which are pretty much shot.
In another month or so the top will come off for the summer, it's already aproaching 70deg down here and soon the road noise of flapping 10 year old canvas will be replaced with soothing 65mph wind in my face. I can't wait.
Well I think that should bring things up to date. I plan on getting a few current pics of The YJ up on the site soon in the pics section, and update the front page to show the YJ in its current state beside the 'pristine' image of the Jeep when I first got it back in '97. I also need to check into the laws down here to see if I can display my Vermont THE YJ plate in addition to my new mundane SC license plate (if anyone knows the regs, pls drop me a note).
Signing off for now, Happy Trails,
Feb 22, 2004.
Two years have passed since the last entry, so guess it's time for another update on The YJ.
The YJ now has 189,000 miles and is still working as a daily driver. The northern salt has taken it's toll on The YJ and even tho it's now in the south rust is becoming a problem and Bondo has started to be the solution. The windshield frame developed a few holes in the bottom that were plugged with bondo, and today was spent sanding, bondoing, and rustoliuming the rocker pannels.
Here are two pics after todays work, and the creative paint design used to cover the fix -- One Two
I think it came out pretty nice for 2 cans of spray paint and some masking tape.
As you can see the front fender flares have been removed, just for the sake of doing it, and the front bumper that saved me from 2 earlier deer attacks is no more. I was pulling a stump with a chain on the front bumper and the stump won the battle tearing off the bumper, oooops. There is also a new set of tires on The YJ, thanks to a tax refund the worn flat generic 215's have been replaced with new 235's.
The soft top was never put back on after being removed in 2004. I now run with a half top year round, with a plexiglass shield from the roll bar down to a wooden divider behind the seats to keep the rain and elements out. The plexi window is tied in place with parachute cord and can be easily removed and stashed behind the seats when I feel the sudden need for wind. Total cost was about $15 at Home Depot. The back seat has also been perminently removed, so The YJ is now a very short bed pickup of sorts.
A partial list of repairs since the last entry includes: a broken motor mount; broken driveshaft U-joint caused by a very worn yoke, which was possibly caused by the broken motor mount causing the whole drive train to be misaligned (the driveshaft fell off as a traffic light turned green, I grabbed it and tossed it in the back of the Jeep and popped into 4WD and drove home on front wheel drive); another muffler and exhaust pipes; new rear brake lines and pads; another battery and starter; front pads; and probably a few other things that I can't recall.
TheYJ.com domain name is mine again after being lost and recovered a year later, and THE YJ Vermont tag is back on the front of the Jeep peacefully co-existing with the SC Tag on the back.
Well that's about all I can think about for an update, so I'll sign off.
Keep on Jeep'n
March 29, 2006