Annual Jeep Post 2017

So here’s the annual Jeep post. I realize this really isn’t interesting to anyone but other Wrangler owners, but it’s useful to me for tracking changes I’ve made.

This year, the doors and top came off in early May. May 7th to be specific, as May 8th she had a date with a man in Dundalk for a few days to get spray on bedliner. I chose to get the RhinoLiner TuffGrip, and Four Sons Automotive in Dundalk is the only place in the state that does it. If I had wanted some of the other liners Rhino offers I could have gone to Frederick or Bowie, but if you want TuffGrip, you gotta go to Dundalk. It was very windy and breezy driving across Key Bridge at 8:00 AM on a Monday morning in early May in a stripped down Jeep. And it was both windy and full on raining during the trip back home a few days later. It was worth it.

The one thing I’d say is notable about switching over to liner instead of carpet is that the carpet is very heat and noise insulating, so your road noise level is going to go up a bit, and if you are taking longer trips, the floorboard is going to get pretty warm on you. Road noise never really bothers me, but the floor heat on an already hot day when you have the doors on can be a little toasty.

I’d been wanting to strip out the carpet and get spray on the bedliner for a few years now, because nothing smells worse than wet carpet in a car and I don’t want to deal with that. We’ve had the liner for almost 6 months now, and shmoo and I are both pleased with how it looks, wears, and the overall change.

Other changes I made this year were to not use a bed cover for the summer as I had previously and put the rear seat back in and then use a strap cage underneath the Safari top I use in the summer.┬áThis created a “safe” area to throw my stuff for going to and from work and allowed me to have an additional passenger it if was needed. I guess technically it would be 2 additional passengers but I never needed to cart 3 other people around at any point this summer. Overall, the strap/top combo gave a shaded cosy area that someone could sit in and wear a seat belt, so it wasn’t the worst place to sit, but if you are tall you would not have liked it. Having the backseat in also cut into available cargo room, but generally just folding/flipping it up would give us enough to get by with.

The foot pegs were used again this year as well. And I have to say, for such a small easy change to make, they are more than worth it. My left foot is noticably a few shades darker than the right one I used it so much.

We put the doors on for good this year on Saturday, and I gotta say, May 7-Sept 30 is a pretty good run for no doors. There is one exception to this where I had them on for about a week during that time, but as soon as I could, I took them right back off. The top goes back on this weekend, because it’s certainly time. It’s cooled off quite a bit and all the wind that feels great in the 80s and 90s is a little biting and chill in the 50s and 60s. I’ve held off as long as is reasonable, but I have to admit defeat to the change of season now.

I am pretty happy with the way things are now, and really enjoyed driving the Jeep all summer. Next year’s currently planned changes are to have some body work repairs done where the hood has been dented from a branch falling on it and some scratches on the sides above the rear wheels that go through the clear coat and down into the paint. I’ve hit the point where I’m very satisfied with what I’ve got, even though shmoo keeps demanding we get a snorkel,(You know, for reasons!) so now I want to focus on maintaining what I have and keeping it good shape.

In the meantime, I’m working on knitting up a steering wheel cover out of this because I think it will match quite well once it’s done!

Jeep Update, Summer 2016

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This year’s summer jeep update took a bit longer to get to than last year, for a number of reasons.

We went camping on Memorial Day weekend this year and the hard top stayed on for that. Then the leftovers from tropical storm Bonnie (that hit while we were camping in the Outer Banks) made it rain for another week and a half straight, so it was mid June before the hard top came off.

Then, there was some bimini top drama. I had ordered a new safari style bimini top for this year because I wanted more shade in the back of the jeep, and better protection from rain blowback because I always keep the windjammer at least halfway down. (For those who don’t know but want to, the bimini is the roof panel, made of cloth. It’s only the roof and nothing but the roof. The windjammer is the “rear window” like panel.)

I spent the extra money to get the nicer Besttop Bimini top, and then it was on backorder, and then it got here, but it didn’t fit the jeep quite right and I didn’t understand why. I had read up on the top, I know I got the right version, etc. etc. (Jeep Wranglers are like Lego for adults. Just as pricey, and certain sets don’t work with other sets.) It turns out, what they don’t tell you is that they designed this for soft-top users, and soft tops have a door surround. And this fancier top hooks into the door surround. You don’t have to have the door surround, but if you don’t, it allows all the water ever right into the jeep. So I went back to my old bimini top (that only covered the front seat) while we figured out what we wanted to do. I had to decide whether to sink more money into the surrounds and knobs for this top, or if I just wanted to send it back and get the cheaper Quadratop safari bimini that would be like my current 2 seater one, but longer.

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After some discussion, shmoo convinced me I wanted the door surrounds. He really liked the way the Besttop fit into the channels of the door surrounds and felt like that would be better water protection. It was a hard sell for him. I resisted for several weeks. I figure if you are going to take the top off, you’re going to have to deal with some water problems, that’s just part of owning a jeep and making choices like having no top. But I also like having a dry ass when I arrive at work, so he managed to talk me around.

While waiting on the surrounds to arrive, we also did some spot painting on the jeep’s rack where it had rusted. We scraped, rust-primed, and then painted the spots that needed it and finally, Finally, FINALLY took off that wooden valence. Upon removal, I promptly notified Bruce it had been removed. :)

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The jeep has also had some other work done on it since last summer as well. New bumpers with a wench. New wheels & tires. The old rusty rock rails removed and new side steps put on, and it’s been lifted, so it’s SUPER TALL now as well. I’ll be honest, I could do without the super-tallness, but it was required for the wheels I wanted, which remind me of daisies, but in a subtle way.

I’m very happy with it now (not that I was unhappy…). I still don’t have the spray on bedliner, but there’s always next year.

Topless, The Official Welcome of Summer

I know the calender disagrees, but we officially consider it summer once the top comes off the jeep.

I have hard top and I didn’t start taking it off until last summer, which was the first summer we had a garage. Last year it was difficult, took forever, made us cranky and sun-burnt, and took several days. This year it was easy. I did everything we did last year in less than 3 hours, and that includes cleaning it all before putting it on, and then cleaning out the inside of the jeep. Some of that was just having done it before and knowing how to do it now without having to read pages of instructions, and some of that was just better prep and wiser decisions.

It’s relatively easy and affordable (in jeep terms, because after-market stuff is pricey) to get your jeep to look this way, so I am listing everything I’ve put on it/done to it here. Basically, everything we’ve done is available on quadratec.com, and that’s where we’ve gotten it all from, but it’s been over a period of years, not all at once.

Bimini, Windstopper, and Bed Cover set:
If I had this to do over again, I’d pay the extra twenty bucks for the Bimini Plus top, and it’s possible that in the future I’d buy the plus top alone, but this is a great set. When I originally priced this out not long after getting the jeep several years ago, it came up to around 600 bucks, and this “QuadraPac” is $230.00 and includes all the little geegaws and windshield and tailgate channel crap you need because you don’t have it if you have a hard top.

SunScreen:
Even when I take the bimini off, I like a little shelter from the sun. We are pale people who work inside with computers and sometimes extended trips in the sun can hurt you if you forget sunscreen. The jeep might be moving, but it’s like you’re sitting still in the sun.
I have layered this sunscreen under the bimini top so it’s already in place if I take the bimini off. All I have to do is fast the side wraps and snap the two out front snaps and I am good to go.

The Rack:
We got this rack used from a friend who had a 3rd kid and traded their 2 door in for a 4 door. As much as I like having a rack and I like this one in particular, I think it’s insanely priced and it wasn’t super easy to install.
The friend we got it from is the source of the wood on it also, because his wrangler was a soft top and said the wind noise was an issue, but the wind deflector for these garvin wilderness racks doesn’t come with the super expensive rack and it also is rather pricey for what it is.
He did however spend the money on the hi-lift jack mount for the rack (also stupid high for what is two brackets and some bolts):

Hi-Lift Jack:
Because you want to be able to change a tire if you need to and wranglers are pretty tall for normal jacks.
And the handle keeper helps keep vibrations and rattling down once it’s mounted.

A hardtop and door storage rack:
Seriously, it’s pricey, and shmoo said the assembly was a bit of a bitch, but it’s so worth it because you don’t end up shoving your top and doors around the garage and constantly fighting with them when they are in the way. This was easy to put the hard top onto, it holds the freedom panels and the doors securely so they don’t bump and rub each other, and the two rolling racks are designed to slide together to take of less foot-print. The only real problem I have with this rack is that it didn’t come with the cover it’s pictured with, and that’s another $165.00 if I decide to get it. But, when I ordered this back in early March, Quadratec did throw in some quick release mirrors with it, which work better than the old cheapie “I took the doors off and just need mirrors to be legal” mirrors, and they fit over the rack side mounts, which was a concern.

Future plans? Oh yes, I have them!

I need a tire cover, and I’ll probably crack and just order one that I am OK with, since the one I feel in love with is someone else’s custom wheel cover and I am not sure I could get our cat to co-operate.

Larger plans include having the carpet ripped out and spray-on bed-liner put in, so that when the rains happen, it’s just not a big deal and any water that gets in the jeep will just roll right on out the drain holes and there won’t be stinky carpet afterwards. It’s ideal having this done in the summer after I’ve already taken off ALL THE THINGS so I don’t have to pay someone else to remove/put back ALL THE THINGS.
I’ll pull off my soft-top stuff and remove my E-kit and tools before we take it to the bedliner place, and then all they should have to do is remove the seats and rip out the carpet before tackling doing the liner, which will save me some money.

After that I feel like I’ll be done until next year, when I’ll try to convince myself that I NEED this cargo netting somehow.