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MOAB - 1999

Disaster Strikes!

You would not f***ing beleive it! I didn't make it! Let me share something with all of you, my fellow jeepers. It was a sad moment when I realized that I had to turn around, and would not be part of the 1999 Easter Jeep Safari. Here is my story....get a tissue!

All started well, as most things do. I left just before dawn, trying to make Denver in one day. I got to Illinois, and started to get this funky vibration at certain RPMs. It wasn't speed related, because I get the vibration if I reved up the motor when stoped. I looked around the vehicle, but found nothing. I decided to press on. The vibration wasn't that bad, so off I went. What I didn't know then, was that I had broke one of the four bolts that hold the transmission to the bellhousing. Many miles later, In Councel Bluffs Iowa / Omaha Nebraska this weird thing happened. My throttle stuck for a few seconds. I was going down the interstate at 70 mph, so it wasn't that big of a deal, so I just pumped the gas pedel a few times, and all way back to normal. About 15 minutes later, Disaster Strikes!

Instantly, the motor sounded like a shaking can of rock, and I lost almost all power. I pushed in the clutch, and the motor quit immediatly. I pulled over, and got out to take a look. I popped the hood, and went to remove the air cleaner. What's this? The wing nut is there, but the little stud that sticks out of the carb. is gone! I lifted up the aircleaner, and still no stud. Thats when it all came together. Remember the throttle sticking? Apparently, the constant vibration from the broked bolt worked its magic on the stud, and snapped it off. It then vibrated out of the wing nut, and fell into the engine. As it passed though the carb, it got hung up on the butterfly valves, hence the throttle sticking. Shortly there after, it got sucked the rest of the way into one of the cylinders. I pulled the spark plugs, until I found one that was smashed. Now I know where the stud is.

Luckily, I was right in the middle of Omah, during rush hour (OK thats not so lucky) and got assistance from a road side assistance crew with in 3 or 4 minutes. (Really! they were there almost immediately) A tow truck pulled me to a Jeep dealer about 1 mile away (lucky again!). It was Friday at 5:30 or so when I got there, and they were all leaving. The service manager said I could work on my Jeep in the employee parking lot, so thats where the tow truck put me. I the darkest corner of the lot (not so lucky). I had almost every tool I own with me, so off to work I went. I pulled the intake manifold, and the drivers side head, and sure enough, there was a pile of well pulverized threaded rod. Unbeleavably, the piston was in relatively good shape! No hole, just all banged up. The head and vavles look almost perfect and the cylinder walls were scratched, but not horribly (super lucky!). By now it was 8:15 or so, I walked over to Parts America, which was just 200 yards down the road (luck again) and asked for a intake gasket and a head gasket, both of which they didn't have (not so lucky). The guy there was nice enough to get on the phone and locate the parts for me. Since the guy put so much effort into my problem, I bought everything else I would need from them, such as oil, antifreeze, RTV, spray gasket stuff, a gasket scraper, and other junk. He found the parts at a NAPA distribution warehouse, that was open 'til 10:00pm on Fridays (lucky). I called a cab, and got a ride back to the Jeep so I could throw all my tools and expensive stuff in the trunk of the cab (my Jeep doesn't lock). Then onto NAPA, and back. $70.00 in parts, and $20.00 for the cab later, I was back on the job by 10:00. I cleaned and reassembled everything, without a problem (except for the fact that it was about 40 degree out now). I walked over to Burger King, next to Parts America, (still lucky) and grabbed some grub. I finished the job about midnight and started the Jeep. Ran like a top! Who would of thought! I pulled the Jeep around the block and got a room at the Super 8. (Can you beleive that? I didn't have to go off of the block to get almost every thing I needed!)

With 20W50 oil and some oil treatment that looked like fudge, I figured the oil was so thick, that the cylinder scratchs wouldn't be an issue, so I pressed on. I got all the way accross Nebraska to the Colorado border when I started to experience power loss, that I think was related to heat. It was really sort of a mystery, but it was enought to make me realize that if I'm having this much trouble on flat land, the mountains will kill me, and I still have to get back! I decided reluctantly, to turn back and live to fight another day. (Use tissue now) Going back was uneventfull.

When I got home, I decided to pull the tranny to see if the clutch was causing that vibration. Thats when I noticed the broken tranny bolt. I had ruined the pilot bushing, so I ordered a new one from Advance Adapters, and put it back together. It's been a couple months now, and I still haven't pulled the motor apart again. Now thats one tough motor. It eats bolts, and keeps on running!

This trip also proved the usefullness of a highlift jack for more then just lifting up a truck. Of all the tools I brought with me, I didn't bring my torque wrench. So I disconnected the handle from the jack, and used it as a breaker bar for disassemble, and a poor mans torque wrench when assembling.

Here is the trail Schedule I was lucky enought get, only to not be able to go (use tissue again).

Sat. 3/27 - I'll still be driving there from Wisconsin
Sun. 3/28 - Metal Masher
Mon. 3/29 - Flat Iron Mesa
Tue. 3/30 - Elephant Hill
Wed. 3/31 - Poison Spider Mesa
Thu. 4/1 - Gold Bar Rim
Fri. 4/2 - No trail, just gonna watch. (Or repair if needed)
Sat. 4/3 - Golded Spike (YeeeHaaaa!!)
Sun. 4/4 - Hells Revenge

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