Sunday, November 15, 2015

Worst Birthday Ever

Turned 45 yesterday and I got to help a friend say goodbye to his father who was also my friend.

Similar circumstances to what happened to my Pops. Gonna miss ya Ron, hope you and my Dad are getting along.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Snotta Jeep Blog,, I Think. Mostly. Sorta.

Last wheeling trip of the year for the club. All of our trails are on private property and almost all of them are prime hunting grounds, Pike county is world famous for its deer population, so we have to shut down when the hunters come.

Since the Father's day run I have not missed an event or club run and I have learned a lot and I still have more to learn. I have seen and done things in this toy that defy description. Words cannot begin to get the point across but I'm willing to try.

First off lets cover trail rating, We have trails rated from 1 to 5 based on some sort of national grading scale that I don't fully understand so I follow these basic guidelines.

1: Got a stocker?
2: Got tires and a lift?
3: Got a locker, spare parts/tools and skill?
4: Got the above and a willingness to watch your fenders go away?
5; Got another Jeep cause I think that ones dead.

Lets throw some jeep math at it and see what happens.

A 1 trail is a good way to test a stocker or learn a new/different Jeep.
2 rated trails are twice as hard as a 1, 3 rated twice as hard as a 2 and so on.

So using Jeep math a 4 is at least 346x as difficult as a 1. My numbers could be off a bit though, still not fully versed in Jeep math. Lee is trying to teach me but since some of his fingers are not right it makes arithmetic difficult. He kan't speel either.....

When we got to the meet we were informed that the only trails available were Atlas, a 5 rated trail and Myer's Mayhem, 4 rated. Atlas was out of question, I like my Jeep and can't afford to replace it. It was also to late to puss out and go home so I hitched up my big girl panties and followed the folks out to Myer's.

I had also conned my Evil Step Dad into going along, he had a Jeep once and wheeled it real hard plowing his parking lot..... Essentially he had no idea what he was in for BWaaaaa hhaaaahhhaaaa.

After arriving at the trailhead we started stripping everything off we could so the trail wouldn't have a chance to tear it off for us and I took a picture of the Short Bus for posterity. Pretty good chance it won't look the same afterwards.

Note that both front fenders are a bit out of kilter, passenger side because TREEEEE! It jumped right out in front of me or me bounced a rock face and landed on it. Your pick.
The drivers side was Carl's fault. Follow me into the woods he says,,,, 3 minutes later he says don't follow me, we can't get thru. Oh smurfect, I was doing good to get thru that going forward and now I get to run it in reverse? As payback for that I have decided to just blame Carl for anything and everything that goes wrong from here on out. That's his brown CJ in the background.
Right before heading into the woods I got a shot of the group.

In the background you can see Da Bratz in Pop's first Jeep named Half Motor, 4 banger YJ. Also of note is that cute white JK, it looked like this a couple months ago.

This is what happens when  stocker with a inexperienced driver hit a 2+ rated trail with gusto and enthusiasm. Its now sporting a lift, better tires, new metal bumpers and new flairs.

Keep in mind this is my first foray on a 4 trail and I was expecting a surprise or 3. After running Lake Shore (3 rated) during the Blast I figured out that what is considered an obstacle on a 1 is what you drive thru to get to the obstacle on a 3 and I couldn't wait to see what  challenges lay ahead on a  4.

The drop in to the trail was a trip in and of itself, when the Jeep in front of you dropped in it just kinda disappeared. Very tight and steep gully with fendersnatchers on both sides, off camber to one side or the other to help you into the fendersnatchers.

ESD looks at me and says "Holy Crap, I thought I had an idea what this was about but I was way off." We had been on the trail for less than a minute and he was already comparing it to Alice in Wonderland.

We get to the bottom and into a wider spot and go back to watch the other folks make the journey and as I was walking/climbing/trekking back I hear the distinctive sound of plastic cracking. I hollered "That sounds expensive!" 2 minutes in and well,,,,,,

(Pic was taken later in the day)

Most of the trail was tight gullys and off camber stuff filled with mud. And holes. Jeepeaters. Seriously. WOW....

Most of the off camber stuff was along a dirt wall so even if you did get to the tipping point your cage would hit the wall and keep you upright-ish. However there where a bunch of Gotchas and Waitaminutes hanging out of the wall to keep you on your toes.

What will a Waitaminute do for ya?

The bad part of those things is once your on them getting off it will be 'spensive or hard to fix.

So on we went with the ESD grinning like the Cheshire Cat and saying how incredible this is. I played it cool so he wouldn't panic and run screaming for the highway. He didn't need to know I was in way over my head and getting lucky a lot. I also have an awesome piece of machinery to wheel that covers a lot of my mistakes.

As we were headed into a tricky spot I saw a spectator (Christie) watching the festivities so I called her over and handed her my camera and I finally have a few pix of me wheeling and not sitting still!

You can see the grin on ESD's face and notice how much the front tire is stuffed in the fender and the rear tire just off the ground.
A few seconds later,,
Other tire stuffed into the bottom of the fender making noises like a card in a bicycle spoke, ESD still smiling.

Leveled out and heading on!

Stopped and mugging for the camera.

Special thanks to the Random Trail Spectatin Chickie for getting the pix for us!

As we headed into the open spot for lunch we found the Jeepeaters,, what's a Jeepeater do for ya?

That was a spotless ride before today, took 2 winches to get him upright. He made the other side match later in the day but I didn't get pix.

That^^^ was definitely Carl's fault....
Da Bratz making it look easy. I swear that Jeep is powered by magic. "You'll never make that trail in that thing." Oh yeah, bet me Buckwheat." Put put put and out they come.

JK almost falling in but made it nice and smooth. Although he did have a matching set of flares by the end of the day,,
After lunch we headed up the hill and this particular climb has a signpost,

Named after Pops, last name spelled wrong but I think that was done to aggravate him. Pops was Charles Ater the 3rd, somehow that that got translated into Charles Ator da Turd. I bet he got a kick out of that.
So up the hill and down the trail we went, on the next section one obstacle blew a tire of a bead and spit out a driveshaft on the same Jeep. Once we got them clear of the trail the driver was a bit dejected as it should have been a day ender for them, tire wasn't going to be a big deal but the busted U joint and sheared off bolts would have been. You shoulda seen the look on his face when I told him I had straps and bolts. He had a U joint so we got the tire aired up and I climbed under the Jeep with a hammer and chisel and got the sheared bolts out and 15 minutes later were off to more fun.
As we dropped into "Slippery When Wet" the call came out on the CB don't come down Carl is busted and we cant get him clear. Walked down and got to thinking this is slippery when dry.
Carl's battery had given up so we swapped his battery for the one in Half Motor and got him going but by the time that was done we were out of time for the day so we headed back to the trailhead to reassemble da Short Bus and head out. BUT,, while we done for the day we weren't done for the night. a quick stop at Murphy's house for a bit of weenie roast and out for a night run.
First time for me on that. Holy crap, these guys were flying on the trail and we covered a lot of ground compared to what we normally cover on a group run. Night time adds a surreal feeling, a bunch more challenge and we were flat moving on down the creek.
Things went well until we heard someone holler "Anyone got a chainsaw?" which of course we didn't. So Murphy and his chauffer turn left and skip over the bank out of the creek to get around the downed tree. The new route was covered in tall grass and rather quickly I heard the mating call of a stuck Jeep. They had found another downed tree hidden by the grass so they backed up and hit it again hopping right over it and into a fairly large stump also hidden in the grass.
Apparently the easiest way to clean out your rig is to turn it on its side and give it a shake. I prefer a trashcan and a vacuum but I'm new to this, their way may be better.
Got it righted and drove up/around the can opener and headed back to Murph's to grab our cast offs and head home.
It was a great day and we had a blast. I can't wait till February when it starts up again. I will be using the down time to make some improvements to my ride, highline fenders and a revision to the front suspension and axle. what I got is good but I can tell it needs to be better.
I'll get pix of da Short Bus in the morning and post them up so you can see the damage. It will take a whole 2 minutes to fix.......


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day, Lets Go Try and Break Sumpthin.

First Father's Day without one, feels odd.

To celebrate I decided to go on the TRJC Father's Day run. Given my track record on breaking Jeeps on level ground in a bit of snow, getting out on the trails should prove painful to my wallet.

Since the red Jeep belongs to my Daughter and I'm waiting for her and the SIL to return so they can help fix it I took Pops other toy.
Its an 06 Wrangler Unlimited, 4.0, 6 speed, lifted, lockers, long armed, I could go on for while with this list so lets just say its built for the job. Its even trail rated.....

The Jeep is up to the task for sure but I had never done this before. This was Pop's hobby and mine seemed to be repairing what he bent or broke. Sad part is I should have asked to go with him but we always knew somewhere down the road it would happen. Screwed the pooch on that one.
Since it was my first shot at this I figured training wheels would be funny.....

Now I should mention that we have enough spare parts for the red Jeep to build another one just like it and still have enough spare parts to keep both of em on the trails for years to come. The yeller one? Not so much, in fact I have no spares for it at all, what could possibly go wrong......
So bright and early we show up at the meetin spot and we were thinking maybe 15-20 Jeeps would be there. Uh yeah, at least 50 were there, some fairly nice ones and a bunch that looked like you needed a tetnus shot, hazmat suit and a weeks worth of antibiotics just to get near it.
After the drivers meet we signed up for which trail we wanted and I went for the "baby" trail called Poor Boy. Its rated as a 1+ meant for stockers and mild Jeeps. I should also mention that its rained here every day for the last 2 weeks or so.
Now I'm not up on Jeep math but 1+ multiplied by rain to the tenth power equals "I'm glad I wore my brown pants." Of course I didn't do the math until we were on the trail but at least I was wearing camouflage shorts.
So we hit the road to the trailhead and really began to wonder just what had we gotten ourselves into. I swear if heard banjos playing I was turning around and heading home.........

We get to the trail head and air down the tires borrowing a set of deflators from the guys behind us, knowing that Pops had a set somewhere but I couldn't find em. Also disconnected the front sway bar and put the stinger in the hitch with the attached tow strap, hooked up the winch control and set it on the dash. (Hey at least I looked like I knew what I was doing.)
Off to the side of us there was someone offering a sacrifice to something he called the Bead Goddess, muttering please have mercy on me today. I think he has had some issues in the past with tires coming off and filling with mud. I wasn't going to ask as it may have been a sore subject.
So off we go to hit the trail. Again I have NO frame of reference for what is about to unfurl and if I would have guess I would have missed it big time. We started out driving thru a grassy field up gentle hills with a puddle here and there and I began to relax a bit and all was good till we plunged into the treeline.
 "Uh this don't look promising."
 It was then I remembered hearing the trail guide being happy about being the first one up the hill.
Then we watched him go up the hill and I looked at the co-pilot and said "baby trail???" and it was game on from there.
We got halfway up the hill and it kicked out of four wheel drive so we had to back down the hill, give the stick a HARD yank and apply a liberal amount of the idiot pedal, 2nd gear low range, mash the gas and hope that tree don't jump out to far when we get there.
On the second trip up the hill we got hung up on a pair of roots with the rear tire and all forward momentum stopped, let it roll back a bit and hit it again, this time I decided we were going over it or we were going to use the rear tire to saw it off.
After that it was a maze of tight turns and even tighter squeezes.

Most of the pix were taken when someone got stuck or it was break time, no way to get any on the roll.
That Sahara in the pic below almost did a front flip and for sure was on 2 wheels for a few seconds.

I am also fairly sure we bent the laws of physics and gravity several times during the day. Some warning signs would have been nice.
"Caution 85% grade down next 10 feet"
"Caution 80% grade up on grease over tree roots and rocks next 8 feet"
"When you land, turn hard right, that tree has no safer barrier"  
"Don't check your brakes, its too steep and slick for them to work anyway" 
"Runoff area includes 15' dropoff into creek"
"Max width 75" ahead"
"Road never gets any wider ahead"
"If you thought that was bad, well its too late now"
"Stay in the ruts, bad stuff happens if you get out of the ruts"
The last one came to mind as we watched the trail guide get out of the ruts and shoot off into the trees.
I have never steered some much to go so short in my life, my arms still wont go over my head.
After spending the day on the trail we headed for the car wash.

Followed by a well deserved catered meal and a long ride home.  As we were leaving I heard "Keep the shiny side up" and I didn't quite know how to take it. After playing in the creek for a half hour or so I knew the bottom side was a lot cleaner and shinier than the topside and I'm sure I wanted the shiny side down.
All in all a really fun day and I will be doing it again and I am so glad Pops had this particular bunch of miscreants and malcontents as friends. Hopefully I have them too.
I was never on the winch or the strap all day, not braggin just stating fact. Came home with one slightly bent fender, one more plug in a tire and sadly I blew out a training wheel.
Go out this morning to grab my sunglasses and what did I find?

 Deflators. Oh well I got them for next time. And Dad, I understand why you loved it so much.



Monday, March 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Pops.

Some day I'll get over wanting to call you about what ever stupidity is going on around me.

PS, I broke your Jeep. Yeah, go ahead laugh it up. All the beating and flogging you put that thing through with few failures and I broke it half hour after I got it trying to do a donut in the snow.......

I did the half hour drive home in roadster mode and I'm thinkin the heater needs work. It was blowing plenty hot but didn't seem to knock the chill off.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Well, That Happened.

Charles Ater III, 72, of Winchester, died Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015, at Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville.

Charlie was born March 9, 1942, in Jacksonville, the son of Charles and Grace M. Francis Ater. He grew up in Arenzville, later moving to Winchester.

Charlie joined the U.S. Army in 1961 and was a member of the 3rd Armor Division stationed in Germany. He went on to be a 40-plus year employee of Kordite/Nesco/Mobil Chemical/Pactiv and helped open the second plant.

Charlie was an avid outdoorsman and a life member of the National Rifle Association, fine upstanding member of the Two Rivers Jeep Club, the Studebakers Drivers Club, and a honorary member of the Vagabonds Car Club Illinois chapter.

He was preceded in death by his second wife, Suzy (Linda White) Ater, in 2003. He is survived by his son Charles "Jay" (wife, Stephenie) Ater of Alexander. One of his final acts was witnessing the marriage of his cherished granddaughter, Alex, to Cory Suhre. Charlie was engaged to Lora Van Winkle at the time of his passing.

Charlie is also survived by his brothers, Francis (wife, Kay) Ater of Concord, Burton (companion, Esther) Ater of Jacksonville; sisters, Jennie Castleberry of Carthage and Barbara (husband, Ron) Surratt of Arenzville; many nieces and nephews, and quite a few unrelated folks that simply called him "Uncle Charlie."

So, do me a favor and hug your Mom, call your Pop and tell him he's a stubborn son of a bitch but you love him anyway, kick one or more of children so they know you love them too. We all have an expiration date and nobody knows when it will happen.

One of the songs we picked to play during his services was this,,

I'm not a spiritual person but I like that song.

Has it really been 2 weeks? Seems like a lifetime ago in some ways and minutes in other ways. So far so good, I haven't fallen apart yet but I'm not done trying.

By this time last year I was ready to call 2014 a failure and was ready to move on to 2015. Well 2015 can kiss my ass too, bring on 2016.