Thursday, June 29, 2017

How to Prep Your Jeep for Going Off-Road

So, you’ve just become the proud owner of a Jeep — congratulations! Jeeps are some of the world’s most capable off-road vehicles, so you’ll probably be excited to throw your new ride in four-wheel and tackle some trails. Before you do, however, there are a few things to think about.
What kind of off-road driving will you be doing with your Jeep? Does it have to be a daily driver as well, or do you want to transform your vehicle into an all-out rock-crawler? If you’re not sure just yet, that’s alright. Here are a few suggestions about ways to improve your Jeep’s off-road capability without sacrificing too much in the road manners department.
Wheels and Tires
During my recent trip to Virginia, I had the opportunity to test Firestone’s new Destination MT2 off-road tire. The trip really left an impression about what the right tire can bring to an off-road vehicle. Compared to the stock rubber, the new Firestones slipped less and dug our Jeep Rubicons out of sloppy terrain with remarkable ease.
A new set of tires for your Jeep can enhance traction and looks, and even give you a slight increase in ride height. Make sure to check with your tire supplier to see if you can fit the new tires on your factory wheels.
Body Armor
Protective plating is an essential addition to any serious off-roader. Often referred to as “skid plates,” these armor pieces defend your Jeep’s oil pan and other soft elements from sharp rocks on the trail. That means you have a better chance of driving away from an impact, instead of getting towed out and spending all night getting home.
For additional protection, you can add rock sliders to the side of your vehicle. These are similar to running boards, but are more substantial and attach to your Jeep’s frame, deflecting impacts that would otherwise hit sheet metal.
Winch and Compressor
Another great addition to any trail-ready Jeep is a winch. A winch mounted to your bumper allows you to attach to something sturdy near the trail and pull yourself out of a difficult situation. It can be essential to getting over technical obstacles.
Similarly convenient, an air compressor mounted to your Jeep will allow you to air down your tires when you hit the trail, and then air them up again for the drive home.

When the Dust Settles
Even with all the preparation in the world, taking your Jeep off-road has its risks. You should always be sure to clean your Jeep well after a day on the trail. This will reveal anything you might miss, such as chips or cracks to your windshield, and keep your Jeep’s finish looking good. Also, examine your tires to be sure they did not tear.

As you learn more about your local terrain, you might choose to install a snorkel or sand tires on your Jeep to maximize its potential, but you’ll be pretty impressed with what these trucks will do with just a few modifications. It’s no wonder they’ve been America’s favorite off-highway vehicle since the ‘50s.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

How To Earn Extra Income To Help With Prepping

My word counter says 939 words.

Title: How I Earned Extra Income To Help With Prepping

Begin article
One of the major hurdles to creating a survival cache or long term food supply is the lack of money to buy it. I'm going to outline some ways to earn extra cash above and beyond the traditional paycheck that might be easier than you think. Next, I'll outline how we established a year supply of food for our family of eight.

It is real easy to find yourself living paycheck to paycheck. Cars breaking down and unexpected bills seem to always creep up on us right when we think there will be a little extra cash left over from payday. The best way I've found to make a purchase that seems out of reach is to first: figure out how much money is going to be needed to make the purchase and then second: determine how to earn that specific amount of money.

Determining the amount of food supply can be as easy as looking it up on the internet. I think we determined how much we needed using calculations found on SurvivalBlog and the LDS website. Both are terrific sites for learning about types of food storage, maximizing calories, and creating lists of what is needed. Figure out how much food and drink is necessary then add some comfort items. We added fruit drink mix, hot chocolate powder and spices to the common list of wheat, beans, rice, dehydrated milk etc.

So, WHAT we needed/wanted was the easy part. Then we had to figure out how to raise the money to purchase it. There are SEVERAL ways to add income to the house and I will only list the ways I actually used. I work in a hospital setting and some tips may not be suitable for your type of job but it may give you ideas nevertheless.

First, I cashed in my PTO time. We're given two weeks of vacation time per year and I turned it into an extra paycheck. Not all companies will let you do this but mine did. I had done it at a previous job years ago and at that time, that particular hospital allowed vacation time to be redeemed at around 65% face value (to discourage employees from burning the vacation for cash, I suppose).

Second, since we're ALWAYS short staffed in my department, I started staying late when feasible. 15-60 minutes or more will add up quicker than you think. If you can get over 40 hours, it should be paid at "time and a half" or overtime pay. Again, your results may vary.

Third, I would work through a lunch now and again during our busy season. This nets another 30 minutes of work time on the clock (unless you get an hour for lunch). Its pretty easy to munch on protein bars during work rather than take a full 30 minutes off the clock to eat.

Fourth, I stopped my 401k deductions. This may not be for everyone but I think if we look back now at all the retirements that were crushed by wallstreet we'll see that 401k's aren't for everybody.

Fifth, I increased my tax deductions so that LESS was taken out of my paycheck for taxes. This may be nothing more than a shift of the tax burden to another day but it puts more in your pocket immediately if that is your goal.

Sixth, I would pick up "on call" hours at my hospital on my days off. "On call" means that if someone who is covering the department needs help, they call in the "call tech" for help. It is typically only for two or three hours but can also mean covering an entire shift if someone calls out sick. Being "on call" also means getting paid a minimum of $2-3 per hour just to carry the pager and be on call. So even if you don't get called in to work, you still make a few extra dollars.

Lastly, pick up an extra shift. Sometimes I would work an extra shift at my hospital, sometimes for another hospital. Either way, its extra cash. My hospital would be paying me overtime pay (think higher hourly pay) or the other hospital would be paying me PRN pay (think higher pay since I'm not a full time employee there.)

Over the course of a year, using these methods, we were able to purchase a year's worth of food storage. We also beefed up our survival supplies with a Berkey water filter, twelve 55 gallon water drums, an outdoor shed for extra storage, a shotgun, tons of gardening supplies, three molly bags full of bug out supplies and more.

Helpful tip #1: Figure out WHAT you need and write it down. I used a CraigsList application on my phone to look for things on our list. If I was looking for a shed, I plugged in an automated search for the keyword "shed" and set the price range to what I could handle. Then set the proximity to your house or how far you are willing to drive to go get it. Then I set it up to check posts every ten minutes. This is how you become the FIRST person to call a seller after he posts an item. We bought 90% of our items this way. The other 10% was either on sale at Amazon or Walmart. Some items took a year to find, others were pretty easy. It took almost a year to get a notification that someone was selling a Bosch mixer for $250 with all the attachments. Those are hard to find. Garage sales are a great resource too.

Helpful tip #2: The other side of the equation to put money in your pocket is KEEPING money in your pocket. Write down all of your expenses and go through them one by one to see what you can reduce. Remember, every dollar you DON'T spend is a dollar earned too. We called Verizon Wireless and found a more affordable cell plan. I installed motion sensor light switches in the kids bedroom to keep them from leaving lights on when they aren't in the room. We cancelled our $50 per month satellite tv and bought a Netflix subscription for $7.99 a month. We watch Hulu and Youtube movies for free instead of going to the expensive theaters. I even called our bank just to see what would happen if I asked for help with our second mortgage and auto loan payment. They offered a modification of sorts and have reduced our monthly payments by hundreds of dollars. I was shocked to say the least. It never hurts to ask!
So there you go. Like Larry the Cable Guy says: Get R Done!

by: The Orange Jeep Dad


Friday, February 10, 2017

Jeep Wrangler Grilles Through the Years

Jeep Wrangler Grilles Through the Years
Jeep Wranglers, in their various incarnations, have earned their place in history. From its rugged beginning as troop vehicles in World War II to its current sportier form, there’s one thing that has remained nearly the same — the iconic Wrangler grille. How has the grille changed over the years, and how has it remained the same? Check out this image to see the slight differences through the years.

Jeep, Pre-Chrysler, 1944-1986
The Wrangler and its iconic grille started its life in the early 1940s as a lightweight troop carrier for U.S. troops in World War II. The CJ-1 and CJ-2 models sported the first version of the grille: two large, round headlights to lead the troops through treacherous terrain, and a wide air grille to keep the engine cool. The shape of this first grille has remained nearly constant through the years.
From 1945 to 1953, the CJ-2A and CJ-3A were manufactured as the first civilian vehicles of their type. The company had little to no competition, because they had found a niche that no one had explored before. While the edges of the grille became a little sharper, the classic shape remained intact.
The CJ-4 in 1951 returned to the softer, rounder lines of the grille, especially around the headlights, but after 1953, the CJ-3B returned to the squarer edge design.
From 1954 to 1986, Jeep introduced four new models that altered the grille design. The CJ-5, CJ-6, CJ-7, and CJ-8 expanded the grille. While the centerpiece of the grille was still similar to its predecessors, with enormous headlamps, smaller driving lights and seven vertical slats, the rest of the grille was expanded across the front of the cars, creating a more unified appearance.
From 1981 to 1985, the company tried a new design for their grille. The CJ-10 and CJ-10A featured wider-set headlights and additional slats. The overall look was flat and bulky, and was soon abandoned.
In 1987, Jeep was purchased by the Chrysler Company, and changed the fate of the Wrangler grille forever.
Jeep Wrangler, 1987 to Present
Chrysler’s takeover of Jeep led to the introduction of the first YJ model, which was produced from 1987 to 1995. Dropping the bulky CJ-10 grille, the Wrangler’s new designers decided to go back to the basics. The biggest change was the switch to square headlights and driving lights instead of round. They kept the expanded pieces behind the grille and went back to the classic seven-slat grille design.
The classic Wrangler grille we all know and love came into being in 1997. Returning to the round headlights and introducing larger driving lights, the Wrangler TJ and Unlimited have shaped the look of Jeeps since the late ‘90s. The only exception to this is the Wrangler JK, which keeps the round headlights and seven-slat design but rounds off all the edges.
Time will only tell what Jeep will come up with for the 2018 models and beyond.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Orange Jeep IS BACK! -- (1977 Jeep CJ7)

Happy Days are here again! Next month is the three year anniversary of our house fire that claimed my beloved Orange Jeep. As fate would have it, an advertisement came my way that I couldn't believe.

It was an advertisement for a Jeep in a local Facebook Buy-Sell-Trade type group that I recently joined. I've been watching for a replacement Jeep every since the fire but I had established certain minimums before I would buy another one.

Now that I've had three Jeeps (four if you count my current Cherokee...but we all know those don't count), I know what personally make me happy on a Jeep:

  • a nice, big lift kit. 
  • oversized tires to go with the lift
  • winch
  • and above all else...IT HAS TO BE ORANGE.
Now, back to the Facebook ad. It not only had everything on my Wish had even more BONUS stuff...including:

  • nice, new black leather front bucket seats AND matching rear bench
  • strong eight cylinder motor with a solid clutch
  • four extra WORKING KC lights
  • monster spare tire carrier WITH a full-sized spare mounted
  • brand new 37 inch knobbies (still has the little rubber nipples!)
  • complete, solid no-leak soft top in excellent condition
  • dual batteries under the hood to handle the bonus KC lights
All for only $5,000. FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS! Can you believe that? So, guess how much money I had saved up...

NONE. Dilemma time, right? My brain went into overtime trying to figure out how to acquire this beauty. Because I'm short on time, I'll skip to the end. I ended up not spending a single dime for this purchase. 

Would you believe I BARTERED for the whole thing? If you've read my blog in the past, you'd know I bartered for my Husqurvana tiller and many other things. This Jeep was no different. It did cost me quite a bit more than any other barter from the past. But nothing I couldn't do without.

In the end it cost me my 1981 Chevy longbed (that had a blown motor), my white enclosed trailer (many pics here on the blog) and some of my guns that didn't get used much if at all.

Are you ready to see it?!?

I can't keep the kids out of it. 

Boo says it looks (from the front) like a giant spider. Perhaps we should name it Aragog after the Harry Potter spider?

The fender flares and top soaked up all the Armor-All I had in the garage and came out looking nice.

Even with the big tires it still drives like a dream down the road...nice and straight.

Lots of candy on it but still room for plenty more. I can't wait!
So, there you go. Another example of the old saying "Good things come to those who wait." I can't wait to dig in and start playing with the gauges and adding more doo-dads. This winter I'll be driving around all day in the snow just LOOKING for someone to pull out of the ditch with my winch.

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know what you think of Aragog!


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hello Out There

Just a quick post to dust off the old keyboard.

Things are moving quite quickly around here. Kids are growing up fast. Graduated one from high school already. Another is a senior.

The homestead is still a blank canvas for the most part. We moved here to southern Idaho and engaged in a 3 year 3 month lease to make sure we liked what we picked. So far, this has been the best location for raising our family. So I haven't modified the property much until we determine if we are staying long term.

We've raised chickens and pigs, as you can see from previous posts. We've talked about goats, sheep and cattle. No garden yet to speak of but have planted six fruit trees.

I still haven't replaced my Orange Jeep which is where I got my moniker. A mixture of finances and busy life has side railed that endeavor. I have an alert on my smart phone via a CraigsList app that keeps me informed every time one if offered for sale. I have seen a few but none like the one I planned on keeping.

I have lots going on, some of which I'd like to post about, but haven't quite found the time to sit down and write. I'm considering a post for the monthly SurvivalBlog entry about moving to the American Redoubt and getting settled in. Some of things I've done to acclimate include:

  • settling in with the local church. I'm LDS and have become the President of my Elder's Quorum. This has proven to be a tough calling but lends me the opportunity to meet and get to know scores of families in my community. We have monthly activities including yesterday's fun Date Night Shooting activity which involved running an obstacle course of pistol and long gun targets with our spouses. Last month was BOBCON 2016 (Bug Out Bag Conference) where we had a supply swap, How To session on packing a bag and taste testing about eight different MREs, freeze dried foods from Mountain House, and a 2400 calorie food "bar."
  • joined the local Freemason lodge. I'm an Entered Apprentice at this point so a few more levels to go before I am a Master Mason. If you've been reading my blog, you know my daughters have been in Job's Daughters for several years. That is a group within the Freemason family. I liked the local lodge enough to join now. This has led me to grow my circle of friends throughout the southern Idaho region.
  • join the state society for my craft of Radiology. This has allowed me to again extend my network of friends and associates statewide. I was nominated for President of this organization but was not ultimately selected. It was still an honor to be considered worthy for the title.
  • participating in several of the local "fun runs" for both adults and kids. We participated in a Super Hero race yesterday and Monster won a brand new bicycle. She's thrilled! Macky dressed up like Spiderman and took pictures with the kids.
  • service projects are everywhere and we've done as much as possible: fairgrounds cleanup, helping serve and clean up at the Senior Citizens Center breakfast fundraiser, numerous helping neighbors projects including painting a house for a senior, and lots more.
  • hosting dinner with other families at our home monthly. One weekend we had three sets of people over and it was great. Hosting dinners is a great way to get to know your neighbors.
  • joined as a reserve police office for the local PD. As a level three volunteer, I simply ride along with a patrol one or two nights a month and help by being an extra set of eyes. 
The list of acclimating goes on and on. I'm a firm believer in giving back to the community where you reside. If everyone followed this one rule, our country would be in much better shape.

So that's my update in a nutshell. There are many projects I still would like to attempt but many are waiting to see if we take ownership of the property:

  • geothermal greenhouse like LDSPrepper has on YouTube
  • improve my chicken coop to make it more human friendly (easier access, more automated)
  • add more animal pens
  • add a perimeter fence to the whole property
  • build a workshop into the garage and get out of the 8x10 trailer
  • landscape front and back yard
  • toy with an idea on podcasting that I've been thinking about
  • solar panels to power our home
  • rain barrel water collection system
  • building some cob houses on the property for crafting, music studio, man cave
If you read this, thanks for stopping by. I welcome your comments below. Let's keep in touch.