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Woodrow's 97 Green TJ Moderate Build

I
đź‘Ť
Having just gone through this, I absolutely agree with the ”if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach.
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How such a small innocuous piece can cause such an issue for so many..
I give the pins a cleaning and dab a little lithium grease on them at the beginning and end of the season and that's it. So far no reason to take any deeper of dive on this one.
 
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I

How such a small innocuous piece can cause such an issue for so many..
I give the pins a cleaning and dab a little lithium grease on them at the beginning and end of the season and that's it. So far no reason to take any deeper of dive on this one.

Service manual calls for engine oil on the hinges. I like to hit them with some 400-800 grit sand paper if they've collected any buildup and then give them a coat of oil each season and during any engine oil change.
 
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Rubicon Report:
Last weekend I ran the Rubicon for my 1st time w/ @Alex01 as a guide. This iconic trail is a bucket lister for many off roaders and the namesake of of the top of the line Wrangler for the last 20 years. It did not disappoint. The weather was perfect (or slightly cool when the sun wasn’t up) and traffic was light. It was just the 2 of us and I was pretty focused on the driving so there aren’t as many pics or videos as I would’ve liked. I loaded up Thursday nite and took of Friday am for the 450 mi trip to Truckee where we agreed to meet.
71704218867__994BB3F6-DFCE-477A-B3D6-9138CAC1633E.jpeg

We met at 6am Friday. My Jeep looked a little small, a theme that would persist throughout.
IMG_5138.jpeg

We decided to run the trail in the traditional manner, west to east. So we had an almost 3 hr drive to the west staging area. Alex had a sun shade top and that was all. I left my half door uppers in the truck. It was chilly. I ended up with hand warmers in my gloves.
IMG_5140.jpeg

First, we went down the west side of Lake Tahoe while the sun was rising. Beautiful. And warming up, a little.
IMG_5142.jpeg

Then east, paralleling the trail to the south, and back up to the western trail head. Time to hit the trail.
IMG_5144.jpeg

Slabs were fun. I tried to follow Alex as much as possible. Although I didn’t do every hard/optional line, I took no bypasses.


1696254283657.png

Some posing a little further along.
IMG_5154.jpeg


IMG_5155.jpeg

Note the license plate and front bumper are already dinged up. Also note one of the many outhouses along the trail thanks to the Rubicon Trail Foundation for all their hard work! At the Soup Bowl, Alex tries and eventually makes the hard line but I didn’t get it on video.
IMG_2227.jpeg

While we were there, several built rigs passed going the other way. About as much traffic as we saw. I liked this one:
IMG_5158.jpeg

While doing the difficult line at the Soup Bowl, one of Alex’s front axle shaft U-joints tried to spit its cap off.
IMG_5163.jpeg

This was a cool move using a log as a jackstand, unloading the tire so the cap could be pounded back in a re-clippedđź‘Ť (I did have to winch him off though).
IMG_5162.jpeg

On the whole, it felt like most of the trail (22 miles) was like this.


1696254235887.png


1696254346875.png


1696254529716.png

It is described as an endurance test and it is. Many of the granite rocks are mobile and always roll around so that that trail changes constantly. You’ve got to focus continuously, for a long time. I think I heard/felt my undercarriage land on rocks hundreds of times. More on that later.

For comparison, Alex let me drive his Jeep a couple of times (35s vs my 33s, 6psi with bead locks, a 5.0:1 Atlas and several other improvements compared to mine). It is a great Jeep (so much more capable) and I will be making some changes to mine.

One thing I was particularly happy with: After watching my guide, I successfully did Little Sluice. I think that was the hardest obstacle on the trail. For those that haven’t been, its a decently long climb in a field of mostly loose and some very large boulders that lay in a V-shaped valley between 2 big granite slabs. The left side is steep enough that upper body damage is a real concern. The right is steepish but usable as a bail out if necessary (which several JLs on 38s and 40s behind us did). It was all a challenge for me in my Jeep, but there is a tight 40 foot section that I’m still not sure how I got through. Even Alex’s Jeep did not make it look easy. Of course, I don’t have any pics or video because my mind was so preoccupied with the task that I forgot to ask any of the spectators to film it for me.

In total we spent 9 hours on the trail Saturday and made it to Rubicon Springs to camp. Here’s the famous bridge just before the campground with the sun getting low in the west behind us.
IMG_5171.jpeg

There we also met @Slim and 2 of his friends. That was cool and they seemed like nice guys. It was good to have a beer and a campfire.

The next day was short; about 3 hours to the end of the trail near Tahoma. We climbed Cadillac hill without a hitch.
IMG_5173.jpeg

I thought we were done, but shortly after that, I somehow managed to turtle myself trying an Alex line and had to be winched off🙄


That crunch was my muffler on the long rock you can see under the Jeep at the start of the clip. I could’ve done better but I wasn’t focused. Anyhow, after that was some bumpy road before the pavement. When we got to the east staging area, we aired up, I switched the swayloc to on road mode and was shocked to discover the TJ went smoothly down the road with no vibes or new noises and a centered steering wheel. Just as if it hadn’t had the snot beat out of it for the last two days. I loaded it on the trailer said “so long” to my excellent trail guide Alex and made the the long drive home. The next day, I drove it to work like normal (except it was slightly dirtier than usual).

Up next: Damage assessment and re-thinking my build somewhat…
 
Last edited:
Rubicon Report:
Last weekend I ran the Rubicon for my 1st time w/ @Alex01 as a guide. This iconic trail is a bucket lister for many off roaders and the namesake of of the top of the line Wrangler for the last 20 years. It did not disappoint. The weather was perfect (or slightly cool when the sun wasn’t up) and traffic was light. It was just the 2 of us and I was pretty focused on the driving so there aren’t as many pics or videos as I would’ve liked. I loaded up Thursday nite and took of Friday am for the 450 mi trip to Truckee where we agreed to meet.
View attachment 462154
We met at 6am Friday. My Jeep looked a little small, a theme that would persist throughout.
View attachment 462155
We decided to run the trail in the traditional manner, west to east. So we had an almost 3 hr drive to the west staging area. Alex had a sun shade top and that was all. I left my half door uppers in the truck. It was chilly. I ended up with hand warmers in my gloves.
View attachment 462156
First, we went down the west side of Lake Tahoe while the sun was rising. Beautiful. And warming up, a little.
View attachment 462157
Then east, paralleling the trail to the south, and back up to the western trail head. Time to hit the trail.
View attachment 462158
Slabs were fun. I tried to follow Alex as much as possible. Although I didn’t do every hard/optional line, I took no bypasses.
View attachment 462190
Some posing a little further along.
View attachment 462186

View attachment 462187
Note the license plate and front bumper are already dinged up. Also note one of the many outhouses along the trail thanks to the Rubicon Trail Foundation for all their hard work! At the Soup Bowl, Alex tries and eventually makes the hard line but I didn’t get it on video.
View attachment 462192
While we were there, several built rigs passed going the other way. About as much traffic as we saw. I liked this one:
View attachment 462194
While doing the difficult line at the Soup Bowl, one of Alex’s front axle shaft U-joints tried to spit its cap off.
View attachment 462200
This was a cool move using a log as a jackstand, unloading the tire so the cap could be pounded back in a re-clippedđź‘Ť (I did have to winch him off though).
View attachment 462197
On the whole, it felt like most of the trail (22 miles) was like this.
View attachment 462201
It is described as an endurance test and it is. Many of the granite rocks are mobile and always roll around so that that trail changes constantly. You’ve got to focus continuously, for a long time. I think I heard/felt my undercarriage land on rocks hundreds of times. More on that later.

For comparison, Alex let me drive his Jeep a couple of times (35s vs my 33s, 6psi with bead locks, a 5.0:1 Atlas and several other improvements compared to mine). It is a great Jeep (so much more capable) and I will be making some changes to mine.

One thing I was particularly happy with: After watching my guide, I successfully did Little Sluice. I think that was the hardest obstacle on the trail. For those that haven’t been, its a decently long climb in a field of mostly loose and some very large boulders that lay in a V-shaped valley between 2 big granite slabs. The left side is steep enough that upper body damage is a real concern. The right is steepish but usable as a bail out if necessary (which several JLs on 38s and 40s behind us did). It was all a challenge for me in my Jeep, but there is a tight 40 foot section that I’m still not sure how I got through. Even Alex’s Jeep did not make it look easy. Of course, I don’t have any pics or video because my mind was so preoccupied with the task that I forgot to ask any of the spectators to film it for me.

In total we spent 9 hours on the trail Saturday and made it to Rubicon Springs to camp. Here’s the famous bridge just before the campground with the sun getting low in the west behind us.
View attachment 462207
There we also met @Slim and 2 of his friends. That was cool and they seemed like nice guys. It was good to have a beer and a campfire.

The next day was short; about 3 hours to the end of the trail near Tahoma. We climbed Cadillac hill without a hitch.
View attachment 462214
I thought we were done, but shortly after that, I somehow managed to turtle myself trying an Alex line and had to be winched off🙄
View attachment 462215
That crunch was my muffler on the long rock you can see under the Jeep at the start of the clip. I could’ve done better but I wasn’t focused. Anyhow, after that was some bumpy road before the pavement. When we got to the east staging area, we aired up, I switched the swayloc to on road mode and was shocked to discover the TJ went smoothly down the road with no vibes or new noises and a centered steering wheel. Just as if it hadn’t had the snot beat out of it for the last two days. I loaded it on the trailer said “so long” to my excellent trail guide Alex and made the the long drive home. The next day, I drove it to work like normal (except it was slightly dirtier than usual).

Up next: Damage assessment and re-thinking my build somewhat…
That was a fun trip. It was great to meet you. We may need to test out the upgrades next summer.

@Wildman whenever you're ready....
 
I’m proud to say I’ve wheeled with Alex, and he is first class (Love his wife and kids too).

Looks like an awesome trip Wood, and it sounds like Alex knows his way around. I’d love to get out there at some point mysef.
 
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Awesome trip documentation! I’m just waiting for an opportunity to get there. You aren’t wasting any time making your way to the top trails!
 
How scratched up did the underside get? That trail is pretty brutal on the undercarriage.

Brutal is accurate but also very fun. Many scrapes and several dents in various things were collected. My TJ was the smallest rig we saw all weekend and my lack of clearance and incomplete armor were highlighted. As noted, changes to come.
 
Brutal is accurate but also very fun. Many scrapes and several dents in various things were collected. My TJ was the smallest rig we saw all weekend and my lack of clearance and incomplete armor were highlighted. As noted, changes to come.

IMO armor is the most important mod for the Rubicon and even then you won't have enough.
 
That was a fun trip. It was great to meet you. We may need to test out the upgrades next summer.

@Wildman whenever you're ready....

Hopefully sometime next year I can come down and just hang around. Do the Rubicon & then Dusy & then Fordyce. Wish Panaimint Canyon was still open...

I'll have to find some spots to boondock up around Tahoe. Got family in Reno too.
 
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Hopefully sometime next year I can come down and just hang around. Do the Rubicon & then Dusy & then Fordyce. Wish Panaimint Canyon was still open...

I'll have to find some spots to boondock up around Tahoe. Got family in Reno too.

Be sure to let us know when
 
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