The first trip for the reborn jeep was up north by Lake Cavanaugh. Dale and Don had found the trail in the Walker Valley ORV area earlier that spring and wanted to try it again. So off we went, Dale, Don, Al and Christy, and Christine (next door neighbor) and I. The whole trip went smoothly with no problems and I was yet again amazed at where my jeep could go. Al had some problems in the beginning which was really difficult and Don had to winch him up a hard part.
I finally got the jeep up to Orcas for the first time for my step brothers wedding. I went up to Orcas a few days early just to visit and drive the jeep around on island trails. Most of the trails I found were basically logging roads and not very hard. The only exception to this was the "power line" road which followed a power line up Mt. Constitution. I vaguely remembered going down this in the bed of a friends pickup truck in high school and being scared out of my mind.
It wasn't so hard this time, and I went all the way to the top. But for some reason I was having some serious problems with steep hills and spinning out in 4WD Low so I just put it in 4WD Hi and powered my way up the hills. When I got to the bottom and back into town I pulled off the side of the road at one point, stopped to check something out, then let my clutch out slowly to start up again and heard a muted snap sound. The clutch was out and I wasn't going anywhere. My Dad was right behind me in his truck and pushed me into the car repair lot which I just happened to be next to. After checking some things out I figured I had broken an axle somehow or broken something in the differential. Well, I would just put it in 4WD and drive with the front wheels. That didn't work either. After trying to take some things apart to figure out what was wrong and calling Dale to ask for advice I decided the best thing to do would be to have AAA tow me home to Seattle. Thank God for that 100 mile to
I arranged with the tow truck guy, who just happened to be right next to where I broke down, to tow me home on the red eye ferry Sunday morning. Well, my step brothers wedding was Saturday and you can probably figure out what condition I was in Sunday morning. Not good, that's for sure, and I probably had the worst hangover of my life.
It turned out that I had broken my rear axle and sometime prior to that I had broken one of my front hubs which would explain why I was having problems with hills earlier and why I couldn't just drive around in 4WD with my rear axle broken. It was a lot harder than I thought tracking down a reasonably priced 19 spline axle but I finally found one through Surplus City in California. I also bit the bullet and got new Warn hubs for the front.
I thought replacing the axle was not going to be that hard a project because I was already familiar with my rear axle from some previous servicing. Several months earlier I was checking under the jeep after driving around somewhere (you always have to look under the jeep because you never know what might be leaking next) and there was a lot of stuff thrown around on the inside of the rear wheel. I though it was brake fluid and I was going to have to fix the brakes again. After taking the wheel and brake drum off I found out the stuff leaking was gear oil/grease goo. It turned out my outer axle seal had gone bad. The hardest part about replacing the seal was getting the hub off the tapered axle so I could pull off the outer seal. I was able to get the hub off with one of those little craftsman 3 arm pullers but just barely. It was a good thing I was standing to the side while turning the bolt on the puller because when the hub finally came loose it shot about 2 feet away from the jeep.
I also decided to replace the one on the other side because I knew it would probably go bad too. The hub on the other side turned out to be a major pain in the ass. I think it was a minor miracle that I got the other hub off with the small puller because after hours of swearing, hammering, pacing, etc. I ended up breaking the puller trying to get the other hub free. I then went around the corner to Cedar Park Motors and asked them if they would make a house call and help me out. I would do anything. They said they couldn't come over but I could borrow their puller if I promised to bring it back. Holy shit, you should have seen this puller. It looked like an artifact from the middle ages. It was this huge, bulky, iron thing that weighed about 25 pounds. I lugged it home, bolted it to the hub, pounded the handle around to tighten it down, gave it a few hard whacks with the hammer and then...pop, the hub came loose, moving about half an inch. This all took about a minute. All I have to sa
Well, I never though about the INNER seal. That was the real cause of the leaking and shortly after replacing the outer seals and putting everything back together, I was leaking again out on the tires. I had to do the whole puller thing again to get the hubs off but this time it was no big deal because I knew what I was doing. To get the inner seal off I had to rent another puller to get the axle out but that was easy with the right tool.
Anyway, back to my broken axle. I got all the tools and parts together I needed and was ready to take it all apart but things became more involved than I though. For some reason the hub on the broken axle was on really tight and I ended up braking the puller I rented. I had to pull the hub, axle and brake stuff all in one assembly, take it to a machine shop with a press, and have the hub pressed from the axle. When I got the broken axle out I realized that their was still a 2" piece stuck in the differential and I was going to have to take out the other axle so I could get the differential out. That part went OK and once I had the gears out I strapped the thing to the back of my bike and took it up to Gunderson's to have him take the powerlock apart and get the axle piece out. After a few days I had the whole thing back together again and was ready for the next adventure.