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Time is Running Out for Flat Out for Moab!

There’s no other way to put it. And you’ve probably been there on a project or two yourself. I’m running out of time to get Flat Out for Moab finished and on the road.

Most things have gone well on getting the 1946 CJ-2A ready for a roadtrip that most sane people wouldn’t consider under ideal conditions. Let alone a vehicle that hasn’t been on the road since 2002. And my dreams of putting a week or two of miles on it before setting out on the 1,700 mile journey to Moab for the 2016 Easter Jeep Safari have come down to hitting the gas station and an oil-change place on the way out of town.

But let me catch you upon the mechanical progress. Much of this I will follow up over the next few months with specific tech articles showing more specifics, making it useful info. What I offer here is more for entertainment.

The ancient power steering pump I had on the shelf leaked horribly from the seal between the pump and reservoir. As tempted as I was to ignore it, the leak was too bad. However, the aluminum pulley had become one with the press-fit steel shaft on the pump. When the right tools to remove a pulley didn’t do the trick, I broke out a reciprocating saw and cut-off wheel. Unfortunately for you, the batteries were dead in my video camera by that point.

I ordered a Borgeson pump (later style with keyway) and a new pulley from March Performance. The time lapse video at the top shows me redoing the power steering pump.

I’ve also had lots of fun finding the correct tie rod end. The driver-side one was toast, but tracking down what application the old one fit has been more challenging than most Mission Impossible plots. The great irony is that after searching the shop for other parts, I ran across a lone Moog box with a tie rod end in it. Like the duke fitting ugly girls with shoes, I decided it was unlikely but worth a try. I’ll be darned — it fit!

Flat Out for Moab Flex-a-lite Radiator and Electric Fan

Next, we come to Flex-a-lite aluminum radiator 2.0. The first one didn’t fit. Shame on me for not double-checking the custom order build sheet. But I was able to use the first one for fitment and work with the engineering team at Flex-a-lite to come up with an even better solution. We shaved fins off the front to move the radiator as far forward in the grille as possible, and the height and width is the absolute most that I can fit. The Flex-a-lite LoBoy electric fan fits on the radiator perfectly, and there’s almost a figure’s width between the fan motor and the hub of the water pump. Done!

I then turned my attention to driveshafts and the Sam’s Offroad Traction Bar. This is still one of the best solutions I’ve seen for curing rear axle wrap on a spring-over conversion.  The bar is vintage (20-years old or so), but Sam’s still makes them and I was able to get new brackets to weld on the Dynatrac ProRock 60 axle. I managed to lose the special bolts that are used to attache the bar to the brackets, so Sam’s Offfoad sent me new ones.

Flat Out for Moab Sams Off-Road Traction Bar

Will I make it? I’m still not quite sure. But I need to decide by Saturday (March 12, 2016) morning.

In the meantime, you might enjoy these previous articles on this project:

Flat Out for Moab Part 3

Flat Out for Moab Part 2

Flat Out for Moab Part 1

What’s new at Ram and Jeep for 2016?

Today we stopped by the Willow Springs Raceway in Rosamond, California, to get a sneak preview and wheel time in the 2016 vehicles from FCA, including the Ram Rebel, the Cummins diesel Ram 3500 with 900 lb-ft of torque, the Jeep Wrangler Black Bear Edition, Jeep Wrangler Willys Wheeler, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, and of course the 707 horsepower Dodge Challenger Hellcat, among other vehicles.

The big news from Ram is the off roady looking Rebel and 1-ton 3500 Cummins truck with 900 lb-ft of torque. The Rebel is based on a Ram 1500, but it features standard air suspension, which provides a small lift to clear 35-inch Toyo all-terrain tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels. A Rebel specific interior, grille, and other bits make it stand apart from a typical Ram 1500. Don’t mistake it for a Ford Raptor competitor, it’s not. The Rebel is more of an image vehicle with slightly less off road capability than the now discontinued Ford, but with a more palatable price tag. The Rebel also comes with a real, rumbly V-8 engine, something the new Raptor is rumored to be missing.

The 2016 Ram 3500 is now available with a 6.7L Cummins diesel punching out a class-leading 900 lb-ft of torque, besting the second place Ford Super Duty 6.7L Power Stroke that currently spins out at 860 lb-ft of torque. If you’re in the market for a 1-ton, you’ll be shocked at how smooth the optional self-leveling air-assist suspension on the Ram is. Take it for a test drive before you buy anything.

Also new for Ram is the Limited luxury trim level available for 1500, 2500, and 3500 trucks. The Limited trim gives you all of the accoutrements like fine stitched leather without the gaudy cowboy theme of the Laramie Longhorn package. We’ve seen many people get up in arms about the high-dollar trim levels available in modern pickups. They need to keep in mind that over half of the trucks Ram sells have a luxury interior, and the luxo trimmed trucks spend less time on dealer lots than the base models. You may not like them, but the numbers prove that a lot of buyers do.

Yet another new feature for Ram is the new and improved top tier Uconnect navigation system. It now plays much nicer with Apple iPhones, allowing you to access Siri via steering wheel switches and voice commands. Talk to text also now works for iPhone users. Perhaps our favorite new head unit feature is the ability to toggle from bed view to tailgate backup cam on the big nav screen. It’s much better than the tiny screen in the rearview mirror for the tailgate camera on 2015 models.

Jeep brought out the new Black Bear Edition Wrangler. It’s themed after the mountainous Black Bear Pass trail in Colorado. The Black Bear Edition features a satin black grille, a Wrangler first. It also comes with a Black Bear map hood sticker, a Dana 44 rear axle, rock rails, and Goodyear Silent Armor tires with Kevlar. The Black Bear Edition Wrangler is basically an upfitted Sport model. It’s a limited edition, so don’t expect more than 5,000 or so to roll off of the assembly line.

The Wrangler Willys Wheeler edition is no longer a limited production model. It is a full-fledged trim level for 2016. The option adds $6,100 to the $22,695 base price of a two-door Sport model.

The Jeep Wrangler Sahara model now features body-color painted bumper centers front and rear as well as chrome accented grille bits for 2016.

No official word on the rumored and much anticipated 707hp Grand Cherokee SRT Hellcat / Trackhawk, but we did hop in the 2016 SRT Grand sporting the 475hp 6.4L Hemi, which enables the Grand Cherokee to accelerate from 0-60 mph in an impressive 4.8 seconds and run the quarter mile in the mid 13s. Top speed is 160 mph. It’s certainly no slouch. We took the 707hp Dodge Charger Hellcat for a spin on the track to get an idea of what a Grand Cherokee version would feel like. The all-wheel-drive capability will make it a pavement-eating monster for sure.

Video On 4X4 Tires With John Cappa

Are you running the correct tires for how you use your 4X4 and do you have them inflated to the proper tire pressure for street and off road use? I have answers to those questions! Are you ready for another OffRoad Independence podcast with me? Well, too bad, we made it anyway. In this episode we talk about tires, reseating a 35-inch tire bead with a bike pump, and Eric’s porcelain figurine collection, among other things. Plus, you can look at my ugly mug the whole time, we got video working!

We cover a lot of important tire topics that alter how your 4X4 will perform on and off road and how you should choose the right tire for you. I even slip in a few tech tricks on how to reseat a tire bead in the boonies and figure out what air pressure you should be running on the street for long tire life, a more comfortable ride, and improved traction. Check it out.

If you have comments, questions or topics that you’d like to see covered in future podcasts, click on the comment box below.