The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My negligent self

Oh dear, I've been neglecting this blog, haven't I?

So let's review what I've done to my Jeep over the past month, shall we?

  1. M.O.R.E. 1" body lift. This picks the body up off the frame a bit more to a) allow fitting larger tires (I'm trying to make room for 33 inch tires), and b) allow tucking various stuff that hangs below the frame (like the transfer case skid plate and the gas tank) upwards a bit with aftermarket skid plates. I'm going to start with the gas tank because that skid is always clanging on the rocks when I drop off a ledge, and it's a lot easier than tucking the transfer case up (because you need to add a slip-yoke eliminator and CV driveshaft to tuck the transfer case up, which in turn requires adjustable control arms to tilt the rear axle pinion upwards to point at the transfer case rather than being parallel to the transfer case output shaft, which in turn requires relocating the shock and spring mounts slightly because their mounts are now pointing in the wrong direction). It also allows installing:
  2. M.O.R.E. motor mount lifts. This raises the engine up by an inch. This has two effects: a) the fan is now lined up with the shroud again (the radiator and its shroud are body-mounted and are thus now higher, remember?), and b) the revised angle of the engine-transmission-transfer case assembly allows adding longer springs front and back without throwing the driveshafts out of alignment. Remember, the operation of the control arms means that with longer springs (i.e. a lift), the pinion points further upwards on both axles compared to the stock location. This means that a) the front output shaft of the transfer case needs to be higher so that the front pinion is still pointing at it (this happens because the front output shaft extends forward somewhat and got raised a bit when the front of the assembly got raised), and b) the angle of the rear output shaft needs to be greater in order to remain parallel to the rear pinion (since the rear has a non-CV driveshaft). Which raising the front, but not the rear, of the combined assembly accomplishes.
  3. EBC YellowStuff front brake pads. These are race pads that are also good for normal street braking. They both stop faster than regular pads, and are more resistant to fading due to their ceramic construction. They won't last as long as the OEM pads probably, I'll be checking them every 6,000 miles when I rotate my tires, but they'll stop me, and one of the side effects of having bigger tires is that the additional leverage offered by the larger tires makes your brakes suck. I needed more brakes. These give it.
  4. Centric premium rotors. The rotors currently on my Jeep need to be turned before they can be used with new pads -- they have a decided ridge on them from the wear and tear of the OEM pads. But I have to drive the Jeep to the automotive machine shop to get them turned. What to do? Oh yeah, buy new rotors, and then swap between the new ones and the OEM ones on each brake change, that'll do it, I'll drive on the new rotors to get the old ones turned! Plus the Centric rotors are nicely painted. Purty!
So that's what I've done to my Jeep this month. The PITA with the body lift was the transfer case shifter plate (necessary -- even with the motor mount lift, things are otherwise out of whack) and the steering shaft relocation block (needed to relocate the steering shaft bracket to re-align it with the new location of the steering wheel, since the steering wheel is now higher due to the raised body). The PITA with the motor mounts was that picking up the engine moved the engine not only up, but moved the forward bracketry back a bit (simple geometry, dudes!). I struggled with it for a while trying to get the engine to drop into the new mounts, finally realized the problem, loosened the transfer case mounts so they could slide forward some, pried with a *big* prybar to shift the whole assembly forward a bit, and *finally* got it to drop onto the mounting holes in the frame. Remember, the combined engine-transmission-transfer case assembly weighs about 700 pounds (405 for that big cast iron straight-6 engine, about 150 apiece for the transmission and transfer case), so shifting that big honkin' mother takes a *big* prybar :).

As for the brakes, they just slid on. Take tires off. Unbolt calipers (two bolts). Whack disks with rubber mallet to knock them loose from hub, set aside. Remove outer pad. Use giant C-clamp on inner pad to push the piston back (remember to loosen your brake reservoir cap first or you end up with an exploded brake reservoir cap!) . Remove inner pad. Clean with brake cleaner to get all the old dust and grease off. Put new pads on. Put new disc on. Install caliper. 45 minutes per wheel, tops, and that's if you're slow.

So anyhow, all that's working. But now I have a check engine light. I used the on-off-on-off-on quick flick of the key to get the codes onto the odometer, and checked the resulting code against the list of codes. Hmm. P0456 Small Evaporative System Leak Detected. *PROBABLY* means my gas cap was loose. I removed it, wiped the gasket, replaced it. That *should* fix it, but now I need to clear the code to make sure I didn't mess up the evap system somehow when I lifted the Jeep, which means I need to go buy a cheap scan tool from so I can keep clearing it between attempts to solve the problem until I find/resolve the problem. After all, the evap system is mounted on the body, while the gas tank is mounted on the frame -- and remember, I just picked the body up by an inch. Has a hose wiggled loose because it's stretched too tight? Or was the problem just a loose gas cap? I'll replace the gas cap next with a MOPAR locking gas cap if the code recurs, then if it still happens again, I'll pull out the inner fender liners (a PITA but I've been there, done that) and check the evap system (which is hidden between the inner fender liners and the stamped wheel wells). But all this requires having the OBDII scan tool to reset the code between attempts to fix the problem... so off I go to to order it! (Why order it? I can get a decent tool from for $30 cheaper than the local price, that's why... and it does everything I need to do, so why pay more for a tool that works no better for what I need?).

And that's the month of September for my Jeep. Huh, now that I have no more motorcycles to take up time and money, and no more Jeep payments sucking my paycheck, my Jeep is suddenly getting a flurry of attention :). But that is pretty much over until November, when I will be putting new (well, actually lightly used) springs on it to pick it up higher, and maybe some nice rocker guards and corner guards, or a roll cage reinforcement in case I roll it (eep!) because the stock roll cage works, but the windshield crushes in and can chop your head off if you roll wrong (eep!) so some additional bars to keep that from happening is well worth it...

-- Badtux the Wrenchin' Penguin

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