Bill E. Branscum ©2003
(Click the Pics to Enlarge)
As we intended, we have added to our Jeep
collection. This time, we bought a Wrangler Sport model
for Jeremy and Luz to fight over which works out very nicely
for me -- now I have my Jeep all to my self!
Perhaps, but you'll notice that they took my roof rack.
That is one handy thing to have on these little Jeeps -
I've ordered another one just like it.
If you "double click" the pictures they enlarge
As part of our purchase deal,
we negotiated to replace the tires that came on the Jeep
with Good Year MTR's like the ones on the Rubicon - exactly
like them. As it turns out, although the wheels on the Sport
Wrangler are 15," the 10.5 x 31 x 15 inch tire is exactly
the same diameter as the tires that came on the Rubicon's
The guy in the background is Mike - he has done all the
work on our Jeeps and we thought it would be fun to have
his kids see him on the net.
The 10.5 x31 x15 is significantly taller,
wider, and more aggressively cut than the Good Year Wrangler
GSA's, but we knew it would fit perfectly since it is the
same size as the stock tire our Rubicon came with. More
importantly, it meant that although the wheel sizes are
different, our spare tires would be interchangeable, which
could be important if one of our Jeeps had two flats on
a trail somewhere.
Back in the day, when I was trying very hard to survive
the Mechanical Engineering curiculum at the University of
Kentucky (my Criminal Justice degree didn't seem to be in
demand), I learned something important - you cannot "out-engineer"
Detroit. The guy who survives Statics, Calculus, Thermodynamics,
Fluid Mechanics . . . will get a job, but the guy who masters
them will make it to the "big three" in Detroit.
When the shade tree knucklehead down the street starts
telling you what the engineers did wrong, and how he proposes
to improve it, ask yourself why he's hanging out under that
Now, I did not say that we cannot customize the factory
offering, and make it more suitable for our purposes, that's
a totally different thing. I'm just saying that neither
you, nor I, nor anyone else, is going to take any vehicle
home, whip out some wrenches and beat them at what they
were trying to do.
For example, I put a factory
selected tire on a factory wheel because I wanted a factory
package. I personally don't like the look of tires sticking
out from under my vehicle - those deep lugs pick up rocks
and I don't want those rocks being slung at my paint.
On the other hand, some people may prefer the wider stance
you get by offsetting the wheels outward - if you look close
you can see why his tires stick out. Look at the center
tread of the tires and notice that the center of his tires
is two or three inches farther out than the center of ours.
The tires are the same size, the difference is the way the
wheel is made. It's called "offset." For those
who may not be familiar with the term, the pictures below
illustrate it pretty well.
See how the center of the wheel on the other
Jeep is further in?
How does that effect steering geometry, spindle load, caster,
camber . . . I don't know, but I do know that some bright
young man with a slide rule figured everything out for me,
and I'm a lot more comfortable with him making the decisions
than leaving it up to the pimply kid at Tires-R-Us.
For those who choose to pursue the wider track option,
the paint exposure problem is easily corrected - the same
way the factory corrected the problem when they designed
the Jeep to be used in the Tomb Raider movie. Change to
a wider fender flare that will cover the tires.
The factory nerd intended that my Jeep be able to do this
without anything rubbing, or ripping off my fender flares.
Looks pretty good to me, and not so much as a squeek. What
do you suppose is going to happen if the other guy gets
in this position while using the factory flares? It won't
||Some might argue that it isn't fair to use such
extreme examples, and such harsh terrain. "Hello,"
this is a Jeep we are talking about . . . and it ought to
be able to survive a lady driving it around in her front yard!
That's Luz - see the house in the background of the picture
And that brings me to point number two. My
wife never drove a Jeep before and, as I suppose is the
case with most people who have never been in one, "had
Furthermore, my son, who thinks he can wrestle alligators,
approached the whole thing with more trepidation than she
did. Thirty minutes of driving around the yard, putting
it in 4WD, putting it in low range, crawling downhill, backing
uphill, getting a little sideways . . . why don't Jeep dealers
do this with new owners?
|Once she felt like she could get it in and out
of four-wheel drive, and got comfortable with it, Luz wanted
to go everywhere. She can be a bit reserved, so I expected
that it would take some coaching to get her to get out off
road, but . . . Picayune Forest, here we come
Admittedly, it's not that risky to do this
sort of thing with your husband standing by with another
Jeep, especially the Rubicon with a winch capable of lifting
two Jeeps up into a tree, but I find myself noticing how
many young ladies are driving these things to work, and
wondering how much more they'd enjoy them if they fully
understood their capabilities, and felt like they were really
in control of the machine.
||We traveled all thru Picayune Forest, Jane's Scenic Drive,
down by the T Canals, out Miller Blvd. Extension (what a mess!),
and some out of the way little places where we could let Luz
sling some water around.
It wasn't long before the kids decided they
preferred to ride with her. Now that's loyalty for you --
nasty little traitors!
|If you're local, and into this
Jeeping thing, e-mail us and let us know when you're going
to be out there and we'll join you.