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  1. #1
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    Default The Grand Adventure: Episode 4

    Episode 04:

    The first big trip:

    Over the 4th of July holiday, I had the chance to take the WJ on it's first big trip. We went from my house (elevation 627ft above sea level) to Green valley Lake (elevation 7200ft above sea level) near Big Bear Mountain in Southern California. The trip starts at forest road 3N16 and ends down near Silver wood lake (elevation 3356ft above sea level) and has a good mix of terrain. This was the first time I would really be able to test the suspension, newly rebuilt engine, and performance on the WJ.


    Honestly, I couldn't be happier; but first, let's talk about what didn't go well:
    My ride has a 4.5” lift, Notch Customs fender flare cutouts, and 33x11.5” Hankook mud terrains. I specifically kept the lift low and cut out the wheel wells in order to maintain a low center of gravity. In doing so, I had to cut out a significant amount of the sheet metal and front bumper, just to make it drivable. I expected that once the suspension started flexing I would get some rubbage, but I had no idea how much. Thea back side worked perfectly, but in the front (specifically the right front tire), when the wheel stuffed in to the well, it started catching a piece of the sheet metal. It was so bad that it completely mangled a brand new tire. I now know how much more I need to cut out and bang on in order to keep it from happening again, but it looks like the spare tire will be going under the Jeep and the mangled one is getting tossed on to the roof.

    Now the good stuff:
    I have done this trail in a CJ-7, TJ, XJ, and even a Toyota Tacoma. In comparison, the WJ was awesome. There are definitely some noticeable differences in the vehicles:

    Transfer Case: The TJ and XJ have similar transfer cases with the 2 Wheel Drive - 4 Hi – Neutral - 4 Low options. When you shift in to 4 Hi, you know it. You can feel the front-end engage and pull you through obstacles. Not nearly as much as 4 Low, but you know its working. The WJ, however, only has the All Time 4 Wheel Drive – Neutral – 4 Low transfer case. And to be honest, I was concerned about how the All Time 4 Wheel Drive with Quadra-Trac would perform. I have read that it was not the best transfer case for “serious” off roading. I wanted to test it out and left the WJ in AT4WD for a good portion of the trail. Granted, the first-third and last-third of this trail can be run by a new Renegade, but the middle section is pretty difficult. I let the AT4WD take me up and down some pretty big hills with rocks and ruts to see how it did. The first thing I noticed is that you can't feel it working most of the time. It is not like the XJ/TJ in 4 Hi, you don't really feel the front end pulling you, until you need it. The Quadra-Trac system senses tire slippage and transfers drive power to the other wheels. On one or two occasions, while ascending a hill and trying to go over some rocks, I felt a tire break away. Seconds later, the other tires dug in and pulled me right over the obstacle. I found that AT4WD and 2nd gear was a really good combination for the trail. Seriously, I was impressed and I could have run the entire trail in AT4WD if I wanted to. But I didn't. The drawback the AT4WD is that you don't seem to get the advantage of engine breaking on steep descents. In the TJ/XJ, you could feel the engine, transmission, and transfer case holding you back while going down a hill and you did not have to use the brakes as much, even in 4 Hi. With the AT4WD, you don't have that. Shifting the transmission down to 2nd or 1st helps, but it didn't have as much effect as I remember having in the XJ/TJ. So, on steep inclines, steep declines, or large obstacles where I wanted more control, I shifted in to 4 Low. I found shifting the transfer case in and out of 4 Low to be easier than any other Jeep I have ever owned. And while in 4 Low, it operated like a point-and-shoot tank, just as I expected. In 4 Low, the Quadra-Trac system is disabled and it operated just like any other 4 Low system. I had all of the pull I needed going up the hills and plenty of engine brake going down. It was everything I hoped it would be. Putting the transfer case in 4 Low and the Transmission in Drive gave me the perfect gearing for service road/easy trails. I could easily slide in to 2nd gear (while still in 4 Low) for hill climbs and down to 4 Low/1st gear for descents. If I were to take this trail again in another vehicle, I would like run it in the same way. The first and last third of the trail in 4 High, the middle section in 4 low. When looking at it like this, the All Time 4 Wheel Drive transfer case with Quadra-Trac really isn't a factor. Drive it like you would any other Jeep.

    Engine: I always believed that the 4.0 had more than enough torque and power to pull an XJ around but when I was shopping for my vehicle, I found that the WJ weighs several hundred pounds more then the XJ. Because of that, I opted for the 4.7L V8. After this weekend, I am glad I did. The WJ never once felt like it was lacking any power. Even driving up the hill to get to the trail the transmission didn't seem to hunt between gears like my TJ did with the same 33' tires. The 4.7 was smooth and stable. On the trail, I never had to put my foot all the way in to it but I always knew I had more pedal if I needed it.


    Suspension: The XJ has a nice, long wheel base and uses coil springs in front and leaf springs in back. The TJ has quadra-coil suspension (coil springs at all four corners) but it has a shorter wheelbase. The WJ has a similar long wheelbase as the XJ with the quadra-coil suspension of the TJ. This was, in my opinion, an awesome combination. The four coils with the long arm suspension made the vehicle twist better than anything else I have ever wheeled. Admittedly, non of my other Jeeps had long-arm suspension and I am sure that is a factor, but the set-up on my WJ did not disappoint. On the washed out service roads, the ride was smooth. On the rocks, the suspension was soft and predictable. Towards the end of the day, I really felt like I could go almost anywhere in this vehicle.

    Now, for the reality check. For the wheeling I intend to do with this vehicle, it has performed perfectly. However, if you are planning on mud bogging, dune-running, or taking on major rocks, this might not work for you. But then again, neither will many other vehicles without severe modification. If I had the option to do it again, I would absolutely get another WJ. I may, however, have opted for a 5”-6” lift for extra room for the tires. A 5.5' lift with the Notch Customs flares and 33” tires would probably be perfect. But when I did my lift, I wanted to try and stay away from installing a slip-yoke eliminator kit and new drive shafts. Was that a good choice, I don't know. But if I had gone a little higher with the lift, I may not need to cut out as much wheel well.

    I am very much looking forward to the next trip. Until then, I will get out the hammer and sawzall and go to town on the front end. We will see how the next trip goes. But, for now, I am very happy with this set-up and the path my Grand Adventure is taking.
    Cody M. Sisson
    www.trailchasers.net
    951.394.DIRT

  2. #2
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    Default Re: The Grand Adventure: Episode 4

    I really enjoyed this segment. Of course I got to hear it on Thursday during the show, but it's available to everyone now over at http://JeepTalkShow.com, iTunes, or TuneIn.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: The Grand Adventure: Episode 4

    @trailchasers your not that far from me..... good episode 4........ keep them coming

  4. #4
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    Default Re: The Grand Adventure: Episode 4

    @81scramblermike Thank you for the comment. Where are you located?

    Sent from my SPH-L900 using Tapatalk
    Cody M. Sisson
    www.trailchasers.net
    951.394.DIRT

  5. #5
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    Default Re: The Grand Adventure: Episode 4

    @trailchasers riverside 92503 near riverside airport, Monroe and Arlington

  6. #6
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    Default Re: The Grand Adventure: Episode 4

    Oh, yeah. You are real close. I will be sending out some notifications for some open group runs. Keep an ear out and join us.

    Sent from my SPH-L900 using Tapatalk
    Cody M. Sisson
    www.trailchasers.net
    951.394.DIRT

  7. #7
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    Default Re: The Grand Adventure: Episode 4

    @trailchasers I would love to, but I'm still building my jeep. But maybe ill take a friend with a jeep lol check out my build when you have a chance http://www.xjtalk.com/showthread.php?t=20485
    Last edited by 81scramblermike; 08-10-2015 at 12:49 PM.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: The Grand Adventure: Episode 4

    @81scramblermike That is super impressive. I have always loved the Scrambler and wish I had the ability to do a ground-up build like that. The fab work is really nice!
    Cody M. Sisson
    www.trailchasers.net
    951.394.DIRT

  9. #9
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    Default Re: The Grand Adventure: Episode 4

    @trailchasers thanks man if you're ever in Riverside give me a call...... Its better in person lol or at lease I think it is lol

    Mike
    951-529-8264

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