Colorado 4X4 Roads: Stony Pass

When I decided to head home from Creede, I had a decision to make: what route would I take? It’s only 50 miles straight line distance between Creede and Ridgway but the highway route goes north to Highway 50 and is over 175 miles! My other options were Engineer Pass, a combination of Cinnamon/California/Hurricane/Corkscrew Passes, or Stony Pass.

Ridgway-Creede straight line distance

I wasn’t really excited about either the Engineer or Cinnamon Pass options because I’ve driven them before and would rather wait to re-drive them until I am going up to hike something. I was down to either the highway route, which was mostly new to me road which would be fine, or Stony Pass (96 miles).

Stony Pass

The weather looked promising, despite seeming threatening at Phoenix Park that morning, so I decided that Stony Pass would be my route home. The road all the way up the reservoir was an easy gravel road drive. There was minimal washboarding and barely any potholes and it went really quickly.

Stony Pass, south side

Stony Pass, south side

Stony Pass, south side

Stony pass, south side

Rio Grande Reservoir

Rio Grande Reservoir

Stony Pass, south side

Stony Pass, south side

Beyond the reservoir, the road deteriorated. There were lots of mud puddles and it was hard to tell just how deep and how muddy some of them were. I hate mud. It makes me nervous when I’m out alone. I’m conservative enough that I don’t feel likely to get stuck on rocks since I can almost always back down something if I can’t get up but mud has the ability to make you actually stuck—especially if, like me, you don’t have a winch. These puddles didn’t really pose too much of a threat but I managed to splash mud all over the Jeep anyway since I was going to “keep up my speed” just to be safe.

Along the way, I ran into a gentleman driving a TJ coming down the road. I backed up into a pullout to let him by when he stopped to get out. “How much further?” he asked. I assumed he was talking about out to the east so I told him, “A-ways.” Turns out he was curious how much further to the top off the pass, the answer to which was also “a-ways.” He’d gotten about a mile further than where we were and turned around because it was “really rough.”

As I’ve discussed before, people’s definition of “rough” varies greatly but I was a little bit nervous since I did not want to drive all the way out and then around on the highway so I just laughed and explained that I lived in Ridgway so I was going to be fairly stubborn about making it over. He shook his head and headed on his way. (Actually, he made the sign of the cross over the hood of the FSJ. I hope he was kidding.)

I continued upward and found his rocky section and had no problem with it—it was simply a sustained (quarter mile?) section of steep and rocky but not anything that needed “crawling” over. The thing that almost made me turn around was actually the mud just before the rocks. I ran into a couple of dirtbikers as I needed to make a crossed up muddy stream crossing and it made me super nervous. Did I mention I hate mud? Seriously, the rocks were a relief!

(I really need to mount the GoPro on the front of the Jeep since capturing what “rough” means photographically is hard when you’re solo and the road demands attention not being a photographer.)

Full size Cherokee. FSJ

Past the top of the rocky section, it was smooth sailing. There were lots fewer puddles and the road smoothed out a lot. In fact, I’ll probably do this road again, just from the Silverton side and only down to Pole Creek and back.

Stony Pass

The road runs right on the northern edge of the Weminuche Wilderness and, along with the adjoining Bear Creek Road and Pole Creek Trail, provides access to some amazing high country.

Stony Pass

Stony Pass

Stony Pass

Stony Pass

Even though things had gotten much easier near the top, I heaved a really big sigh of relief when I reached the top. I’d been told by some people that I trusted that the drive from the Silverton side wasn’t that bad (plus it was downhill) so I knew I was home free.

Stony Pass

Stony Pass

In the end, I’m really glad I drove Stony Pass. Besides the mud (which really wasn’t that bad, I’m just being a whiner) I found it to be something that pretty much any SUV with low range can traverse. There might have been a section or two where a lift might be helpful if you’re not an experienced off road driver but my Jeep only has a small lift and I had no issues.

Ouray FSJ Invasion: Maggie Gulch

Every year, a group of full size Jeep enthusiasts descends upon Ouray for a couple of days in July. I had absolutely no excuse to not attend since it is so close to home and I was excited to see more Wagoneers, Cherokees, and J-trucks!

I was able to join everyone for a barbeque dinner on Wednesday evening and a mellow ride up gorgeous Maggie Gulch near Silverton before it was time for me to head out for Ice Lakes Basin and the start of my county high point adventure. While my jeep isn’t pictured, this photo I stole from our Facebook group shows just how many FSJs were present! It was pretty cool:

FSJ lineup

Although I’ve done quite a fair amount of exploring in the Ridgway-Ouray area I haven’t driven any of the roads heading south out of Silverton. I am so glad to have gotten to head up Maggie Gulch; I’ll be back since there are a handful of 13ers that are pretty easy to access from the top of the road!

Jeeping

Maggie Gulch (also known as CR 23) is located about six miles east of Silverton. The road isn’t long and isn’t difficult at all but the views were absolutely incredible.

Maggie Gulch

FSJ at top of Maggie Gulch

Sprocket immediately went into his classic alpine dog mode, sniffing his way through the tundra. As we were hanging out, a family showed up with a 12 week old puppy named Clifford. Sprocket and Clifford weren’t too sure about each other but I’m pretty sure that if they’d have had more time together, Sprocket would have been teaching him all about hiking:

Sprocket and Puppy

Like many roads in the San Juans, this ends at an old mine. It’s always kind of neat to poke around and check out the old workings:

Mine at the top of Maggie Gulch

I really thought that they were kidding when I was asked if I wanted cheese crisps and ribs. No one was kidding.

Trail food

Sprocket above Maggie Gulch

FSJ, Maggie Gulch

Maggie Gulch

Maggie Gulch

Looking forward to next year!

1977 Jeep Cherokee: Tailgate Rehabilitation

Among the common issues on the full size Cherokee (and Wagoneer) was that the rear window had to roll down to open the tailgate. This design had it’s benefits with a truck like tailgate for sitting on and a giant opening which makes for awesome camping views (plus there’s no overhead hatch to hit your head on like the XJ). The downside is that if something happens to the window mechanism, you can’t open the tailgate.

FSJ Tailgate glory

When I bought my Cherokee, the rear window kind of worked. By kind of, I mean that it would roll down about two inches, I’d get out rock it to the left, and then be able to roll it down the rest of the way. I’m sure you can imagine that as my primary way to load and unload Sprocket that this got old very quickly. I ordered all of the internal parts hoping to only have to disassemble the whole thing once and figured I could handle the more external parts as I desired. In retrospect, I wish I would have just ordered the deluxe tailgate renewal kit from Team Wagoneer considering that I used everything but the lifter bar and its cushion (and I was just lucky, I very well could have needed this and had actually ordered it separately).

This was my first major repair on the Jeep and I was a little bit nervous. I’d tried to read descriptions on the FSJ forums (Full Size Jeep Network and International Full Size Jeep Association). I’d poured over the factory service manual diagram of the tailgate. And finally I realized that unless I just dove in I wasn’t really going to understand it.

Tailgate rebuild: access panel removed

My first order of business was to actually remove the window. I recommend having a garage or at least not being in Colorado during the wettest May ever. Removing the window was actually a lot easier than I’d expected it to be. I took off the carpet on the tailgate and the access panel. I raised the window just enough to get my hand inside and remove the clips from the lifter bar. Next, I worked one of the studs out of the slots in the window lifter and began to search for a friend to help support the window before I removed the other stud and slid the window out. Fortunately for me, Ridgway is a friendly place and I nicely asked a woman out on a walk through the neighborhood to help me for two minutes while I accomplished those things. (Fortunately for her, it only took about one minute.)

Lifter channel in the tailgate

A look at how the studs and clips hold in the window:

Lifter channel and clip

Lifter channel

I inspected the lifter channel (also known sometimes as a lifter bar?) and realized that I didn’t actually need to remove the glass from it. I’d heard that these often rust out; mine was dirty but not rusted so I opted to keep it.

I replaced the tailgate glass side channels which looked like they’d seen better days. In fact, this was all I needed to replace to make the window function. After 38 years of dust working its way into the channels, there were large chunks missing. In fact either the inner or the outer piece (I didn’t really look at it until I’d set it down) of the drivers side channel was entirely missing. Putting in the new channels only took a couple of minutes but the rain started falling before I could get them in so it necessitated this:

Redneck jeep working; beer

I became the heroine of my neighborhood when I had to leave Francis looking like this for a couple of days while I waited for the sun to return:

FSJ with tarp

Eventually, I got tired of waiting for the rain to clear so I informed my friend Bryan that I was coming over to use his garage. This arrangement also helped me to have his help getting the window back in place. (I was petrified of breaking it the entire time it was out of the vehicle. It took a little bit of figuring out how to get the clips back in (I’d bought a new pair in case the ones inside bent or broke on the way out or in…) but I got them in, or so I thought…

Lifter channel clips

I left my friend’s house and headed to the laundromat and was super excited with my working window but suddenly, right as the rain started falling, it wouldn’t roll up. One side just wasn’t going up and it didn’t take very long for me to figure out that one of the clips had fallen off. With thunder rolling in the background, I decided to avail myself of the cover provided by an after-hours bank drive through:

Fixing the FSJ window in a drivethru

Sure enough, that fixed the problem!

I found that with all the driving I do down dirt and gravel roads that I was pulling in a lot of dust. I’d learned that the original weather stripping was body mounted but somewhere along the lines, someone had replaced mine with generic weather stripping. This didn’t take long at all to replace but it had taken me until the end of my roadtrip with Amanda to choke it up and spend the money on a new seal. The seal needs the plastic rivets at the top and doesn’t come with them. I had one still floating around, fortunately, so I was able to size one for the other side.

I also went ahead and replaced the upper slide channel since pretty much everything else was new and didn’t want it to feel left out. Removing the old one was way more of a pain than putting in the new one since it came out in about twenty pieces.

I also purchased a new wiring harness for the rear window that I haven’t finished installing yet—with all of our monsoons, it’s been hard to feel comfortable cutting off my ability to close the window for a day! More on that coming soon (probably once I get to De Beque and have a garage!).

1977 Jeep Cherokee: Power Steering Pump

When I had my steering debacle in SLC, I noticed that the power steering hoses were showing some wear and it probably didn’t help any when the whole steering box was hanging from them…

Since I was going to replace the hoses anyway, I checked on the price of a power steering pump and realized that for $40, I needed to go ahead and replace it anyway since I was going through the work of changing the hoses.

Power steering pump

All mechanical projects seem to take me quite awhile, but I’m learning and becoming much more proficient. It’s a process but I’m kind of proud of myself.

Power Steering pump

Power steering pump

The good news is that my steering feels so much better. The sort of good news is that I’ve located the steering fluid leak and it’s not the pump or the hoses (although I think there was at least weeping from them both before). The bad news is that it’s at the pitman shaft seal. So I’m trying to figure out how to proceed–fortunately, a rebuild kit for the steering box is cheap, it’s just another new thing to learn!

Colorado Exploration: Rifle to Meeker

After we left the Mountain Games, it was time to head back to the Western Slope. I had a meeting Monday morning in De Beque but that left us all of Sunday for exploring. I had hoped to drive up to the Roan Cliffs high point but by the time we got to Rifle, it appeared that wasn’t going to happen so I holed up in a Starbucks to get some school work done.

Storm Clouds over the Roan Cliffs

 

When I came out of Starbucks, however, it was looking like things had cleared up so I did some quick Googling of the JQS Road. It was clear from the few things I read that the road was all but impassable when wet. But, I reasoned, it really hadn’t rained much so we set out to investigate. I walked the road for a little bit and decided that it seemed nice and solid, even a little bit dusty. Once we got past the parking area for the open OHV area though, the road turned to baby poo. (Seriously, baby poo is the name given to mud that is totally SLICK. It coats your tires and essentially renders you useless.) If you’ve ever driven a vehicle on a rutted, muddy road, you know the disconcerting feeling of drifting around vaguely where you’re steering but knowing you really have no control at all and that is exactly what was happening. Fortunately, I got the Jeep turned around with no issues (getting that beast stuck alone is a giant fear of mine), but holy cow what a mess!

FSJ tire coated in mud

 

It was only about 4:30 and that meant that I had plenty of daylight left with the gloriously long days this time of year. Rather than just sit down with my book, I decided to make the drive up to Meeker. I’d never been there and I’m always up for an exploratory drive so away we went. Meeker is a super cute little town—I didn’t really stop to take any pictures since I planned to take the scenic route home and wanted to have enough daylight but I will definitely be back to make a more full exploration.

FSJ Exploring FSJ exploring

Instead of simply going back the way we’d come, Sprocket and I headed down Rio Blanco County’s 13 Road. At first it was in great shape but as we continued south a couple of deep ruts appeared. Fortunately, this time the road wasn’t muddy and we were able to just keep on going. Somewhere along the way we passed into Garfield County but I couldn’t tell you exactly where because I was distracted by the elk. Lots of elk.

First it was this relatively small group:

Elk

But then it seemed like every field that I passed was full of them!

Elk

Elk

All I could think was how excited my dad would have been with the whole thing. I’m sure Sprocket was thinking I was driving like him with all the quick stops when I spotted a herd but since I would roll down the back window so he could have his sniffs, I think he forgave me.

Elk

We had such a great time. Besides high alpine hiking, there really isn’t much that I like better than exploring new dirt roads!

 

Summer! Roadtrip!: Part 4

When we came down from Grand Mesa, it was time that I cleaned up a little bit. After traveling a lot, I’ve gotten pretty adept at not appearing like I’ve gone quite awhile since showering. When I had really short hair, the gas station or fast food hair wash was pretty painless but I still do it because you can only deal with dusty greasy hair so long:

Bathroom showers

After my McDonald’s bathroom shower, we continued up through Crawford to camp near the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. I’d visited the south rim of the canyon before but had never made it around to the north rim. Sunrise on the rim was pretty fantastic.

Sprocket at Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

From Black Canyon, we took Crawford Road to Paonia where we took a quick break for coffee and a breakfast burrito at Nelle’s. (Amanda may be ruined for all other breakfast burritos forever.) We continued up over McClure Pass, taking some time to walk around on top, and then down into Marble. (The marble for the Lincoln Memorial came from here!) Marble was beautiful and I can’t wait to come back and explore some of the jeep roads in the area.

McClure Pass

Our next destination was Independence Pass just outside of Aspen. I’d never been in this area and it did not disappoint. I can’t wait to get back and get on some of these peaks.

Independence Pass

Independence Pass

My clothing for exploring the snowy pass might not have been the most appropriate but maybe I’m just becoming a local?

Appropriate snow exploration outfit

Independence Pass

We decided to camp near the bottom of the pass and return for some sunrise photos in the morning. Our camp was right next to a rushing stream and I slept like a baby with its white noise. It was kind of hard to get up in the morning since I was so cozy but sunrise was amazing and I was glad I was up.

Independence Pass

Post photo time, we drove to Leadville and got coffee and then continued on towards Keystone. After dropping my jeep off at our campsite we headed out for a vehicle tour of the area. We drove out through Montezuma:

Stop. Hammertime

And then over Loveland Pass and on to Georgetown and up Guanella Pass:

Mt. Bierstad

Then I decided that what Amanda was missing on her Colorado adventure was some beer tasting so we checked out Backcountry Brewery in Frisco:

Back Country Brewing taster

It was quite a whirlwind tour of Colorado but we covered everything from desert to high mesa to canyons to high alpine. Amanda was a great travel partner—Sprocket and I would be happy to travel with her anytime! Finally, I discovered that sleeping in the FSJ with the tailgate window down in early summer temperatures was pretty much the most glorious thing ever:

FSJ Camping

FSJ To-Do List

1977 Jeep Cherokee, Ouray Lookout point

Overall, I’m pretty lucky with my Jeep: it mostly runs and drive pretty well. But like all older vehicles there are plenty of little things that need to be fixed. Here’s what’s on the list for Francis:

Fix the heater: The heater is stuck on. This was not a problem when I got the FSJ in January (well, Dave complained a little bit about how hot it was). In fact, given the choice, I was happy it worked versus not working. Now that it’s warmer, it’s terrible. Even worse, it’s dirt road season and with the windows open, lots of dust gets sucked in. This makes fixing the heater a top priority.

FSJ Heater Diagram

Tighten the antenna: I think I must either be missing a bolt holding the antenna on or it’s gotten realllllyyyy loose. It just kind of flops all over the place and really needs to get tightened up before it gets ripped off or falls off.

Rear window: FSJ rear windows are notorious for not working particularly well. I’ve bought all the parts to totally rebuild the window plus a new relay system. I just think it’s going to be quite a process with a steep learning curve so I’m afraid to attempt it until I have a window of a couple of days without rain in the forecast since there’s a good chance the Jeep will be missing a rear window for a couple of days…

Beth and Sprocket with FSJ rear window relay

Drivers’ wing window: The pin has fallen out of the latch for the driver’s side vent window. I have the latch but I’m not sure how to get another pin for it. This is going to take some research…

Passenger window: The passenger window works but it’s really tight and needs to be “helped” past the midpoint. I’m afraid that if I don’t fix it, it’ll break. This is basically going to require me to disassemble the door and make sure there isn’t anything stuck or broken.

Locks: When I take apart the passenger door to fix the window, I also need to fix the lock. Sometimes it rattles, sometimes it locks itself when I shut the door. The drivers side door almost always locks itself when the door is shut. This isn’t really a problem since the key works in the doors but it’s annoying.

Sunroof leak: When it rains just a drop or two seem to accumulate along the sunroof. I’m not sure if this is just condensation or if it’s actually a leak. Since Colorado is so dry and its such a small leak this isn’t a big priority to me right now.

 

It’s all small stuff but it can be really time consuming. I’m hoping to start tackling this a little bit at a time but it’s hard when I’d rather be out adventuring!

 

Edit: I ordered a power steering pump yesterday. At $40 it is NOT worth constantly filling the reservoir and having a mess of ATF under there. Ahem.

Uintah Basin & Book Cliffs Exploration

I had originally planned to spend my three day weekend heading down to New Mexico and Arizona to grab a couple of county high points but when I needed to look at a Jeep in Salt Lake, plans changed. It was still quite the road trip!

Road Trip May 2015After cruising up to Salt Lake, I had my steering debacle that I handled all #damselNOTindistress style and took the chance to visit with a couple of friends before leaving town. (Thank you to both Josh and Jenn for lending me places to crash for a night!)

I thought about hiking Murdock Mountain and hitting a certain point on its western slope that just happens to be the Wasatch County High Point. I’d packed my snowshoes and it sounded like just the adventure that Sprocket and I needed. Although I looked into snowpack issues, I didn’t think to check for road closures. As I was pulling out of Kamas, I saw a sign that said “Road Closed 14 miles ahead.” My hike was supposed to start 25 miles ahead. I quickly checked the Utah DOT site and found that, yes, the road was in fact closed.

Quickly thinking of another goal, I decided to attempt to reach another point that has been bugging me: Wagon Road Ridge. Wagon Road Ridge is the high point of the central Book Cliffs area and the Grand County Prominence Point. Plus, I thought it would be cool to check out the Unita Basin. Since I was already further north of where I usually hang out I decided to come at the point from the north.

UnitaBasin
Map by Stephanie Smith, Grand Canyon Trust

Beth driving FSJ

After gassing up in Roosevelt, I cruised along Seep Ridge Road which is super well maintained (paved!) by Uintah County for extractive industry purposes. It was a super lonely drive of just the kind that I like. Exploring little known corners of the US is one of my favorite things to do.

Oil rigs, Seep Ridge Road, Unitah Basin

Eventually, we turned on to Buck Canyon Road and started navigating up towards Wagon Road Ridge. The road starts off on BLM land but then crosses into an indian reservation Unfortunately, I decided to just “go for it” and didn’t get a permit for travel on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. I wasn’t going to pass through Fort Duchesne where permits were sold and it was a Saturday so I was kinda skeptical that I’d be able to get one. (It looks like they are available at a store too so… I probably could have…)

Map by Stephanie Smith, Grand Canyon Trust via Unita Basin: An Unconventional Future

That $10 fishing permit for Weaver Reservoir would have come in really handy when I was within 15 miles of my destination and came across a Tribal police officer. (Even though with that permit I still wouldn’t technically be able to drive to Wagon Road Ridge it would have legally put me within a couple of miles.) I was sitting on the side of the road waiting for Francis to get over one of her vapor lock hiccups. He was very cool and when I assured him that I thought I was on BLM (hmm…) but that as soon as I was moving again I would turn around and head off of tribal land. Since he left me sitting there, I briefly thought about going for it anyway but when I passed him sitting along side the road about a mile after turning around I was glad I didn’t. It would have been hard to justify the time to drive 30 miles of dirt!

The red dot below was my destination but I got turned back at the point marked Black Knolls Road. It was so frustrating! (Although I deserved it…)

Wagon Road Ridge attempt

Fortunately, it wasn’t all a waste. Sprocket and I were able to retrace our steps to Seep Ridge Road and follow it to the end of the pavement then down the Book Cliffs side. The traverse to the east along the top of the Cliffs was spectacular with views in every direction.

Book Cliffs Divide

Jeep on Book Cliffs Ridge Road

Book Cliffs

Love this view of the La Sals:

La Sal Mountains from the Book Cliffs

As we started to descend, we dropped more into the classic Book Cliffs scenery:

Book Cliffs

And then, finally, we dropped into the grassy plains at the foot of the Cliffs and crossed into Colorado:

Foot of the Book Cliffs

Sprocket and I stopped for a few minutes to watch these really curious pronghorn hang out before we continued on home.

Pronghorn

In the end, it was a great weekend even though Francis had some issues (in a parking lot near an auto parts store thankfully!) and we didn’t reach any high points. I always love exploring new places and we definitely added some miles of new roads to the memory bank!

 

1977 Jeep Cherokee: Replacing Rag Joint

I’ve been shopping for the perfect XJ Cherokee for quite awhile and one popped up in Salt Lake City that seemed like it would fit the bill perfectly with low miles, a five speed, and cruise control. I didn’t want to risk missing out so Sprocket and I drove straight up from Ridgway and got into SLC at about 2am. In the morning before looking at the Jeep, I headed over to the bank to get some cash.

As I pulled into the drive through, I heard a loud clunk sound. At first, I was confused, had I some how hit something? I sort of forgot about it while I was conducting my business at the bank but as I pulled out of the drive through I realized I couldn’t turn left. Something seemed bound up.

I crawled underneath the jeep and noticed that the tie rod end & pitman arm were hitting the sway bar when I tried to turn to the left. I went back into the jeep and turned the wheels to the right and heard another larger, ominous, clunk. This time, it seemed apparent what was wrong: the steering box was hanging down off of its mounts. While not an ideal situation, I figured this wasn’t that bad and I’d be on my way within the hour.

When I returned from the hardware store bearing what I hoped was the correct hardware (this was actually the second trip…), I realized, it was more than just a broken bolt. There was actually a broken part. I had no idea what that part was but I knew that my mission had just gotten a lot more complicated. I also noticed that the steering box had been bolted from the top and they had sheared off in the steering box.

I headed over to a fast food restaurant, washed my hands, and took a walk to look at that XJ. Turns out, it wasn’t what I wanted. As  I walked back I started browsing the forums and learning all about the steering system on the Jeep. Turns out, I had a broken “rag joint” or power steering coupler—the part that connects the input from your steering wheel to the steering box.

That bolt circled in red is supposed to be attached to the hole on the rag joint (indicated by the arrow. My theory is that when the steering box fell, it stressed the 38 year old piece of rubber and it failed.

Broken Rag Join

While I was able to locate a replacement rag joint fairly easily, first I had to figure out how to get the old broken one off. I struggled with it for awhile and was finally able to get the old joint off of the steering box. This might have been the low point for me—I was covered in power steering fluid (cursing the advice I’d been give to not replace the pump and just make sure it was full), removing a part that I didn’t fully understand how it worked, and just feeling a little bit unsure.

Filty

As I read the installation instructions, I realized that I was going to need some backup. While I was carrying tools, I didn’t have a grinder or a drill to remove the old pins. Away I went to Pep Boys (again) to see if their service department would do me a little favor. Thankfully, they seemed happy to help and soon I was headed back to figure out how to reinstall the rag joint.

Rag joint pieces

Exhausted at Pep Boys

Somehow, I made this way more complicated than it needed to be and it took me a long time. It was all made more difficult by the fact that the steering box was definitely supposed to be attached by the top bolts so I ended up using ratchet straps to hold it exactly in place.

Final product

On the way to fellow #omniten member Josh’s house (yay for friends to crash with!) I stopped for some beer and for the bolts I’d need to fix the Jeep for good (yay for Josh having a drill!). I had some priceless looks but when the cashier at the liqour store asked, “What happened to you?” And I answered, “Well, the bolts on my steering box sheared and when it fell it look the 30 year old rag joint with it, but I fixed it.” His answer? “I’m seriously impressed.” Since I was seriously impressed with myself, it felt good to hear someone say it.

Filty

At Josh’s place I was able to use his drill to extract the broken bolts from the steering box and get it bolted up so that I didn’t need the ratchet strap safeties. The replacement rag joint was a little thicker than the original and I couldn’t get the metal support to fit on correctly in the parking lot because the bolts were too short and had little “keepers” on them. I ground off the keepers (they looked like ski pole baskets) and replaced with the longer bolts that came with the replacement part.

Everything is back together and looks great. Except, I’m going to have to take it apart one more time to get the steering wheel straight since I apparently bolted the steering column attachment on 180 degrees off. Oops. But this time, it should go fast. 3rd time’s the charm. 🙂

(The wheels are just slightly turned to the left in this photo. It’s driving me nuts to have the AMC logo upside-down.)

 

Steering wheel off 180 degrees