Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pete Rose - soft heart for Jeep 4x4s

Came across this 1978 article from Jeep News about Pete Rose and his gifting of 10 Jeep CJ's to his friends on the Cincinnati Reds. It was a "thank-you" for supporting him in his 44 consecutive game hitting streak.

I'm reprinting the article here for easier reading:
"Pete Rose Gets 44 Hits and 10 Jeep CJ's"

   "It is no coincidence that Pete Rose and Jeep vehicles are two of Ohio's most famous products. They both have world-wide reputations for being tough, reliable performers in the field no matter where they happen to be playing, they both have rugged good looks, and they both seem to draw a crowd of admirers wherever they go. Nevertheless, this Jeep News reporter (Russel Sehnert), was quite surprised to learn that his boyhood hero, now an old timer at 37 in the baseball world, bought ten Jeep CJ's to present to certain people in appreciation for what they did for him during his outstanding career with the Cincinnati Reds.
   Rose's love affair really began in 1975 after he won the Most Valuable Player Award in the World Series that year. 'They gave me a choice of products from American Motors,' Rose said. 'And I was just drawn to the Jeep CJ. I liked driving it around with the top off, and it was great for taking on fishing trips with some of the other players and coaches.'
   'The big reason I decided to give Jeep CJ's to my friends on the Cincinnati Reds was that I wanted to give them something instead of cash. They all could use a Jeep, as most of them fish or hunt, and several live on farms, and drive in snow in the winter. I even got two tops for the guys who live in the north...I asked them if they'd like one, and everyone said, 'yes!' "

He was an amazing player. I still remember traveling across country in our Ford LTD listening in as Pete extended his hitting streak day after day. Quite an amazing run.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The King of Jeep Grand Wagoneers

 I wrote an article and took photos of Leon Miller aka "The Wagonmaster" back in 2000 for the Jeep News Magazine. He warmly greeted me at his Kerrville Texas home and wove a wonderful story of how his love of the classic "Woody" drew him out of retirement. The last Grand Wagoneer rolled off the assembly line in 1991 and there was no replacement on the horizon that had the same qualities as this full-size Jeep 4x4. Leon was encouraged by Brooks Stevens, the chief designer of the Jeep Wagoneer, to renew low mileage models and sell these rolling works of art to discriminating buyers. Low mileage Wagoneers have been harder and harder to find but Leon's business has been going strong for the past 13 years. A testimony to his strong research skills and loyal customers - especially in the New England area. He still tries to keep his vehicles to 70,000 miles or less which is pretty amazing considering many date back to the 1970s.
A pristine 1988 Grand Wagoneer that is currently for sale on Leon's site. It has under 54K and is selling for $41,000. 

Here is the reprint of the original article:

"It started out purely as a hobby," says former Texas cattleman, Leon Miller. "It was accidental; I had no desire or even dreamed about doing what I am doing today." What he's doing is buying high-quality pre-owned Jeep Grand Wagoneers, restoring them to near-mint condition, and selling them at the rate of 125-plus units a year. Miller has sold over 680 "Woodys" in a little over eight years from his business in Kerrville, Texas. In these parts, he is the Wagon Master. Even though Grand Wagoneers are getting harder and harder to find, Miller insists on only starting out with the best vehicles. All the vehicles on his lot have less than 70,000 miles, with no damage and absolutely no rust. After a thorough history check and vehicle inspection, Miller's four-man detail crew will spend 2-3 weeks "renewing" these classic 4x4s - at an average cost of $4,000 per vehicle - to get them up to his high standards. 

"Early on it was a Realtor wagon ... they loved the 360-degree vision all the way around," Miller said when asked for insights on Grand Wagoneer buyers. He also offered insights on the wood-looking vinyl siding that the Grand Wagoneer is known for. "It was really out of necessity for some major ranchers in south Texas," Miller said. "Supposedly, they wanted a close four-door (vehicle), done up nicely, with a tough vinyl siding to keep from destroying or damaging the paint." The Jeep brand responded to these requests and added the wood looking vinyl siding and trim which helped protect the side paneling from the sagebrush and prickly pear that dot the Texas landscape. 

Today, many of Miller's Grand Wagoneers are sold to architects and interior decorators who want a classic look that stands apart from the rest of the SUVs on the road. Much of that business begins at - Miller's Web site. About 80 percent of this vehicles are sold sight unseen, including many Grand Wagoneers that are shipped overseas to people who saw the vehicle in the movies or on television. Miller has also come to depend on his Web site for people looking to sell their precious older vehicles. Roughly 80 to 90 percent of his inventory comes from people who have visited his site on the Internet. 

Thanks in part to Jeep innovation, Miller isn't dabbling in a hobby any more. "They were so far ahead of the industry when they designed this vehicle," Miller said. "The Grand Wagoneer is without a doubt the most copied SUV in the industry, and rightly so. That is why I can do what I am doing, because this vehicle was so well done."

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jeep Wrangler Doors Hard to Close?

Once in a while I run into someone who shares that their Wrangler doors are hard to close. I just smile. That's a good thing. It tells me their new to the whole Jeep thing and just need a little insight to why Wrangler doors are different. In a Wrangler form follows function. There are many unique features on a Wrangler / Wrangler Unlimited with a hardtop that set it apart from all other vehicles:
  • The relatively lightweight doors are removable for open-air driving, and lighter weight doors require more effort to close.
  • Keeping things simple, Wrangler doors only utilize a check strap in lieu of a heavy mechanical system which aids in closing effort.
  • The door opening has no weather seal so you have a clean opening for entry and exit from your Wrangler. The door has a seal with some rubber inserts that helps keep out the wind and water in some challenging locations, such as where the windshield header, hardtop Freedom Panel and door all come together.
So there you have it. Long story short - Jeep engineers had to decide what was more important: an easy to close door, or a door that would seal out the wind and water. They chose the latter. So next time you close the door on your Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited give a little bit more effort as you enjoy your purpose built adventure machine. And enjoy the ride.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Jeep Wrangler LED Modification - Cylon

This truly is a Knight Rider! Chris Knight took a 25 "pixel" LED light strip and modified his Wrangler with a Cool Neon Total Control Lighting Developer’s Shield Box. 
You can find the full build guide at the instructables site.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

DIY Hacks & How To's: Emergency Power from a Land Line

What do you do when a hurricane creates havoc and you have no power and your smartphone is dead? As long as the phone lines are working you can charge your smartphone with a few simple items from RadioShack. MAKE magazine
gives the full instructions on YouTube and also in their magazine. Full instructions can be found at

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Jeep Rescue Optical Illusion

I created a mash-up in PhotoShop of the Jeep Rescue Concept Vehicle and some tires & wheels that have a life of their own. Hope you enjoy this fun Jeep optical illusion.

Jeep Wrangler Pork Chop Optical Illusion

I thought the Jeep Wrangler Pork Chop concept vehicle by Mopar could use some new psychadelic tread. Hope you enjoy my down-and-dirty optical illusion PhotoShop mash-up!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tucker Combat Vehicle – A Unique Wheeled Fortress

Check out these amazing videos of the Tucker Combat Vehicle (TCV). It certainly has many features that were advanced for the World War II era. If you’ve seen Francis Ford Coppola’s movie “Tucker: the man and his dream” – you’ll realize the man was a genius of design and innovation.
Tucker saw that war was on the horizon in Europe and began designing for a high-speed armored combat vehicle as early as 1939. Tucker was born in 1903 on a Michigan peppermint farm. Tucker returned to Michigan and worked out of a barn in Ypsilanti to develop his ingenious inventions. 

Some of his unique creations include the use of individual wheel brakes – what we refer today as Antilock Brakes or Brake Lock Differentials (03:54 mark), arc welded steel armor plate (00:08), same-size swappable bulletproof windows (00:28 mark), air conditioning in the battlefield (09:21), bulletproof and multi-chambered radiator (01:25 mark), adjustable headlights (00:53), and a V-style hull to protect gas tank (10:09). 

The Tucker Combat Car also had one of the most wicked camo paint jobs around.

Highlights from the 1942 video clip regarding the Tucker Combat Vehicle:
“It is constructed entirely of steel armor plate, welded together by a new method which completely eliminates all riveting.

“Large windshield and windows of bulletproof glass afford exceptionally wide and unobstructed vision and can withstand heaviest machine gun fire.

“All windows are of one size and instantly changeable.

“Specially designed headlamps, also of bulletproof glass, are capable of throwing a beam one mile and are individually adjustable so as to be usable as searchlights.

“Quickly removable hood gives complete accessibility to engine.

“The bulletproof radiator shield is so designed that it need not be closed. Each section can be instantly replaced when damaged.

“The huge pneumatic tires are completely bullet-proof, each capable of withstanding fifty caliber- .50 machine gun bullets.

“The Combat Car is capable of speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour on paved highways and 65 miles per hour over rough terrain.

“Because of advanced chassis construction, it can withstand heaviest strains and shocks of rough terrain.

“Its low center of gravity assures perfect stability up to 45 degrees tipping angle.

“Individual wheel brakes eliminate spinning wheels.

“The Combat Car is armed with a forward battery of three machine guns and an American Armament of 37-mm. anti-aircraft gun or anti-tank gun, mounted in a revolving turret.

“This armament is capable of laying down a withering fire at the combined rate of 2,820 shots a minute.

“The turret gun has a 360° traverse and a 75° angle of elevation.
“The unit can also be furnished with electric controls in place of, or in addition to, manual elevating and traversing controls. The electric device has a speed range from creeping motion to 360° in
4.6 seconds.

“It is fully automatic and fires 37-mm. explosive projectiles against airplanes or armor-piercing projectiles against tanks.

“Bracketing and hitting aerial targets. Note tracer which indicates path of projectile.

“Demonstrating efficiency of its armor-piercing projectiles against steel armor plate.

“Perfect visibility enables drivers to avoid tank traps and defenses.”

“Forced air conditioning eliminates crew discomfort and dangers of flame attack.”

“Perfect spring suspension affords maximum riding comfort and stability, assuring high accuracy of fire while in motion.”

“The crew is fully protected against any explosion of the gasoline tank by heavy armor plate and by a device which directs the force of explosive outward.”

“Engine compartment louvres are so placed as to act as windshield defrosters.”

“The Combat Car has a 12-inch clearance and its bottom is completely armor plated against bombardment or damage from attacks.”

“The unit has provisions for dual rear wheels, four-wheel drive and caterpillar tracks.”

“A fleet of Combat Cars at Rahway plant, fully tested and ready for delivery.”

Testing of the TCV was done at the Rahway, New Jersey factory owned by the
American Armament Corporation. Harry Miller, a Tucker employee would take some of Tucker’s suspension designs and apply them at Bantam where he helped in the development of the first Jeep prototype vehicle.

Sadly Tucker’s original fast-moving armored car design wasn’t mass-produced because the Belgian government that commissioned his services was invaded by the Nazis before production could begin. The U.S. Military rejected the concept because it was too fast to be safe. In addition the contracts were already awarded by the time they tested the vehicle.

According to LEF magazine His revolutionary plexi-glass gun turret that was eventually used on the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator and other American bombers. The “Tucker Turret” was even used by the Navy on many of its PT boats and landing ships. 

1978 Jeep Expedition of the Americas - Jeep Song

The 1978 Jeep Expedition of the Americas was an ambitious 21,000 mile trip from the southern tip of South America to uppermost tip of Alaska. Mark Smith and his team of partners took stock Jeep CJ-7 and Wagoneers to accomplish this feat. But why did they do it? They were not sponsored by any company and put up their own money for the expedition. A five month excursion. The resounding message in this clip was "for the thrill of it." They put their Yankee ingenuity and Jeep equipment to the test, especially when crossing the wild Darien Gap. These explorers did it so they could enjoy the adventure for its own sake. They did it all for the pure joy and adventure of just doing it.

A song at the 16:14 mark carries the message though of this amazing adventure:

There’s a spot that finds its way
into a special kind of man
that lights a fire deep in his soul
that tells him “yes you can.”

He can get out from behind his desk
And go try something new
Driving up the side of the world
Is just the thing to do.

Cause he’s driven by a dream
A rainbow is his guide
He get’s his strength from mother earth
And a billion starry lights

He’s driven by a dream
Crossing rivers, climbing trees
To turn the heartaches and the joys
Into treasured … memories.

This spark becomes a torch
And is passed from man to man
You can see it in their faces
As they go lend a hand

Each step makes him taller
And fills his heart with pride
When your driving up the side of the world
You take it all in stride

Nissan DeltaWing as Sleep Aid

I appreciate Nissan in their “throw away the rule book” innovation applied to their DeltaWing racing car. The concept of the car is to half the aerodynamic drag, half the power, half the mass, half the fuel consumption, half the tire consumption, and still achieving the performance of our competitors. Technology gains from endurance racing the 24 hours at LeMans are said to translate into real-world benefits to the Nissan engine program. According to Ben Bowlby, Nissan DeltaWing Chief Technology Officer, "it’s about guilt-free high-performance motoring.” The industry is all about efficiency, but do we really need to move in this direction? So we can sleep at night?  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Roosevelt and General Patton Jeep

Roosevelt Jeep by lee.ekstrom
Roosevelt Jeep, a photo by lee.ekstrom on Flickr.
Found this wonderful shot of President Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in a Jeep with hat over his heart. General George Patton can be seen saluting the flag on the other side of the Jeep vehicle. Photo was taken in Casablanca on 01/18/1943. I touched up the dust spots from the original.

Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

General Eisenhower Jeep France

Four Stars for General Eisenhower. Enjoying a light moment in his private Jeep Willys MB in France. I retouched the dust from the General's face and cleaned up the image. Deserved a little love.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jeep Willys MB Water Fording Kit

Sometimes I visit eBay to see what Jeep items folks out there are putting up for sale. This gem came up from someone in the Toledo area. It's the original artwork used for the Willys MB Water Fording Kit. Thankfully the shots were of decent quality as I was able to clean up the image and fill in the frayed edges and soiling.

An unmodified Willys MB was able to water ford about 21 inches of water before the transfer case vents and fuel pump have issues. Troops in the field were modifying their Jeep 4x4s to survive deep water in their beach landings. This included sealing the distributor and ignition system, and adding an intake snorkel and extending the exhaust system among other things. Willys-Overland engineers were tasked with coming up with a kit to distribute to the troops.

This is just one example of the many ways the Willys MB Jeep 4x4 was modified for use in the field during World War II.

Jeep Willys MB Water Fording Kit

Original art for the Willys-Overland Water Fording Kit. Currently selling on eBay for a buy now price of $1,999.

According to it looks like the kit is a MX-735 Waterproofing Kit: "This kit was designed for the Navy and supplied by Willys-Overland for use on Marine Corps CVD radio jeeps. The kit also fit on the G503, W.W.II jeeps. It consisted of numerous parts to be installed on the jeep to make it waterproof. Everything from a new dipstick to a new speedometer were included in the kit. The distributor was replaced with a waterproof metal clad unit. The spark plugs and wires changed to waterproof "aircraft" type. A waterproof Carter YS carburetor replaced the standard WO carburetor. Fittings and vent lines were included to allow an atmospheric vent system to be attached to the transfer case, master cylinder and fuel tank. Two valves activated by a control on the dash allowed the engine crankcase to be naturally pressurized slightly while fording. The electrical system was upgraded with waterproof generator, regulator, starter, switches, horn and wiring. This must have taken a considerable amount of time to install, but when completed, the jeep was always ready to ford, unlike the earlier WV-6 kit."

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ariens 832 Snow Blower with Clarence Impeller Kit

Took a video of my "new" Ariens 832 snow blower. The blower has an eight horsepower (HM80) Tecumseh engine with a 32-inch bucket. Bought it from a retired gentleman, a precision grinder by trade, who posted it on Craigslist a few months back. He said he purchased it new in 1975, used it a few years and then winterized & stored it in his walkout basement after his neighbor gifted him a 1979 Ariens 1032 when moving south.

The 832 starts up on the first or second pull if I do my part. Replaced the muffler with a New Old Stock part found online (originally for a minibike - I took off the deflector). Also rubbed cross-country ski wax on the inside of the chute. Snow just glides off.

I also installed a Clarence Impeller Kit as it was just dribbling out slush when first purchased.  Now it throws about 40% farther and I haven't had to clear it yet. I'm guessing it's throwing about 25 feet, haven't measured it. Guessing it will throw farther with some heavier snow. Fresh fuel has Sea Foam added for good measure.

The original owner followed the instructions meticulously and took off the fuel tank every spring for storage. He also put on a new scraper bar and skid shoes. The Ariens is a model 924016  / Serial No. 00404 with matching numbers. The teardrop bucket is model 924012 / Serial No. 010030. This thing is built like a tank and works like a Swiss watch. Hoping to get many good years of service out of her.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cave-dwelling Brothers are Billionaires

UPDATE: Usually when a story like this comes up - you find something on the Web to support it after the fact. I recently did a search and could not find any follow up stories to this fanciful tale. Wondering if they actually found the documents or were able to have DNA testing to secure the inheritance. Or was it a hoax? Post in the comments if you find anything in your own research.

What a crazy story. Two brothers, Zsolt and Geza Peladi, living in a cave on the outskirts of Budapest, are in line to inherit a cool 2 billion each from their long-lost grandmother. According to United Press International, the two men knew their mother came from a wealthy family but, according to Geza Peladi, "she was a difficult person and severed ties with them, and then later abandoned us and we lost touch with her and our father until she eventually died." The brothers got by selling scrap metal.

But who was the grandmother? Take a look at Forbes Millionaires list and the only profile that fits as not having any family is Liliane Bettencourt, the principal shareholder of L'Oreal and the wealthiest woman in Europe. She is estranged from her daughter, is of ill health, has ties to Germany, but has French citizenship.

The Daily Telegraph (Britian) reported that the Zsolt and Geza's grandmother recently died in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. This is the same region where German billionaire Adolf Merckle hails from. Merckle committed suicide after his fortunes evaporated with risky bets on the share price of Volkswagen. Merckle's empire ranged from pharmaceuticals to cement. But he is survived by three sons and a daughter.

Geza is said to be 43 years old, birth year around 1966.

Merckle's family came from the Sudetenland. In 1945, after the end of World War II, the Potsdam Conference and creation of Czechoslovakia - Germans were forced to leave their homes in Sudetenland. According to Wiki, the Sudetenland was resettled by many Czechoslovakians, including many Hungarians. But these Hungarians were forced into the resettlement and later returned home. Many of the returning Hungarians ran into conflicts over the ownership of their original homes, since Slovak colonists filled the void and took over the vacant property.

"Born in 1934, Merckle fled in 1945 with his family to Blaubeuren, a city with about 12,000 people in southwestern Germany, from the Sudetenland, the historical border region of the Czech Republic long inhabited by ethnic Germans and seized by the Nazis in September 1938."

Why would these men be homeless - with no property? According to Virtual Tourist, Budapest has well over 200 caves located under the city, more than any other capital in the world. The remarkable hydrothermal caves were formed from thermal springs. The 25 km long Baradla cave in the Aggtelek National Park, outside of Budapest, has "the morphological diversity, richness of formations, characteristic fauna, as well as archaeological and historical value, make this cave system one of the most complex underground karstic phenomena in the world."

"The people who were dwelling in darkness have seen a brilliant light." - Matthew 4:16

These two men living "Underground" have been thrown into the limelight. Now if we can just find that crevice where we hid mom's birth certificate ...