Broken Spark Plug

This made our trip home exciting
Scott and I had an eventful trip home from Wrenchfest.

The fun started early Sunday morning as we were pulling the trailer from Matt’s house where we slept to Neal’s to pick up the leftover parts Jeep. I was enjoying looking at all the old homes along the route as Matt narrated. He then pointed out the second house on the right which I commented as I drove past – “Hey that house has the same siding as Neal’s” Scott and Matt both quickly pointed out to me that is was Neal’s house and I really should have stopped there. Luckily I found an easy place to turn around and got the trailer positioned in the driveway.

The biggest challenge for loading the Jeep was that it had no brakes. No hydraulics due to broken rusted lines and no e brake due to no cables. After some careful consideration we hooked a tow strap to the hitch and got several guys to act as an anchor. I then drove the Jeep onto the trailer by quickly bumping it in and out of drive to control the speed. We got it loaded and strapped down with no more excitement.

After saying our goodbyes we got on the road around 11 am.

Just south of Elizabethtown, while climbing a steep grade, we heard a loud pop and then a loud sputtering sound. As I pulled to the shoulder I noted that the sound followed the engine speed like a bad exhaust leak. Scott jumped out in the pouring rain while I popped the hood. He noticed a broken bolt on the exhaust manifold and confirmed it must be a blown manifold gasket. We decided there was nothing we could do there on the side of the road in the rain and there was no harm in driving it further other than our ears so I pulled back onto the interstate while Scott found some ear plugs in the center console.

A few miles later we stopped at a truck stop for fuel and took a closer look at the engine under their canopy. Feeling around for the leak to make sure it was not melting something important, I noticed it was not coming from the obvious place where the bolt was broken, but below that. I kept feeling around until I found the escaping gases were coming from a mysterious round hole in the block. I thought some sort of EGR line had broken off although I did not remember there being any thing there.

After a bit more looking, we realized that the hole was the metal part of the spark plug and the ceramic part was still attached to the wire but embedded in the fender liner.

Realizing now that the gases coming out were not hot we drove on to look for a parts store. I almost always carry a tool bag but not this trip. My ratchet and plug wrench were home in the shop. Otherwise I would have stolen a plug form the Jeep to fill the hole.
Thirty miles down the road we found a Walmart. They not only had a tool kit with a plug wrench but the correct plug for the Suburban.

Armed with the proper implements, I quickly extracted the old plug base and installed a new plug. It started up and ran nice and quiet and smooth compared to the last 40 miles. We even got a break form the rain during the time it took to swap the plug.

Leaving the interstate for the back roads I had to drive slowly as there was often enough water to make the front of the Suburban hydroplane which is no fun with 5,000 lbs attached to the rear bumper. It took about 6 hours to make the trip that had taken 4.5 hours Friday night.

After dropping off Scott in Sparta, I head for Cleveland. I noticed lots of flooding as I passed through the nation’s largest sink hole called Grassy Cove, Tn. Coming up out of the sinkhole in the fog I got quite a shock as I hit a big rivulet of water coming across the road that was deep enough to shake the truck as I hit it.

As I started down off the plateau into Spring City I saw lots of blinking lights ahead. I thought there had been a wreck, but once it was my turn to go, I saw there was a rock slide blocking the down lane and it was being cleared away.

As I drove into Spring City I saw houses with water up to their porches. And I I turned to head south on US27 I drove through water that must have been six inches deep. I them decided to cross the Tennessee River at Watt Bar dam and head home on the interstate.

I finally made it home over nine hours after leaving Neal’s in KY. I parked the truck and trailer by the barn and went to bed glad to be home after a fun weekend.

Black Friday at Wooly’s Off Road

Jeep Cherokee off road at Wooly's off road
Jeep Cherokee off road at Wooly's off road

Last year my son Scott and I visited Wooly’s Off Road park near Lewisburg, Tn while our wives shopped on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Last year we took his mom’s Cherokee complete with street tires and Motives Makeup decals. We saw enough of the place to know we wanted to go back. It took us a year but we finally made it back to Wooly’s with our off road Jeep.

Playing on the rocks at Woolys
Playing on the rocks at Woolys

The trails at Wooly’s straight right out of the parking lot. There are also trails on both sides of the road. Unfortunately they don’t have maps available. There is a crude map on the wall where you check in but nothing to take with us. However the trails are really compact so you really can’t get very lost.

After playing around on the trails a while and exploring, we decided to tackle so of the more challenging obstacles. There is a nice rock climb right behind the barn. As I was going off the top of the climb we saw a couple of Wranglers. They told us about another rock climb near by so we headed over to try it out.

The trial we were on led us to a spot about a quarter way up the climb. It was a narrow trail that intersected at a 90 degree angle. As I tried to maneuver onto the rocks to head up the hill, I got hung up on a stump. I thought I could use it to pivot the back of the jeep down the hill an get the nose pointed up. However, that did not work and I ended up sliding sideways down the hill. After a few dozen back and forth movements while feeling very tippy, I finally got my Jeep pointed up the hill. However in the process, I managed to severely bend one of my newly installed ZJ lower control arms. With the aid of my front locker I made it up the climb relatively easily.

With the control arm bent we decided to take it easy the rest of the day. I went back down to the parking lot and it seemed to track straight so we headed across the street to the less rocky side of the park. I thought this would be a good time for Scott to get more experience behind the wheel.

It took him a few stall to get used to the clutch but after he did he got really good at maneuvering up and down the hills. At one place there are several paths up the same hill. Scott did three or four runs at progressively steeper climbs.

We then headed over to the part of the park where the old home place is located. There we found an old spring house.

Spring House
Spring House

Water trough
Water trough

We remembered a rock garden that we had tried in Janice’s street Jeep but did not go very far last year. It took us a while to find is because it had become over grown by weeds and briers.

Small Rock garden
Small Rock garden

This was a good place for Scott to learn where the tires were and how to place them on the rocks. He ran the course several times taking different lines.

Fun in the rocks
Fun in the rocks

It looked like fun so I decided to give it a run. We played around on some more trails before heading back to the trailer in the early afternoon.

We then decided to explore the south part of the park. With no map, it took us a while to find the right trails to connect to that part. Scott found a really fun climb between two trails. It had large rocks but with good access.

Scott climbing rocks
Scott climbing rocks

After running this climb several times using different lines, Scott noticed were running low of fuel. We took a long run around the perimeter of the park to make it back to the trailer. Even though there was still daylight left, we decided to pack up an go because we were very tired and there was now fuel station anywhere close.

There is still alot of trails that we never ran. A guide or a map would be a great help. Thinking back, we should have joined up with the two Wranglers and followed them around. But we did have a lot of fun just exploring on our own pace.

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Jeep Cherokee Stumble and Stall

Tire Rack

Yesterday, I traveled to Nashville to check out my son Will’s Jeep. He had called complaining of a severe stumble and stalling in traffic. I remembered that this was a problem when I bought this Jeep for him.

When I first arrived, his Jeep would not start. I was finally able to start the Jeep but it did not idle correctly.

I took it for a test drive and found that the idle air controller was sticking and allowing the engine to stall in traffic. Unless I was really alert when decelerating, the engine would stall.

I made my way back to his apartment and used carburettor cleaner to clean the idle air control circuit in the throttle body. After a few squirts the valve started controlling again and was able to catch the engine when it slowed down.

I noted that there was a lot of oil sludge in the throttle body so I checked the vent from the valve cover and found it partially stopped
up. The connection at the manifold was also clogged. I used the carb cleaner to clean the tube and the connection.

I never experienced the stumble but I suspected it was caused by the ECU connection. I removed the big connector from the ecu and wired down the connector. If I had had some contact cleaner handy, I would have sprayed the contacts before re-seating it. The folks at Hesco say there is a common failure of the ECU due to over tightening of the connector bolt. The circuit board cracks here or the threadsert pulls out of the board.

I put just a small amount of torque on the bolt as I tightened it back in place. We let the engine cool a bit and then took it for another test drive. It ran fine taking us to dinner and back. I hope this will cure it for a while.

I also showed Will how to do these checks himself if it does act up again.

What is a JUNO and why are they billing me?

Being billed for a JUNO account I don’t have.

What is a JUNO and why are they billing me?

I was reviewing my credit card statements today and I saw a charge from UOL*JUNO ONLINE 888-839-5866 CA for $9.95. I don’t know who they are or why they are charging me.

I called the number listed and for over an hour I talked to person after person including their supervisors. They tell me that since I can’t verify the account that I don’t have then I can’t cancel it. They did look up an account that matched my name but I assume that it is another Mike Strawbridge since nothing else matched. However, they still continue to bill my credit card. The last person I talked to suggested I cancel my credit card to get the charges to stop. I have recently changed the credit card number and somehow they followed me.

I have started an investigation with Discover card to try to get the charges to be reversed. I am just amazed at the brazenness of the crooks who tell me flat out that they will continue to bill me and there is nothing that I can do to stop them.

Please leave any advice in the comments.