Last: Slick Hill
About this time it started to get cold again and driving the motorcycle to work every day in the cold was getting to me. I decided to park the bike for the winter and drive the jeep to work. It was almost as tiring as riding the bike except I was warmer. A drawback was that I got 10 mpg in the jeep compared to 40+ on the bike so when I got the $200 gas bill for the first month I decided to break down and buy a normal car and retire the jeep for recreation only. I bought a Honda CRX with an automatic transmission and commuting has never been more relaxing. Plus I get 30+ mpg.After getting stuck on that hill at Lake Cavanaugh I decided it was time to get some real offroading tires and traded my AT tires in for some 32x11.5 BFG Mud Terrains. This was another one of those "best buy" items and I don't know how I lived without these tires.
Around the time of Lake Cavanaugh and driving the jeep to work I started noticing some "bad" sounds coming from the transmission. I figured the Chevy 307 was finally starting to destroy that little trany. Through the Offroad Mailing list I also met Al Temple who lived down around Portland. I had talked to him earlier about floating axle setups and he said I could get one from some guys he knew down by him, Richard and Paul. I talked to them about axles and stuff and it looked like I could do the whole thing for about $200 and I could even trade them my old axles against the new stuff. Well, they didn't have any full floating axle stuff but they did have a rebuilt T-18 transmission. I was thinking about swapping one of these for my T-90 but pretty much dismissed it when Olympic quoted me $1200 for one. But Rich and Paul's was only $800 and I could use my T-90 as a core which was great. The only problem was I had to go down to Portland to get it. At the time I didn't have the Honda but I
After I got back from Portland I spent the next few days in Don's barn swapping transmissions. Along with the transmission I also had to get new front and rear driveshafts since everything shifted back about 2 inches. The old ones were probably a weak link so it was better that got new ones. The swap went pretty well, though the T-18 was much heavier than the T-90 and getting it in place was a pain. I never want to have to take it out again but from what everyone tells me I shouldn't have to.
Once I got it attached to the bell housing the next step was to put on the transfer case. That went pretty much uneventful until I figured out that I couldn't get one bolt in because of the way the adapter was setup. Well, I had four of five in, I didn't need that last one. I ended up paying for that mistake in a big way. It turns out that the hole that bolt plugged went straight through into the transfer case and was below the oil line so for a while after installing everything I was leaking gear oil like crazy and had to spend another weekend taking things apart and putting the bolt in. Once I got the bolt in the second time I didn't get things tight enough so there was still a pretty bad leak between the transmission and transfer case and I had to take things apart again. Thankfully I never had to remove the T-18 from the bell housing.
With the T-18 and my 5.38 gears I now had an 84:1 first gear in low 4WD. I could basically get out of the jeep and it would crawl along at an idle by itself. It was great and I had to try it out somewhere. I also wanted to try out my new tires too. Well, Don, Tina, and Tyler went along with me one Saturday to go exploring up by Spada Lake. We drove around for a while down some back trails but never really found anywhere to really test out the new transmission. Don did get stuck on a small branch though and I had to pull him off. It was payback for him pulling me up that hill at Lake Cavanaugh. The tires worked great, especially in the snow. Nothing major happened on the trip but on the way home in the rain one of my wiper motors crapped out and I had to pull over and switch the good passenger motor over to my side. About a week later when I was going up to Orcas the other one crapped out too. In the bind I used Rain-X and it worked so well that I still have not replaced the wiper motor