Signal light mod

Marker light modThis seems to be a pretty logical mod, one that should have been done at the factory. In North America, the side markers are basically running lights.  In Europe, they are required to function as signal lights – so JK’s sold there don’t need this mod.
After doing a google search for “marker light mod”, it turns out that this isn’t limited to just Jeep products at least ;^)  This article on the Daniel Stern Lighting site is a good read!
JK-Forum: Marker light mod thread

Grill mod

The trademark 7 slot grill of a Jeep is all fine, but the open slots expose the radiator to all sorts of hazards both on and of the road.  Rocks, tree branches, small animals, who knows!
Many people zip tie nylon mesh or eavestrough mesh to the back of the grill.  Seems like a fair bit of work, and not that strong or rugged.
I think this is a better method – it’s much stronger, and it can be removed if necessary. It’s simpler I think, and uses no drilling, gluing, etc. It’s starts with a sheet of the perforated or expanded metal. Make a few cutouts, make four bends, and it’s ready to slide in between the radiator and snug up against the back of the grill slots.  One thing to be careful with is to ensure you choose a perforated mesh with enough hole density to ensure adequate airflow so that the radiator can do its job.
I was able to pick up piece of perforated stainless steel for about $30 – a few bends and a few cuts later, it was all done, and looks good 5 years later.  I added a cutout lined with door edge guard to allow my winch power cables to feed back to my battery.
Used a metal break to do the bends, used tin snips and a grinder to cut out the tabs.


Here’s a rough pattern that I used to make mine – use it as a guide – perhaps make your own template starting wit a piece of cardboard, and add the necessary bends and cutouts so that you can make an even better grill insert than mine!

Jeep mods wishlist

Rock sliders
Shrockworks rock sliders
Flat fenders
Jury is still out on exactly what route to go – there are pro’s and con’s to steel tube fenders, as well as to the plastic/composite models. I liked the fender style on the Liberty Renegade we had, and Bushwacker makes something similar, but they are just to big, and too brittle.  Have seen a number of people on the trails with them, only to bust them up in the brush.
A Warn power plant might be more than I need, but the air compressor interests me – particularly for inflating the pontoons on my Skykomish Sunrise pontoon boat. I do have a cheapie pump that runs off a cigarette lighter or rechargeable batteries that works well for my pontoon boat – but it definitely won’t inflate 4 x 32″ tires after a day on the trails.
I ended up buying a Kodiak winch from The Gear Center on 50th street.  It works well. and was a fraction of the cost of a comparable Warn product.  However, after a dozen or so pulls, and a  couple really tough ones, the frame of the winch twisted and cracked the case.  Still works, but I’m not sure that I can rely on it 100% anymore.  The cable on it is also kinked, so I’ve removed it, and now I’m trying to decide between steel cable or synthetic.
Cage netting
I like the looks of netting – and it comes in handy when  getting into some crazy inclines 🙂
Was starting to research this and came across an awesome thread at   When I was first looking at getting a Jeep, my favourites were the FabFour, and the Durango.   The AEV one is sure nice too – but ouch! it’s over $1200 (US).  
Durango FabFour LOD AEV 
One thing about the JK Wrangler, is the headlights suck.  Plain and simple.  I ended up replacing the bulbs with some Silverstar Ultras – which do improve things a little.  The LED replacements are coming down in price – so who knows.
Cargo Rack
There are a few choices for the Wrangler Unlimited – and they seem fairly similar, but there are some obvious, and some not so obvious differences.  Here are the different racks that I’ve found so far (in no particular order):
KargoMaster – A couple products are needed from KargoMaster, depending on how you want to use your roof rack.  Most people probably want to be able to use the rack regardless of whether the hard or soft top was on or off, which requires KargoMasters Congo Rack, and their Safari rack.  The Congo rack is the base, and it will also work with other carriers from companies like Thule.

Gobi Racks – The Gobi racks look like a very well built system – one of the unique features in their Stealth rack is the open space above the front seats – leaving you with unobstructed open air if you’re running with the tops off.  Downside I would think is more limited cargo space.
Garvin Industries – These were the first racks that I found for the Wrangler Unlimited.  They do look good. Garvin also makes a number of accessories for their racks, including hi-lift and axe mounts, gas can brackets, spare tire mounts, as well as mounts for various others pieces of sports equipment.

Wild Boar – the Wild Boar rack offers a lot of versatility.  Some of the accessories are pretty slick – like the tent, and canopy options.

A New Ride?

2008 Jeep Wrangler UnlimitedOver the past little while I’ve been interested in replacing our 2005 Jeep Liberty Renegade – with Jeep’s new Wrangler Unlimited.  It’s difficult keeping things in order – so why not try and record it on a website?
2005 Jeep Liberty RenegadeSounds like a great idea to me! I intend to write up posts about various products that interest me, along with product reviews that I might find in the process.  I’ll also try and do some posts about any excursions – they’ll likely be fishing trips, but who knows!

The Search for Coffee Nirvana – Part Two

espressoThe internet can be a bad thing.  In trying to get the best coffee possible, I think that the next step is getting an espresso machine.  I’ve had espresso machines before – the smaller consumer steam machines – and was satisfied – but they shots were never even close to the those that I’ve been served at various coffee shops. Research on the various coffee forums and websites seems to suggest that what I need to look at are professional consumer, or smaller commercial-grade machines.  There are a lot of machines to choose from, and the price range is pretty broad.
Over and over again, recommendations stressed the importance of a grinder as well – making the research task even more daunting.
A very popular entry level espresso machine that is often recommended is the Rancilio Silvia.  Then I read about the brew group heads – specifically the E61 – with its reliability and temperature stability.  The more I read, the more I was sold on getting a machine with the E61 brew group.  I also decided it might be best to list out what sort of features I wanted to try and narrow down my choices.  Here’s my list:

  • E-61 brew group
  • ability to produce consistent shots – 2 or 3 in a row
  • aesthetically pleasing to look at (yes, very subjective!)
  • easy to use and adjust
  • good steam wand
  • hot water dispenser
  • ability to plumb in (but could be used without being plumbed in)

Some other features that helped narrow my selection were things like cool-touch steam wands, size of the warming tray (basically, the top of the machine where cups can be stored and warmed up), drip tray size, and local product/service availability.
Andreja Premium espresso machineThe espresso machine I ended up going with was the Andreja Premium.  I was able to get it from a local supplier (Caffetech).
The grinder I chose was the La Cimbali Jr., also purchased from Caffetech.  My criteria for a grinder was consistency of grind, stepless grind adjustment, size and appearance, and durability.  The La Cimbali Jr. has a large 64mm conical burr, and grinds fast – a double shot takes about 10 seconds.  The machine is pretty quiet, and looks great!  I don’t see myself ever needing to replace it.  One modification I did make to the grinder was removing the front tamper – as it just blocked visibility of seeing how much coffee was going into the portafilter – and I have a Reg Barber tamper that I use instead.  I did have one of those Espro tampers that clicked when you were applying 30lbs of pressure – it was great when first learning, but after a while, it became unnecessary, so I sold it.La Cimbali Jr. coffee grinder
In hindsight, I would probably have eliminated the ability to use without being plumbed in.  The convenience of having a machine that you don’t have to keep refilling a reservoir is  huge to me.  In fact, it was less than a month after getting my machine when I started getting things together to plumb it in.  The reservoir refilling got old real fast!  The other criteria I would have added would be for a relatively quiet machine. The Andreja Premium is kind of noisy.  The next model up from Quick Mill is the Vetrano – which has a quiet rotary pump instead of the noisy vibe pump used in the Andreja.