Car Culture & Entertainment

Rusty Off-Roading: Shaking Down Some Old Jeeps in the Wilds of British Columbia

(Image/Bryan Irons)

Story and Photos by Bryan Irons/4WD Canada Magazine

The ubiquitous “shakedown” run is a time-honored tradition carried out by gearheads across the world. The trip could be after completing a frame-off restoration, a long-awaited upgrade, or even just a DIY oil change. The feeling of taking something you wrenched on yourself back on the street or trail is one we all live for.

The primary purpose of a shakedown run is to ensure the repairs and upgrades are enough to get the vehicle ready for the tasks you intend it to do. We’re off-roaders, so a trip into the woods is what we needed.

So it went for our wheeling buddy Justin as he got ready to do a shakedown run in his 1947 CJ-2A. The ramshackle Jeep received only the finest care Justin could offer during commercial breaks—approximately 45 minutes or so. But he’s no dummy—he roped our other friend John into bringing his ex-military 1951 M38 along for the ride. Justin also invited yours truly and my overpowered CJ-7 to tag along. No doubt having access to spare parts and the get-home-alive skills we have honed from years of wrenching on hot garbage in precarious locations were top of mind for Justin.

Our late spring trip took us only a few miles outside of the city of Kelowna to the Thompson Okanagan In British Columbia, Canada. With over 25,000 square miles of public use lands, there are a lot of places to explore. The roof- and windshield-down sunshine was a welcome change from winter. We were lucky enough to have plenty of mud, snow, rocky trails, and dusty forest service roads to test out Justin’s CJ.

It’s not an adventure without a few hiccups to overcome, and we weren’t disappointed. Justin’s CJ2A has a Buick V6 with a Carter carburetor sitting atop an old Offenhauser intake manifold. We had to adjust the carb’s idle mixture screw and float level to get the engine to run properly at high altitude. Then the throttle petal fell apart and we had to reassemble it using some spare bolts Justin had rolling around in the back of the CJ.

Fun times, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Be it a big project, or just a little wrench turning, the next time you go for a shakedown run, relish in the adventure, setbacks, solutions, and with any luck, victory!

Justin’s 1947 CJ2A has an odd-fire Buick V6 swapped in many moons (and probably owners) ago, replacing the factory “Go-Devil” flathead 4 banger. The T-90 three-speed transmission and Dana 18 transfer case are the stuff of legend and could likely run filled with gravy. Open axles and reproduction Goodyear military tires got Justin in trouble a few times during the day, but since the CJ weighs just a whisker over 2,000 pounds, getting him unstuck was not an issue. (Image/Bryan Irons)
A view from behind the wheel. Rusty fuel, a cranky carburetor, a throttle petal that didn’t want to stay in place, and a few high centering moments in the snow didn’t deter Justin from having fun. Note the holes where the factory gauges used to live. Justin does have an oil pressure and water temperature gauge—what else do you need on the trail? (Image/Bryan Irons)
John’s 1951 M38 has a fuel injected GM 4.3L V6 attached to a T19 four-speed and a Dana 300 transfer case out of a Scout. Super Swamper TSLs are mounted on a set of 15 x 8 “wagon wheel” rims. Inside the axles are a set of Lock-Rite lockers and 5.38:1 gears. An old Rancho lift kit adds about 2.5 inches of elevation. The combination transformed the lightweight jeep into a mountain goat. (Image/Bryan Irons)
Yeah, we brought a bazooka to a game of Clue. Our AMC 401-powered CJ-7 gladly broke trail when we found snow still on the ground and easily walked though the rest of the terrain we came across. The 401 is backed by a T19 four- speed and a Black-Box-I reduction box with a Dana 300 hanging off the back. The Dana 44 rear axle has 4.10 gears and an ARB air locker, and the Dana 44 front axle has a Yukon Gear Zip Locker and a Dana 50 gear set. Both have Yukon 35-spline chromoly axles, and the front 44 has Yukon Super Joints and manual locking hubs. Ground clearance is provided by a Rubicon Express Extreme Duty 4.5 inch lift kit and a 1.5 inch Daystar body lift. The 37×13.5-17 Pitbull Rocker bias ply tires and beadlock wheels have been tearing up the trail for almost a decade. (Image/Bryan Irons)
You should begin any off-road trip should by lowering your tire pressure. This helps improve traction and will help save your back when riding around in old Jeeps with stiff suspensions and big tires. (Image/Bryan Irons)
Rushing water, ice, snow, and a sputtering carburetor can make for interesting times, but Justin made it across after only a few tries. (Image/Bryan Irons)
Apparently, the ruts we dug in the snow are the reason Justin got stuck. No worries—we broke out the tow straps and played “drag the flatty down the trail.” It’s all part of the fun! (Image/Bryan Irons)

Tags: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.