Tag Archives: recreation

I Got Some Fab

When I picked up my Jeep Wrangler one of the first things I sought out was a rear swing bumper for spare tire, gas cans, and tools such as an off road jack. I bought my Jeep completely bumper-less. I am an inexperienced welder with equipment that really isn’t up to par with what is required for a solid build. Fabricating mounts for lights, tool racks for a trailer, even mounting hardware for the on-board info systems…sure. A good set of bumpers and hardware to carry gas cans and other off road tools…well no.

I first went to a local fabricator listing his services on Craigslist. My first clue to the quality should have been that he was 30 minutes late meeting me at his “fab shop”. The dirt floored shop behind his house littered with tools, his air wrench was a 3 gallon electric compressor that had to be constantly recharged with air (I literally used a hand powered socket set on a set of screws faster than he did with his air powered tools), and he wasn’t using washers on any of the bolts when he put the bumper on.

In a few weeks the bumper through all the vibration started tearing out of the frame. My buddy Greg and I welded in support plates, but it never really stopped the vibration issue. In the end, I wound up putting my old tire carrier on and using just the bumper.

Using my bumper as a base, they rebuilt everything, increasing strenght and durability

I then took my project Jeep into the guys at Get Some Fabrication in Boise, Idaho. They quickly diagnosed the problems, pointed out the flaws in the design of the swing gate set up, and we set out together to build a new swing gate.

Finished project--- just needs paint

They used my existing bumper for the build, in which they reinforced it. You want a good solid platform on the bumper, not only for the tire and gas cans to be supported, but this is what another rig is going to hook into when you get YANKED out of a ditch at some point. Using larger section of steel they modified my current bumper.

After that, and through some back and forth decision making, they built a new tire carrier for me and made custom gas can holders. We opted to not place the hi-lift jack on the back since I travel allot of washboard trails. It’s not that they can’t build for that, it was more of a “why put it there” when I have plenty of space on my hood for it, which is really where I intended to move it. They also pre-built a space for a rear safari rack above the tire.

I am very pleased with the work that they have done and through a week of testing with full gas cans up and down the trails (all are washboard as a minimum right now) there is almost no vibration or excessive noise.

I highly recommend these guys and so glad they stepped up for this project. Going back to them to have a front bumper built, an overhead safari rack, rock sliders, and suspension work done. Located on Franklin Road in Boise, they can be reached at (208) 888-3565. You can also check out some of the cool stuff they have built on their website.

Maps…I Love Maps

There is something about maps for me. A graphic representation of the earth’s surface as seen from above. The blue, green, red, white, and black depictions. The topographic features that look so odd until you know how to read them so well you begin to depict body features as contour lines… Yes I need help.

I remember as a boy looking at a puzzle map given to me. It was while I was sitting at the breakfast counter in Tempe and looking at the jigsaw cutout of Idaho with a skier in the middle that I made the decision to move to the state. I was six and then thirty-odd years later I followed that dream. When we would travel on the road I would look at the map to see where we were going on road trips. I had postcards of maps. I loved those maps at roadside stops with the little star depicting, “YOU ARE HERE”.

In the military I would learn land navigation and how to look at terrain in terms of tactical advantages. I became very good at the art and skill of using a 1:50000 scale topo map, the compass, and the protractor. I was so good I taught it on a regular basis, was selected to compete in orienteering races, and show new officers how lost they really were.

Before the days of geocaching we would use maps for similar games. I still pull out a map every now and then and go looking for the geeky treasures with old school map and compass.

I collect all kinds of maps. Old maps, foreign maps, aviation maps, underwater survey maps. I have maps from just about every travel….well most. I even have maps of places I have never been to….but will some day. As a student pilot I would comb over aviation charts (not maps) and dream about all the travel I would do by plane. Idaho to Texas is still on the list as well as a coast to coast trip in a single-engine Cessna….time and money being the only barriers right now.

There is something about spreading out a sheet of roads, gulches, hills, and valleys that is not present with a gps. There is something lost by navigating by an in-car system of printing off directions from google or mapquest. The personality of the terrain disappears. We get caught up in “getting there”

Tonight I have a new Benchmark Series map of Idaho. I’m looking directly at an area I plan to do some exploration in. I’m also seeing places we have already been to and my thought is, “holy wow…I didn’t know that was there….” as I saw that the son of Sacajawea is buried a few hours from us.

I often wonder where we should go for our next grand adventure. I have done topographic analysis of the trail that goes from west to east in the Highlands of Scotland, conducted map reconnaissance of the Trans-American Trail, and spent hours in study of the Appalachians.

Looking at a fresh map of my own state makes me realize we don’t have to go far. There are so many things to explore in our own part of the world. Though we may put hundreds of miles of dirt behind us, the trail head for the next adventure begins only 5 miles from my door.