Bruce Brownson
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Story by Bruce Brownson

Readers Rides Showcase
April, 2000

Bruce Brownson's '99 Jeep TJ

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Bruce BrownosnMany years ag , as a kid, I became interested in off-road activities. I found that it was a great way to explore nature, get outdoors and enjoy a day of good, clean fun. It started with dirt bikes, later with ATV's and, more recently, two Hummers and two Jeeps.

I first acquired a 1980 Jeep CJ-7 and built it into a more capable vehicle than it was in its original form. My son, Brian, and I took this Jeep to Easter Jeep Safari in 1998. There, we had the opportunity to run well-known trails such as Golden Spike, Pritchett Canyon, Poison Spider Mesa, Moab Rim and others.

I learned that while the Jeep was quite capable, I did not enjoy the T-18, Dana twin sticks, hand throttle, foot throttle, brake and clutch. Using them all at the same time while climbing an obstacle was more work and less fun than I expected it to be. Some might directly attribute this attitude to questionable driver skills, etc..

Bruce BrownosnThis interest in having an automatic and an interesting vehicle led to the purchase of a new '97 Hummer. I was under the impression that the Hummer was bulletproof and would go anywhere. I was wrong on both counts and found the Hummer to be a dissappointment to me due to size, required maintenance and broken parts.

I sold the Hummer (happily) and in April 1999 went trooping off to my local Jeep dealer to see what kind of deal I could get on a new TJ. Having sold the CJ several months earlier, I made the decision to buy a TJ Sahara with air, automatic, hard top and Dana 44 rear axle in any color with that equipment. The dealer came up with a black one, which was fine, with the above mentioned equipment.

When I took delivery of the new TJ , I called the local 4 Wheel Parts Wholesalers store and gave them a list of parts to order and asked for their bid on price, labor, and tax; installed. Long story short, I delivered the TJ to the store with 500 miles on it as the parts had arrived the day before. Many modifications were completed in the week they had the jeep, including lift, tires, wheels, drive shafts, Tera 4 to 1, gears, bumpers, skid plates, tire carriers, roof rack, winch, etc.. (list of changed parts attached).

Bruce BrownosnSince the TJ was initially completed (a never-ending project as we continue to find accessories that it needs) we have had the opportunity to use the jeep at Ft. Hood, Gavelston, and Fredricksburg, Texas and Moab, Utah. Moab (August 1998) was particularly interesting in assessing what the Jeep would really do as we, again, ran Pritchett Canyon, Golden Spike, Poison Spider Mesa, Gold Bar Rim and Moab Rim. I found the 100 to 1 low range crawl gear, the automatic, the 35x14.50x15 SSR's with 4 to 5 pounds of air to be a combination that seemed to work very well (remember, questionable driver skills) and had a great time and did not break anything.

I carry spare parts for what I believe will break (u-joints, hardened Warn Dana 30 axles with 297 u-joints, Six States drive shafts, etc. and did not need to use them.

In comparison, I enjoy the Jeep off-road more than previously owned vehicles, including the Hummer, and intend to keep it and modify it as better aftermarket parts are made available. In closing, I say enjoy your Jeep, use it, and maybe I will have the opportunity to meet some of you on a trail in the future.

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