Yes, the reports of my abduction were greatly exaggerated. I did, however, manage to escape, taking a few of them out in the process. Maybe next time they'll think twice before bothering me.
A quick update, since some of you have wondered where I have been.
The divorce was difficult. No, the divorce was damned impossible and Iím amazed to come through it with my present frame of mind. But, now itís past and I am moving forward. To pay off the bills from the divorce, Iíve been building lobster traps all summer long, after my regular job during the day, which left little time for anything else. I attended the Eastern Maine Wheel Fest in May, the first time I had the chains on without snow on the ground, and overall they performed well above expectations in the mud. But, I did manage to take out a wheel bearing, on top of crudding everything up with mud, which will do that when it submerges the Zuk from the speedometer down. No joke, I even fried my CB again, due to being submerged, which was mounted just under the radio, and both seat bottoms were under the mud for 200 yards. So itís not a wonder I did some damage, but the Zuk made it through and had some people eating a healthy dose of crow.
(This pic isn't of the final mud obstacle, only a much smaller and shallower one)
So there it sat, in my yard, busted. Then summer hit, and between the jobs, heat, and sleeping, there wasnít time for much else. Fast forward to 5 weeks ago, when I suddenly decided to make some time to work on the Zuk. The rust had set in, but it wasnít road legal, so I didnít care. The Ex got the TJ in the divorce, so I have been driving around all summer with doors and a roof (í95 Trooper), and it was driving me crazy. I started working on it, borrowed the welder again, and even took a week off from work, only to find it raining all week. Thatís when everything fell into alignment. My brother calls me up and says they just got a new plasma cutter at work, would I like to borrow it. Schweeet! Then a friend calls and tells me I should bring the Zuk down to work (job#2), and work on it inside, where itís dry and has lights, so I can work at night and not get carried off my mosquitos, our state bird. It took me 3 weeks of working until 1AM, but itís done and passed inspection the first time. I cut out the fenders 4Ē, and had to jack the new body metal into place to weld it. I added rock rails, which double as onboard air tanks (over 5 gal capacity), and moved a lot of other items around to itíd be better for wheeling. I even put the new windshield on, and fixed the bend at the base so it seals out water instead of funneling it into the cab. Basically it was a rust removal/Frankenstein patch process, but there is no sandwiched metal and no rust.
I decided to head to Wyld Bills for a light wheeling/testing weekend, but alas, it was not to be. Turning around in his driveway I heard something snap, which is not unusual since I have a locker in the rear, but it didnít sound right. Ahh, it was still moving, so I kept going. By the time I got to the trail, something was very wrong. I could rotate the rear driveshaft around and not move the Zuk. Later inspection revealed the source of the problem.
I had another 3rd member, so I decided to change it out, and did a search here for info. I had never setup the backlash, but a friend just happened to stop by and said he did them all the time, as he used to be a mechanic at the dealership (I never knew that). So I called wildweasel, who memorized the torque specs, and headed into the unknown. My friend took 2 hours out of his day and showed me how to setup a Ring & Pinion, set the backlash, and use all the tools. Now I have a skill Iíll be able to use anywhere, which is awesome. I made him (and his family) an apple pie to thank them. The Zuk has now been back on the road for 4 days, and all seems well, even running it at high rpm's in "traffic". You'd be surprised at how many odd stares you get driving to work with no top or doors at 6AM when it's below 40 degrees. I had a slight issue with wrapping the shock around the gas tank, so I moved the shock mounts, copying Wyld Bills setup (giving him the credit, it works well). Then I was driving into work and noticed a shop vac hose in someones trash, so being the scavenger and cheapskate I am, I snagged it, knowing just how to use it. I ran the volume/velocity numbers and 2Ē would easily suffice, so I slapped it together in an afternoon. I also got the bright idea of scabbing in an ďlĒ between the ďsĒ and aĒ in Samurai, so it now says ďSlamuraiĒ on the side, which is fitting since there are more straight edges in a bag of popcorn. It even looks good, almost factory.
So that brings us forward to today. About 6 weeks ago my boss said he was going away the Zookin weekend, as he makes $1,500 on a second job in 3 days. Since Iím up for a raise, I didnít want to argue and he plans it every year apparently. But, I found out today those plans fell through, so I can and will attend Zookiní Y2K3. I missed the one last year (understandable with everything going on), and really wanted to attend this year.
I took next week off as well, and hope to have the Onboard air (York) installed and the aux lights put in place. Thanks to Hulkzuki for the A/C brackets and double pulley. The CB should be in tomorrow, Iím mounting it off the top of the windshield so it wonít get submerged as I'm too stupid to just avoid the deep mud, and adding some switches for different things. I would like to make a new rear bumper, but donít know if Iíll have time.
So here is the work in progress. Thanks for all the e-mails and checking up on me, I sure appreciate it, and I am looking forward to cracking a cold one with all you at Zookiní Y2K3.