Top Trail Fixes


Battery Welding

Busting a weld is never fun. From peeled shock tabs to broken spring hangers, these metal mishaps can leave you stranded on the trail for hours. The good news is if you can round up two batteries, a set of jumper cables, and a welding rod, you can weld your broken rig back together in a safe and timely manner. The key is to wire the batteries in a series, thereby conducting 24 volts of electric feed that when grounded to bare metal can be utilized as a primitive stick welder. For best results prep the area with a grinder or a wire brush. You will need to carry a variety of welding rods and eye protection as well as an extra set of cables or a shortened thick-gauge cable to connect the batteries in a series. (Connecting  the + of one battery to the – of the second battery =24 Volts… Jay)


Ratchet Flat

Losing a bead on the trail can result from a variety of reasons, and unfortunately having a fullsize spare on board isn't always an option. But, if you have a ratchet strap and an air source you will be able to reseat the bead and finish out your fun-filled day of wheeling. Remove the weight of the vehicle off the tire and clean the inside lip of the wheel to prevent debris from obstructing the bead. Next, wrap the strap around the middle of the tire tread; you will notice as you ratchet the strap tighter that it will develop a flat spot in the tire. Don't worry as this is the desired effect as the force is now pushing the bead to the outside of the tire. Connect your air source to the valve and watch for the bead to set. If you notice any areas leaking check for dirt between the lip of the bead and the wheel. Once the bead is set you may remove the strap and pump the tire up to the desired psi.


Jeep Wrangler Tips & Tricks for Getting Unstuck

It’s really simple, all you do is apply your parking brake a little bit and this gives your differential enough resistance to engage both rear wheels of your Jeep Wrangler.  The effect of this is to also engage both front wheels.  The principle behind a normal 4x4 and not one that has lockable differentials is that one rear wheel and the opposite front wheel move together so you really don’t have a true four wheel drive.  But by applying your parking brake you can cheat and get a temporary true 4x4.  I found that on my 1993 Jeep Wrangler I can apply the brake fairly heavily and the heavier I apply it the better it works.


Leaky Tank Trick

If you happen to punch a hole in your gas tank, think fast and grab a bar of soap.  Yes, a bar of Ivory Fresh may be your saving grace.  Locate the hole quikcly and then rub the soap across the leaking area until the soap forms a seal.  The soap will act as a temporary gasket keeping the fuel contained so you can drive off th trail.


Vice Brakes (Broken Brake Line)

Losing brakes anywhere behind the wheel is a scary notion, but if you happened to just cut a brake line you’re still in luck.  Use a pair of locking pliers to apply pressure directly above the point where the line is damaged. This will allow the fluid acess to the other lines and give you enough stopping power to make it off the trail.


Busted U-Joint
Breaking a universal joint on the trail is one of the most common breakages among wheeling enthusiasts, but with a few standard tools you can swap that busted joint out in no time. First, use a pair of snap-ring or needle-nose pliers to remove the U-joint retaining clips. Once removed, place the shaft on level ground, then line up a larger socket underneath the cap opening, and place a smaller socket on the opposite side. This allows the cap to slide down into the open socket when pressure is applied by hammering the top of the smaller socket. Once the U-joint is out use the reverse process to gently tap in both caps and replace the hardware that is provided with the new U-joint.


Hi-Lift Tie Rod

A Hi-Lift Jack is one of the greatest tools that you can have in your rig. It acts not only as a lift for your far-from-stock rig, but over the years has proved useful in a variety of trail fix scenarios. One of our favorites is a quick cure for a bent tie rod. This can be universally applied to most stock solid-axle applications. You will need to use a rope or winch cable to straighten the bar out the best you can, then unbolt one end of the tie rod from the knuckle. A few basic handtools are all that is needed to remove the bar from the truck. Once the bar is out, unlatch the Hi-Lift handle from the jack and then slide it over the tie rod. Reattach the bar and align the steering the best you can. It would be wise to check the diameter of your tie rod before relying on this tip off road. Not all tie rods are the same and it's always better to know that it won't work while parked in your driveway versus stuck on a trail in the middle of nowhere.


Twisted Shaft

A twisted driveshaft is one of the most dreaded trail breaks. This tip will require a welding source, metal cutting tools, and either a scrap plate or precut strips of metal that will be used to brace the shaft. First, remove the shaft from the vehicle and place it onto a level surface. At this point it would be wise to secure the U-joint caps in place; electrical tape is usually the easiest to work with. Next, measure the approximate length of the strips that will be needed to brace the shaft on both sides. Once the metal is cut it may be helpful to use a set of C-clamps to keep the metal firmly in the right position. After the welding surface is prepped, tack the metal braces evenly to limit the shaft from warping. This will not only aid in keeping the shaft straight, but will help with balance. Let the welds cool, then reinstall.


Flat Tire….Plug It

Tire plugs have been around for ages. Why? Because they are easy to use and they work! There are countless plug kits available-some with compressors and some with fancy plug inserters-while others stick to the basics with just the plug, punch, and driver. In general you take out whatever happens to be stuck in your tire (in this case a nail). Once the object is removed, use the punch to "drill" the hole for easier access for the plug. Most kits have a sticky compound that the plug will need to be coated in once you have it securely placed in the driver. The gook provides an extra defense to prevent air escaping as well as letting the plug slide into the hole more easily. Submerse the plug, then twist it a quarter of the way out. Once partially exposed, snip the excess and check the air pressure in the tire.


Finding your Way...

To determine direction without a compass, set a straight 3-foot stick in the ground in an open place where it will cast a shadow. Place a stone at the tip of the shadow. Wait 15 minutes, then place a stone at the new position of the shadow's tip. A line drawn from the first stone to the second runs from West to East. The shortest line drawn from the base of the stick to the east-west line points North.


Wax on, Wax off (Breaking frozen, rusted bolts loose)

Got a stubborn bolt that's rusted or seized?  Try heating it up with a blow torch and apply candle wax to the treads.  For really stubborn bolts you may have to reheat it a few times and re-apply the candle wax to the threads but as wax is applied to the heated bolt threads the wax is sucked down into the rust just as flux pulls solder into a pipe joint.  As the wax cools it acts as a lubricant, helping to free up the bolt.  A recent conversation with a friend in the racing business had the pleasure of an old spark snapping off with the threads still lodged in the engine.  Heating the plug and block around the spark plug and applying candle wax a few times allowed what was left of the old plug to be extracted with an extraction tool.


Cellular Phone Services
Take that old cell phone offroad

Did you know that any cell phone whether connected to a service provider or not can call 911? All a non-serviced cell phone requires to be able to connect to 911 is that it is charged. If you have an old cell phones lying around that you are not using you might want to consider giving it to an elderly relative or neighbor to use in case of emergency.


Tools for the Trail
Jeep Tool Tricks Home Brewed Chain Vise Grips Axle

Weld a U-shaped plate to the top of a hydraulic bottle jack and add chain Vise Grips to keep the Jeep's axle in place. Be sure to avoid clamping it down around brake lines or cables when wrapping the chain around the axlehousing. This will allow you to jack your Jeep up on less-than-flat ground without it always trying to fall off the tiny pad on the bottle jack.