The Jeep Report

Today was one of my days to deliver mail for the post office. On a typical day, my commute takes approximately 40 minutes. I then sort the mail for my route for 3-4 hours before loading up the Jeep. You probably don’t think much about mail carriers and how your mail (letters and packages) gets into the mail box. But let me tell you, it isn’t as easy as it looks. Sorting the mail is difficult enough but consider what your mail carrier does to get you your mail each day. Try driving up to your mailbox in six inches of slush without knocking the box down and still being close enough to open, retrieve and deliver mail into the box. Now repeat that 380 times. It gets tricky on hills, busy roads, or where the customer has not plowed the snow away from the mail box. Remember that the next time you shovel your driveway.


Today, it took me about 7 hours to drive the route. Part of that is me needing to learn the route better. But the other part was the weather. In some places there was enough ice to make stopping a possible entry in the next Winter Olympics. That also provided the opportunity to do some “donuts” when there was no driveway to turn around in. All in all it went fairly well. But after finishing the route, I made a bad decision. With snow falling and the roads becoming slick, I decided that taking the highway was a better idea than risking the back roads. It wasn’t. Even with the “highly advanced” defroster system in the old Jeep, my windshield wipers kept icing up. At one point the driver’s side wiper accumulated a half inch of ice which kept the rubber blade from even touching the windshield.

What normally takes 40 minutes on the back roads took 1 1/4 hours on the highway. The drive up SR 45 to I-90 was bad enough. But after entering the highway, I found that the plows had not done anything to the road. Things weren’t too bad at first, but as visibility decreased and large tractor trailers zoomed past, it became more of a survival game. I ended up stopping at several exits along the way to clean the windshield and wipers. That helped immensely but if I could have done it over again, I would have chosen the back roads. The several drivers in the ditch along the highway would probably have agreed.

I really shouldn’t complain as the Lord kept me safe all the way home. I didn’t get stuck in the snow. I didn’t crash into anything. And I am safely home with a story to tell. And just think. I get to do this again twice next week!

Mystery Car 132


While driving toward Geneva, Ohio on Rt. 20, I saw this car parked parallel to the road east of Madison. The paint color and side profile were hard to pass by. What an interesting car! If you are familiar with the company that built this car you probably know why the car is sitting low. They used an unconventional suspension system that could be raised or lowered at will. This particular model was built from 1970-75 and was the 1972 Motor Trend Car of the Year.

When you give up (or guess it) click here to read more about Mystery Car 132.

1984 Jeep DJ-5 : Rear LED Amber Flashers

A previous owner had oversprayed the rear lights (and anything else that got in his way) while painting the Jeep. So it was difficult to know how well other drivers could see my ambers flashing. That is important since I will be delivering the mail to mailboxes along the road. If people can’t see my flashing amber lights, there could be an accident — especially in winter conditions. Thanks to a pair of new LED amber turn signal assemblies, that will not be a problem anymore.

My mechanic, Chuck Widemire of Motorwerks Imports, installed the lights and then had me run the Jeep’s engine today while he tinkered with the carburetor. The Jeep repair manual mentioned a vacuum solenoid which could adjust the idle. After a while, he found that the carburetor was sending too much fuel into the intake which probably means the float needs to be adjusted. With the prospect of having to replace the cam shaft this sounds much more encouraging. Hopefully, this will make the Jeep fit to drive for delivery.

The Jeep’s engine is a 2.5L AMC unit with enough vacuum lines to tie up a prisoner. It reminds me of the time I took a college class on basic car care. The mechanic had two students bring their cars in. One was an AMC and the other a Volvo. The AMC had wires and vacuum lines everywhere in the engine bay while the Volvo’s was clean and empty. This Jeep isn’t a Volvo but with all those lines I’m sure there is a vacuum leak somewhere. A couple weeks ago, I replaced 6-8 of them but there are plenty more to check. The end result is that the Jeep should be drivable for work in the near future.

As a Christian, I pray about things like this. And I thank the Lord for the good results we are having thus far. But I also appreciate a good mechanic who has the knowledge to work on anything from a Jaguar to a Jeep. Thanks, Chuck!

Jaguar “Quality” before Ford Took Over


How bad was Jaguar quality in the 1980’s and early 90’s? It was so bad that Ford almost bit off more than they could chew when they paid $2.5 billion to buy the brand. In his article, How Ford bought, fixed Jaguar, written in 2003, Bradford Wernle explains just how bad it had gotten.

ford-quality-job-one“My concern was that, with the exception of a few people, most of the Jaguar people – their belief about Ford Motor Co. was pretty poor,” said Hayden. “Second, they didn’t really seem to understand what a mess they were in. They seemed to think just being Jaguar, somehow they would survive. Somehow I had to get their attention.” Hayden got their attention by making a comment that became a legend around Jaguar’s base in Coventry, England. Hayden said the only factory he had ever seen that was worse than Browns Lane was the Gorky car plant in the old Soviet Union. At Gorky, Hayden had seen workers actually applying paint over bird crap deposited on the roofs of cars by pigeons flying around inside the plant. The Gorky comment hurt workers badly, but it also woke them up.

As an American, I was wondering how things would get any better with Ford owning the brand. Ford to me was an economy car with little to offer in terms of quality. But I was obviously wrong. The people behind “Quality is Job One” created a miraculous turn around for Jaguar taking the brand from the bottom to the top of quality scores. Nicely done.

Ohio State vs. Michigan Jokes

UPDATED: November 29, 2014


Mike W. walked into our living room with a dachshund under his arm. The dog was wearing a Michigan jersey and helmet, and was festooned with Michigan pom-poms.

I said, “Hey! I don’t allow stuff like that in my house!”

Mike got down on his knees and begged. “Look, I’m desperate. We’re both big fans, my TV is broken, and this is the only place around where we can see the game!”

“Well … Okay,” I said. “But I’m warning you. If there’s any trouble from either of you, you’ll have to leave.”

The big game began with the Wolverines receiving the kickoff. They marched down the field, got stopped at about the 30, and kicked a field goal. With that the dog jumped up on the couch, and began giving high-fives to everyone.

I was surprised. “That is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen! What does the dog do when the Wolverines score a touchdown?”

Mike looked at the floor and quietly responded. “I don’t know, I’ve only had him for four years.”



Q: What is the difference between a Michigan jersey and an onion?

A: No one cries when you cut up a Michigan jersey.



Two boys are playing football at a park in Ann Arbor when one of the boys is suddenly attacked by a crazed Rottweiler.

Thinking quickly, the other boy takes a stick and shoves it under the dog’s collar, twists it, and breaks the dog’s neck, thus saving his friend.



A sports reporter who was strolling by sees the incident and rushes over to interview the boy. He tells the boy, “I’ll title it ‘Young Wolverine Fan Saves Friend From Vicious Animal'”.

“But I’m not a Wolverine fan,” the little hero replies.

“Sorry, since we’re in Ann Arbor, I just assumed you were,” says the reporter, and he starts writing again. He asks “How does ‘Spartan Fan Rescues Friend From Horrific Attack’ sound?”

“I’m not a Spartan fan either,” the boy says.

“Oh, I thought everyone in Michigan was either for the Wolverines or the Spartans. What team do you root for?” the reporter asks.

I’m an Ohio State Buckeyes fan,” the boy replies. “They’re the best.”

The reporter smiles, starts a new sheet in his notebook and writes: “Juvenile Delinquent From Columbus Kills Beloved Family Pet.”




One day my nephew decided to wash his sweatshirt. Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to my wife, “What setting do I use on the washing machine?” “It depends,” she replied. “What does it say on your shirt?” He yelled back, “Go Michigan.” She yelled back, “Use hot water, a box of Tide and four cups of bleach.”


A man at a restaurant leans over to the man at the next table and says, “Hey, do you want to hear a University of Michigan joke?”

The man didn’t look very happy. “Well, before you tell that joke, you should know something. I am six feet tall, 200 pounds and a Michigan graduate. The guy sitting next to me is 6-2, 225 pounds and a Michigan graduate. The guy sitting next to him is 6-5, 250 pounds and is also a Michigan graduate. Do you still want to tell that joke?”

The first man frowned. “Nah, not if I’m going to have to explain it three times.”


Practice in Ann Arbor was delayed for two hours yesterday when one of the players happened to look down and noticed a suspicious looking, unknown, white powdery substance on the field. Brady Hoke immediately suspended practice as the FBI was called in, who later determined that the substance was actually the goal line. Practice resumed when the FBI decided that the team would not encounter the substance again.


Q: Why did they change the playing field at “The Big House” to cardboard?

A: Because Michigan has always looked better on paper.


A grade school teacher who was a U of M graduate asked the class if they wanted Michigan to win the game. All the children raised their hands to be like the teacher except for one little girl. The teacher asked the little girl why she didn’t raise her hand. The little girl replied “because I like Ohio State”. Flustered, the teacher asked why she liked Ohio State. The little girl said “because my parents root for Ohio State. The teacher asked the little girl if she copied everything her parents did and the little girl replied “yep”. The teacher asked “What if your parents were idiots” and the little girl replied “Well … then I guess we would be Michigan fans”.


A little boy and his mother were walking through the cemetery when they spotted a headstone that read “Here lies a Michigan graduate and a good man.” The little boy turned to his mother and asked, “Mommy, why did they bury two people in there?”


A Wolverine football player was almost killed today in a tragic horseback riding accident. He fell from the horse and was nearly trampled to death. Luckily, the manager of K-Mart came out and unplugged the horse just in time.

QOTD #54: Which is the most reliable Jaguar model ever built?

This kind of question is always interesting. In all honesty, this usually becomes more of a popularity contest. My favorite Jag was the silver 1982 XJ-S V12. It was an awesome car to drive and one I wish I had been able to keep. But ask me which one has been the most reliable and I’d have to vote differently. The XJ-S didn’t have a working heater and sucked gas out of the pump faster than I could put it in. The blue 1990 XJ6 (as well as the white 1990 XJ6) had their share of troubles. The sagging hydraulic suspension, inoperative heater fans, embarrassing oil puddles, and continuous electrical problems were aggravating. But when I purchased the 1995 XJ6, things were quite different. Sure, there have been problems but nothing serious. Even after using it as my daily driver for home inspections, it keeps plugging along with little to no maintenance. It has been the most reliable Jaguar I have owned. But what do the experts say?

David Muhlbaum recently posted an article at Kiplinger entitled, “15 Cars that Refuse to Die.” As you would expect, the author includes Irv Gordon’s 1966 Volvo P1800 and Peter Gilbert’s 1989 SAAB 900 Turbo. But the rest of the list might surprise you. Sure enough, one of the 15 cars that refuse to die is the 1995-97 Jaguar XJ6 (X300). How about that? Somebody actually agrees with me. Here’s what David says about it.

“Here’s our thinking: During the 1970s, Jaguar reliability was horrid. A common solution to the car’s troubles was to rip out the Jaguar motor and replace it with a good old Chevrolet V8. But in the 1980s, under the leadership of an industrial turnaround specialist, Sir John Egan, the marque started to improve. Then Ford bought the company, infusing money and development know-how. By the late 1990s, the company was scoring well on J.D. Power vehicle dependability and initial quality rankings. So that’s why the last iteration of the classic Jaguar inline-6 sedan is still motoring on, often in the hands of a second owner who’s always hankered for a Jag but couldn’t afford one new” (link).

Read the entire article and you will find that the author really isn’t talking about reliability. He’s talking about cars that keep existing long past their prime because of several reasons. Some keep running because they are well built. Others still exist because their owners refuse to let them die. I think my 1995 Jaguar XJ6 is a combination of the two. It’s a beautiful sedan with a reliable drive train. Although it does leak some oil and has been in an accident, it’s quite a leap above the others I have owned in dependability — even the heater works! While it’s nice to have something more reliable than those I’ve owned in the past, I can’t quite escape the likeability factor when it comes to owning a car. In other words, I want to drive something that I like. But it doesn’t hurt that that this one has been so dependable. It’s a definite win-win combination.

H/T Al Roethlisberger

Driving in Circles


Trenton and I drove to Chardon today to get a part for the Jeep. That’s about a 7 mile drive from Painesville but it was the only parts store that had a valve cover gasket in stock. So, despite about 12 inches of snow, we took off. Once we got past Auburn Road, the roads were very good on Rt. 44. But on the way back things became worse. North of I-90, there were several miles of backed up cars waiting to exit at Rt. 84. So, we decided not to wait and ended up taking a very circuitous route home.


Because of the icy roads and the amount of cars on the roads, traffic moved very slowly. We crept along a few feet at a time hoping the back end of the Jag wouldn’t fish tail too much. When we finally got off the highway, the traffic light was stuck as red. That left us only one option. So, we ended up driving in circles for 2-3 hours hoping (along with everyone else in Painesville) to find a way home. Thankfully, the Lord protected us and we made it home in one piece.


Along the way we saw two plow trucks stuck in the snow. One was on 44 North and the other was on our street earlier today. A local school teacher said she was stuck at school until 6:30 pm tonight with students. The first snow fall of the winter brought some interesting experiences for us all. But no worries — Trenton and I watched an episode of the Zorro tv show on my smart phone and sang along to several Youtube videos. So, the time was not wasted.