Well, here goes! I bought this 1989 Jeep YJ Wrangler sight unseen for $4000.00 in Limestone Maine after finding the listing on Craigslist. Sounds crazy right? What could possibly go wrong? Well that’s me, just a little crazy! I’ve had it for a few weeks now and have found out it was a pretty good buy. It had a new inspection sticker and ran fair. I don’t think the seller tried to hide any details, but there were a few surprises. What do you expect for a 29 year old vehicle!
- Very new tires and all new lifted suspension. (Better clearance off road)
- 4.2 liter 6 cylinder engine, not the small 4 cylinder.
- Automatic transmission that shifts perfectly.
- Very little electronics to fail. Simple design with a carburetor and easy to fix ignition system.
- Brand new 12,000 lb winch for those..”Oh crap, I’m stuck!” moments.
- Almost no cab noise from loose mounts or rattling parts.
- Steering is very tight, it handled great after an alignment.
- Only 100,975 original miles!!!
- Replacement parts are very cheap compared to modern cars and trucks.
- The paint is very faded, the weather stripping is shot.
- Quite a few wiring problems and overall lack of maintenance. (There was water in the rear differential!)
- A few small patches of rust on the body and 3 small repairs needed on the rear frame. (Jeeps are notorious for frame rot!)
- Brakes are not great, and the rear bumper (part of the rear rusty area) is fully rotted off on the bottom side! (How did it pass inspection? Hmmm)
- I drove it in the rain and developed an inch of water in the drivers side floor! (No big holes just a patch not sealed up properly.)
- 12 to 14 miles per gallon at highway speed, 15 to 18 under 55 mph!!! Ouch!!!
- NO AIR CONDITIONING!!!
OK, you can’t have it all. So I have some work to do, but the vehicle is worth repairing. The interior is pretty good, no major damage to the dash or door panels. One minor rip on the drivers seat but I’m getting covers anyway. The carpet is gone but I will add noise and heat reflective padding to the floor when it’s sealed and new carpet. (Black carpet hides any future stains!)
I will remove the rear seat and replace it with 2 large drawers for tools and spare parts, and still have plenty of space above them to place waterproof totes for clothing and extra bedding. I thought about adding a small kitchen of sorts in here, but changed my mind and took a different approach. I bought a small trailer!
Enter tiny trailer! At only 4 feet by 6 feet, it truly is small. But after careful consideration I think it will suit my needs just fine.
Same height as the Jeep, great clearance, and the short tongue means it will track directly behind the Jeep and not get hung up during any sharp maneuvering in the woods. (No broken fenders or ripped off tires!) I’m having a custom roof rack built to carry a canoe and a small solar panel. (Of course the panel will only work without the canoe on top!)
I spent some time applying 4 coats of very hard paint to the inside to make any future cleaning easy. I will build a slide out cabinet on the right side to house my fridge stove and cutting board, and multiple drawers on the other side. The right side will be 4 feet long and slide all the way out on 500 lb slides allowing complete access, the left side drawers will be about 2 feet deep. But what about the last 2 to 4 feet at the head of the trailer you say?
I purchased an 18″ by 30″ access door that will be added to the drivers side of the nose to allow me to mount 2 deep cycle batteries inside along the center line along with the solar charge controller. This is also the area that the water filter system will be mounted to provide safe drinking water from almost any body of fresh water I come to.
Water will be pushed to the filter from a hose connected to a 12 volt pump mounted under the hood of the Jeep, and a bucket of water beside the Jeep collected from any water source nearby. This pump can also bypass the filter and provide water to a heat exchanger, also under the hood, with a hose and wand I can use outside for a hot shower anytime I run the engine for a few minutes.
Spring and fall in Maine can be a little chilly, and not the best time to be “Jumping in the lake” as it were!
To the right, just inside this door is the area behind the shelves where I can put my Honda Generator and my gas grill. The weight of these should balance out the weight of the fridge and cast iron gas burners on the other side. Because this trailer is so light, and high off the ground, weight balance is necessary to avoid any accidental “Flips” of the trailer! That would suck!!
So where do I sleep? I just ordered a rooftop tent from Cascadia Vehicle Tents that should arrive sometime this week. It will mount onto the existing roof rack on the Jeep. This photo shows it opening to the back, but I will mount mine to open to the drivers side so as not to interfere with the trailer. (I may not always unhook the trailer)
Finally, before spring I will purchase an awning that will mount to the drivers side of the trailer. This will provide shade as well as shelter from the rain as I relax or cook food. Between the awning and the tent I will have
almost complete coverage down the drivers side of the Jeep and trailer to shelter under. These both set up very easy with no help, or can be left up indefinitely depending on where I camp. One quick overnight stay or several weeks in one place. We shall see!
So why am I doing this? Why so much trouble and expense to just go camping? It’s not about camping, it’s about a lifestyle choice. My friend Miriam in Australia is also an avid camper, she even has stories published in magazines about her and her families travels. She would tell you about feeling connected to the land, at one with the peace and comfort that comes from time in the outdoors.
The sense of calm and control of ones life felt when we let go of all the “norms” that society forces upon us, the release of our truer self without the judgment of others that do not matter. The sense of accomplishment and self sufficiency that comes from overcoming any hardships you must face alone. You can’t just call someone where I’m going. What I bring is all I have to get out of whatever situation arises. My space for goods is limited so choices are critical.
I’ve said before I think I was born in the wrong century. I’m not comfortable with a lot of people around. I’m in my element when all I hear is the wind and birds, all I see is the sky and the trees. With camera in hand, and a furry friend by my side, I will travel the deep woods of northern Maine for 6 months next summer.
My Jeep is my horse and my trailer is my pack mule. Together we will explore all that nature has to offer. All one needs is the will to go. I will work hard this winter to provide the funds necessary, then set off on an adventure I should have undertaken years ago. If all goes well I will return to work next fall to earn the money to do it again the following year. I hope you come along and share in the beauty of my home state.