In june of 2012 I got an offer from a friend to come out to the black rock desert in nevada and help with a rocket launch. Sounded like a good time, and a good chance to test some of my newer radio gear. The jeep had never been off road like this before and so I was excited.
Set up in camp:
I'm using the spare in that picture to weight the base of the collapsable antenna mast. The wind at night can get pretty wild so I just tied some of the bigger stuff to the hitch and slept in the back with the seats down.
At this point in its life the front bumper was coming loose on the passenger side. It wasn't repaired correctly by the shop after the accident back in '09, but it took a while for that to show. At this point I just had to push it back into place every few days of normal driving.
The rocket launch went great! We had all systems working and were able to track it all the way to the ground. Hopped into the jeep and my buddies subaru and went out to get it. Perfect landing.
The recovery team:
Tossed the rocket in the back and climbed in to head back to camp. Started the jeep up, spun the steering wheel and *WHUMP* *WHUMP* *CLANG*
The discerning viewer may recognize that as the power steering pump pulley. Ooops.
My buddy was already back at camp, but thats what the radios are for!
Took a while to get somebody to tow me back, finally got somebody in a toyota pickup to haul out and get me. Oh, where are the tow points in a 96 grand?
There aren't any unless you have the upcountry package.
Guess who doesn't have the upcountry package.
So we wrapped the tow strap around the front axle and towed it 20 miles to the nearest town.
Of course the nearest town doesn't have a parts store, all they have is a junkyard with a couple of xj's, and the guy at the gas station and only service station doesn't think he has the proper pulley puller even if we had the part.
So call AAA, get somebody from the nearest town with a parts store to tow my *** back to civilization. 80 miles, thank god AAA towing is free up to 100 miles.
So I wait an hour for the tow truck to get in to town, get the jeep on the flatbed, and we drive to fernley nevada.
We get in late on saturday, not a mechanic to be found, walk in to the O'reilly and tell them my story so far.
The following conversation (that I will never forget) ensues between the employees,
"Well we don't have one, none of the shops in town do"
"He could try the junk yard in reno"
"How's he gonna get to reno dude?"
"Right, shop in the next county has one"
"Call them, now, have them drive it over here tomorrow"
And they did, the other shop agreed to have it there the next day. The tow truck driver who was waiting outside took me to two different motels (there was a rodeo in town) and I got the last room in fernley.
In the morning the tow truck driver came back and picked me and the jeep up and took us back to o'reilly. I waited there for the parts to arrive and searched on this forum for a way to hedge my bets in case it spat out the new pulley as well.
Found the proper size belt to use if bypassing the power steering pump. Learned from another thread how to change the belt (thank the lord I have a 5.2). Bought myself the smaller belt and a breaking bar to change belts with.
Around 3pm the pulley arrived, I borrowed the tool for it and set to work replacing the pulley, in the parking lot.
I didn't remove the power steering pump to replace the pulley, it's not easy to do it that way, but it can be done, and I didn't want to risk breaking the pump.
Looks like this:
I was using improvised tools:
But it worked.
Thats the last picture I have, as soon as the pulley was on I tossed the belt on, asked one of the employees at o'reilly to give me a jump start and I was gone, back to california.
It survived the trip, kept running, got me home. Good jeep.
I would get to experience the joy of running with my bypass belt a few months later when the power steering pump bracket blew out. And again last week when it spit out the pulley again.
I can't say how much I am thankful for the tow truck driver, who drove me 80 miles and then all around town to make sure the jeep and I were safe. And the guys at O'reilly, I won't shop anywhere else now, the employees at that store were amazing.
I learned a few things,
I need to have a better backup plan than "tow it home"
I need to have tow points for when I can't get a real tow
I can fix the jeep! This was the first real repair I'd ever done, trial by fire.