Zorba's JeepThis was one of those completely un-necessary, but "sexy" things I wanted to do. Nobody likes the stock transfer case shift lever, it looks, acts, and feels like a parking brake handle. Thanx to an aftermarket lever from a guy who makes them on eBay, I now have a "real" shift lever. At the same time, I got a matching knob for it as well.
More Miscellany and Cooling System.
New gearshift lever and knobs - transfer case in 2 High.
In focus: New main gearshift knob.
In focus: New transfer case knob AND lever.
Transfer case in 4 Low.
Pulled over for a photo op...
This is where I go when I want to test something.
Not really "wheeling", but loose enough to engage 4WD.
The whole thing was a bit of an adventure. I had purchased the transfer case shift lever a couple of months back, and also ordered a "Sickspeed" knob for it - both on eBay. Both transactions went very well, positive feedback left all around, no problems. This factoid becomes important in a bit. In the meantime, I didn't like the universal adaptor that came with the knob, so I sourced an actual threaded bushing to fit the knob to the aftermarket lever. That was a minor fiasco because everybody in the United States selling the appropriate bushings wanted $8 to ship the silly things. Nothing irritates me more than overpriced shipping! I finally found the correct bushing in the UK, slightly less than the US sellers were selling for, but also with less than HALF the price to ship. $3 and change to ship all the way across the Atlantic ocean, instead of my having to pay $8+ for the Priority Mail domestic shipping everybody wants to do here.
So the bushing shows up. Long story short, I ended up having to buy a tap (used) in order to chase the inner threads of the bushing so that it would fit the lever. So I ended up spending about the same as I would have by paying the stupid "expedited" domestic shipping charges - BUT - I got a M10x1.5 tap out of the deal.
So now that I finally have that sorted, time to buy the matching main transmission shift knob. This is when the whole affair entered the "Twilight Zone". For whatever, completely unknown reason; the first, last, and ONLY seller of "Sickspeed" knobs on eBay had blocked me from purchasing from them. I have no idea why, as previously noted, our prior transaction went perfectly. This has never happened to me on eBay before, I've been a member there since before the turn of the century/millenium! And there's no appeal whatsoever if it happens. You cannot contact the seller who has blackballed you in any way.
Well, I didn't know the WTF of the whole thing, although I have some idle speculation (see below). So I went to Amazon, and tried to buy it through them for about $6 more. I never got it, and eventually canceled the order there.
This is when I started doing some investigating. Both the eBay seller, and the Amazon seller are located in the Yakima, Washington area. In addition, when I looked up Sickspeed directly, they too are located in the same general location. I found a way to circumvent the eBay seller's blackball - based on advice I read online, I logged out of eBay, and bought the item as an eBay "guest". That worked, I got the knob very quickly, just like I got the transfer case knob earlier. In addition, my PayPal receipt noted that my payment to the eBay seller went to the Amazon seller - so that proves to me that they're one and the same! I am also *GUESSING* that they are the importer ("Sickspeed") as well. Why they ship so fast on an eBay sale, yet never did on an Amazon sale is beyond me.
As for why I got blackballed: I at first thought that maybe they were some kind of fanatic Christian owned business, I leave the same feedback to everyone for every good transaction on eBay: "Item as described, and it showed up quickly. Thanx and Goddess Bless from Zorba!". I thought maybe they didn't care for that (Too bad!) - but while I was investigating, another possibility arose. Apparently, a lot of sellers talk to each other and exchange buyer's names that they've had problems with or otherwise don't like. Between the time I bought the first knob to the time I bought the second, I had left either negative or neutral feedback (I've forgotten) for a completely different seller who was drop shipping stuff from China (thus taking forever) when they claimed they were based in California. Said seller even had the nerve to try to buy me out by offering a partial refund if I would retract my feedback! So I figure that's probably the more likely scenario: that I got on a blacklist that Sickspeed subscribes to - but they're shooting themselves in the foot with that business practice.
I still like and recommend their products - or at least their gearshift knobs as I don't have experience with the rest of their line. Nicely made, feel great in the hand, fit correctly when they know what its going to be attached to, etc. But I can't recommend buying their products through Amazon where I never received my order! I don't think they have their "Poop in a group", but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, for now.
To close this saga, I took the Jeep to the nearby dirt road where I could check to make sure the transfer case would still shift correctly. It does - although I think I'm going to file a tiny bit off the plastic at the top of the slot where the lever goes, it just touches when in 4 low, and I'd like to see a millimeter or two of air gap!
When I had installed the front grab handles, also $10 but "Jeep" branded, my granddaughter wanted to know "what about me?". So these came up on Craig's list, and I got them. Essentially brand new, something about a "color change" or somesuch. Anyway, they obviously weren't on a TJ, as they weren't large enough to reach around the rollbars in the rear, yet were too large for the rollbars in the front. Being that they weren't infinitely adjustable like the velcroed ones in the frontside, I had to come up with something - hence a link from a swag lamp chain. A lot of swag lamp chain is pretty chintzy, but this one is probably stronger than the Chinese mini-clevis supplied with these handles. Plenty strong enough for occasional use by a 7 year old!
Craig's list photo of paracord grab handles, $10!
Were too short to go around the rollbars, see text.
Extended with a link of swag chain.
This is what they looked like without the extension.
Old radiator and heater hoses.
New lower radiator hose clamped in place. See text.
Top heater hose too short - but workable.
MOPAR "HOAT" coolant, Redline Water Wetter, and Barr stop leak for heater core.
Heater core bypass assembly, "Just in case."
A completely "unsexy" job, but it needed doing as Goddess only knows the last time it was done, if ever, although the existing coolant was the correct type and looked OK. The system had stop leak in it, much to exactly nobody's surprise, so I renewed it as well since the heater core is very iffy at best. I assembled a heater core bypass hose out of a special loopback from GM that is the two different sizes needed (top and bottom heater hoses are different sizes), added to a short length of the old heater hose and spliced together with the Prestone flush kit "Tee" - this is "just in case" as I can swap it in on the side of the road in 10 minutes or less if I have to. I had a picture of it in place when I fabbed it up, but my camera encountered an accident and that picture was lost. An alternate camera took the cooling system pictures, you can tell especially with the grainy picture of the lower radiator hose - which was a slight challenge to deal with.
Some guys don't think the "Water Wetter" is necessary, but in theory it *can* help in very hot weather when the thermostat is already open all the way. In any event, I've been putting it in all my radiators for years.
I'm finding that parts lookups for this thing are very questionable at times - I'm certainly not the first person to end up with a heater hose that is too short but works anyway. Sigh... Thank Goddess this nasty job is done!
Read on for the next part!