As I backed my trailer into my driveway, my wife came out asking what I was thinking. Actually, she wasn’t quite that ladylike as she was asking (more like a sailor, really), but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, I was backing in with a new Jeep (actually it was an old and rusty Jeep) and she really didn’t have the room (or any need) for it. Hence the question: What was I thinking?
That’s where this story begins…I’m the one who needed another Jeep. Not the whole Jeep, mind you, just the frame. It turns out my trusty old Scrambler was dying. Rust was getting it from the inside out, and it was no longer safe or dependable. It was time to do something, and that something included buying a donor Jeep.
I weighed my options before making this purchase. I could repair the old frame, but that would not solve the original problem of the rust breaking it down. There would always be another spot waiting to rust through, creating the same issue in another place. I could buy a brand new frame (which truly is the best long term solution), but I really didn’t have the funds available at the time. Or, I could find a donor frame in better shape than mine, and buy a little time until I have to do this again. That is what I decided to do, and that is why the donor Jeep happened to be sitting on the trailer.
Frame problems are common on older Jeeps. Jeeps are built with a boxed frame (a very strong design), but it has a major flaw: the box (as opposed to an open C channel) traps sediment and moisture inside. That muddy trail you splashed through a few summers ago allowed a soupy sludge to work it’s way in. The holes in the frame that allowed the mud in, unfortunately, do not make it easy to get all the mud out. So it sits there, wet and messy, for weeks until it completely dries.
During that time, the metal starts to oxidize (rust), and slowly it rots from the inside out. Next time it gets wet, the process starts anew. When I pressure wash my Jeep after a weekend adventure, I stick the wand into the holes and try to blast everything out, but I can never get it all. And that’s how the problem begins… Now, the good news is that it takes a long time to reach a critical point. My frame is almost 30 years old. If I bought a brand new frame today, it will probably live longer than I will. Hence, the donor Jeep made perfect sense (to me).
A byproduct of buying a donor Jeep is a lot of extra parts. My wife was looking at the pile of “trail ready” spares I was accumulating in the garage and starting to get concerned.
“But, I can sell some of this stuff and recover the cost of the donor Jeep,” I said. She frowned. “It will save money in the long run,” I said. She rolled her eyes.