Dirty Ardennes…

by Gilbert Verkuijlen



I went to the Ardennes (Ardennen) this weekend together with my neighbor and his family in my Jeep, another Jeeper (Jan van Vliegen) with his family in a stock '79 CJ5, and a German Jeep-L'er (Marc van Rey) with a stock '93 YJ. We started in the Ardennen on Saturday after leaving a caravan and a van on a camping place. From the camping place, there were some nice hiking routes that were just width enough for a Jeep. The view was great. The ride was not very difficult, you only had to look out for  not hitting a tree, especially when there were holes or tracks in those narrow "roads". I had to drive over some small trees, because of my wide 33x12,50's. Oh, I didn't tell you that the roads were very muddy. It rained for days/weeks in the Ardennen. You could see the deep tracks that you left behind. I only had to strap somebody out once that day, and use the winch on another spot for that same guy. I'm not mentioning any names...... The day ended with a great BBQ. Marc brought some typical German Bratwürste and beer.


The second day started with packing everything and winching the van of my neighbor from the camping place. It rained all night, and the camping place changed to one mud pool. It was getting colder. We called some people in the Netherlands and they told us that the weather there was great, so we decided to leave Belgium. After arriving in the Netherlands and finding a camping place, we went off-road. We drove on a lot of roads where only tractors are allowed. Those roads were not very difficult. The roads through the woods is another story, especially if there are trees laying on the ground and you have to drive up-hill over those trees. Again I had to use my winch for somebody else.


I wanted to go home early, but we decided to try one other "road". It was no road. No other car/Jeep/tractor has ever been there. I managed the Jeep through. I had to balance my wheels on the sides of a deep groove. I drove my passenger side mirror off. It broke when it hit a tree. The groove was deep enough to walk straight under the Jeep. The BFG MT's were very helpful. Marc was next. It went OK till he got stuck on a hill on the sides of the groove. I helped him a little bit with my winch. Unfortunately he helped my winch by giving a little bit throttle. He got traction and he steered to the right. His left wheels disappeared in the groove. His Jeep rested on the side step. We re-routed the cable of my winch around a tree and tried to winch him up one side of the groove. My Jeep didn't have enough grip, so I put a tow strap around a tree and hooked that to the rear side of my Jeep. Now I almost have a CJ8 with square headlights. Finally he got up one side. We threw some trees in the groove so he couldn't fall that deep anymore. He made it back to the other side, again with the help of my winch.


Before the CJ5 tried to do this obstacle, we looked where this "road" ended. Well, it was getting narrower to only a half meter. This meant that we had to go back. I wanted to drive out the groove by going up-hill. I think (and still think) that the hill was steep. First attempt failed because I didn't have enough speed at the start. Second attempt full throttle with the RPM almost in red, I made it for 4/5th of the hill. The bushes under my tires were burning from the heat of the rubber. I stopped and my neighbor winched me with my own winch to almost the top. There were no trees on the top, so I had to do the last part myself. Finally I reached the top. Marc decided (he had to decide quick, because it was getting dark) that he tried to turn his Jeep and do the same obstacle from the other side. They filled the whole groove with trees and twigs. I drove through the field and after 15 minutes I arrived at the other side. I just heard Marc driving through and the other people clapping in their hands. I think that Marc had enough fun, so we went back to the camping place.

Driving home from the camping place, after re-connecting my sway bar, I noticed that it was a little bit harder to keep the steering wheel straight when there's a strong wind. I'm talking about speeds of more than 130 KPH (85 MPH). The wind was very strong. For the rest, the ride is at least as good as stock. The CV-driveshaft with slip yoke eliminator kit is perfect. I'm really glad that I bought this driveshaft. I don't have any vibrations. I re-measured the angle, and the difference is 4 degrees. Maybe after this weekend the difference is less. I drove the Jeep on a ramp (SOA, 33x12,50 BFG MT's, Xenons). Also many other times I had negative arch. The tires didn't hit the fender flares when I drove up the ramp, but when I drove off the ramp, the rear tire hit the fender flare. As long as you drive very smooth and very slow, it's OK. Of course, during off-road this is difficult, so I need 1" bodylift.


BTW The Weber works great. I heard stories about dying up-hill, but I didn't have any problems with it. I even took a hill where I had to winch (up the side of the deep groove) and my engine didn't stop. It runs up-hill as smooth as level. I think that I'll delay my MPI purchase.




Gilbert Verkuijlen.
E-mail: Gilbert@moab.nl
Website: www.moab.nl