Road Trip!

See? I told you to stay tuned, didn’t I?

I received an email last week letting me know that I could come up to Roseville, CA, *this* week and collect the transfer cases I had taken to O’Briens 4 Wheel West back in January. The proprietor, Jack O’Brien, and I go back a long way, to when I first sent my Jeep’s transfer case to him about 10 years ago to put lower gears in it.

For those of you who aren’t versed in four-wheel-drive technology (which I figure is most of you, unless you’ve suffered through some of my stories before), the transfer case is part of the driveline: The engine makes the power; the transmission gears down the power so it’s useful at the ground; the transfer case (for those vehicles that have one) splits the power between the front and back axles (and gives more gearing options, too); the axles send the power out to the wheels, and the wheels & tires turn as a result. [That’s an oversimplification, but it’ll do.]

A transfer case’s gearing options are limited. There’s “High Range” which is basically a 1:1 pass through – every time the input from the transmission rotates once, the output to the axles also rotates once. This is the option you use on the highway. There is also “Low Range” which basically acts like First Gear in a transmission: the input goes faster than the output, meaning the vehicle goes slower.

Ten years ago I asked Jack to put a set of his special extra-low-range gears in my transfer case. I have been very satisfied with them; along with the transmission and the axle gearing ratios, they allow my tires to turn only four times per minute (that’s *one* tire rotation every 15 seconds, folks!) when the engine is idling at about 750 RPM. On rocks, slower is better. I can go *very* slow.

This time, I asked Jack if he could modify my transfer case to drive 3 axles – front, first back and second back. [Why I want to do that is a *totally* different story and I’m not going to go into it here.] Although I had what I thought was the ideal transfer case to modify in that way, it turned out not to be as easy as I had thought. Jack agreed to try, though, even while helping me find other ways to drive two back axles.

I finally decided to go with one of the other ways (hence the part drop-off to the gear company in Ohio that failed because I forgot about the CDT – to – EDT time change, as described here:, and Jack agreed to button up my transfer case. He also made some other changes that I requested, and finally told me a week or so ago that it was all done.

So why am I in Roseville, collecting it in person? Mainly because I want to. There are actually two cases I’m retrieving; mine and a second one that I thought might be useful in the three-output conversion. To ship both of those back to me would have cost almost (but not quite) as much as the gas I’m using on this trip, so the additional expense isn’t all that much. But the real reason is that, by getting them myself, I can be sure they get home. I can also get them home faster than UPS or FedEx Ground can get them to me.

So in the interests of psyching myself out, and giving the impression that something is actually happening with the Jeep, here I am in Roseville tonight. I’ll get the transfer cases (and possibly some auxiliary parts I’ll need) tomorrow morning, and then make the 14-hour drive home.

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