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Roll Over Preparedness
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Author Post
Sun Mar 11 2007, 01:18AM

Registered Member #7
Joined: Thu Mar 08 2007, 09:40PM
Location: Belhaven, NC (boondocks)
Posts: 174
For many of us, rolling our Jeeps is a distant afterthought. We prepare by accepting it as a possible consequence, but often feel that we’re not really putting ourselves into ‘those’ situations. Accordingly, we’re not truly ready for disaster when it strikes.

I learned first hand the importance of preparedness in August of 2001. On a lazy Saturday, I had planned to meet a couple of friends to do a day trip. I’d packed my Jeep, a 1998 TJ with all the goodies, lightly but had included my usual batch of tools and spares. We met at trailhead around 8 am and with little concern, began our adventure. As I worked out the cobwebs, I found myself on an easy trail. Needless to say, my confidence was high and my vehicle was ready for anything.

As we approached the mythical hill climb that separated the men from the boys, I was certain I would have no trouble. On my first attempt, I nearly cleared the crux, but failed and backed down. After reevaluation and walking the hill, I tried again, this time a little to the right. I started up the climb, 1st gear and 4 low, nice and steady. I gave it a little gas and we began to climb. As we reached the crux I concentrated on my line but before I had a moment to react, the drivers tire lifted from the ground and the jeep was on its side… sliding downhill. Within a moment, the hill dropped away and the jeep rolled onto the cage and then down onto the other side. And then it was over.

And so began my lesson in preparedness…

1. Getting out
I had equipped my Jeep with a 3” lap belt for the driver, so within a second, I was able to free myself from the seat and stand up. My passenger, however, was in the stock shoulder belt and had to be lifted by two people in order to be freed from the belt. Had both seats been equipped properly with racing style belts with a quick release latch, this problem would have been completely avoided.

I climbed out and surveyed the damage. Without question, my adrenaline was pumping and clear thought was not really possible. But I tried to calm myself and started putting together a plan.

2. Extraction
After digging out my recovery kit, I realized I was the only jeep with a winch. Would it work after such a violent roll? I had swapped my stock battery for a sealed, non-spillable Optima and had a WARN 8274-50 on the front bumper. As I unspooled the cable, I managed a sigh of relief; the battery didn’t leak and winch had survived. After setting up an anchor, I slowly winched my pride and joy back to her feet.

3. A Survey of the Damage
I had a destroyed windshield, dented the hood, both fenders, the grille, both rear corners and the cowl. I had scraped and dented the cage, however, my passenger and myself were fine.

The cage was professionally installed, 6-point, and welded-in. It was given to me as a birthday present from my family and it had definitely saved my life and that of my passenger.

4. Getting the Jeep Running.
At this point, I was truly at a loss. Though I had the tools, parts, and knowledge, I was very shaken up and just couldn’t work through the puzzle of what to do. Though seemingly simple on the surface, the process of pulling the plugs and clearing the block of oil was a monumental task at the time.

The process entails pulling all the spark plugs, cleaning them and turning the engine over with the plugs removed to blow the oil from the cylinders. The first stumbling block was removing the plugs. The engine was hot and the wires hadn’t been removed in a long time. I didn’t have a wire tool handy, so in removing them, several were damaged. I did carry spare plugs, wires, and a cap and rotor, but mostly because I always meant to do a tune up… now was my chance.

Once the wires were removed, the process of pulling the plugs began. On my Jeep, the #1 plug is obscured by the A/C compressor, so the belt had to be loosened, the compressor unbolted and moved aside to access the plug. In the roll, many of my tools had been shaken around the bag and my deep well socket for the plugs had disappeared. Luckily, one of the other Jeeps did have the socket, and we successfully removed the plugs, though 2 shattered in the process.

After pulling the plugs, I turned over the engine. Unbelievably, oil shot from the last 2 cylinders nearly 30’ and coated my Jeep inside and out. A tarp or blanket covering the interior would certainly have kept the 210* oil out of my interior.
After clearing the cylinders of the oil, we reinstalled the new plugs, new wires and remounted A/C compressor. Amazingly, I had fresh plugs and wires in my trail box and we were able to get the Jeep running, though getting it started took several tries. Once restarted, it smoked through the tailpipe for the rest of the journey.

We removed the destroyed windshield and began to limp home. As I had driven the Jeep to the trail, a tow home was mandatory. As the tow truck took me home, I began to realize the importance of proper preparedness and felt lucky to be catching a ride home, instead of to a hospital.

Rollover Trail Box Requirements:

6 Point Cage – Professionally welded in

Proper seat restraints allowing easy release in case of a rollover

Winch and recovery gear

Sealed Battery

Complete Tool Kit

Plugs (pre-gapped is helpful)




Brake Cleaner


Full Medical kit

(originally posted by Mike Stout)

79 cj-5
in the procces of being rebuilt
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