In the last issue (of FSJ magazine, Vol #3, 2000) we left Biff, 
Sally Sue and Billy Bob heading for the garage at 2 am.  Sally Sue 
said, "Let's get Billy Bob's Wagoneer back on the road, I just 
upgraded my alternator to a new on board welder type and I've 
got my old 100 Amp alternator in the back of the Cherokee, let's 
drop it in right now!"

"Hey Billy Bob, what's with all this loose wiring under the hood of 
your Jeep?" asked Sally Sue as she wrestled Billy Bob's old alternator 
out of his '66 Wagoneer.  

"Ah, it's nothin' Sally Sue,  it's fine, it's been like that for 
years, don't worry about it."

Biff looked at Sally Sue and they both knew that this was going 
to be the beginning of a long relationship.   Well, at least a 
long road to recovery for this Wagoneer.

"I connected the main lead from your alternator's output directly 
to the battery.  I bypassed the amp gauge and terminated those 
wires by cutting them off and securely taping them.  We'll need 
to trace those wires and then remove them.  First we'll need 
to make sure that we have power at the dash.  If your rig doesn't 
start we'll have a bit more work to do tonight."

Sally Sue explained, "The new alternator will put out more 
current than the old amp gauge is capable of carrying.  For 
most people that wouldn't be a problem."  She eyed up from 
below the row of lights on the front of Billy Bob's baby.  
"If you flip all those switches with this alternator your 
amp gauge would probably become an annoying fusible link, 
or worse."  She continued, "I'm also concerned about that 
old wiring, it's likely to have worn thin in places and is 
cracked from age.  The increased heat caused by oxidation at 
connections will only get worse with a higher output alternator.  
It's better to hook up a volt gauge rather than risk another fire.  
We'll just remove all that old wiring one wire at a time until 
it's all neat and tidy and safe."

Sally Sue rolled out from underneath, removed the surgical gloves 
she'd been wearing, and then removed her safety glasses.  Biff 
looked at his watch, it was only 3am, he was impressed.

"Ok Billy Bob, why don't you reconnect the battery and see if 
it will start up?  We'll work on the Italian cafeteria under 
the hood next."

Billy Bob started to connect the battery cables and Biff stopped him.  
"Billy Bob, wait a minute.  You need to connect the positive 
terminal first, and then the ground.  That way if your wrench 
should hit a ground while you're tightening the battery you 
won't practice your arc welding."

"Oh," said Billy Bob as he connected the leads correctly.

They all looked at each other, this was the moment of truth.

Billy Bob's Wagoneer creaked slightly in the silence as it 
listed toward the driver's side.  Billy Bob placed the key 
in the ignition, turned it to "on" and dash lights and gauges 
started to respond.  He looked toward Sally Sue and Biff 
with a big cheesy grin, then turned the key the rest of the way.  

The Wagoneer roared to life.  Everyone was grinning, 
and then it happened.

A large cloud of black smoke began pouring out from under the 
hood of Billy Bob's beleaguered behemoth.  Sally Sue yelled 
to Billy Bob to shut it off.  Biff ran for something to put 
out the fire.  Sally Sue grabbed the half inch wrench and 
loosened the negative terminal from the battery and pulled 
it off as quickly as possible.  

Biff rolled around the corner with a bucket of water and 
was just about to throw it under the hood when Sally Sue 
stepped from around the front of the Wagoneer heading to 
the garage door.   Biff and Sally Sue met near the front 
of the Jeep.  As they did the bucket, and it's contents, 
went flying forward, and met Billy Bob just as he ran 
toward the front of his Jeep to see what was happening.

They all stood there for a few seconds as the last of the 
smoke wafted out from under the hood, and the last of the 
water ran down Billy Bob's legs into his sneakers.  Biff 
had replaced the bucket for Sally Sue and was frozen in 
the moment.  Then they all started laughing, and coughing, 
and laughing.

Biff finally gathered himself and let go of Sally Sue and 
went over and opened the door to let some fresh air in.  
Sally Sue began laughing at Billy Bob and he just started 
to shiver.

"I guess I better go in and get some dry clothes," 
mumbled Billy Bob as he went inside.

Biff looked at Sally Sue and asked, "What happened?".

Sally Sue pointed to the snarled mess of wires that 
lay under the hood.  "I didn't think that it would 
be a problem since he'd been driving it around like this.  
I just wanted to see if the alternator wiring was correct first."

Biff nodded and said, "Well, let's get started on it.  
That way Billy Bob won't feel so bad.  He looked like a 
lost puppy dog when he went in to change.  Poor guy, 
first his Jeep catches on fire and then his friend 
tries to drown him."  

"Ok, first things first." Sally said quietly, " Let's 
find the wire that melted down.  We'll replace that one 
first with a new wire and look to see if it had a proper 
fuse.  Then we'll look at the other wires and trace them 
from switch to load.  If there isn't a fuse on the power 
side of the switch we'll have to set up a fuse panel or 
use some in-line fuses."

Biff responded, "Ok, so we'll trace each wire out and if 
it is in good condition then we should tie wrap them 
together and wrap them with electrical tape.  Then take 
the protected bundle and tie wrap it to a sturdy point 
on the body or frame, allowing for movement and keeping 
it away from heat and sharp edges, right?"

Sally Sue nodded in agreement as she pulled the damaged 
wire away from the others and traced it's origin.  She 
had put on a new pair of surgical gloves and glad she 
did as they were turning black and grimy from years of 
accumulated oil, dust and who knows what. She glanced 
over her shoulder over at Biff and said, "You know 
we're lucky this thing didn't burst into flames, 
another few seconds and this wire would have ignited 
all this grime and old plastic under this hood.  Look 
at this, this wire was right up against the fuel line 
and almost half way burned through.  It's a good thing 
your bucket full got Billy Bob instead of under this hood.  
If it had melted through and ignited it would have spilled 
gas and you could have spread the fire all over the garage."   
She continued to gently to explain to Biff that it was 
better to use a dry rag and smother the fire after 
removing the power source.  She also added that using a 
dry chemical  fire extinguisher under the hood is a mess 
and not usually needed in situations like this.   But 
both agreed that putting out the fire was a good thing 
to do, messes not withstanding.  They both remembered 
that water probably wasn't a good idea for an electrical 
or gas fire, but it would have been better than breaking 
out the marshmellows.

"Please hand me that roll of 12 Gauge wire over there,"  
said Sally Sue as she replaced the charred wire.  "Look 
at this would you?" she sighed.  "This wire had four 
splices in it and was laying on the exhaust manifold.  
On top of that it came directly off the connection from 
the alternator to the battery and was heading back under 
the dash to Billy Bob's switches.  And look at the 
firewall, it looks like he used a chisel to make that 
opening for it."  

Biff looked at the charred, spliced, grimy section of 
wire that Sally Sue had removed and laid on the floor.  
He said, "So, if that speaker wire hadn't melted down 
on the alternator side when Billy Bob flipped those 
switched this wire probably would have burned through 
the fuel line and..."  he shuddered.

They looked at each other and didn't say anything.   
Another Full Size Jeep almost made it to the graveyard 
because of sloppy wiring.   Biff and Sally Sue both 
thought back to some of the otherwise beautiful old 
FSJ's they'd seen in the wrecking yard with the hood 
discolored, the windshield smoked up and melted.  The 
interiors reeked of smoke and burnt plastic and were 
usually wet and moldy from sitting in the lots.  What 
a waste, what a travesty, what a crying preventable shame...

About this time Billy Bob came bouncing out and asked 
what they'd found.  Sally Sue pointed out the charred 
wire and the melted fuel line.  Billy Bob looked over 
at Biff and then at Sally Sue and just kind of looked 
back down at the wire.

"Well," said Billy Bob, "it looks like I need some help 
on this project.  I don't know a wire from a fuel line.  
Just look under this hood."

Sally Sue and Biff looked at each other and then Sally 
Sue said, "No problem big brother, we're here for you.  
One wire at a time.  What do you say that we go and get 
some breakfast now... you're buying!"   Billy Bob looked 
up, smiled and they all headed out the door to Sally 
Sue's 1977 Cherokee.

What's in store for our circle of power loving FSJ owners?  
Will they finally get power to Billy Bob's 1966  Wagoneer?   
Will Billy Bob ask Biff and Sally Sue to help him get his 
tailgate window to work too?   Will Sally Sue and Biff's 
friendship get rolling, or will it just be a splash in the 
night?  Will Biff finally get to ride in Sally Sue's 
Cherokee?  Will Biff consider giving up his AMC Pacer 
for a Full Size JEEP?  Will Billy Bob really pay for 
breakfast?   Do these folks ever sleep?  What are they 
going to eat for breakfast?  When are we going to stop 
asking these questions?

While we're waiting for answers, remember to not be a 
Billy Bob.  Use the right size (or larger - lower gauge 
number) wire with a fuse near the power source routed 
away from hot and sharp surfaces.  Be sure to combine 
loose wires into a bundle that is protected with electrical 
tape, plastic coverings, or even duct tape. Make sure the 
wires are secured and out of harm's way.  Loose wires burn 
up FSJ's.  

Remember, only YOU can prevent  FSJ fires!  First thing 
an FSJ owner should do is check and secure the wiring 
under the hood. On some years the factory wiring is 
extremely dangerous.  Seriously, cleaning up the wiring 
should be the first project for a newly acquired FSJ. 
(the second project might be the vacuum lines.)  

The continuing saga continues:


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