Shiney Side Down?
by Doug Chartier

This description is the best I can get from piecing together parts of the event from people who were either strapped into the TJ or trying to get out of its way as it rolled down the hill at Shake, Rattle and Roll in Gilmer.

I was able to get most of the way to the top of the hill.  The front ARB, as usual, wasn’t working, so traction on the front axle was minimal at best.  A couple of attempts at a small ledge got the front wheels up and over. 

When the back wheels got to the ledge, they grabbed, held and instead of propelling me over the ledge, they picked up the front of the Jeep tractor fashion, or if a farm isn’t in your background, like a motorcycle doing a wheelie.

The TJ stood on its tail for a few brief seconds, then tumbled over backwards, end over end.   I think it did a second roll from upside down back to right side up end over end and then back up on the tailgate again where it caught something that caused it to turn sideways and do a complete roll from side to side.  When it finally stopped, it was sitting on its wheels at the bottom of the hill.  I lost count of the CRASH’s at about 3, or 4, or 5 ….. or 3 dozen or so.  It was a wild ride.

A number of Jeepers, turned doctors before becoming wrecker drivers and recovery artists.  Some changed from wheelers to psychologists and all took on the mantel of caring friends.  Some turned treasure hunters as they recovered bits and pieces of personal property that were thrown from the TJ as it rolled down the hill.  An old military compass that I have carried for years and never used was found along with two single spare keys that had been in the center console.

Since the rollover I have been contacted via e-mail and phone from club members as well as many wheelers in different parts of the U.S.  All have offered help of some kind as well as best wishes.   If I could collect on all the help offered … hmmmm …. might wind up with a Jeep or two for sale as well as a repaired TJ.  So far have been offered a custom radiator, a ’47 Willis body and a ’97 TJ body with no engine, tranny or transfer case.  Have also been offered a place to strip the scrap metal off and work on the remainder.

In the next few weeks I will start removing the scrap.  Will decide then whether to install a CJ body, the Willis body or stay with the TJ.  Would really like to go “retro” and have a “real” Jeep body on a “real” off-road frame with the coil suspension. 

I guess I do need to make a comment about the CBrack.  It came through like a champ.  The windshield was pushed backwards putting enough pressure on the CBrack to cause it to bow downward.  Having put over 100 pounds on that very same CBrack without any bowing, I feel certain there is a great deal of pressure against it.  All the screws held, no metal tearing and no thread stripping.  It worked!! 

Doug Chartier