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We are Wheelers, Fabricators, Recyclers and Environmentalist. This should be the title us off roaders give ourselves. Because to be a four-wheeler you really have to be all of those other things to make it work. First comes the excitement of going places in your 4x4 you never thought you could go. Yes you can camp past all those public campgrounds farther away than the yuppie tow behind campers can ever get. You are now in the crowd that doesn't need to beat the campground reservation system for a good spot on a summer long weekend (though you may still want to). You can really get into the backcountry on some great trails and get to vistas and lakes you never thought you could get to.

Then you find your stock 4x4 does still have its limitations, and wow labour rates are pretty high to keep your rig rolling along, and instantly you are in your local parts store buying tools you never thought you would need and getting pretty cozy to a parts guy at your local auto parts supplier to get better deals or learning the ins and outs of mail order parts to get to that next level and learn your rig better. Now you do your own oil changes rotate your tires, learn how to do brakes, patch holes in tires, and if you really get into the sport sooner or later a welder and other fab tools will become a normal part of your garage - enter the fabricator.

Once to the fabricator stage you start to become the ultimate recycler, cruising online for sale parts sections of 4x4 forums and Facebook pages, EBay, Kijiji and Craigslist become your best friends to find awesome deals on near new parts, old axles for new projects and selling off your previous mods to fund your new ideas. I bet most of you start your Saturday mornings, coffee in hand cruising all the for sale sections, just in case something pops up you just can't resist when someone else is cleaning out their garage full of stuff. Enter the Recycler stage.

The recycler stage unfortunately leads into the environmentalist stage. This is when you realize dumb people do dumb things to the places you like to go, and without being an environmentalist you wont have any place to do all of the other things that occupy your time and to have fun where others don't tend to go. You don’t need to be an extremist to make an impact - and you find that because you are out in these places that the average person who seems to want to protest and close everything your doing far more good each year than they ever will in a lifetime. You can lend a hand to local clean ups of trails, step up to voice your opinion on trail damage issues, sign on line petitions, spend $20.00 or so a year to join a local 4x4 association find yourself picking up along the trails to keep them clean and open for others - and taking those things back with you to. recycle. I do this on almost every trip I take off road, coming back with cans and garbage bag in the back of my Jeep of things I did not head out with.

I'm a pretty solid believer in all of the above and wear the badge proudly and make no excuses for my hobby. Adding up by weight of my new CJK8 project; the engine and transmission came from Coldstream Truck parts in Vernon BC, The frame, window frame and gas tank from Gary's Auto Wrecking in Maple Ridge BC, the Ford Dana 60 and rear GM 14 bolt from A-combined auto dismantlers in Abbotsford BC. And every scrap piece of steel and off cut goes into a local steel recycler along with all the packaging from the new parts that show up. That makes up well over 60% of the vehicle build weight. And I parted out every last piece of the old TJ to fund the new one with the parts going on to other internet recyclers of 4x4 parts for their own projects and builds via those parts forums and great prices you should all now be bookmarking in your computers. So next time someone says your wrecking the environment toss it right back and say your one of the best environmentalists you know and what they do for the environment because by the nature of our sport I will tell you are far ahead of most of them.

E-mail Albert

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