Seasoned Rookie with Murph The Seasoned Rookie.

The beginning of winter.

It's never really been one of my favorite times. All those last minute things to do, putting the grill away, covering up the patio furniture, and winterizing the pool.

What about the Zook?

Click Through for a closer look... Before it gets miserably cold, now might be a good time to give things a once-over and check things out while you still can. Go through the truck with a fine toothed comb. Try to track down any annoying rattles or squeaks - you don't want to deal with them in the middle of a blizzard. All your bulbs working? Are there any leaks that shouldn't be there? Remember, even if you don't work on your own rig, mechanic shops tend to get busier as the snow falls.

Here's what I spent today doing with my rig, you can use this as a checklist of sorts if you wish:

Change engine oil

Get in the engine with a flashlight, look for anything suspicious like unhooked hoses or frayed wires.

Check the transmission and transfer case fluids, as well as the pumpkins.

Grab hold of the driveshafts and make sure they aren't wobbly. Same for the muffler, bearing in mind it may be hot.

Did a walk-around, check all the tire pressures and lights.

Oil the door hinges and locks. It's hard to spray WD-40 when it's cold!

Click Through for a closer look... That's the easy stuff. Things you should be doing fairly often anyway. The trick is to find things and fix them now so you aren't' sitting on a slushy garage floor holding cold wrenches in February.

As an aside, if you don't have a copy of the Suzuki FSM, be sure to tell Santa that you need one. Anyone will attest to how wonderful it is to have. Many of our fine vendors will be more than happy to supply one for your vehicle.

On to other business.

In response to some email I've received, I thought it would be fun to profile and showcase a different rookie in every issue.

For December 2001, the featured seasoned rookie is April Madigan.

I had the opportunity to speak with April after our recent trip to the Badlands in Attica, Indiana. April and I have been friends for about 2 years now and have been in quite a few muddy adventures with our rigs. I've watched her evolve from learning to drive stick shift on my rig to a fairly competent trailrunner.

(roll the tape)

April, tell us a little about yourself and your truck. Any modifications at this time?

I'm attending Bradley University here in Peoria, doing the usual college thing I suppose. "Norby" is an old-style 1988 Samurai JX, I bought it through Bill Maulding from the Beanco group. This is the first car I've ever owned, and I love it. I don't have any lifts or modifications yet since I can't afford them right now and I use my truck for driving around town. Plus with mods there are more things that can break and go wrong, so for now this is perfect for me!

When was it that you knew you wanted to be a Zooker? How long have you been Zooking?

Click Through for a closer look... After that first Well, there are two answers to that. Until I met you, I had never heard of the Samurai or even thought about going offroading. After driving yours around and taking it to the Badlands, I knew I wanted a Zook. My first trail run was spring of 2000, and I've been hooked ever since!

Would you consider yourself "mechanically intimate" with your truck or are you more the type who puts gas In it and checks the oil every so often?

I am a little bit knowledgeable about my truck. I know what it's different noises mean, but as far as fixing these, I leave that to Murph or my mechanic. I've been learning to do things here and there, like when you taught me how to adjust the valves or when you showed me how to take out the driveshaft. I think I still have a mark from when that fell on me!

(Laughing) Well that would bring me to my next question, What are your scariest and most frustrating memories of being a zooker?

Click Through for a closer look... The only time I've been scared was when I ran over a pointy rock in the creekbed in Attica and heard a horrible noise. I think I was freaked because I thought I broke my ride home. My most frustrating memory was when Murph and I were driving home from Attica and it was cold. The soft top shrunk and we couldn't get it back on. I just folded myself up in the space between the front of the seat and the heater (yes, a person can fit there) and bitched at Murph for most of the ride home.

Yes I do remember that drive home being less than pleasant. That would have been the last run we did before you got your own truck. There was much to be learned that day. How else has Zooking carried over to day-to-day for you?

I like to drive over things now instead of around them. I drive over the parking barriers at Bradley all the time.

Well, besides parking barriers, What is your favorite sort of off-roading?

So far I've only been to Attica and the occasional construction site around Peoria. As for trails I'd say I'm more partial to the dunes and mud, but I still do trails occasionally. They're just not as much fun for me.

Do you have any advice to pass on to rookies looking to be seasoned?

Always bring a jacket, bring drinks, don't use the brakes as much as you want to, don't air down too much, and don't run over anyone.

Sage-like wisdom is what we provide here at the Seasoned Rookie Global headquarters. Anything else you'd like to add for all the world to know about you or your Zookin' habits?

Not really. I mean, everyone seems to get their own thing out of Zookin. You gotta just go out and do it, and have fun. I've never been laughed at or ridiculed because a hill was too steep or I wasn't brave enough to try it.

Would you like to be featured as the Featured Rookie in a future issue? Suggestions for a future article? Questions, concerns, or too much extra money sitting around the house you need to give away? Contact Murph at

08/11/10 14:34


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