They say opposites attract, but I can’t necessarily agree with that 100%. Sure, it is good to have a few things that your differ from in a relationship, it helps keep ones individuality and a spark going. But for real relationships to soar, I truly feel there needs to be a common bond or ground, or in this case vehicle and terrain. Well that is just part of Keith Norton Sr.’s bio about his life as a Jeep off roader and man. Keith, of course can tell the story better than I ever could, so with out further ado, allow me to introduce to you.. Keith Norton Sr.
“I’m Keith Norton Sr. , I’m 45 and I’m sometimes referred to as Kman. I am married to a sexy Jeepgirl, Sue Miller-Norton aka VtJeepGirl. I have a son, Keith Jr and 4 step sons. I started off roading when I was in the 7th grade. I bought a VW based dune buggy and had a blast with it! Actually I still have it but it needs an engine. Around the time I got the dune buggy, my brother got a ’71 Bronco and we began off roading more. I was a senior in high school in 1983, which was the last year Jeep was producing the CJ5 model. I wanted one bad but was afraid to go into debt, I kicked myself for years for not buying one. As life changed, I no longer was off roading.
In 2001, while working as an Urban Forestry instructor at a Job Corps center in Vermont, I took the students to work on trees at the Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont. The Shelburne employees would come to check on us driving a bright red 1983 CJ5. In 2003, I bought the Jeep from the museum – they had purchased it new and it had 33,999.7 miles on it when I brought it home. Little did I know at the time how this little Jeep was going to change my life! I started to acquire parts to build it for off-roading. I installed a used 4″ lift kit, 3.73 axles out of a ’75 CJ5, 12″ disc brakes up front from a ’79 CJ5, CenterForce II clutch,Tera Flex revolver shackles, homemade rear winch bumper with a Ramsey Rep8000 winch and 31″ tires. I joined North Country Off-Roaders and began wheeling with those guys. At this point, I was back to being a self employed arborist living in Queensbury, NY and had accumulated a couple more Jeeps. I met this interesting Jeep girl from a small town in Vermont who had 4 Jeeps. I started Jeeping with her on a regular basis and one thing lead to another and in 2008 we had a Jeep themed wedding and a group of us went Jeeping to celebrate our honeymoon.
I had upgraded from the 31’s to 34×10.50 Super Swampers and then sold the Swampers and put on 35×12.50 Mud Kings. At some point I am going back to 34″ Swampers. In 2009, something let go inside the 258 so I replaced it with a fuel injected 4.0. I grafted in a ’93 Wrangler engine wiring harness and fabricated my own CPS mount in the CJ’s bellhousing. I used a TJ airbox and mounted a NAPA fuel pump on the rear cross member. At some point I’d like to swap out the T176 for a NP435. I have a set of ’83 CJ7 wide track axles that will be in the Jeep at some point, so far I have 1-piece axles, an ARB air locker and 4.10’s for the rear axle. Still need to get a locker and chromoly shafts for the front. I am also working on a new front winch mount plate for the Smittybilt XRC8.
I have had several memorable moments Jeeping with friends but the one that stands out the most was Sue and I’s first wedding anniversary. I was following Sue up a trail and was climbing a rock ledge when it spit the rear driveshaft out (I hadn’t installed the heavy duty yokes on the Dana 300 yet). I hit the brakes and the braided steel brake line blew apart at the fitting. I was headed backwards and caught the edge of the embankment and went over backwards then rolled sideways. My Jeep landed on its driver’s side. I unhooked my seat belt and kicked the 3 day old windshield out and climbed out. My beloved Orville (Meyers) hardtop was destroyed, as was the windshield frame, it broke a center bolt and I lost 2 leaves out of one rear spring pack. Sue winched me back over and 8 hours later I drove back into our yard. I really liked that old school hardtop and plan to get another one someday.
A few years back, Sue and I bought a 1945 Willys MB that will be a project down the road. This past Valentines Day, Sue bought me a 1990 Jeep Wrangler. I replaced the nose with CJ pieces along with a CJ tailgate and hardtop. My 10 year-old stepson helped me rattlecan it with Krylon Desert Tan Ultra Flat paint.
I think one of the things I like about off roading is that its relaxing and enjoyable and we get to Jeep with some great people in some beautiful places! I even got to go Jeeping in St. Croix with Susan!! One of my favorite wheeling places was Mannix Road in East Greenbush, NY but it got closed….I enjoyed wheeling at Mother Rock, in Mayfield, NY the one time I got to go there and hope to go again! I guess the place I like to wheel the best…is at my wifes side…either in both of our Jeeps or in just one! My favorite quote??? “God HATES a Coward!!”
One of the things I hear from fellow Jeepers is that their wives complain about the time they spend with their Jeep…MY wife complains if we DON’T spend enough time with OUR Jeeps!!! I am a VERY, very lucky man!!! The Jeep Gods have BLESSED me not only with cool Jeeps but with a Beautiful, Sexy Jeep Wife!!!
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