A while back I took the Offroad Consulting 101 and 201 classes to be ready for today’s trip. Limited by the low garage entrance height, I wasn’t able to get the 35″ tires I wanted, so I ended up with 285s. Because of that, I had to pass up on some of the more challenging climbs. When I buy a house I’ll make sure the garage opening is high enough for 35″ tires and then some.
I joined Cumberland Crawlerz this morning at Rausch Creek Off Road Park. I got there a little past 9AM since the planned exit was closed off. There were so many people there, it took a while to find them. Finally found a bunch of Jeeps with the club name on the windshield.
Ok time to get to work.
First task, deflate my tires. I bought a set of 4 brass deflators, and tossed them into my console. This morning I realized that I should have taken the time to calibrate them…ok so I whipped out my house keys and digital tire pressure gauge and went to work. I stooped over each of the four tires, and sloooowly let the air out of each of them until they were all 15 PSI. What a PITA that was.
Noticing my frustration, some of of the folks in the group suggested getting an ARB EZ Tire Deflator. I love how I didn’t have to ask, this group is friendly and generous with their knowledge. They shared some stories and reasons for going with 35″ tires which let them go to 10 PSI. I wish I could do the same, but limited to 285s, it was safer to go with 15 PSI. Good to know. #mentorshipMatters
I took off the driver and passenger hard top panels, slid them into their protective bag, and secured the bag in the back. The forecast for today was 90+ and humid. Not sure if others do this, but if it gets too hot and I have the panels off, I just turn on the air conditioner. The Jeep’s air conditioner is the most powerful I ever had in a vehicle. So for a quick cool down I just turn it on for a few minutes and we’re good to go. Helps to keep the passenger and rear vents closed.
Next, I disengaged my sway bar disconnects. Brilliant design, though they need to bundle a small rubber hammer with the kit. Shout out to the folks who lent me theirs at the start and mid way point. This allows a lot more articulation at the front axle. When I took the training classes, they advised leaving them connected, so you get used to having slightly limited articulation. Well, today I finally got to use them. Wow, what a difference it makes when crawling those larger rocks!
I checked my GoPro 7 Black to make sure it’s powered on, aligned, and set to video. Even though I knew after spending months tinkering with its settings, there is still no reliable way to set it to turn on when I start the Jeep, and turn off when I turn off the Jeep. I’ve come to terms with the fact that GoPro is really a great design for short timeline activities, but not for Harley-Davidsions or Jeeps.
This is the last GoPro I’ll ever own, since its doesn’t do what I need. I’m better off using my Garmin 46 dashcam. When I turn on the Jeep, the dashcam comes on. When I turn off the Jeep, the dashcam turns off. Can’t get any easier than that. Bonus points for ignoring Jeep’s new “Alrightly then you’re at a red light, I’ll just go ahead and turn off your engine for you, even if it pisses you off” bug (er, feature).
I packed my Yeti with four 1 liter water bottles, four yogurts, and four PowerBars, and I added a 7 pound bag of ice at the gas station. I chucked one of the water bottles and one of the PowerBars over to the front seat to be ready. This was easy because I removed the rear bench seat when I bought the Jeep (it sits in my garage, on top of the original tires (pretty convenient when you’re taking brakes while working on the Jeep).
This trip exceeded my expectations. It started easy. It got rougher as the day went on. We went past a few challenging spots where some went for it, and some waited and watched (me included). For these spots the vehicles with 35″ or bigger tires had an easier time. There was some damage to a few of the vehicles on those challenging parts, guess you can’t escape that.
I realized during the ride that I need to get skid plates, and a front bumper with a winch installed next. This way I’ll be less of a chicken shit when these folks get to those challenging climbs. Even with 285s, I really believe I can do some of of those challenging parts once my Jeep has the right protection.
I can now say I’m glad I got the Builtwell rock sliders. They attach to the body frame, and come down a bit. That’s actually a good thing, since the type of rock slider that sits against the body don’t give you much of a crumple zone. The ones I installed hang down a couple inches, and they provide a gap between the rock slider and the edge of the body.
The transfer case slipped out of 4 LOW a couple times. Each time it happened I jumped out in a panic that I may have snapped my drive shaft. I must watch too many rock crawling videos. The guy behind me noticed and right away knew what happened. Apparently you’ve really got to push down hard to make sure its completely set. Knowing that, I was good the rest of the way.
A few things I learned
The most valuable lesson I learned is that you’ve got to survey those rough spots and take the best line.
The trip was also a reminder that you can never have too much liquid and food. I ran out after the first half of the ride.
Don’t signal your turns. It makes you look like a confused mall crawler. Besides, bears and deer don’t know their left from their right.
I started to air up my tires and thank those on the ride I got to meet, didn’t meet them all. I like this group, and I definitely want to ride with them again. When I got home I found a couple Facebook invites, of course I accepted and sent a few of my own.
One more thing