What better way to test the strength of the cargo area build (twin drawers filled with recovery and kitchen stuff, and fridge on slider) than to wheel the toughest trail in PA? I joined the Cumberland Crawlerz group on Saturday to hit Crawl Daddy. Rausch Creek Off Road Park labels it a RED trail (extreme). Jeep’s Badge Of Honor app rates it 5-9, the most extreme, with the exception of the grand daddy of all trails, the Rubicon Trail, which is rated a 10.
First mistake, I got up late. I kept hitting the snooze button. That means I was tired, so in a way it’s a good thing I slept in. No point being tired and driving 100 miles to meet the group. It also gave me the chance to have a decent breakfast. Being hypoglicemic, nothing is worse than starting the day without food in your stomach, and a to-go coffee.
I had an epiphany when I got to Rausch. I ordered a MORRFlate Quad hose kit, hoping to finally give the ARB Dual Compressor (mounted under the passenger seat) a go. But. I ordered the one that didn’t include a pressure gauge. The hose kit is designed to pipe to all four tires concurrently, so my idea of checking pressure on one tire didn’t pan out. I just ordered the pressure gauge so I can attach it to the hose kit. So today I used Rausch’s air hose, which I think may be faster than using my compressor even with the hose kit.
Now to disconnect my sway bar links. This was easier than in the past, since now I have quick releases on both ends of the links, and a strap to hold the sway bar up. The links originally had a single quick release on the bottom, and a bracket to attach the sway bar link to, by swinging it up and attaching the quick release. Well as luck would have it, the upper brackets don’t work with after market wheel well liners, so the mod was necessary. Kudos to JKS Manufacturing for the sway bar link strap kit.
The Jeep handled very well, which is very reassuring, given I had 300 pounds of stuff in the cargo area. The fridge stocked with sammishes, ice coffee, and water, were easily handled by the American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) DualSport RT Suspension. I picked that solution since its designed for Jeeps that carry lots of cargo. I’m now comfortable that the build is Rubicon-proof! Well, I might still add a couple rachet straps over the fridge and drawers for added insurance. 🙂
I signed up for Offroad Consulting‘s Rausch Badge Of Honor trip on April 25th. Yesterday’s trip was an eye opener. The 35s are definitely better than the 33s on Crawl Daddy. I can say that because I realized half way though the trail that I’ve been there before on my first Jeep. Definitely a better experience with full belly skids and 35s…and a winch! A couple guys spotted me yesterday, but I got stuck twice. With that said, one of my buddies had no problem on Crawl Daddy, despite being on 33s and having no lockers! WOAH!!!
The first time I got stuck, I was centered on top of a huge boulder. I picked the right line, but my driver side front wheel slid off a rock, and BOOM there I was. Enabling both front and rear lockers got me out of that mess. The second time I got stuck, I couldn’t get over a wet/muddy fallen tree. My buddies suggesting winching myself out. I had to back up a bit to be able to get out of the Jeep, then I had to carefully make my way to the back of the Jeep to get to the winch remote control (I’ll keep it in front from now on).
There were a couple interesting conversations about synthetic vs wire rope. I chose wire since I don’t want to be stranded if my synthetic rope snaps on rocks, and because it was cheaper. But there are good arguments for both options.
After that, I was told there were two more tough stretches. I got through the first stretch without any issues. Then on the last stretch I had to rely on my full belly plates. That was it. I did it with the help of some folks in the Cumberland Crawlerz group, a great group of wheelers. I know what to expect today, when I go to wash the Jeep…a ton of scratches, from all the thick(er) branches that I had to drive through. Thinking seriously about getting some vinyl covering to try to minimize damage when I get to Rubicon.
When I got to the air-up area, I cringed about not having a gauge on my MORRFlate Quad hose kit. Ironically someone pulled up between my Jeep and a buddie’s Jeep, each of us were parked in front of a hose. Another Jeep pulled up between us, leaving us little room to get to our tires. He asked if we were done, um, nope, we just got there. He then pulled up his hood and filled his own tires with his ARB Dual Compressor. When I asked him why he didn’t use it, he said it was slower than Rausch’s air-up hoses. LOL
I just ordered a gauge for the hose kit. Bought it from MORRFlate, this way I can be sure the kit is put together as designed. The company made a point about analog gauges being less accurate at higher PSIs, so at 36psi analog gauges can be 3-5psi off, where digital gauges would be right on. I’ll keep my hand held gauge handy but I probably won’t need it going forward.
Even though I only wheeled half a day, it was an opportunity to meet up with the Cumberland Crawlerz group. I got to test the fridge and drawers on the toughest trail in PA, feeling like I’m good for Rubicon. Kudos to Joe and Cody for spotting me, and tolerating my cringing. 🙂
The closer we get to June, the more I’ll scramble for the most hair raising, pucker worthy Rubicon videos.