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"Break" in in the new Pirate Rig
4th of July weekend, 2000

UPDATE 7/31/2000: Pictures were added to the bottom of the story

This year my truck was just not going to make it to the trail because a blown tranny, so rather than being a passenger I fired up the uninsured backup rig to do the duties. As I was backing up the driveway to load it up I notice one tire spinning (not used to power) and realized one of my rear hubs (full floater) was not working so I swapped the hubs for the lockout plates. One side had 2 busted studs out of six but they seemed like they had been that way for a while so I decided to go anyway...

Maybe that was not the right thing to do, upon arrival to Loon Lake someone told me my rear axle was sticking out a foot, and when I looked it was! I had lost one of the plates (the studs sheered off) and there was nothing to keep the hub from sliding out. It still drove because of the locker so I went in search of the missing plate but did not find it and ran into a quad in need of gas instead. I let him siphon a gallon or 2 out of my spare tank and I headed back to the damn where I took the plate from the other side and Clean Dean welded it on to the side with the broken studs with the help of Glenn Hammock's on-board welder. Several wheel studs were stripped in the process..

Now I was ready to lock the front hubs in and hit the trail! I noticed the rear tires rubbing right off the bat but kept going. After coming out of the trees after the "gatekey" I opted to take the line to the right climbing up a steep rocky slope only to have my front driveline pop out. I replaced it and tried again - same thing. Next time I tried it with the help of a winch (by now the splines were pretty bad) and it still popped out. Keep in mind this is not far into the trail! I took the driveline off and beat the severely twisted splines straight with a chisel. Mark from SNORT loaned me a long front half of the driveline and I continued on being the not so smart guy I am - Lance and several others figured I was done at this point only fueling me to go on!

Now the only problem was a tire rubbing but I did not thing anything of it, although I should have since it eventually took several lugs off of my tires!

Too much work to do right then so I moved on.

From then on the Jeep did very well, it caught more air in the front end that I am used to but I found if I just kept it on it would come back down, several times rocks to the right of me save me from going a bit further than planned. I opted to pass on the soup bowl and the sluice since the way things were going I was lucky to be moving at all. I ended up meeting Glenn and Glenn to the left of the sluice where I camped on the granite (forgot the air mattress).

 

This picture was stolen without permission (well his article says you can take em so I did) from Glenn of me making breakfast, a mixture of potatoes, eggs, sausage and spices hit the spot!

After breakfast I drove over to see what was happening at the sluice where I saw Sean "gearman" making a pre-run of the sluice and drinking a "prepper in a bag."

 

And yet another stolen picture from Glenn, check out his write up HERE. I just had to have atleast one action picture here even if it wasn't of me..

Congrats to Sean for making the sluice look like a dirt road with a welding mask taped so he could not see at all on. I was very impressed as was the quiet awe stricken crowd. After the show we motored on to the springs where I set up camp and helped Jack fix a broken stub shaft on his newer yota truck.

I was pretty beat that night and after a little time near the campfire and getting cleaned up in the river I crashed for the night. The next morning I got up and packed up. Dimitri from the Sierra Rock Crawlers had asked that he follow me since he had done some damage to his rear driveline, he needed me as a tow point just in case. Turned out he made it out fine (he really likes first gear). Scott with Grady's old truck was amazingly kind and towed a flatfender with a blown Tcase all the way up Cadillac hill! (Yea, another stolen pic - I forgot my camera all right!)

Somewhere along the way I busted my antenna from my radio, no biggy since my brand new JBL (POS) radio was not working anyway..

 

Upon hitting the pavement I got some MAJOR wobbles and I "think" it was my tierod that was just slightly bent, although I still have not fixed it so I am not sure. Anyway after 3 attempts to fix it I called AAA for my free 100 mile tow on a flatbed back to sacramento. Actually they attempted to flat tow it but the jeep started whipping around and they put it up on top for a free ride back home!

 

I noticed a large puddle of gear oil on the flatbed when I took it off and after pulling the front driveline I found that it had eaten right through my SM420 transmission which I temporarily fixed with JB weld.

 

 

I would have to say that all of the damage (except for the antenna) was caused by not properly testing the jeep (hey this was testing, right?) and overall I was very impressed with it for its first rubicon trip. I will be driving the jeep until my truck is purring with a new V8 and all the goodies that the bigger engine will require (front axle, transmission, etc..).