Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Ok, so I know this is purely a "bolt on baby" and it will never likely go offroad, but its my first opportunity to do a "build post" so here ya go.  We recently purchased a 2002 Toyota 4runner limited to use as Jennifer's daily driver.  Its in great condition, but woefully stock and lame looking.  Something had to be done!

Here is how it looked when we bought it.  Nice and clean: new leather, 65,000 miles.

I ordered up some height adjustable Bilsteins for the front, OME springs for the rear, and some spacers for the front as well.  (Sorry about the pic quality, It took them with my cell phone.)

Got a set of 285/75R16 Toyo Mud Terrains off ebay.  Apparently they are so tall that our vehicle will tip over now.  I think there was a similar warning sticker with the lift stuff too...  Maybe Chris needs one of these on his steering wheel so he will be more careful....

 The new tires, mounted on some Granite Alloys

And here is the end result:

Not too shabby!  I still want to space the wheels out an inch, and tint the front windows to match the rears.  Maybe regear it down the road, but it drives pretty decent for now!  At least, until it tips over, which is imminent if you believe the stickers....

Saturday, February 26, 2011

On the radio!

Today I had the unique opportunity to be a guest on a radio talk show called "In the Shop" where they talk about automotive repair shops, and related topics.  The host, John Beebe, who I have known for years and worked for a few years back, interviewed me about my experiences on the Ultimate Adventure in 2010.  Kinda neat, if you want to check it out, go to  http://intheshopradio.com/   and look on the right side for the Feb. 26 broadcast. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Quick update

Just a quick note, Chris went back up the trail last weekend, and managed to puncture a sidewall, break a shock, and snap off the T-case output shaft!! Ouch!! (its probably because the T-case was too shiny!)

Here's his broken shock and some other dude's spare tire...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Take Two on the "Rhymes with Duct" trail

Ok, so Chris and I really wanted an opportunity to run the entire length of this trail without rigs that would slow us down with breakage and hours of winching, so this time we were very selective in who we invited.  KC is a guy I used to work with that has this awesome Toyota pickup.  Its locked up, dual T-cases, dual winches, 38" swampers, beadlocks, onboard air, blah blah blah the list goes on.  The coolest thing about this truck, I think, is that it looks like its been around the block and it dares you to find something it can't do.  Its got everything you need, and nothing you don't (as long as you don't need more than 110 hp)

 Here is Chris, gettin a little sideways...
Here's me, also getting a little sideways... sensing a theme in the photography here....Just wanted to show off those skidplates....umm yeah.
Chris, taking some unusual lines sometimes, I think I tried that one too, it didn't work well for either of us, as I recall, but hey, you gotta try, right?  It was interesting to see how much this trail can change, in subtle ways, because of the creek that runs down it.  Last time we ran this with snow on the ground, and had an easier time of it than we did this time.  Gravel was washed out, trees were knocked down, stumps were laying about in the middle of the trail, there was a strand of Christmas lights in the creek.....

Speaking of unusual lines.... I swear, he wasn't even moving, I turned my back on him for a second, and the next thing you know, he's flopped over against a rock, a tree, I don't even know what.  I hear the sound of glass breaking and KC saying "thats getting a little tippy!!" Then, madman that he his, Chris just put it in reverse and backed up until he was back on his wheels again!  
KC was examining how the window broke, and I think he hit the nail on the head with his observation: "its like that rock just gave it a little smash!"  Yes, a little smash, sometimes thats all it takes.... that and a truck falling on it....Chris did say something about "thanks for the warning, guys"  brought me back to a little incident on the Ultimate Adventure, except that Chris didn't cry about his window like someone else I know...

Luckily, the glass and his CB antenna were the only real casualties, and I hear that he already found a window at the local Pick a Part, so he'll be back together in no time.  He did manage to make quite a few new dents, enough that maybe, just maybe, he'll admit that its a wheeler and he won't try to fix them anymore!! We'll see.

So, KC was kinda stuck on this rock, same one that tipped Chris over, and I had thrown in a log to try and help things out. Well, wouldn't ya know it, moments later that log was firmly wedged in between the leaf spring and the driveshaft, and no matter what we did it wouldn't come out!  So, out came the trusty Stihl once more!  
Here's a nice "artsy" shot that Jennifer took, she's good at that, finding cool angles on stuff, and perspectives, and stuff... I don't know much about that, but she comes up with some cool pictures.
 Chris tried moving this rock with his tailgate, despite KC's cringing, and my encouraging, but couldn't make it go away, so KC and Matt teamed up to move it out of the way.  What would have been more helpful is if they had moved the log that was next to the rock, since it had a profound "impact" on all of our truck's rear quarter panels!
 KC says "Yo, Dawg, thats how we run trails in B-town, fo' shizzle!"
More rocks, water, trucks going up rocks... yada yada yada.  Some of this stuff was pretty gnarly,  but of course its hard to capture with the camera...needs some sort of perspective and stuff...
This is my quarter panel after the aforementioned log, I know, its hard to tell where the new dents are, but the tail lights don't fit so well anymore, so I'm probably going to have to do something custom there.  At least I didn't break any glass!  Oh, and don't ask about "poopoo tribe", its a long story,  and it doesn't even make any sense to those of us who were in the "poopoo tribe"!!
Ok, so to cap it off, a carnage report: I had some dented dents, and a flattened out RF spring.  Chris had the busted window, some fresh dents (what a beater) and a broken CB antenna.  KC had a broken taillight...I think thats it.  A lot better than last time!
This trip was a lot of fun and the guys did awesome!  It was really nice to have some serious rigs and make progress at a steady rate.  KC's little truck was pretty scrappy and he like to get on it a bit which is always fun to watch, and much more do-able in his truck than the top heavy 4Runners.  Chris breaking a window was cool just because I have a fascination with things breaking and windows always make a big mess!  When Paul and I were first dating, I'd gone wheelin' with him a couple times and we were in this really tight gulley with a ton of tree's and I said, "that'd be cool if you broke a window."  Bad idea, not 5 minutes  later, glass was everywhere.  For some reason, I think we even broke another window that day.  Anyway, I don't say anything to him about windows anymore, just in case.  So far, so good, it's been a while since he lost any glass.  Probably shouldn't have said that.....  
There was one point just before the end of the trail that was pretty straight up with a BIG fall on my side of course, and I was wondering how my children were going to get along without their mother, (Paul tried to reassure me that we'd probably only do a slow pirouette down and to the right while we flipped over backwards.  Yay.)  .  KC even said at one point, "That's getting a little tippy..."  And I thought, oh great, I heard that once already today. "Dear God, please take care of my girls...."  BUT- we lived!
My favorite part of the day was when Chris reported his friend who had ridden along with him said about halfway up the trail, "Dude, I thought when you said we were going 4x4ing, that we were going to drive in mud and puddles and stuff, this is NUTS!!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Trail in BC that will remain unnamed...

Last weekend my buddy Chris and some of his friends, and myself of course, ran this part of this little trail that basically runs up a creek... without a paddle...The trail is outside of Mission, BC, off of Sylvester Rd. The name rhymes with "duct" but this is a family friendly blog, so you'll have to use your imagination.

This showroom fresh Rubicon belongs to Chris's friend, we'll call him Mr Fancypants (my wife Jennifer's idea) He probably should remain unnamed, at least until he settles things with his insurance/local dealer (more on that later) Take a good look at that Jeep, it won't be that pretty for long.....
  The white 4runner is mine.  I am busy making the entrance look easy so as to build up a false sense of security for Mr Fancypants.  This trail is pretty cool because it looks totally impossible, but the rocks are mostly granite and your tires stick like glue, even with snow on them.
Chris pilots this beautiful two-tone red 4runner, carefully, I might add.  He is still somewhat concerned about body damage, so he has begun to strategically add body armor, starting in the places that are already messed up. I suppose you can't blame him, he just doesn't want it to end up looking all raisened out like mine!
Just doing a little trail maintenance... I always bring my chainsaw when I go wheelin, its amazing how much I have to use it.
  Creepin' through the boulders.  Looks like my license plate is trying to jump ship.
 Chris getting high-centered on a little baby rock... Ok, its a big rock.  We got him back off of it with a little rocking and pushing on the bumpers, not a big deal.
 Here's Mr Fancypants starting his line around the little baby rock.   Little does he know this is just the beginning of a long, very bad day for him and his Rubicon....
I think what happened here was the right rear tire started climbing the little baby rock, then got caught on it, as it slid off, peeling about six inches of the rim open like a can opener!  Nanoseconds later, the "slider" got bent straight down, and the door got smashed!  Awesome!! (sorry, Mr Fancypants)
You'll notice the strap attached to Chris's bumper.  It is attached on the other end to Mr Fancypants' Rubicon.  about 30 feet after the rim peeling incident, he somehow managed to break his right rear axle shaft. (and, we found out later, he grenaded the rear locker as well) So, now, in three wheel drive, he was needing a little help.

 Somewhere around this little hill, which was the exit out of the creekbed, Fancypants got his front diff lodged on a rock and literally spit the right front U joint out on the ground!  Now he had "left wheel drive" only, and that was if we felt it was a good idea to try and power through all the shattered pieces of his drivetrain.  We didn't really feel like that was a good idea, so we relied on winching, double line winching, strapping, winching with Chris's winch, etc etc.  This went on for about 4 days.  Not really, but it took us about 3 hours to go the last quarter mile with this strategy. 
 You can see above the tracks that I left for Chris.  I hit this hill with a lot of skinny pedal and made it without winching, but Chris now had Mr Fancypants in tow, so he didn't have a chance.  He put his new Costco winch to the test, and although it moved cable at glacial speeds it never let him down!  By the way, Fancypants had a brand new Warn 9.5ti that got worked pretty hard, too, and took it like a champ. Except for one time that somebody let too much cable unspool and it ripped off of the drum.... At some point I jumped into Chris's truck to do a little driving while he helped with winchlines, and "apparently" I bent one of his wheels.  I think it was already like that, but it was losing air pretty fast, and it was right after I drove it.... so.... sorry Chris!  He whacked it with a hammer a few times and sealed it back up, though, so its all good.  Besides a little body rash on that LF fender, this wheel was actually the worst thing that happened to Chris's 4Runner, and it wasn't even his fault!!
So, finally (you'll notice its dark now) we made it out to the road, where we stood around, checked out the carnage, and called for a flatbed to haul the wounded Jeep home.  He did have to drive it a few miles to get down to paved roads, and the right rear wheel was wobbling pretty good by then, what with the broken axle and all.  He even managed to break off part of the brake caliper bracket in the process. 
So I though you would all be excited to hear a woman's thoughts on this day of wheelin'.  First and foremost, it was pretty awesome.  I haven't been wheelin in a while due to having little babies and I didn't get to go on Ultimate Adventure with Paul since someone had to watch those babies for 2 weeks!  So I was pretty excited.  This trail was probably the hardest trail I have ever been on, and it was all granite rocks going up this creekbed, so we spent all day standing in a creek in December, half the time it was raining too.  It was freezing, but worth it, big rocks, tight turns, water, some mud slingin' at the end, it covered everything.  There is no way you are going to make it out of this trail unscathed.  Which is the way it should be, I think.  I'm a bit of a backwoods girl, and I love to see some carnage!  With all the breakage on the Rubicon, the best part was Mr Fancypants never flipped out, just stayed a cool guy and accepted his fate.  Which is the way it should be, if you're going wheelin, man up and get ready to break something, or go drive around in a field somewhere, get a little mud on your truck and tell everyone you went "wheelin" and stay off the real trails.  Our 4Runner had some new dents in it's dents by the time we left and my hubby forgot to tell you that he sliced an almost new tire doing donuts in the gravel pit before we even started, so there ya go, we accomplished something.  If you think your truck can hack it, this trail is definitely worth  checking out.  Although, I am still hearing "WINCH OUT!"  "WINCH IN!" (from the 3 hour winchathon) in my sleep, so you might take that into consideration...          Jennifer