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Old 07-27-2006, 12:51 PM
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kennyh kennyh is offline
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High Mountain Trail Driving 101

In light of an incident we had in our group in Ouray this month with overheating brakes, I came up with some basic guidelines for doing mountain trails, along with some suggestions from the CFSJA guys.

1. Make sure your drivetrain is in good working order, including the mandatory low range. Whether with an automatic or a manual transmission, you must have confidence that you won't pop out of gear under load either up or downhill.

2. Make sure the brakes are in good working order. Your brakes are vital and, if something in the driveline breaks, are the only thing between you and catastrophe. With an automatic, brakes are used much more on steep descents than with a manual.

3. Uphill sections can be run in Drive or Second it's a mild uphill, but if it's steep and slow, shift to First to keep the tranny cooler, run the fan faster and allow slow speeds to maintain maximum control. If you're going slowly enough, it will do this on its own, but mine tends to shift into Second, so I just pull it down to First. Higher gears slip the torque converter more and raise temps. Manual transmission guys will figure their gear out by default (bogging/stalling or high revving will determine that.)

4. If you constantly use the brakes to maintain low speeds on milder
downhill sections, you're in too high a gear. Shift down and let the engine control your speed. The only complaint I have with automatics in FSJs is that First gear low range won't keep you slow enough if it's steep. Brakes must be used constantly here, and they usually don't heat up at that low a speed, but if you can feel them fading or getting spongy, do not proceed. Let 'em cool off for a while, and err on the side of a longer rather than shorter.

5. If you do lose brakes, jump on the parking brake, but if the rear linings and drums are overheated they won't help. It's better to scrape the truck on the side of the mountain to scrub off speed than to fly off a cliff. Depending on the terrain, this may not be an option, as it may not be a nice rock wall, and the slope could cause a rollover, but if it's steep enough and you aren't lifted, your front tires may just slide sideways and help to slow you. Never shut the engine off. It won't slow you down with an auto and will eliminate power steering, vacuum from your power brakes and may lock the steering column. All bad things.

6. Know your vehicle and it's capability to do the selected trail. It's good to address vapor-locking and stalling issues before going to higher elevations, but sometimes that's not practical, as you can't tune for 12,000 feet at 2,000 feet. Be prepared if those problems crop up on the mountain. Know where your pumpkins and spring bolts are in relation to the rock you're about to drive over. That last one is more important to stock rigs, of course.

7. Know your own driving skills and capability. If your'e a novice then stick with the easy trails and work your way up. Veterans can give you advice and spot you, so it's good to be accompanied by a few.

8. Know the selected trail, if you don't then find out from books,
or other off-roaders that have done the trails to identify any
problem spots or if you should even be driving that trail. Avoid wheeling alone if possible. You never know what might happen or how long you may be there, hurt, cold, or broke down. Take some tools and survival supplies.

9. Always wear your seat belts. The chances of surviving are much greater if you remain in the vehicle. But make sure your gear (jack, toolbox, chain etc) is tied down. A hydraulic jack in the noggin could end your FSJ days.


10. Stop often and enjoy the incredible view, a snack, a story, take some pictures and maybe smoke a cigar.
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Last edited by kennyh : 07-28-2006 at 01:05 AM.
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Old 07-27-2006, 05:11 PM
Desert Rat Desert Rat is offline
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There was an accident? Ugh, knowing those trails up there, I hope no one got badly hurt. Falling off the mountain sounds like a crappy ride.
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Old 07-27-2006, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert Rat
There was an accident? Ugh, knowing those trails up there, I hope no one got badly hurt. Falling off the mountain sounds like a crappy ride.
Krista deemed it to be the flight of the DODO bird
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Old 07-28-2006, 01:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert Rat
There was an accident? Ugh, knowing those trails up there, I hope no one got badly hurt. Falling off the mountain sounds like a crappy ride.

Yeah, one of the guys with no low-range lost his brakes and left the trail at high speed (for a trail, witnesses estimate 30-35 mph) and landed on a somewhat soft surface, punched a hole in the tranny pan, bent a fender and shook everyone up. Thankfully no injuries. Got a new pan and he drove it home.
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Old 07-28-2006, 04:56 AM
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Glen and the other occupants were all using seatbelts and very lucky the Cherokee did not gain much more altitude. It is amazing the kind of abuse a FSJ can actually take and basically drive away. Repairs were new tranny pan, tranny filter, case of atf and a master cylinder. We were also very fortunate to have Flatbackdragon's nephew there who had a big rig and trailer. Scott pulled the Cherokee back up on the trail with his hybrid Scout and 12k winch, then we used the Scout and my rig to strap to the back for brakes for the rest of the ride down to hwy 550 where we loaded it on the trailer and Scott hauled it to the KOA. Other pix found in the winching and recovery thread Steve started.
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Old 07-28-2006, 05:21 AM
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Good post. Good ideas that apply to more than just mountain trail driving.
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Old 07-28-2006, 06:59 AM
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viscacha viscacha is offline
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Scott’s winch was a 6000lb without a free spool so it had to be powered out, basically a piece of crap. I regret that I didn’t install my 9000lb warn at Poughkeepsie during the winching of the three fsj’s up the rocks and that would have done the job with no effort at all. Just one more reason for me to build a front winch bumper and I believe Scott now sees the need for a new winch for his rock crawler.
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Old 07-28-2006, 07:47 AM
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fulsizjeep fulsizjeep is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viscacha
Scott’s winch was a 6000lb without a free spool so it had to be powered out, basically a piece of crap. I regret that I didn’t install my 9000lb warn at Poughkeepsie during the winching of the three fsj’s up the rocks and that would have done the job with no effort at all. Just one more reason for me to build a front winch bumper and I believe Scott now sees the need for a new winch for his rock crawler.

Dang was I wrong. I thought I heard 12K. Sorry. He used a snatch block which appeared to make the job fairly easy except one of the fairleads was missing and we had to keep jockeying his front end around to giterdun...
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  #9  
Old 07-28-2006, 07:53 AM
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BRUTUS BRUTUS is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viscacha
Scott’s winch was a 6000lb without a free spool so it had to be powered out, basically a piece of crap. I regret that I didn’t install my 9000lb warn at Poughkeepsie during the winching of the three fsj’s up the rocks and that would have done the job with no effort at all. Just one more reason for me to build a front winch bumper and I believe Scott now sees the need for a new winch for his rock crawler.

6000# for his crawler is fine for his rig and others like it. I don't think it did that bad. When he bought that winch, I don't think he ever intended to pull a DEAD hi-centered FSJ off a mound of dirt uphill back to the road from a creekbed! Crawlers typically have much smaller winches to save weight. I think he needs a new fairlead more than anything! Personally I like the power out feature because it keeps your cable from unwrapping on the drum.

I honestly think that we would have had the same problems with a 9,000# winch... The only thing that would have been better is having a new fairlead. Honesly, the 6000# winch with a snatchblock was making a 12000# pull.... I don't think a 9000# could have made that pull without a snatchblock. Maybe it could...

If you had put your winch on for Poughkeepsie you wouldn't have gotten all those pictures of Phil scraping his new paintjob on the rocks! Those pictures are the BEST!
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Last edited by BRUTUS : 07-28-2006 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 07-28-2006, 08:28 AM
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viscacha viscacha is offline
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A 9000lb warn with the integrated solenoid would have pulled it out with ease. I’ve only used mine about six times now and am impressed compared to my other wheeling buddy’s winches of comparable size. Last time I dragged a rock crawler out laying on its side jammed in a rock crevice. Now that was Dead weight. I did it without using my snatch block, too. Two thumbs up for warn winches.

I’m just glad the cause of Draco’s sheet metal damage was kept in the family. LOL.
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:01 AM
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will e will e is offline
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It took your winch, another winch, a foot on the stuck trucks go pedal and me pushing from the back (With me bare hands!) to get Kevin's truck unstuck from that mud hole he found himself in when we did that Coke ovens run.

Either way, I wasn't there to pull Glenn's truck out but I guess everyone is glad Scott had his 6000# piece of crap with him.
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viscacha
A 9000lb warn with the integrated solenoid would have pulled it out with ease. I’ve only used mine about six times now and am impressed compared to my other wheeling buddy’s winches of comparable size. Last time I dragged a rock crawler out laying on its side jammed in a rock crevice. Now that was Dead weight. I did it without using my snatch block, too. Two thumbs up for warn winches.

I’m just glad the cause of Draco’s sheet metal damage was kept in the family. LOL.

Which one do you have Steve? I bet that did look pretty awesome! I am sure Scott won't hear the end of that one. I can't wait for next year already!
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:30 AM
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That was a sticky situation. LOL. Still the toughest pull yet for me. Dragging rock crawlers off the rocks is the easiest. You have to admire gila river muck and it’s power of sticktion.

Mike, there was only one winch used. I was dragging my truck if you care to remember and it wasn’t until I strapped a waggy for an anchor on the other side of my truck did we get Kevin’s Cherokee out. Don’t you have the same winch as me
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Old 07-28-2006, 02:32 PM
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I thought kevins brother was winched to him to?? Or was that using straps? Remember, he dug his into the ground.

Yeah, I think we have the same winch. It's a good one.
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Old 07-28-2006, 02:54 PM
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fulsizjeep fulsizjeep is offline
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Yep, and Nick was buried RF & LR with the open diffs.

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Last edited by fulsizjeep : 07-28-2006 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 07-28-2006, 04:06 PM
Desert Rat Desert Rat is offline
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I can't imagine tackling those trails without low range. (my 4 banger just wouldn't do it)...When I was up there last year, I enjoyed the benefits of 4:1 low range coupled with 5.13 diff gears and a manual trans....didn't need brakes at all going down anything.....even the steps on Black Bear.
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Old 07-28-2006, 06:10 PM
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If you had put your winch on for Poughkeepsie you wouldn't have gotten all those pictures of Phil scraping his new paintjob on the rocks! Those pictures are the BEST!
why thank you thank you very much!

Pretty sure Scotts' winch is a hand me down from his dad or buddies, an oldie but works for him until he wants to go bigger, usually has his friends around to help him and they have fancier stuff. He really enjoyed being there showing off and helping out. He really has been a good kid all his life and thats just Scott.

Nuther guideline:
CB.
Scott had just mounted one in that a.m. and saw how helpful they can be not only in hearing of wreck but when he was driving up Engineer and got hung up on rock on rear dif, I told him where it was hanging up and he could adjust for it
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Last edited by flatbackdragon : 07-28-2006 at 06:13 PM.
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Old 07-28-2006, 07:35 PM
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kennyh kennyh is offline
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Scott? A good kid! Hmm.

I have to admit that meeting Scott was one of the high points of the trip. I thought he had been on Poughkeepsie before, so I had confidence in his word that in my stock rig he could get me through it.

Then I found out (too late, I might add) that he hadn't seen the trail before. Funny. Very funny. But it was an adventure, and he seems like a great guy.

Phil, I neglected to look you guys up when I left to say goodbye, but it was a pleasure meeting you too. They don't make 'em like you anymore. (Is that a good thing?) <audible grin>
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