Archives for posts with tag: off-road
Rookies on the Rubicon• WCXC
Photos: Caleb Knight and Jeremy Knight. Story editing: Nik Schulz

This is an multi-part post written by Jeremy Knight about his 2013 adventure on the Rubicon as a first-timer.

Rookies on the Rubicon, Part 3

Little Sluice

The beer is done. The greetings are over. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Erik, my younger brother by seven years, but it’s time to drive trail. When I lived in the Bay Area, we used to do quite a bit together, mainly backpacking and fly fishing in the Sierras. Then in 1994, I moved my family to Bellingham, Washington for a job (lousy reason to move, but good place to live). Erik and I met at Mount Shasta a few times, until we finally succeeded in climbing it and then things kind of petered out. He has his family; I have mine; we had to “get on with it.”

In January of 2009, I bought a used FJ Trail Teams (out of nostalgia for an FJ-40 our father owned) from a really cool guy in Pittsburgh, PA. I took a Jet Blue red-eye out of Seattle (so that I could sleep on the plane and save on a hotel). After a few hours at the dealership, the paperwork was done. I headed west in the dead of winter with my new prize. That trip was an adventure in itself.

Later, Erik purchased his Jeep JK. “This was going to be our reconnect,” I told myself. Fast-forward to August and here we are: Rubicon Reconnect. Rookies on the Rubicon. Time to drive. Read the rest of this entry »

Rookies on the Rubicon• WCXC
Loon Lake trailhead and amazing overflow sluice (trail starts beyond the shack) Photos: Caleb Knight and Jeremy Knight. Story editing: Nik Schulz

This is an multi-part post written by Jeremy Knight about his first time on the Rubicon.

Rookies on the Rubicon, Part 2

Loon Lake Trailhead

As the day grew closer, I continued my internet research and Erik sent me YouTube clips. I could tell that he was having second thoughts. Some of the video was daunting: people breaking things, people rolling over and doing major vehicle damage, people getting hopelessly stuck. What were we thinking? Did we really have any business doing this sort of thing? Or would we be like hikers on Everest, wearing tennis shoes and looking really foolish while begging for a piggyback ride to safety?

One thing I noticed in the videos was that nobody was driving an FJ. They were all Jeeps, mostly modified Rubicon’s, or buggies, but no FJs. Well, there was one video in which a guy in an FJ tried to clear a nasty rock shelf and ripped his entire rear bumper off. I tried to ignore that one, it almost looked deliberate. I finally found a blog called Last Great Road Trip that told a story of a group of FJs that successfully went through during the 2013 Rubithon event, a sort of Jamboree for Toyotas. Unfortunately they were all highly-modified with long-travel kits, 35s, and re-geared axles. To top it off, they were guided by some guy named “Woodie” who apparently knew all of the trail’s rocks by name. Only one of them escaped without body damage. Read the rest of this entry »

Rookies on the Rubicon • WCXC
All photos: Caleb Knight, Jeremy Knight. Story editing: Nik Schulz

The off-road section of the Rubicon, the famous 4×4 trail in California’s Sierra Nevada, west of Lake Tahoe, is packed with 12 miles of boulders and almost non-stop obstacles. On the 1 to 10 difficultly scale that we, and others, use, the Rubicon is a 10. The trails don’t get much tougher than this.

What’s it like to tackle this grandaddy of the off-road world for the first time? Well, Jeremy Knight, an overlander from Washington State, will tell you. His account, first published in the Expedition Portal forums, is offered here with his permission.

Rookies on the Rubicon, Part 1

The Ground Rules

There were times in my life when, had I known how hard something was going to be beforehand, I probably wouldn’t have tried it in the first place. Caution would rule and I would be content reading about other people, more capable or better equipped, grinding it out. It’s almost always good that I don’t know in advance about the degree of difficulty, challenge, or stress involved in the endeavor, since life is much duller lived within my comfort zone. For me, attempting the Rubicon Trail in a relatively stock FJ Cruiser, with my brother, who has never spent much time off-road, was one of those times. Read the rest of this entry »

We all know about the Unimog, but have you heard about Mercedes-Benz’s other tough truck offering, the Zetros? The Zetros is Mercedes’ answer to extreme-terrain hauling. Do you need to transport a mobile generator to a remote job site or haul ten tons of scientific equipment down a road scratched into the Alaskan wilderness? If so, this is your truck.

The Zetros is available in either 4×4 or 6×6 configurations. Both versions are equipped with a massive 7.2-liter, inline-6 diesel that floods the drivetrain with a mind-bending 959 lb-ft of torque. The differentials lock. The tire pressure is adjustable on the fly. A single axle can carry 9 tons of load.

What if you need all of that hauling ability to carry luxurious living quarters over any conceivable terrain? Well, it can do that too.

More photos of one of those trucks after the jump.

Thanks to our friend Mas for the tip!

Links:
Car & Driver
: Ultra-Luxury Mercedes-Benz 6×6 RVs Tackle Mongolian Wilderness

Mercedes-Benz Zetros Web Special

Wikipedia: Mercedes-Benz Zetros

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a bit ’80s, but there’s some good stuff here. The video covers pretty much everything: how to cross muddy slopes, ditches, water fording, hills, v-shaped gullies, towing, driving ruts and rocky terrain. All of the sections are done by two Defenders, one doing the right thing, the other the wrong thing.

As an added bonus, the video shows what has been selected in vehicles’ transfer case and transmission via a little Atarti-style graphic.

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The first WCXC Meet & Greet started off with a bit of a hitch. I’d scouted the the first location, the half-abandoned Navy shipyard, Mare Island, by Google Maps, instead of with tires on the ground. When we rolled up to the vacant bit of land I’d picked as a meeting point, we were confronted with signs everywhere threatening arrest for trespassing and a security guard, hot on our tail, telling us to move on. So we went and found a better spot with trees and benches; I updated our location; and everyone found us.

After that it was off to the Warehouse Cafe in Port Costa, on the other side of the Delta for beers, and posing next to the huge, taxidermy polar bear. It was so great to meet everyone, to share stories, and, of course, check out each others vehicles. It was a lot of fun.

Below, are a few photos of the trucks people brought to the event.

Thank you all for coming out! Read the rest of this entry »

I have a Safari Snorkel on my Montero. I like the added measure of fording safety it gives me, but it takes in more dust than I thought it would. After only a day or two on the trail, I’m already blowing dust out of the air filter. To remedy that, I’ve decided to get a pre-cleaner.

A pre-cleaner replaces the air scoop that sits on top of the snorkel inlet. Once installed, it draws incoming air into a vortex, the centrifugal force of which causes the heavier-than-air particulates to fly out towards the sides of the bowl, where they’re trapped. According to my research this will keep 80–85% 75% of the particulate matter from ever reaching the engine air filter.

Pre-cleaners are rated at a maximum cfm (cubic feet per minute) of air flow. Make sure you get one that matches the needs of your engine. Too large a pre-cleaner won’t spin the air fast enough to remove particulates. Too small and it will restrict your engine’s air flow. And, of course, your engine requires more air at higher rpms.

For most trucks, a 7″ pre-cleaner makes sense. To check if that’s too restrictive at the high rpms typical of highway speeds, I’ll add a formula for calculating pre-cleaner size after the jump.

Donaldson looks like the company that manufacturers the quality pre-cleaners that other companies sometimes rebrand. I’ll include a link below that gives the specs on their line of pre-cleaners.

Update 3/3/2014:
The part number for the 7″  Donaldson pre-cleaner that fits a 3″ opening (the size of my Safari Snorkel inlet) is H001249.

Here are some local, Bay-Area sources to check for availability. I ordered mine from Opperman & Sons and they quoted me just over $30, less than half of the listed prices I found online.

Opperman & Sons, 707-433-4421
Healdsburg, CA

TEC Equipment Inc, 510-715-4358
Oakland, CA

Golden Gate Trucks, 510-632-3535
Oakland, CA

Links:
Donaldson Pre-cleaner PDF, see page 12

Donaldson Pre-cleaners from Metro Fuel Injection

ARB Pre-cleaner at 4WD Hardware
Safari Snorkel Pre-Cleaner Thread on Expo

Read the rest of this entry »

Snow Mountain Wilderness • WCXC
Photo: Gregory MacDonald

A couple of weeks ago my friend Greg, from gadmachine, and I went on a quick trip up to the Mendocino National Forest, south of the Snow Mountain Wilderness. While there, we made some seriously good camp fires. We also set up an interesting camp, that I thought I’d share with you.

We set up two 10′ x 20′ tarps in a roughly A-frame shape. The open ends were parallel with the small valley we were in, so that the breeze could flow through. The top was open so that smoke from the fire could easily escape.  We put the tents in the eaves of the tarps so they were protected from rain. The main thing though was that the tarps reflected the heat of the fire and kept any breezes from blowing in behind us. This made for a comfortable, warm camp even with the temperature around 26˚F (-3˚C).

There was hardly any snow. There’s been precipitation since, so call the ranger’s station if you’re planning to head up there. The campsite, which Greg had scouted years earlier, was a very nice one: flat ground with trees in a nice little valley.

An image gallery and a map with our campsite near Bear Creek pinpointed, can be found after the jump.

Related Links:
Fire Skills: The Elevated Long Fire

Four Essential Campfire Tools for About $30

Read the rest of this entry »

Watch this 2000 Land Cruiser 100 Series go from stock to rock (ready) in a little under four minutes. The project was done by Cruiser Outfitters in preparation for the Baja 1000. They dubbed the truck, Project Death Star.

The video description states that the whole build was done in 48 hours.

IMG_8792

EarthCruiser announced last Fall that it would begin building its self-contained, go-anywhere, ship-anywhere trucks in the U.S., and this week the first one is ready for delivery.

In case you’re not familiar with it, the EarthCruiser is a highly capable, 4×4 expedition vehicle. The idea is that you can drive it to a remote place, pop the top, and be self sufficient. It can draw water from a stream, purify it, heat it (via the Webasto diesel heater), store it, and deliver it to you via the sink or the indoor or outdoor shower. The heater will also heat the insulated interior. There’s a stove, a fridge, even a queen-size bed.

With a little help from the solar panels topping up the house batteries, you can stay in a spot for up to ten days without running the engine. On the other hand, if you need to leave in a hurry, you can lower the top from inside the cabin and be on your way in minutes.

The EarthCruiser is built on the Mitsubishi Fuso light truck chassis. Power comes from an intercooled, 4-cylinder turbodiesel. This DOHC, 16-valve powerplant will produce 295 lb.-ft. of grunt at just 1,300 rpm. A six-speed, dual-clutch, automated manual transmission handles gear selection for you. The 4×4 system consists of manually locking hubs and single-speed transfer case. There’s no center diff. While you might have wished for a two-speed transfer case, EarthCruiser assured us that first gear is pretty low and will get you through just about anything.

Additional gear such as A/C, a winch, an extra fuel tank, driving lights, and a few other things, can be fitted at your request, although it’s ready to go in standard trim at $215,000. Give them a call. They’d be happy to build you one.

For more photos from Earthcruiser, and from our recent trip to Earthcruiser’s Facility in Bend, Oregon, see the rest of the post.

Links:
EarthcruiserUSA
Previous Earthcruiser post on WCXC

Read the rest of this entry »