S A F E T Y
From our wheelin' pal, Keith Schweizer.
This happened to a friend of Keiths a short time ago in Colorado high country.
"Thought I would send a message of warning to my OTR (On-the-Rocks) buddies. My Reese Hitch broke this weekend. Thankfully it happened in the best possible scenario. Going up hill at 10 MPH, so the safety cables held it in place till I secured my Jeep. I can't even imagine what it could have been going 65 down the road. I went through and checked that the hitch was well within the ratings of the equipment, yet it still failed. I ask you all to inspect your towing gear for any fatigue and possibly upgrade it. We all take it for granted. I did. Nothing like a $50 part taking out your $$$ Heep as well as ???? on the highway. Tom"
We received a phone call April 4th 2011 from a friend we hadn't seen in a few years, and the first thing out of his mouth was: "Joan, you know what you've always told me about NOT traveling alone?"
Me: "Burt, what have you done?"
Burt and his dog were on their way down Pass Canyon and had just maneuvered the first waterfall when bang - oh, oh! No steering. The track bar had snapped in two at a factory bend and Burt had no way to repair it. Burt had to climb up several steep hills where he was finally able to get cell reception and call his wife in Phoenix who called me with Burt on the other line - four of us on phones all at once (a conference call). Between Phil and Burt they figured out the problem and were able to pin-point his exact location.
We contacted Bill Hammond who had recently installed an on-board Premier Power Welder in his Jeep - think it was a Christmas present. We made arrangements to meet with Bill who "hi-jacked" Doug McKay and Wayne Evans as co-mechanics. We had explained to Burt that it might take us an hour and a half or more to reach him, which it did. When we arrived, there was the Jeep but no Burt. Finally his 'thrilled-to-see-us' tail wagging dog, Dutch, came running up so we knew Burt wasn't far behind. The guys had to work pretty hard to remove the track bar, then they cleaned it and got the powder coating off with the grinder Phil had brought along.
Finally! The time had come. The tension was high! Bill had not yet tried his on-board welder - would it work??? Oh, wow! Did it ever. It was incredible. With instruction manual in hand, Bill did a masterful job. Wayne sat in the driver's seat keeping up the RPMs so the battery would stay happy; Doug helped hold the pieces together during the actual welding - he had brought protective gear to wear - and Phil had brought along his helmet and did the spot weld; Bill finished up the welding and did a superb job. Bill was wildly ecstatic - happier than a boy in a toy shop with his new tool, and with darned good reason. What an awesome piece of equipment.
During this time, Burt had been busy protecting Dutch's eyes from the sparks and bright light. What an amazing end to a potentially serious problem. Burt and Dutch would have had a long hike out in the dark. Burt kept apologizing to us; but I think he finally realized that he had provided us with the opportunity to go out and do our very favorite thing - 'wheel' and help someone in need.
We all had a terrific time, another 4x4 adventure! The weather was glorious - it was close to sunset with a magnificent color display on our ever-beautiful Black Mountains.
We thank you, Burt!
REMEMBER THE #1 RULE - NEVER TRAVEL ALONE?
Report and photos by Joan Beck
The trucker behind us on I-80 near Truckee, CA, said he figured we were goners when the Jeep made the FIRST 360 at 55 MPH on the freeway with the Jeep trailer coming disconnected yet upright, held only by the safety chain. Then when he saw me steer out of that for the SECOND spin with the trailer headed sideways and still flopping on the chain, he knew we were going to be statistics. Yet we survived it; no one got hurt, and after a few repairs, we drove home the Jeep with the trailer. It's a story worth telling.
"Red" the Jeep stayed upright and we must have had the luck of the Big Four-Wheeler in the sky watching out for my driving. I'm still celebrating life even more today. But this story is also about the right gear; the right buildup on your rig; the right training; and the family we call four-wheelers, or better yet, off-road recreationists.
Stacie and I were returning from Sierra Trek by CA4WDC in freeway traffic on I-80 when we think the trailer ball bolt sheared off and let the trailer fly loose from our Jeep at freeway speed with a semi-truck behind us. Thankfully, the trucker was not tail-gating!
Stacie happened to notice the ball bouncing harmlessly off the freeway into the dirt lane right before I felt the trailer coming around to visit me in my driver's window. All hell broke loose after that.
The stink of rubber burning whiffed by my nose as the sound of metal crunching and banging together filled my ears. We could faintly hear brakes behind and alongside us locking up, but instantly the world started to rotate the wrong way and the only thing I could say was "hang on."
Stacie grabbed the passenger bar and leaned towards the middle as my hands bore down hard on the steering wheel, anticipating the drift and slip of the front tires as the Jeep got tossed by the weight of the speeding trailer. I've been through skid pan and safety clinic type off-road training, so I knew to stay with it; turn into the skid; and use the brakes carefully so as to not slam the trailer into the Jeep too hard thus canceling my steering efforts. Turning the Jeep in a drift towards the far right lane and dirt ditches alongside the freeway was my mission. Red was as stable as I could ever imagine, and I could feel the steering respond the way it should. But the weight of the flinging trailer and our freeway speed put us into the first 360 spin on pavement. Then we skidded into the dirt and began our second spin as gravel and dirt flung up from the BFGs, filling the cab with a dust ball that nearly stifled our breathing. Losing visibility I had to rely on feel and instinct to make the last couple turns, fighting the skid and still turning into the drift trying to keep Red upright, rubber side down. It worked!
Thank goodness the Jeep is built right! The MFS custom steering and PSC hydraulic assist is one-ton stuff with CTM U-joints and BFG KM2's clinging to the pavement. The Jeep's suspension is Rubicon Express long arm heavy duty stuff with RE shocks as well. Hanson bumpers provided a lot of rear end strength, in spite of the trailer dragging by the safety chain. And I'm convinced the Raceline Monster Beadlocks kept us from popping a tire off the bead during the pavement burning spin.
The Altop family of wheelers (Gerald Sr. and Jr. and Ron) was coming down the highway, returning from Trek and immediately pulled over to help get the trailer upright. They just happened to have a spare tow bar and proceeded to strip off my hitch bent parts and replaced them with their stuff. They even had a spare ball hitch but it was too small so we broke out the Premier Power Welder and they put a blob of weld inside the hitch to make it fit and voila we were on our way within about 45 minutes.
The Altop's (who are members of the Sacramento Jeepers of the CA4WDC even took the time to pull over with us at the next freeway exit to check if everything was working okay with the "trail fix" that they did. I gotta say that the off-road community is really a great network of people that go over and beyond the call of duty to help a friend or acquaintance in need. Thanks again to all that stopped to help and make sure that we were okay.
Here are the lessons that were ingrained in my brain from this event. I don't pass these along lightly.
MAINTENANCE AND CHECKING YOUR GEAR: Although I had tightened everything with a pipe wrench after coming off the dirt, that didn't prevent an old worn bolt from shearing off. I recommend you always double check gear and anything that can kill you like trailers, brakes, tires, steering parts. And did you know that trailer balls have torque specifications.
TRAINING AND DRIVING SKILLS: I've taken my fair share of driving training, including skid pan driving, as well as off-road Safety Clinics. I can recommend that you consider something like Badlands Off Road Adventures and 4WD Training and the safety clinics put on by state associations like the CA4WDC.
OFF-ROAD FAMILY: Never take it for granted how special off-roaders are to each other. We are a family and I've seen it over and over. This episode was a clear reminder of a lot of things, and makes a person think about things like luck, life, and yea, divine assistance as there were a lot of variables in this incident that could have changed a lot of lives. The tow ball bounced down the freeway, harmlessly landing off to the side rather than becoming a hand-grenade through someone's windshield; the trailer could have busted out into traffic; the Jeep could have flipped, rolled and bounced several times; and the trucker could have slammed into us sideways after we quit spinning; etc. But none of that happened. Whew...so cheers everyone! Here's to another day of being part of the off-road family.
THE JEEP THAT SAVED THE DAY AND OUR LIVES
By Del and Stacie Albright - August 27, 2010 - BlueRibbon Coalition Ambassador
MINE SHAFT HAZARDS
Report by Sue Haak, photos by Jessica Badgett
TEAMWORK SAVES THE DAY - December 2007 on an easy club pre-run.
Normally a report is not done on a pre-run, but this one was unusual and is of benefit for the rest of the club.Our run began like any other run. The first issue we had was being able to find the trail. We were working our way backwards on the Crazy 8 run when we followed a road up a canyon toward a mine. Unfortunately, we found it was a dead end and we needed to turn around. While the rest of us were turning around, Paull and passenger Court decided to follow the road up to the digging which was just a short distance. Shortly afterward, we could hear Court on the CB saying that they had found the mine shaft and that they were in trouble. We turned around immediately and could only see the back of Paull's Jeep pointing up on top of a ridge. Doug made a beeline to the top, followed quickly by Dan, to find Paull's Jeep in a nosedive, barely balancing on the edge of the mineshaft. The right front tire was turned sideways against the front wall and the right rock slider prevented him from going completely over. Only by inches!
The shaft was big enough for a vehicle to fall in without touching the sides and was about 60 feet deep. Doug instantly assessed the situation, hopped out of his Jeep and immediately ran the winch-line out to secure the back of Paull's Jeep. We then proceeded to inch him back out. It appeared for a time that he might tip as the Jeep broke free of the shaft.
With some good reverse driving by Paull, he was able to keep the Jeep upright. The front tires though, were not pointing in the same direction. He had broken a tie rod. The guys (Paull, Court, Gavin, Doug and Dan) worked together to fix the problem and got the Jeep back on the road. We were all able to continue down the trail and get Paull on his way back home.
Among the safety issues: It showed how important it is not to leave your group even for a few seconds. This accident happened within a couple of minutes. Had we been farther down the trail, we may not have heard the call for help. This run showed how dangerous the open mine shafts are that dot our hills. We all felt afterward, that Dan could have hooked onto Doug's Jeep with a strap acting as an anchor. Doug's Jeep slid all four wheels about 1 1/2 feet while winching Paull's Jeep. If Paull's Jeep had slid further in, we may not have been able to hold him. We are very grateful for the happy ending. The rest of the run went well. This is an area that we would like to revisit someday because of all the past mining activity. The day was finished at Vito's (a local restaurant). Sue
The above is one of many reasons we NEVER travel alone when out exploring our beautiful desert and historic sights.
A report with GPS coordinates procured by Doug Haak, was E-mailed to Len Marceau, Kingman BLM that evening. The response from Len was immediate! We heard from Diane Williams, Havasu BLM, and Paul Misiaszek, BLM Geologist, that it would be fenced the next day - weather permitting, but, Mother Nature botched up the plans and instead, provided our parched desert with buckets of rain. We're happy to report that the fencing and warning signs were installed within a week as soon as it was dry enough. Looks great and is very reassuring. Keep sending the mine shaft and GPS coordinates to Len. Your help may save a life!!! BLM is working on the fencing and signage of all abandoned mine shafts close to existing roads and trails in Mohave County.
We've all read many articles warning of certain hazards when traveling on our public lands. Our club has been particularly aware of open mine shafts since, on every excursion, we encounter them close to or near our routes of travel. For several years, we have been working with our local BLM offices by GPSing these sites and getting word to BLM so they can check them out and add warning signs in addition to fencing off the shafts. [Ed]