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Proper Storage Maximizes Space, Minimizes Down Time

Outstanding Camp Site!
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Got a new vehicle - or new to you? After you put the lift on, bigger tires and rock sliders, you still have a major task ahead of you. How do you get all that stuff you want to take in the vehicle? Sure you can just make a big pile. The trick is how to organize it so it can be retrieved quickly (read that – move as little other stuff out of the way to put your hands on the item you want). And how can you store it safely and securely. Hit a big rock or flop your vehicle on the side, you want most (actually all!) of you gear to stay put.
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Avoid "Trail Prices" - Take Spare Parts

Avoid "Trail Prices" - Take Spare Parts

Need to figure out what is wrong!
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In last month’s article, Proper Storage Maximizes Space, Minimizes Down Time, we reviewed various storage methods and explained why it’s important to be neat and compact. This article goes into more detail about what you should carry.

Normally we think of in terms of basic supplies. Here we’re focusing on spare parts. Bear in mind that the farther you are from civilization, the more troublesome a breakdown can be.

Remember this important axiom of four wheeling from last month’s article:

The more difficult and more remote the trip, the more stuff you need to take.

For a day trip to the local mountains, you may only need to throw in a cooler and a warm jacket. Your buddy can run into town and bring back tools and parts. For a longer camping trip or a difficult trip like the Rubicon, you need a lot of gear and in particular spare parts.

You may wonder, what are "trail prices"? The term refers to the extra price you pay to compensate for a critical part you didn't bring along. One example is the part you had to buy from a buddy. You might pay 3 times what it cost at the auto parts store. Another example is the time needed to acquire or fabricate a part.In essence, any cost that allows you to drive off the trail under your own power.

Here are the top three areas to focus on :

Tires Drive train Electronics Tires top the list because of all the abuse and stress they take. Of course, your vehicle comes with a spare tire. Is it in good shape and inflated to proper level? Do you have a tire repair kit? Many tire problems experienced off road can be repaired on the spot, so it’s good to review tire repair procedures. See: Tire problems shouldn’t deflate your day
Stuck 3 day on Rubicon. Had to go to town for parts.
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The drive train also takes a lot of abuse. Tie rods and drag links are particularly susceptible. They hang down in front of the vehicle and are susceptible to being hit and bent, even broken. Consider buying heavy duty replacement parts. They are pricey and available only from a dealer, but you’re stuck without functioning parts. Axles, u-joints and drive shafts are at risk as well. A set of U-joints are small, easy to pack and good insurance. See Expedient Field Repair - U Joints
A complete set of front axles (inner & outer for both left and right) is a good investment if you are doing extreme and remote trails like the Rubicon.

The electronic system in today's vehicle has components and sensors for which there is no work around. The worry here is that a critical part will go out leaving you stranded. Without a spare sensor the vehicle's brain will not function. On the list of critical parts with no work around are your coil/ coil pack, fuel pump, MAP sensor, crank sensor and the starter (on automatic transmissions). Spark plugs and spark plug wires (on older vehicles) bear watching, too. Replace the set of wires if any are cracked. When you replace the wires, save the longer ones and pack them with your spare gear. If you ever need a spark plug wire while off road, you’ll have a spare.

Regular inspection, while important, won’t catch all the parts that are ready to go. Sensors are perfect examples. There’s no way to tell in advance when a sensor will fail. If your vehicle has a lot of miles on it, I encourage you to replace the sensors mentioned above, and keep the old one to bring as a spare.

Upgrade vs. Stock

One big decision 4WD owners need to make after buying a vehicle is whether (and to what extent) to upgrade their vehicle. Should they swap in a heavy duty tie rod with beefier tie rod ends, for example, or leave the vehicle in stock condition? Understand that upgrading adds cost and, in the case of heavy duty tie rods, new tie rod ends might be available for purchase only from the manufacturer. Damage one on the Rubicon and you will be waiting on the Greyhound bus to deliver a part (and that is just into the closest town, not out on the trail).

There are good reasons to go either way. My suggestion is that if you decide to upgrade, keep the stock parts in your vehicle. You may discover while on the trail it is easier to convert back to stock parts than to repair.

Final route: fabricate, fix

Even with a comprehensive set of spare parts, you may find that you need to fabricate or fix a certain part. Consequently, I suggest you buy and pack some additional general purpose gear. Useful spares include fuses, hoses, sealants, hose clamps, baling wire, electric wire, chain, duct tape, zip ties, ratchet straps, and the ability to weld. Install a Premier Welder under the hood. Now you’ve got a welder at your disposal, but it doesn’t take up valuable space inside your vehicle.
Broken track bar
Many four wheelers have fixed a bent tie rod using the handle from a Hi-lift to reinforce the tie rod. A few track bars were fixed (just to get home) by welding two big wrenches across the broken section. A cracked axle tube was held together with chain wrapped around the lower control arms and then using the winch to take the slack out of the chain. A broken rear control arm bracket was held together with a number of ratchet straps until pavement was reached.

A mechanic’s tool set is always valuable. You don’t need a full, 200-piece set, however. Select the top tools, and store in soft-sided containers (pouches or military packs). Those will tuck nicely into nearly any spare space or crevice.

Final thoughts

Taking a friend on the trail with a similar vehicle doubles your spare parts. While it will not help get you off the trail, AAA's 200-mile tow plan will get your vehicle home where it is easier to work on it. And in the worst case turn the hubs to free-wheeling and drop the rear drive shaft. Yep, turn your vehicle into a trailer.

Packing spare parts may seem like a daunting task. There’s no way to know in advance which, if any parts, will crap out on you. And, you have a limited amount of space to work with.

Driving off road for decades has given me some invaluable insight; following the suggestions above will help ensure any breakdown you experience has a minimal effect on your trip.

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Original author: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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Top 10 Fears of New 4WD Owners

Stuck Forever Results of Stuck forever.
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Driving off road presents a host of challenges for any driver. Four wheeling can be especially intimidating for new drivers. Those initial concerns are understandable. It takes off-road experience to build skillset and confidence.

If you’ve considered going off road but are reluctant to do so, relax. The following information should convince you take up the hobby. While you are reading this remember: in town, you can be in a pile-up as the result of other driver’s errors and actions. Off-road in almost every instance the driver made the decision and judgment that lead to his predicament.

After years of talking with new 4-wheel drive owners, here is my perception of the Top 10 Fears of newer drivers, and what to do about them.
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Sierra,Sequoia, Inyo NF's Extend Wilderness Evaluation Comment Deadline to Sept. 24 at Noon

Don Amador Near Bass Lake on the Sierra NF

The Recreation HQ wants to alert motorized recreationists who value OHV recreation on the Inyo, Sierra, and Sequoia National Forests about the Forest Service extending the public comment period
For the Wilderness Evaluation until 12:00 pm (noon) on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.

Here is text from the FS update:

Due to agency internal technical errors, our database for accepting wilderness evaluation comments (Talking Points) shut down prematurely on Monday, September 22 at midnight (12:00am instead of 8:00am).

The Forest Service is re-activating the Talking Points website to extend the wilderness evaluation comment period until 12:00pm (noon) on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.

Link to FS update:

Link to Wilderness Evaluation Webpage

BRC Comments on Wilderness Evaluation

HQ reminds riders that there are many high quality OHV opportunities in all three of these National Forests.   It is vital that you send in comments and attend public meetings.  The public comments for the Forest Plan Revision process are due on Sept. 29.

OHV Bridge Installed to Protect Water Quality
Sierra NF

BRC Alert on Forest Plan Revision Process

Update on those meetings

I/BRC attended the Early Adopter Forest’s public meeting last week in Fresno, CA,  regarding  the Forest Plan Revision process for the Sierra, Inyo, and Sequoia National Forests (early adopter forests) might impact fire related vegetative treatments, provide sustainable wood products for local timber or biomass businesses, and enhance recreational opportunity.

However, the lack of detail on the maps at the various stations made it hard for stakeholders to identify historic motorized and non-motorized areas and routes.  It was also confusing since the agency appeared to have a two tiered route/area analysis where they tried to clearly identify destination/developed OHV recreation areas but did not seem to focus as much detail on, or inclusion of, several important high elevation backcountry and alpine-type routes and areas.

 Although the agency has improved the “recreation” narrative, it appears that more attention should be given to development of a more substantive “recreation strategy” in the planning process.

We talked with agency staff at the “Fire” station about how the Forest Service should protect and mitigate engineered system trail infrastructure during any pre or post-fire treatments or in forest health vegetative projects.  Those projects should be reviewed as to how they might potentially impact motorized use on designated roads, trails, and areas.

I remains concerned that the Early Adopter Forest’s proposed action’s plan will apparently create “quiet recreation” expectations on all landscapes including both motorized (non-quiet) and non-motorized land classifications could be problematic on a number of fronts. Those impacts include obliteration of the trail or removal of water control structures such as rolling dips and catch basins.  Those soil erosion measures can often cost $15,000 to $20,000/mile to install (or replace).  Other sections such as at-risk species, water quality, and ecosystems have the same recreation mitigation deficiencies.

What may be of equal importance to the information gleaned at the public meeting is the visible presence of OHV leadership at the event.  That commitment was noted and appreciated by agency staff.  At the Fresno meeting, BRC was joined by representatives from AMA, AMA District 36, and CAL4WD.

If you value access to public lands, please take some time and review these plans and show that you have a vested interest in recreation by attending a meeting and sending in a comment letter.


Original author: Don Amador

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OHV Volunteer Workday at Stonyford - Let's Get Ready to Ride!

The Recreation HQ looks forward to working with OHV volunteers at the Sept. 20 volunteer workday at the Stonyford OHV Area.

The FS OHV program manager sends this invitation to interested parties.  Let’s have a great turnout in preparation for the 2014-2015 riding season on the Mendocino. 

Please RSVP to Sarah at:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Volunteers and certified Chainsaw Operators, we need your help at our next volunteer event on Sept 20th.  We will be checking trails, removing hazards & repairing trail braiding for this year’s Enduro season.  We will meet at the Fouts maintenance yard at 10am. 9/20/2014

Plan on being out on the trails all day returning around 3pm.

What to Bring:
•             Bikes, side x sides, ATV’s, 4x4, etc.
•             Certified saw operators can bring their chainsaws and safety gear

Don’t forget your 15 Essentials for trail riding;
•             Multi tool(s)
•             Backpack w/hydration systems (water)
•             food (Lunch)
•             Tow rope or tie down
•             tire repair kit
•             First Aid Kit
•             Matches or a lighter
•             Map (will be provided)
•             cell phone
•             camera (go pro)
•             zip ties
•             tape
•             sun screen,
•             hand saw
•             safety gear (gloves, helmet, goggles, boots, chaps, hard hats, ear protection, etc..) if you do not have safety gear we should be able to accommodate you. 

Hope to see you here!!

Thank you,
Sarah Ridenour-Chamberlin
Off Highway Vehicle Program Manager
Mendocino National Forest
Grindstone Ranger District
5171 Stonyford-Elk Creek Rd
Stonyford, CA 95979
Office (530) 963-1327
Cell (408) 449-2171

The HQ wants to thank all of the volunteers who continue to help with the post-Mill Fire trail rehab.

Original author: Don Amador

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