Shortly after Shore Patrol, Alex, one of Dale and Don's friend, was trying to get rid of a jeep project that he never got around to. A lot of the parts he had were interchangeable with my jeep and I thought about buying him out but I really didn't have any place to store the stuff and I needed to try and control my jeep spending a little. I ended up going half and half with Don who needed an engine for his Dodge truck project. With the parts were some Armstrong bias ply tires on 10" chrome rims. They amounted to about 32x11.5 tires and had better mud tread than my AT tires. I ended up using these tires at an Evans Creek poker run. This run was probably my most disastrous trip yet.
Well, I guess it was more than one days worth of troubles but it all started early last week. I bought a bunch of jeep parts with a friend (Don Graham) and with these parts were some 11x15 bias ply Armstrong tires on 10" chrome/rust wheels. They were a couple inches taller and wider than my 31x10.5's and looked a lot gnarlier on my jeep. We were all going on a poker run at Evan's creek ORV area near Mt. Rainier on Saturday and I was anxious to try the new tires out.
Before the weekend even came I found that one of the new rims was bent. OK, no big deal, I just had it straightened and I was back in business. Later the next day that same tire went flat because I ran over a nail (these tires have tubes which I am beginning to hate). I got that patched and was back in business once again.
On Saturday morning Don, Dale and John meet me at my house and we headed out to Evan's creek. We stopped off at Issaquah to pick up my friend Dana who was riding with me. When we got to Dana's I noticed my right front tire was leaking air fast. Before I could do anything it was dead flat. We popped on the spare and drove to the local Big O down the street where they put in a new tube. So after a short delay we were back on the road again.
A few miles before Evan's creek that same front tire went flat again! OK, fine, I hate these tires, time to sell these pieces of shit.
After putting the spare back on we continued on, registered at the ORV area, aired down and started real four wheeling. The first part of the day went OK for me at least. We had a few backups on the trail because someone broke an axle and couldn't get out of the way and because some yahoo's in Toyota pickups were trying to squeeze through these tight jeep trails and were holding everyone up.
Towards the end of the run we started onto the more/most difficult trail. It started with a long hill that I was just eating up, no problems. Then suddenly my jeep started stalling, coughing, etc. like it was running out of gas. I switched tanks to no avail and then noticed smoke coming out from my instruments. With my heart pounding I turned off the jeep, Dana popped open the battery box right in front of him (windshield was down) and saw the small main power wire melted and shorting out on the body. Panic...I jumped around and grabbed the fire extinguisher as everyone else who was behind me came running up the hill. We grabbed a 1/2" wrench and disconnected the battery which stopped the chaos.
After unstrapping the windshield and opening the hood we found that the radiator overflow reservoir which was attached to the fender had come loose, fell on the exhaust manifold and dragged a bunch of wires with it and melted them from the battery all the way to the ammeter. After about a half hour of emergency field rewiring we got things functioning again. My right blinker was on continuously even with the key off and to start I had to touch a wire to the battery but I was able to continue through with no other problems.
On the way back home to Seattle someone came up next to me and told me that my right rear tire was wobbling. Turns out I bent either the axle (probably not) or the hub. Luckily I have another hub with the parts I bought so it should not be that hard to fix along with rewiring the whole jeep (3rd time). That is next weekends project...
The first thing I did when I got home was put back on my old AT tires and toss the other bad luck tires around behind the house to sell to some other poor unsuspecting sole.
It turned out that I bent that new axle. Don was driving behind me the whole day and has no idea how I bent it. I am a pretty mellow driver since I am always afraid of breaking something. I broke down and bought a new axle from Mr. Jeep (Olympic 4x4) in Snohomish for $110 because I didn't trust the metal in Surplus City's axle. I almost considered going to full floating axles but the $500 price tag on that venture scared me away. I used Don's barn to put things back together a few weekends after the Evans Creek disaster.
Next: Slick Hill