Getting There AND Getting Back


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I'm sure most of you have had some problems with your vehicle at one time or another and have considered yourself lucky to have gotten back from a remote location without having to walk out and call a tow truck. I would also guess that many of you have driven to places where a tow truck couldn't make it to and I'll bet some of you weren't so lucky.

Being able to make emergency repairs in less than ideal conditions can make the difference between walking and driving out. I carry tools, a tire plug kit and a compressor and always make sure my spare tire is in good shape before I head off to prospect and I'm still adding things as I learn more about my Samurai. One good thing about a Samurai is they are simple, straight forward and fairly easy to work on. Another good thing is the izook.com forum. With all the trail riders and rock crawlers driving Samurais and participating in that forum, one can find detailed information about anything that can possibly go wrong, with a Samurai and how to fix it.

One thing I hadn't been carying in my Samurai is a U joint. A few days ago I drove up to the Blackbird Mine in the Eugene Mountains. The road was decent but it was a long uphill climb and on the way up I noticed a strange vibration which seemed to be coming from the rear end. I couldn't stop because it was too steep and the road was too narrow to turn around so I kept going until I found a place that was level. I took a look under the Samurai and couldn't see a problem so I continued on up to the mine where I was able to turn around.

I was cautious as I drove home and took another look at the rear end and the U joints. They all seemed to be OK. The next day I had to go to the post office and as I pulled into the parking lot the noise came up again but this time it was apparent that it was coming from the front end of the drive train. I took a look and sure enough the front U joint was disintigrating. I limped the Samurai back to the RV and located a U joint at the closest NAPA store which was about 25 miles away. I also checked the izook forum and found that many of the trail riders a carry U joints with them.

I didn't dare drive the Samurai any further so yesterday I drove the RV to get not one but 2 U joints. I replaced the bad one and I now have a spare. I'll admit, I was very lucky that this U joint lasted until it did. Had it failed on my trip to the Blackbird Mine I would have had a long walk, an expensive tow bill and could have damaged more than just the U joint.

Some of our fellow beepers have had little, if any experience in desert travel. I'm sure that the kind folks in this forum will add a few things to this list but I strongly suggest anyone going out in the desert to metal detect bring along at least:

1. Plenty of water

2. A spare tire

3. A jack

4. A couple short pieces of 2 x 4 or 2 x 6

5. A tool box with tools (Throw in some electrical tape, duc tape, glue and wire)

6. A shovel

7. Appropriate clothing (think hot AND cold)

8. A cell phone

9. A first aid kit

10, Their beeper, headphones, etc.

11. A pick

12. A plastic scoop

13. A heavy magnet

14. A GOOD map

15. A compass

16. Jumper cables

17. A GPS unit

18. A sharp knife

19. A tarp

20. A chain or a tow strap

21. Matches or a butane cigarette lighter

22. Extra gas

* If you have a flat tire and do not have a plug kit and a compressor, put on the spare and go straight home or straight to the tire store. Murphy's Law #16 is: Flat tires tend to come in 2's.

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Good ideas. I learned the hard way on a u joint once and it ruined a week long vacation trip. When the u joint finally gives out completely, then the driveshaft gets messed up too. You gotta keep them wet with grease. Some u joints don't have any grease fittings. Best to toss them right away, or after some light use, and then replace them with ones that do have grease fittings. Whenever you are under the vehicle to look at it, just moving the driveshaft to see and feel the play in the u joints can sometimes find trouble before it starts. Really steep angles of incidence into the transfer case also cause trouble. I bet you will never have u joint trouble again now that you know.

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You mentioned to carry a jack. I would recommend a good high lift floor jack. They can work in places most typical jacks that come with vehicles won't work.

A perfect example is when Rob and I went to the top of Rich Hill several years back, I took my expedition and Rob took his truck. Now, anyone who has driven to the top should remember the steep, sharp switchbacks just before you get to the top. They are a challenge when all goes well.

If you have never seen them, think of 3 very steep narrow switchbacks on the side of a very steep mountain. In a few places, you can't see the road directly in front of you but you do have a nice view of the sky, so you just navigate watching out the side window to know when to turn.

On the way back down, on the first switchback, I think, I cut a sidewall of a tire of my right front tire. In a second or so, that part of the car was sitting on the frame. So, if you can picture a full size Expedition nose down on a very steep hill, you can get a picture of what kind of a problem I had. Without the floor jack and some help from Rob and another guy that was with us, I managed to block the vehicle, raise the right front enough to dig out enough dirt and rock that I could change the tire.

It took quite a while but I got it done. I wouldn't have been able to do that without that floor jack, a small shovel and a couple of other tools, including my digging tool.

One thing for sure, It doubt any business would have made an attempt to assist with the change. First of all, as those of you who have been up that road know, it is just wide enough for one vehicle and once you start on the switchbacks, there is no place to turn around. So, the only solution was to change the tire where the vehicle sat.

The spare tire I put on was a little low, so I did have to add air. I did have a small air compressor with me.

Reg

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A lot of great ideas. A few more. When you change the fan belts on your engine, save the old ones to take with you. Radiator hoses also. Take some aluma-seal, not sure if I spelled it right , but it's one of the best fixes if your radiator springs a leak. I have a 90 Blazer that I take off road. It has a TBI motor in it. Any of the Chevy's with the TBI motor also have the fuel pump in the tank. They are known to go out from time to time. If your pump dies, a few hard wacks on the bottom of the gas tank will sometimes get them to work long enough to get you home. A long coil of winch wire, looped at each end is also a great addition to a tow strap. It allows someone more distance if needed to pull you out or for you to pull someone out.I've got a few more tips but it's time for me to go to work.

P.S. I'm new to the forum and fairly new to prospecting, but I love both.

John K

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Alrighty then, keep 'em coming. I DRILLED a hole in my motorhome's radiator by accident this spring and used JB Weld to repair it. A good mechanic recommended it. As far as I can see it is good as new and I have plenty left over if I need it again. There are 2 kinds of JB Weld, fast drying and slow drying. I used the slow drying stuff cuz I wasn't in a hurry. It is available at most auto part stores.

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Quite some time back I was hunting near Meadview and was having fun finding a lot of small nuggets. One problem was one of the roads ran on top of one of the low ridges and it was extremely rocky. Well, not once but twice I punched holes in one of my tires. Now, I am not sure if it was rock or a nail that was not obvious on the road.

Naturally, both flats occurred on the same weekend so I had to come up with a fix myself. The first time I was able to easily able to put a plug into the hole to close it as a temporary fix. (I always carry a tire patch kit and an air compressor). However, on the second time, I couldn't see the hole and my little compressor wouldn't push enough air that made the hole obvious. So, I moved the vehicle just a little and tried filling the tire again. I did this a couple of times and it worked. I managed to get the hole down so the ground helped block the escape of the air. This allowed the tire to fill enough that I could find the hole. I plugged it also and both held until the next day when I could get the tire fixed at a shop.

BTW, the problems occurred on the same tire, so I deliberately changed my route in to reduce the chances of it happening again.

Someone might ask why I didn't simply change the tire and use my spare. Well, the first time I just thought it was a fluke, but the second time told me that there was something out there that could easily ruin a tire. Since I only had about half the tread left on my tires on the vehicle and a new spare, I figured I would finish off an old tire before ruining a new one. At the time, it seemed logical to me.

Reg

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Other things to think about are things that commonly go wrong on the particular vehicle that you own. With my 1500 Blazer, the electronic modules in the distributor go bad from time to time, so I carry one of those with me. If you have headers and burn a spark plug wire, you vehicle will run like crap. Take an old spark plug wire, the longest that you have and throw it in the box also. An old distributor cap and rotor are good to have also. a 5 watt solar panel can be used to trickle charge a low battery as well as charge a smaller battery that you use on a high banker. The most important thing is to check you vehicle before you leave. This means looking at everything under the hood and climbing under it to check for leaks from your transmisson and transfer case, check all fluid levels. Carry the tools that you will need to repair most break downs and the specialized tools also. As was stated earlier JB Weld, 100mph tape and bailing wire come in handy also. A cheap volt meter, fuses, wire and wire crimps with tool are also handy. You can get to the point where you get anal about it, but it doesn't take too much to put a kit with all the goodies in the back before you leave. If your battery is older, many of the chain auto part store will load test it for free. If it's not up to snuff, buy a new one. Lots of water, a way to stay warm or cool and some food round out the list. A come-a-long is not near as good as a winch, but has helped get me un stuck before. I used to do a lot of off roading in snow and mud in Idaho. I've been stuck a few times and have broken down also. I've always made it back because of the spares I carry. Extra oil, ATF, power steering fluid and brake fluid come in handy also. I've broken a rear brake line. Crimped it real good , added fluid and had brakes to get home. It's the little things that will get you.

May all your trips end with lots of color and a safe trip home, John K

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Hello Guys,

This is a great thread. I've had my breakdowns over the years in the Goldfields. The last time I was out deep in the Bradshaw Mountains with a friend. It was during the hottest Summer month and we were heading back to the truck after a short hunt. We jumped into my 2000 GMC 4x4 and headed down the dirt road. We both spotted an interesting side gulch, and decided to jump out and examine it for a few minutes. I shut the truck down, we took a short walk and decided we would hit it another time. Jumped back into the truck and the battery was dead! Just that quick, the vehicle was running and now the battery was dead.

I tried the cell phone, but there was no service, even using Verizon Wireless. :( I dug through all my stuff, and found an old battery jump box that I stored away. However, I was worried it would even work, since I knew it hasn't been charged in many months. We hooked the box up, and started the truck. The first time it done nothing, and the charge light was now "Yellow," meaning I have one more try. I waited a few minutes and tried it again, ZooM ... the truck started! :D

Without that cheap "Jump Box" I picked up about a year prior, we both would have been walking out of there with very little water and food. I just planned on a short hunt, but it lead to a dead battery and we didn't plan on a breakdown.

Just goes to show how fast something can change out there.

Will post more later,

Rob Allison

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Great example Rob. It's those short trips, that turn into longer one's that get you in trouble. If you are like me the short trips always last longer or go further than planned.

One other thing for the first aid kit is the Blood Clotting stuff that is available now. It's the same stuff the military is using to stop severe bleeding from gunshot and other bad wounds. You pore it into the wound and it stops most bleeding if not all. It's available from www.Galls.com for about $13.00 a package. Not cheap, but could save someone from bleeding to death before getting them to a hospital.

John K

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For 4X4 vehicles, make sure your spare is the same exact thing as the others, especially with limited slip differentials! Especially once you get back to pavement, you will wreck expensive things in short order with one tiny tire.

Many of the jumpstarters on the market now have a compressor too, but shop carefully as the cheaper ones barely function either way. Cheap no-name compressors are good for less than one tire sometimes; I've picked up Coleman compressors for under $10 at the close-out store with good results.

You might want to consider a dual battery setup, with one battery isolated and only for the engine and starter. AGM and gel-cell batteries, while expensive, are more durable for vibrating off-road use they say.

Gas is an issue, but carrying extra brings potential dangers. Don't carry it inside the vehicle. Leave room for expansion. Consider having a larger or auxiliary tank or (if you want to be real fancy) fuel cell if you go deep into the outback. I remember a vacation in Death Valley where I spent way longer than expected in the back country, only to find each gas station closed about 10 minutes prior to my arrival on a Sunday evening. Ended up running out of gas at the 4000-foot level, cresting 4196-foot Emigrant pass, and coasting down the windy 8% grade at night passing someone on the way down, and barely getting it started to sputter the last mile to an open gas station.... luck like that doesn't come often!

Collapsible shovel and a 2X6 bridge or two has gotten me rolling again in the deep wash sand. (Mind you, I often drive pegleg Volvos in places where jeeps fear to go.) Also, a Harbor Freight Special aluminum 'racing" floorjack is damn nice when you have to keep using it over and over getting unstuck; just don't expect it to handle lateral or heavy loads.

JB weld, extra fluids (make some expansion room in the container, and burp some air out so it won't pressurize as you gain altitude, also keep the fluids together in a bucket with something absorbent in the bottom... sucks to have a loose bottle of oil or can of fix-a-flat start leaking and soiling all your gears and supplies...yuck!) tire plug kit, signal mirror and/or flares (I picked up some keen red LED flashlights too) lighter and kindling, extra rags and a tube of waterless hand cleaner (citrus based if possible), and that one emergency item, some T.P.! Aside from more drinking water than you expect to need, one of those 2.5 gallon containers is a permanent companion; no sense using all your pricey drinking water in the radiator if it comes to that, also good for washing after non-radiator incidents.

These are all great suggestions folks; we should only need a 20', 3500# trailer to bring it all for these short trips, right? :lol:

-Goldmember

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I never leave without several cans of snot (flat fixer). I also use the Mexican trick of taping up the wheelbarrow wheels with duct tape to keep the punctures low, and have down this on my minibike, off road dirtbike and quad as well. looks like crap but works out pretty good. You can get duct tape in colors too, except for the NASA brand kind, which only comes in silver.

As for the farm jack, with the newest trucks, the bumpers are all messed up, and a jack point is tough. I bought a little adapter that allows the jack to hook onto a bracket, from which dangles two chains with hooks. the hooks hook into the eyes of the wheels. The jack doesn't have to be raised as much, making it safer. But the problem of changing a flat means that a stand has to be used, while letting the jack down so that the tire can be changed and the lugs bolts loosened and re-tightened. PIA for sure, but a farm jack is still the only way to go. There are other challenges related to viable pivot and lift points, but I haven't had to deal with that yet.

I also lug around a few pieces of rolled up expanded metal (10 feet long) that helps loads in sand, snow, ice, or low traction rock surfaces. doesn't cost a fortune and can get everything moving forward, if only 10 to 20 feet at a time

5-gallon buckets make a great farm jack base in loose sand or mud, and the bucket will push down into the quagmire. depending on conditions, you then have the option of filling the bucket with dirt and leaving it in place, or pulliong it out of place and throwing a rock into the hole to start all over again. besides, the buckets are cheap, and used for other duties in drywashing or relic hunting; or, if you are really in a good nugget spot, will have something into which you could place all of your treasure...

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fuel relay switch. in a Ford, it's two, and you have to figure out where they go before you get into the sticks.

Electronic gadgets and switches on a modern truck. sometime it would be good to have an old beater with a carburator and points. I remember losing a fuel pump once, and had a gallon can rigged up to drip gasoline into the carburator. it got me home.

Like some other poster said. you almost need a bigger trailer than the truck just to haul all the crap around that you may need in a emergency. That and a Mastercard, because cellphone roaming won't take a VISA. I found that out when my ford broke down (line 1), and I had a nice 24 mile walk from my broken truck to the nearest roadway. toll free calls aren't, when you are on roaming.

I think a guy has to keep the list simple enough. including a few MRE's full meals, 5 gallons of water, and other goods that only you could figure out. once there, don't dwell on the risks, just say your prayers and hope for the best. and have what you need for the 20 mile or so walk to help...

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Morning All: There's one problem for which I know of no emergency fix and that is when the Computer in your vehicle stops working. Had it happen on my Geo Tracker and the lil car would not start no matter what I did...later on found out it was a dead computer.

Any known emergency repairs/cures for this problem????? It's be nice to know if anything can be done to get the engine running and get out of the boonies.

Don

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Morning All: There's one problem for which I know of no emergency fix and that is when the Computer in your vehicle stops working. Had it happen on my Geo Tracker and the lil car would not start no matter what I did...later on found out it was a dead computer.

Any known emergency repairs/cures for this problem????? It's be nice to know if anything can be done to get the engine running and get out of the boonies.

Don

Don, go to a wrecking yard and get one that is good, and carry it in the vehicle. Thats the only fix!!!

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On the chevy with the TBI injection motors, the ignition module that goes in the distributor goes out from time to time. They are about $30. It's good to carry a spare. Can be changed with nothing more than a phillips head screwdriver. I also carry one of those GRMS or what every they are called radios. You guys know what I'm talking about, those little radios that you can change frequencies on that are hand held. A lot of people use them when they are out in the field. If your cell won't work, you can change the channels around until you hear someone talking and try to get some help from them. It's just one more possibility of getting help if you need it.

Good hunting, John K

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Hello All,

I agree with all you guys. I finally purchased a large plastic tote and placed all my gear in there. Hopefully I have all the important stuff that I need.

Another good rule of thumb is to bring a friend along or at least let someone know "where to look" if you don't return home on time.

Take care,

Rob Allison

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