Broken axle means time to upgrade!

Here’s a story of the details of what happened on the run to check the Long Lake Trail last week.

On the way out, I heard a strange sound coming from the front driver’s side tire. Before attempting the lower hairpin on Cadillac Hill, I stopped to check it out.

It was pretty easy to find where the noise was coming from. This was taken at the staging area. When I first checked it, there was no scrapes on the yoke. It appears that the ears of the outer shaft broke first, as the u-joint is undamaged but missing both caps.

We figured it was easiest to just leave it as it was and just drive out. Luckily, with a Rubicon model TJ, I still had three-wheel drive with both lockers engaged.

As the broken ‘ears’ were slowly bent out, contact was made with the knuckle. Fortunately, the axles I was going to put in required just such an extra clearance.

Enter RCV axles! If you’re going to upgrade, go all the way.

The driver’s side inner axle had been ‘hammered’ into the axle housing. It took a few hits with a big hammer to free the axle. The proper move might have been to remove the outer shaft as soon as possible.

A 4 1/2″ angle grinder was used to clearance the knuckle for the boot of the new axle. They were then cleaned and painted.

The new axles in place. Very distinguishable with the bright orange boot. This is a fully seated boot on. Easier said than done.

The manufacturer provided a sleeve to hold the boot as you slide the axle through it. But seating it properly was a pain; theirs is on the left side below with the hood. That was for before you installed the brake shield and unit bearing.

I built the one on the right to use after the unit bearing had been installed.

With a pair of pry bars, I was able to fully seat the boot. Or so I thought. I actually had to use the manufacturer’s piece and mine together to fully seat the boot. I’ll be making a thicker unit to carry with me in case I need to reseat the boot on the trail.

If you’re doing an RCV axle installation, make sure the boot is on far enough to see the edge of the boot seat surface.

As if a broken ear on the trail at the base of Cadillac Hill wasn’t enough, when I took apart the passenger’s side, I discovered that I had thrown a u-joint cap but the joint hadn’t come apart yet.

My axle was not the only issue. A fellow traveler lost all of his power steering fluid due to a fitting coming loose. That was an easy fix: tighten and refill. Between the six rigs we had what we needed.

I will admit that I had not loaded all of my trail boxes for this trip. I loaded more for clearing trees from the Long Lake Trail and possibly spending the night than I did for repairing a broken rig. The lesson is to bring everything you can on every trip.


Rubicon Ronin

Rubicon Trail Conditions – May 20, 2022

In short, the trail is still very wet. Lots of snow along the Tahoe National Forest from Miller Lake out to what I call Potato Patch.

Six rigs went in from the Tahoe side Friday morning at 10:30. It was a late start but we are all retired so who cares about time. At the bottom of Cadillac Hill we turned on to the Long Lake Trail to check conditions. We didn’t get back to the staging area until 7pm.

The usual tourist shot before we went down Cadillac.

Once on the Long Lake Trail, we found minimal trees down along the trail. But we did clear off most of them.

I would suggest staying off the trail until the big snow melt slows down. If you do go, please tread lightly on the wet trail.


Rubicon Ronin

Closure dates changed, not communicated

Due to the weather over the Sierra these past few days, El Dorado County has pushed back plans to use a helicopter to fly in material to be used to maintain the Rubicon Trail. The new closure dates are May 11th through May 15th. That includes the upcoming weekend of the 14th and 15th.

A photo from a previous helicopter delivery to the Rubicon Trail:

From the El Dorado County “Parks” page:

Rubicon update: Due to the upcoming weather on Sunday and Monday the maintenance project has been pushed to May 11th.  Unfortunately we will need to close the Rubicon Trail through the weekend. The trail will be closed May 11th -May 15th.  We are sorry for the inconvenience, and are working diligently to get this project done before Memorial Day Weekend. Thank you for your cooperation.

Here’s my problem with this change, it was not properly communicated down to the actual users that need to know this information.

El Dorado County has a Rubicon Trail page on their website. At the time of this writing, that page has absolutely no information on the change of the closure dates. In order for the users to find the closure information, users must go to the ‘Parks’ page of El Dorado County, as quoted above.

For the record, it is also not posted on the website of the one Rubicon Trail specific advocacy group, the Rubicon Trail Foundation.

Users should not have to search to learn about the current conditions of the Rubicon Trail. Major changes, such as temporary closures, and even minor pieces of information, should be sent out by the agency closing the trail, not just posted. OHV advocacy groups should latch on to those press releases and forward them to local clubs and post the information on OHV forums, let alone post them on their own website.

Every year, tens of thousands of dollars are donated to OHV advocacy groups. If those groups and agencies fail to inform you of critical information about your local trail, specifically the world-famous Rubicon Trail, are you getting your money’s worth?


Rubicon Ronin