For those of you following my website, you know of my issues with off-road hitches. Here is a link to the two previous postings:
The “Lock N Roll” Great Lake Forge hitch didn’t seem to like the tight turns and difficult terrain of the Rubicon Trail. I bent two of them! Though I must admit, I did roll the trailer twice with that hitch.
So I’ve moved on to the Max Coupler hitch by Kilby Enterprises:
After unbolting the previous hitch, I inserted a 18″ ‘receiver’ tube and drilled two vertical 5/8″ holes to mount the receiver tube to the trailer. A third horizontal hole mounts the unit in the receiver tube and trailer.
FYI, the wheeled trailer stand gets removed before hitting the trail.
I lucked out and the first hitch configuration I used to mount the unit to the Jeep got the trailer pretty level. If I hadn’t bent the stock Jeep ball hitch, I think this would be dead level.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll get a chance to test the new set-up this season. Although I will be out on the trail, I don’t think I’ll be needing the trailer. I’ll post up again after I test it out.
For those of you that are regular followers of this site, this upgrade is a direct result of the bear getting my food earlier this summer.
I picked up a trailer box from Harbor Freight, yeah I know not the best quality but I’m just going to abuse it. I have an unusually long bar for my hitch. Even with the box I can jack knife the Jeep and trailer and not hit the box.
I just bolted and welded up a couple of piece of angel iron for support and there she sits. I’ll pull it apart and clean the edges and paint it later.
So, as long as I have the trailer with me, I have a safe place to store my food. It’ll be good for storing tarps, tie downs and other stuff.
So, I was out with the Hi-Lo’s on the Rubicon and Long Lake Trail Labor Day weekend. We went in from Tahoe Friday morning early, 7:30am at the staging area. It was nice having the trail to ourselves.
We made camp on the Long Lake Trail at the campsite along the Rubicon River.
I didn’t have to look too hard to see my first issue of the weekend. My hitch had bent pretty good. This is the second time the Great Lakes Forge hitch has bent like this. I didn’t try and bend it back, I just prayed it would make it home. It did.
After a two days of trail maintenance, we broke camp Sunday morning around 8am and headed out. Along the flat portion of the Long Lake Trail, I noticed a ‘clunk’ from under my rig. So, before turning on to the Rubicon, I climbed under the rig to find out what it was making that noise.
Now, I had done the Fordyce Trail during Sierra Trek a month earlier. After that, I felt a very slight vibration but couldn’t find the source. Two weeks later I drove in to the Springs and back out with no issues. And up to this point, this weekend, I had driven down Cadillac and out the Long Lake Trail with no catastrophe. Thankfully.
There it was, I had lost all the needle bearings out of the rear u-joint on the rear driveshaft. It looked like it had been banging around for sometime. But no problem, I had a spare u-joint with me. After dropping the drive shaft, I had the bright idea of driving in to the Springs to use a large vise I’m sure they had in the mechanics shed. A Hi-Lo was sitting in as caretaker for the week and I knew he’d let me use it.
It’s a different feeling being a passenger on the Rubicon. No steering wheel to hang on to and you had to guess which route the driver will take. But we made in to the Springs no problem.
Unfortunately, the caretaker was running out to Observation Point for parts for his Toyota and his wife didn’t know the combination to the lock. Out came the hand tools (big hammer and a few sockets) and I swapped out the u-joint there in the mechanics area.
Back on the road to my Jeep, just out of main camp, here comes the caretaker back in to camp. Too late, I was done and headed out.
I threw the driveshaft back on the Jeep, now eager to get going after a short delay. Before I climbed out from under the Jeep, I looked around. Good thing, but bad news. My leaf spring and perch were not tight against each other. Sure enough, one of my u-bolts had broken.
No problem, I have one of those. Actually, I carry three because there are three different sizes on my Jeep: AMC 20 has one size but the Dana 30 front has two sizes.
I told my buddy to get out his lawn chair and I climbed back under the Jeep. It was a pretty straight forward replacement and we were soon on the road.
I don’t know if it was my blog about V-Rock becoming U-Rock but the revenge of the U-problems hit me pretty good; a u-joint and a u-bolt at the same time.
So, last week (June 4/5), I finally got out on the trail with the ability to focus on trail maintenance. Unfortunately, it didn’t go quite as planned.
The plan was to wheel in to the upper hairpin on Cadillac Hill, set-up camp, moving a bunch of rock to stop erosion, re-trench the upper creek crossing and evaluate what the lower hairpin needs.
The drive in was fine. I got a little hail at Observation. Light sprinkles from there down to the upper hairpin on Cadillac Hill. It stopped just as I started setting up camp. I wanted to make sure I had a dry camp before the predicted thunderstorm rolled in.
The first task was to harden the actual upper hairpin turn. As you can see, over the decades, there has been a little erosion taking place here. There are now a few differential busters that have ‘grown’ up out of the ground.
I took my ‘trusted’ trailer up the trail and collected rocks from off the trail. (No reason to weaken one section of the trail in order to harden another area.) On my third trip with the trailer loaded with rock, I noticed a bad noise. I stopped and checked the trailer connection.
For those of you not familiar with the “Lock-n-Roll” hitch, it provides full articulation in ALL directions. But after a few jack-knifes (on previous trips) and once running the hitch upside down, the hitch has seen a lot of abuse. This time, I took it a little too far.
I spent over an hour trying to re-bend the middle piece back in to position to give me full articulation. I had the trailer tongue strapped to a tree and my winch pulling on the hitch trying to straighten it out. Not too successful.
Update note: I called Great Basin Forge and explained my issue. Even though they don’t list parts for sale, they sold me only what I needed and got it shipped out the same day! Thanks guys.
So, I called it a day on hauling rock with only three loads delivered. As you can see, I did get a little done. At least the diff busters are minimalized.
I hiked up to the upper creek crossing and trenched the crossing a little deeper and further away from the log ‘water bar’. This almost immediately stopped any flow of water down the trail.
The growing puddle/hole above the step just above the creek crossing was also addressed but not completely. I hauled quite a few half full five gallon buckets of rock and dumped them in the hole. It will need more but I was running out of fuel for the day.
The next morning, before heading out, I walked down to THE hairpin turn and worked there for about an hour. Again, the flowing water was trenched away from the route that would let it flow further down the trail. This area will also need some follow up.
Once I get the trailer rebuilt, I’ll head back out and continue the projects.
It has recently come to my attention that an alteration has been made to Cadillac Hill. Although I’m good with individuals and groups doing trail maintenance “as needed”, it should only be done “when needed”.
Although I have not seen it for myself, it is reported that the ‘alteration’ to Cadillac Hill was the removal of the rock in the middle of the trail just below V-Rock. This rock had caused the Sheriff’s, in their Razor, to negotiate the obstacle on the low side. Very dangerous as the soil is loose just off the trail and it’s a long way down if you go over. The rock in question is hidden in the shadow in the picture below.
The rock was tall enough that you would scrape your axle or get hung up if you straddled it. It was surrounded by smaller rock and thus had not grown over the years due to erosion. It had been there forever. Going up Cadillac Hill, the common line was to put your low (right) side tires on the rock and allow the left side to climb the granite slab. Those with narrow axles didn’t experience much lean. Those will full width axles had to climb further up the slab and would experience much more lean. This rock was part of Cadillac Hill and although not a ‘named’ obstacle it added to the experience that was Cadillac Hill and added to the ‘stories’ of Cadillac Hill being one of the tougher obstacles on the way out.
I’m disappointed that a group or individual made the decision to remove this rock. My concerns are how do we prevent this type of thing from happening in the future?
2nd Update (9/16)
Here is a good “before” photo:
I was out there yesterday and took these photos.
It looks like they topped the rock and flipped the top over in to the middle of the trail. I guess this is better than pushing the entire rock of the edge of the trail but still not cool.
Last month, I came across a new bypass further up Cadillac Hill. It went around the tree at the rock out cropping / creek crossing with the log anchored to the ground as a water bar:
From a few conversations I’ve had, it was concluded that the side-by-sides didn’t like the clearance issues going over the step right about where my trailer hitch is in the pictures. So, they drove off trail, going around the tree and dropped back on to the trail above the tree.
I took the time to block the new illegal bypass:
I’m not holding my breath that this block will last. Volunteers will have to go back and drag some larger trees and either tie them together with bailing wire or anchor them to the ground with rebar.
It’s disappointing that there is still an educational gap. How do we educate those wanting to ‘help’ out on the trail before they make alterations? How do we prevent people from going rogue and pioneering new trails? With two counties, three forests and numerous 4wd organizations overseeing the Rubicon, who should be leading this effort? Can we get one organization to step up and lead?
I don’t know.