The TJ gets rocker guards

So you buy a new rig and just have to change it up a little bit to make it your own by putting your touch on it. Well, for a first step, I went with rocker guards.

The Jeep is a Rubicon model so it came with basic rocker guards but I wanted something more stout and something with a step that will keep the body a little further from the rocks.

I went with A to Z Fabrications. I liked the square tubing that matches the spare tire carrier and the fact it runs the entire length of the body, not just between the fender flares.

Here’s a first look with the guard running under the flares. Note how tall the guards is in this picture.

The 1/4 plate of the guards goes well under the rig.

I decided I wanted to keep the flares stock so I moved forward with altering the guards to accommodate the flares. It was too tall for me so I cut down the height 1 1/2″.

After lots of blue tape and measuring twice…

Realizing that I had probably weakened the guards, I added support under each end. The guards came with the bar to prevent bending with the tightening of the bolts but I added the cut tubes. The block fills the space between the guard and the under side of the body for a snug fit.

In the front, there was too much room to fill the gap so I welded a thick piece of angle iron to strengthen the leading edge.

In my haste to get these installed, I failed to get a picture of the powder coated guards before I installed them.

While I was at it, I took off the front bumper and welded up the unneeded holes and had someone else weld on a d-ring mount. I still need to reline the winch. I made a bracket for the airline as well. You can barely see the rock light on the outside of the bumper.

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Rubicon Ronin


Spider Excavator Work on Cadillac Hill by TNF

Here we go..

Last week, El Dorado County voted to approve an MOU regarding maintenance and management of the Rubicon Trail. The Tahoe National Forest also signed on. I do not know the date the TNF signed on.

In that Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), all the agencies agreed to:

A. Coordinate in the planning and management related to the Rubicon Trail.
B. Coordinate efforts to provide maintenance, interpretive, educational, and outreach programs with consistent messaging to the public and recreational users on the Rubicon Trail.

On Monday, just days after this MOU was signed, Joe Chavez, of the Tahoe National Forest, contracted a Spider Excavator to go out to Cadillac Hill to perform trail maintenance.

The Tahoe National Forest did not coordinate their planning with the other agencies in the MOU. The TNF did not coordinate that maintenance and did not do outreach to the public before starting this work.

Days in to this agreement and Joe Chavez, the head of the TNF is already breaking the rules!

Even thought Joe Chavez asked for and was given my contact information to get my input or cooperation, he never contacted me about this work. Fortunately, I was made aware of the work and decided to show up and watch the “show” as this is an extraordinary piece of equipment. Bob Sweeney of Jeepers Jamboree was also on hand Monday.

The work started just above Morris Rock as there wasn’t time to get the equipment down to the ‘swamp’ area west of Miller Creek. And that’s a good thing. Here’s the before shot:

The TNF directed the Spider to dig up hardened dirt to create a loose dirt berm to prevent erosion. Bob and I were not on board with what the TNF was doing.

Unfortunately, the work done I in the shade and hard to see, but it’s a berm of loose dirt that will get pushed down the trail with vehicle traffic and rainfall/snowmelt.

Although the lower creek crossing was deepened, the berm was not hardened.

Loose rock was placed at the upper hairpin and a drain was created off to the lower left of the photo. This material will end up down the trail, maybe all the way to the lower creek crossing.

This was typical of the rolling dips installed by the FS. I was able to talk Joe out of a few of these claiming there wasn’t a lot of running water on the trail. But he snuck in an extra in a few places he hadn’t planned.

If I weren’t there, the FS would have started moving the boulders around above this creek crossing! The crossing was deepened. The two logs were left in place below that dirt berm so even if the soil washes away, the logs will stay.

Another rolling dip/drain with loose soil.

You can see another rolling dip in the far distance. Joe is shown rolling a rock off the trail. A side trail was obliterated here (before I showed up Tuesday morning) as Joe wants to eliminate all side trails. I was able to talk him out of obliterating several longer sections but he wants to revisit those closings in the spring.

This rock was sticking up out (about a foot) of the middle of the trail enough to scare drivers to go around it, thus widening the trail. Joe wants to narrow the trail where he can. He left a hole in the middle of the trail that will grow and grow.

Some good work was done. The Spider moved around and half way buried a few of the larger rocks here to harden this section and to make it more appealing to users. I think the go around will stay but I know Joe doesn’t like it.

A decent place for a rolling dip but again loose soil and not hardened. Below Observation.

The before just west of Barker Meadow OHV Trail and east of Hummer Bend, looking east:

Looking west after blocking the very short side trail.

I was able to talk Joe in to 4-5 drains to get standing spring water off the trail. He was unaware of these issues on the Placer side. So there were some wins.

Potato Patch, before. The plan was to make this step a little easier, moving some of the stray boulders out of the center and create a ramp:

I think it worked pretty well but it won’t hold for more than 100 rigs. More rock needs to be placed to lock in the larger boulders.

The before on the hard line at Potato Patch. Many DEEP holes:

Some of the boulder from the ‘center’ were place in the holes of this section. It’s better. At least doable by more built rigs but will need more work in the spring.

That was the last work done by the spider. I skipped over many, many more things it did: questionable rolling dips, closures and really good drainages.

Obviously, we had a little snow moving in on us around noon.

Not all of the agencies are on board with this work. There will be some heated discussions moving forward regarding what gets done, how it’s decided and who leads the charge.

I will do everything I can to get in to those rooms and I will keep you informed.

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Rubicon Ronin, aka Doug Barr


Still snow, and it will be there for some time…

Third day in a row on the Rubicon. This time as a passenger.

So, picking up where I left off yesterday, here is the off-camber section just past the turn to Ellis Peak.

Dean went ahead a drove this as it was. For the other three rigs, I dug a trench for the high side tires. It lessens the side hill and provides a track to prevent sliding off the snow in to the mud.

Of course John did it with his tire carrier swinging. The next obstacle stopped everyone. All four rigs took a winch.

Once out of the Basin and in to the Tahoe, there was snow everywhere in various forms…

But we did make it all the way to Observation Point! It was windy, and I mean WINDY!

Of course, on the way out we came across a downed tree. As in down across the trail. It wasn’t there on the way in.

I had a hand saw but John had a chain saw.

And off we went…

Please go prepared. Turn Around, Don’t Go Around. Don’t drive off trail if you or your rig can’t handle the obstacle.

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Rubicon Ronin


Snow, snow, snow

Okay, I got out on the Rubicon yesterday (6.25.19) as opposed to the Buck Lake Trail the day before that had tree issues.

We got as far as the pond at the Ellis Peak Trail and turned around at the intersection.

Below is the view looking further down the Rubicon. Snow! Lots of side hill action. That’s why we turned around.

This is the view up the Ellis Peak Trail. Nobody’s been there yet.

After the turn around, we poked up the Richardson Lake trail thinking we’d go to the top for the view from Sourdough. Nope! Again, crazy side hill right before the cabin. The pond on the right is a somewhat deep sediment trap.

If you go, be prepared to dig and saw. Snow everywhere, trees still across the trail.

Stay on the trail. If you are not prepared to deal with what is on the trail, Turn Around, Don’t Go Around!

Rubicon Ronin


Get your ham license

Ham radio use has come a long way on the Rubicon over the last decade.

The Rubicon Trail Foundation, driven by Dennis Mayer, has made sure there is a year-round repeater system in the Rubicon valley. This allows any Rubicon Trail user to use a ham radio to reach out to Sacramento and the Tahoe area with a handheld radio.

This system has literally saved lives since it’s installation.

Do you have your ham license? Do you want to get it?

July 19-21, at the Boomtown Casino in Nevada, the Nevada State Amateur Radio Convention will be held. Website: NVCON.org

On Saturday, July 20th, you can do a one day ham cram. The class is from 8am-3:30pm with the test immediately following. This is the quickest way to get your license.

Also at the convention are vendors, forums and a ham swap meet.

If you have the time, check it out.