2018 FOTR Meeting

The annual FOTR meeting took place this morning at the Metal Cloak facility in Sacramento.

There was a good turn out; a couple of speakers; elections; food; etc.

Important to the Tahoe Side, Eldorado County is looking to get in to a memorandum of Understanding with Placer County to mange the Placer County portion of the trail. Vickie Sanders, with Eldorado County Parks, has always been there for the Rubicon Trail. She has now formally stepped up to help manage the Placer side.

Let’s hope that goes through.

The agreement would allow Vickie to write a single grant that would cover the entire trail. The debate of why can they do that on their side and we can’t argument would be gone as the trail would be managed by one agency. FYI, the LTBMU is onboard with the new management possibility.

The Rubicon Trail Foundation is looking for a caretaker to manage their property this coming season. I believe I heard it will only be open on weekends June through Sept. This season might bring two cabins on the property which would allow a caretaker to stay throughout the week and keep the property open seven days a week. The property swap agreement to allow a road to the property requires a caretaker in order for the property to be open to the public.

Tahoe side to do were discussed. Priorities are going to be set and volunteers will be needed. Please contact the newly re-elected Trail Boss, Shannon Chard at LaughingPlace76@yahoo.com if you would like to volunteer to work on the trail.

If you did work on the Rubicon within Placer County last year, please document your hours and get them to Shannon or Kansas with Placer County. If you do work this coming season, again, get your hours to Shannon or Placer County. Your volunteer hours count as cash for matching funds the counties need to come up with in order to get grant money.

Work on Cadillac Hill has already been scheduled at the lower Hairpin. Jeepers Jamboree is leading that project.

John Briggs has stepped down from the Tahoe Side Lead position after three years of service. FOTR is looking for someone to take over this position. John and others will be helping out who ever takes on that position.

 

Rubicon Ronin


Chinese/Japanese Rig Solid Axle Swap

I’m going to write this generically as I don’t want to bias anyone against any specific brand of rig based on my bad experiences.

Like most people, I started with what I could afford. Unfortunately, that got me a rig with an independent front suspension.

 After some quality time off road, I realized some of the downfalls of an independent front suspension: ground clearance under flex, uneven tire wear, steering alignment, strength, complicated and thus expensive repairs, etc.

So, I finally decided to make the swap. I was going to pull out all the independent stuff and replace it with a solid axle.

Sourcing the solid axle was pretty simple. Pulling out the independent suspension was flat out going to be fun! The hard part was going to engineer the new solid axle into a rig not designed for it.

A before picture clearly showing uneven tire wear and the difficulty of keeping the steering aligned.

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Off I went, out with the old, in with the new. I started by getting the rig up on jack stands for safety and all the old independent suspension parts were unceremoniously removed.

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Here are the old parts next to the new solid axle that will be going in. I’m going to try and use as much of the old steering parts as possible.

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The new solid axle doesn’t look much different from the side. But do note that I was able to use the old adjustable ride height system from the previous system.

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But from the top you can already see the better alignment of the tires.

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Underneath, where all the magic happened. It clearly shows the new solid axle and how much stronger it will be than the old independent system.

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Here is an after shot after quite a bit of time getting everything just right. Measure twice, cut once. Back on all fours and ready for some off road travels.

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So far the rig is night and day different. I goes straight with hands off the controls, it doesn’t pull at all when you initiate a turn. Once I get new tires for it, I expect the tires to wear evenly and last much longer.

After all was said and done, I would highly recommend this swap for anyone with an independent front suspension.

 

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Rubicon Ronin


Snow, Maps, Paving & Kiosk

20180323_085600_resizedOn Friday, March 23rd, the FOTR Tahoe side lead (John Briggs) and I had two Rubicon meetings with local government agencies.

The first was meeting Placer County at the trailhead to discuss the snow being piled at the entrance. (The lead photograph)

When we got there, Lindsay from the county was already there. Looking around the area, it was obvious that there was more snow at the entrance than elsewhere in the neighborhood. Lindsay explained that she had talked with the plowing supervisor and that this was ‘normal’ for a “T” intersection as there was extra snow that needed to me removed from the intersection.

20180323_090242_resizedAfter some discussion, I pointed out that this was not a “T” intersection but rather a “4-way” intersection. We agreed that what needed to happen was to move the pile 40 feet to the left. It would take no extra time or effort but would prevent piling snow on the Rubicon Trail.

20180323_090305_resizedNow to be clear, the county will not be plowing the Rubicon Trail nor will they be removing the berm but hopefully, if the plow supervisor agrees, the pile (in the future) will be placed further left and if someone wants to play on the Rubicon, they will just have the ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ berm to deal with.

In addition, we discussed putting in two very tall snow stakes documenting the entrance so the plow drivers know where not to dump.

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The snow had a very hard top layer after having rained several inches, then below freezing temperatures.

The second was meeting Mike Gabor of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) to talk about the new map they are developing and the new kiosk for the staging area, among other things.

This is a draft of the map under construction:

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The new kiosk will have a 4’x8′ center panel for nothing but the new map. A 4’x4′ side panel on each side will hold additional material. It will be made out of mostly metal for longevity, not wood, and should last a very long time. If all goes according to plan (remember this is a government agency we’re dealing with), it could be up by the 4th of July.

THIS IS NOT THE ACTUAL KIOSK GOING IN.  I JUST PULLED THE IMAGE OFF THE INTERNET TO GIVE VIEWERS AN IDEA OF WHAT COULD BE BUILT. THE ACTUAL KIOSK WILL HAVE MOSTLY METAL CONSTRUCTION. 

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There is an approved grant that will allow the LTBMU to pave the staging area. Before this happens, the Basin will be reaching out to the users for input on how to mark parking spots (size, spacing, direction), how to improve (harden) the border, how to best protect the trees within the staging area, signage, how to design an actual “staging area” for rigs coming off the trail or preparing to go out on the trail, etc. Figure the planning, design, layout, engineering and such will happen in 2018 and the actual paving will happen in 2019.

 

Rubicon Ronin

 

 

 


2018 Reno Motorsports Show

So, last weekend was the Reno Motorsports Show. It also held the boat show, home show and pet show. All for just $5!

I had my regular booth set up to discuss the Rubicon and all the local 4wd clubs. The map on the left of the display will be the new map for the kiosk at the Tahoe side staging area.

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I had information on the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s, North Tahoe Trail Dusters, the Tahoe Donner 4 Wheelers and others. As well as information on state and national pro-OHV groups: Blue Ribbon Coalition, CA Off Road Vehicle Association, CA 4wd Association, the NV 4wd Association and others.

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Some of the local clubs came out including the Hills Angels (of Reno) and the Sierra Stompers (of the Minden/Gardnerville area). The Nevada 4wd Association has there booth under the blue tent in the background.

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Al Lockett, the show producer, brought out his own rig to show to the crowds.

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Jeepers Jamboree was there and had a great interactive display to promote their Camp Rubicon events for kids. The bridges and bar were very accurately reproduced. I was told this is just part of the full recreation of main camp at Rubicon Springs.

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Attendance was down on Friday due to the weather but Saturday and Sunday had good crowds. The vendors were about the same as last year, which had grown over the last few years.

Hope to see you out there next year as a attendee or a vendor!

 

Rubicon Ronin

 

 

 


Major snow dump in the Sierras

We just got through a series of major storms. Honestly, the biggest of the season. The summits got more than six feet of snow. The Homewood Mountain Resort claims about five feet over the last the last week. That means the Rubicon is buried.

So, I drove past Monday (March 5th) and took a few pictures of the entrance. I was up there just before the storms and took some to compare:

Last Monday the 26th: really no berm to speak of…

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Again, this was before the storm just 100 yards up the trail:

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After the latest storms: now the neighborhood probably got two feet of snow but notice the snow is piled higher than my six foot tall truck.

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Compare that to berms around the neighborhood, maybe three feet tall. I have already sent an email to Placer County letting them know this is unacceptable (dumping snow on a county right of way) and that although the County probably didn’t do it, they need to remove it as they would a load of rock dropped on any county road. Don’t hold your breath.

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Looking over the berm, where no motor vehicle has driven, yet; it looks like a good place for a fun day of snow play.

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The berm will need to be taken down. Right now you could get a quad or snowmobile through the slot but not much else.

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Let me get on my safety soap box…

I can’t say it enough but travel prepared. Figure something will go wrong and you have to spend the night, or two. Have food, water, clothing and shelter for multiple people and many nights.

Believe it or not, some people still don’t get it.

Rig near Miller 1

(Photo stolen from a post on Pirate4x4 by “The Fixxer”.)

This rig has been stuck on the trail for a few weeks now. It’s just east of Miller Lake at the water hole. There was room to go around but not much. Now think about this with 4-5 feet of snow burying it.

You might be wheeling along just fine and not realize the rig is underneath you. Honestly, it’s probably still visible but there is a greater chance of sliding in to it if you try and go around.

Some fellow Hi-Lo’s are reaching out to the authorities and the owner to see if we can help get the rig out or at least off to the side for the safe passage of others.

I’ll keep you posted.

 

Rubicon Ronin