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Couldn't Make HIH7 So I Did It On My Own

Discussion in 'AR- Razorback Land Cruisers' started by TheForger, Aug 16, 2017.

  1. TheForger

    TheForger

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    As some of you may know (or not) my family and I decided to take a trip out to Colorado for about 2wks. We departed August 4th with my 100 series loaded down, our Flagstaff popup camper in tow, and stress levels at an all time high (I will get into that later). We planned to arrive at our campground in Ridgway, CO on the 5th and make it back home the 16th. All together it was a 3,174 mile round trip and that included everything - driving there, to all the different cities and exploring each one, all the trails we ran, and the trip home. Our desire to come out here and explore the area started 2yrs ago when we flew out here and got a rental car to drive around Denver and the surrounding areas. We were amazed at the area and sights to see but sad that we were in a Chevy Malibu instead of a Land Cruiser (but mainly because we were in a Malibu). After that trip we always wanted to come back, but drive this time, and explore just a handful of the amazing trails the San Juan's has to offer.

    It started with getting my car ready for the long roadtrip there and back, and also making sure it was ready to handle the trails without any problems once we got there. That's where Bobby @CruiserCoLittleRock came into the story, and he played a huge role in making sure my 100 series was mechanically sound for this trip; and for that I say thank you Bobby. Thank you for everything you did to make sure my truck would run and drive smoothly, and was capable of getting my family there and back safely while having some fun in the middle. Before it went to visit Bobby I did a few easy things on my own to get it ready. That included a new fuel filter, spark plugs, coil packs, extended diff/tranny/trans case & axle breathers, cabin air filters (I have the illusive door on my 2000 LC), engine air filter, cleaned the MAF sensor & throttle body, cleaned battery cables & terminals, installed a new grille, cleared sunroof drains, and I relocated the front A/C drain hose to drip on the ground instead of the sway bar link. Then off to Bobby's it went to get a fresh new front suspension! This included new SPC upper control arms with offset upper ball joints, new lower ball joints, CV axles w/new boots, inner & outer axle seals, inner & outer wheel bearings, hub seal, TB/WP, idler pulley, tensioner pulley & cylinder, and oil filter. I finally got the truck back after he completed all of this work 3 days before departure. While picking it up he noted to me that the A/C clutch bearing was in the beginning stages of failure, and my power steering pump was running loudly and suggested I flush it with synthetic ATF. After frantically trying to coordinate with an alignment shop that would agree to work on aftermarket UCA's and that could fit me in so last-minute, I came across Discount Tire & Brake down on Kanis and they agreed to do the work. However, because of the new UCA's and the fact that the ball joint bolt cannot be torqued down until the alignment is completed, it could not be driven anything faster than a crawl onto a flatbed. So off it went to Discount Tire on the back of a Metro Towing flatbed!

    Once there I decided to go ahead and replace the entire A/C compressor instead of just getting them to install a reman clutch bearing. They did so and evaced/recharged my A/C system for me. Also, they measured my brake rotors with a caliper and determined that they were overdue for replacement. Unfortunately for the 100 series, this means tearing apart the front bearings (freshly packed by Bobby) to remove the front rotor. You win some you lose some...oh well. With a fully loaded truck and camper I exceeded 10,000lbs so I definitely wanted new rotors & pads all around. They did so and also replaced inner & outer tie rods and flushed power steering with synthetic ATF while they were at it. With all of this last minute work it came down to the wire getting the truck back. I actually picked it up the morning I was leaving and our expected departure time was only delayed about 2.5hrs. Luckily the alignment at the end went smoothly and finally it was time to hook up the camper, load the truck, and head out!

    With a 10:30am departure on the 4th, our first stop was Amarillo, TX where we would spend our first night in a Homewood Suites. First pic is the morning of departure while it was still on the rack at Discount Tire getting new rotors & pads. Second pic is when we stopped to eat at a local place somewhere in the Texas panhandle. Finally, around 9pm we pulled into our hotel for a break. This is when the real story starts...While out in the parking lot trying to switch the camper fridge to run on propane instead of 12V, I watched a drunk (or texting) guy drive his Honda Civic into the ditch adjacent to my car at about 40mph. Somehow his momentum worked in his favor and he went straight through the mud and popped right out at the end. Have you ever hit a mud hole at 40mph? If so you know how the mud with splash on everything within a 20ft radius, including any vehicles or people nearby...

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    Last edited: Aug 16, 2017
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  2. TheForger

    TheForger

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    The next morning we woke up and hit the road around 9am, next stop was Ridgway State Park where our base camp would be for the next 5 days. The drive there went great and the Cruiser performed flawlessly. I kept an eye on my gauges and an ear open for the transmission and engine to keep them from over-stressing, but as expected everything held together and the Cruiser handled the steep grades just fine. I did get into the mid-to-high 4,000rpms at 55mph for a few minutes to climb a steep pass but it didn't worry me at all, it was just the hardest I've pushed my truck to date and man she sounds sweet when she's screaming! We arrived at camp around 6pm and began setting everything up and settled down later that night.

    The next day we got up around 10am and drove to Telluride to explore the city and run the Red Mountain Mining Area trail. We decided to start out easy since we had ladies in the car and thought this trail would keep everyone's nerves in order (they don't like the trails that hang on the edge of mountains too much). Dinner that night involved a gondola ride up to Allred's Restaurant overlooking Telluride.

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  3. fjfodee

    fjfodee At a Medium Pace SILVER Star

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    Right on!!
     
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  4. Outdoorboy

    Outdoorboy

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    Nice Trip! I took the family to Yellowstone in June for 2 weeks in the popup. Had a blast. You should defiantly put it on your radar.
     
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  5. YotaJosh

    YotaJosh SILVER Star

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    Awesome! Looking forward to the rest of the story.

    I like Discount Tire for their tire pricing and service, but they will try to take advantage of you on the easy money things like this. Every time I sit in the waiting room, they are trying to sell ball joints or tie rod ends to someone. My coworker used them and Discount claimed their ball joints were toast and it needed an alignment, on a 40k mile car.
     
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  6. TheForger

    TheForger

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    Over the next 3 days we hung out at camp, ran a few beautiful trails, went horseback riding, and explored the surrounding cities! Camping at Ridgway State Park put us within an hour or so of the Silverton/Ouray/Telluride area so there were plenty of things to do.

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    The next day was Black Bear Pass. Unfortunately, once we reached the peak a very bad storm system moved in so we decided not to tackle the switchbacks. After seeing a few pictures of them, we (the ladies) decided they prefered the easier trails that don't make you feel like you're about to roll off the side of a mountain. They didn't want their first time taking on the switchbacks to be in a torrential storm with freezing rain and honestly I don't blame them, I'd rather run this section on a beautiful day so I can fully appreciate what the trail has to offer. The flip side of this is my dad and I already plan to come back next year to give them another shot! Despite that we still had an amazing time and being from Little Rock it was nice to see snow...

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  7. TheForger

    TheForger

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    Thanks for the suggestion I certainly will! I've always wanted to check out that area. Where did you stay with your camper? We may take a detour there when we come back next year.

    I will have to agree with you on that, a lot of places like this will do anything they can to sell you additional things that are not immediately needed. However, in this circumstance I had noticed my steering gradually becoming very "loose" and often times unpredictable. Luckily, I figured out one of my old buddies worked there as a service tech so I had the chance to watch them like a hawk while they worked. I don't have any pics but the pads and rotors were both toast. Probably 5k miles worth of material left on the pads and heavy gouging on the rotor surface that caused a frightening brake shutter when slowing down at interstate speeds. They were 0.03mm under the minimum spec stated in the FSM for rotor thickness. There was also excessive play in the tie rod boots that was far beyond spec. I did see that with my own eyes to confirm and managed to get a short video. Went ahead and got inner & outer tie rods replaced. I would've replaced the steering rack bushings as well had Whiteline not had them on backorder.

     
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  8. TheForger

    TheForger

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    A few more of Black Bear and horseback riding

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  9. Outdoorboy

    Outdoorboy

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    Here is a quick map of our route. We camped in Gardiner, MT; Flagg Ranch in the Tetons, and Loveland area while in CO. At the other stops we used hotels because they were only one night. 15 days total and 4000 miles. Went to: Badlands NP, Rushmore, Custer State park, Yellowstone NP, Tetons NP, and Rocky MT NP. It was a full year of planning as the sites in and around YS fill up over a year in advance. It was a great trip. Especially when the wife breaks out the atlas (yes I keep one in the LC) and starts to plan next summer on the final day.
     
  10. TheForger

    TheForger

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    Learning our lesson from the previous day we decided to leave the women in Telluride for a few hours to shop around while we explored. They weren't too excited for the trails and actually suggested the idea, so my father and I happily obliged:)

    Then it was time for Imogene Pass...
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    Before we reached the peak we stopped at Tomboy Mine where I decided it would be a good idea to remove the gas cap to relieve vapor pressure. After I removed it I could hear the vapor escaping and what sounded like gas boiling inside the tank. Walked away for 30sec and came back to gas spewing out of the filler neck. I was only at about 5/8ths of a tank at this point, I made sure not to top it off before heading out. You can see it actually dissolved the plastidip on the side molding. Fortunately it started right up and I never experienced any issues, just an odd sight to see. At least it wasn't as bad as the Rubicon in front of me who lost his rear track bar after not properly torquing the bolts on his fancy new suspension he was breaking in...thankfully I was smart enough to do so before leaving:)

     
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  11. TheForger

    TheForger

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    Sorry for the delay in the story, had a hell of a week with school starting back up and work. But to continue the story, after we had some fun playing around the Silverton/Telluride/Ouray area it was time to move to our next camp site for a few days and see some different sights. So we packed up everything and headed towards Golden to Golden Gate Canyon State Park where we would spend the next 3 days exploring the surrounding cities! We didn't drive many trails in this leg of the trip as we wanted to focus more on seeing and shopping around the local towns. Each day we would take a different trip to a different location, and the first day we went into downtown Golden to walk around the historic area and eat lunch. Unfortunately it was Sunday by this time so the Coors brewery was closed for tours and Slee Offroad was closed as well:frown: Oh well, we plan on hitting both of those on our next trip out in that area! I mean come on, do you even go to Colorado if you don't swing by Slee with a pocket full of cash???

    So the next day we planned on going into Denver to look around, and during this time we decided to get a couple rooms at the Embassy Suites so we would have access to real showers and beds for a night (a much needed break after 7 days of being cooped up inside a camper). I had to valet the Cruiser while I was there but I exceeded the max height requirement for the parking garage so they parked it in right in front for me...how lucky:)

    A few random pics from the Black Bear and Imogene runs...

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    This pic shows the convoy of J**ps that I was forced to follow the last half of the Imogene run to the peak. You can see the old Ford Bronco 6 cars ahead that was running with the J**p crew, and I noticed that he had to stop at every break point to pop his hood and let the engine rest because it had a carbureted engine and they don't do too well with air/fuel ratios at higher altitudes. Two cars ahead of the Bronco was the white J**p that lost their rear track bar after not properly torquing down the bolts on their new suspension setup:hillbilly:

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    Our setup at Golden Gate Canyon State Park

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    Street performer in the 16th Street Mall in Denver

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    Here's a short video from the last section of Black Bear Pass before you get to the sign. We didn't have the best conditions due to the sleet and rain so that was the main reason why we decided to turn around at the top, it got muuuch worse before it got any better. As always the video makes it seem a lot easier than it actually was...

     
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  12. TheForger

    TheForger

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    Poser valet shot with the Cadillac and Benz:)

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    Like I said it was very nice to see snow:)

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    I lost a steering rack boot clamp somehow and somewhere on Imogene which allowed fluid to slowly leak out. I know that boot doesn't actually hold any liquid inside of it but if the steering rack begins to leak then ps fluid can collect in there and drip out if there's no clamp. Stopped by a hardware store in Telluride and picked up a simple hose clamp as a bandaid until I can properly address the issue. Luckily we made it back home just fine but it looks like a steering rack replacement will be in my near future. It's about time this 196k mile rack began to crap out, I've just been putting it off since it's such a pain in the ass to replace on the 100 series...

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  13. fjfodee

    fjfodee At a Medium Pace SILVER Star

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    Envious of your trip. I lived in Golden for a short time back in 2001, then over to Grand Junction for a little while. Got to get back out there. Love the terrain.
     
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  14. TheForger

    TheForger

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    Thanks for reading! It's definitely a beautiful area and we are now in a waiting game to reserve campgrounds for next year (maximum booking period is 6mon in advance at Ridgway State Park). We actually drove through Grand Junction on our way to Golden - took 550 North from Ridgway up to Grand Junction where we saw the campus there and ate at Kannah Creek Brewing Company:beer:; then hopped on I70 and headed East through Breckenridge, Vail, and finally into Golden. Being our first time to dip our toes into the Colorado trails we were a little nervous at first, there's a HUUUUUUUGE difference between trails here and there. But nonetheless we were beyond amazed and impressed with what they had to offer.

    My only gripe about CO state campgrounds, parks, & trails - and maybe this is because we're spoiled living in AR with our park & trail systems - but it seems like they try to nickel and dime you everywhere you go. I understand that maybe some of that money goes towards park, trail, and environmental preservation but come on...I spent $4 in QUARTERS just to take a luke-warm, can't-adjust-temp shower:confused: Plus the fees for campground and trail use. And on top of that they don't have water at every site. This could be due to cost of installation and the rugged terrain they would face trying to install spigot's at every site. At Ridgway we were lucky enough to have the spigot right next to our site, so we strung a few extension hoses together and filled the 20gal. tank in our camper no problem. But at Golden Gate Canyon Park, there was only 1 spigot for the whole loop so we filled the tank up at the dump station on our way in, and then we would drive containers of water to and fro as needed. Needless to say we did have to fill it up quite a few times. So less of a gripe, but that just shows how enormously different Colorado camps, parks, & trails are in comparison to the same in AR.
     
  15. TheForger

    TheForger

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    More random pics from when we rode with my family and girlfriend.

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    I will do the ending of this trip report at a later date. But for now just enjoy the trip you're taking while reading and seeing the pics of mine and I will be back soon!:cheers:
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2017
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  16. weakspleen

    weakspleen Nachos rule!! SILVER Star

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    Awesome write-up and pics as always, thank you for posting it up.