Saturday, May 16, 2015

2015 Big Meats Run

Disney, Oklahoma
March 26-29

This trip was my third year in a row to attend, and CapitalJ's second.  This was the first time Cap got to drive his rig at the event, as he was my co-pilot the previous year.   With having two rigs, meant we got to pick two noobs to share the excitement with.  I chose to ask long time friend Jerm to be my navigator, and Cap invited another old friend Geoff.  All of us have been friends for quite a spell and it would mark the first time we all got to hang out together in years.  Once the date was set all there was to do was plan and get our rigs ready.  Planning was tough, as it seems like every time we had a solid plan, something would get tweaked and we would have to figure out a fix.  In the end we all made it, and we all returned home safely.  This is our story of how it went down, as told by Jimbo, driving the Mutant Blazer.

Myself & CapitalJ

Personally, I had just finished up my GotPropane kit install, and had some small stuff to figure out, I got off lucky.  CapitalJ's rig hadn't seen the trails in a few years.  He had battled a tough 351 swap, just to turn around and swap in a 302.
He made a heroic dash to the finish line by getting a huge amount done in a short amount of time, on a slim budget.

Leaving the fire station

I was able to go into work super early so I could get off at 11AM.  The Blazer was already on the trailer so I drove down to Disney and unloaded the truck at the fire department, then drove back to Joplin to load Cap's Bronco.  I then waited until the gang showed up, loaded the rest of the gear along with Geoff and took off again.
Once Jerm and Cap showed up, I hitched a ride to the station to drive the K5 to camp.

The night Jerm

We set up a very minimum of camp and then headed to a spot Cap & I call the Honey Hole to collect fire wood and to check out the crowd.  This was Thursday evening and there wasn't much of a crowd yet.  The Honey Hole area has a lot of dried dead wood ripe for the picking.  We took our time and gathered wood.  The mood was really good and we were all smiling.  When both rigs had a fair payload we returned to camp to start figuring out dinner and tent locations.
Dinner was a quick affair since everyone knew i was planning on going out for a night run.  I love night runs, especially when there are plenty of rigs to call on in case of emergency.

Our main objective for this first night run was to hit the mud pits we spotted the year before.  Cap loves to play in the mud.  I followed him as we started to try out the strips of water/mud.  I stopped short of the first real scary mud run so jerm & I could watch.  The bronco went balls deep into the mud and tug boated about half way threw.  For some reason Geoff had his window down and paid the ultimate price. Cap turned his wheels drivers side and Geoff took a full face shot of very sticky mud.  I remember Jerm & I looking at each other with out mouths agape trying not to crap ourselves from laughing  Cap had produced a rooster tail that was about 15 feet tall and Geoff ate half of it.  It was about as funny as i gets.  Then it was our turn.  My plan was simple.  Since the K5 has no doors and very little top, I was going to go as straight as I could with as little throttle as possible.  I was going to own it.  About half way threw i had to turn my wheels and Jerm took a rooster tail off the front tire that destroyed his whole right side.  At that point I thought to myself that although that sucked, at least I was unscathed.

Jerm assured me he was cool with it, as I apologized for his soaken state.   We navigated a half dozen more strips and confidences were high.  It was very dark, and we were having a blast.  Then, out of nowhere, disaster happened.  I had stopped and got out of the Blazer to dig out a cold beverage when I heard Jerm say something to the effect that Cap was going underwater.  I looked up just in time to see the Broncos hood come out of the water and start to climb the opposite side of the bank.  It was too steep.  He had inadvertently tried to cross a strip and it had some seriously tall banks.  He backed back down to level the truck, and the water was well over his tires.  He wasn't able to go forward or backwards and then the truck died.  No attempts to start it would work, not even a click.
I was able to use a strap to pull him out of the pit and onto solid ground.
we determined that the best option to figure this problem out was to try to pull him to a drier spot, as the Bronco was on wet mud.  This is when one of the craziest things happened. To get the Bronco where we wanted, I had to keep pulling, then unhooking to reposition, then rehook and pull.  Over and over.  At some point Geoff decided to climb out of the Bronco threw the back, I remember him standing on the truck box in the back as i started to power forward thru the mud.  All at once Geoff does this amazing Olympic style double flip swan dive and landed on his face in the mud and was laying flat on his back about 3 foot from my churning front tire. If it wouldn't have been so scary looking it would have been a beautiful disaster.  As it was, Geoff is about as tough as they come and other than being the muddiest guy there he was ok.  We soon got the Bronco to dry ground, and started the trouble shooting process.

The starter was completely soaked and wouldn't fire, so Cap got under it and started it with a screw driver on the solenoid.  After a couple tries he got it running good enough to continue on.  It was now my turn to lead,  I lead us deeper into the mud flats and into a stupid deep strip that had a turn in it.  We got a ways in and lost traction.  I reversed and was able to gain purchase, then tried to go forward and forgot the golden rule, no hard turning.  I took a massive load of thick mud to my left side.  The water was just over the floorboards and my carhartt hood was full of mud,  I got owned.  Geoff prolly had more square footage of mud on him but I held the mud by weight title. There were places on me that had a good 3/4" of pure mud.  Cap pulled me backwards and out of the stuck.  By the time I was free the Bronco had started to get hot so we started back towards camp.
This was a really fun first night, and I really enjoyed it.  I seldom do mud, as it usually owns me, but I enjoyed this night.  When we got back to camp we did our best to dry out before we crashed.

The next day we went out and gathered some firewood and gave the Bronco a test run.  It wasn't long before it was over heating and we headed back to camp.  Cap's dad showed up in his Jeep along with two of his friends in their two jeeps.  We finally figured out that the fan had broke when it hit the deep water in the hole.  It was a clutch style and our guess is that the force of the water killed the clutch.  Jerm took him to a nearby town to get another one.  During the time they were gone, Geoff rode with me and we wheeled.  By now the crowd was getting thicker.  The side by sides were trying to own the trails and people were starting to clog up the system.  When I came up to a spot were people had clogged the trails, I went rogue and navigated threw the trees around them. We had a really good time.  The new propane system was really a wonderful upgrade.  never once did my rig stall or die.  I did miss having a locked front end.  The year before I had a full spool in a Dana 44.  I was now rocking an open Dana 60.  

When we got back to camp Cap had his new fan on and after a meal we hit the trails again.  We drove down to the waterfall and watched some rigs climb it.  Later we checked out Viagra.  We watched rigs try it and even got to witness a roll over.  Later we crossed the river and headed into the bigger rocks.

The size of the rocks in this area makes it one of my personal favorite spots.  The going is slow and very bumpy. 

This area tested the flex of Cap's rig to the point that the shock mount failed.  It only took Cap about 10 minutes to remove it and we continued on.  Luckily while he was wrenching, there was a great amount of firewood nearby, so Jerm & Geoff loaded us up.

We followed the trails up and over the ridge into dusk.  Soon it was dark again and we found ourselves in the middle of the park.  It seemed like every turn took us back to the same area.  We had a great trail ride, and soon we were back at camp eating dinner and telling stories.  
After dinner I was eager to go for a night run.  Cap and Jerm decided they didn't want to go, so Geoff and I took the K5 out.  I think if I was to ask Geoff, he would agree with me that this was the single most fun trail ride of the weekend.  It really had all the basics of a good trip out, except mud.  

We crawled our way into the Rock Garden, then headed towards the Honey Hole.  After that we followed the beach to the point, where we drove across the river.  Doing this at night was such a rush.  Both Geoff and I were hanging over the sides looking down to try to see the bottom, not wanting to accidently run off into a deep spot.  This is when I realized Geoff had turned into a real navigator.  I called him a bird dog, because he was soon pointing and spotting like he had been wheeling for a life time, when in fact, this was his first taste of a real outing. 

We were heading to a landmark we called the Pissing Post.  During the day we would stop here to relieve ourselves and to use it as a break point.  We also took the opportunity to take a few pictures.  In the absence of light, it was pitch black. It took a few tries to get two good pictures.  
Soon we were climbing our way all over the park.  The truck was doing great and the crowd was thinning out.  We were in the zone.  We did some great hill climbs, and some wild down hill crawls.  

Geoff & I
All was going great (actually better than great) when all of a sudden the dreaded sound of a grenade went off.  I instantly shut her down and told Geoff we broke an axle shaft.  This is when we decided to sit there in the black of night and drink a beer.  We neither one freaked out or started sweating the circumstance.  We just sat there, on an incline, drank a beer and talked about how much fun we were having.  Geoff, I not only applaud you for your calm demeanor, but I salute you.  Staying calm in these situations will always increase your odds to find clarity.  As we drank beer, we formed a plan.  We got out and took a look.  The front drive shaft had broken at the output of the transfer case. Geoff did exactly what I told him, and we pit crewed the broken driveline into the truck box and drove back to camp in 2WD.  Mad props to Geoff for trusting my plan and following my instruction.  He was the holder of the flashlight, as well as the keeper of all loose bolts.  Very impressive for a noob.

Saturday morning I hitched a ride with jerm to the same auto parts store Cap had went too the day before. I bought 4 new grade 8 bolts to replace the 4 that had broken.  Back at camp, i was able to get the broke bolts removed from the flange of the drive shaft and then replaced the U-joint.  I then started to install it back into the truck.  I was able to get two bolts to start, but that was all. 

In the end, It took Cap and Geoff to figure out that the companion flange was bent.  The torque of the driveshaft when it gave way bent the whole yoke half.  We then removed it from the truck and clamped it to the picnic table.  A bolt was threaded into the bent side and then a cheater was applied with force to bend it as far as I was willing to try.  Geoff and Cap then were able to get three out of the four bolts to start.  We tighten the 3 and called it good. 

I'd like to take a moment to explain my philosophy of wheeling.
The way I wheel, things break.
I push my truck, I always try to find a way to do the hard stuff. That's why I've built this Blazer. The first time I went to SMORR I had to buy a battery, had two tires come off the bead, and broke two axle shafts. The first time I came to the BMR I broke an axle shaft and lost a bead on one tire. Last year at the BMR i broke the power steering pump pulling it off the trailer, and then at some point broke the ring and pinion in the Dana 44.  Of all those breakages, none of them kept me from continuing to wheel the rest of weekend.  This Drive shaft, with only 3 bolts was my way of getting more out of the weekend.  
(Back to the story)

We blazed a trail back out to the Rock Garden, and took some nice pictures.


After the Rock Garden we hit a bunch of the trail Geoff and I hit the night before.
Unfortunately I don't know the names of the trails, but there were quite a few really fun ones.
We went to the top of the old bounty hill, now called Nasty Girl and hung out for awhile.

We rolled along until my drive shaft gave way again.  This time it was terminal.  The end of my wheeling for the weekend. 

I've been told by my friend Chad that Disney has a few other events that are not as crowded as the BMR, which I will certainly try to attend.  After my third year, I have to say that between the ridiculously loud rock hoppers, the stockers that park in the trail to watch and the side by sides that think they own the road, I've had about all I want.  I go to wheel. I seldom watch the high dollar rigs, as they don't appeal to me.  I like to watch the normal homebrew rigs, and I like to hang out with real folks.  Only time will tell.


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