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Rubicon 2023 Crazy edition

06 H3

a.k.a. "The Jackal"
Messages
9,347
Location
Meridian, ID
This will be a trip to remember! My friends and I do an annual rubicon trip (since 2015?) and this year was more wheeling, more wrenching, more welding and crazier than before.

The usual crew....

damn, whoever took this picture can make this beat up shitbox look wayyy better behind a camera then in person lol

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the 4500 race jeep

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Clint's Rubicon

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Whats left of a K5 blazer, now buggy.

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Chuck's linked YJ.


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Then the added additions we had this year was Derek in his Chevy 1500, a Ultimate Adventure 2020 alumni, he is from Illinois but moved out west so we got to meet up for the first time. SAS with 1 tons on 40's.

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Derek's coworker in a bone stock Bronco (skids and a winch were added I think)

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and last but not least Vay, in his SAS H3 on a shakedown run.

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So, we get started through the gatekeeper and it was pretty uneventful. The only real issue was that Vay had his H3 shut off when flexed out in certain areas. This issue would continue throughout the trip but more on that later. This is where the 90/10 rule applies. 90% of the build takes 10% of the time but the last 10% fighting through gremlins can take 90% of the time.

So we get through the gatekeeper and start going down the slabs when our friend Kevin in the buggy launches his rig off a ledge and pile drove it into a rock. Broke the cap on his steering, his coilover and his rim. Totally avoidable but funny. In an effort to keep the group moving, we send Vay, Derek and the Bronco with Clint. Kyle, Chuck and I hang back. We had some decisions to make, he could continue on without fluid in the coilover, it will ride worse but the coilover was still functional in supporting the vehicle, he had a spare tire/rim to change out for the damaged rim and then the steering could have been trail fixed but we were so close to the trailhead we decided to get him new parts. I ran back through the gatekeeper, dropped him off at his tow rig and he took off to town. Atleast we had a good view while we waited.

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We fixed some stuff, drank a beer, waited, waited, waited some more, ran to ellis creek and back to kill some time, then I discovered my wheel bearing was loose so I tightened that, then headed back to the buggy, and they showed up with steering parts. Got that fixed and then played catch up with the group.

They ran through ellis creek, got to have some fun on the optional soup bowl line, run through little sluice and get to camp at spider lake.

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I think this is somewhere near walker hill.
 

06 H3

a.k.a. "The Jackal"
Messages
9,347
Location
Meridian, ID
Before getting to Spider lake Derek broke a tie rod end but had it fixed in no time with his spares.

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They were hanging out here

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While we were still playing catch up.


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We got to camp at a decent hour, had a good dinner, campsite, and hung around telling stories, drinking some beer and having fun.

The next morning we decided to go to observation point and back to spider lake so we could camp at the same spot. We knew it would be a long day but it was longer then expected.
The reasoning for this was to get to the bronco to the end. Once you hit observation point it is basically dirt roads after that. He wanted to go through loon and out tahoe vs. running back and forth for a few days due to it being a new vehicle and on the smallest tires in the group.

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going through some rocks before going down to buck island lake.

We ran into a toyota that needed a limit strap welded on because it ripped off and without it he would over extend his driveshaft and break it so I brought out the premier power welder, when I finished he insisted on paying me with 4 beers, they were PBR, my favorite!

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Vay flexing out.

Got down to buck island and played on this ledge for a little bit, then had lunch and went swimming.

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After lunch we continued on.

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06 H3

a.k.a. "The Jackal"
Messages
9,347
Location
Meridian, ID
whoops, I didnt add a pic of the limit strap repair, I am not a pro stick welder but it was better then what he had lol.

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So we continued on after lunch and between buck island and rubicon springs there are a ton of fun obstacles. Here is a shot of a few rigs parked.

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Going down big sluice, we see this usually each trip, a rig with no one around that has significant damage.

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Just before rubicon springs Vay had a power steering leak. We told the group to go on as we had a stock bronco that still had to get up cadillac hill. Vay had 2 issues, one was that the ram assist lines kept coming loose at the ram. They may have been over tightened and arent holding anymore, that happened throughout the trip but this time it was the line from the box that had a leak in the actual line, not just a fitting coming loose. The line was rubbing up against the body and cut a hole in the line. Luckily my friend Chuck had field serviceable ends that allowed us to cut the line off at the cut, then put a new fitting on it.

We got it fixed and kept moving, stopped at the springs for a little bit then went up cadillac hill to observation point. Congrats to all the first timers completing the rubicon! Now to go back....LOL.

So we parted ways with the bronco and headed back to spider lake. We got to camp around 10 pm I think. Next year when we do the rubicon with first timers we will run from loon to tahoe and not base camp. See next post for the grand finale.
 

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06 H3

a.k.a. "The Jackal"
Messages
9,347
Location
Meridian, ID
We got a late start to the morning, since we had a long day yesterday so we took it slow, packed up camp, some "showered" in the lake, i.e. try to get the dirt and grease off.

It was a beautiful morning.

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After packing up we ran the RTF loop, we have never run the loop and it has only been open for about a year/1.5 years. This is an optional section of the rubicon and technically is not the rubicon trail but veers right off of it. Coming down the trail to the actual start of the loop had a ton of beaitiful little springs

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Getting into the start of the loop had a tight spot, Vay flexing out.

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These pics going forward are in the loop, there were 4 of us. Myself, the gold TJ, Red race jeep and the chevy. Vay and Chuck stayed back and went swimming in those springs.

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There are a ton of tight spots in the loop and we didnt get a ton of pics but it was fun! We will definitely be back to do it again.

Now the fun starts, we finish the loop and meet back up with Vay and Chuck. As we head back to the main trail Vay is coming up a climb that has 2 obstacles, you climb one ledge, turn left, and then climb the next ledge.

He climbs the first ledge and is flexing out and turning to line up to the next ledge he starts to stall out so he gives it gas and is in a hurry. He is on the wrong line, floors it, gets the front end airborne, lands on throttle and explodes his rear driveshaft.

Vay is very lucky he didnt roll over and tumble 20 feet down the first ledge. He tries to start the rig and it wont start, it will crank but no start. We decided to winch him up and get him to flat ground before diagnosing.

Luckily there was a winch point in the ground so we had him hooked up to that but since it wouldnt run I turned around and helped take load off of his winch and electrical system. As we are winching him up his front end kept locking up, we assume his t case is fucked.

Sorry, we its a lot of typing with no pics, tsar trail will have a video going up, he video'd it but at this point there is no time for pictures, we are in recovery mode.

So we pull the rear driveline to change the broken u joint, while 2-3 work on that, we pull the front driveshaft assuming the t case is fucked. Our goal is to get him out in 2wd. being in 2wd is a huge help vs. zero wheel drive.

The rear driveshaft cap holes are wallowed out, so we put in a new u joint and weld the caps into the driveshaft permanently since the shaft was fucked anyway.

So the fixed rear shaft goes back in, the front is out, and we diagnose the no start, it was a blown fuel pump fuse. A wire is grounding out since the SAS is my guess since it happened a few times. So he puts it in gear and immediately BOOM, he didnt even move and theres parts on the ground.


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Funny that it blew it off right where the sticker was.

So new plan...zero wheel drive, we dead pull him out and try to avoid leaving the rig on the trail like the XJ we saw the day before.

There were concerns if this was possible and some asked if we can sat phone in a t case, swap it, and get him off the trail under his own power but we figured we will try and see how it goes.

We refer to the hummer as "big bitch mafia" because I primarily wheel with smaller jeeps and toyotas. Big bitch mafia is a sliding scale, depending on who I am with, sometimes I am in medium bitch mafia but never little bitch mafia.

Anyways, we have 2 big bitch mafia members up to the task, my rig and the chevy. I was in position and started. I got him up a very steep climb with no issue, now we come to a rocky climb and I load up the rear end and my truss where the anti wrap bar is rips off. It is holding on by a thread. It didnt crack where the welds were but 3in behind. It was only a 1/8in plate truss from ruffstuff and an anti wrap sees a ton of load now towing 7500 lbs. of dead weight.

I unhook, climb the obstacle, get to flat ground and get to work. I have a welder, steel plate and tube. So myself, Chuck in the YJ and Kyle in the race jeep stay back and we ratchet strap it back in place, weld it up, then start throwing plate everywhere we can to get as much weld surface on it as possible.

While we are doing this, we are listening to the radio. Derek is hooked up, and ready to go.

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You can hear them struggling in the beginning, but quickly everyone gets their role and comes together, you have a guy spotting vay's driver side, a guy spotting his passenger side, a guy handling the rope, in some situations they needed a short rope for turns or because the pulling rig was in a better position to pull with a short rope or sometimes a long rope or sometimes winching or sometimes a train of 2 rigs pulling at once. So they had a guy running around changing rope setups. Then we had the ring leader, Clint, in the gold TJ being up front picking the easiest lines to get him out and I will tell you that there were plenty of spots where there is no easy spot. Pulling a dead rig up rocks is HARD. a 7500 lb rig with 3 out of 4 tires bound up on big rocks makes it that much more difficult but within a short time they become a well-oiled machine.

I am now fixed and we catch up to them. They got up the slabs and rock section between buck island lake and little sluice when we caught up and when we got there, they all looked exhausted and rightfully so. We took over to give them a break. The hummer pulled them from little sluice all the way back to the granite bowl and camped right before the gatekeeper near loon. The next morning we dragged him through the gatekeeper and back to pavement for a tow truck to send him home.

Tsar Trail will hopefully have a youtube video up soon to showcase the entire trip. Vay was thrown in trial by fire, he said it was the toughest rockcrawling he's done, and it was long days with a new rig. Thankfully Derek jumped in to help even though we never met in person till that trip (we have followed each other on forums for probably 10 years) and thanks to my original group of friends helping out like we always do.

Hopefully vay gets fixed up in no time.

@CaseyS I will link this thread to my build thread and give my thoughts on my rig's performance on my build thread.
 

Vdawg1115

Well-Known Member
Messages
358
Location
Oakland, CA
That’s pretty much the gist of it. Over all the suspension worked great. It’s so smooth over the rocks. But I did learn I have major rubbing issues. Tires got chewed up from all the rubbing on the arb bumper and rear tires got chewed up rubbing against the fender near the door
 

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06 H3

a.k.a. "The Jackal"
Messages
9,347
Location
Meridian, ID
I know you will get it all fixed up better then ever Vay. The suspension seemed to flex out and work great! This is a shakedown run and I have been on the other end of a rope many times.
 

08H3

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,314
Location
United States
Looks like an epic trip! How did the stock Bronco do? If markups and availability ever get under control, a Bronco is still on my short list for a new car.
 

06 H3

a.k.a. "The Jackal"
Messages
9,347
Location
Meridian, ID
Looks like an epic trip! How did the stock Bronco do? If markups and availability ever get under control, a Bronco is still on my short list for a new car.
The bronco did well. It didn’t break and it finished. It took some bypasses and had some rocks stacked but that’s to be expected on anything near factory spec
 

Vdawg1115

Well-Known Member
Messages
358
Location
Oakland, CA
So the extent of the damage to the tcase was worse than I thought. sadly I didn’t have Saran Wrap and paper clips, coulda fixed it and drove home.
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06 H3

a.k.a. "The Jackal"
Messages
9,347
Location
Meridian, ID
We need some feedback on the 6 speed, tap shifting and doubler operation.
Casey, I apologize I never responded to this!

The 6 speed and doubler did well. Double low first gear is LOW. About 110:1, a stock auto H3 with a 4:1 is about 55:1 so basically double! I must say having the tap shift setup to where I can truly start in 1,2 or 3rd gear is awesome. There were times 1st gear was too low and I needed snappy wheel speed so a 2nd or 3rd gear start was perfect.

While this is nothing new (since I had the doubler before the 6 speed) the versatility a 4 speed t case offers is amazing. 1.96:1 low range is nice on dirt roads looking for slightly more reduction. 2.72:1 is nice for light crawling, mud and sand (which I didn’t encounter much of on the rubicon) and then 5.33:1 for true crawling. Then slap it in 1:1 for highway. Front digs allowing me to run front wheel drive only helps pivot and unload the drivetrain in situations. So I am a huge fan of the 6l80 doubler.

The 5-6 split is so much nicer on the highway.

Now for the downsides or improvements. My speedo in low range isn’t reading properly. It is reading like it’s in 1:1 so at 10 mph in double low it’s reading like 70 mph. I think it’s reading an AWD trans ratio and not a true 4wd trans. It came out of a Denali and I don’t think it had low range so a flash to a different vin is probably necessary.

I’m unsure how where I want my gearing at in true crawling. With the 4l60 in 1st gear double low I was 83:1 and it was perfect. 110:1 may be too low for crawling and then 2nd is 64:1 and may be too high. I’m being nitpicky and I need more seat time to see what I like. More use of 1st or 2nd gear.

110:1 may be perfect though for true slow wheeling trying to stay on top of snow. Time will tell what ratio I like best for crawling but as of now 83:1 was my favorite and I don’t have that anymore. On the flip side I felt 83:1 (4l60 double low 1st) was too low for wheel speed and I’d sometimes bog in 2nd (44:1 2nd gear 4l60 double low) and now the 2nd gear double low with the 6l80 is perfect for wheel speed. So I’m being nitpicky but enjoying it
 
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