Well spring is finally here and the members of 4play are crawling out from under their rigs after a long winter of changes, modifications, and even some complete rebuilds.The April 13th meeting and Tech inspections were held at the home of our fearless leader, Bob (Black Dog) Price and his wife Tammy, thanks again. Inspections went off without a hitch, all trucks were checked for proper equipment, and were given the ok by our Sgt. At Arms, Jeff Haplin, and given a shot at the 30 degree ramp. Some performed better than others but everyone got an idea of what could be done to improve the stability and flexibility of their rig. With that said, we kicked off our 1st spring run of the year with a trip to the infamous Badlands ORV Park in Attica, Indiana. We left in two groups, one left Friday the 26th in the early morning to beat traffic, and the other group of stragglers arrived Saturday morning. With a total of 16 trucks, drivers and passengers, it was quite a convoy of trailers for 4 hour drive. After reaching Summers Campground around 10:00 a.m. check in was prompt, tents and sleeping quarters were put up in no time at all. The weather was on our side with bright sunshine and temps around 70 degrees, which just fueled the anxiety to get to the park to wheel.
Once there we split into two groups, the 1st consisting of Jeff H., Erick M., Ralph G., Jim T., D.J., Chris N., and Dave H. They decided to ease into the weekend with a twisting, off camber run on the green trail. While Bob N., Greg P., Bob P., and I decided to hit it hard right off the trailers pointing in the direction of the pink trail. Don't let the name fool you, it has a rating of 5 (winch required, body damage inevitable).Let the Carnage begin!
Twenty minutes in the Rat lost a front drive shaft due to excessive flex and not enough spline. While repairs were being made Black Dog took the same line, popped his front shaft sending it into the side of 727 auto transmission. Luckily the chunk of casting that came out was in one piece and was easily tapped back into place. About a quart of fluid was lost but he was able to continue. After regrouping in the Quarry, we ran some pretty vertical lines up the slick and sandy shale walls which led us back into the woods where some strategically placed large rocks made for some real nice off camber fun.
Carnage 2, Rat showboating in a small gully flopped it on its side, causing two small dents and a popped drivers bead. A quick upright with the help of Bob Norman and Greg Paukner, and a change to the spare tire and we were trail bound once again. Later that afternoon we met up with the rest of the group and ran the river down to a steep Rock face rising from the river about 25' or so high, grooved with 3-4' steps all the way up. Jeff H. was the first to try and find a line but quit before he ended up wheels up in the river. The Rat went next making a completely new line Followed by 4Bangler and Black Dog. Next was Chris in his (no p/s) flatbed toy, he gave new meaning to the word launch and tree pivot. What a show! Last in line was Bob Norman in the Killer Bee, not only did he put us all to shame by climbing directly from the river he did it with a blown pressure plate which had his clutch stuck in the GO position. If you ever have the chance to wheel with Bob, watch and learn. He drives with patience and 100% finesse and makes the ugliest line look like a walk in the park. Friday ended with campfire stories and good food.Sat. morning proved to be an ugly day. Overcast skies and rain set the tone for what lay ahead. For those that were leaving in the afternoon the small city of tents were brought down and the gear was packed up. Everybody had left for the park except for Dave, Erik, Ralph, and I and before we could even get out of camp Dave had a mishap. So for this trip Dave Hass was awarded the BLINDERS trophy for clipping a tree, folding the pass. fender, and ripping the front shackle mount from the frame. Luckily we had a welder (brought by Chris) so a quick repair was made by Dave and I to get his jeep road worthy. Once we finished, we met up with everyone on the trail. It was raining pretty hard and the easiest trails became slippery mayhem with plenty of pucker moments, needless to say we all had our winching moments. Rob Wickstrom drove down that morning with his son Jake and shortly after hitting the trail was met with misfortune. His fan sucked up some water while going through a hole and was thrown into his radiator leaving him unable to finish the day. The group was slowly thinning, the only trucks still left in trail worthy condition were Rob M, Bob P, Greg P, Brain Z, Ralph G, and I. We ended up back in the Quarry after pulling three (near show quality) Jeeps out of a gully on the green trail none of which had proper tow points or 4 wheel drive that worked. Since the day was coming to a close we decided to just play around. Black dog found a beautiful rock garden to do a little research and development in, and the garden proved its worth by leaving him with a broken transmission mount, broken passenger side front axle u-joint on his new D-44, no front drive shaft and a horse shoed drag link from the recovery process. I found a better line making it all the way to the plateau and back down again when," The Gods said "You've showboated enough" and with that pop went the rear passenger tire bead leaving me high centered and without a spare with air. So with the trusty high lift jack and a spare from the only rig left in the group with the same bolt pattern (THANKS to Rob M. for the tire and Greg P. for the use of the high lift jack) the switch was made and back to camp we went. It was just in time to find our tents floating... that was the last sign that it was time to go. Thanks to everyone for an excellent time, and to the wives that put up with our addictions, until next trip - Rockrat signing off saying...
"JEEP, it's what's for Dinner!"