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Updated: 20 hours 47 min ago

Convenience of a 4-Door Model in a 2-Door Vehicle

Wed, 10/11/2017 - 19:50

On the Rubicon Trail

Every once in a while a new product comes along that is a real game-changer for the 4WD community. It may not be flashy, but the product fills a void. Such is the case with the hinged side windows in the new hardtop for my Jeep Wrangler. What’s just as amazing is the story behind this tremendous find.

I was working on the Jeep one afternoon when this couple walks by. I know them vaguely, haven spoken a few times over the years. Jerry Mancini and his wife live about a block from me.  Jerry owns Rally Tops, www.rallytops.com, located in nearby Gardena, Calif. They make hardtops for a variety of off-road vehicles, as well as tonneaus and bed covers for pickups.

At the time my Wrangler had an old, zipper challenged, yellowing windows soft top. As he approached Jerry said, “Did you ever think of putting a hardtop on that vehicle?” Coincidentally, that thought had crossed my mind every time I tried to unzip the rear window. “I have a top that will fit,” he said.

During a conversation, as I toured his factory, I outlined what I wanted. Jerry said he’d kick around the idea. He called me one day to say he had a solution, and asked me to bring in the Jeep. After he described what he had in mind, I agreed and thought, “That’s nice.”

But after I got the Jeep back “nice’ just wasn’t descriptive enough. I couldn’t stop thinking that this is a really fantastic solution.

Jerry solved an issue that has been bugging the heck out of me for years. Because my Wrangler is a two-door, packing gear and retrieving supplies can be a challenge. It’s really tough to find all those small spaces in the back. I’d have to reach over the back seat or climb in through the tailgate while packing and retrieving.

Pop-up side windows are a godsend

These side windows are just what I needed. Each swings up like a tailgate window. Two small struts hold the windows up and out of the way; the keyed handles keep your gear secure. Those handles recess when in closed position so they don’t get caught on brush or other material.

The hardtop is made of fiberglass and inlaid with mildew-resistant carpet. When installed, you’d swear it’s a stock hardtop: It’s designed that well. I ordered black, but I believe he also offers white and tan.

It’s amazing the difference these windows make. Loading up is much more efficient. I can reach all those pockets and holes that previously were nearly inaccessible. I find I can pack more into the Wrangler because I can access from the sides.

Size comparison of the flip up window on the yellow LJ to a stock Jeep top on the silver LJ.

 

Retrieving stuff is equally slick. No more having to climb over the back seat or in past the tailgate. Just pop a window, and reach in. In the past I had to unload most of the vehicle to reach certain gear. Again, no more. Everything in the back of the Jeep is within arm’s reach. And I can reach it from the outside of the vehicle.

New windows pass an important test

Hinged windows may seem great on paper, but they must stand up to the rigors of four wheeling. If not, they’re of little value.

Soon after installing my new topper, I headed out on my annual Rubicon expedition. If you’ve done the Rubicon, you know how demanding it is – on humans and machines.

The route is dusty. It can – and did – rain, and rain heavily. And, of course, I got jostled about as only the Rubicon can do to you.

The new windows passed with flying colors. The locks never let go. The windows never popped open. There wasn’t a smidgen of dust or water in the cab. To say I was amazed is an understatement. In fact, I was flat out impressed.

Even though this was a one-off production, Jerry and his crew put their almost 3 decades of experience into it. The top fits like a glove, and the windows and window frames are of high quality. Jerry tells me that the top is a bit lighter than a stock hardtop, but it’s just as sturdy. I know I can count on years of worry-free use.

A couple quibbles with the new hardtop

Only two issues have come to light so far. For some reason, the locks on the driver side are keyed separately from the passenger side. My guess is that it’s a simple oversight. This was, after all, essentially a prototype.

I’d also like to see thicker bolt protectors on the undersides of the locks. Those bolt ends protrude quite a bit. If your vehicle is leaning toward you (causing the window edge to drop), you can bang your forehead on a bolt end. The bolt ends come covered with a small covering (see the image); a thicker and softer piece would be nice. I like the orange color. It’s easier to see them from a distance.

Window size comparison of a Rally Top on the left LJ to a stock Jeep LJ window on the right

 

Considering what a difference these windows make, I’m really surprised that more hardtops aren’t made this way. Whether Rally Tops will introduce the product I don’t know. I sense that if he were to begin production, Jerry would limit his hardtops Jeep models.

I’m sure he’s open to hearing from other 4WD enthusiasts. If you own a Jeep and are interested in learning more about the hardtop with the hinged windows, contact Jerry Mancini. He can be reached at 800-664-8677, or by email to sales@rallytops.com .

If Jerry realizes there is sufficient demand in the 4WD community for this type of hardtop, he might begin producing some models.

This is new window configuration is the perfect solution for a two-door Jeep Wrangler. The side windows make such a difference in being able to pack and retrieve your gear. I’m even more excited now to go four-wheeling. This new hard top has added a whole new dimension to my adventures. Perhaps one day you, too, will be able to enjoy the added benefits of this type of hardtop.

#    #    #

Did you miss the previous article? Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

West side of Long Valley Caldera in CA

Summary of upcoming events.

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

We have new stock of all colors!

Yellow is back in stock! The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have most of them available. The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website .

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

#####

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/contacts.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site?
You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2017, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

Amateur International 4WD Event – the Penultimate Bucket List Trip

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 16:38

Lots of planning is involved.

Four wheelers like to dream. Sometimes they get to act out those dreams. Marc Schreuder is one such person. This January he is checking one item off his bucket list. He’ll gain valuable 4WD experience and do some tremendous good in the process.

The Mountain View, Calif., resident is participating in the Budapest-Bamako rally one of the more challenging expeditions around. And at the end of the ride, he will donate his vehicle and gear to charity.

Held every two years, the rally starts in Budapest, Hungary, and historically ended in Bamako, Mali. Turmoil in that country forced organizers to shift the route to Banju, Gambia. Africa. Next year’s rally runs Jan. 12-28.

Billed as The World’s Largest Amateur Rally, the excursion covers nearly 5,000 miles and includes some very challenging terrain. While some really hard-core drivers participate, it’s really designed for the common man. Amateurs on a low budget can get their entrance fee waived participate. (See the website for all the details.)

Another cool aspect is that the ride has a philanthropic angle. Most of the participants donate their vehicles and gear at the end of the ride.

Schreuder talked about the rally while taking one of my classes. Intrigued, I called him one day for more about him and his plans.

Born and raised in South Africa, Schreuder fondly recalls taking road trips to the country as a youth. “So I’m kind of nostalgically attached to driving around and seeing the country,” he says.

In May 2003, Schreuder embarked on a four-week, 5,000 mile trek around California. At one point he got stuck in snow while on a forest road. Driving alone, he had to come up with a solution. That incident gave Schreuder a taste of being self-reliant.

He’s also done some dirt road driving in Africa. The trails were graded, and the driving didn’t require spotting for lines or other techniques. “I certainly don’t have a wealth of experience before this trip,” he says.

Schreuder has since taken both of my starter classes, along with my Sand & Dune class. He has signed up for Winch & Recovery Clinic and the Self-Recovery Clinic to be held on Sept. 23 and 24.

Bitten by the rally bug

Schreuder discovered the Budapest-Bamako rally while working in England in the early 2000s. He couldn’t participate at the time, but was really inspired by what he saw.

“Some people will travel around the world before starting their careers,” he says. “I haven’t done that kind of thing.” He offers another good reason on his website: “I want to see if I enjoy the adventurer experience – it may become more of a lifestyle.” Schreuder, 43, feels this rally will build his confidence to do something more adventurous—perhaps take off for a year or two by himself somewhere.

Test loading with new draw system.

Schreuder purchased a 1998 4Runner for the rally. That’s an appropriate choice. Toyotas are durable, and are really popular in many African countries. He should have little difficulty getting parts or help should he need either.

It sports a 3.4L V6 engine and stock 5-speed manual transmission. Though it as 203,000 miles on it, the 4Runner is in pretty good shape. “Engine to me felt it was running smoothly,” Schreuder says. “And the gearbox felt fairly crisp, so I felt it should be decent platform to start with.”

Improvements include installing a suspension lift with modified upper control arms, a heavy-duty clutch and flywheel. He swapped out all the fluids changed the brakes, air filter, plugs and wires, and installed a heavy-duty battery. The 4Runner also got a new steering rack and rods, half shafts, extended bump stops, anti-roll bar and control arm bushings, ball joints, valve cover gaskets and a fresh timing belt and water pump. He chose BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain tires for their deep tread and added a second spare.

His gear includes a Hi-Lift jack and recovery strap. Because he’ll hit sand in parts of Africa, Schreuder has purchase a Pull Pal sand anchor and installed an 8,000-pound winch and an ARB bumper.

Schreuder wouldn’t divulge what he has sunk into his 4Runner. [editor: To outfit for an excursion like this figure 4 or 5x what you paid for a used vehicle. That includes replacement parts and upgrades to the vehicle, as well as your gear.]

Rally entrance fee was about $2,000, and he’s projecting out-of-pocket expenses along the way.

Preparing for the rally

The rally offers five categories: Classic GPS, 4×4 Touring, School Bus to Africa, Touring Adventure, and Bamako Spirit. It’s the last one the offers you the chance to avoid the entrance fee. (Although every team pays the 200 Euro administration fee.) Schreuder is participating in the 4×4 Touring category. Though it’s extremely challenging, he will be driving alone. Not having passengers provides more room for gear and supplies, but means he’ll have no help riding with him. He’s counting on skills learned during the Badlands Off-Road Adventures clinics to help him navigate through sand and other challenging terrain.

If something were to go terribly wrong, Schreuder feels he’ll be able to limp to the nearest village. Doing so may disrupt the day’s plans, “but it won’t be life threatening.”

Schreuder is also hoping to meet two or three other teams he could caravan with. Daily drivers’ meetings will help him decide whether he needs to take a different route at times.

He anticipates some issues with pop-up roadblocks and border crossings in Africa. And language will be a bit of a challenge. Schreuder plans to learn some simple phrases in Arabic and French.

“I feel there is a decent amount of safety nets,” he says. “A lot of experienced folks on the journey.”

Sand Driving class – on the beach ready to head into the dunes

The first step in this journey involves getting the vehicle over there. In early October, he will ship the vehicle from Oakland, Calif., to the Port of Felixstowe in England. Friends will collect the car upon its arrival in late November and store it for a few weeks. He’ll pick up the car in January; after a few days of prep, he drives it to Budapest. Schreuder will arrive in Budapest on Jan. 11—the day before the rally starts.

He is required to obtain an export certificate from California. After the rally concludes, he’ll remove the license plates, and bring them back. Schreuder is buying international insurance, and had to undertake a series of vaccinations, including one for yellow fever.

Communications gear will include a satellite phone and CB radio. (Event organizers recommend that.) He has a blog, Fair Winds 2 Banjul, but he’s not sure whether he’ll encounter internet access to allow for updates. If not, Schreuder would like to offer tracking through a Spot transponder or similar device.

The ride won’t be all work. Schreuder plans to take in some of the sights along the way. He’s especially taken in by big trees, and hopes to see a giant Atlas cedar while traveling through the Atlas Mountains in Morocco.

“I’m counting on the route going through some interesting places,” he says.

Once he reaches Banjul, scheduled for Jan. 28, Schreuder will quickly donate the vehicle and get ready for his return flight on the 31st. In addition to the four-wheeling gear, Schreuder is taking along a 25-person medical kit. He hopes the donated vehicle can be used in a humanitarian manner, perhaps in search and rescue.

“That’s the nicest option,” he says. “Good chance for the vehicle make a decent impact in a lot of people’s lives.”

This rally impressed upon Schreuder the value of 4WD training. “There’s no substitute for practice,” he says. “There’s no substitute for having some confidence of how things are going to work and how much stuck you can get and still get out.” Which is why he is taking my Recovery Class. (The next one is on Sept. 24. You can register for it here.)

On off years, the Budapest-Bamako promotor offers a Baja style amateur event.

Although he hasn’t done the Baja Rally, Schreuder feels it would offer some good training. “Do that before doing the bigger deal further away.”

If you want to dream big, this rally could be for you. Even if you can’t participate, put one challenging ride on your bucket list. Drive out of your comfort zone and enjoy the experience that only a truly challenging route can offer.

# # #

Did you miss the previous article? Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

West side of Long Valley Caldera in CA

Summary of upcoming events.

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

We have new stock of all colors!

Yellow is back in stock! The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have most of them available. The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

#####

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/contacts.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site?
You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2017, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

 

2m Hamming Off-Road

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 10:01

It is great to be able to reach out to an Amateur Radio repeater when off-road

You recently got your ham ticket and are eager to experience ham radio while four wheeling.

Installing a mobile 2 meter/440 radio

You’re ready to make the leap to a mobile radio. Great! Even though this is your first rig, installing isn’t as difficult as it might seem. Of course, if you’re not comfortable buying the parts or doing the work, find a handy helper. Ask your Elmer or contact a local ham radio club.

This is not a step-by-step review. I just want to provide you on overview of the process and encourage you to do it yourself. Radio use and access is very personal. I want you to be happy and comfortable with your radio installation.

Take your time on planning and installing the mobile radio. Use the steps below to break your project up into discrete manageable parts.

  • Install the radio
  • Provide it with “clean” power
  • Add an external speaker
  • Install the antenna

HT

In the meantime, get on the air with a quick and inexpensive option using a handheld radio (referred as “HT” – short hand for handy talky) and removable antenna. Long term you want the big power from your mobile radio!

HTs are available from a variety of suppliers. Do some research to find the right one for you. Most today are dual-band, covering both the 2m and 440 MHz (70 cm) bands.

The products you need include:

– Handheld radio and at least one extra battery pack.

– Mag mount or window clip-on antenna. Either can be used with a mobile radio, too.

This arrangement is essentially plug and play. The biggest challenge involves locating the antenna. Many 4WD vehicles don’t have trunks or hard roofs, so you’ll have to experiment a bit.

Try the hood or a fender. Do you get static or engine noise? Try the side opposite the AM/FM radio antenna to create space between the antennas.  Some guys attach to the swing arm for the spare tire (extra grounding may be needed).

Mobile Rig placement:

You want the rig accessible but not interfering with your field of vision or any controls on the vehicle. The radio and mic should be within easy reach.

Does your radio have a detachable front panel? Many 4WD vehicles have “secret compartments” that are great for hiding the body of a radio. But you’ll also need a spot for the front panel. Place it where there is minimal eye movement.

Some generalities apply to any type of mobile radio:

– Keep it away from direct sunlight and source of moisture (like under a seat).

– Make sure there is sufficient air flow around the unit. Even at low power the radio generates a fair amount of heat.

– The 9-pin DIN socket, on the back of the radio, should be accessible for ease of programming. Keep away from the dash panel, shifter or other part.

– Mount into metal using bolts. That’ll be more solid than trying to screw into plastic. Keep as many wires as possible out of sight and neatly stowed.

– Ground directly to the battery. Grounding to the body with the multitude of computers and circuits in modern vehicle, can result in interference with the radio or the vehicle operation.

Do you need ideas on where to locate your radio? Google – Ham radio install <insert your vehicle> and click on images.

Use clean power:

By this I mean tap the battery directly, for both positive and ground leads. The 12v power outlet works fine for an HT, but won’t handle the power needed for a mobile rig. Make sure both leads are fused, too. 12 ga. wire or larger is preferred.

Anderson Power Poles

Consider using Anderson Powerpoles and RIGrunner connector blocks. Powerpoles have standardized red and black leads designed to make connections easy—and error free.

RIGrunners are like power strips used in the home. They’re designed for Powerpoles and allow you to connect multiple devices to a single power source (the battery, in this case). Mount the RIGrunner to the inside of the firewall or hide in the glove compartment. Attach Powerpoles to the radio’s power leads, and use a grommet any time you run wire through the firewall.

RIGrunner

 

RIGrunners come in various sizes. Right now you’re focused on installing your 2m/440 ham rig. But even the smallest RIGrunner can support several devices. You have the flexibility to add an HF rig, CB radio or other devices later.

External speaker:

An external speaker is all but a necessity for four wheeling. The radio’s built-in speaker doesn’t put out much volume, and can be really difficult to hear while bounding around off road. A separate speaker is inexpensive and can be mounted where it’ll do the most good.

Antenna installation:

Having used a mag mount antenna already, you should have a good idea where to mount a permanent antenna. Of course, you can continue using the mag mount; there’s no requirement that you change.

If you’re uncomfortable drilling a hole, find a buddy. Done right, there is minimal damage to the body and you won’t have to worry about rust creep.

Next is the issue of cable. Antennas come with coax, and it’s generally RG-58 (1/4” thick). You could augment that with a thin style, like RG-174 or RG-188. Run a short section (keep it short to minimize signal loss) under a door frame, lift gate, or tailgate. Buy a barrel connector, too, so you can attach to the antenna cable. This option can also be used with a mag mount or window mount antenna.

With all the bouncing around we do while off road, barrel connectors can loosen over time. The result is static on the radio. As part of the 360 inspections, check the barrel connector on the coax, too.

One thing I should point out. Regardless of the type of antenna you use, it probably will have to be tuned. This requires an SWR meter designed for VHF and above. Make sure you test under normal operating conditions.

Installing a 2m/440 mobile radio may at first seem intimidating. But if you break it down into the various steps, you see that it’s a fairly straightforward process. If you still need help, there are numerous ham radio operators in your area willing and able to help. Ham radio operation adds an interesting and safety-oriented dimension to four wheeling.

#   #   #

Did you miss the previous article? Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

West side of Long Valley Caldera in CA

Summary of upcoming events.

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

We have new stock of all colors!

Yellow is back in stock! The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have most of them available. The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

#####

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/contacts.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site?
You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2017, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

Are You a Roads Scholar?

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 18:37

Borrego Springs, CA

 

Off-road vehicles aren’t exactly sports cars. In fact, just the opposite. We can’t safely drive then the same way as our family car. They take longer to stop, are less stable in fast turns, and sometimes have poor visibility. Poor drivers (the bottom 25%, or 1 in 4) don’t realize this. They often don’t allow us space (much less a semi) to stop, turn, etc.

Anecdotally, I figure I drive only about 10% of any four-wheeling trip off-road. That means 90% of my driving time is on paved roads. That’s probably true for you as well.

This means we must substitute reading terrain and picking lines with defensive driving and avoiding road rage for a greater distance.

Our defensive driving philosophy

To another driver on the road you are not a person but just a vehicle occupying space traveling at a certain speed. So, if you get cut off it is not personal. They are not talented drivers like you are. They are all idiots and they are likely to make mistakes (errors in judgement) right in front of you. And who is screwed if they make a mistake?  You are. But as a brilliant driver it is your responsibility to make sure you pay for fewer of other people’s blunders by leaving more space.
Do you really want to drive close to idiots? Leave space. Practice defensive driving!

When someone cuts you off or takes aggressive action that says, “my time is more valuable that yours”, does that frost your butt? Do you want to signal your displeasure? Before your let road rage take over, Think about this.
Do you believe that your action will teach them anything?  They are already idiots!
So, leave space, be polite, and try to anticipate the actions of other drivers.

Leave Space:
Ok – so we know, vehicle after vehicle is going to try to fill in that front space! But try to keep at least a 3-second gap between you and the vehicle ahead—much longer during inclement weather. Double the space in front if someone is tailgating your vehicle.

Anticipating actions of others: This is the fun part of highway driving! How often can you detect impending situations, subtle behaviors of the driver or the position of the vehicle and correctly call out the action? Why is the driver in front and one lane to your left continuously looking over his right shoulder? If he changes lanes without signally, did you call it? If the front right wheel of the vehicle beside you is creeping over the center divider, is he drifting or about to cut in front of you? Score if you get it right! Double score because you avoided an accident. But of course, watch for turn signals, brake lights and other signs of an impending move. If traffic is bunching up, it could indicate an accident or road condition up ahead. If at a lighted intersection, pause for a second or so after getting the green light. Make sure all the cross traffic is stopped or visibly slowing down, no one is running a red light, or thinking of turning in front of you. Watch for bikes, smaller motorcycles and pedestrians.

Aggressive drivers: This was the leading cause of accidents until smarts phone popped “distracted driving” to the top of the list.   Don’t let aggressive drivers get to you. Let the idiot pass so he can get out of your space. Stay focused on your drive, and avoid the temptation to offer the one-finger salute. You risk escalating the situation to a case of road rage.

Speaking of smart phones, don’t pick the highest risk area (like approaching intersections) to succumb to temptation and look at your messages!

“Stale” green light: Cruising at 60 mph you’re coming upon a green light you didn’t see change, but wonder if it’ll change soon. Contrary to popular instincts, you don’t accelerate. There are clues to help you decide if there is still time or it is about to turn. If the road ahead is clear and the on-coming pack of cars is well past you, the light has been green quite a while (at least in the life cycle of a green light). If traffic going in the other direction is piling up at the red (6 or more) or the left turn is stacking up, it has been green for quite a while. In these cases, you have only 1 – 3 seconds of green left. Just a few seconds left and you’re not quite to the intersection. Do you take it or slow down for the yellow light you know is coming? At what point do you make that decision?

We put a lot of stress on our vehicles off-road. Critical parts can be a hair away from failure. For all problems, you find there are others for which no visual check can detect before getting on the road. These parts failures and the remote highways we drive, means you’re going to face challenges while behind the wheel. There are many, and I’ll address a collection of them here

No brakes: Normally we find the broken lines and leaking fluid in our 360 checks of the vehicle before getting back on the road. (BTW, there are 2 absolute items you very much want to check – that you can steer and stop the vehicle!)

There are problems that will not show up in a 360 check. Hard lines running the length of the frame can be rubbed thin after 300,000 miles of hard use. Drum brakes packed with wet sand will grind your brake pads, making them ineffective in as little as 100 miles.

So, quickly determine if anything has rolled behind the brake pedal. Pump the brakes to help build pressure. Stab and hold the brake pedal while downshifting. Apply the emergency brake, and steer off the road. As a last resort, scrape the side of the vehicle (another advantage of having rock sliders!) against the guard rail or roadside brush; this could slow the vehicle. If there’s an exit lane on your side of the road—especially a truckers’ runaway lane—take it. I have always wanted to try one of these but without the terror of really needing it!  Coast to a safe spot off the road.

Steering failure: This can be scary at 60 mph in the middle lane of a 3-lane highway. Grip the wheel as steering will be difficult. Apply steady pressure to the brakes, and find a safe place to pull over. Steering failure can be caused by several factors, including loss of tire pressure, as well as a broken belt, hose, tie rod end or track bar. The worst is a tie rod end disintegrating or a track bar letting go. Without these items as a fulcrum, turning the steering wheel has no effect. There are known cases of an adjustable track bar braking in half where the threaded rod was welded into the bar. I assisted a driver, who lost the bolt on one end while driving 65 mph on the interstate. Luckily, he made it to the shoulder. All I did was provide a new ½ x13 bolt so he could get home.

Tire blow out: And speaking of steering difficulty with loss of tire pressure … God knows we abuse our tires off-road. For a tire blowout accelerate slightly to maintain speed. (Yes, I know this sounds odd.) Counter steer to offset the pull caused by the blowout. Once in control, slow down and look for a place to exit. Pull over on the same side of the blowout so you can safely replace the bad tire.

Sudden acceleration/stuck throttle: Stab the accelerator several times, and shift into neutral. Stand on the brakes—use both feet if necessary. If the vehicle goes into neutral, it’s best to leave the engine running so the steering and other systems continue running until you are in a safe spot.  Newer “drive by wire” vehicles may not respond to shifting to neutral so try to kill the ignition. A built in override of 3 jabs on the start button might do it. If that doesn’t work, press and hold for several seconds (check your owner’s manual – now– not during the crisis).

Animal collisions: Take extra precaution if driving in an area or at a time when animals are likely to be on the move. Reduce speed at dusk and watch for wildlife along the roadside (and the telltale shining eyes). If you see a large animal by the road, lay on the horn—deer, in particular, will often flee.

Do you see the Deer?

Don’t take unsafe evasive action to avoid an impact, except for large animals like moose and elk – well maybe skunks too. Reduce your speed as best as possible, and aim for where the animal is coming from. You’re hoping for a glancing blow. Let off the brakes just before impact.

 Crisis stop: Our 4- wheel drive vehicles are designed to turn off ABS when we engage 4WD. Some turn it off for both 4 high and 4 low. Others only for 4 low.  Remind yourself which mode you are in. If your vehicle has ABS active, stomp and hold pressure on the brake pedal. Try to steer clear of the situation. If you don’t have ABS active, you can simulate it by pumping the brakes. Keep a solid grip on the steering wheel so you maintain control of the vehicle.

As a veteran driver, you most likely have faced many of these situations. (I know you’ve encountered aggressive drivers!) Take the time to thoroughly read and internalize this information. Visualize how you would react should you face any of these situations. That mental exercise can pay dividends. You can’t do anything about other drivers or nature’s hazards, but you can put the odds in your favor with proper education and preparation.

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Did you miss the previous article? Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

West side of Long Valley Caldera in CA

Summary of upcoming events.

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

We have new stock of all colors!

Yellow is back in stock! The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have most of them available. The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.#####

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You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2017, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.