The last week of April came and Donna and I packed up Lady and headed for Moab, Utah. This year, we combined our trip with a group of friends from the www.JeepsUnlimited.com web site. Dave B. and his family were there (I met Dave and Jen in Moab last year) representing Idaho. Mike & Shannon from Phoenix went up with us (we met them last year while Jeepin' with a group of ham radio operators) and stayed till Thursday or so.
It was quite the get together. Josh (aka., Shlingdawg from JU) put a lot of effort into organizing this little party. Some of us stayed through the entire week while others came and went as their vacation time permitted.
The plan was pretty simple. Every morning, we would meet in the parking lot of the City Market (Moab local grocery store). From there, we would split up into one or more groups to run trails that were applicable to both the driver and vehicle's capabilities.
On Sunday, we all met at the designated place and time. Some extra time was spent as we all were finally able to put faces to the names that we had been exchanging e-mail with for such a long time. I had promised several friends (who had not been to Moab before) that I would lead a run on a trail called Fins n' Things. This trail is a medium difficulty trail and has a little bit of everything that Moab has to offer. The slickrock climbs and descents are very steep in some spots, but they are short. Getting into trouble on this trail with others who have ran it would most likely take some doing. As such, it is a great trail to get some experience on for the other Moab type trails.
An added surprise came at the air down spot. Josh reached into the back of his 8" lifted TJ and pulled out flags for our CB antennas. We spent a few minutes and tied on our 1st Annual Moab Run JeepsUnlimited.Com pennants.
You can see the black and white flags tied off to our CB antennas. It looked pretty sharp and caused the JUers to "stand out" in the sea of Jeeps that cover Moab during this time of the year.
We ran the trail up until lunch time, and then stopped to eat at the overlook for Negro Bill Canyon. We circled the Jeeps up at the end of the overlook trail and started in on lunch. We were almost done with the sandwiches when a weather front started to move in and some very cold rain started to sprinkle down on us. We wrapped up the lunch real quick and jumped back into the Jeeps to finish the 2nd half of the trail.
We were about 3 good slickrock fins away from calling it a day.....a mere half mile from the end of the trail when Josh took a hard line up a fin and blew his rear drive shaft u-joint.
As you can see in the above photo, the u-joint is history. The bad part was the sheered strap bolts that remained in the pinion yoke. Those could not be extracted until later that day once we made it back to camp. William and Josh removed the drive shaft and Josh was left to front wheel drive to get to the end of the trail. He tried climbing the first fin, the one that took out the u-joint, but about 10' up, the front tires just started to spin. With an open front diff and much of the weight now transferred to the rear axle which was no longer pushing providing output, Josh couldn't keep the front tires hooked up on the sandstone. It was suggested that he turn around and try backing up the hill. It worked.....the TJ pushed itself right to the top of the fin. Josh admitted that backing down the other side was rather nerve wracking, but he did a good job of it. William came up to me later on and mentioned that he now understood why a rear locker can be a better investment than a front locker....especially when you are climbing an obstacle and the weight is shifted to the rear, as is often the case. I have attempted to explain this situation to other Jeepers, often times with no success.
I asked Josh to pose for a photo with his drive shaft. Josh was suppose to show up at Moab with a new pair of Dana 60s tucked under his TJ. The shop couldn't get them done in time so he ran his 38.5" Swampers on the factory D44/D30 combination. He got 5 days of wheelin' out of it before the rear diff started coming apart (more on that when we get to the Golden Spike trail).
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