We were about 30 minutes from Observation Point when I heard Robert on the CB, "Bruce, it broke". Bruce was in the lead and Robert was running in the #2 slot. That was it, the drag link was now in two pieces and we needed a trail fix to get us out of here. We were about 7 or 8 miles from the end of the trail. We would find that there were still some more rough spots ahead, but nothing like we had been running over the past two days.
I suggested we take a HI-Lift jack handle and cut it to length so it could slide over the two ends of the now broken drag link rod. We removed the adjuster from the end that was still attached to the pitman arm. We had to hacksaw the other end of the rod because of the knuckle where the steering stabilizer connects. As I told Robert, these two parts were left-overs from the new drag link mod!
Once the HI-Lift jack handle was in place, we took a couple of rachet straps and wrapped them around the drag link and the junction where the tie rod and drag link join. We were relying on this to keep everything together and give Robert limited steering control.
After some discussion, we decided to tow Robert behind Bruce's CJ-7 using a very short Y strap arrangement. This would cause the front of Robert's TJ to be slightly pulled around the corners and would hopefully cut down on the amount of movement of the steering.
I have no idea if this worked the way we thought it should, but as you can see in the above photo, there is Robert's TJ, sitting on asphalt, about 50 yards from the road that skirts Lake Tahoe. We were all extremely happy with how the trail fix held up. Robert said it felt nice and tight the entire way. It took use several hours to finish up those last 7~8 miles of the trail.
After we were out, we called for a wrecker and had the disabled TJ towed to the Harvey's Casino parking lot at South Lake Tahoe. Robert treated us all to dinner in one of the hotel's eating establishments. We also managed to toss down a few cold Coronas before calling it an evening! 4 Jeeps went in and 4 Jeeps came out!
The following morning, Robert and I hit the road at 8:00 AM in Lady. We drove back to where we left the tow rig and trailer, loaded Lady on it, and headed back for Robert's TJ. (did I mention we can load and secure a TJ on that trailer in well under 5 minutes?). Around mid-day, we met up with Bruce and Michael in the casino parking lot, put Robert's TJ on the trailer, and set out for Chino. We pulled into Robert's driveway about 11:30 PM that evening. What an adventure!
I want to take this opportunity to thank Michael, Robert, and Bruce for allowing me to share this off-road adventure with them. I have never experienced wheelin' like this and it might be some time before I do it again. But I can tell you one thing for sure.....I can not think of a better group of Jeepers to do it with. These three guys are #1 in my book and I'll be most honored to bust another trail with them.....and Robert....next time you are gonna' do it in 4WD, OK? [insert really big grin here]
Remember, TREAD Lightly!
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