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  • Check out our latest Blog entries
    A blog is like a diary and below we share with you some of the latest public blog entries.  All members of Gear Crushers can create a site wide blog or club focused blog entries and if you have permissions (meaning you are a member of the club(s) that have blog entries) you will see them here as an option or just go to the club and check out the blogs they have.

  • Blog Entries

    • By wildweaselmi in 4xFools Blog
      A common question is "what modifications should I make to my vehicle to make it trail worthy?"  Reading the offroad magazines, you might think gears, lockers, armor and a radical suspension is required.  Below is our take on what it takes to Fool Around offroad.  Note that modifications are listed in order of importance and each level assumes you have done everything in the previous step.

      Vehicle selection
      Before doing any modifications, make sure you are starting with a good platform.  Most any short wheelbase vehicle whose transfercase has high and low range works well on the trails in our area.  The Jeep Wrangler is by far the most popular choice, but you would be fine with a Toyota pickup and 4Runner, Nissan Pathfinder, Suzuki Samurai, Chevrolet Tracker, S10 pickup/Blazer, Jeep Cherokee etc.  Full size pickups, Blazers and Broncos are too wide for the trails we run.

      First step
      A stock vehicle will go amazing places.  Get a CB radio.  Install tow hooks front and rear if you don't already have them.  Get your tools and recovery equipment and figure out how to store them securely.  Get the biggest, knobbest tires you can fit. Consider a second set of tires just for the trail if this is a daily driver.  Wheel it in this state for a couple of years to see if the sport is really for you.  You will learn a lot of off road skills.  Spend time watching other rigs and figuring out what your ultimate goal is; mild, moderate or wild and most importantly - how big of a tire do you want.  Once you have made this decision, you can start to modify your rig without wasting money on mods that you end up replacing later.

      Mild build
      Most likely a daily driver, at home on easy trails, but capable of moderate trails.  The good news is that after your "First Step" you already have a mild rig.  You might think about adding a selectable rear locker like an ARB, improving body armor with rocker protection and ground clearance with "belly up" skid plates.

      Moderate build
      With this target in mind, you are probably going to keep the stock axles.  Your first modification should be a roll cage.  Then find out how big of a tire your stock axles can support and choose a tire this size or smaller.  Then figure out how much lift (or better yet, sheet metal trimming) you need to fit it.  These tires will need lower gears and you should add a rear locker at the same time.  You might want to think about a winch and front locker or limited slip.  You will begin to see the wisdom of a tow rig and trailer to get home should you break something on the trail.

      Wild build
      At this level, you are probably talking about a dedicated trail rig.  You should keep it street legal as some venues require driving on local roads to get to the trail head.  You should mount seats to the roll cage and install four point seat belts.  Heavier duty axles, front and rear lockers, and a winch are mandatory.  Once tire size goes over 38" you will need a hydraulic ram to assist steering. 
    • By wildweaselmi in 4xFools Blog
      Basic Equipment
      Every vehicle should carry these and they should be securely fastened down (like everything else).  You should be able to reach the flashlight and fire extinguisher from your seat.  Factory seat belts do not release if you are upside down (don't ask how we know this).
      CB radio Flashlight First aid kit (include any of your family's special needs like EpiPens or insulin) Fire extinguisher Complete change of clothes Full size spare tire Jack Wrench to remove tire (and key if you have locking lug nuts) Tow hooks front and rear Specialty tools for your vehicle
      Good to have
      With the exception of the Hi-Lift, every vehicle really should have these too.
      Tow strap (no hooks on ends!) Shackle Short piece of chain with washers and bolt that fits through middle links Small tarp or blanket Hand towel(s) Rachet strap High lift jack
      Basic Tools
      Regardless of your mechanical skills you should carry these to fix your rig of someone else's. 
      Philips and flat screwdrivers Adjustible wrench Set of combination wrenches (metric or SAE to fit your vehicle) Pliers Ball peen hammer Duct tape Zip ties Small roll heavy wire Spare fuses Fan belt(s)
      Optional Tools
      These are really more for the skilled mechanic, but consider carrying a few of these as well.
      Schrader valve and removal tool Chisel Punch Socket set Small vice grip Channel locks Allen wrenchs Torx bits (if your vehicle is cursed with them) Stubby and offset screwdrivers Hacksaw File Teflon tape WD-40 or wire dry spray Scissors Electrical tester Wire strippers Electrical wire, tape and  connectors Misc. nuts and bolts Extra fluids (motor oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, ATF, gear lube)
    • By wildweaselmi in 4xFools Blog
      At the beginning of a trail ride it is common to introduce yourself.  Include a nickname or handle that is easy for everyone else to remember.  Be sure to figure out the name or handle of the people in front and behind you.  This way you can get on the CB and say something like "Hey Turtle, stay to the left at the top of that hill."

      Chatter can liven things up, but limit it to easy sections of the trail.  You don't want to be telling a long joke while someone else needs to warn the group about an obstacle or call for assistance.

      Only one person should "spot" others through a tough obstacle or be in charge of vehicle recovery.  Often that person will need help conveying instructions to the winch operator, watching how close the rear bumper comes to that tree, etc.  Work out who is involved before spotting/recovery starts and if you are not part of the operation, keep quiet and stay out of the way.  See if there is something you can do to help indirectly - like taking pictures or making sure the kids stay safe.

      It takes a village
      When it comes to keeping children safe, we are all responsible. Be sure they are off of the trail if vehicles are moving. Be sure they are clear of vehicle recovery operations. Be sure they are not playing near deep water, cliffs, poison ivy, or space aliens. Don't assume it must be OK with the parents. If you are not comfortable, step up and keep them safe. Better to be thought pushy and over protective than to try out your CPR skills...

      Watch your back
      Always, always, always keep the vehicle behind you in sight!  If you don't see them STOP!  This way nobody gets lost.  This is not always possible in really dense trees or steep hills, but if you are about to  take a fork or go over a hill, pause until you catch sight of the vehicle behind you.  It takes a little practise to pick a good spot to pause, but the top of a hill or end of a long straight section are ideal because you want to:

      Give others some room
      Don't follow too closely to the vehicle in front of you.  This is especially important going up or down muddy hills.  You don't want to slide into the person in front of you going down a hill.  If the vehicle in front of you fails to climb a hill, they may loose control backing down the hill to try again.  Also, it is to your advantage to see under the vehicle in front of you so you can watch the tires and differentials.  This will help you decide what line to take over the obstacles - and what lines NOT to take!

      Once you clear that obstacle, you might want to go back and watch others try it, offer advice to them, and maybe take some pictures.  Be sure to park far enough down the trail so that ALL of the vehicles in the group will have room to park.  If you notice that room is getting short, speak up and help make some room! This is a safety issue, so it is appropriate to move someone else's vehicle if they are occupied spotting for others, responding to the call of nature, or have been abducted by aliens.  This is only possible if you:

      Leave your keys in the ignition
      So others can move your rig.  Also, they don't get lost.  Few things are as irritating for the group as combing the woods for your keys... but you should still:

      Be patient
      This is not a face paced sport, especially if you are in a large group.  Be prepared to wait for that newbie to struggle with street tires in the mud pit or the "Big Dogs" who want to try an optional obstacle.  Give the newbie some advice if you can and see if you can pick up some tricks from the big dogs.  Most importantly, be patient when there is trail carnage or mechanical failures.

      Be prepared
      One way to reduce frustrating delays is to be sure your vehicle is ready for the trail.  Do routine maintenance like checking fluid levels, u-joint condition etc.  Its a good idea to attend our annual Saftey Check Event to identify potential problems before hitting the trail. 
    • By wildweaselmi in GC Blog
      Gray Rock ORV -very cool! Usually 6-8 open rides a year

      Morris Mountain ORV -open almost every weekend

      Little River Canyon 

      Hurricane Creek Tuscaloosa, AL - Great short paddling trip! 10min form my house!

      Mountain Side Off Road Park

      Superlift ORV Park

      Ouachita National Forest

      write up: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/sh...light=Ouachita

      write up: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/sh...light=Ouachita

      Byrd's Adventure Center - Cass Arkansas

      Hard Rock Cycle Park


      River Rock ORV Park

      Beasley Knob OHV Trail System / Chattahoochee-Oconee
      National Forests


      Insane Terrain Off Road Park

      Badlands Off Road Park, IN

      Redbird state riding area

      Harlan WOOOHOOO!!! Putney Trailhead
      This is the trail head with cabins and camping. It's further from the hardcore trails but it's a nicer (non-free) place to stay.

      Land Between the Lakes National Rec Area

      Black Mountain


      Catahoula Recreation

      Cape Cod National Sea Shore.

      North Maine Woods - Multiple Use Management Area

      Assateague Island National Park

      The Mounds ORV Area

      Drummond Island in Michigans Upper Pennisula:

      10 minutes north of Sault Saint Marie, Michigan (just over the border in Canada)
      Sault Trussel Offroad Park - more pics/vids added to 2nd post - Great Lakes 4x4. The largest offroad forum in the Midwest 

      Twisted Trails

      Rocks and Valleys Harrison, MI

      Bundy Hill Off Road Park

      Michigan Moto Mania . Harrison Mi.
      Bikes Quads and various vehicles

      Silver Lake Sand Dunes Mears, MI.

      Iron Range OHV Park

      Appleton OHV Park

      Rockport Off Road Park (Hannibal Rock), MO

      Flat Nasty Off Road Park

      SMORR - South Missouri Off Road Ranch

      White Mountain National Forest

      Pine Barrens

      Tellico TN/NC

      Nantahala National Forest

      The Outer Banks Vehicle Beach Access

      Cape Lookout Island/ Adventure

      write up: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=11979

      Uwharrie (Eldorado Outpost)

      The Farm
      This is the official website: http://bigdixieboggers.com/thefarm.html
      This is private property. Do not wheel without permission. Open events are typically posted here: http://www.nc4x4.com/forums/forumdis...sprune=30&f=24

      Disney, OK

      Clayton, OK

      Bald Eagle State Forest

      Write up: 
      Bald Eagle State Forest, 11/18/06 - Expedition Portal Forum 

      Rausch Creek ORV Park

      Allegheny National Forest

      Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania

      Great Allegheny Passage Connecting Cumberland, MD and Pittsburgh, PA

      whole trail: http://www.nps.gov/pohe/

      Rock Run Recreation Area info

      Rhode Island
      Arcadia Management Area

      Gulches ORV Park

      Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

      write up: http://www.4wdtrips.net/forum/showpo...33&postcount=2

      Cherokee National Forest

      Wheelin in the Country ORV Park

      Wooly's Off Road

      Mayhem Off Road Park
      Pics: http://community.webshots.com/user/zukezilla

      Coon Creek Off Road Park

      Coal Creek OHV (Windrock)

      Katemcy Rocks 

      Trees Ranch Very Cool!!! I liked it better than Katemcy!!! 

      Barnwell Mountain Recreational Area

      General Sams Off Road Park MUD HELL HOLE 

      Boulder Creek Trail Park

      Trans Vermont

      Locals: http://expeditionportal.com/forum/sh...ad.php?t=10026

      Big Dogs Gore open four times a year

      George Washington National Forest

      pics: http://www.davenjeip.net/pictures.html

      write up: http://www.4x4icon.com/offroad/01010...wine/index.htm

      Monongahela National Forest

      cool camera: http://www.fsvisimages.com/doso1/doso1.html

      Blackwater Falls State Park
    • By dennis in What a Day
      Yesterday I'm chugging along, keyboard pounding at my job and I get a call from my sister that she was notified by dispatch that our dad is being transported to the hospital via an ambulance.  Now my dad isn't a young man and he's considered overweight.  The information she has is that his nose is pouring blood and he can't get it to stop, dizziness, shortness of breath so he calls for an ambulance to get him to the hospital.

      What a scary feeling.  Of course my primary mode of transportation (2013 Dodge Ram 3500) is in the shop again but this time to service DEF fluid.  It has been negative temps here in Michigan but if the truck requires DEF fluid you have to know people in the south aren't the only one's buying the truck.  Of course when Service Engine light is on, remote start doesn't work in effort to protect the truck.

      So not sure if I should wait for my sister to let me know or find a way to get down to the hospital which is an hour away in the best case scenario only and hour.  I'm not able to concentrate on work at all so I go out to the garage and start checking fluids on my 91 K5 Blazer.  I didn't' want to drive it on the salty roads because I know it will rust quickly but it would be pretty stupid to worry about a replaceable truck when you may loose your one and only dad.  The truck has no working heat but I bundle up

      I added trans fluid and oil and headed out onto the salty roads.  I need gas so I fill up and it asks do you want the touchless car wash and I'm like, heck ya and in fact give me the fancy $9 wash and I'll get the truck washed on my way home.  When you are done pumping gas it spits a receipt out with the Wash Code, yea my mind was elsewhere so someone else got that wash since the second my truck was filled up and jumped in and started driving to the hospital.
      It took roughly an hour and I pull into St.Joseph Mercy Hospital and park in Visitors parking and find my way through the maze of hallways to a receptionist and have to patiently wait for them to get off the phone with there boyfriend/girlfriend to find out what room he's in.  She replies that he's in ER and to just go down this hallway and once you see so many lefts make the next one then a right then another right then a left then spin in a circle and hop on one foot and you should arrive at the Emergency Room where you can ask what POD your dad is in.  Thankfully several people along the way noticed my "lost look" and kept pointing me in the direction.
      Arrive at the emergency room and met with mrs. attitude which had no clue what she was doing but the guy next to her jumped in and told me what POD he was in and gave the best directions he could.  Every room (or POD) was full so they had people in hallways.  It was insane on how busy the ER was and how full it was.  I needed additional help from people in ER to find my dads room.  Once I arrived I found he was there with my sister and two of his close friends.  The doctors did several tests and found his medication wasn't correct.  In short, CVS messed up again and sent back a medication his doctor sent in for him.  So his blood pressure was really high which is the cause for the symptoms he was experiencing (except the shortness of breath).
      He's home now and doing better.  My coworkers were amazing and jumped in to help cover me so I could go check on my dad.  It was very touching to see how many people care.
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