Moab, UT /
Ouray, CO - July 2000
by Bob & Rusty Fleming
Utah. The name invokes images of
obstacles such as Lion’s Back and the Golden Crack, as well as Poison Spider
Mesa and others. It also brings to
mind images of vehicle rollovers and other mechanical wreckages.
The week of July 01 – 06 had all of this, but it also had its beauty.
and I left Houston on July 1st to meet up with J.J. Long and family
and with Dan and Diane Neuss for a week of wheeling in Moab. This was our first
trip to Moab, but not to the desert, as we lived several years in Phoenix before
coming to Houston, so we had a very good appreciation for the temperature and
terrain of the desert canyons and mountains.
Still, the beauty of Moab was spectacular.
The colors were vibrant and the temperatures ranged from low 80’s to a
high of 113. (But it was a dry heat, right J.J.?)
arrived on Sunday, the 2nd and settled into our cabin at the
Slickrock Campground. The cabin was
nice and luckily, it came equipped with an air cooler.
However, as we headed back into town to meet up with the Long’s and the
Neuss’, we got our first indication that this was not going to be rockcrawling
for the weak of heart. We passed
Dan headed out of town in his truck, pulling an empty trailer, with JJ in the
passenger seat. I knew that could
only mean trouble. Since we
couldn’t raise Dan on the CB, Rusty and I continued on to the motel and waited
with Diane, until Dan and JJ returned. As it turned out, the trouble was
with Dan’s Jeep. He and JJ had
gone out for a late afternoon run to Gemini Bridges.
After only going a short distance on the trail, Dan noticed his oil
pressure had dropped to near zero. He
shut his engine down and returned with JJ for the trailer.
By the time they returned to the trail, Dan was able to start his Jeep
and drive onto the trailer,
no indication of low oil pressure.
back at the motel, JJ, Dan and myself tried to determine the cause of the loss
of oil pressure, but could not find anything amiss.
I suggested that we reset the gauges (you cab do that on a TJ!) and see
if the problem was a simple
the gauges, the oil pressure indicated normal, even after running the engine for
approximately 30 minutes. The only
thing we could attribute the malady to was either an intermittent pressure
sensor, or a defective oil pump. We
consulted the Jeep manual and determined that we could change both, if we could
locate the parts. Unfortunately, it
was Sunday evening and the parts stores were closed. We decided to go to dinner and meet at the auto parts store
first thing in the morning.
brought more bad news. No TJ oil pumps were to be had in Moab. However, Dan was able to purchase an oil pressure sensor.
He decided to see what the folks at Moab Off-Road had to say, before
deciding what to do about the oil pump. Of
course, the oil pressure was still in the normal range when Dan started up the
Jeep and maintained the correct pressure for quite a while.
The Moab Off-Road folks told him that there was nothing they could do if
everything was normal, so Dan took the Jeep back to the motel.
After some serious soul searching, Dan decided that he would try another
run and simply keep a close eye on the oil pressure and temperature gauges.
We decided on a moderate trail, just in case JJ or I had to tow the
Dandi-1 Jeep back out. The trail we
selected was Gold Bar Rim.
is one of the trails used to get to the Golden Spike trail and to Gemini
Bridges. It is also one of the more
difficult of the “moderate” trails, with some interesting challenges. The
“Looney Toons” Jeep performed perfectly, as did JJ’s.
However, JJ did have to put up with some annoying “barking dogs” on
the slickrock terrain, but at least we knew he was still back there.
The Dandi-1 ran the trail with only a minor problem at one obstacle. (Ask
Dan about “Dan’s Rock”.(J)) The
trail took almost 3 hours to run and return.
The Dandi-1 ran fine during the whole time on the trail, so we decided to
run the Gemini Bridges trail next. This
is a moderate trail also, albeit much easier.
Again, the Dandi-1 ran perfectly and no problems were encountered by any
of us. We got some good pictures
and got to see some very beautiful scenery.
drive shaft. It
was soon determined that the CV joint was shot. The only place to get it
repaired was in Grand Junction,
some 120 miles away, and the next day was July 4th.
This meant I was not going to get any wheeling done until at least late
afternoon on the 5th.
to be deterred from enjoying our vacation, I told Rusty we could spend the 4th
doing what she likes to do; shop every store in Moab!
We started hitting the shops around 9:30 and had only visited 2 or 3
before Dan called us on the radio. He
and JJ had gone out to run the Moab Rim trial that morning and were heading back
to town already.
Dan was asking if he could use our
campsite to perform
repairs on the Dandi-1. It was not
the oil pressure
time, however. It seems that Dan
had experienced some problems with the front differential.
assured him that the use of the campsite was okay with me and asked if he needed
assistance. He assured me that it
was under control and for Rusty and I to finish our shopping.
We returned to the campsite about 3 hours later and found Dan and JJ
looking pretty forlorn. The noise that had been coming from the front of the
Dandi-1 indicated that there was something seriously wrong.
Dan and JJ had pulled the differential cover and found that the ARB was
blown apart and several teeth on both the ring and pinion gears were damaged.
Dan decided to take the Jeep to Moab Off-Road for a professional opinion
as to whether it was repairable or not.
I was going to drive to Grand Junction in the morning, we made arrangements for
me to pick up a new ring & pinion set, if required.
As it turned out, the differential was non-repairable in the timeframe we
were going to be in Moab.
good news was that Rusty and I were able to locate a driveline repair shop in
Grand Junction, but we were told that it would take several hours to accomplish
the repairs. We explained that we
were not only from out-of-town, but also out of state.
The service manager told us that he would see if he could get it done a
little faster, but couldn’t promise anything.
He gave us an estimate of $160 and told us to go get breakfast and come
back in an hour to get a better time estimate.
He even directed us to a close by restaurant.
The food was lousy and we could only hope and pray that the repair shop
did better work.
got back to Moab around 2:00 and it only took me a few minutes to install the
shaft. We were soon driving back into town to meet Dan
JJ for lunch. It was then that we
got the bad news from Dan, concerning his Jeep.
Since this was going to be JJ’s last day in Moab, we decided to drive a
trail up through the San Juan Mountains, with Dan riding with JJ. The trail was
an easy one, but it was also a long and dusty trail. We were once again treated
to the splendor of the high desert scenery and cool mountain breezes.
The following day saw JJ and his family head off for Ouray, Colorado. Dan decided to try the Dandi-1 on an easy trail with Diane and his niece, Amber. We selected a trail that turned out to be the hardest of the moderate trails called Top of the World. This was really a pretty easy trail, but Dan had to contend with the obstacles with only rear wheel drive. His driving skills and 36” tires combined with his low range and locked rear differential, allowed him to complete the trail with no problem.
next day, Dan rode with me and we headed out for some of the more difficult
trails. We drove the trail called
Steel Bender first. This trail had
some pretty interesting ledges and slick-rock crossings, but the “Looney Toons”
handled them without any problems, even though I opted for the more difficult
From here, we
decided to go run the Poison Spyder Mesa trail.
I had told Dan that I wanted to try one of the more difficult trails and
Dan assured me that the Poison Spyder would more than fit my desires.
Just to add to the excitement, it had started to rain and the slick-rock
obstacles were now living up to their namesake.
the time we got to the trailhead for Poison Spyder, the rain had stopped, but we
could see another band of showers headed our way.
Dan reminded me that once we started on the trail, we would have to
negotiate every obstacle in reverse to get back out.
This could prove extremely difficult and dangerous, if the rocks were
wet. He also reminded me that we were going alone and I had no winch.
I told him I was game if he was and we set off, with Dan keeping a wary
eye on the sky and weather.
Spyder proved to be a very interesting trail and the obstacles were indeed
challenging. Once again, I decided
to attempt the most extreme path at least once on every obstacle.
The “Toons” came through again.
Even the rain held off, for the most part, until we were off the trail
and headed back to town. I was
disappointed that we didn’t have time to run the Golden Spike trail, but I was
also looking forward to meeting up with the Long’s, Burrough’s and other
folks in Ouray, Colorado the next day.
had some really scenic trails, with some very different obstacles.
However, the most interesting thing was
watching Dan negotiate the Imogene Pass trail in a stock rental Jeep.
Dan really took a lot of teasing about his hard luck on this trip, but he
took it all in stride and only
Steve and I a couple of times (J).
Check out Dan’s picture in the “Dandi-3” Jeep.
Notice we made sure the club sticker was prominently displayed (J)!
We only had to winch him over one obstacle (the only real challenge on
this trail), but even then Dan had to add to the difficulty by ripping a
sidewall on a rock. Steve used
three plugs and managed to repair the tire and we finished the trail with no
thanks to JJ for his trail guide duties on Black Bear trail and his
knowledge of the local history.
He made our
trail rides interesting and fun. We have a lot more stories to tell, but we only
have so many pages in the newsletter, so I’ll close this article.
If you’ve never been to the Moab, Utah or Ouray, Colorado areas,
you’re really missing out on some good wheeling and terrific scenery.
I’ll bring more pictures to the meetings.
See you on the trails.