Fall Crawl 2005 Oct 21-23
By Mike Strawbridge
The XJ List Jeep Cherokee Off Road trip for 2005 was held at the Badlands Offroad Park in Attica, IN.
On Wednesday, I decided to see how I could fit Scuffy
my offroad Cherokee on the trailer with
the new wider tires. I really did not want to have to change tires twice in one day on Saturday at the park as the 35x12.5's are heavy. I figured
out that aired down the tires would squeeze through the trailer rails and I could sit them on blocks to keep the rails from rubbing on the 1100 mile road trip. As I jacked up the rear axle, one of the tires rotated
slightly. As the rear is welded this should
not be possible. So I quickly dropped
the diff cover and found one of the spider gears in multiple pieces in the bottom and one of the axle gears badly worn where the gear had broken under
the weld. I grabbed up a big nut to span the space, backed the trailer
to within reach on the MIG and started burning wire. I
welded anything that
would stick. Put the cover back on and hoped for the best.
Thursday, Scott and I loaded up the Suburban with camping supplies, tools and spare parts. Stole the camera mount and fire extinguisher out of the race car and we were ready. Except at the last minute, I remembered I had promised to bring fire wood. After several attempts to start my chain saw, I called my dad and he told me he had plenty of wood and I could drop off my saw for him to fix while I was gone.
Friday morning, Scott and I headed over to Dad's to pick up the wood and Mom loaded us up with fluffy brownies to share with the group. Then it was
505 miles to the campsite. Arriving at the site, we saw a huge carnival of
Saturday, we lined up outside the Badlands Offroad Park gate and waited for the opening rush. The Badlands staff was very efficient and we (along with about 100 other off roaders) were registered and off the trailer in 14 minutes.
While some of the others made some last minute repairs I took Scuffy to the dunes by the parking lot and played a bit. Soon we were all on the road
to the green trail. The paved road from the parking lot to the green trail
The green trail started offroad with some steep climbs and very sharp breakovers that you had to take on faith that there was a trial on the other side as
all I could see was sky. Gave the rock rails a good workout. On
some of the longer climbs, my carbed engine would run out a steam just before the
crest and I would have to pause and make another go causing some flashy wheel spin that I would have preferred to avoid. Only once all day did I
have to back up and make a second run to get up a hill. But it took Neal two tries at that one as well so I did not feel too bad.
After lunch, we hit the orange trail which was my favorite offroad trail of the day.
Not having to worry about scratches on the narrow trail made it way more fun.
I was surprised to find my biggest damage of the day was when I tried to push a small limb out of the way with the front fender. It took out the
corner marker instead of moving to the side like a good limb. And the rear diff stayed
welded all day as well.
Scott and I were witness to a scary four wheeler accident as a fellow took a huge tumble down a hill toward us. His ATV rolled right over him on the
way down. The ATV landed a few feet from my door but its rider was still way
up the hill. We stopped our run to check on him. He defiantly got his
bell rung but eventually he was able to get back on his ATV. When I first saw
the crash I was thinking we might be using an XJ for an offroad ambulance but happily he was OK. I bet he was sore.