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Report From Pre-Truckhaven

Ray Hutchinson

Moderator Emeritus
January 20, 2000
Reaction score
City, State
Dana Point, CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
22 Bronc Badlands
We're back, And It was a fantastic week-end!! According to my unnoficial count, there were 13 Trucks and 22 people who showed up for all or part of the Pre-run adventure. I'll tray to name Everyone, but please don't be offended if I forgot your name or miss you entirely. Chalk it up to advancing age and associated forgetfulness. Actually, I wasn't in troduced to a couple of folks, but maybe next time. ;)

We had Four White Explorers: Brian Kelley
Colin Ignacio & Friend Winter
Peter John DiLorio
Brian Wooten & Dad & friend (Sorry didn't get her name)
Ours (Ray and Debby)
One Green Explorer: Kevin, AKA Mac, two sons, and Friend (also a name I can't connect...sorry
One Blue Explorer: Blaine, AKA Blue Dog Banditand Friend (another sorry)
One white Mazda Navajo Tom Davis
One O.D. Ranger Bill Collins ( Ranger X)
One Green (i Think) Ranger Ken Cooke
One Heep Checkory Bob (Green Hornet) Friedman and son Robert
One Heep CJ Bob
One Giant Pumpkin Rick, of course!

Saturday morning, we split into two groups for the day run. One group staying fairly close to camp and working some fairly challenging Hill Climbs, and other obstacles in the Dirt Hills of T-Haven. This group's run ibcluded some slides, as will as winching technique when they narrowly averted the "Smashing of the Pumpklin". Rick can give more details.
The other group treked about 20 miles over into the nearby Anza Borrego State Park to play in the rocks. We practiced driving finesse by running the Pinyon Mountain Trail with several tight obstacles, trails, and rocky washes.

We met back in camp Saturday night for some minor vehicle repairs via winch ( The four car TTB straightening party), dinner, videos around the campfire, and then a night run led by RangerX and Brian Kelley. This was a great run, and everybody got to test out their auxiliary (Performance)lighting systems. This run left camp, ran out the Truck Haven Trail to S22. a short pavement run to the Calcite Mine Road. and through the canyon and flats of Palm Wash, back into camp.

Sunday morning, a few had leave, or already had left, but the remainder of the group, about 7 trucks, went out for one last run into new territory. Brian Kelley led us out T-Haven Trail again, East on S22, and then into the dirt South of the Borrego Salton Seaway, over great hills, down to the Salada Wash, and the Alkali Springs area, back out the pole line road, then cross county back into camp. We had a few little surprises along the way keeping things interesting.

All in all, we had great pre-runs, and have located a number of challenging, but fun trails, that will provide a good time to all levels of Vehicle Mods and driving skills. Looking forward to seeing lots more folks there in January.

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Just Passin Through

It was great to meet you guys face to face. I'm looking forward to the pleasure of extending our greetings to some quality conversation time. I've penciled in Jan.13-14, 2000, T-Haven I hope that works for you. And I'd like to find out if there really is a guy named "Rick".

Sounds like fun can't wait for the real run! Assuming my vehicle is highway-capable by then! :).

Thanks Tom Davis & the rest of the pumpkin rescue crew!

I need to thank Tom Davis, and Brian Kennedy and the others who helped extricate the "Great Pumpkin" from it's nearly fatal predicament!!

I was taking Collin's friend Winter for a ride letting him check out the Pumpkin's performance when I decided to follow Brian Kennedy up a cool looking hill. I should have known by the look on Brian's face that this was no ordinary trail. Brian was on the top of the ridge cambered down hill and there were lots of little rocks tumbling down the slope from under his tires. He commented on the narrowness of the trail and I thought I would try it, but stay farther to the right than he did when I got to the top. So I climb the hill with my lockers on, the hill has a sharp left turn at the top so I bear to the right a little as I give it some throttle. Suddenly the front right tire starts to climb the outside edge of the trail and the rear left tire starts to slide down the slope. I disengaged the locker, turned a little to the left to try and level the truck out and slowly let the clutch out one more time. Once again the rear end slides, this time slightly off the trail. The front end didn't steer down off the edge like I had hoped and now we were even more off camber.

Well that was it. We were stuck. Winter, was like "this is bad, we're in a bad spot" I knew he was right, but I just didn't talk about it. I called for Tom Davis to assist us with a winch. First Tom took his truck up the other side of the trail, and realized that he couldn't do much good from there. So he backed down and ran his winch line up the hill perpindicular to our truck. It was about then that I heard someone say they needed a tow strap, I just happened to have mine right behind the drivers seat so I reached back grabbed it and fed it out to Brian Kennedy. Brian, being a California Highway Patrol Officer knew just what to do to keep Winter and I calm and to kep our spirits up :D he said "Don't worry guys, I'm an EMT, I've got all my gear down in the truck, and if you guys roll I can get an Air Evac team out here in no time" :D :D I'm like THANKS Brian, just what we wanted to hear as we are precariously perched in the Explorer which is groaning and creaking just sitting still. I knew Brian was just using sarcastic humor, but it wasn't helping while we were stuck in the truck!!

The cable and tow strap were finally preparred after what seemed like forever and they attached it to the nerf bar. Tom tightened the cable enough to secure the truck and we started to drive forward as he pulled from the side. This worked great and after a couple pulls we were back to a level spot on top of the hill!

Everyone said, I was really quiet while this was all going on, I had a bunch of stuff going through my mind and was preparing for the worst. While I was stuck up there I kept the engine running and the transmission in gear, which of course meant I had to be mashing the brake and clutch pedal the whole time. The brake was easy to hold since my knee was bent, but my leg on the clutch started shaking since it was stretched practically straight out and the Center Force Dual Friction clutch takes more pressure to disengage, so I was literally getting "weak in the knee". My plan was that if the truck suddenly broke loose I would attempt to steer the front end down hill while giving it some gas to straighten it out. I had hoped if I was able to do this I would have been able to stop the truck mid-hill, before we crashed to the bottom, you see there was a long steep, loose slope leading to a verticle fall of about 30 feet!

Thanks again to everyone who helped out your team work payed off BIG TIME. And thanks to Brian Kennedy for trying to keep it light, but next time wait until the strap is ON the truck before you start in with the morbid humor :D

I think he should get an award. The first person to save the pumpkin, and your a@!, and no......the jokes come at your expense so they get to chose when they come. You just bear with it. long till that roll-cage now??? :) You've done proved you'll need it. Maybe some 5point belts too. :)

[Edited by leebo on 11-20-2000 at 10:20 AM]


well guys...i had a blast and was farely impressed with what i did. I'm gonna search the site to make sure that gopher has not been taken yet. If it has i'm sure i can manipulate it a little. You know I HAD to make those holes in order to make it alittle more challenging for you 4wd guys :rolleyes: . I'm learning on how to do alot out there from you guys and i thank you.
Thanks for taking my dad. He had a blast out there with you. Ya know, My girlfriend and i are gonna go back out there, just so we can put our names on that cement base :smoke: . I'm following you anywhere you go. As long as its not up steep hills that are narrow at the top. :nono:

It was great seeing everyone. Hopefully next truckhaven there will be more 2wd. We can have some fun too. Until next time.

Thanx again to all!

Hey guys, try this out. The quality isn't the best, but there are some cool pics.

if this doesn't work, copy it and put a www in front of the community.

[Edited by BlueDogBandit on 11-20-2000 at 02:24 PM]

Those came out good for video captures!

You can see in the photos that the right front tire is up on the edge of the trail, the left rear is sliding off the trail, there wasn't much room up there!! The guys at the bottom including the videographer didn't even realize there was a problem. They thought that Tom was going to be winched UP the hill! Had they only walked around the other side...

Rick, I can sympathize with you, I've been in that spot myself a few times (not that exact spot but the same approximate predicament), and people think there making it easier by cracking a few jokes but your right, a minute turns into about an hour. Glad to hear you got it off successfully, personally when I heard "tom" and "near roll" I instantly though "ok he can't go on any more trips!" but then I realized he helped ya out, so I guess he's back on the cool list, LOL (I hope he reads that!) :). Not sure who all remembers it because I didn't tell everyone, but one day in Truckhaven I just about got the scare of my life (not quite as bad as yours Rick!) This was after we had stopped for lunch the one day when someones starter went out, and I look over, see a good hill, and everyones still standing around so I figure "what the hey, I think I'll go do that hill!" I pass my camera off to a Ford rep, say "I'm gonna go do that hill, take some cool pictures!" (and he did too, I still have them somewhere... but it was one of those many incredibly sharp hill climbs out there and I had to go barrelling up it to make it in one run (it was steep enough that I didn't want to back up thats for sure!!) anyways, I go barrelling up, crest the hill and boom, trail stops. I slam on my brakes only to come about 6 inches from the edge of an approximately 100-150 foot dropoff. I sit there for probably about 4-5 minutes thanking god my bladder was empty prior to attempting it. Then about a 50-point turn to get back on the trail and come down around. Now i know where it's at though, so next time i won't be so stupid. Of course next time I'll see it and say "hey that looksl ike a fun hill, I think I'll go do that!" and barrel up it, LOL.

By the way, I recognized several spots from last years run in those pictures, looks same as ever! :)
fyi, I was glad Vera wasn't in my car when I nearly killed myself, that wouldn't have looked good! LOL

[Edited by mattadams on 11-20-2000 at 03:55 PM]


:bounce: Tom look what you did to me. :rolleyes: The name is sticken. I'm now Gopher instead of BrianWooton. I like it.
Thanks for pulling me up that hill. So much for that being the easy side. Also thank you for looking out for me out there. Was always nice knowing you were following me. Everyone,
was again nice meeting everyone. hope to see everyone again out there in 2001

[Edited by Gopher on 11-20-2000 at 09:04 PM]

Safe home, butt and ear hurts!!!

Well, I made it home safe and then the butt chewing began. My wife was happy we were all home safe but of course, every time I break something, I get read the riot act of taking a vehicle we still owe a little on and basshing it arround the dirt. I am also not allowed to park in the driveway and have been banned to the street until I get the front diff leak fixed. What happened you ask?

When going through the washes, it is very tempting to go fast. This is very fun and okay to do, but take my advice and be very careful as there are rocks hiding under the dirt. I unearthed a basketball sized rock with the lower part of by drivers side TTB at about 35 mph, causing the truck to slow to 15 mph rather quickly. It bent the front TTB pretty bad. Well, long story short, back at camp, with the help of 3 other rigs, I was able to winch it back into shape enopugh to continue wheeling on Sunday. Thanks to Rick and the Great pumkin, I will be picking up that TTB side from him (very soon I hope) so as to be ready for T-Haven.

Thanks again everyone for your help and especially Rick in helping me get back on the trail ASAP!!


Sounds like another typical Explorer run (the trips not complete unless someone almost tips). Heh, I was chuckling at your post Rick and thinking how similar it reads to my story when I leaned my truck into the tree over at the Indian Reservation (Los Coyotes Pre-Run). I remember seeing lots of sky from one window, lots of dirt in the other window while I "stood" on the brake. I don't have a clutch, but most of my weight was on my left arm that was propped on the driver's side door, and it was shaking after awhile. I'll never forget Paul B. and Darien running over. Paul was shaking his head and Darien (trying to be cute) sticks his pony-tailed mug in the window and says, "Got that sinking feeling yet?" Yeah, I'll show you sinking feeling Darien...(just kidding). I can however attest to MOST of his humor being lost though until AFTER I was on level ground ;)
Sorry I missed it, I was supposed to be there, but it sounds like you had a lot of help. See you all in a few weeks :)

Hey, I'm finally back from great jaunt (I drove almost 2.5k miles this week.. don't know how!)

Glad to help everyone out at truckhaven (rick, gopher, rick, bluedogbandit)

Brian W - hey, it's the right nick name. :) For a 2 wheel drive truck, it did really well.

Everyone I helped strapped - uhm, please get tow hooks, both front and rear. It's a real pain trying to get that tow strap off the bumper..

I had fun. Yea, I was subdued - But hey, I had another 6 days of off-roading todo! (oh, and I did break another front u-joint on saturday.. grrr...)

Oh, and we figured out what was wrong with Kevin Cooke's truck - it was in two wheel drive! He's got manual hubs, and normally leaves them locked in - but someone had unlocked them! He's much happier now!

See you all in Jan!

2WD to 4WD - Lock 'em up!

I'll second definitely need to lock the hubs in order that they will aid in your truck's transformation from
2WD to 4WD. TDavis and I realized this in Goler Wash (Death Valley) on a difficult hillclimb section. I thought the
whole time that my new BFG/AT's were the blame. Tom, why
don't you tell everyone OUR secret about the James and the great deal he made both of us???

Another U-joint?!?!

Tom, how did you kill another u-joint? Is it the same side or the other? Details man, don't leave me hanging w/ my bent TTB.

hey mac, don't get too bent out of shape!


The drivers side ujoint went on the front axle. It appears to have also chewed up the yokes, so they will have to be replaced too. This is all visual at the moment; I haven't tore it apart yet to figure out what's really bad.


I like the pics. I finally have some pictures of my truck out there. Does anyone else have some pics they could post. We took a camera. But Father even though i asked him out, there still forgot. Its the age thing :p i think.

Thanks for posting the pics. I'm trying to gather pics of my truck out there.

See you guys next time

I'm working on some lights for next time.


Yup, it's gone....the doctor wasn't too impressed with the sand and dirt that I left him....but he'll get over it. Wearing a brace now that I can take off. I finally was able to take a full shower and get off that four wheeling skum.

Brian...I do have more angles of your truck on video. I'll pull them off and send to you via emial.

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Pre-Truckhaven run

I had to change my screen name from Briank to BKennedy.

Sorry Rick if i scared you with the jokes, its just how I (and most of the people I hang around with) react to stressful situations. But if you can't make a joke out of it, whats the point in rolling (or in your case, nearly rolling)?? I know it bites when your in the drivers seat, but when your standing outside looking in, its a whole different story..

But....I had a great time with all of you and look forward to doing it again real soon. Any chance of a day trip for the SD locals??

And Ray....My last name is Kennedy, not Kelley.