Category: Off-Road

The Coxey Trail (3N14)

The Coxey Trail (3N14) is a trail of easy difficulty north of Big Bear Lake that any truck with some ground clearance would easily drive through. This trail starts high near Big Bear Lake and gently descends down the San Bernardino Mountains into the vast expanse of the Mojave Desert. The southern end of the trail starts in Fawnskin along CA-38 at the Rim of the World Drive. The northern end of the trail is at the junction of Bowen Ranch Road and Coxey Road. This is a fun, relaxing trail run that will be well worth your time. The rest of the photos and videos may be found here on the dedicated page. Enjoy!

Clark’s Summit and Skyline Drive

I’m putting both of these trails on the same page due to how they intertwine with each other. I suppose you could just drive along Skyline Drive on its own but only completing Clark’s Grade would require a U-turn as soon as you reached the top. A 4×4 truck with decent ground clearance and tires will easily pass through this road under dry conditions. The path to Clark’s Summit is a narrow shelf road in which encountering opposing traffic is rather miserable. I’ve generally completed this route from the southern end starting at Seven Oaks Road just north of CA-38.

Upon reaching Clark’s Summit Skyline Drive goes off both east and west and snakes its way north towards a few different spots in Big Bear Lake. The views the entire way are amazing and well worth your time! There are many hiking and biking trails that pass through Skyline Drive so be sure to watch out for pedestrians. There are multiple methods of reaching both of these trails and I will have to pass through more of them in the future. Be sure to look on the dedicated page to find all of the photos and videos and enjoy!

Rubberized undercoating removal, part two

A few weeks ago I typed up a post about cleaning up the frame of my truck and am posting a quick update. I took off the front skid plate and proceeded to alternate between working on the front and rear ends of the frame. I spent some more time chemically dissolving the rubberized goop previously applied to the frame, used a lot of wire wheels and flap discs, and spent so much time cleaning all to spend just a small fraction of the total time actually laying down any paint. In an endeavor such as the one I’m am working on the preparation work is what is the most important. Here are the photos of the forward end (before):

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During:

After:

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I only took a few photos of the rear:

I’ll post up some more progress photos, a few opinion pieces, and another soldering video soon!

Thoughts on rubberized undercoating…

Oh boy, are we in for a good post today folks. Tonight’s post is about the laborious task of removing the rubberized undercoating that the previous owner of my truck applied to the frame and lower portions of the body and bed. I am not a fan of rubberized undercoating as it can make a lot of electrical plugs or bolts difficult to remove, lowers the ability to easily inspect some parts, and cracks over time which allows water to get under it but not easily evaporate. I long ago began the project of removing all of this gunk from my truck and it has been slow going and I still have much left to do. Attempting to use any type of wire wheel, grinding disc, flap disc is ineffective at removing these types of coating as the removal media is rapidly clogged. The use of a chemical means of dissolving the rubberized coating (I just recently noticed that the methylene chloride formula is no longer available in California) is necessitated by this problem and is very miserable and time-consuming.

Here’s a quick video for anyone who is thinking about using rubberized undercoating on their on vehicle:

Here are some of the photos of the work I’ve been doing on the truck most recently:

I had a little mishap as I was removing some rust from the rear axle…

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While I really do need to finish this project I probably should have thought a little harder about the variable-gauge wire wheel I was using next to the wheel speed sensor cabling. It would have been so easy to unplug but I decided to test fate instead. I am fairly certain that no harm was done to the sensor but I bought that as well; hopefully I can just return it.

price_of_failure

This photo is unrelated to the post, but do you like my custom exhaust mod?

Toyota Tundra filter and lube oil changes

Good evening everybody, today I recently replaced the engine air filter, cab air filter, engine oil and filter, and gear oil from both differentials. I will be sending the engine oil sample to Blackstone Laboratories for analysis and early detection of any possible problems prior to a catastrophic (and more expensive) failure. Blackstone is even nice enough to send you the kits for free, they just won’t actually give you your results until you pay the $28 fee. I’ll be sure to show off my engine analysis results when I get a response in one to four weeks. I’ll also be posting some photos of the used filters and differential drain plug magnets below along with mileage change intervals.

First of we’ll start with the rear differential gear oil (last changed about 10,000 miles ago):

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I took images with and without a flash of the drain plug and what I wiped off of it with the shop towel. No water came out and there weren’t too many wear products on the magnet. Gear oil never really smells great though…

Next up, let’s look at the front differential (last changed 10,000 miles ago):

The truck is normally in rear-wheel drive so the front differential put very little on the magnet and the oil looked almost new.

Let’s move onto the engine air filter (once again, 10,000 miles):

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All of those desert trail miles made themselves very well known with all of the dust I beat out of the filter. The cabin air filter told a similar story:

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Last but not least let’s talk about my engine oil sample and draining the filter. When you buy a new filter from Toyota for the 5.7L you receive a drain plug to push into a valve in the filter housing. It always takes a little time for me to get it in their right but it’s much better than just yanking off the filter housing and having oil go everywhere.

I pulled a big-brained move and almost let all of the oil drain out of the pan before remembering to grab my sample bottle. Here’s what the kit looks like after you remove the packaging and take the sample:

I opted to type and print my oil slip rather than writing on the supplied paper to avoid any penmanship issues. The recommended oil sampling procedure may be found on Blackstone’s website but they’re fairly simple. As I said before I’ll be sure to report back on my engine oil results. That’s all for now folks!

 

Mojave Desert Camping Trip – March 2019

In early March I went to the Mojave Desert for a weekend camping trip with a small group of friends. The majority of the group started the trip in the Johnson Valley area and headed north towards camp where I met up with them at night (Friday). One member of our group flopped onto his side in the afternoon prior to my arrival and another truck showed up on the morning on the second day. We drove through the Soda “Dry” Lake, fooled around the Cinder Cones, spent some time beating up our suspensions on whoops, and camped out in the New York Mountains on Saturday night. A good time was had by all. Enjoy the photos and find the rest of them on the dedicated page and Tundras.com!

 

Briggs Cabin

Briggs Cabin is a wonderful dwelling maintained by the Friends of Briggs (employees from the nearby Briggs Camp) that is well stocked, has DC power, heated and running water, showers, toilets, multiple beds, and other amenities that are quite nice to experience so far from civilization. Please be sure to follow all instructions given for any equipment you use and take your trash out with you.

Be sure not to overload the bridge to the east of the cabin. You’ll find the rest of the photos here on the full page!

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Pilot Rock Trail

The Pilot Rock Truck Trail (Forest Route 2N33) is a trail of little difficulty with some optional spurs of varying difficulty. Any vehicle with some ground clearance should make it through this scenic and stunning trail. If you own a Subaru/modern station wagon it would make it through, albeit with some likely damage to the bumpers. I rode this trail from west-to-east and avoided the majority of the more difficult offshoots that the trail offered. If you want to have a nice, relaxing ride then this is a great place to head out to if you’re passing through the Big Bear Lake or Silverwood Lake areas. Enjoy the videos!

Pilot Rock Truck Trail Staging Area

Here’s the western edge of the trail:

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Here’s the eastern edge of the trail:

pilot_rock_end

Escape Trail (Fish Canyon)

The Escape Trail (aka Fish Canyon) is a trail of moderate difficulty that a truck with good ground clearance and a decent tire should be able to navigate. This trail traverses Fish Canyon and connect Panamint Valley to Searles Valley across the Slate Range. There are no difficult obstacles on this trail, just a lot of hard rocks and a few spots that will test your articulation and approach/departure angles. This trail earned its name from a few families that escaped from Death Valley in the 19th century. The Panamint and Death Valleys are at a fine temperature during the winter time and a wonderful place to visit if you ever have a few days to spare. Enjoy the photos and find all of them here!

Location

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Vallecito Wash: Motorhome Wreckovery

Sometimes I am surprised and amazed by the vehicles I see leave pavement for the desert and am pleasantly surprised. Other times I chuckle a little and can yank someone out of a bad situation or drag their disabled vehicle to a better place. Then there are times where I am simply dumbfounded by what I encounter. I thought that I was going to end a nice day of driving through some easy trails and hiking with one last jaunt off-road and found a class A motorhome attempting to make its way back to civilization. It ended up being a long night for me and an even longer next day for the wayward travelers…