It was a hell of a whirlwind getting ready for the Early Bronco Fall Crawl this year. At the last minute on the week of the event, I had to jump on a plane and fly to Phoenix for a job interview. I ended up leaving on Tuesday, and getting back in on Thursday morning at 1:00 AM. Returning so late only left me enough time to throw the Swamper SX’s in the back of the truck and start driving down to Murphy NC. The trip down takes about 10 hours, so with the break I took on the road, I arrived in Murphy around noon.(pic # 1 Picture of my truck at the hotel with the Swampers in the back) Since it was cold as balls at that time, Drew Peroni and I decided to share a hotel room instead of camping out (#2 Pic of the beautiful rooms at the best western in Murphy!!)I was hoping to get down to Murphy early enough on Thursday day to get some wheeling in with Drew Peroni, Brian Keeler and Ken Messer, but I arrived too late and was exhausted and decided to just crash out.
Around 6:00 that night everyone else started to roll in, one of them being my buddy Alan Soutter. Alan had broken his front axle wheeling a couple of weeks earlier and hadn’t fixed it yet. He had been waiting for his new Warn front axles to arrive, which he had just gotten in on that Thursday, so like the good group of bronco owners we are, we changed out his front axles right in the parking lot of the best western. (pic #3 Alan’s truck waiting for a brand new axle. Pic#4 Brian Blaylock and I working on installing his new axle) After changing out Alan’s axles, and freezing our asses off, we decided to go to our rooms, and crash out, and get ready for the big day ahead!!
We all met up at the head of trail one at the Telecom OHV area at 9:30 on Friday morning. It was awsome seeing so many broncos in one place. (pic#5 broncos rounding up, Pic #6 Pic#7 Brian Brooks front air bag suspension bronco) The vast majority of rigs up there were extreme rigs and two of the baddest were Toby Tills 38" shod air bag suspension bronco (pic #8) and Brian Brooks Air bag suspension, bead locked bronco. We did the introductions, broke into groups and hit the trails.
My groups trail leader was the venerable Karl Bradley, the only bad thing about this is that Karl wasn’t driving his incredible bronco (hands down the best looking bronco I’ve seen in my entire life) but was driving a Jeep!!! Sacrilege!! A scrambler no less. But since Karl’s way up there on the cool guy scale, we gave him as much shit as possible and let him lead our group. The first main obstacle we went to was guardrail, which is a hell of a steep rock climb, with a guardrail at the bottom, so you don’t roll off the mountain. Karl was the first one up – he had to "bump it" a little and the long WB helped out a lot and after awhile he got to the top.(pic #9) (Pic#10)
Next was me I tried to crawl it, to no avail, then I started to hit it a little harder, when suddenly a ton of smoke started poring out from my hood! I decided that it would be smart to back off and reel out the cable, I still had to drive the old bronc 10 hours back to DC on Sunday! Later I found out all it was the vent line from the tranny when at extreme angles, allows fluid to flow out, and in my case I had extended the vent to the engine bay and it was poring on to my headers. (Pic#11 me hitting guard rail) After me came a guy from Alabama with 35"boggers, a Klune V, and a wild horses kit, and he ended up taking the cable as well (pic #12)
Then came Alan Soutter, who had a grudge match to settle with this hill. Alan hit the hill a bunch of times until he got into the perfect position where the side tread of his drivers side Swamper SX had just enough traction to pull him up the hill. It was an awesome run!! Vengeance was his that day, since he was the only bronco to get up the hill under his own power . The last in the group to hit guardrail was Drew Peroni. Drew had no front locker, so was at a disadvantage in trying to get up the hill. One thing can said for drew is that he gave that obstacle hell!! He kept hitting it and hitting it , driving his bronc like he stole it spinning his Boggers so hard they were smoking!! Until Pop!! He blew his rear drive shaft. (Pic #13-17)
As drew continued to work on his drive shaft, Karl Alan, Alabama Boy and I decided to go a little further up to helicopter pad and see what it had to offer. After checking out the obstacle, the only one willing to take a shot at it was the guy for Alabama. He tried it once, got really off camber and decided it would be prudent to back it down and try it some other day, we still had a whole weekend of wheeling ahead (Pic#18-20).
Once we got back to guardrail, Drew had replaced his shaft and had realized he had split his liftblock in half. The day was over for him, he headed back down to Murphy to try to find a replacement, and the rest of us went on to the lower portion of trail 2, called rock garden. Karl’s longer scrambler had a little more trouble on these tight obstacles, but the broncos walked through it in great style! On the upper portion of lower 2 there is a huge rock outcropping. If you try to squeeze through it your door will be crushed, so the only way to go is over the top. Karl flexed out his scrambler to the max and cruised over the top, Alabama was the next truck to approach the obstacle. With careful spotting from Karl and Allan, he cruised over the obstacle with no problem (Alabama on lower 2 pic#21-23) . I came next, I navigated the lower portion of Lower 2 with no problem ( Me navigating lower 2, pic #24-28) Everything was looking good until I got to the big rock outcropping at the top of lower 2, and did I ever get my self into a ton of shit! I asked Alabama to spot me, which ended up being a mistake. I ended up getting totally wedged in sideways, laying on my radius arms and about to take out my Atlass T case, there was no way to get through it but to pull out the cable. After me came Russell Crew in his green bronco. Russell got right in the perfect position to make it over the obstacle, but his tires didn’t have enough tread to kick him over. Russell runs his rig down in the mud in Georgia all the time, so his engine and cam are built appropriately. As the cam was starting to kick in, both his front tires found traction and POW!! Both front u joints exploded in a display like the fourth of July! We winched Russell over the obstacle and then Alan with careful spotting navigated the obstacle with no problems. After lower two taking a slight bite out of us we limped back to the hotel to make repairs and prepare for the day ahead.
Earlier in the day on the same trail Brian Brook’s bronco had been cruising along with its airbagged, beadlocked, Kune V’d bad ass self when he articulated so much that he blew the c bushing straight out of his lengthened radius arm. (Brian on Lower 2 pic #29-35)
The next day we decided to head up to the infamous slick rock, - slick rock, unlike the one in Moab is actually one huge rock which is slick as shit, and when it gets wet even slicker! The trail up to slick rock is one that consists of deep ruts, leaning you into the bank at crazy angles. (all the pics I e mailed you previously are of the second day) When you get to slick rock, it is a rock crawl up to the main obstacle and they you have to "bump it" to try to get over the obstacle. First Karl Bradley hit it, after taking a couple of lines, he finally made it to the top. Next came The person with the biggest kahonies was Faron Faulk in his shiny Land Cruiser. He took that 50K vehicle straight up the trail with no fear, and hit slickrock hard. The longer wheelbase helped him out and he shot to the top. Ronnie then came up in his beater bronco and drove it like he stole it!! He kept hitting the rock until he got himself sideways and had to winch up. After Ronnie came Brian in his bronco. Since it was all gummed up it was almost impossible to get up, Brain slid from left to right, and finally stopped after getting totally off camber and loading up one tire so hard it looked like it was going to pop a bead. I guess me mentioning that to Brian right at that time didn’t make him feel any better, just made his ass hole pinch close just a little harder. After Brian both Allan and I tried and failed to make it up. The two long wheelbase vehicles were the only ones to make it up in our group under their own power.
. Even though we didn’t make it up, it was fun just trying! After wheeling all day we headed back down to Murphy and all got together for dinner at the Sirloin Steakhouse. (pic #36) It was great to get together with everyone and swap stories of the events of the day. Overall it was a great event, with a ton of cool ass bronco owners in attendance. – Hope to see you all at the event in spring of 2000!
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