Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

Archive for the category “The Intrepid”

An Unusual Weekend

Parked at the Cinder Hill OHV Area, at last. Whew!

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

This year’s Overland Expo West was the largest ever, (130,000 attendees total, I was told) with enough acreage of gewgaws to exhaust anyone but a marathon runner. Honestly, just about every permutation of any concept or product was there in enough profusion to eventually numb the mind. Each of the many aisle lengths appeared to be a quarter-mile long.

The traffic stack-up to get in a day early (on Thursday) was over 45 minutes, since I arrived just when the gates opened at 1 PM. The check-in procedure itself was painless, since there was no need to even get out of the vehicle. Then it was on to the Read more…

Setting Up the Intrepid’s Solar Ground Panels

The video below shows how the Intrepid carries its two 100-watt solar ground panels onboard, and how they are removed and deployed. The usual setup on Four Wheel campers is to carry one panel by using two aluminum rails attached underneath the bed area of the camper, but there isn’t enough of a vertical gap between the camper and the truck’s cab roof to stow two 100-watt panels in this way. Plus, the then-owner of Four Wheel personally interceded on the phone to dissuade me from using that method due to his fear that the combined weight of the panels and the inherent violence of off-roading might cause delamination of the board used in that area. I had wanted to use adhesive tape rather than drill for machine screws through the board from inside the camper, something I’m squeamish about when accuracy is vital. It’s a moot point, though. There isn’t enough physical space available.

So I designed, prepped and had a highly experienced welder assemble an aluminum carrier rack that is bolted to the forward jack mounts of the camper. It’s a twin-track affair which carries Read more…

Back to Woodchute Trailhead

As sunset approaches, the view from the two campsites up here is unmatched.

I rarely backtrack when I’m onroute to a destination, but weather for the next week makes a 7,100′ elevation desirable, and I’m still waiting for a package in Cottonwood that should show up this week. So why not be comfortable? Once I completed errands in Cottonwood, I headed for the Woodchute Trailhead west of Jerome and arrived with plenty of time to set up camp. As the photo above shows, there’s good reason to go backwards for an hour.

Actually, I set up camp and then moved. A family in a Jeep was in my #1 preferred campsite overlooking a valley, so I moved into the nearby #2 site, which is almost as primo. I couldn’t tell if they were just there for the day or intended to set up a tent, so I got the Grandby happily situated. Just after I finished though, I looked out the window and they had vamoosed! I really didn’t need to move, since the only difference between the two sites is size. But I moved anyway, figuring that hey, I’d be here for the week so why not? It didn’t take long at all, and the Four Wheel can be safely Read more…

A Shocking Discovery

Huh? White, branded shock absorbers from a new car dealer? Don’t mind the squiggle at top center – that’s the VIRB’s default display that indicates where you currently are along the recording’s total path. (It has a GPS sensor.) Here, I’m just beginning to head east on a trail.

When the Mighty Furd was having its front suspension rebuilt and new shock absorbers put on, all I looked at were the front shocks, which were easily seen. They’re black. I assumed that the rears were also black, since this set had to be ordered, and Ford won’t put on non-Ford parts that aren’t related to their OEM chain. They of course order a heap of parts from OEM vendors, most of which also sell aftermarket. But the original testing, evaluation and approvals of whatever they specify and order must run the gauntlet in order for Ford to be able to warranty them both as-delivered and as replacement parts. Dealers can of course install nearly anything the customer wants, but if they fail, you then only have recourse via the outfit that made the parts you wanted put on. Ford Motor won’t warranty them.

So here we have Ford-issued no-name shocks in front, and white Rancho shocks in the rear, and Ford Motor warranties them all for their usual two years. So the original black Ford-supplied rears are apparently out of production, and the Rancho-branded shocks are considered to be fully equivalent. This is not particularly surprising, since Ford now sells at least one pickup model wearing Rancho-branded shocks. As I wrote in an earlier post, the performance of this set feels equivalent to what the Mighty Furd was originally delivered with, unlike the Monroe Gas-Magnums that I later replaced them with.

Not being one to leave well enough alone, I was now curious as to what model of Ranchos these rear shocks are. After all, finding that out will in the future enable me to have them replaced with Ranchos all-’round, and more cheaply than having to go to Ford to get them. You can get any model of Rancho anywhere. So I emailed the “RanchoExtreme Team” to ask Read more…

NF-493 – The Movie

Well, due to its length of 29 minutes, not too many folks are going to suffer through this thing because it’s not relevant to how they camp or would want to camp if they could. Then again, if you harbor the same “get out there” delusions I do and want to find out what you can unknowingly get yourself into, then this is for you. All the trail surface variety and wild 3 MPH action is here. plus there’s all that blue sky on one side and mountainside on the other. Looking at the footage, it’s obvious that I dropped a wheel solidly into that erosion hole at ledge’s edge, and yet I can’t explain why no tire tracks can be found in the dust around the bad part of it. I’ll have to leave that mystery as it is. Not being a Read more…

NF-593 – The Movie

My apologies: the route is NF-493. This error is in the video as well, so all subscribers have received another notification to a corrected post and video in addition to this now-bogus one. The corrected post is here.


On Tour: Woodchute to Jerome


A holiday snap taken by the Garmin VIRB Ultra, which inserted its own default data overlays of speed, elevation and location on a mapped track. And its own logo, of course. These are probably easy to get rid of, just as they are on video captures, but I haven’t explored that yet.

Once you get the video bug, it’s hard to stop seeing what can be done on a budget. The 16-minute video below takes the viewer from my campsite at Woodchute Trail through the eclectic town of Jerome, Arizona. If all you want is to see what driving through Jerome is like, just skip farther in. Should you be considering Woodchute as a potential camping spot, you’ll want to start at the beginning. Basically, anyone in any rig can make it up to the cattle gate, and there are plenty of pull-offs to choose from. Cell reception may be an issue there, however. In this video, you’ll eventually see some travel trailers large and small in this section.

Once past the gate however, your rig should be more compact and have good ground clearance, ’cause it can get pretty bumpy and rutted. 2WD is all that is needed in dry weather, however. The Mighty Furd’s new shocks certainly got a workout on a few parts of it, and you need to know how to pick your path to avoid dropping a wheel into something deep enough to ground out an axle. It’s not difficult at all, but it’s worth mentioning and something to avoid doing in the dark.

As for the mechanics of the video, it was all done with an action cam. Except for a view of the rear suspension taken by mounting the camera on the cargo box’s hitch stalk, all of the footage was taken Read more…

Wickenburg Trail

This tire highlights the value of having true all-terrain tires. The trip started with clean tires which quickly got an even coat of dust. Then rocks on the trail removed some of it.

Well, I left Wickenburg to stage in Congress for a quick trip to Scottsdale to see a good friend of mine.  The best part is that I suckered him into paying for lunch. The second-best part is that I managed to capture some usable video on the way out of camp. I lost nearly all of the audio however, due to my not realizing that two devices were both inadvertently set to use the same bluetooth microphone. As far as they are concerned, this is not a cooperative venture. So you’re spared both my droning, monotone commentary and the pocketa-pock of the idling Mighty Furd for 10 minutes. That’s probably good, too. My loss is your gain.

You’ll notice a lot of turning from side to side in the footage (sorry, I’m too old-school to use the term “clip”), since much time was spent dodging either bushes or rocks. This trail is really a bit narrow for a full-size vehicle, and much of the original soundtrack consisted of wiry bushes screeching their way down the truck’s length, like nails on a chalkboard. Made me wince each time I played it back. I aired down the tires for this trail so that the ride Read more…

Views of the Carnage

Just a few random shots of the Mighty Furd in the shop. These were taken by my intrepid service writer and texted to me. It’s now 5:15PM, so the thing fought tooth and nail on the front suspension. It’s just being finished up now, all work complete once the road test is done. I think we can all agree at this point that this should be the last post of its kind for awhile, eh?

Read more…

Tears for Gears

They washed it, and the tires are actually BLACK, not deep grey! The dot inside the cargo box lid is a mini-thermometer so I can monitor interior temps.

Well, among the final prep for departure items on my list is maintenance service that’s due on the Mighty Furd, and I also wanted them to check the front wheel alignment and check the front suspension parts, since the tires have been insistently cupping (wearing in weird and warpy concave patterns). That usually indicates suspension problems, and it’s been going on for a couple of years. The cupping transforms the aggressive Cooper ST/Maxx treads from their normal whine to a sound that closely mimics the harmonics of a blown wheel bearing, just enough to make it unsettling. The maintenance items were to change the coolant (best done every 3 years on this engine), change out the fuel filters (2) along with making sure that the water drain valve isn’t plugged up with sludge, and change the oil and filter. The service writer suggested changing the rear diff oil if not already done, which it has not been, which he said was normally due at 90,000 miles. Naturally, I suspected foul play here to drum up business, but agreed to have that added in. As it turns out, it was due at 100,000 miles and I just reached 105. Missed that one. Total bill when it was all over, $730. I’d suspected $600 going in, not including the diff change, and had braced myself for it. Didn’t stop the hanky from having to come out. The other people in the waiting room understood, but I don’t think the cashier likes to see grown men sobbing into one. She did pat my shoulder and say “There, there, now …Check or credit card?” I suspect she rightfully tagged me as one unlikely to carry that much cash. Ever.

I was in by 7AM and left at about 2:30, the main drag being that you normally don’t want to drop all the coolant out until the motor has cooled down some. I sensed bad news coming when the work was done and the writer was not smiling. He herded me toward where we could sit down. Turns out Read more…

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