March Madness Event 4WP Mar 2012

If there was anything truly mad about the Run to the Lynnwood 4 Wheel Parts “March Madness” day – it could either have been that it was trying to snow as I made my way up to Lynnwood – or possibly that we had a very nice contingent of Tamers facing the cold and drizzle.  We are wheelers, after all – but let’s have a show of hands for everyone who is ready to enjoy as little warm, sunny wheeling.  (Yep – I see you all out there ready to turn the butt-heaters off, if only the weather would cooperate.) 

But – as the day went on, it became better than it might have been.  Jamie brought a metal burner and a pickup truck full of wood, and we got that bad boy burning in short order.  In typical wheeler overkill, lighter fluid and a propane torch got the pile a-flame in no time at all.  And – for the most part – while still chilly – the rain and showers stayed away for the rest of the day. 

4WP had some snacks and coffee inside for us, and sign-up sheets for rig-bragging and getting on the list to take a run up the RTI ramp.  With the way most our rigs are built, it’s almost easier just to list “What you see is what I got, and don’t follow me – you won’t make it!” than to list out all the little tricks and tools we have built in to make our rigs go about anywhere we point them.

 Tamers had about 10 or so rigs on site, plus John and Gina’s motor home to provide cover, should the weather turn even more foul that it already was.  There was the usual kibbetzing and catching up as we regrouped from what is seeming like an awfully long winter. 

 4WP also had a few fun things set up besides the RTI ramp.  They’d set up a blind drive course, including a tire pile to romp through.

To go blind – you got a pair of goggles sporting duct tape all over them to keep you in the dark.  I believe John was the first to give that a try.  Not only was the course a blind drive – it was a blind drive in reverse.  You had to have your spotter talk you backwards through a bunch of cones.  So it was a start along the side of the building, with a few hard turns to then right, then left, finally stopping at a big cone – and proceeding forward onto the tire pile.  That was really a challenge – not knowing exactly when you were near the pile, in the pile, on the pile – and then bound up in the pile.  Usually – tire pits respond well to a lot of throttle, but when you can’t see where you’re going – plus being on either tires or asphalt in a somewhat crowded parking lot – a good blind romp will either scare the pee out of you, or greatly increase your chances of breaking something.

Gina did a pretty good job of getting John through the course (I believe I heard her say, “I love telling john what to do”) but he was understandably tentative to romp the tires when he couldn’t see where he was going.  After a couple of approaches to, then into the pile – John had enough rubber wadded under him to get all 4 wheels off the ground.  Tom Baker gave him a little yank off the pile with no damage done.  Since Chad had proposed setting an extra tall pile of tires for John to crawl on, I think we all agreed to snag the tow fee out of Chad.

Tom came next .  Now – you really want to have some fun going blind in reverse – do it with a spool.  Tom’s Jeep pretty much just wanted to go straight backwards, no matter which way the front wheels were turned.  Pretty quick, he decided it was easier to take the rear out of gear and lock up the rear tires while pushing with the front.  Having that traction broken did the trick.  I wasn’t pretty – but it got the job done.  Tom got through the tire pile pretty well.  Same for Ed Tenney who looked like he wasn’t going to get through the pile – but with a little perseverance, and more than a little throttle – he got himself through without a tug or anything broken.

The morning excitement came from Phil, who tried the blind drive after he got a way rich engine sorted out.   Seems like a stuck EGR valve was giving too much vacuum signal to his TBI computer, and his rig wasn’t running worth a hoot – too rich.  With some advice from Gary, and a little wrenching, the problem was fixed and he went off to do the drive.  All went pretty well in reverse, and then he got poised to get through the pile.  I believe the instruction was, “hit it” and Phil got some foot into his rig.  Well – he got in the pile, on the pile, through the pile – and looked like he was going to continue until he piled into the RTI ramp! (Fortunately – he didn’t quite get that far.)  The onlookers were all echoing a growing crescendo of STOP!!!! (which Phil later reported he couldn’t hear at all) and before anything particularly memorable happened, Phil got things shut down.  Apparently, with his rig running better, things got a little bound up with his kick down cable, and it caused the throttle to stick.  A little rerouting of a few wires and hoses took care of that.

The 4WP parts guys got the BBQ heated up and got dogs and burgers on the fire for lunch.  Then there was more hanging around and yakking and telling tales – as Tamers are well suited to do.

In the afternoon – most everyone took a trip up the ramp – both front end and rear.  They had the unlimited stock class (lift under 4”) and the unlimited class (lifts over 4”.)  Terry got a really nifty little trophy made out of a coil spring for having the most stretch for the under 4” crowd.  Gary TJ got the award for most stretch for the unlimited class, and his trophy was a conglomeration of ring and spider gears and such.  You’d think he could build something out of that if he ever needs a future trail repair, but he just smiled and said, “I don’t think I’ve got any gears left on my rig that are THAT small.”  A side note – since Moosenstein is down at the moment, I brought Auto-M’s TJ that has the 6” Rubicon long arm suspension and stretched that out – and the 4WP guys said it got within 2” of Gary’s run up the ramp – so Mary was pretty happy to hear about that when I got home.

There was no doubt – the crowd favorite vote of “Best Beater” went to Chad’s Toyota – which of course is most deserving of the award.

So – finally, the afternoon wound down, Ted helped Jamie get the fire put out in his fireplace, and we expect the grass in front of the 4 WP shop will grow back once the sun comes out with some serious intent.  Last but not least – as promised – 4WP handed over the winch for our efforts on the day.  I’m sure the club will figure out something creative to do with that sometime in the near future.  In talking with folks throughout the day – everyone seems primed for a year this year where our watchword will be, “Let’s go wheelin’!” and just get out and do it.

Thanks for everyone who came out to have some fun, make the day a success – and hope to see you on the trail real soon.

Thanks for reading.
And Keep On Wheelin’!!!