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  1. #1

    Default Stuck at 12,000 feet

    Back in October 2000, I was in Colorado on my solo roadtrip having an offroad adventure with about 10 other Jeep enthusiasts on Webster Pass. We were on the ascent and my Jeep kept bogging down and stalling out. So I held up the group once or twice to stop and adjust the mixture screws on my carburetor. The thin air at 8,000-plus feet elevation was the culprit.

    My Jeep bogged down again at about 10,000. I was feeling great about holding up the whole group to fix my ill-performing Heep. This time, though, adjusting the mixture screws didn't help. I cranked and cranked the engine to no avail. We adjusted everything we could, even primed the carburetor with raw gasoline. Nothing.

    In the interest of saving time, my friend hooked his tow strap to my front bumper and pulled me for about 10-15 minutes up to the crest of our route. We stopped for lunch and tried to brainstormed a way to get my Jeep down from 12,000 feet in the middle of nowhere. I pulled the fuel lines off of the carburetor and cranked the engine. There was no fuel flow. I felt sunk. Utterly dejected. I didn't have a new fuel pump. The nearest auto parts store was at least 50 miles away after I could manage to get my Jeep off the mountain... if I could get my Jeep off the mountain...

    Then came three other Jeeps out for a weekend cruise came down off a higher ridge and stopped to make small talk with us. They spotted the hood of my Jeep fully opened and resting on the top of my windshield frame.

    "What's happened?"
    "Fuel pump died," I responded in the most dejected of tones.
    "What engine do you have?" one of the Jeepers inquired with a curious look on his face.
    "258," I replied.
    In nearly perfectly synchronized stereo, two of them decreed, "I think I have one," and they both retreated to their own veritable tailgate autopart stores.

    Sure enough, both men turned up a fuel pump for an AMC 258 cubic inch inline six cylinder engine, one of them brand new with a brand new gasket. My eyes lit up. I quickly performed the transplant and crossed my fingers.



    I cranked the engine. Grrrr rrrrrr. Grrrr rrrrr. Grrrr rrrrr grrrrvvvoooommm!!! He fired up! The small crowd cheered for my triumph (or for not having to figure a way to get me and my Jeep out of the Rocky Mountains).

    I expressed my gratitude the fuel pump donor and I asked him how much I should pay him. "Ten bucks oughta do it." I gladly handed over the money for what turned out to be a $25 part, as I later found out. Not a bad deal, eh?

    I believe in the simple karma notion that what goes around, comes around. I feel although we can't always repay a person for what we think is fair compensation, we can repay a favor to another person in need and eventually the good will go around. I can only hope that the man who saved my day at 12,000 feet has had his day saved by samaritans 100 times over.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default We've Been Rescued a few times too

    Great story. We were "rescued" a number of times on the road. In every circumstance the donors refused to accept payment of any kind. To the extent we can, we continue to pass on that kind of assistance.



    The Phoenix One awaits an unlikely tow...

    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France
    Posts
    761

    Default Great story!

    BostonWrangler,
    great story, it reminded me of my own breakdowns stories.... You know Murphy's Law? No matter how many big cities you hit, you'll always get stuck in the most remote places! Love the picture!

    Gen:-)

  4. Default

    Exactly! My two most memorable breakdowns -- between Monticello and Moab, Utah, and 20 miles or so south of Shiprock, NM. The first time assisted by a fine Utah highway patrolman, a non-LDS mechanic and a church bishop, the other time by a Navajo man "commuting" home to Dulce, NM from Phoenix.

    If I see you on the side, I'll stop to assist -- what goes around, comes around! I don't carry extra fuel pumps though....

  5. #5
    Dr. T Guest

    Default

    What a great story! 'Just curious -- when you go off road, now, do you carry an extra fuel pump?

  6. #6

    Default

    Unfortunately I sold my red Jeep Wrangler (named Sachem, pronounced Say-chuhm) last spring. Fortunately a friend of mine bought him and used him as an organ donor for a Jeep CJ-7 project.

    But to answer your question, yes, absolutely! After that trip, I bought a fuel pump and kept it in my Jeep along with other relatively inexpensive spare parts. The fuel pump that I was installing in the picture above is the same fuel pump that was on Sachem's engine when I sold him 30,000 miles or so later. :)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Boston Wrangler
    Back in October 2000, I was in Colorado on my solo roadtrip having an offroad adventure with about 10 other Jeep enthusiasts on Webster Pass.


    Here's my story of Red Cone Mountain. The photo shows the scree slope in the background.

    Red Cone Radio Rescue

    Long ago, back before there were cellphones I had an adventure in 4-wheeling, night driving, car repair and 2m ham radio.

    Starting in 1985 I bagan taking 2 weeks every September for continuous 4wheeling and hiking. Along about 1989 I returned from one of these trips a bit early. I was called on the telephone at home by a ham friend who invited me to get onto the local repeater and listen to Kent’s problem.

    Kent, KA0TTH, was up on top of Red Cone Mountain near Webster Pass at better than 12,000’ and had a car,er, Jeep Cherokee problem. He’d cut the sidewall of a front tire on a protruding rock. In changing the tire, his lug wrench had split open on an especially tight lug nut. He had no other tools and others who’d come along didn’t have helpful tools either.

    Kent had his girlfriend along and was getting concerned about being stuck up there.

    Seeing that I had some time and was pretty good with tools and I sensed an adventure in the making, I loaded up my Jeep Cherokee with tools, overnight supplies for myself, water, food, more tools and rigged up the 2m radio so I could continue to talk to Kent while on the way. (5/8 wave magnetic mount antenna and cig lighter power to my handy-talky and a single-sided headset so I didn’t have to fumble for the mic.

    The sun was setting as I headed out, riding to the rescue.

    Kent was really fortunate in that he had food, water and warm clothes since they’d been returning from a camping trip. And his problem had occurred at a place on the road where his roof-mount antenna could access the Horsetooth repeater from nearly 50 miles away.

    I continued to check the repeater’s pattern and inquire as to Kent’s status as I drove toward Denver, then up US285. Along 285 into the mountains the repeater dropped out. We had a plan to talk simplex when I got nearer.

    As I slipped into 4WD low range I was pleased that I could talk to Kent directly at the bottom of the ridge. It was about 10 PM by that time and he added hints about the trail for me as I was driving by headlights in a pitch dark forest.

    Red Cone Mountain is one of those roads that is periodically featured in the 4WD magazines. A featured road usually means that it’s exciting. I’d driven the road within the last 2 years so I had a pretty good idea what I was getting into.

    I drove on and basically didn’t have any real troubles though the road was rough and doing it in the dark was harder than in the light.

    About 0200 I reached Kent and his girlfriend. By flashlight we looked at the situation.
    The sidewall of the tire was badly torn. 4 of the 5 lugnuts were removed. In the time since Kent and I had talked on the radio the first time he had hammered and chiselled on the stuck lugnut so that nothing I had in the toolbox was going to help. These are the decorative lugnuts that have a nice chrome cap that fit a 19mm socket. If the cap comes off it becomes an 18 mm socket for a plated steel nut. I had all those things. But Kent had basically destroyed all the flats on the underlying nut and since these were the upgrade aluminum wheels, the nut was in a recess in the wheel itself and pretty much inaccessible. We needed to drill the wheel around the nut to slide the wheel over the damaged nut. I didn’t have a drill of any kind with me.

    For the next 3 hours we tried every kind of caveman idea we could come up with including attempting to hammer a hatchet in from the wheel rim toward the stud hole and split the wheel. This didn’t work either.

    At about 0500 we gave up and bedded down for about 2 hrs to catch a nap.

    Around 0700 we resumed the festivities. Since we had communications we had some guys volunteer things like air-dropping the needed drill and other hare-brained schemes.
    Ultimately we decided that we’d have to come back with the right tools (portable drill) some other time later.

    So we removed as much of Kent’s stuff from his vehicle into mine as we could and left the place about 1000. The descent down the screefield on the mountain was, fortunately, familiar to me though the two of them hadn’t done it before. This is a steep slide downhill with wheels locked, sliding in the rocks and hanging from the shoulder harness looking steeply down. One only releases the brakes to steer and keep it straight. It’s a thrilling ride.

    All went well and I basically drove them home over the next 4 hrs.

    About 4 days later Kent, Bill (an adventurer who’d showed me those roads the first time a few years earlier) and I left work early with tools including a portable drill and extra batteries and went back to the vehicle. We got there about 30 minutes before sunset. In 10 minutes and a few zips of the drill in the soft aluminum the wheel was removed and the spare was installed and we were on our way.

    We started engines as the sun disappeared. Fine. We’d have a nice dusk descent.
    After 100 yds on the trail and well before the scree slope Kent reported on the radio that he was overheating.

    What? The temperature was 45 and dropping. What’s going on???

    He had a lower radiator hose leak.

    While the car had been parked on the tundra, some critter (marmot probably) had chewed a hole in his lower radiator hose!

    Duct tape is good but not all that good for holding pressure against hot water.

    So I suggested that the thermostat be removed so that the water wouldn’t heat up and produce pressure. That was done. The tape was reinforced heavily and we pressed on down the scree slope in the dark.

    We made it to the nearest town by about 2200. Gas stations didn’t have a hose. The tape was actually holding pretty well and level wasn’t changing so we headed for home.
    In 4 more hours we arrived at the car dealer’s lot in Loveland where Kent wanted to leave the car. (The dealer got the credit for tightening the lug-nuts so horribly tight and Kent wanted an investigation.) The Loveland cop stopped us to ask what we were up to but no worries. The car was on the lot, we were safe and we’d had an adventure.

    Next day Kent reported that the dealer had tightened the steel lug nuts to 130ft-lb into the aluminum wheels. That’s what it took to break loose the nuts on the other wheels. He persuaded the dealer to come across with a replacement wheel for his trouble.

    Ham radio provided the means for Kent to call for willing help and for that help to come with good info on the situation.

    Happy Trails,

    noFanofCB

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Hare-brained schemes & other funs and games

    Quote Originally Posted by noFanofCB
    Here's my story of Red Cone Mountain. The photo shows the scree slope in the background.
    Wow, great story! I liked the part about the radio chatter and the suggestion of air-dropping in the needed parts.

    Your description of the sliding driving technique was pretty darn riveting too. I have been in similar places, you should try it sometime in a 7.5 ton vehicle, sliding is a concept that plays fast and loose with your blood pressure under such conditions.

    Those pesky marmots...

    Thanks for the post! It brings back all sorts of memories of equally hare-brained schemes that somehow seemed brillant once we all survived.

    Mark

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Ft. Collins, CO.
    Posts
    304

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor
    Wow, great story! I liked the part about the radio chatter and the suggestion of air-dropping in the needed parts.

    Thanks for the post! It brings back all sorts of memories of equally hare-brained schemes that somehow seemed brillant once we all survived.

    Mark
    We discarded the air-drop idea on the basis that a drill is heavy and likely it would hit one of us or punch a windshield on one of the vehicles.

    Years later I am regularly flying a small plane which can't reliably get that high. Many small planes can't even REACH 12,000'! My Civil Air Patrol buddy/flight instructor says that the CAP simply loses 1/2 of what they air drop even with streamers and lots of practice.

    So in hindsight, declining to try airdrop was one of the better decisions we made that day.

    This also drove home the practice that I got from my father of using anti-seize on the lugnut threads (NOT the conical faces) and personally torquing each lugnut using a torque wrench after anybody else touches them for any reason. Plus I now carry a large 3/4" breaker bar and hardened steel sockets to match the lugnuts in each of my vehicles in case the factory lugwrench fails.

    noFanofCB

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,059

    Default Both luck and practice

    Quote Originally Posted by noFanofCB
    We discarded the air-drop idea on the basis that a drill is heavy and likely it would hit one of us or punch a windshield on one of the vehicles.
    I worked helitack back in the '70's and although we never completely lost a load, it does take a combination of luck, skill and practice to get a load on target in even the best of circumstances.
    This also drove home the practice that I got from my father of using anti-seize on the lugnut threads (NOT the conical faces) and personally torquing each lugnut using a torque wrench after anybody else touches them for any reason. Plus I now carry a large 3/4" breaker bar and hardened steel sockets to match the lugnuts in each of my vehicles in case the factory lugwrench fails.
    I don't think I have ever used the factory lugwrench on any of my vehicles -- I have always carried 1-1/2" drives, breaker bars and assorted tools (easy always made more sense to me).

    Mark

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