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Off Road Guide

  #1  
Old 09-03-2008, 06:06 AM
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Default Off Road Guide

Tips for successfull "wheeling" to help you enjoy the outdoors, reach your destination and have fun, with a minimum of damage to both your truck and you.

This thread will be "locked" so that it will remain a database of knowledge and not be "cluttered up" with comment posts, making it harder to search for information.
However, we want all to feel free to add your own tips, off-road product knowledge and techniques to this thread, so if you have something, just simply create a post in the Off-Road section and PM HammerZ71 or Crazy4x4RT and we'll move it here.
If you have created a post or even just happen to see one in another section (2ND GEN RAM for example) that would be appropriate here, just let us know. We can always copy it over.

We'll have a line at the end of the post, in red, which will give the post a classification, such as "riding tips", "trail tools", "truck parts", etc. So that when/if this thing grows, you can do a search for everything of a like topic...

Enjoy and here's to seeing you "Off-Road"...
 
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Old 09-03-2008, 08:05 AM
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Default Mud basics

Probably the most important thing to know about mud, is that it's important to get out and survey the situation before just "jumping in". Size up where you are going to go in advance and take your time to determine where the best routes might be. Maybe the sides look better? Sometimes you can see where others before you have gone.
You want fairly low air in the tires, but not crazy low! 20-28 lbs. is usually good for a big footprint without sacrificing flotation. A lot of sidewall is key here too. If you've got 33" tires on 20" wheels, find another route, the lack of sidewall which converts to footprint when aired down is going to get you stuck for sure. Mudders want the most meat on the smallest diameter wheels possible that will still clear the calipers. The three "F" are huge here - Footprint, Flex and Flotation!
The key to making it through to the other side is keeping a balance between tire speed and control. It's important to keep the wheels moving for forward momentum and to keep your aggressive mud tread's lugs as clean as possible. Making an absolute mess and slinging as much mud from those cleats as fast as possible is a good thing. You need to hit the mud hard enough to maintain momentum, but not so much that you lose the ability to control the vehicle. You lose forward momentum, or start to bog down and it's time for the tow strap or winch...





Riding Tips
 
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Old 09-03-2008, 09:00 AM
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Default Portable Anchors

A winch is no more than a big, heavy bumper ornament if there is nothing available to attach the cable to. Many times there may not be a sturdy enough point to anchor to, a beach for example comes to mind. This potentially devastating problem can be solved by carrying a portable anchor such as a Pull Pal. This device, which folds for easy storage, has a chrome molly plow-type assembly that digs itself into the sand or soil as the winch line pulls against it. An almost indispensable tool for "desert dwellers" and those who prefer to go it alone...





Trail Tools
 
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Old 09-03-2008, 11:04 AM
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Default Jacks

If you happen to be out on the trail and get a flat tire or pop a bead off the a wheel (a common problem when running with tire's "aired down"), give it up if all you have is the "bottle" or "scissor" jack that came with it. They are designed for stock height trucks, on flat, solid ground, and I have yet to be lucky enough to break down off-road, on that kind of terrain.
What you need here is a farm type jack, such as the popular Hi-Lift jack. A farm jack will get a raised vehicle off the ground where other types of jacks don't have a chance. An optional off-road base should be purchased to alleviate the jack sinking into soft ground or mud. Available in a variety of heights, the 48" & 60" are the most popular. I've personally had a 48" Hi-Lift for about fifteen years and I'm finally due for a new one, but only because it's been left out in the weather nearly as long as I've had it. With proper care, they'll last you a lifetime.
The great thing about these jacks is they can serve multiple purposes. It can be used as a clamp, with upwards of 750 lbs. of clamping pressure. I've actually used mine to clamp steel together in the field so I could gas weld a box blade back together, on the spot. Another great thing about this tool is that it will serve as a manual winch by simply connecting a couple of chains to it. Yup, if you are off road and could bring only one tool, you'd be hard pressed to pick one that's as versatile and indispensable as this one...






Trail Tools
 
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Old 09-03-2008, 04:32 PM
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Default Getting a Vehicle Unstuck...

The topic came around in another section and it made me realize just how many people have no idea of the techniques used and more importantly the steps involved to avoid a serious injury or worse.
Warn has alway published a great guide to proper winching techniques and some of it, especially the safety precautions would carry over well to people who don't have a winch and merely use a strap, chain or rope.

Here's a link:

http://www.warn.com/corporate/images...US.readers.pdf




Riding Tips
 
  #6  
Old 09-03-2008, 05:54 PM
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Default Winches...

A winch is a major investment. It needs to be the right kind for your truck/suv, right for the kind of four wheeling you do, and it has to fit into your budget.
Besides just the winch, there are other things to consider. A 9,000 lb. rated winch and necessary mount can easily add 150 lbs. or more to the front of your vehicle. The suspension must be able to handle it, so it may be necessary to change springs, shocks and/or torsion bars. A winch draws power, so depending on how much you intend to use it, you may need to opt for a 2nd battery.
Once you determine that your suspension and electrical system can support a winch it's time to ask yourself, "how much winch do I need"? The general rule of thumb when purchasing a winch is to purchase one with a rating of 1.5x the GVWR of your vehicle. So, for example, if you have a small suv with a GVWR of 4000 lbs, a compact, light, inexpensive 6000 lb. rated winch should be all you need. If however, you have a quad cab 4x4 pickup that weighs in at 6000 lbs., you'd need to fork over enough cash to buy a 9000 lb. winch. For larger 3/4 ton trucks, it may require the purchase of a 12,000 or even 15,000 lb. winch.
It actually requires much less winching power to pull a vehicle than you would think. Think about it, on level ground, with adequate air in the tires, you could push a 3500 lb. car by yourself, and you have far less pushing power than even a small 1500 lb. ATV winch. To winch a 4000 lb. vehicle up a 15 degree incline, it only requires 1050 lbs. of pulling power, for a 30 degree incline, a 2000 lb. winch would do just fine.
It's when you are stuck that you need the power of a winch with a greater rating than the weight of your vehicle. Getting yourself free of mud or wet sand requires a huge amount of pull to get out of the stuck position, but once free, it will require much less power to get the vehicle onto safe ground.
Do you really need a winch? If you mainly travel on marked trails and always are accompanied by another 4x4, you may never need one. But if you off-road by yourself and prefer the path less travelled, you'll need a winch. It's an investment you can make that will outlast the truck you buy it for as many transfer their winch over to new truck purchases. Yes, a winch could very well turn out to be the single most valuable item you can add to your truck...











Truck Parts / Trail Tools
 
  #7  
Old 09-04-2008, 09:15 PM
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Default Truck Cleaning

Clean it off when you're done

Make sure you clean the bottom and other critical parts of the truck off real well after a good muddin. Mud, both thick and thin, has a tendency to get into all sorts of places, and makes a real mess of things if left around bearings or other moving parts like U-joints, brakes, and even CV boots. Nothing like a little bit of abrasive or other garbage in those places to make them not work right or wear out prematurely.

Give it a good powerwashing, then wash it again. Take a look under the hood to see if it got up to the pulleys/belt and rinse that off too. You'd be surprised how much brown water can come out of one truck even after you think its clean.




Riding Tips
 
  #8  
Old 09-06-2008, 08:55 AM
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Default Beach Basics

Here are some simple tips for driving on the beach.

Air down your tires by about 10 psi, you'll need the extra footprint to dig into the sand and maintain traction. Sometimes you can get away with not doing this, but as a general rule, it's a good idea before hitting the beach.

Stick to the waterline. The sand closest to the water is generally moist and packed harder than the rest of the sand on the beach. It is also the most even sand on the beach, reducing the likelihood of d***ing in and getting stuck. The dry sand on the beach proper is very soft and uneven. You can easily sink a wheel on a soft patch and loose control of the vehicle or get stuck.

Keep your speed to around 20 mph. In my experience, 20 is a good beach speed, fast enough to maintain momentum and traction, but slow enough to give you time to dodge obstacles and other beach goers. Keep and eye out for other people and fishing gear. It is very common for beach fishers to plant their rods on the beach while fishing, you can easily hit their equipment or tangle their lines.

Be mindful of the tides. Tides are different at every beach, some come in slow, others very fast, and the amount of water rise is unique to each beach. Don't park too close to the waterline, as the tide may come in and give your vehicle a bath.

Bring an anchor of some sort in case you get stuck. Powering out of sand is a bad idea, you'll just dig yourself in deeper. The beach doesn't have a lot to hookup to, so an anchor or a friend's vehicle is a must.

After you've had your day at the beach, don't forget to air up your tires and wash off your vehicle. Salt and sand will destroy your car! Wash the undercarriage well!

Other beach safety tips: Sharks. Sharks do not have very good vision and are attracted to shiny objects, because they resemble the glint of light off of a fish's scales. Remove all jewelry before going swimming! The most common shark bite areas are the hands, wrists, and necks... where people wear their jewelry. If you see a shark, don't panic! Move calmly out of the water. Excessive splashing will attract the shark's attention. Don't go swimming where you see schools of fish, because sharks and other fish will be close behind.

Rip currents. Rip currents are very hard to spot, many don't leave a visual signal. They will quickly drag you out to sea. If you find yourself in a rip current don't fight it! The main cause of death from rip currents is drowning because victims will attempt to swim back to shore against the current, tire, and drown. Swim parallel to the beach until you no longer feel the pull of the current. As a generally rule, you will need to swim several hundred yards before you free yourself. Once you are free, swim to shore as normal.









Riding Tips
 
  #9  
Old 12-26-2008, 09:47 PM
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Crossing Logs....

Observe the log prior to going over it. Know your approach and departure angles.
Always enter at an angle, allowing one tire to crawl over the obstacle at a time.
Never drive straight into the obstacle.
Slowly crawl over the obstacle and slowly creep down.
Sometimes a log may require you to 'bump' over or apply a small burst of momentum to get you over.

Crossing Ditches....

Observe the ditch prior to going through it. Know your approach and departure angles.
Always enter at an angle, dropping one tire down into the ditch at a time.
Drop each wheel down in the ditch slowly while still preserving momentum to get you out.

On Rocks....

It is recommended to be in 4WD low range for rock crawling. This will keep your speed down and allow you to creep over the rocks avoiding damage.
Never straddle the rocks - always drive on them. Aim one of your tires directly over the rock. Slowly creep upwards and downwards.
Lowering your air pressure (or airing down) will give you more traction, makes your ride softer & helps protect your tires (less likely to puncture).
Get to know the amount of ground clearance your vehicle has. It could make the difference between getting over an obstacle or needing a tow. Avoid going beyond your limits.

Mud......

Check the depth of the mud. Locate the shallowest points for your entrance and exit points. My philosophy is, never go into an unknown mud hole unless someone else goes through first.
Check the mud hole for hidden rocks and other obstacles that could cause damage.
Drive straight and keep up your momentum.
If you feel that you're going to get stuck, raise the rpm's. This will help clear out your tires and give you more chance for traction.
Always keep in mind - your airbox is for air, not mud.

Crossing Streams....

Don't attempt to cross fast moving streams.
Like mud, you'll want to check both the water depth, entrance and exit points.
Check for underwater obstacles - rocks, ledges, or holes.
Cross streams at an upstream angle.
Go across at a slow speed while preserving momentum.
If you get stuck and the engine stalls - DO NOT RE-START THE ENGINE! There is an overwhelming urge to turn that key. DON'T!!! If there is any water in your engine - and you turn the key, you could damage your engine completely.

Crossing Sand....

Fix a high flag to your vehicle to make sure you'll be seen around dunes.
It is absolutely necessary to lower your tire pressure (air down)
Always keep your momentum.
Never over throttle - you could dig yourself into a hole and not be able to get out.


Riding Tips
 
  #10  
Old 12-27-2008, 09:22 AM
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Default Lockers, Limited Slips & Spools

Differentials can be generally classified into 4 categories. Open Differentials, Limited Slip Differentials, Locking Differentials and Spools.

Open / Standard Carrier Differential
The standard differential, or what is referred to as an open carrier, is what comes with most OEM vehicles. This type of open design works great for most of vehicles on the road today. However when a vehicle with an open differential meets a lack of traction, it directs power to the wheel with the least amount of resistance. The result is the wheel on the traction-less surface spins free, while the opposite wheel of that axle on the better traction surface provides little or no power.

Limited Slip Differentials, Posi-Traction (Posi, Posis)
Limited Slip (also called positraction or posi )differentials are designed to "limit" the tendency of open differential to send power to a wheel that lacks traction and redirect the power to a degree to the other wheel of the axle. The Limited Slip differential will send power to both wheels equally when traveling straight, however when one wheel spins due to a lack of traction, the differential will automatically provide torque to the other wheel with traction. Limited Slip and Positraction (posi) differentials limit the loss of torque to a slipping wheel through various mechanisms such as clutches, gears cones, and other methods dependant on the unit. Limited Slip differentials are recommended for daily driven vehicles and are used in many applications where traction is sometimes needed as in emergency vehicles. They are also ideal for front axles of 4x4 vehicles that are not equipped with front hubs that can be disengaged.

Lockers, Locking Differentials A locking differential or "Locker" uses a mechanism that allows left and right wheels to "lock" relative to each other and turn at the same speed regardless of which axle has traction and regardless of how little traction a slipping wheel has. In this state, the axle acts more as a "Spool". This means traction can be sent to a wheel that may be planted firmly on the ground while the other wheel of the axle is completely off the ground.
Lockers use various mechanisms to provide lock-up and can be divided into two categories, Automatic Lockers and On-Command, or selectable Lockers.
Automatic lockers tend to create odd handling characteristics on the street as they lock and unlock and the "ratcheting" that takes place around turns will take some getting used to. They also put a lot of pressure on axles, tires, hubs and other drive-line components. As a result, automatic lockers are not generally recommended for daily driven 4x4's.
On-command lockers are the best of both worlds providing the benefits of a locking differential and an open differential. An on-command locker uses a switch activated electric motor or vacuum diaphragm or a cable / lever to engage the locker. When an on-command locker is not engaged, it acts like a standard open differential with none of the quirky handling characteristics of an automatic locker. When the on-command locker is engaged, the differential locks the axle shafts together where it is now more like a spool with no differential of speed between the wheels of that axle.

Spools, Mini Spools
Spools are actually the lack of a differential. Spools are a 100% lock-up between both wheels of an axle all the time. Spools are generally used for racing and serious offroad use where little or no street driving is seen by the vehicle and a stronger, lighter rear end is needed.


As a general rule-of-thumb, I'd recommend a Limited Slip or (for those with deeper pockets) an On Command or Selectable Locker for a 4x4 that is also a daily driver or gets much street use.
An Automatic Locker (and of course, an On Command Locker) would be a good choice for a weekend play toy that sees no or only occasional on-pavement use.



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