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4WD off-Road information, valuable advice and the latest tips for safe wheeling and hot new gear reviews
Updated: 11 hours 2 min ago

Mechanical Sympathy / Damage Mitigation

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 00:00
Mechanical Sympathy / Damage Mitigation
(Click picture for a larger image.) I vividly recall a beautiful morning in the sand dunes drinking my first cup of coffee while watching the sun poke its nose over the bank of clouds behind a 60 foot dune. An early four-wheeler was testing his new injection system nearby. As he went up a razorback, I could tell he had too much throttle. As he cleared the top, a trail of sand followed the jeep a good six feet above the crest. As razorbacks have a habit of doing, the drop off on the other side proved more extreme than the Jeeper expected. The resulting endo was disastrous for his weekend. Luckily, he walked away but the Jeep was another matter.

It goes without saying that a reliable vehicle is a must for four wheeling. Without a dependable 4WD vehicle, we literally could not participate in this exciting hobby. That dependability is affected by how well we maintain our vehicles and how we treat them off road.

Which brings me to “mechanical sympathy.” I know it sounds strange. After all, do you really have sympathy for your 4WD vehicle? You probably do, but just don’t call it that. Mechanical sympathy involves taking care of your vehicle and driving properly to mitigation possible damage so that the vehicle gets you back home.

Mechanical sympathy entails several facets. Here are the more important ones.

- Avoid reckless driving. Testosterone poisoning can be a big problem among four wheelers. When affected by this disease, we feel we need to prove ourselves by using excessive momentum to overcome lack of tractions, going air borne for the record, and trying highly risky obstacles. In addition to putting people at risk, that behavior is tough on vehicles (and the environment). The only thing to “prove” while off road is your ability to be a good ambassador for four wheeling. Save the hot dogging for the Xbox game back home.

- Be aware of the environment. Note the terrain around and below your vehicle. Listen for anything unusual. A slow pace allows you to properly place your tires (though a spotter is useful in some situations). You also have time to respond to changes in the environment. Roll down the windows, turn the radio off, turn the air conditioner off, and listen carefully. Your vehicle tells you a lot about how it feels and a good deal about the terrain.

With the windows down, I know immediately when there’s a new sound coming from the vehicle. Not every sound is a cause for concern. Some scraping under the vehicle is ok and won’t cause damage. If you hear scraping and feel resistance, however, stop, back out and recon before trying again – perhaps a few inches over.

- Maintain proper speed. Some four wheelers think that if a little bit of momentum is good, a lot more must be better. That’s simply not true. We want to drive as slowly as possible…the old adage is, “As slowly as possible but as fast as necessary.” Too much momentum—read that as “speed”—can be dangerous. It’s too easy to lose control. The terrain takes over control. It can flip you up a bank or off the deep end of a shelf road. High speed on bumpy terrain is tough on your vehicle, too.

- Keep up with maintenance. A properly maintained vehicle is less likely to break down—on the road or on the trails. Refer to your owner’s manual for regularly scheduled maintenance. “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure,” as the old saying goes. Regular maintenance can mean the difference between a vehicle that survives the trails and one that doesn’t.

- Perform a full inspection of your vehicle. Before starting and after lunch are good times for a 360-degree inspection. (And, of course, before you get back on the highway.) Even after numerous trips with no issues, don’t stop the inspection regimen. Parts can break at any time. Plus, you become so familiar with your vehicle; it’s much easier to recognize a problem. A new sound or symptom is readily apparent because it is so unusual.

I recommend a complete inspection before every 4WD excursion. But inspections are crucial while four wheeling, as well. Look for drips or puddles, stuff hanging down, loose nuts and bolts and anything else out of place. Inspect the engine compartment, too. Anything out of place is really noticeable. Which is another reason to keep the engine bay clean.

“Mechanical sympathy” is a fancy term for a basic but important concept. Just as you (I hope!) take good care of your health, so should you take good care of your vehicle. Regular maintenance and sound driving habits will keep your vehicle at peak performance. And ensure that it’s ready to take you on those thrilling 4WD excursions. # # #
Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures Did you miss the previous article? Some Upcoming Events

(click on the link for details)

Badlands Off-Road Adventures on Bull Frog Trail in Johnson Valley
Photo by The Adventure Portal
(Click picture for a larger image.) With just over a month before the Rubicon Trail trip, now is the time to sign up and make the commitment that this is the year you will "do the Con". You just have time to, schedule vacation, make those upgrades you need, and prepare for an epic trip. Check the schedule below to sign up for the Rubicon.

Summary of upcoming events. Rubicon Trail Adventure August 15- 18, 2016

The Rubicon Trail is the stuff of legends. It is considered the Grand Daddy of trails. If your vehicle has a weakness, it will find it. Any serious four-wheeler needs to "Do the 'Con" at least once. There is no guarantee of avoiding vehicle damage. Even the most skilled driver can succumb to the fatigue of 12 unrelenting miles of rocks. Just bring a good attitude and the best prepared vehicle you can. This could be a once in a lifetime trip but a lifelong of bragging rights. More Details


You need to register now so you have time to prepare. Register directly at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rubicon



Sand Clinic August 27, 2016
On Pismo Beach in California
Photo by Facebook Lisa
(Click picture for a larger image.) If you have been waiting for the next Sand Driving Clinic, put it on your calendar for August 27th and sign up now. This day-long clinic will expose you to a variety of driving conditions and levels of difficulty. Driving on sand is challenging and different than dirt, so we’ll progress slowly as you learn the proper techniques. As your confidence grows, you will master increasingly more challenging dunes. Along the way you will be exposed to the beauty of SVRA and the thrill of the windswept dunes. This is a rare opportunity to cruise the only beach in California open to vehicles.
More details...



Register for the Sand Clinic using this link.

http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#SandPismo



May 5, 2016 - ALL COLORS BACK in STOCK
Click for higher resolution image We now have all six colors of our winch bandana back in stock!

The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have them all available.

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull.

Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready.

Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed.

The original press release with larger graphics is on the website It comes in many colors.
(Click picture for a larger image.) Jack Covers Have you ever broken a tire bead while 4- wheeling and found that the hi-lift jack was barely operational due to dust, dirt and mud packed into the operating mechanism? Not only is it frustrating but dangerous as well. Since most of us bolt our hi-lift on the outside of the vehicle, it is not uncommon to find the mechanism less than functional.

A simple boot over the working parts of the jack to protect it and keep it clean is an idea that has been around for a while. The current offerings have not been very successful. At TDS this week, I discovered a new product for the hi-lift jack cover that looks promising.

Adam Woods has built a better “mouse trap” which he market under the name www.jackcovers.com The new cover marries a neoprene inner liner with a marine grade vinyl shell on the outside. It has a heavy duty - #10 Marine grade zipper, treated for mildew and antimicrobial, and available in 20 + colors. Since the product covers a number of holes on the jack upright, Adam explained to me he analyzed which holes most of us use to mount a hi-lift and offers two sizes of the cover - 11" and 15”- to allow several mounting combinations.

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
http://www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
#####
If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/contacts.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.
Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2016, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

10 Duties of a 4WD Tail End

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 00:00
10 Duties of a 4WD Tail End Alstrom Point - Lake Powell
(Click picture for a larger image.) A great Trail Leader is invaluable for any four wheeling experience. We reviewed that position in “10 Qualities of a Great Trail Leader” . Though he could be anywhere in the group, the Trail Leader is often in the first vehicle.

The vehicle at the end of the line is also very important. Sometimes called Tail End Charlie, The Sweep, Drag, or Caboose (although I don’t normally use any of those term), the Tail end is an integral part of every 4WD trip. Tail End Charlie is slang from World War II for the rear gunner in a bomber. Many of the expressions we use come from the military both for their ability to convey a thought concisely and the colorful expressions. A trail helper in the middle of the group is called a mid-gunner. Qualifications When selecting a Tail End, I start with someone well qualified in four wheeling. This person has driven with me before, knows the trail and routine well and has great people skills. In a nutshell, he or she is someone I can trust. The Tail End might be called upon to fill in for me at some point.

Ideally, the Tail End complements the Trail Leader by bringing skills in which the Leader is less knowledgable. These can include expert mechanical skills, knowledge of rocks and minerals, an ability to ID plants and flowers, and so forth.

It’s helpful if the person is a ham radio operator. FRS and CB radios are fine for communicating between vehicles. Because the vehicles can get strung out during a trip, it’s nice to be in ham radio contact with the Tail End. Plus, we can use that radio for private conversations. For example, the Tail End may wonder why we aren’t taking a particular route this time. Or, perhaps I forget a step. In either case, I don’t mind if my Tail End chimes in. He should use our private frequency so as not to confuse everyone else.

As for specific duties, the Tail End: 1. Informs the guide when the group has cleared key turns. Sometimes a driver misses a turn and strays off-course. The Trail Leader can only see a vehicle or two behind, whereas the Tail End has a much better perspective.

2. Accounts for all the vehicles when starting up again. This is after breaking camp or making any sort of pit stop (10-100, taking pictures, and such). Because he’s in the back—just sitting there—he can count everyone. Since we usually do a radio check only at the start of the trip (or day) to make sure all are working, the count process works well. Once in a while, we pick up a few strays!

3. As the last one out of camp, he can spot any major item overlooked like stuff left behind, a camp fire not satisfactorily extinguished, or some remaining trash.

4. Advises Trail Leader on issues the Leader isn’t aware of. Being at the rear, the Tail End has a better view of the entire group. (Although heavy dust cuts visibility at times.) The Tail End can advise of a need to stop or slow down due to large gaps in the group, cargo dropping off, mechanical problems or a manifold burrito in the middle of the road.

5. Helps with spotting. Being at the back of the line, the Tail End can quickly provide spotting to the vehicles in the rear. When everyone needs to be spotted, the Tail End can relieve the Trail Leader, so the Leader can pull his vehicle further up the trail to make room for the group. And heaven forbid, when the Trail Leader needs a qualified spotter, the Tail End can walk all the way up to the front and make sure the Trail Leader gets through without embarrassing himself.

6. Assists with vehicle issues. Perhaps some gear needs to be strapped down. Or a vehicle suffers a minor breakdown. If the damage is too severe (but the vehicle is drivable), the Tail End can escort that driver back to the road. If the Trail Leader elects to do that, the Tail End is often tapped to take over as Leader to complete the course.

7. Informs the group about vehicles overtaking them. Very valuable, because everyone else is focused on the trail ahead. If appropriate, the Tail End suggests how and where to pull over.

8. Thanks oncoming vehicles that stopped to let the group go by and let them know he is the last one. It’s a simple gesture, but means a lot to the other group. And the Tail End continues the longstanding tradition of gentlemanly behavior that is such an important part of four wheeling.

Speaking of saying “thanks,” remember to offer your gratitude to any landowners whose property you drive on. And, of course, take good care of their property.

9. Waits for late guests. Having a Tail End who knows the trail and the plan comes in handy when a guest is late. The Tail End can wait at the meeting point for the late guest. They will likely catchup at the air down spot. We discourage splitting up the group, unless absolutely necessary. The most common case is either a machine problem or the need for some vehicles to take a detour. In those cases, the Tail End provides guidance to one or the other group.

10. The End (just being).

Benefits of Being Tail End
  • You get to go on a trip!
  • Work does not involve sitting in a cubicle.
  • People think of you as a hero when you plug their tire.
  • You can take a 10-100 anytime you want and you don't have to walk too far.
  • You can blame the Trail Leader if the group is lost.
  • No one see you if you mess up.
  • You have a front row seat to everything that happens.
  • On the job training to become a Trail Leader.
  • You get to eat dust for the whole trip. Which means the Tequila will taste even better when the day's driving is done.
Even though the Tail End is the last vehicle in the group, it’s an extremely important position. This driver is often as skilled as the Trail Leader, and has the added responsibilities inherent in being placed last in line. But it’s a good role to aspire to. As you develop your 4WD skills and experience, plan for the day when you will step up and volunteer to be a Tail End. ##########################
Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures Did you miss the previous article?

May 5, 2016 - ALL COLORS BACK in STOCK
Click for higher resolution image We now have all six colors of our winch bandana back in stock!

The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have them all available.

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull.

Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready.

Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed.

The original press release with larger graphics is on the website Some Upcoming Events

(click on the link for details)

Serpent Crossing the road - Borrego Springs, CA
(Click picture for a larger image.) With just over 2 months before the Rubicon Trail trip, now is the time to sign up and make the commitment that this is the year you will "do the Con". 3 months will give you time to, schedule vacation, make those upgrades you need, get in a Rocks Clinic or two and prepare for an epic trip. Check the schedule below to sign up for Rock clinics and the Rubicon.

Summary of upcoming events. ########################## Rock Clinic June 18 and July 09

Rocks

If you are planning on doing the Rubicon, this is a good "shake down" or if you prefer a "warm up" clinic. It is great introduction to rocks even if you don't plan to do the Rubicon. The Class will be in Johnson Valley. It is an introduction to Rock crawling but it is not on "baby" rocks. We take our time and stress careful wheel placement. We use spotters for difficult sections. You learn by inspecting the obstacle and predicting the line; by watching others try their line; by experiencing it yourself; and by the coaching. We recommend you repeat the training several times. You will be much more relaxed the second time over the same obstacles and you will pick up on little details missed the first time. More Details...


You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rocks


Rubicon Trail Adventure August 15- 18, 2016

The Rubicon Trail is the stuff of legends. It is considered the Grand Daddy of trails. If your vehicle has a weakness, it will find it. Any serious four-wheeler needs to "Do the 'Con" at least once. There is no guarantee of avoiding vehicle damage. Even the most skilled driver can succumb to the fatigue of 12 unrelenting miles of rocks. Just bring a good attitude and the best prepared vehicle you can. This could be a once in a lifetime trip but a lifelong of bragging rights. More Details


You need to register now so you have time to prepare. Register directly at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rubicon


It comes in many colors.
(Click picture for a larger image.) Jack Covers Have you ever broken a tire bead while 4- wheeling and found that the hi-lift jack was barely operational due to dust, dirt and mud packed into the operating mechanism? Not only is it frustrating but dangerous as well. Since most of us bolt our hi-lift on the outside of the vehicle, it is not uncommon to find the mechanism less than functional.

A simple boot over the working parts of the jack to protect it and keep it clean is an idea that has been around for a while. The current offerings have not been very successful. At TDS this week, I discovered a new product for the hi-lift jack cover that looks promising.

Adam Woods has built a better “mouse trap” which he market under the name www.jackcovers.com The new cover marries a neoprene inner liner with a marine grade vinyl shell on the outside. It has a heavy duty - #10 Marine grade zipper, treated for mildew and antimicrobial, and available in 20 + colors. Since the product covers a number of holes on the jack upright, Adam explained to me he analyzed which holes most of us use to mount a hi-lift and offers two sizes of the cover - 11" and 15”- to allow several mounting combinations.

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
http://www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
#####
If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/contacts.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.
Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2016, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

Safe Departure Point

Sun, 05/15/2016 - 00:00
Safe Departure Point & Other End Trip Stuff
(Click picture for a larger image.) Last month we reviewed the 10 qualities of a great trail leader. That article took us from the planning and preparations stages to the conclusion of a 4WD trip. This month’s article discusses what you as a Trail Leader need to do once everyone has reached the departure point. Even though the ride is over, several additional steps are needed to bring that enjoyable event to a successful conclusion. This is riveting information if you are a trail guide! 1. Departure Point Selection But before we arrive at the departure place, let's review the selection of the departure point and the time-of-day goal to end the trip.

Can you have them back on pavement early enough, to drive home that day? 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. is OK when the return trip is 200 – 300 miles. It will be a late arrival for them but still gives a very full day on the trail. If it is the last day of a long holiday weekend, you can be sure most guests will be anxious about getting out ahead of the traffic. You should plan to have them on pavement by noon.

Pick a safe place to allow the vehicles to be aired up, anti-sway bars to be reconnected and people to say goodbye. It should be near a major road home. The departure point need not be right when the dirt ends. Continue to lead the group until it is a simple matter to head home. A great location has a trash bins nearby. Everyone wants to unload their trash as soon as possible. Access to fuel is a plus after a long off-road trip. An ideal location has available flush toilets (or at least pit toilets). You need to identify the closest car wash for situations when it is imperative the mud comes off as soon as possible. 2. Get your guests back on the road Your fellow four wheelers will be eager to get going. But you need to ensure that each driver and vehicle is ready to go. Drivers should inspect their vehicles to make sure they are road worthy. Visit each driver and ask, “Everything all right?” If anyone needs assistance, either lend a hand or ask others to help. If not obvious by their comments, make sure every driver is clear about the route home. Retrieve any gear or equipment (radios, shovels, etc.) you lent out.

You should always be the last to leave the departure area. You never want to leave anyone behind. Be especially patient with newer four wheelers. They often take a little longer to get prepared.

This is a good time to collect the evaluation forms. Incidentally, those should be handed out just prior to arriving at the departure point. Stop about a half-mile out and distribute the forms. If you wait until the departure point, drivers will be too distracted and anxious to get going.

You could mail them later, but don’t expect much of a response. It’s better to approach the drivers while they’re still on the trail.

3. Clean your 4WD vehicle and restock your equipment This is an important step. Even though you’re probably tired and eager to put your feet up, take time to properly deal with your vehicle, equipment and supplies. If you put it off for more than a day you will forget the issues you had with the vehicle and supplies that were used up. Clean and restock any fluids or gear (including medical supplies, spare parts, and fire extinguisher) you used or that became damaged (such as recovery straps). Create a list of repairs and other actions action items during the trip or on the way home while it is still fresh in your mind. Make sure you put back all the essential items, and that your vehicle is tidy and prepared for your next trip. We covered these and others in 10 Important Tasks After Driving Off-Road.

4. Update your notes, records With the four wheeling experience still fresh in your mind, update your trip notes, journal/log or other document. (In fact, I recommend taking notes during the trip. Sometimes it’s possible; other times not.) Record what worked and what could be improved upon. Refer to the evaluation forms for valuable insight.

In addition to your main journal, you should have an equipment list, emergency packet, tour narratives and other resources. Update and replenish as needed. Use mapping software to save your GPS tracks. Edit those files to remove any wayward turns you made. Once cleaned up, that information will be invaluable the next time.

If you had to get a permit to access the area, you may need to send a post-trip report to the appropriate agency. Note any issues or problems you encountered that officials could remedy (broken signs, vandalized rest area, landslide and such).

Now that you’re accumulating notes and related stuff, you need a filing system.

5. Set up a filing system A filing system is really handy. Containing both electronic and paper documents, it helps you make sense of all the information you’ve collected and generated.

Store your maps, notes, checklists, brochures and other paper items to help with the next trip.

Think through your electronic storage, too. This contains navigation information, emergency number(s), handouts, tour narrative and other documents. Simply print out what you need next time. Take advantage of what you’ve learned to make your next trip more enjoyable

Trail Leader duties don’t end at the departure point. There are several more steps you need to take to wrap up that four wheeling experience. Doing so ensures that your guests get on their way properly and that you’re prepared for your next 4WD adventure.

##########################
Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures Did you miss the previous article?

May 5, 2016 - ALL COLORS BACK in STOCK
Click for higher resolution image We now have all six colors of our winch bandana back in stock!

The Orange and Red went fast last time with blue not far behind so if you want a specific color order now while we have them all available.

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull.

Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready.

Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed.

The original press release with larger graphics is on the website Some Upcoming Events

(click on the link for details)

Serpent Crossing the road - Borrego Springs, CA
(Click picture for a larger image.) With just about 3 months before the Rubicon Trail trip, now is the time to sign up and make the commitment that this is the year you will "do the Con". 3 months will give you time to, schedule vacation, make those upgrades you need, get in a Rocks Clinic or two and prepare for an epic trip. Check the schedule below to sign up for Rock clinics and the Rubicon.

Summary of upcoming events. ########################## Rock Clinic June 18 and July 09

Rocks

If you are planning on doing the Rubicon, this is a good "shake down" or if you prefer a "warm up" clinic. It is great introduction to rocks even if you don't plan to do the Rubicon. The Class will be in Johnson Valley. It is an introduction to Rock crawling but it is not on "baby" rocks. We take our time and stress careful wheel placement. We use spotters for difficult sections. You learn by inspecting the obstacle and predicting the line; by watching others try their line; by experiencing it yourself; and by the coaching. We recommend you repeat the training several times. You will be much more relaxed the second time over the same obstacles and you will pick up on little details missed the first time. More Details...


You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rocks


Rubicon Trail Adventure August 15- 18, 2016

The Rubicon Trail is the stuff of legends. It is considered the Grand Daddy of trails. If your vehicle has a weakness, it will find it. Any serious four-wheeler needs to "Do the 'Con" at least once. There is no guarantee of avoiding vehicle damage. Even the most skilled driver can succumb to the fatigue of 12 unrelenting miles of rocks. Just bring a good attitude and the best prepared vehicle you can. This could be a once in a lifetime trip but a lifelong of bragging rights. More Details


You need to register now so you have time to prepare. Register directly at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rubicon


It comes in many colors.
(Click picture for a larger image.) Jack Covers Have you ever broken a tire bead while 4- wheeling and found that the hi-lift jack was barely operational due to dust, dirt and mud packed into the operating mechanism? Not only is it frustrating but dangerous as well. Since most of us bolt our hi-lift on the outside of the vehicle, it is not uncommon to find the mechanism less than functional.

A simple boot over the working parts of the jack to protect it and keep it clean is an idea that has been around for a while. The current offerings have not been very successful. At TDS this week, I discovered a new product for the hi-lift jack cover that looks promising.

Adam Woods has built a better “mouse trap” which he market under the name www.jackcovers.com The new cover marries a neoprene inner liner with a marine grade vinyl shell on the outside. It has a heavy duty - #10 Marine grade zipper, treated for mildew and antimicrobial, and available in 20 + colors. Since the product covers a number of holes on the jack upright, Adam explained to me he analyzed which holes most of us use to mount a hi-lift and offers two sizes of the cover - 11" and 15”- to allow several mounting combinations.

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
http://www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
#####
If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/contacts.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.
Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2016, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

10 Qualities of a great Trail Leader

Sat, 04/16/2016 - 00:00
10 Qualities of a great Trail Leader Pointing out our location on the map.
(Click picture for a larger image.) You’ve driven the trails numerous times. Have hundreds of hours of 4WD experience under your belt (some of which, of course, is spent outside of the vehicle). You’re good with people, and feel your managerial skills are top notch. You’d like to be Trail Leader for an upcoming excursion. What’s next?

First, I commend you for wanting to take on a leadership role. As a certified professional 4WD Trainer with more than 40 years of off-road experience, I know the value of a good Trail Leader. Our hobby could use more people willing to step forward and fulfill this role.

Being a Trail Leader is not an easy task. It involves skills, personality and patience. Here are my Top 10 qualities of a great Trail Leader.

1. You must have good 4WD skills. This is a huge category, and includes reading the terrain, picking lines, spotting, recovery, vehicle repair and the Tread Lightly philosophy, to name a few.

2. Know the trail. Drive it at least one time. Get familiar with the terrain and trail. Learn the difficulty level of the obstacles. Know the location of campsites, gas stations, parts store(s) and rest areas. Pick out back up campsites and a safe spot to air up at the end. Contact the responsible agency (BLM, parks department, state DNR) for the latest information. Is there a fire ban? Any trail closure? Does the group need permits? A phone call can minimize the surprises.

3. Keep the gang together, especially at difficult obstacles. Don’t let the drivers split up or spread out. A driver can peel off in the wrong direction. Others follow him, and pretty soon several drivers are lost. Have you heard of the accordion concept? Everyone keeps an eye on the vehicle behind and slows down as needed so as not to lose him. Don’t rely on that as it doesn’t work well. Keep an eye on three vehicles behind you. Stop and let the group close up frequently.

Schedule your stops for 10-100 and photo ops. (More on communications later.) Then make sure you don’t leave anyone behind. I could be still looking for several vehicles that left the lunch stop going the wrong way! Thanks to a sharp Tail End, who chased them down! Don’t split the group unless absolutely necessary. The most common reason is due to a breakdown that can’t be repaired on the spot. Make sure everyone knows what they are to do, where and when you’ll meet up again. Try to stay in radio or phone contact. Follow the buddy system: No vehicle goes off by itself.

4. Start on time, and keep the team on time. You can adjust trail time by adding or deleting stops. Don’t cajole or push the team, but don’t linger at stop more them necessary. Maintain a good pace throughout so you end on time. It’s always better to arrive at the campsite earlier than later.

5. Develop a good communications plan. This includes written instructions before the trip, as well as briefings and radio gear. Include spotting hand signals too. Your tail gate briefing at the trailhead is an important part of your communications package. Do a radio check before leaving. Know some history of the area and names of geography features you can communicate during the trip.

Your communication responsibility extends outside your own group. Talk to other Leaders you meet on the trail. Ask how many vehicles, where they are going, tell him the trail condition you just came over, ask what's ahead of you, if there are any other groups, etc. If they pulled over, tell him which is your last vehicle. I also like to thank each vehicle (if I can) as I go by for stopping for us. I want my tail end to do the same thing.

6. Know how to sequence the vehicles. High difficulty - alternate those with winches. Place ham radio guys in back. They have the power to ask for a repeat of information that was difficult to hear on the less powerful radios. Have any newbies right behind you. They will follow your cues. Lay down an easy line so the newer driver can follow you. Once identified, put the slowest driver behind you to pace yourself.

7. Be a people person. Any number of issues can crop up during a ride. Your guests come first; do everything you can to deliver a quality experience. Patience and understanding are a necessity in any Trail Leader. You’ll encounter a wide variety of skill sets and personalities while enduring a whole range of circumstances.

8. Handle pressure well. You cannot relax and follow the vehicle in front. This can be a nerve-wracking position, especially during inclement weather, vehicle breakdowns, very slow drivers, bad behavior and other challenging situations. If the risk is too high, be willing to change plans.

9. Be considerate of others you encounter, and encourage the same in your group. Slow down when approaching vehicles, pedestrians, campsites and cabins. This will minimize dust. When passing, don’t insist on right of way even if it’s normally yours. If you have only two or three vehicles, pull over and let the larger group pass. Adjust to the situation, and be polite.

Generally speaking, four wheelers are a nice bunch. So are other types of trail users. No need to think or act competitively. Always be friendly, and encourage that in your team. Be willing to share gear or a campsite with someone in need outside your group. The good deed will be repaid someday.

10. Treat your position as Trail Leader with respect. Since you reach a rest area or campsite first, hold back and let others grab the prime spots.

Being a Trail Leader carries with it much responsibility. You are expected to know the route, coach others through difficult obstacles, deal with bad behavior, have a backup plan for many unknowns, and keep a cheerful attitude throughout. But the rewards are tremendous.

A note to clubs: Everyone needs to start somewhere. Let a willing member be the Trail Leader even if uncertain of his skills and ability (don’t stick the new guy just cause no one wants it!) Pair him up with an experienced Trail Leader who will not let him fail! The same goes for spotting. Get some new blood out there learning to spot and building the trust of the group. Have your normal go-to-spotting-guy stand behind him coaching but not giving the drive instruction himself.

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Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures Did you miss the previous article? Some Upcoming Events

(click on the link for details)

Serpent Crossing the road - Borrego Springs, CA
(Click picture for a larger image.) With just about 3 1/2 months before the Rubicon Trail trip, now is the time to sign up and make the commitment that this is the year you will "do the Con". 3.5 months will give you time to, schedule vacation, make those upgrades you need, get in a Rocks Clinic or two and prepare for an epic trip. Check the schedule below to sign up for Rock clinics and the Rubicon.

Summary of upcoming events. ########################## Rock Clinic June 18 and July 09

Rocks

If you are planning on doing the Rubicon, this is a good "shake down" or if you prefer a "warm up" clinic. It is great introduction to rocks even if you don't plan to do the Rubicon. The Class will be in Johnson Valley. It is an introduction to Rock crawling but it is not on "baby" rocks. We take our time and stress careful wheel placement. We use spotters for difficult sections. You learn by inspecting the obstacle and predicting the line; by watching others try their line; by experiencing it yourself; and by the coaching. We recommend you repeat the training several times. You will be much more relaxed the second time over the same obstacles and you will pick up on little details missed the first time. More Details...


You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rocks


Rubicon Trail Adventure August 15- 18, 2016

The Rubicon Trail is the stuff of legends. It is considered the Grand Daddy of trails. If your vehicle has a weakness, it will find it. Any serious four-wheeler needs to "Do the 'Con" at least once. There is no guarantee of avoiding vehicle damage. Even the most skilled driver can succumb to the fatigue of 12 unrelenting miles of rocks. Just bring a good attitude and the best prepared vehicle you can. This could be a once in a lifetime trip but a lifelong of bragging rights. More Details


You need to register now so you have time to prepare. Register directly at http://4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Rubicon


It comes in many colors.
(Click picture for a larger image.) Jack Covers Have you ever broken a tire bead while 4- wheeling and found that the hi-lift jack was barely operational due to dust, dirt and mud packed into the operating mechanism? Not only is it frustrating but dangerous as well. Since most of us bolt our hi-lift on the outside of the vehicle, it is not uncommon to find the mechanism less than functional.

A simple boot over the working parts of the jack to protect it and keep it clean is an idea that has been around for a while. The current offerings have not been very successful. At TDS this week, I discovered a new product for the hi-lift jack cover that looks promising.

Adam Woods has built a better “mouse trap” which he market under the name www.jackcovers.com The new cover marries a neoprene inner liner with a marine grade vinyl shell on the outside. It has a heavy duty - #10 Marine grade zipper, treated for mildew and antimicrobial, and available in 20 + colors. Since the product covers a number of holes on the jack upright, Adam explained to me he analyzed which holes most of us use to mount a hi-lift and offers two sizes of the cover - 11" and 15”- to allow several mounting combinations.

Winch Recovery Bandana & Winching DVD
Click for higher resolution image We have our new stock with many new colors (Red, Orange, Green, and Blue) on hand. The Bandana is packed full of useful information and is a quick reference in the field when no DVD player is available."

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready!

Pick up or order the Winching DVD too! There is no substitute for hands on training. If you can, sign up for one of Badlands Off-Road Adventure’s Winching Clinics.

Warning – the Bandana and DVD are not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment that is used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in both the Winching Recovery Bandana and the "Basic to Advanced Winching and Recovery DVD" at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed.

Winch Recovery Bandana Order Button
Colors Orange Red Blue Natural Green Natural

Order a Basic to Advanced Winching & Recovery DVD too!


(Click picture for more details)

73
KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
http://www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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Copyright 2016, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.