All this lounging around the house lately is getting to me. Too much slacking off, and I am developing bad habits. Getting up late, drinking coffee, doing nothing until 10:30 when someone makes breakfast. And then hanging around until lunchtime at 12:30 or 1:00.
Sound familiar? (C’mon, admit it: You’re taking advantage of the “stay-at-home” rule!)
Eating is a common pastime when there’s not much else to do. That’s not good. Factor in the sedentary lifestyle, and you have a recipe for a lazy lifestyle. And a waste of valuable time.
Snap out of it. This pandemic should be leveling off soon. Officials will start lifting travel restrictions. Public places will once again be open for exploring. And you’ll be itching to go.
The question is: Will you, your vehicle and your gear be ready to hit the trails?
Use this time to clean, repair, replace
It all started with a plan to “detail” the inside of my 4-wheel drive. I keep it reasonably clean. After each trip, I vacuum the Cheetos crumbs on the seats and wipe down the dash. But with the extra time on my hands, I recently decided to pull out all the gear and do a thorough cleaning. I carry a lot of backup gear, so it covered the garage floor.
With all the gear out of the way, I vacuumed, scrubbed, and pried dirt and dust out of the vehicle.
Along the way, I saw a screw missing from the visor. Replaced that. Then I realized dust was getting in through a hole I use for my ham radio coax. Plugged that with Coax-Seal. In fact, I discovered (remembered actually) a number of little items needing repair. The project got crazy from there. It mushroomed.
I’ve heard from several avid four-wheelers who went down the same rabbit hole. All told me they enjoyed it. These projects kept them busy, and they avoided all the depressing news on the TV. The results were something they could be proud of.
Check out this message I received. “I moved everything out and gave the interior a good vacuum. I inspected my recovery gear including pulling out my Pull Pal, rarely used, to make sure things weren’t rusted and gave it a little WD-40 here and there. I pulled out 30 feet of winch line to inspect it, and made sure the winch was working (winch needed a wipe to remove surface rust and little WD-40). I cleaned and lubed the moving parts of my tailgate. I went through my ‘food box’, actually a drawer, and tossed out stuff that was really out of date. I also went through my first aid kits checking for outdated items and made a list of things that need to be replaced.”
Seems like I am not the only one thinking along these lines.
I want to pick up on a point made above: “… made a list of things that need to be replaced.” It seems almost every project requires a visit to the car parts store, the hardware store or lumber yard to finish it. Quite often it is a 25 cent snap ring or a small hose.
As an example, right now I need a 3 ½ inch 7 mm bolt. I have lots of 7 mm bolts but none that long. But this is not the time to go shopping. As with the first-aid kit, make a list, so you can restock those items when the time is right or see if you can order it online.
If you don’t have a list, I can recommend a few items. In fact, all you need to do is sit in your vehicle for five minutes and you will come out with a day’s list of projects. You’ll notice all those deferred maintenance projects. And the items that still work but could be a lot nicer.
Before you put everything back in the vehicle, test all the on-board equipment to make sure it is in tip-top shape.
Start with the winch, as we use them rarely. Run a bit of cable out – at least you’ll know the motor and controller work.
Ensure that all your radios work. You may need to chase the wiring to find a broken connection or a short. This is why you shouldn’t put all the gear back.
Specific gear to examine
Now that you’ve cleaned your vehicle, it’s time to inspect your gear. There could be dozens of pieces of equipment. Here are some important ones.
On-board welder: Test with a simple project. Make a few metal tent stakes.
Grinder: Since I have an on-board welder, I need a grinder. Premier Power Welder knew that and provided a 2300-watt inverter. Use the grinder and the SAWZALL as part of the tent stake project to verify they work.
SAWZALL: If you have enough tent stakes, make more! Carry six or eight to loan. This small project will test your helmet, rod, gloves, extension cords, etc.
Replace all the batteries in flashlights, headlamps, etc.
Check your on-board compressor and your backup compressor.
Check other recovery gear. Look for frays; clean, lube, repair
- Screw pin bow shackles
- Extension ropes
- Tree straps
- Pull pal & accessory tools
- Hi-Lift jack
Now tackle the tool chest. Update, add, or delete tools.
Redo that drawer system in the back that was only a temporary solution five years ago.
While you’re at it, check the contents of your first-aid kit.
Review that selection of nuts and bolts. Did you replace the bolt used last time? Do you have the right selection?
Inspect your bag/box of electrical stash. Is the electric tape still good? Do you have enough wire connectors, relays, fuses (all sizes), etc.?
Tune up your 4WD vehicle. Change the oil, test the batteries, and get to all that deferred maintenance. If you are not driving, check the batteries each week to make sure they are staying charged. I like to test my solar panel by using it to charge them up.
Fix all the little things you’ve been meaning to get to. Like that screw that keeps falling out of the door handle.
After you restock your vehicle, start planning for a 4WD trip you want to take. Organize your game plan to include the route (maps, GPS route), history, campsites and fuel locations. Make a list of ham radio repeaters, weather information, and other important data. Much of this can be done online
Yes, all this takes time. But you have lots of time on your hands now, right? Put it to good use. Once this pandemic is behind us, you’ll be ready to hit the trails.
# # #
We have no idea at Badlands Off-Road Adventures when we will be able to start up again. All the May clinics and events are effectively cancelled but are listed as out of stock on the web site. The reason, is that it allows you to place a “back order” aka get on the wait list. Think of it as registering for the event or class. You will only hear from us the event can be run.
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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