Below is a report from Morgan Franklin (minor editing by Jim Jones) about the  Wheeling For Hope 2016 event at Oak Ridge Estate in Nelson County, VA, April 30-May 1.... 

 

Well we're home and back to work. Wheeling for hope was a lot of fun. Tons of rigs, perfect for getting future mod ideas. We were very fortunate with the weather. Friday we got a little bit of a late start with Ed Salas and I waiting for Richard Quaye at my house. When we finally made contact it was about 1:30 so we met him at Mediterranean Breezes (one of the suggested new meeting locations) for a quick bite to eat then we were off with another "quick" stop at Autozone for a brake reservoir cap for me and something Richard needed. We then hit a little traffic but got there relatively quick. Once there, we saw Scott Gilbert displaying his nice new JK with as much body armor as a Sherman tank on behalf of his company Quality Performance. Richard, Ed, Scott, and I set up camp in the same spot as last year which took a little while longer than usual due to Scott having to wait until after registration closed. We had no cell signal so we weren't able to get the messages that Mike had saved us a spot but had to leave it. We really appreciated it and sorry we weren't there as soon as we planned. Jim Jones arrived and began helping Scott as we were finishing up then off for dinner. 

 

After a late night at Devils Backbone brewery  and some great beer and ribs, we went to sleep with no rain and a surprisingly quiet camp.

 

Wheeling Saturday was great. All of the OCC members were in one line (too many for me to remember/look up right now). We  got of to a good start a we came up on the first creek crossing the line was stopped due to Scott having trouble getting the tank into 4-low. He pulled it to the side and his wife, Marcia and son  climbed into Richard's Jeep. We then continued on to avoid too much delay.  The rest of the day went well with more creek crossings and  a nice rock garden which several of us tried and few if any were able to conquer. I tried a couple times but the rocks were pretty slick due to the mud and clay build up. So on we went. On the last rock  garden of the day, one of the yellow TJ's in front of me (yes there were a few) had a track bar issue that was quickly fixed while others crossed over the rocks. On my turn I began to try the harder track but couldn't get a sharp enough turn in so I climbed over the easier of the two. We then headed back to get a group OCC photo. On the way I heard this repetitive grinding sound it wasn't really bad especially if I slowed down. So, I got out to take a look and found I must have come down hard on my front drive shaft and bent it. Fortunately we were directly across the road from camp so I just brought it back and disconnected it from the axle and tied it up so I could have 2 wheel drive to get home.

 

The raffle went well.  I tried to steal Andrew's gift certificate to Quality Performance. But was unsuccessful. There was some rain but it wasn't overwhelming. Sat night we enjoyed a fire with no rain until after we went to sleep around 11:30.  We got a break in the rain just long enough to break down camp in the morning before the 8:00 drivers meeting.  I rode passenger in Richard's jeep.  It was slippery and mostly rain free. After the first 20 minutes or so,the sun even came out.  We had a couple of tows up some slick slopes, but no additional damage that I know of to any rigs. 

 

Richard and I caravanned home. All was fine except I was feeling a steady vibration when accelerating at high speeds. I was concerned but nothing looked wrong when I filled the tank, so we continued. South of Warrenton, going about 60 mph a heard a loud bang followed by a familiar clanking and sudden loss of power.  I blew a rear U-joint.  Since I was in the left lane passing someone, I could only pull into a left turn lane. I quickly called Richard on the radio and chocked the wheels. I took a look under and my suspicion was confirmed. Richard turned around and pulled into the median and set up a  reflective triangle while I began looking in my spare parts bin for a replacement. Fortunately, I was prepared. So I pulled the shaft (get your minds out of the gutter!) and began my side-of-the-road repair. While in the process, we were joined by a police officer who just stood over us like a lurking vulture with all the best intentions making sure no cars veered into us.  I finished up the fix pretty quickly (within an hour) and we were back on the way.  After inspecting the driveshaft and yoke I determined that I must have hit the rear driveshaft pretty hard as well but it being much tougher it only affected the u-joint. 

 

I had a great weekend despite the unfortunately expected issues I always seem to have. Richard and I made it home around 5:30 after a fun Sunday of wheeling.

 

I have decided I'm making a pre and post wheeling checklist, laminating it and checking of the list with a wax pencil. I may have been able to identify the U-joint prior to the roadside fix. 

 

I hope everyone else had as fun a trip and a safe ride home — hopefully less eventful.

 

Morgan

 

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