Wilburton Moderate Club Run, October 27 & 28
Warning: This article contains some whining, read with caution – Jan Malone.
Now this is my kind of weather for wheelin’. Cool and crisp in the morning and sunny and warm (but not hot) in the afternoon. It was a very pleasant and enjoyable weekend. We arrived at the parking lot near Wilburton to unload the rigs and get together to divide into two groups. One group would do easier, but still fun trails (not as likely to get damage). The other would try some more challenging trails (much more likely to get some damage).
Tom and I decided to try the more challenging trails. That was a decision that we regretted later. Our group was led by Rick Mosley and a guy named Chris (sorry, I didn’t get his last name) who lives in the area. We had six rigs in our group, while the other group had twelve rigs and was led by Cowboy (Don Weiser). Our group consisted of Rick Mosley (jeep), Chris (Suzuki and a member of Zuki Krawlers), Marty & Marty Young, Jr. (Suzuki), Jimmy Martin riding with Tim (a member of the North Eastern Oklahoma Trail Hunters) (Toyota), Steve and Tracy from Eufaula (also a member of NEOTH) (Toyota), and Tom Malone and I (Toyota).
Rick Mosley led us from the well site where we had gathered heading toward the pipeline which is a very “up” trail with many rocks, wash outs and some boulders. We had wheeled for about 30 minutes when Chris asked if we would like to go to Bee’s Bluff first, since we had arrived at the turn off to it. It sounded good to all of us, so Chris took the lead and off we went on a different trail (there are lots of trails out there). The trail to Bee’s Bluff had a few obstacles, but nothing that we couldn’t handle. When we got to the top, Tom noticed that he had a driver’s side front tire that was almost flat. He started to air it up while everyone else except me went to look over the bluff. I stayed in the truck because I am not too keen on high drop offs without railing or something to hang onto. That makes me dizzy. I was told that it was beautiful…and very, very down. Tom and I didn’t get to see it.
Leaving the Bluff, we headed on the Switchback Trail that went to the top of the Pipeline Trail. That trial consisted of a bunch of switchbacks and lots of loose rock and of course was “up”. One place was particularly loose and Tom was having trouble getting a bite on the loose rock, so he radioed back to Marty to ask him if our front wheels were pulling. Marty radioed back that both wheels were turning and the trouble was 100% driver. Well, thanks a bunch, Marty! We finally got on up it. It was now time to have lunch and gab a bit before we headed on another trail.
The next trail, which I don’t know the name of, was also “up” and loose and this one had larger rocks on it. When Rick and Chris headed on up it, they met a guy coming down with no one with him. It
turned out to be a man from our club who got to the drop off place late (about 11:00) and was trying to find us in the woods. He had broken something so Rick volunteered to lead him back to the trailer parking spot and then the guy could ride with him the rest of the day. So Chris led us up that trail while Rick was gone. Everyone made it pretty good until we ran the tire off the bead. Now this is the same tire that Tom had just aired up. It was so mangled that we had to try to put the spare on the truck even though that rim didn’t match the others. This, of course happened in a very difficult spot. The truck had to be jacked up on the side of a steep hill and on very uneven ground. The guys said that the spare was very heavy. I wouldn’t know since I stayed in the truck. You know, this group of guys were great. Every one of them helped with the work. It didn’t take them long at all. The spare had more air in it than the other tires, so it was more difficult for us to make it up the rest of the way. W h e n we got down to the creek, the guys tried to clean out the tire that had gone flat and air it up to see if it would hold air. After that we just kept going on different trails; they all look the same to me….lots of trees, lots of “up” and lots of rocks. We had to stop another time to air up a different tire that had gone flat.
Around an hour later, we came to a trail that we have never been able to make it up without some help from our winch. Everyone thought it looked like fun. Chris led and we all did pretty well over the rocks, although I did hear some air spewing from one of our tires again. We came to that same old spot that gives us trouble every time. It was too soft and muddy today. Chris tried and tried but still couldn’t make it up. So, we all decided to turn around. That’s not an easy thing to do at that particular spot; Jimmy Martin helped us to turn around to go down a different spot, but that was not easy either. Chris had poked a hole in one of his tires; he plugged it, and we headed on back to the well site because Tim and Jimmy had to get back to Fort Gibson.
When we got back to the well, we noticed that we were still slowly loosing air from one of the tires. We had changed them around so much today that I don’t know if it was a tire we had already had problems with or if this was a new and different tire. We decided to go on down to the trailer so that we could make it before the tire went flat again. We followed Marty out from the well site. On the way back, Tom noticed that the truck was making different noises and not driving right. He thought that the tire had gone flat, so he stopped to take a look. The tire was ok, but when he looked at the front of the truck, he noticed that the wheels were pointing in different directions. Marty had not noticed that we had stopped, so he went on for a little while. We decided to creep on very slowly; we were afraid that the wheel would fall off the truck. We caught up with Marty and Tim and Jimmy Martin then caught up with us. They found that a bolt was stripped off of the knuckle and the others were loose. They tightened the ones that were loose and we all crept on back to the trailers.
After we got the Toyota on the trailer, the guys decided that the Toyota would need knuckle kit. Now this is the strange part of the story. A week or so before we came to Robbers Cave to wheel, Jimmy Martin had called us and told us that he was coming to wheel with us and could we bring that spare knuckle kit that we had with us so that he could buy it from us. We settled on a price and sold it to him on the Saturday morning of the run. Wait a minute! That’s today and he still
has the kit, so we bought it back from him. We had planned on wheeling on Sunday morning also, but with the knuckle problem, it looked like we were just going to have to go home Sunday morning. Now Chris can’t stand it when someone breaks and can’t wheel, so he and Marty volunteered to work on our Toyota at Chris’ house to put the knuckle kit in our truck.
What nice guys!! They worked until after 9:00 that night to get it done. Evidently the upper bearing was shattered. Marty said that he couldn’t clean out the axle like it should be cleaned so we should have it done when we get back to the City. Our knuckle was not in good shape. Chris just happened to have one that would fit our truck, so Tom bought it off of him and they installed it. Those guys worked really hard. We missed the bean and corn bread supper at Big Mike’s cabin but we got to wheel on Sunday. Tom was really hungry by that time so we ate supper in town at the Pizza Hut at 9:45. That’s really too late to eat, especially if you have to get up at 6:00 in the morning to go wheeling again.
On Sunday, Tom drove over a tree limb that we didn’t see and tore the air locker line
in the front axle. We didn’t have a locked front end the rest of the day…and we had
more tire problems.
Story by Jan Malone