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Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration

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Offline trtlrock

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Title pretty much says it all.  I'll be heading out to the outer fringes of Solitario portion of Terlingua Ranch & want to make sure I have the proper support gear for the truck.

I've researched & read all the pertinent threads, but...

Well, rather then regale you with tales of my mechanical ineptitude in this department, let me state just a few true facts:

1) I am the anti-MacGyver

2) I had to actually go out & look at the truck this morning to remember what model it is.  :icon_rolleyes:

3) I know nothing about tires, and try to stay as far away as possible from those battery thingies

That should tell you everything you need to know.  In all seriousness, I can't stress enough my total lack of intuition, common sense, & practical experience in the emergency vehicle maintenance area.

OK -- here's what I've got:  '09 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 SR5, 2 doors.  Tires are BF Goodrich All-Terrain T/A LT 245/75 R16 120/116S (virtually new).  Spare is a (new, unused) Dunlop AT20 Grand Trek P245/75 R16 109S (came with truck).  Leer cap.  The battery says 582 cold cranking amps, & 125-minute reserve capacity.  Model appears to be 28800-something; came with the truck.

After reading the threads, looks like I need to purchase the following:  

1) 12-volt air compressor
2) tire plugs & plug tools?  Is this the same as the often-mentioned 'patch kit' ?

Can someone tell me or link me to exact brand/models so I can buy the correct gear?  Reliability, durability, simplicity, and explicit idiot-proof directions mean much more to me than budget.  I am not looking for DIY or purposely-inexpensive solutions.

Someone mentioned taking an extra battery.  Should I?  If so, would this be a basic battery?  Or something brawnier?

Also looks like I should have a shovel.  Should I also have a pick?  What type of boards should I be carrying, if any?  Anything else I haven't mentioned?  I don't plan to be putting much mileage on it, so I can't imagine needing to carry extra gas (plan is to drive to the 'Ranch' & hang out, not drive around...)

Can someone enlighten me as to tire PSI?  The BFG AT are rated max 80psi.  Sticker on inside of truck door says 30psi (although that would be for the Dunlops I guess).  BFG AT's currently at 43psi (as installed by tire dealer).  So, basically...

a) why 43psi?  just curious, I guess...
b) Should I proactively change that pressure before hitting the dirt roads?
c) while out in the backcountry, when (if at all) should I be deflating the tires, and to what psi?

I'm taking it to the dealer for an oil-change before I go.  Is there a specific list of things I should have them check/test (i.e. the battery) other than the usual "wipers & fluids" stuff?

Sorry to ask so many questions, but I really do want to be properly prepared.

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I'll be driving in from Virginia, hooking up with BDann on 6/1, and following him in to the 'Ranch,' but it's probable that I will be exiting solo.  And my wife won't be with me for moral (ummm...and technical  :icon_redface: ) support this trip, so being adequately prepared will go a long way towards alleviating my tension & angst... :nailbitting:

I should mention that the truck is my wife's work truck (landscaper), so I've only driven it about a dozen times.  Anyway, I see this as adequate justification for my forgetting what model it is.   :icon_biggrin:

I'm not overly worried about the driving itself.  I've driven our Subaru to PG4, Grapevine, JC, ETusk, ETinaja, Old Mav, Old Ore from the N down to McKinney, more than half of County Rd from Terlingua towards Rt.118, and, IIRC, maybe the entirety of River Rd, although I can't specifically remember that one due to the nerve-wracking tension involved.  To sum it up, I seem to have half-way decent instincts but, still, very little practical experience.  And none of that was done in poor weather or post-rain conditions.

I'm planning on spending 3 days out there.  Normally I would take 4 days of provisions, but, I'm thinking 6 days might be better.  That way, if there is notable rain while I'm there, I can stay an extra day or two if necessary for it to dry out somewhat without feeling I have to leave immediately.  

On the "survival" end of things I'm good -- I'll have all the same stuff I'd be taking on an extended backcountry hike.  I'll also be adding a big cooler, a huge opaque blue tarp to set up some shade, etc.  And, for sleeping, I might take a floored bug-bivy instead of our GoLite tarp -- I've never been here other than Oct-March, and there are scorpions & snakes out at night, right?  Thoughts on that would be welcome...

Looking forward to what "hotter than the hinges of hell" really means!   :eusa_dance:

TIA,

John
« Last Edit: May 22, 2009, 03:12:43 PM by trtlrock »
John & Tess

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SHANEA

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2009, 10:35:23 AM »
The idea is to be prepared and to "fail safe".  By fail safe, I imply that when something fails it fails safely and you have a spare/repair for it.  Obviously, you can go way overboard and you certainly don't need to.  Tires are the main thing used in the out country and also the most likely to fail.     

Go to a tire store/dealer and get you a used 2nd spare tire to carry along.  Cost you less than a $100 for the tire and rim.  All you need is something to be able to limp into a town with - doesn't have to have the greatest tread etc.  This is the spares spare.  Let them rotate the tires and find out what the correct air pressure is.  Why a 2nd spare tire?  If you blow one tire and are running on your spare - then you have no spare.  Not many places out that way to get a spare tire.  Yes, chances of blowing two tires on a trip are not all that high, but it does happen.  Sidewalls blowouts from a cactus are common.  Can't patch/plug a sidewall blow out.  Find out if the spare you do have is a full sized spare and not one of them darn donut undersized worthless spares.  Make sure the spare has plenty of air in it.  Also, get a plug kit to be able to plug any holes you get out there.  Simple to use and invaluable.  That is where the air compressor comes in to be able to inflate the tire.  Get a good air compressor that will blow up a tire in a few minutes as opposed to hours when compared with those cheapos.  A couple of cans of tire inflate / seal stuff are good too - for any leaks you can't see and also to help seal the plug if you plug a hole.   Yes a plug patch kit are pretty much the same - you want plugs and not patches though - just go to the local auto parts store and ask them for a plug kit - should have a variety of sizes, the little tool, and the goop.  Take a look at it before you head out and read the directions.  You will be amazed by the number of times you step out of a vehicle and hear sound of air coming out - and if you can get it plugged quick enough you can avoid the tire separating from the rim and maintain the air pressure and not have to change a tire.  Keep it close at hand.  You can try to plug a sidewall hole - however, don't do highway speeds on a vehicle with a sidewall plug - the tire is toast.         

A basic tool box goes a long ways too - don't have to have everything to pull a tranny on the side of the road and replace the gears, but basic tools can assist with some temp repairs.  A little bit of dish washing soap along can be used to find any holes in a tire using a little water.

Carry several gallons of extra water.  You can go a long time w/o food - can't live for very long without water.

Fire extinguisher would be good too. 

I also have a large floor jack for quickly changing tires on the side of the interstate or anywhere else, Randell?.  Floor jack can also be used to lift the vehicle if you are stuck or high centered.  Need some good solid boards to put under the jack to keep it from sinking in dirt.   This really isn't necessary as you can spend the hour trying to find the jack that came with the vehicle and using that POS. 

I see not need for an extra battery.  Just make sure the engine is running when using the air compressor or anything else drawing juice and be sure to turn off the lights.

Just drive slowly when off-road and don't slam on the brakes when crossing a ditch or a rock - braking puts stress on all parts and parts under stress are more likely to fail.

No need to spend $$$ going overboard, just a few simple things to make life easier.


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SHANEA

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2009, 10:38:35 AM »
oh, one other thing, a large good solid tire wrench is invaluable - one of those 4 pronged cross shaped ones - make sure the one you pick fits your vehicle.  Why?  Nothing worse than trying to bust the lug nuts on the side of the road when the over zealous person at the tire store/mfg. put the lugs on too tight with the impact wrench.  The little thing that generally comes with vehicles is worthless.  I also carry a pipe to put over the wrench for leverage at times. 

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Offline dkerr24

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2009, 11:49:29 AM »
oh, one other thing, a large good solid tire wrench is invaluable - one of those 4 pronged cross shaped ones - make sure the one you pick fits your vehicle.  Why?  Nothing worse than trying to bust the lug nuts on the side of the road when the over zealous person at the tire store/mfg. put the lugs on too tight with the impact wrench.  The little thing that generally comes with vehicles is worthless.  I also carry a pipe to put over the wrench for leverage at times.  

I use a torque wrench to properly torque the lug nuts on my car to avoid any problems caused by air wrenches.  Never had to use anything but the factory wrench to remove the lugs.  I always spray a bit of penetrating oil on the threads of the studs to help keep the lug nuts from getting frozen.

It wouldn't hurt to lower/reinstall your spare just to make sure you can do it, and to make sure nothing is frozen or stuck.  You wouldn't want to be on a backroad in the middle of nowhere and find out you are unable to lower your spare on the Toyota.

Another item I strongly recommend is a 'Scangauge II'.  It is a small LCD readout that attaches to the ODB-II port underneath the dash of your Toyota.  All cars built since 1996 have this port.  It will tell you coolant temp in Farenheit or Celsius, voltage, intake temperature, current mpg, miles to empty, a whole slew of things the idiot lights on your dash won't tell you.  It can also read the codes if your 'Check Engine' light comes on.

It's around $150 from Amazon.com

Best advice on off-road driving is go SLOW.  I've seen folks fly over rough roads doing all kinds of damage to their vehicle when simply crawling over the bad spots will save you from headaches later.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2009, 12:03:43 PM by dkerr24 »

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Offline tjavery

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2009, 01:18:33 PM »
It wouldn't hurt to lower/reinstall your spare just to make sure you can do it, and to make sure nothing is frozen or stuck.  You wouldn't want to be on a backroad in the middle of nowhere and find out you are unable to lower your spare on the Toyota.

I second that. Definitely take a practice run in your driveway at home changing out a tire. That will make sure you know that everything works and that you have all required items.

It would be bad news if you needed the spare way out there in the backcountry and you then realize that your spare is secured with a special nut or lock or something and you don't have the key.

Dig out the manual and look specifically at the required jack placement. Designers of vehicles take into account that the jack will be placed in a specific location, a "hard point" if you will. You don't want to start jacking up your vehicle using a spot on your frame that's not designed to handle the load.

Best advice on off-road driving is go SLOW.  I've seen folks fly over rough roads doing all kinds of damage to their vehicle when simply crawling over the bad spots will save you from headaches later.

Amen to that.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2009, 01:20:52 PM by tjavery »

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Offline homerboy2u

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2009, 01:28:53 PM »
Every time I hit the mountains and back roads, it is customary to air down my tires.This provides we added traction spreading the foot of the tire much wider.This is where the compressor comes in handy. I will say this,i have always air down my tires but then the locals who are near me,ask my me why i am doing this,i tell them why and they just shrug their shoulders in disbelief. I think they are saying: Ok, suit your self!!!...i never do this, but if you are comfortable doing so,more power to you.

 Don't forget to take a PVC tarp,man let me tell you these babies always come in handy.Tie it to the truck,preferably a high point, stretch it and anchor it to the ground or another vehicle,instant shade for you and friends.

 You should be good to go, covering all basic points presented here.
Stay thirsty, my friends.

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2009, 03:13:49 PM »
Thanks for all the advice thus far.  I had already scheduled a "dry run" on mounting the spare before I go.  Agreed on the real tire wrench as well - thanks.

And this truck is obviously far more appropriate for the task than the Subaru, so that's a start.

Has anybody got a specific recommendation for an air compressor?

----------------------------

On another [completely OT] note...any port in a storm, eh?  Kinda sad when your only thread-choices are automotive morons & jubilant gunfire... :icon_lol:
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

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Offline Casa Grande

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2009, 03:46:18 PM »
I'd love to give you some advice, but it looks like you've already got the advice you need....have fun and don't worry about it too much, you should be fine.  Take a bit more water than you think you'll need is the only other piece of advice I can give you, just in case you have to spend a little longer than you think.

Has anybody got a specific recommendation for an air compressor?

Get one that has a pretty good flow rate....good ones are around $70+ and some can jump start your battery too!

Sorry I can't really recommend a specific one, but here's a start:

http://www.safety-devices.com/air_compressor.htm

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Offline bjbriggs

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2009, 04:26:53 PM »
If you have room, a shovel is nice.....I don't know how many times, I've had to dig my self out being stuck in sand........ :icon_lol:

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Offline Hoodoo

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2009, 05:08:25 PM »
All good advice, especially the plug kit, stop leak, and extra spare. Been there done that.

Has anybody got a specific recommendation for an air compressor?

I know Fred did a review on portable air compressors awhile back, but I cannot find his thread anywhere. His 3rd choice (I think) was the one i have which is a TruckAir by Interdynamics. It is not the best one out there but has served me well.




Don
Fort Worth

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2009, 05:57:02 PM »
update -- OK, after spending hours googling stuff I know nothing about  :icon_smile: I ended up getting these:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0012WHBSO/ref=ox_ya_oh_product

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BM8RT8/ref=ox_ya_oh_product

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EXSER4/ref=ox_ya_oh_product

If both compressors work then we may keep both, as we've got 2 vehicles in constant use.  The truck tires are tubeless -- hope I've gotten the right plug kit.  We shall see...

Thanks again for all the advice!
John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

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Offline Al

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2009, 06:35:12 PM »
I've tended to go with Costco for the last year or two when I don't know much about something I need because they are known to do a lot of research to find the best products because the limit themselves to 4,000 items.  I bought a Bon-aire compressor that claims it can inflate a tire in 2.5 minutes.  Haven't had to try it yet but in my experience what burns up these little pumps is running them too long in order to inflate the tire.  If this sucker works as claimed, it's got to be a winner.  Here's the unit, but no longer at Costco:

http://www.personalbargains.com/12voaircotip.html

Al

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Offline Undertaker

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2009, 11:35:56 AM »
Water, Water and more water, and food, if you do get stuck, and you might, it's nice to avoid dying of thirst, please leave a trip plan if you are planing on a trip on the wild side. At the park permits are nice, but leave someone else your trip plan and entry/exit times just in case as far as exit I fudge a bit in case of fixable but slow problems, hence plenty of water. You are in a desert winter or summer. As far as airing up or down the tires almost never do, most modern tires M & S (mud and snow) will provide no problem anywhere in park, even regular street tires are ok, 4X4, hardly ever put truck in 4x4 except on ranch. Air pump is always a good idea for plain travel on any road. You have already noted tire patch/plug. Al least you spent the time studying and being prepared, single best asset you have in the wild or at home is your BRAIN, it appears you have already used this option "better than the average bear"   

Take photos and post good or bad, or Homero will be on you back. :eusa_whistle: :eusa_whistle:
Visiting BB since 1966, nothing like being lost and finding heaven.

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Offline Al

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2009, 01:30:25 PM »
A few more notes.  Go with the door pressure not the dealer over-inflation.  Seems like they always over inflate, I guess to set the bead on the wheel when they install the tire.  43 psi is way too high.  In any event I wouldn't run them over 35 psi.  You don't need a spare battery, just run the truck for 15-20 minutes or so a day if you stay at the same campsite for several days and use the lights a fair amount or routinely charge your laptop/camera off the truck battery.  I always bring jumper cables and a tow strap.  I've never needed them for me but I have been able to help others on more than one occasion.

Al

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Offline trtlrock

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Re: Need help preparing truck for backcountry road exploration
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2009, 01:54:11 PM »
Go with the door pressure not the dealer over-inflation...43 psi is way too high.  In any event I wouldn't run them over 35 psi.

Al

I think the OEM Dunlops are tubed.  I'll look later this week when I do the tire change dry run.  Wouldn't the door sticker psi rating refer to the OEM tires?  i.e. if the truck came with OEM BFG AT's would the door sticker still say 30psi?   :eusa_think:   :willynilly:

John & Tess

"...and I'll face each day with a smile, for the time that I've been given's such a little while..." - Arthur Lee

 


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