Some years things can get a bit hectic. About ten years ago, only the main road leading into and out of the woods had been broken and about sixty vehicles made their way onto the trail on Saturday afternoon. We had everyone from seasoned wheelers in built trucks to first timers in stock $60,000 Defender 110’s on the trail. All was going okay until the majority of the group got to the turnaround at the far end of the trail, started to proceed back, and quickly ran into a line of 20 Rovers still coming out. It was dusk, so the temperature was starting to plummet. By the time it was decided to turn the 20 trucks around on the trail, the temperatures were well below zero and falling, and trail was setting up like plaster of Paris. What ensued that night was an exhausting process of recovering (or repairing) each stuck vehicle one at a time by winching, hauling, tugging, and otherwise cajoling everyone off the trail slowly and methodically. I think the last truck made it off the trail shortly before it was time to hit Big G’s for breakfast.
This year, my trail drama included a track bar bracket sheered cleanly off my rear axle. We were breaking a trail called “Kickass” that Brian Rossini and I had cut back in December, and I noticed that I couldn’t help but slide sideways on a challenging but certainly doable uphill section. I got out to see what was up and, to my rather deep concern, saw my driver side tire sitting a solid three inches too far outside of the wheel well. We made a plan to Hi-Lift the JK laterally to center the axle and then cross strap each side of the axle to the opposite side’s frame rail. Fellow Vermont Expedition Society member, Charlie Venezia, rigged up a perfect Hi-Lift side winch using chain and a length of winch rope extension and made short work of centering the axle. Brian and I were then easily able to ratchet strap the axle into place.
Next, VTXS President, Kevin Buckley, pulled up behind in his Daihatsu diesel-powered Series 3 Rover and surgically extracted me via winch from my predicament.
Once out on the main trail, Brian and I made a beeline back to Bruce’s and asked if anyone knew of a place with a welder. Someone mentioned that the farmer down the road might have one, so we figured no harm in asking. After snapping a ratchet strap pulling into the farmer’s driveway, we got out and knocked on the front door. The farmer’s wife came to the door and I did my best, “You don’t know me but we were wondering if there’s any way we can pull my Jeep into your barn and use all of your husband’s tools and equipment to make it drivable again?” to which the farmer’s wife replied, “Of course you can. Just let me know if you can’t find what you need.”
Can’t find what we need? We were ecstatic! Turned out the farmer not only had a welder (an ancient one, but it worked flawlessly), he also had a brand new acetylene torch, an array of welding rod, channel locks, a hand grinder, and pretty much everything else we could possibly want. When I say “we,” I really mean Brian. He runs his own repair and off-road modification shop in Holliston, Massachusetts called BDR Automotive and he just went to town on my truck.