"The Ho" (36)

Eighteenth Trip

After doing these modification it was time to test them out and so on 2nd July it was back to Coal Creek. Driving there "The Ho" handled very well. The driving dynamics had been changed by the work we'd done. It rolled round corners a little more than it did before but apart from that there seemed little difference in the way it handled. The way "The Ho" rides has probably changed a lot since we first got it but because I drive "The Ho" more than anyone else and things like the removal of the anti-sway bars and the lift were done in stages I haven't noticed any real big changes.

As soon as we left the road we started to have problems. There were weird noises coming from under the car, especially the front drivers side. We got out several times and inspected all four wheels but everything seemed OK. It was only after a while that we realised that the front drivers side spring had come out of the top perch. It had done this before in April but we hadn't really fixed the problem, just put the spring back in. This time because we hadn't noticed it, the front drivers side wheel had a big groove worn into the inside wall where it had been rubbing.

Although I'd bought a farm jack ($34, Rural King) which is capable of a 4 foot lift we'd left it in Andy's garage and neither the original bottle jack or the trolley jack that we carry in "The Ho" were capable of lifting the newly raised vehicle high enough to enable us to get the spring back into position. Dave came up with a good idea though. Positioning the car next to a tree we looped the winch cable as high up into the tree as we could and so raised the car that way. We had a nice slow drive home, we really didn't want that spring to come back out at high speed.

A quick trip back to Rural King and I bought a couple of heavy duty clamps. After making a new plate for them Andy and I fitted them over the top spring bucket to keep the front springs from jumping out.

The Ho - Front spring clamp

Front spring clamp, the spring spacers we put on in March 2006 are still there

Nineteenth Trip

After fitting the spring clamp on 3rd July 2006, Andy and I took "The Ho" back to to Coal Creek. "The Ho" behaved wonderfully. It didn't bottom out once, the extra height we'd given it had greatly improved the articulation and the wheel rub in the wheel arches has all but gone. One section of the coal Creek is a long straight unmettaled road. We usually drive down here at over 50mph but because "The Ho" is a bit more "bouncier" than before I didn't want to bounce right off the track so kept the speed down a bit going down it.

Unfortunately, after a very successful off-road trip we had a bit of a disaster on the way back. We'd had all the wheels off over the last few days and I really did think I'd tightened all the wheel lugs securely. I obviously hadn't, as coming south down I63 back to Terre Haute, doing around 60mph, the front drivers side wheel came off. The front of the car dropped but I managed to stop in more a less a straight line. The wheel carried on down the median. We were hoping that it would just roll to a stop, but it swerved into the north bound lanes. Luckily the traffic was light but it still managed to hit the rear quarter of a pickup truck. The damage to the pickup's body wasn't too bad but it wrecked the wraparound rear bumper. The police were called but no tickets were issued. We'd always said we'd try and keep "The Ho" street legal and that included the tax and insurance and it was just as well that we did.

Altogether I think we got off quite lightly. We phoned Dave to come and bring us a spare tyre, which we rarely carried. The damage to the pickup wasn't as near bad as it could have been. The pickup was a county works vehicle and not someone's pride and joy. It was also pretty big. I'd hate to think what could have happened if the 45lb wheel had hit a family sedan with a combined speed of around 120mph. On the plus side, not to be too flippant, we did actually remember to load the farm jack so we could change the wheel that Dave brought with him.

The damage to  "The Ho" was also pretty slight. There was a hole big enough to get your hand inside in the tyre that had come off, so that was unrepairable. Part of the front rotor had been worn away while it was being dragged down the road but apart from that, we couldn't see much else wrong.

The Ho - worn front rotor

The worn away front rotor

At the moment we're not too sure what to do about this. The brakes still work properly, but then again one of the studs seems a little loose and a new rotor only costs around $30.

The Ho - Front Suspension

The worn front rotor also showing the spring spacers, spring clamp, new bottom riser and new fixing point for the shock absorber

More Tyres

It was time to sort our tyres out again. The tyre that had come off was unrepairable so back to Rural King for another new one. This is the 6th we'd had to buy since we got "The Ho" only 4 months ago, in March 2006. At over $120 each this is getting to be the most expensive part of keeping "The Ho" on the road. Since we burst one at Redbird in May 2006, we'd also been without a spare. This wasn't too damaged so while I was at Rural King I asked them to put in an inner tube. These tyres are big so I expect we'll end up carrying the spare on the roof. We may eventually get bigger tyres. We're currently running on 31 x 10.50 x R15 Dunlop Mud Rovers but we think we can now use 33" tyres, this will give us a bit more traction and ground clearance but even on eBay they cost over $160 each besides which most 33" tyres seem to be made 12.50" wide which probably means new rims.

There was a slight problem with putting the inner tube in that tyre. The split in the sidewall was a bit bigger than we thought and the inner tube started to bulge out through it. We could have applied a big patch of rubber to the inside of the tyre but rather than mess with it any more and risk a possible hazardous blowout, or at least a very inconvenient one, I went back to Rural King and got another one - our 7th.

If we bust many more tyres I'm gonna break into an armoury somewhere and steal a couple of sets of run flat tyres or maybe an armoured vehicle and try fitting "The Ho" with tracks! Now that would be fun project!

"The Ho" with tracks

Front Wheel Camber

After adding the extra lift the front wheel camber was not very good so in February 2007 we bought 2x 3degree camber bushings. We thought that 3degrees was probably a bit less than we needed but after that they start to get expensive. It turned out that they were more or less exactly what we wanted. This page at The Ranger Station shows more or less what we did. Obviously we didn't bother with the gauges or anything like that. Our motto is "if it looks good then it must be OK - probably"

Andy taking the front hub apart


February 2007 was also the time to fit a snorkel. As you probably guessed by now we  don't mind where we take "The Ho", so long as it's safe(ish).

Both photos - Attica Badlands - 18th March 2006

We'd already moved the air inlet back a little the day before the above photos were taken but now it was time for something a little better. some people make a real nice job of these modifications - and spend a lot of money in the process.

Someone's nice snorkel from Explorer Forums

This page created 13th July 2006, last modified 21st October 2007