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Author Topic: Eight Days in Southern Utah  (Read 1321 times)

LivinLite AZ

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Eight Days in Southern Utah
« on: September 22, 2017, 03:56:59 AM »
Hi All.

We just returned from eight days on the road for our UT/CO anniversary trip. This was our first 'real' trip in our 13QBB. Minus the generator that stayed home, this was a full systems and camping workflow test. While we did end up with a considerable list of future tweaks, mods, and upgrades by the end, we are thoroughly thrilled with our CL! We were quite pleased with our numerous mods and upgrades to date as well. I have listed links at the end for the goodie list.


Hitting the Trail

MODS & OBSERVATIONS

The 3.5" lift kit I installed to augment our off road package saved our rear bumper and deck several times - see https://aluminumcamperforum.com/index.php?topic=655.0 . The 'bamboo' foam tile flooring was a godsend (and great insulation too). The double folding steps from Range Kleen were so hands down great, that I will be skipping my planned 'step repositioning mod' https://aluminumcamperforum.com/index.php?board=7.0 and removing the factory step altogether (yay! More ground clearance). Depending on what angle we were parked, the Range Kleen steps were always within +/- 1" of the factory step, making it redundant. Uneven ground turned out not to be a problem for the steps. I was always easily able to reliably shore up the footing for a secure and even step. They seem as solid, and notably easier to use than the stock step.


Bamboo-Foam-Floor-and-Steps

One caveat of our lift kit is the scissor jack height. The 24" jacks still work fine on a flat surface, but we only once parked on a flat surface during our trip. So my 8"x7"x2" wood blocks worked a treat, sometimes needing up to 5 to get it just so. The trailer was never disconnected from Jeep, so I wasn't too concerned with stability or stressing the jacks.

BTW, we were marveling at how solid and well insulated the CL is. Howling winds sound like barely a whistle and it never made a creak or a quiver. Granted, we're comparing to a pop up. Our queen size Coleman airbed with 1.5" egg crate foam on top and underneath (doubles as cabin insulation) was so very comfortable, that we are scrapping our memory foam bed project.

The jack bed sofa mod. To date in this forum I have not touched on my interior mods, but this one made a HUGE difference to livability inside the trailer. This mod is for those of you with the jack bed configuration who do not need the 'bed' function and are wishing for more living space comfort. Additional benefit: a perfect place to store long items, like umbrellas, conveniently behind the hinged bench back. The photos tell the story somewhat, but I guess this should go under the Mods area, so I will do a full how to thread for this soon So I posted a full 'how to' writeup here if anyone is interested: https://aluminumcamperforum.com/index.php?topic=692.0 . This mod adds 5" to the bench depth and several degrees of rake/recline to the sofa back. Ahh, so comfortable and relaxing for two now (great for giving simultaneous foot rubs). Before this mod, it was so upright and shallow that there was no comfortable way to sprawl out.


Sofa Before and -> After

TOWING

With our new 4.55 gears, the Jeep pulled like a champ and my DIY frankenstein transfer case (front half of an NP249, rear half of an NP242) worked flawlessly. Headwinds and side winds were fierce on one particular leg approaching and leaving Moab, with gusts up to at least 60mph in driving rain. We were giddy at the immediate effect that these frontal wind blasts inflicted (sometimes losing 10mph in an instant going uphill), but pleasantly astonished at the rock steady performance of our Reese Friction Sway Control bar through the intense side gusts. With this device, passing or being passed by semis was a non issue.

We averaged 9.9 MPG over 1300 miles. I know that sounds terrible, but I'm lucky to get 13 around town with no trailer.

The Tekonsha Primus 90160 Brake controller worked well, but I could never find a happy medium between too much and not enough brake assist. I needed to manually dial in more or less trailer braking in proportion to my speed, which I got used to.

Our Pyle rear view backup camera was certainly helpful backing up, but since I connected the reverse light power lead to positive, the camera stayed  powered on and helped me reduce my burden on faster traffic from behind.

MOBILITY

Our main concern heading out was that with the 11 foot height of our CL vs the 4 foot folded height of our previous pop up, we may not be able to get to some of our favorite spots due to the tree carnage potential. I paid close attention to the new height factor when navigating heavily off camber rutted trails which compound the tree exposure considerably towards the direction that the trailer would lean. I am happy to say that with careful maneuvering, we were able to get to our remote spot without incident.


Towing-Offroad

THE JOURNEY

My wife is an amazing cook and baker. While I was prepping the Jeep and Trailer, she spent days preparing a menu for many moods. Our fridge accommodated eight days of meals - three and four a day. I did not miss digging through a soggy cooler.


Valley-of-the Gods

We left Sedona Monday evening and topped off in Flagstaff. North across Navajo land then east towards Monument Valley. Then north across the San Juan river to slumber in the Valley of the Gods. Early up and off to Cortez en route to Norwood for a short stay with my amazing cousin, Craig Childs. He is an author of several cult books on backcountry adventure and archeological significance in the southwest, among other topics. Needless to say we had a memorable time. It was truly an honor to geek out with someone on Google Earth and hear first hand accounts of what treasures lie hidden out there.


Norwood-CO-Sunset

We enjoyed taking a very scenic drive from Norwood to Moab. The furious thunderstorms kindly put on a show while keeping enough distance that we only got a sprinkle here and then. The Mavericks gas station in Moab had free potable water and a friendly dump station. This was our first dump - ever - and mercifully I didn't end up looking like too much of a noob, and more importantly everything went smoothly and I didn't get splattered.

Then the wind arrived in force just as I finished fueling. Ready to roll again. Up the pass past Arches NP then south towards Dead Horse State Park. Fierce headwinds and torrential rain. Luckily traffic was light as we struggled up the hill. Ok, now up on top of the Grand View peninsula, turn left down Long Canyon towards Pucker Pass. Cats and dogs, alternating mud and washboard. Crest the vista to find our spot and...


Camping-Above-Canyonlands

..."NO CAMPING" stakes at every camping spot. UH OH! We were there nine months ago and the usual 10 or so sites were being well enjoyed. We have been camping at this mind blowing vista for 15 years, every year. So we trolled past one no camping sign after another, stewing with disappointment. "How could they do this?" Then I saw one tiny path that hadn't been staked off (yet). We slithered through sand and squishy mud until I found a suitable spot to hole up through the storm (free car wash). It is a must see spot, but I'll leave it at that since our odds of camping there again are slim.


View-Out-the-Door-Canyonlands-La-Sals

Awake to a lovely day. Breakfast and then on the road to Boulder Utah. This is our home away from home. It lies in the heart of the Escalante Grand Staircase between Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon. Gas up at Hills and Hollows in Boulder, fill fresh water tank, grab some firewood and off to our secret spot on a remote knoll with near a 360º view in all directions. Light rain and flashes of lightening as we arrived at our destination. Level the trailer when the skies clear and viola, here we would perch the the next four days. Playing games, flying drones, eating, drinking and making merry. Loving our new CampLight and more importantly, each other - 26 years on.

Sad to pull up stakes, but happy for another scenic drive home past Bryce and then lunch at the always whimsical Red Canyon. Then on down to Kanab and on to Lake Powell, followed by the long dark haul up through the Navajo Reservation. With Flagstaff in sight and an hour to go, we agreed that couldn't feel too sorry for ourselves with that post vacation let down since we do, after all, live in Sedona, which is a vacation in and of itself.

MORE PHOTOS


Canyonlands-La-Sal-Maountains


View-Out-the-Door-Escalante-Grand-Staircase


Poodle-Crossing


Yay-Campfire


Sunset Reflections


Escalante-Grand-Staircase-Boulder
UT


Red-Canyon-Outside-of-Bryce-Canyon

GOODIE LIST

Wood look foam flooring:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010MCY0RY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Range Kleen double steps:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007EEG7M0/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

3.5 inch lift kit:
http://perfectcasita.com/casita-axle-lift-kit.html

Reese Friction Sway Control bar
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004O2NDEK/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

So there you have it. We are planning another Boulder UT trip in October, so these memories will keep me going in the meantime.

: ) S
« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 01:49:47 AM by LivinLite AZ »
2014 Camplite 13QBB. TV = 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 LTD, 6" Lift, 33" BFGs, Hybrid Air Suspension.

Diversteve

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2017, 08:03:58 AM »
WOW!!!
What a beautiful trip.
Your rig looks perfect i know you had a great time.
Camp on!

PYG RYDR

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2017, 11:54:10 AM »
Very nice camp report!

Glad to see you enjoying your camper and mods!

Camp on!
There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want;
and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of humans achieve the second.
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gbpack

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2017, 02:34:27 PM »
Great trip report! It's fantastic that you can get back in those backcountry spots with your trailer. Even though we have the off-road package and a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee with V-8, I'm not sure that our 21BHS would be able to make into some of those spots. I think it might be a little too long and bottom out or drag our butt, which would probably damage the grey and black tank drains that hang down back there. But we're going to look for some backcountry boondocking opportunities sometime when we're in those types of areas. Thanks again!

LivinLite AZ

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2017, 03:27:44 PM »
Great trip report! It's fantastic that you can get back in those backcountry spots with your trailer. Even though we have the off-road package and a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee with V-8, I'm not sure that our 21BHS would be able to make into some of those spots. I think it might be a little too long and bottom out or drag our butt, which would probably damage the grey and black tank drains that hang down back there. But we're going to look for some backcountry boondocking opportunities sometime when we're in those types of areas. Thanks again!

Hi gbpack.

It was tight in spots with our 13QBB, so I'm sure your 21BHS would get some new pinstripes at the very least. However, there are many semi remote places in the Escalante Grand Staircase area where you could have the place to yourself that would easily allow your 21 to pass unscathed. Let me know if your plan to find yourself in the area and I could give some suggestions.

: ) S
2014 Camplite 13QBB. TV = 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 LTD, 6" Lift, 33" BFGs, Hybrid Air Suspension.

Merlin

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2017, 04:33:52 PM »
Wonderful report and great photos. All your work so far really paid off.  :)

Why the front of a NP249 and back of a NP242?

You might want to replace the Primus with a Prodigy P3 to avoid the brake hassle.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2017, 04:43:49 PM by Merlin »
Michigan

LivinLite AZ

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2017, 05:58:58 PM »
Wonderful report and great photos. All your work so far really paid off.  :)

Why the front of a NP249 and back of a NP242?

You might want to replace the Primus with a Prodigy P3 to avoid the brake hassle.

Hi Merlin.

Can't wait to get back to Boulder in October : )

Why the frankencase? It's a little painful, but here goes...
My 1994 JGC came with the 'upgraded' NP249 TC. This case was used in the Limited models and provides three TC lever positions - AWD, N, 4lo. But I really missed the 'tail happy on demand' nature of the rear wheel drive in my previous Cherokee on dirt roads. The AWD with the NP249 meant that I had to implement the 'Scandinavian Flick', ie upsetting the chassis by jerking the wheel the opposite direction and then whipping it the other way for any drifting. Too much commitment with that maneuver to be much fun. Also, the 249 uses a viscous coupler to 'lock' the front and rear driveshafts together in 4lo. There were occasions when seriously rock crawling where I would end up with one wheel drive (open diffs). These couplers also wear out (amazingly, mine never did tho).

The NP 242 provides 5 TC lever positions - 2hi, AWD, 4hi (part time), N, 4lo. This case is somewhat rare in the JGCs, most being equipped NP231s. The reason for the frankencase was due to the fact that sometime midyear in 1994 they changed the annular gear gut in the front case half from rounded teeth to pointed teeth, as well as the planetaries that mesh with the annular gear. Usually one can get away with just swapping the planetary gear cluster from the 249 into the 242 (Assuming you have the right tailshaft length, which I did). However mine was made in June 1994, and Chrysler did not track the gear cut change by VIN. I spoke with a Jeep expert who assured me that the gear cut would make no difference in my application. Wrong.

The used NP242 from a 1995 JGC Limited I picked up for $300 was in pristine shape but I meticulously went about the planetary swap, changed seals, output bearings, etc. I RTV'd that sucker back together and modified the shift linkage and went for a test drive. It seemed to work as expected but with the TC in neutral it was making an unhappy whirring sound. I called Mr. Jeep again and described the symptom. Turns out when I spoke to him the first time, he had reversed in his mind that I was swapping a 94 into a 95, not the other way around. Whoops.

Time to do it all over again. Because the annular gear is pressed into the front case half, it cannot be moved between cases. Luckily, the 249 and 242 front case halves are interchangeable. So I tore everything apart again and replaced the seals and bearings in the front half of the 249 and slapped it all together again. I know Mr. Jeep was trying to save me some steps, but I wish I done this to begin with. My weekend project turned into a 30 hour ordeal - most of the time spent scraping fresh RTV off after the first attempt. Now I can enjoy RWD again : )

Thanks for the heads up on the Prodigy. The reviews were so positive for the Primus, I thought I was barking up the right tree.

: ) S



« Last Edit: September 24, 2017, 01:49:06 AM by LivinLite AZ »
2014 Camplite 13QBB. TV = 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 LTD, 6" Lift, 33" BFGs, Hybrid Air Suspension.

pjcd

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2017, 06:16:25 PM »
Very nice!

Merlin

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2017, 08:30:10 PM »
I'm glad I asked! That TC story was a doozy. The 242 is much more versatile, but I'm not sure being able to drift was worth all that.  :o Anyway, I hope you post on a Jeep forum too; you've got some interesting experience to pass along!  Keep up the Camplite mods too' I'm stealing all your good ideas (just the good ones, though  ;) )

Seeing your Jeep and camper flex on the "road" in to your campsite had me wondering if you will hit the limits of a standard 2" hitch/receiver on your travels?
Michigan

LivinLite AZ

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2017, 08:40:40 PM »
I'm glad I asked! That TC story was a doozy. The 242 is much more versatile, but I'm not sure being able to drift was worth all that.  :o Anyway, I hope you post on a Jeep forum too; you've got some interesting experience to pass along!  Keep up the Camplite mods too' I'm stealing all your good ideas (just the good ones, though  ;) )

Seeing your Jeep and camper flex on the "road" in to your campsite had me wondering if you will hit the limits of a standard 2" hitch/receiver on your travels?

1) I'm really not a hooligan. I just don't like understeer. It's a safety issue you see. But seriously, the 249's viscous coupler's days were numbered after 160K miles with many serious off road traction events under its belt.

2) Which mods do you like/disapprove of? I just posted my Jack Bed Sofa Mod here: https://aluminumcamperforum.com/index.php?topic=692.0

3) Yeah. we tested that hitch coupler pretty well, but I have my eye on a uni-joint setup in the future. Not sure of the implications for my friction sway control bar tho. See attached pic...

: ) S
« Last Edit: September 22, 2017, 08:45:33 PM by LivinLite AZ »
2014 Camplite 13QBB. TV = 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 LTD, 6" Lift, 33" BFGs, Hybrid Air Suspension.

DocktorJJ

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #10 on: September 23, 2017, 07:26:06 PM »
Great Pictures and report. Nice very Nice!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

—Mark Twain [Samuel Clemens]

Paul

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2017, 12:38:23 AM »
Really interesting to read!
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catmanriff

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2017, 01:17:27 PM »
great post, fantastic pictures and story!

LivinLite AZ

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2017, 02:47:06 AM »
great post, fantastic pictures and story!

Hi catmanriff. Thanks for the thumbs up. I've been too busy the last few days to thank everyone. So, thank you fellow Aluminites for your kind comments. Being my first travel post, I really appreciate the encouragement! I can't wait to get back out there before winter closes in. Hopefully I'll have another trip report by the end of October. We're planning another Escalante /Boulder trip and I'll be shutterbugging and maybe capture some video worth sharing from that trip. Stay tuned : )

S
2014 Camplite 13QBB. TV = 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee V8 LTD, 6" Lift, 33" BFGs, Hybrid Air Suspension.

nolichuckyjake

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Re: Eight Days in Southern Utah
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2017, 10:01:36 PM »
Enjoyed your trip account very much.   My wife and I are just beginning our trailer camping, and have a new '18 16DBS--with the "off-road" package.   

A question for you is-- do you get any benefit from having off-road tires on a trailer, other than possibly getting a little more height from them?