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This is a pretty long post about a new type of part failure that you should know about and get underneath to check right away. You don't want this one to happen to you.

It's also about the greatest folks in the world - and they were all at the Summit.

I was leading the Imogene 9:30 group and was close to the summit at 13,100 feet. Right here at the exact moment in BobtailFJ's picture below I heard the famous snapping sound that some us are accustomed to. However I wasn't doing anything wild, just going slowly up this rise. I guessed it was just a rock.




A few minutes after we were just about at the top, my oil light went on. Well... isn't that special.

Looks like I didn't only break a CV, it wasn't even in there! The CV itself is completely gone with just the outer tulip remaining. The half-shaft was just rattling around inside it until we ziptied it. This didn't make sense since it was a very moderate run. And no, I don't have gobs of horsepower that spit out drivetrain parts. Ray's (PureFJCruiser) photo:





But even better, under the pan there was the Exxon Valdez itself, happily creating a little La Brea Tar Pits for future visitors. For a moment I hoped I was actually Jed Clampett and had discovered a bubblin' crude.

There was no visible damage anywhere to the skid. In fact the FJ had driven just fine the whole time. I basically just fumbled with my stupid little toolkit until I could figure out what to do now. PureFJCruiser 's pic:





At this moment I had the entire descent to Telluride ahead. With no engine, power brakes, or power steering. And my whole family inside. And worse, no power to the Nintendo.

I have to apologize to everyone for forgetting about the oil. The Trail Teams went up and cleaned it up right afterward apparently. Next time I will be thinking clearly about this very important factor.

So now I was going to have to coast. This is where wonderful FJ friends shine. DominicG volunteered to drive right in front of me in case I couldn't stop. Now who in their right mind would position themselves in front of a nearly brakeless FJ all the way down to Telluride? I will always appreciate Dominic's life-risking help.

I discovered the brake booster would run slightly under battery alone. If I kept up a little speed the steering was possible but pretty hard. By the time we got to the bottom I was at about 6 volts. Braking was either all the way on or off. The speedometer was dead so I can't say how fast we were going but it was probably the usual speed.

At the bottom I was ready for lunch and a heroin overdose. It was time to tow back to Ouray. My towstrap was a fine Pep Boy's model, because who needs a strap? Come on, that's for dorks. Well, I would now pay dearly. At about 10 feet long, I was riding so close to Dom's rear end that I could have entered the Priesthood. Dom must have felt the same fear I do at Demello's.

So for twenty panic-stricken miles I tried to keep from bashing into Dom until my brakes finally completely went away. That was a lot worse than coasting down Imogene in fact.

Suddenly, we were warmed by the sight of the great Scorpion looming behind us. I could not hide my Pep Boys strap in time before Larry walked over, however. So after the expected tsk-tsk and finger wagging from Uphill, he respectfully handed over his family heirloom tow strap, monogrammed, leather embossed and signed by his dear departed uncle. It said:

"Young Corporal Uphill, no matter what valleys and hills you conquer, always remember me by this, my most prized strap, given to me personally by Ted Kennedy from the tow truck guy in Chappaquiddick".

For the next several miles Mr. and Mrs. Uphill were treated to the sight of the towstrap dancing between my front wheels. Since my brakes were either all the way on or off, if I touched them it would pull the rear of Dom's truck up into the air, and dirty laundry and nasty magazines flew out the rear window.

When I finally ran over the towstrap and broke it in half I decided to feign a smile for my last minutes on this earth.





Uphill found himself suddenly very fortunate; by the side of a lonely road with 3 things. First, the guy who had destroyed the family towstrap. Second the guy who has been linked to his cute youngest daughter Emily. Third, a loaded .40 ACP in the dash. Here he is handing me a grave marker for Dom and I before getting down to business.





I thought fast and told Larry about Dominic and Larry's other daughters too, so I was given a pass to get towed to Ouray. AAA upgrade baby.. do it!!! It pays back in spades.

The next morning Thong (TCao) and I went out to see the damage. Here is his photo. This is looking up with the front diff in the foreground and the engine lower case in the background.





Thong was a great help and has built what many think is the nicest FJ out there. It is absolutely minimal and functional, to the point. No extra nothing and everything works exactly as it's meant to.

Here is what had broken. Below in red are the two support brackets that hold the front diff to the front crossmember. These pictures are from a Tacoma but are the closest I could find.





These are probably the worst parts on your FJ. Heavy, brittle iron. They look like they came off Borat's tractor. On the FJ there are two bolts that hold the diff to the bracket. Well, those bolts were GONE.





This is what you need to check. Please make sure that all four bolts on each of the two brackets are completely tight. This will be a huge PITA if you have a skid.





If your bolts back out as mine did, in 4WD one of the brackets will break. What happened next is that the diff came up hard and broke the CV into so many pieces that they all fell out. The added leverage propelled the diff up into the aluminum engine case. I can say that the iron front diff is probably over 100 lbs, and the aluminum engine case is about 20.

Here is how Toyota should make these brackets. This is from some Fabtech lift kit for Tacoma.




Continued Below
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Both Icon guys, Dylan and Jeremy spent the day under the truck along with Sol, Jason, Thong, Jeshua, and many more that I don't know... please PM me so I can add your name. My task was to drive into Grand Junction and try to get some of the lost bolts. Well I was a little stressed so here's the first things I got:





Finally I found an oil rig supply place that had the bolts. Oil rigs are metric! To tell you a little about Colorado people, I got to the place right after closing. The guy had lined up the 4 bolts in front of the door with a note that said please take them! And these are big, expensive Grade 8 bolts. I knocked and went in anyway and insisted on paying for them. We had a good talk about oil drilling and I learned a lot. Primarily that there are hundreds of companies waiting to pump from existing wells, but the Colorado government is using various techniques to hold them up, including taking months to approve permits that used to take a few days, and inventing new environmental impact requirements and other delay tactics.

When I got back that evening here is how it looked. This is right after Graham (gsgmac) used his magic to coerce the engine case out:









Here with Jeshua, Tankota and Hindsight Doc it was lookin' pretty terminal.





This is upside down. The portion at left is the actual "oil pan" including the oil pickup tube. What saved my engine from total seizure is that there was still a quart or two in this area even though everything above it had leaked out.





At this point I was looking at a one-week stay in Montrose waiting for the only other engine case to come in from Medford, OR. But the next morning I made another effort to try to find a welder. I was getting nowhere but I called one last guy. Amazingly I hit pay dirt in our very town of Ouray.

Engine case in hand I went to see Jeff Skoloda. His building is at the very bottom of the street. And when I say his building, he designed and built the whole thing including studio gallery, home, metal shop and landscaping. He does mainly architectural metalwork and fine art.





Not too much 4X4 repair goes on in here:





But he took me out back:





A terrific metal shop and studio. And a TIG.





He spent much of his Sunday on it and it came out perfect.









This was not a "get it home" fix. It looked like I was totally out of the woods.

So I degreased everything underneath, cleaned and laid out all the parts that the guys had worked so hard to remove the day before. And fortunately Ingrid at the Victorian was cool to let it sit there for a couple days.





So as I was sitting there a big Voodoo Blue comes up; the one with the SFA. I met Tim Scully just once before but before I knew it I was handing him tools. And occasionally the right ones too. And then Montana Tailgunner and his Dad jumped in too.





I didn't know it but I was about to see the finest display of professional wrenching that I will probably ever see. Coupled with the the enthusiasm and selflessnes of 13 year-old Montana, I was experiencing a moment that I'll never forget. How great it was to be working alongside these guys who are an example to us all.

Swicago's pic:






Scully is Bruce Lee with a wrench. The rest of us were shaking our heads at each other as he just ripped into it.
Graham and Jeshua stopped by to watch the master, while Miss FJ found a shady spot.





We could barely keep up with Scully just handing him tools. First the case, then the steering, diff, and suspension came together.


Darn squeaky clean Californians...





Montana is behind Jason here getting the halfshaft into the new inner CV.





I couldn't believe that barely 5 hours later I was turning the key.


But I have to admit it wasn't the car running that made me so happy. It was the selflessness of all you guys, and how privileged I am to be a part of this great group.

I just got this PM now:

Hi Todd! Did you get home ok? It was great to meet you! I'm sorry about your rig but thank you so much for letting me help fix it. My friends think the CV tripod is so cool. I can't wait till we get to run trails again and I really can't wait to drive Air2Air. Your Friend Montana
As I said in my thank-you speech to me the Summit was the greatest week in my life not because of the scenery, but because of the great people here. Someday I hope I can repay all of you.
 

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todd, you are a funny funny man. i truly enjoyed reading that. i too am glad to be included in such a great family of wheelers, but most of all, this wonderful family of people on this board.

multiple people have extended a helping and welcoming hand when i was new to arizona. we really are surrounded by great people here.

glad you and your family made it down safely.


on a side note, just get me the part number for your mids and i'll find you a set of grilles.
 

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We have a lot of great people on this forum, we all saw it first hand at the summit, I am just sorry you had to be the center of it, but glad it all worked out finding the tig welder and that sure was a pretty weld, who would have thought Ouray would have the only tig welder in CO it seems. :D

I just got home tonight and will post some pictures tomorrow after I upload them. :)
 

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Oh almost forgot, the axle housing bracket failed long before the bolts came out, I think thats why the bolts came out to begin with. If you look at the break you will see that it is rusted half way through where the break is at that means it was cracked for a while before it finally brook all the way through.
 

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I think that this is a perfect example of a potentially bad situation being turned into one that truly shows what kind of people we have here on "the forum". No one ever wants to have happen what happened to you, Air2Air, but the way that everyone rallied and helped out, far outweighed the breakdown itself.

As much as we may bicker back and forth about politics, guns, and what color of FJ is best, we CAN come together to help out another member in need. I didn't make the summit this year, but this is exactly why I can't wait til next year to meet you guys.
 

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Todd I thought what you said during the reffle was very nicely done. I am glad that you had very capable hands helping out. If you every need classes in tool handing call me as my brother is a professional mechanic and I seem to be a professional at handing him tools when he works on my stuff. Seeing Tim wrenching makes me mad, so now is he not only a great spotter but can also wrench and married a beautiful woman damn triple threat. I am glad you made it home. SEE YA NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Montana nicely done young man.
 

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Oh almost forgot, the axle housing bracket failed long before the bolts came out, I think thats why the bolts came out to begin with. If you look at the break you will see that it is rusted half way through where the break is at that means it was cracked for a while before it finally brook all the way through.
It wouldn't surprise me if the crack dates back the episode that precipitated the 'full frontal' front end rebuild. And as for the oil spill my only comment here is that I count 7 vehicles in the picture where Todd broke.

Dual batteries seem like they should be bumped up on the priority list since there is brake booster support and that would allow for a rotation of batteries to a vehicle that could recharge them.
 

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too bad that the trip is during baseball season, i would love to join. i may not be able to get away if everthing goes right. but i am working out the plans to get the FJ ready to rock and hopefully not roll. perhaps we can work something out in the future.

so todd, was your rig trail ready by the time you left ouray?
 

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Glad you made it home.Wish the ride back to Ouray was alittle longer,It was good talking to your wife and you have 2 great kids.If your ever up in the bay area again let me know.
 

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Great read. I finally had a good grasp of what happened. Todd, as terrible as it is to break parts, you will probably have very good memories for a lifetime. Great to see people come together and "pitch in" to help. This is how sometimes perfect strangers become the best of friends. :bigthumb:
 

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We had a similair incident at the Northeast run in March. Johnnewyork's SFA broke on the Rock Creek rock garden at Rausch. Broken third mamber , lost his front shocks when the member snapped, lost front wheel drive as a result and limited steering. It took a group of about twenty of us to back him out. Everyone pulled together and we got him out. It took about 5 hours and it was the evening of our dinner. Yes we were all late, but Johns rig was back at the parking lot. Capt. Rick, Zazou, Jimmy, and a whole heap of others helped. There are definitely some top notch folks in the forum. Awesome story Todd. One of the best things is your kids got to see a good deed from inception to completion and learned how good it feels to help out someone in need. Kudos to all involved.:clap::cheers:
 
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