What: From the Overland Expo website: “The world’s most unique event for do-it-yourself adventure travel enthusiasts, with hundreds of session-hours of classes for 4-wheel-drive and adventure motorcycling, inspirational programs, the Overland Film Festival, round-table discussions, demonstrations, food, and a large expo featuring over 180 vendors of adventure travel gear, bikes, vehicles, and services”
Where: Mormon Lake Lodge, south of Flagstaff, AZ
When: May 16-18
The Plan: Leave my home in NW Arkansas at 6am on Friday May 9th and arrive at Adventure Trailers on Saturday May 10th to pick up a J30 top made by Ursa Minor for my 4 door Jeep JK, then drive to Moab, UT and meet a friend, wheel Moab for a few days, return to the Flagstaff area and wheel through the Coconino National Forest for a few days, then head to the expo on Thursday, May 15th. Camp at the expo Thursday – Saturday and then start the drive back on Sunday, May 18th arriving home on Monday, May 19th.
The problems: A week before I was to leave my jeep started making a knocking sound that was coming from the rear of my jeep. It only seemed to do it when I was accelerating for some reason. I had planned to change the gear oil in both the front and rear diffs before I left so Saturday morning May 3rd I removed the drain plug from my rear diff and discovered some small metal pieces about ¼ to ½ inch long. Of course next step was to remove the diff cover and take a look. Here is what I found! Still not sure what happened as I had not wheeled my jeep hard in months. At any rate I needed to get busy trying to find a new ring and pinion I could get my Monday if possible. I was able to find Yukon gears on Amazon with overnight shipping that would be at my door on Monday. I scheduled the install for Wednesday and all went well until the old pinion seal was found leaking after the install so it was the next day to get a new seal. The yoke had a slight grove worn but couldn’t get another ordered and installed before I had to leave town so I decided to use the old one and hope for the best.
The other problem was that I contracted a cold about the same time I discovered the broken ring gear and by Thursday before I was to leave on Friday I was running a slight fever and not feeling well. So went to the doctor and got a “sinus cocktail” shot that the doctor said would make things much better in about 12 hours. Friday morning rolled around and I was in fact feeling much better and I was on the road by 6:30am. I drove to about an hour west of Albuquerque, NM on Friday and drove the rest of the way into Prescott, AZ on Saturday morning.
I arrived at Adventure Trailers about two hours later than I had planned on Saturday the 10th but Mario was great and even with all the work they had to do to get ready for the expo he worked me in and my top was installed by about 3pm Saturday afternoon. Here are a few
pictures of other vehicles that were there or at their neighbors, Overland Journal. Here is my JK
with the new top! That’s the good news, the bad news; I discovered that my rear pinion seal had been leaking and had slung gear oil everywhere! By this time it was late afternoon and I was still not feeling 100% so I called my friend in Moab and explained that I would be detained in Prescott until I could find someone to check the pinion seal and possibly replace the yoke. I couldn’t find a local mechanic that could help me out so my only choice was to wait until the local Jeep dealership opened on Monday. As it turned out they had the pinion seal in stock but when they removed the yoke they highly recommended that I replace the yoke as well. With a 1100 mile trip back home on my mind I decided to play it safe and have the yoke replaced as well, only problem is they didn’t have the yoke in stock and it would be Tuesday before they could get it. I do want to thank York Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, and especial Jake my service attendant for getting my Jeep worked in as soon as possible on that Monday, shuffling me to and from my hotel and getting me back on the road before noon on Tuesday!
So the new plan was to meet my friends Jayston, and Alan in Flagstaff about 6pm so it was off to the grocery store to get some food for the rest of the week and then the two hour drive from Prescott to Flagstaff. My friends arrived from Moab and got a shower before we grabbed a quick bite to eat, then it was off to a local pub that was hosting some of the folks associated with the expo that were going to do a several video presentations of past expeditions for those that had gathered. We stayed for two presentations and by 9pm decided to get on the road to find a campsite for the night. We found a campsite about 45 minutes away in the Coconino National Forest. When we arrived Jayston realized that he had ruptured a break line which apparently had been rubbing on his shock and when he had to hit his breaks hard to avoid an Elk in the road it ruptured the line. Well it was off to sleep for the night and Jayston would have to make a trip back into Flagstaff in the morning to get a new break line.
Jayston made it back to camp with a new break line by about 10:30 the next morning (Wednesday, May14th) and we were off to explore the backcountry of the Coconino National Forest for two days. The terrain was varied but nothing hard and the scenery was beautiful.
Nights got down to the mid to upper 30’s and days were in the 70’s with beautiful blue sky’s every day we were gone, no complaints there.
We arrived at the expo about noon on Thursday, got registered for the event, set up camp in the field reserved for those presenting during the expo. Jayston was chosen to participate in a round-table discussion about finding time to get off-road and present on the Ozark Overland Trail which is a route Jayston has been putting together for the last three years. The route is 425 miles with 379 of it dirt crossing over 70 different water crossings from 6 inches deep to about 42 inches deep!
While I attended some good presentations while at the expo, my favorite part was just walking around looking at all the different vendor booths and other rigs that were attending the event. Here are a few pictures of the event. If you ever get a change to attend, I highly recommend it!