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Death Valley 2nd time, didn't turn out so well


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#1 12valve

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 03:46 AM

I went to DV a few weeks ago with a friend and had a more than great time. Went again with my wife, different result. Well..... we had a good time, but it was not what we expected or wanted. Made it about 7 miles down to Eureka Dunes when there was a truck parked in the middle of the road. I slowed to 5mph to pass and all of a sudden the most horrible, gut wrenching sound started coming from my front end. Stopped. Started up again, same sound. I have manual hubs so I took it out of 4wd, same sound. This is not looking good. Started to snoop around the front and noticed that ALL 8 of my lug nuts on the right front were loose, 3 of them gone. The rim was just rattling around the hub. Trip over. The truck was going nowhere. I managed to get 2 off, hoping to get the wheel off. I could not get the last 3, the nut would just spin with the stud. What to do? All of this happened as Eugene, the driver in the other truck was watching. He could not help, nobody could at this point, so he went on to E. Dunes. Terri and I looked at each other and thought, oh well, now what. So we took a hike for a few hours into the mountains to our East. Had a great time. Set up camp, enjoyed a bottle of wine, slept well. Next day we packed up the truck, locked it, loaded up a daypack with clothes and food and waited for some cars to leave the dunes. Eugene came by and since he was leaving, gave us a ride to Big Pine. Then to Independence. While there a clerk overheard our dilemma and mentioned that M&S Towing was down the street. Bruce and John were the nicest, most helpful people ever. They arranged their truck to go back and get ours, all on AAA's dime. We all jumped in and 6 hours later were back at their station. We were exhausted so we checked into a room. Next day, John had arranged for another tow truck to come up from California City to pick us up at 8 AM. Loaded up once again and 7 hours were home in Ventura. Took us exactly 48 hours from breakdown to home. Not to mention a few extra $$$$ towing. All in all, it could have been a LOT worse, both in dollars and more important, injury to ourselves. Interesting in that during all of this, there was NO hint that something was going wrong, no vibration in the steering wheel, no change in handling of the truck. Trust me on this, I am acutely aware of my truck and all of its vibrations, noises and characteristics. The trip was interesting in all the people we met, folks we would never really talk to or hang out with. They were all super nice, friendly, helpful and just polite.
The first picture is the rim after two nuts were removed. You can see how the others were falling into the hub
After we got home, I tore it apart and found these gems inside the hub.

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1996 Dodge Diesel Reg Cab, 5sp, Long Bed 4x4. Far from stock. Runs on WVO. Howling Moon tent on top of the camper shell.

#2 12valve

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 03:49 AM

This picture shows the spindle. You can see how 3 of the 4 jam nuts have been ripped off. The 4th doesn't look so good.
The disc hat had these holes blown out by the pressure of the studs and nuts jamming inside the hub. Pure carnage.

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1996 Dodge Diesel Reg Cab, 5sp, Long Bed 4x4. Far from stock. Runs on WVO. Howling Moon tent on top of the camper shell.

#3 ski3pin

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 04:37 AM

Wow, what a story. Glad it all went well after it went so bad. Nice to see you two stayed so level headed through your "adventure." What is your vehicle?
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#4 busboy66

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 05:27 AM

Wow. You two were lucky. Sounds like you handled it well. Hopefully it doesn't cost you a bunch to fix.

I had a front wheel bearing sieze at 50 MPH on a curvy road with steep drops to the ocean with my 2 kids in the vehicle. The bearing siezed stopping the wheel. Took out the hub and severely damaged the spindle. Luckily it happened on a straight stretch, luckily the wheel stayed on. Same as you, absolutely no warning.
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#5 4llamas

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 06:19 AM

Glad you are okay, that could have been a disaster. I appreciate your good attitude.
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#6 Lighthawk

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 06:48 AM

Great photo of the shrapnel inside the hub. :o
I've done the 'tow the vehicle out of DV with the family scenario' too. :blink:

Hopefully the repair/tow was not too expensive. I always look back at these sort of things and see them in a fondly told remembrance later.
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#7 SunMan

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 07:28 AM

Having had a Death Valley mishap of my own I can appreciate the severity of your situation. Glad it wasn't worse, as far out there as you were, that could have happened in a lot of worse places. Glad you made it out safe. Gnarly.
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#8 craig333

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 05:25 PM

I'm a slow learner. Had all five lug nuts on my jeep come off, tire goes rolling down a hill. Didn't damage the threads somehow and another Jeep had a spare set of lug nuts. Talk about lucky. Didn't learn though. Driving my old truck in a snowstorm at tahoe, same thing as you, tire nearly ready to come off. As the tow truck exited the highway they closed the road behind us.

I check lug nuts frequently now. You were pretty lucky. Not all towing companies will travel offroad.
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#9 brp

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 09:47 PM

I can't understand how everything became so mangled? What do you think was the first failure that caused the avalanche?

I'll give you a lot of credit for keeping cool and even managing to have fun. If that happened to me I would get really stressed out.
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#10 UglyScout

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 02:22 PM

I had the same thing happen on an IH Scout years ago - towing a boat to add to the trouble. I blame it on someone trying to steal my wheels OR improper torquing when someone (me most likely) changed a tire last.

I didn't notice it until the wheel had hammered the wheel studs enough to destroy the 1) wheel 2) hub body 3) spindle 4) brake rotor 5) 4x4 locking hub 6) outer axle shaft. Yep the whole outer assambly needed to be replaced.... OUCH!
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