Details prior to the start of the trip:
Discussions started in January between the core group deciding the target week and location of choice. General location is central Utah within the San Raphael Swell. We all do our own research for trail choices and voiced ideas and I went to work nailing down at least a couple of days worth of trails and a general heading south from the campsite on trail day two. The request was made to have the group move into the current century and upgrade the trail communications with FM/GMRS units. We all agreed.
As the months leading up to the trip flew by and got to weeks and then days out the typical smack talking commenced via the group email and text message. One topic of discussion was the Covid-19 virus and if the state of Utah was going open back up enough so we could use the campground reservations most of us made prior to the virus locking things down. A week out and they lifted most of the travel bans and we knew we could be able to pull off the trip. It’s on!
The Cast of Characters and their ride:
Larry, one of two original desert rats with his ‘78 K10 on tons, 8.1/nv4500 and a Phoenix camper.
Bill the other original desert rat with a ’18 Tacoma with a hard shell RTT on a custom rack he built.
Ian, another K5 guy but his is a genuine military issue CUCV on one tons, 8.1/nv4500 and a RTT on a custom rack he built.
Ty & Jody, ’05 Dodge Ram 2500, Cummins diesel/6-speed manual trans and a Phoenix camper.
Don and his son in a ’16 Ram Power wagon with Carli suspension and Four wheel camper.
Phil came with his ’08 Power Wagon also running a Four wheel camper.
Hugo was back for a 2nd run in his Tacoma now sporting a hard shell topper for sleeping quarters.
Nick and Family in his vintage Suburban with a Cummins diesel and nv4500 rolling on one ton axles and a load of custom touches throughout. He carries a 14,000 pound rated pull pal land anchor so he means business.
Me, Rob in my ‘91 K5 Blazer with the Four wheel camper. Trail boss and map minder
Departure time 6/13/20 7:00am
Plan was for the Pueblo 4 (Larry, Me, Ian and Bill) to meet at Larry’s place between 6:00-6:30 so we could make sure we get out of town on time after BS’ing for a little bit. Capt Ron was going to leave at the same time to deal with weekend traffic up I-70 from the front range causing some slowing. Everybody else was arriving from CA and AZ the same day in the afternoon.
We pull out of Larry’s place on time with me in the lead since mine is the slowest. I waved bye to the dealership I work at as we passed it going through Canon City.
We stopped in Salida for some Mickey D’s breakfast and made our way over Monarch Pass and with the highest climb of our trip behind us rolled into Gunnison and then Montrose for a fuel and pit stop.
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, below the dam of Blue Mesa reservoir.
We had got some texts from Ron that he was having a problem with his truck outside of Parachute and wasn’t having any luck getting it ironed out. We took a look at the map and the clock and decided to change course and head to Ron to help out and get him running.
Larry plugged in the location to his google maps and make our way up to Ron to find him on the side of westbound I-70 just past the exit for Parachute. We quickly realize the side of the interstate was not where we needed to be working on a wounded truck. Since Ian’s CUCV still had the pintle hitch on the rear bumper we hooked up to Ron’s truck and pulled him to a spot off the highway on a side road with a wide dirt shoulder to safely check out his truck.
We go over what he did and start going over the basics. We had fuel, but no spark. We checked connections to the coil and ignition module for the L29 big block and they seemed to be ok. Larry pulled out his Tech 2 and we struggled to get communication with the truck, but that turned out to be an issue on what to call the truck on the tech 2 to get it to talk in the first place. Once we could talk we could see we had a couple of codes but also could not see the crank signal was not showing any RPM when cranking.
With the wiring checked per GM procedures I pulled up on my phone we felt we at least had a dead crank position sensor which would explain the lack of spark. NAPA was a mile back on the frontage road and so Larry and Ron set off to get one before the joint closed.
They got back and Ron stuffed it in and it still only cranked. We pulled a plug wire to check for spark the old fashioned way with a screwdriver. After fiddling with wires near the back of the intake somebody cranked it and I got zapped but the engine fired too! Ron shut it of since I was getting zapped but we were able to restart. Once running we checked the vitals with the tech2 and started picking up our tools. That’s when the engine stalled on it’s own again. But we knew Ron had wiggled the wires at the connector between the main Howell L29 harness and the factory injector harness that runs under the upper intake plenum. We wiggled it again and it restarted. Ron added a zip tie to anchor that connector to a nearby bracket but it didn’t seem to be a lasting fix as it stalled again. We could get it started again after wiggling that connector more. As it looked the terminals were ok, but we couldn’t see anything wrong. It meant since the wires and terminals looked ok at the connector the problem is most likely in the factory injector harness under the plenum. That’s not something we can do on a roadside. Ron felt bad about eating up so much time and asked us to continue on our way to Green River. We didn’t feel right leaving him on the side of the road. So we made sure he was able to drive back into Parachute where he coordinate his own recovery while we pressed on to Green River.
It bummed us all out for sure as it would have been cool to get the other Crawlabego out on the trail with us.
The drive out from there was pushing a major headwind most of the way into Green River. The wind didn’t stop us from putting the hammer down and staying at or above the posted interstate speed limit in Utah at 80mph.