Raw Deal is a short little trail that provides a variety of challenges to just about anyone wishing to give it a try. I ran it, for the first time, with a half dozen other Jeeps. The trail starts and ends in a wash. The result is a trail that usually provides you various lines to get over an obstacle. In some cases, you can simply move several feet to one side or the other and opt not to try. I’ll admit that there were a couple that I did not try. Maybe some other day. A big thanks to my Jeepin’ buddy, Steve (a.k.a., Jeeper) for letting me use a couple of his photos in this write-up.
There is quite a bit of bedrock that has eroded out of the ground. Some of this has had channels worn through it over time. A couple of these had a bit of water in them. Others were dry and offered the driver some good practice at accurate tire placement.
Dion decides to check the water depth in this innocent looking puddle. Hmmm….those are 33″ tires his YJ is running. Looks like it is deep enough to take bath. Well, maybe next, right Dion? (Be sure to order up some fresh water too, OK?)
Here is Larry and his TJ. He is straddling one of these carved out areas that is about 3’~4′ below the front bumper. It is easy to drop tire off of the line and get yourself in a bind. Having a spotter here sure helps.
This shot of Steve standing in a “crack” while Dion stops his YJ and poses for a picture gives you an idea of the erosion that has cut through this bedrock. As you can easily see in this picture, a poorly placed tire will most likely result in body damage, as the rock slides along your sheet metal. Then, you get to figure out how to climb up out of the crack, which will result in some more body damage.
The break over clearance of any Jeep is very important. Steve is working is YJ up and over a rock ledge in this photo. After his front tires roll up and then back down the rock ledge, his rocker panels rest on the bedrock. All of us have rocker panel guards to protect against damage. Steve manages to pivot around a bit and then his rear tire hooks up on the rock and he gets enough pull to carry him over. Having lockers in both diffs makes this kind of rock crawling possible.
This is the same rock ledge as above, as viewed from the opposite side. Dion is working on getting his YJ up and over. You can see the black rocker panel guard that runs between the two wheel wells. Dion made his from heavy angle-iron. This style is preferred by most drivers as it provides great protection while giving up almost no ground clearance. Nerf bars and similar items that bolt onto the frame and lie underneath the rocker panels sometimes can not take the weight of the vehicle. When this happens, they sometimes bend upwards and into the sheet metal. The style that Dion is using distributes the force across the entire area which makes for a better guard.
Here is Lady going across the Raw Deal’s version of the Golden Crack. Steve caught me just after I had hopped out to take a picture. The suspension is pretty well stuffed or drooping, depending on which corner you are looking at. When I got out to take this picture, Lady was wobbling back and forth. I just happened to stop where she was pretty well balanced. It sure felt funny crawling in and out. Of course, the driver side door is sitting way up over the low spot which made it all the more difficult to get back in.
Joe was the only one today that took this line to get up and over the rock ledge. In fact, this is the same ledge that Steve and Dion were on from the previous page. Joe runs his passenger side tire up the side of the rock. When he finally runs out of rock, the Jeep slowly pivots forward and gently drops the tires onto the ground. I stood there and watched him do it. Very nice and smooth. He has obviously done this a couple of times. Nice going, Joe!
Joe likes to catch a bit of air every now and then (actually, it was pretty darn often on the run). As you can see, he likes to put those 35″ tires into holes and then see which end of the Jeep comes up. Hey, everyone needs a hobby, right?
Joe is spotting me as I crawl along “The Great Divide”, as Steve called it. That puddle behind me is the one that Dion was checking for a bottom. We all made it through Raw Deal with no carnage or broken parts. A couple of the skids got used on most of the Jeeps, but hey, that is what they are there for.
Here is another picture of me working my way through the Great Divide. The bedrock in this area is quite strange looking. It is about the next thing to a lava flow, although I have seen them and this is certainly not that. Anyway, it makes for a lot of fun.
Joe and I watch as Dion drops his passenger tire into the “Air Hole”. Joe showed us this little trick and Dion, being the quick study that he is decided to see just how it worked. Steve, who took this picture, did a great job of catching Dion with good altitude. Not the easiest to do with a digital camera!
This ledge gave a couple of the guys a problem. The reason being that they were running t-case lowering kits (because of their bigger suspension lift). I have a slightly smaller lift, but no t-case lower kit. Even though my tires are 1″ less than what most folks run, I was able to slip over without dragging the belly pan. (Yes, I had a big grin on my face after I cleared it.)
Not all of the trail looked like a lava flow. Here we got into a section of the wash that just had a lot of rocks in it. You get to pick and choose your way through here, as it changes on a fairly regular basis when the water gets flowing through here with a lot of force. Joe announced on the CB, as we rounded the turn, “OK, I got no guarantees which way to go here….Everyone is on their own!”
Larry being the guy that he is, now that he has that new locker in his front axle….well, he just had to try one of these big old rocks! The result was that his rocker panel protectors did just that, and Dion confirms that it held up just fine. Larry had been taking it easy on his Y2K TJ much of this year, as he intends to sell it when he gets his CJ-7 rebuild finished. I’m not too sure how long that is going to take. Who knows, maybe the CJ project will go by the wayside and he’ll really put some work into the TJ. He already has a good lift and a front locker. Toss in a rear locker, new gears, and a roll cage and he’ll be ready to rock and roll!