'86 Comanche Long bed, Slow build...


Thanks Jack, I'm sure we well have a great time!! I'll be curious to see if the Comanche is able to get up the big ledge, as recent vids of it show it to be getting quite tall! I think the rest will be pretty easy for it.

Next project is getting the clutch to work properly. While the '84-'86 system us technically an external slave, as opposed to the internal setup that was used from '87-93, it is complete garbage. Ours has never worked right, releasing and engaging right on the floor, or sometimes not releasing and require a second stomp of the pedal. No amount of manual or vacuum bleeding has made any difference, and replacing the slave is a complete PITA because it's way up on the right side of the bellhousing where you can barely get to it.

I am converting to the '94-96 style XJ external slave/master setup, which has the slave on the left side of the bellhousing, much lower and more easily accessible. I am using a pre-bled slave/master combo. If there are issues with this setup, it is at least easily serviced.

The first thing to change is the bellhousing, and I used one from a '94-up 2.5L XJ or TJ. (Don't actually know what it was off, it was an ebay purchase more than a year ago...) I did the bellhousing swap yesterday, and didn't take a single picture. Dropped the trans/t-case, yanked the old bellhousing, test fit the new one on the back of the engine to make sure the starter cleared. No problem, so bolted it onto the trans and pushed it all back in. I did put a new throwout bearing on it, as I had no idea how old the one that came with the bellhousing and fork were.

I also re-drilled the firewall for the vertical pattern of the new master cylinder last night. I lucked out and found a backup plate on the inside of the firewall. I pulled it out and used it as a template to drill the new holes in a vertical pattern from the engine side. Next is replacing the pedal sled with a slightly newer one that I scored from a new yard I found in the area that actually let me go and walk the yard and pull the part myself. The new sled uses a bracket that reinforces the firewall where the master mounts, as the old bracket won't work. I find it odd that they changed the pattern to vertical, when it's obvious that having it horizontal was better for firewall strength, but whatever.

I'll try to get a few pics today as I button things up. A quick poke through the slave mounting hole last night showed the throwout bearing to contact that fingers of the pressure plate a bit farther in that I would have guessed, but hopefully it will work. I had thoughts last night that I may also need a different pressure plate, but I'm trying to banish the thought...


So much for clutch and limited slip pics...

We did run HITR with the Comanche, and it did great! It technically was just under the 33" tire qualification EJS imposes to run the trip, wearing 235/85R16's. I was pretty sure we would be fine, and having 1" more tire wasn't going to make much difference for us. Luckily the guide didn't bar us from the trip, and we ran the whole thing without any assistance. This was my first EJS run, and really only my third organized group run, with the first two being attendance to the Troll's Spring Opener back in Michigan years ago.

Though I was hoping for 15 or less vehicles, there were something like 25 registered. Fortunately, only 15 showed up, so I got my wish. :) To tell the truth, I think 15 was about the max I would have wanted to travel with, and I made that recommendation to the guide. The guide and tailgunner talked about changing the trail requirements from a 5 (one locker, 33's and a winch) to a 6 (Two lockers, 35's, and a winch) but hopefully cooler heads prevail and they don't do that. NONE of the vehicles on our trip had enough issues to warrant this sort of change. The only one that needed an assist was an unexplained stuck on the side of the trail that we all chalked up to the driver just not driving for a moment. We made some friends along the way and had a great time!!

To those thinking about running this trail, I would provide a few words of caution. First, the trial is LONG. If you are a good driver, and you do a bit of a hustle, you could run all the way to the overlook in a day without too much trouble, but it would be a pretty long day. Like most Moab trails, a lot of it is slickrock, which means fairly slow going in most streetable vehicles.


Because of restrictions in the national rec area, we were not able to camp in Frenchie's Campsite. We used this one a half mile or so before hitting Frenchie's and it worked OK, aside from being REALLY windy most of the night. The general public is still allowed to camp at Frenchie's, EJS was just not able to get a group permit for camping inside the rec area.


It is fairly technical in a few places, but our Comanche on 32" tires with no lift was able to do the whole trail without assistance, and surprisingly, not as much bumper dragging as I had feared... I think the bumper was JUST off the rocks about a hundred times though!!

There is a ledge that drops into a sandy wash that is a bit of a challenge for longer tail vehicles, or those with limited clearance. This ledge is just after the bottom of the pioneer route off grey mesa, and just before the trail climbs up onto the mesa. This ledge was the reason I never felt like doing this trail by ourselves.

Ledge Down1.jpg

Interestingly, I had a little trouble getting down when the bumper hung for a moment, but with a bit of spotting to use some stacked rocks, was able to drive righ up on the first try in one smooth move.

Ledge Down2.jpg

Ledge Up1.jpg

The most difficult spot for the Comanche was the climb up onto Gray Mesa, where our wheelbase provided a challenge at one point because all four tires needed to climb a ledge at once.

After a couple of tries and some heat in the clutch, I accidentally bounced back a bit. This moved the truck away from the wall and made it cake, but the spotter was pretty nervous at that point...

The chute was a non-event. I can see how inexperienced drivers might not be able to pick a line that would keep them more level near the top on the way out, which could prove tough on paint and mirrors...

I thought the v-notch at the bottom might be an issue, but I don't even remember the rear bumper dragging... It probably did, but I drove through without hanging up.


On the way out, I chose to straddle the pothole on the passenger's side and that proved a much better route for my long tail... (Sorry, no pic...)

To be continued...
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End of the driveable portion of the Hole in the Rock trail. Cottonwood canyon and actual Hole in the Rock notch in the background. There are posts here marking the original route, but I have read that much of the original road was shoveled from sand and is now gone. I have seen pictures from this overlook with a LOT of water in the background. No water visible from here at this time.


Camp on the way out, less windy this night, and we actually slept really well.


After the trip out to the highway we decided to bump into Halls Crossing to check out the lake level.
It's low. Really low. I don't think there are any usable ramps left at Halls Crossing.
This is the bottom of the last working ramp I'm aware of. It's a 20' drop off the end of the ramp to the water below...


We drove to the end of the road, where the ferry dock is... It goes down as concrete about six lanes wide, then drops to gravel about two lanes wide for a hundred feet or so, then to a small gravel lane for fifty feet and then nothing. Barely a cove left to hold the ferry and its floating dock... Just mud and silt dropping 15' into the water at the bottom. Not going to be taking the ferry any time soon...


Total carnage for the trip: The driver's side sway bar bushing, which has been oil soaked for years, squirted out near the end of our first trail day. I put it back in but it didn't stay. I pulled the whole bar off in camp and ran the rest of the trip without it. Also managed to squish the tailpipe a tiny bit at some point. Comanche did fine otherwise!

Looking to get back and check out the old trail through lake canyon. I know it's impassable, but I like exploring. :)
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To Infinity and Beyond!
We (Wife and I) took the Colorado Cataract Canyon 4 day river trip out of Moab to Lake Powell in 1992 for the first time.

Repeated the same trip in 2017 with our 2 girls. Water level 20ft-25ft LOWER in the 2017 than in 1992.

Sites of interest that you could run a houseboat up to off on a side cove of the river in 1992 were now a 1 mile HIKE in 2017.

Ya'll think fires, dust and heat are problem in the SW?


The real question is what are all those Millions of people in the SW going to do to git the WATER they need to live life???

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