WORK 4 FUN / FUN 4 WORK – Snow Run: FJ80, FZJ80 and a Toyota Pick Up Truck – Red Line Land Cruisers
Some days are just colder than others, but we truly love to wheel! Same time, the cold weather really puts our machines to the test, stacked against their age. Service and maintenance are key, rather paramount with all the factors stacked against us! We do it to ourselves on the weekends for FUN so we can do it for you, with confidence, during the week. We’ve been doing this under the roof of Red Line Land Cruisers for 15-years!
#WeLoveLandCruisers but we also work on all the other Toyota 4×4’s too!
Red Line Land Cruisers
Phone (719) 638-2003
Address: 1050 Ford Street, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80915-2909
• Date: January 15, 2021
• RLLC Day Run Snow Mission – Colorado Springs
• Justin, Rodney, Donnie and Donnie’s buddy Perry (with the XJ)
• Words & Images: Rodney Wills
We meet at the shop and our mission is to simply get out and wheel as it’s been to long for all of us since we have been out! That’s Justin’s 1997 FZJ80, Donnie is sporting the Toyota 4X4 PickUp Truck and I am wheeling the very vented 1992 FJ80 with the 3FE “get-out-and-push” motor!
We stop by Jay’s aka BOING on IH8MUD, in hopes he can come out and play with us, but by the looks of his rig, he is not coming out. He does have a perfectly capable Toyota 4Runner, but his deck needed some looking after and his “honey-do” list looked rather long. Maybe next time! Yes, this 80-Series and Justin’s RLLC80-Series pictured above are the two 80-Series Land Cruisers of subject in the ‘MUD thread: “Red Line Landcruisers ” The Tale of Two 80’s” Build.”
On with our day! Some 40-miles west from Red Line Land Cruisers here in Colorado Springs is the small town of Florissant. We hang a left here and I am immediately excited as this is a road I have yet to explore! Justin led us down the long slinky paved road that became evident that would lead us to even more snow coverage. Nervously, anxiously excited!
We soon pull over and air down for the days activities. Today I am airing down to 15-psi in the front and 14-psi in the rear. EVERYTHING is out of the rear of my rig! The rear seats, sleep-storage tray and most everything else. I do have my Pelican 1510 Tool Case which adds a little ballast but not as much as I normally have in the rig. I’ve ran lower psi on the Falken Wild Peak AT3W’s, as low as 12-psi front and rear on another snow day in Rattlesnake Canyon just outside of KOH, but that day was a slower leisurely pace. Rolling with Justin, I know I better have a little extra psi…
The snow has that “right amount of traction” to make it fun and not so “slippy” – right – over crest. We are making our way through the woods and it’s just awesome to be out in nature again, driving my rig! I will take as many days like this over one big two-week long trip a year, as this is therapy!
While it’ fun to drive my own rig, it’s also fun to watch the other rigs in the elements. It took a few tries, but I have Justin in his 80-Series out front and Donnie in his ToyP/U out back – all in one shot! Can’t wait until Donnie has his 60-Series up and running and we will be an all LC-fleet! But too, the Toyota 4X4 P/U truck is so cool and simply works! Makes me miss my ’85 Toyota desert pre-runner!
It’s always interesting to see how the light and conditions are always changing as we go from sunny with dirt-spots to cloudy to full-snow coverage.
To back to sun and dirt-spots. Colorado Springs has been deprived of it’s traditional snow fall this season. But too, I need to get the ADV80 fully sorted for some serious snow wheeling so I see this as a window of time to get my junk sorted!
We are happy with our day as is and we are OUT IN IT!!!
And then happened… Of course that is me back there…
Let’s start with this… I watched Justin drop into this icy hole and pull out with no problem. While I know Justin has his large 37×13.50R17 Cooper Tires compared to my 34″ Falken Wild Peak AT3W’s, this has nothing to do with what tires… Even though Justin’s bumper practically dragged the ground and the ground is covered in ice on both side, I simply slipped right in behind him. This is where everything stopped. OK, not everything, just my ADV80 STOPPED! The ol’ ADV80 has been suffering from a bad ACTUATOR ASSY, TRANSFER SHIFT (36410-60050) for a very long time, thus my front tires simply did nothing and the rear tires spun on the ice. So simple – so bad. I needed this to make me break down and make the purchase. But after two bad used ones, I am going with a brand spanking new one this time and it will be wallet OUCH for sure, but I need my rig to be 100%! And yes, I have highly considered going with the Marlin Crawlers Center Diff Spool, but I do like the AWD aspect the the FJ80. But who knows… that may come later. I do have manual locking hubs on the ADV80 already…
Yes, I have no problem sharing the “REAL” with you! There is ZERO shame in my game! I get stuck and have issues just like everyone else! I like to keep it real because out here in the outback is as real s it get’s and I don’t want you to think that everything is “hunky-dory!”
OK, on with the comedy! Justin slid back as I pulled out the my tow-strap to hook on. It was a simple extraction and I was very stoked I wore my Sorel Caribou Winter Boots as I had to step down into the icy water to mount my strap. Having wet feet for the rest of the day would have been miserable!
Now it’s Donnie’s turn to pull through the ice-pit and he made it through with open-diff’s only to have a divot-tire-trench of ice on this side of the bigger hole – hang his diff up. It was at this point we realize the whole area is complete ice and simply walking around the rigs is super sketchy! Donnie pulls his winch line to tie onto me and he starts reeling my rig back towards him. Not the results we were looking for especially when we are talking about a pickup truck and a 80-Series, but this gives you an idea of just how slick ice is and how strong ice is at the same time. I get into my rig and give it the D-foward and still nothing! Since I still have my strap stuffed into my front bumper, I re-attach back to Justin and he pulls us all free of the icy mess. All quite comedy when you have all your friends with you and all the capabilities to extract one another. But had this just been me and my wifey solo in the ADV80, I would have approached the hole very differently by putting the driver tire up on the rock and splitting the middle of the hole. Would have I made it? I don’t know, but I know my approach would have been very different. Note to self, I still need to make that C4RS Recovery Gear purchase!
We get off that section of trail, sort our bearings and choose where to, what direction next. Onward!
When I am solo, I tend to “stop and smell the roses” more like old man “10-100 stops” and capture quite a few images. But today I have to act fast to capture images with this crew as we are wheeling our way through the woods with very few breaks. But I am used to this as well, I have fun either way, but I am always going to try and snap a few with a little creative flair as such with this one of Donnie coming around the turn and I am framing the image with the tree and limbs.
I quickly turn and capture this one and hop back in and we are off chasing after Justin’s RLLC80!
Poser shot with just the Toyota’s…
Same setup with included Jeep XJ buddy…
At this point in our trip we have traveled from Florissant all the way over to HWY-67 and crossed over into Rainbow Falls Riding Area. Over in this section is “Mini-Moab” section of rock ledges that are either wet or covered in snow today but that doesn’t stop the crew from playing on the rocks. The video posted at the top shows more of the rock playing.
All “fun” things in the world of 4X4’s also involves stress. All in the name of testing the limited of our rigs ability.
While Justin was putting his RLLC80 to the test, we heard a little “squeal” and his power steering let out a squirt as he front tire was under some serious load! We could not find the source of where it leaked from. We topped him off and kept an eye on possible sources and we feel as though the power steering hose fitting, through the threads, let loose the fluid due to the high-pressure forces of the 37″ tire lodged between the rocks and the steering input used to direct the heavy 80-Series out of the wedge. Another item to add to the “TO CHECK” list back at the shop. And too, it’s time the “#RLLC80” 80-Series get it’s own “105-80 Steering Box Upgrade for 80-Series, with CRYO” UPGRADE! Always To Be Continued – Never Finished!
It’s around this time that we notice my rig is letting off some funky smell and it smells like the “rotten eggs” of the cctalytics are going bad. The ol’ 3FE with STOCK ORIGINAL cctalytics do have 327,000-miles on them! So it could finally be time…
On these little impromptu day trips, I don’t try to dictate the photo, I simply watch and wait and if I see “it” I snap it. Some are good, some are bad. It’s like the old days of shooting 35mm film / DSLR, I like the element of not knowing if you got the shot or not. This one of Donnie’s Toyota PickUp was the winner and the four others of the other rigs didn’t make the grade. Same time, I’m not shooting a ton of shots in attempt to get the right shot as that requires so much more time to edit through all those images just for “the one!”
If this was a “serious” shoot, everything would be different and I would have the DSLR and most time would be spent on location and lighting… BUT EVERYONE WOULD BE BORED TO DEATH! We are simply out wheeling and having fun, but I can’t help myself to always be looking for that shot! Too many years working for magazines… Too, there is nothing magical or great about this image so carry on – just my ramblings of what goes on in my head.
As we make our way deeper into the woods, we encounter a down hill that we choose to go down, but know that we will not be going back up it due to the amount of ice. It was a slip and slide affair down and now it’s a navigational forward only with two routes to choose from. I’m noticing the 3PM in the afternoon cast of light falling across the sky and the 1/2-tank of fuel in the ADV80. As we are all now up on the other side of the “slip-n-slide” hill we are now considering in detail our two route choices. The long route looks long and the short route… Well, I’ve been on enough of those to know that it can be the most time consuming – more so than the long route! But the long route has a few ups and downs, the short route is all down to the road we want to get to, just in a very short steep manner. And who knows if there are some creek crossings involved which can add considerable “time” to the travel. Before we just “plop” our rigs down here, I’m looking at my GPS and it’s not showing me this left – route we are looking at, it’s showing me there is “another” left – route ahead. So at this intersection of forward progression choices, we walk down a bit of the “short chute” to determine if it’s going to be viable route and to put some “bread crumbs” on my GPS to see if this is or is-not the left I am looking at on the map. We do asses that it will be another down and no-way back up route and we hike back up the hill, hop in our rigs and travel just a bit further to see if there is “another” left or is this the left we want. Sometimes in these hilly situations I have seen the GPS be off a few clicks, so I always like simply check my options.
While Justin “knows” the area, he said it’s been so long since he’s been back here, and everything looks so different when its under a white blanket. Thus, it doesn’t hurt to check! We quickly determine that the initial left is our left and down the elevator chute we go – one by one, spread out of course!
This section of trail was sketchy in the first 300-yards but soon landed us in the bottom of the most post-card like views of the day! This is one of those moments where I want to find my way back around and take 6X the time longer and shoot more images, but that would not be the case for today, but I am not sad about it at all! Rather stoked!
We see and make it to our connecting road; relief, sad, happy – all in one emotional rush!
LOVE THESE DAYS!!!!
Remember that horrible rotten egg smell I was telling you about…
As we are within visual sight of our second startup point, my rig starts running rough, like it’s only firing on three of the six cylinders and their is a very weird audible sound coming from under the hood like the horn is going off, but very muted. With that, steam start emitting out from right front vents on the hood. Something is very NOT right with my rig! At first we think it’s the radiator, but the hoses themselves are not showing overheating signs or the feeling of overheated – yet steam is coming out. Too, that smell is still there… but after removing the overflow bottle, it becomes very evident that the battery is having issues. The determination is that the alternator’s regulator has gone bad and is overcharging the battery! This not a good situation and could be very dangerous if the battery explodes! I’ve seen enough R/C batteries explode, mainly at races due to guys boosting their chargers to push more charge into the batteries, so I am imagining the size of my battery and what that could look like! SCARY! Fire extinguisher on stand-by!
While we are letting this battery cool, Justin is already in route to Woodland Park to get another battery! By the time he is back, both the battery temperature has dropped and so has the temperature outside as the sun is going down fast!
So lets end it this way… I was so focused on watching the temperature gauge all day, the only time I really looked at the charging gauge was when I was at low RPM or stopped. Too, with the new battery installed, the ADV80 fired right up and the alt-gauge is looking normal.
With my rig running I start airing up which is a 20-minute process.
The moon is coming up from behind the trees…
I get out on the road, up to speed and there goes the alt-gauge to the roof!
I have two choices; (A) start the vehicle and unhook the alternator and drive until the lights start going dim OR (B) Drive a few minutes with the most minimal amount of throttle input and stop every ten minutes or less to let the battery cool down. I opt for (B) as I stop in Woodland Park to grab a burger and let it rest. I coast as far as I can from Woodland Park to Manitou Springs (13.6-miles) of which I was very surprised as to just how far I could coast and exceed posted speed – coasting the 80-Series!
Once into Colorado Springs I stopped and did a little social post to the Red Line Land Cruisers Instagram Account.
I made it safely back to the shop at around 7:30pm.
• New alternator is on order, but unfortunately both Toyota and Denso have disco’ed the 1992 FJ80 factory replacement.
• ORDERED: ACTUATOR ASSY, TRANSFER SHIFT (36410-60050)
Can’t wait until the next trip/s! Might find me on one of these:
CO – Colorado Land Cruisers 2022 Trail Schedule – IH8MUD