The Mighty Merc – 6th ORT – Flat Nasty Off Road 2-10-18

Yes, 6th trip. I only took one photo from the 5th trip out so you’ll just have to use your imagination on that one!

After a few stops on the way down to scrape off the windshields from the freezing rain we encountered, we arrived at Flat Nasty to find that we had the park nearly to ourselves. Apparently not many goofballs want to brave the cold and freezing rain to go play on the rocks!

Given that it was dang cold, and I was often holding a kid, the photos are lacking a bit. Which is often the case these days. But here’s what I’ve got

We covered a touch over 6 miles in the park:
Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Photos form the day:
Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Pop riding shotgun:
Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

The kids were done by the end of the day:
Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

We ran into more freezing rain on the way home. Lots of stops to clear off the windshields, but we made it back just fine:
Sara L.: 6th ORT Flat Nasty 2-10-18 &emdash;

Another good day in the woods even though I mostly stayed out of the fun spots in the park. Wrenching in the cold just didn’t appeal to me that day! I still managed to nearly blow out the Drivers side rear window, and the tie rod was frowning at me by the end of the day.

Over all, the truck still works pretty well. Once I get into the new house, I hope to address some areas to improve upon things.

Link to the photo album form the day (Click ME!)

The Mighty Merc – 4th ORT – SMORR on 10/14/17

After the successful CO trip under our belts, it was time to start beating on this thing a bit. So on lucky Friday the 13th, I loaded up solo to meet some friends down at SMORR in Seymour Mo. Burned out of St. Louis on the back roads:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

And pulled into SMORR with just enough time to slap the tent up before nightfall:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

As daylight broke the next morning, I was amazed to see how full the campground was. There was a customer appreciation day going on with Sam’s Off Road shop out of Tulsa OK and they drew a heck of a crowd:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

We loaded up everyone (Including the camp dog) and rolled out for some fun:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Still a lot of green in the trees down there right now:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Just getting our feet wet as we worked our way over to Wagoneer Hill:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

I wound up leading the group which meant that I got to work my way to the top of waggoneer hill first. All was going fine until the last ledged which wound up kicking me over into a tree. I managed to save the rear glass, but the drivers side mirror bit the dust. This was a bummer as you really can’t see out of this thing, and now without a mirror that meant even larger blind spots to work with:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Unfortunately, the Bronco lost a center pin in the rear leaf, which caused the rear end to shift enough to cause the rear DS (and yoke) to die. So we snuck him out the rest of the way on Rocky Road as he followed the MJ:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Side note, maiden voyage on the MJ, the thing worked good!
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

After tying up the rear DS on the bronco:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

We wandered our way back to camp for lunch:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

After lunch, played around on Flex N stuff as well as V notch:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Working our way to the other side of Rocky Road:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Unfortunately, there is where the MJ had its first little issue:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Thankfully, he had a spare. So while he swapped it out, we ran up and down the trail a few more times for fun 
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

The trail dog is still happy to be along:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

After getting him going again and dropping the MJ off, we ran around a few other areas of the park. I managed to bend down my passenger side rocker really good when I caught in in a nook and used the Merc’s weight as a leverage. I did managed to bend it back mostly flat, however, the frame is a bit tweaked on that side now:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Others played around on the entrance to the rattler, but it denied us that day. I spared the Merc the damage as it would have ate the rear doors since it kicks you into the wall as you climb:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

Not many pictures after that. We played around on Double Whammy for a bit (we actually all made it up), and Larry’s hill (that’s changed a lot!). While we all made it up the hill, there was a bit of a recovery effort on the old YJ as he first lost a hub, then the rear drive shaft.

Saturday night was full of lies around the campfire and good times! I should have just slept in the Merc though as about 2:30 in the morning, the cold rain came in and proved to me once again that my tent is not weather proof. So after 6 years of use, I didn’t feel bad wadding the thing up and chucking into the dumpster on my way out of the park:
Sara L.: 4th ORT 10-14-17 SMORR &emdash;

As far as the damage report goes, the Merc needs a mirror, and I need to bend my transmission cross member back down (it frowns now making the T-case hit the body). Otherwise it came out pretty happy.  For better or worse, it’s just like wheeling my old Ranger.   Which is to say, it’s big, heavy, clumsy, and I can’t see boo out of it!

Link to all the photos I gathered (Click Me!)

I do have some videos from the day, but since we are in the process of selling our house (It’s under contract) and building a new house, I’m not sure how soon I’ll get around to looking at them.

Colorado 2017 in the Mighty Merc – Final Thoughts on Thursdays Trip home

So no photos on this post as apparently we didn’t take any on our trip back home. Just imagine the rolling hills of Kansas as that’s what we saw during most of our daylight hours. We woke up before dawn and hit the road. Sunrise saw us sitting in Denver rush hour traffic, and Kansas was many hours of triple digit heat and a 40 mph cross wind. In the end we made it home without an issue, though very tired. I still made it into work the following day so the trip timing was a success.

All that windshield time gave me some time to think about what worked and what didn’t work using the Merc as our adventure rig. Over all, it worked out pretty well.

The good:
– It was fairly comfortable to ride in for all those hours on the highway, and really isn’t too taxing to eat up the highway miles in it.
– We were able to hold all our crap in it (Tools/Luggage/Kid Crap/Etc)
– The old 5.0 had enough gumption that power really wasn’t an issue other than when we were climbing up to the Eisenhower Tunnel.
– This thing is way overbuilt for what we typically do on vacation wheeling wise. Which made it nice to not have to worry about getting in over our head.
– Turns out the thing isn’t too wide to run around on the shelf roads!

The Improvements:
– Fuel MPG blows. The best I saw was 12 mpg, with a lot of single digit tanks thrown in there as well. With the cross winds in Kansas, we were getting 9 mpg. With the smaller sport tank, that means we are getting 160-180 miles out of a tank. I either need to figure out how to eek more mileage out of this (not likely) or build an auxiliary fuel tank to carry more fuel (more likely)
– As much as I don’t want to have a 37” tire hanging off the back of this thing, I’ll probably need to make a swing out carrier. We had enough room for everything in the truck, but it was tight. Getting the spare out of the cargo area would free up a lot of space.
– I need to add another leaf or two in the rear pack. We were pretty much on the bump stops with all the crap we had loaded in back. Along those lines, I’d really like to put some air bump on this to smooth things out a touch more when we do actually hit the bumps.

The Ugly:
– For whatever reason, the front locker does not always want to unlock which made some of the switch backs interesting.
– Had a wheel seal in the rear fail near home, and a front axle seal started weeping as well.
– The crawl box popped out of gear three times on me. Once under load, twice while coasting. I think I need to increase the detent pressure a bit on the shifter as it shifts in and out of gear very easily. I never did catch it in action while popping out so it is possible that my pant leg happened to catch the shifter or something. Either way, it’s only popped out of gear 4 times in the past 10,000 miles so I’m not sweating it.

Over all, pretty successful trip! The complaints and mechanical issues really aren’t that big in the grand scheme of things. The only thing I’m really bummed about is the abysmal fuel economy. While I never expected it to be that good, I was disappointed at how bad it was. The real surprise there was the off-road mileage being in the 6-7 mpg range just doing some easy running of the shelf roads. Considering we would like to do some longer off-road trails in the future, I’ll need to figure a way to address that issue.

I will say that one thing I never got used to was how much attention this thing garners. Literally every time I would park it I would come back outside I would find someone grabbing some photos of it. Kind of cracked me up!

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