Registered: 1358576537 Posts: 11
Personally I'd find a local 'llantera' (or other small, locally owned tire shop/garage) and ask them to show you how to do it and kick them $5-10 or 6 pack or whatever. Those kind of places typically have messed up tires and rims around and could run you through it and let you practice if they aren't busy. For the large chain shops it's a liability and they will almost always try to sell you some crap. Plus, it's not a terrible idea to establish a relationship with a local tire shop for when you actually need help down the road.
Note that in addition to the plug kit, you'll want some pliers or something to pull our the source of your puncture. Also, the large shops will almost always try to tell you that you can't plug a puncture unless it's like within 1" of the center of the tread. That's bull. If you have a flat try to plug it however you can. Sidewalls included. Even if it only gets you another 10 miles, that's 10 miles closer to home. And if a sidewall plug does get you home, you may begin to think it's legit to keep driving on that sidewall plug; it's not.
Registered: 1553194182 Posts: 2
I think it's great idea to practice plugging tires at home before doing it in the field. But how do you set up a realistic situation at home. I don't have a old tire I could just puncture to practice on.
I guess I could go to a tire dealer and as them if they have an old tire to use. Any suggestions?
Sparky of SoCal
Registered: 1293639657 Posts: 90
Romy you make a lot of sense. I agree with most everything you said. This subject is the one I get the biggest pleasure in following. I have to stop now so as not to have my post pulled. Not to say people don't have the right to do it.
Registered: 1358576537 Posts: 11
I've not had a flat in SV, but did pick up a nail coming in South Pass a few years ago which yielded a slow leak. Never had an issue on North, Steele, or Lippincott. I think flats are generally a mix of tire condition and driver experience (or lack thereof). There is indeed something to be said for having good tires with a good driver, and assuming adequate clearance, the vehicle is kind of irrelevant. I've been to many remote areas of the west in my VW Bus (on 14" factory-spec LT tires). Regarding tire or rim size, tires with a sidewall apsect ratio >0.65 are also a good idea for dirt roads but rim size isn't very relevant...14" rims with 185R14C tires on a VW Bus or Vanagon work just fine.
I'd also mention that never fail at SV I hear someone mention no one should be driving faster than X mph on the dirt roads because it creates washboard. X usually is between 10 and 25mph. I believe the speed you get washboard at is a bit slower than that even - one source says 5mph (http://perso.ens-lyon.fr/nicolas.taberlet/washboard/) The chance of people driving 5mph into SV is near-nonexistent. But there is indeed a sweet spot where you 'get on top' of the washboard, and that seems to vary by tire size. In my 4runner with 33" tires, that's about 40mph. In my Subaru with 27" tires, it's about 45-50mph. And so those are the speeds I go on dirt roads, in SV or not (I live in central NV - dirt roads abound). Maybe for those folks coming from concrete jungles, 5mph for 40 miles is fine, but for those who live off of dirt roads, it would be laughed at for the well graded state of Wacouba-Saline road. Heck, all the park rangers I've come across in DV have indicated they drive 45mph on the remote gravel park roads to stay on top of the washboard. The most important thing on any remote trip is to know your vehicle, know it's condition/limits, and pay attention while driving. Dirt roads are, obviously, dirt and can change day to day. After one storm in my valley this past winter, the road from my place to the nearest hot spring developed one hell of a gully overnight, which was quite the surprise at 45mph! Carry an 'oh shit' kit (full size spare tire/plug kit, tools, parts), and have a plan if things go south. Practice plugging a tire at home; the first time you plug a tire should not be in the middle of nowhere, miles from help. Even in a rental, if I know I'm going to spend a majority of the trip on dirt, I'll bring or pick up a cheap plug kit from harbor freight or a truck stop, especially given most rentals have cheapo tires and a donut spare. And it should go without saying that on any remote trip, always let someone know where you're going.
Registered: 1521079894 Posts: 13
Re: sweet spot. As mentioned that differs with the road condition and vehicle. In my old ‘70 Ford F250 4x4 simply putting the truck in 4WD smoothed things out considerably. But in my old ‘96 Chevy S10 4x4 and current ‘02 Tacoma 4x4 TRD, that doesn’t work. In my experience with short wheelbase, lighter trucks, the sweet spot is harder to find.
My practice when running the valley - and all DVNP and regional dirt roads - was keep it 25-35 unless recently graded. The last time I traversed the valley, it was with a group of several rigs. We had just descended Lippencott. I was last in line and got off from the junction with the main road about five minutes after the group took off for CA190. It was dusk and I went faster than I like, maybe 45. Just before hitting Grapevine Canyon, I felt two solid items hit my bare feet (I changed into flip flops at the junction). At the junction of CA190 I looked and found two bolts that had fallen from within the dashboard. To this day I have a substantial resonance rattle in the dash over course pavement and wasboarded dirt. Apparently the bolts fell from near the top of the dash, for by applying pressure on the top center of the dash close to the windshield quiets the noise. __________________ D.A. Wright
Registered: 1552194988 Posts: 2
Just go slow on North pass, 10/15 miles per hr. Just plan on taking your time. Once you get over the pass and down to the abandoned mining camp (coming out from the valley) the road lightens up. From Racetrack, Lipincotte is rough. I would not recommend it solo. Lots of washed out spots and you need a vehicle with a more narrow wheel base as you will be challenged multiple times passing those washed out sections. I've driven every pass and North pass in and out is the easiest drive, except when there is snow on the high side, but still doable and it has the most traffic, so should you encounter trouble you can bet it won't be long before someone comes by. Good luck with future travels.
Registered: 1449274480 Posts: 28
Posted this on Road Conditions also...I have a current CA motorcycle license plate I found in middle of road before heading south over South Pass. I suspect it was from the bike that blew by me...
Registered: 1352577679 Posts: 148
and Piano Dan makes it to saline with his 3-cylinder Toyota (without the piano that time)
Registered: 1355848803 Posts: 50
Had a couple bugs also. They were definitely subject to overheating. Somehow me and my girlfriend at the time went in for a week. I guess I drank less then or something (I seem to remember drinking more). No idea how we packed it all in there. One time my friend was there at the same time with his bug, and he blew the engine on the way out and we actualy got all 4 people and most of the gear in the bug, crazy!
Registered: 1340329003 Posts: 268
One can try to make it in any vehicle one desires. I was only stating the obvious concerning what type of vehicle setup should be used for safe and uneventful travel on the Saline Road.
(I ran Baja Bugs off road back in the day. Fun, fun. But even with the big oil coolers we ran, had to be careful they didn't heat up in 100 degree weather. Also couldn't carry enough supplies to make a Saline run feasible.)
Registered: 1355848803 Posts: 50
Paul and SMH, great detailed posts! I agree also, there is a sweet spot as far as speed, depending on conditions of the road as well as the vehicle.
Registered: 1276656701 Posts: 8
Paul, I am not so sure about the karma aspect of it one way or the other but:
"Smaller than 15 inch tires shouldn’t be out there. P series tires shouldn’t be out there. Only a decent vehicle, good ground clearance, and correct tires. Only thing that should be out there."
I guess if you're speaking using very generalized terminology; I agree that would be the general rule of thumb to go by for the vast majority of drivers today. But as an all-out statement of should or shouldn't for everybody, IMHO, is too restrictive. As I have stated before, I have been out there with Volkswagen rabbit pickup truck and Volkswagen rabbit hatchback. Both had 13 inch wheels and passenger (P) type tires. Both were loaded close to the maximum gross vehicle weight rating. And I was driving a lot of the road (S and N Passes) between 10 and 25 mph; (the "sweet spot" speed differs from vehicle to vehicle because some things like suspension, tire diameter and wheelbase, etc.). FWIW, FYI, I have decades of experience driving on seasonal, steep grade, dirt and gravel roads. I started driving when I was too young to have a driver license (I had a "Junior Permit" when I was 15, but was driving on private roads from age 13), I learned how to drive on dirt, gravel and sometimes mud of varying types on those private roads and occasionally used Jeep trails with only 2wd pickup trucks and even with a Volkswagen bug! Sometimes in some places, particularly the narrow and sharp turns on Jeep trails and makeshift driveways, the Volkswagen bug frequently fared better than some of the 2wd pickup trucks did. Particularly the 1/2 ton long wheel base 2wd pickups with minimal tires, even though the 2wd pickup trucks had a good amount of weight in the bed for traction. Anyway, compared to the average driver I had more experience by the time I was 18 on unpaved dirt, gravel, muddy, country back roads like saline Valley Road and the like then do the vast majority of drivers on the road today. That being said; I'm sure an inexperienced driver on such roads, any time of day, but, particularly at night, driving in the same conditions I was driving in without an 'experienced' knowledgeable guide, would have a high likelihood of experiencing: flat tire/s, or a blown shock absorber, maybe failure of a sway bar link bushing, or a rock getting 'flung' into an the area between axle boot and control arm and tear the boot exposing the CV joint to the sand, dust and whatever else. Also, at high risk of experiencing a spin-out or at least major fishtail/drift 'incident' and potential of serious accident or going off the road and getting stuck and causing flat tire/s... ...Also, because of the low ground clearance (of VW Rabbit and other like vehicles with 13" wheels, etc.), are very susceptible to a rock damaging or penetrating through the engine's oil pan. I took my time (at least that is what I thought at then anyway) and knew where to place the tracking of the Volkswagen Rabbits. Also, the 1st and 2nd time I drove into Saline Valley I went with somebody that had been driving Saline Valley Road since the late 1960s. It was the mid-1990s the 1st time I visited SV. My friend who 'guided' me had approximately 30 years of experience driving Saline Valley Road at that time. Oh did I mention I was 'shade-tree' auto mechanic for 30+ years? Anyway, I always thoroughly inspect any vehicle I go into a remote area with, particularly Back Country Byways, National Forest roads, and other such long and rough remote area roads. Most drivers don't have the no-how for spotting and taking into consideration various vehicle particulars if/when "inspecting", nor do they have the decades of experience living and driving on such roads. All that being said, It's difficult to emphasize enough that there are times and places where "knowing" IE: checking for where potential 'impassable' point ahead may be, or if/where the next doable turnaround location is, etc., and, of course, parking, getting out and walking to check on road conditions ahead; and, even when it is 'inconvenient' to do it anyway... ...and doing it over again multiple times when prudent to do so. KNOWING when to actually do any and/or all of those BEFORE committing and getting stuck (IE: stranded vehicle) Or alternatively, when in doubt, feel too 'inconvenienced', not confident, or whatever else, . knowing when to just turn around and go back BEFORE going any further is oftentimes best I am speaking from 1st hand experience of doing those things in past not .
Registered: 1340329003 Posts: 268
Extremely valid points. Bad Karma to take rental vehicles into the Saline Valley. In spirit, the rental company would never want their vehicles down there. We went three years without going to Saline, very recently, as I was not willing to rent a vehicle and take it down there. My own vehicles were not in shape to get there for three years. Money problems. Check the pricing on renting a real 4x4, truck or jeep. Once they know you’re going to take the rental to the Saline Valley, the price structure changes somewhat. Smaller than 15 inch tires shouldn’t be out there. P series tires shouldn’t be out there. Only a decent vehicle, good ground clearance, and correct tires. Only thing that should be out there. As one acquaints oneself with the Saline Valley Road I think it’s reasonable to say that it’s OK to go 35 miles an hour on the washboard. And you need to be aware there are other dangers besides washboard out there.
Registered: 1276656701 Posts: 8
Yes, Paul, I do agree that there is a "sweet spot".
After 35 years of driving in and out of saline Valley, I'm sure anyone would know most of the places to watch out for the existing road hazards and be aware of locations where potential intermittent road hazard spots would be. invariably, the vast majority of people that go to the the springs these days, (including myself) do not know the road as well as someone who has gone there many times in the past 35 years. Not at all flaming because I know what you said is fact-based... ...As a reminder; the person who started the thread posed the original question about flat tires and also stated that they were going to rent a " RAV4 rental car" for the trip. Also FWIW, IMHO, the tire size should be at least 15 inch wheel size tires. Of course, most LT truck tires are 15 inch or larger. There are 14 inch wheel all terrain LT tires available but not very many. My old 78' Toyota Chinook 2wd mini camper has 14 inch all-terrain LT tires on front, (15" won't fit within wheel-well or firewall clearance), 15 inch all-terrain LT tires on rear, extra leaf springs on rear for higher rear bumper clearance with full load. I also added aftermarket 'lunchbox locker' type differential and it was re-geared to 4.56:1 gear ratio. I modified it specifically for desert roads like Saline Valley and Mojave High-Desert back roads. I have taken it to SV springs twice, and West end of Bradshaw Trail from Wilie's Well Rd Bradshaw Trail Intersection to Niland, CA. No flat tires and rear bumper is still intact and in good condition. Also, the difference between the 14 inch wheel size all terrain LT and street/highway LT was quite noticeable. It made a significant difference on all roads, paved, dirt, gravel, 'super-slab', wet and dry weather. The all terrain LT tires with wider footprint, more robust sidewall and more flexibility made a surprisingly large improvement on all road types and weather conditions.
Registered: 1340329003 Posts: 268
Well, here you go... I’m gonna be the fly in the ketchup. I believe if you drive 10-15 miles an hour on that washboard, all you do is give your truck or vehicle three solid hours of hard shaking. There’s a sweet spot at about 35 to 37 miles an hour where it will go over the top of the washboard, and be just fine. It has to be an adequate truck and I’m talking about a capable four-wheel-drive vehicle with LT heavy duty series tires. It will be OK. I’ve been going to Saline for 35 years and I’ve always driven 30 to 35 miles an hour on the washboard. Never got a flat on the washboard. Did have a P series tire problem and got a bunch of flats in a brand new truck. Other than that no problems. Again, with a very capable four-wheel-drive truck, and the correct tires.
( I know I’m going to get flamed by people who, might just agree with me, but don’t believe I should be voicing these opinions on this forum.)