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Gene

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 #1 
I drove about 6,000 miles in the Sahara. The transport trucks had tires about 6 feet tall. They drove fast and produced washboard. Bigger the tires, the bigger the washboard. I had a Mitsubishi L300 4wd van with 33's. I had to drive at 10 to 15 MPH, each washboard bumps was the size of those concrete stops in parking lots. And the crown in the middle of the track made by these trucks with 6 foot tires was near impassable.
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RevDirt

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 #2 
And they are not very clean either. Too bad they don't wash your clothes as you go. 
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JoltinJim

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 #3 
if youve ever been on a trail used by long travel suspension motorcycles the above is even more evident. the washboards we see on roads become "whoop tedoos" on a motorcycle trail. endless up and down 18 inch rollers............
Oobleck

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 #4 
Here's the definitive answer from The Straight Dope. I've heard this before from several sources: 

According to Tom Pettigrew, a Forest Service engineer, the cause is an unlikely source: your car's suspension. (Well, maybe not yours specifically, but it's not innocent in this matter, either.) A vehicle's suspension system distributes the shock and energy of road irregularities with a bouncing rhythm called harmonic oscillation. At each downstroke, the wheels exert extra force on the road, causing the particles in the road to either pack or displace at regular intervals. Once a pattern of ruts starts to establish itself, it becomes self-reinforcing due to what engineers call forced oscillation.  The next car hits the same irregularities in the road and bounces at the same rate, causing the pattern to become more and more defined. Forced oscillation overcomes minor variations in oscillation rate that might otherwise arise due to differences in car weight.

That's the gist. The complete story is here: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2075/what-causes-the-washboard-effect-on-unpaved-roads
redondo dave

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 #5 

One thing Turtle Jim said to me was '' He would rather spend the extra time driving in somewhere going slow and enjoying the journey than spend that time under his vehicle fixing it when it broke by going fast.


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Major Tom

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 #6 
and he also said: no one ever saved time by driving fast  ... and here is a small remembrance of one of the best men I have ever known

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RevDirt

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 #7 
In the words of Turtle Jim    
" Nobody ever broke their vehicle by driving too slow"


Dang I'm going to miss that guy. 

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Sierra Shadow

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 #8 
Yeah, it says to drive under 10 MPH.  I can't do that.  I wish I could drag something to at least mitigate the damage that I am doing.  But at the speed I drive  I am concerned that it could damage my truck.  Any suggestions would be appreciated!
Major Tom

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from my  years of living out in Saline, it was my experience that winds tended to fill in the washboards. the best prevention for washboards is to slow down, but that isnt going to happen
XPBC

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 #10 
All this time I was sure washboarded roads was caused by the wind.  But I also believe the Racetrack rocks are moved by the wind.
I read somewhere that driving in 4x4 and disconnecting sway bars makes for a smother ride.  I have tried it many times but could not tell the difference between 2 and 4wd.  Now I don't use 4wd unless I need it.  I feel there must be some undue shock thru your drivetrain between front and rear differentials while on washboard roads in 4wd.  As far as preventing the formation in 4wd sounds possible maybe but I'd rather save the wear and tear.
azl

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 #11 
great info. I took out the extra space in your first link so it works now!

http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF12/1291.html

I had read awhile back that using 4WD helped to prevent the formation of washboards.

Major Tom

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 #12 
For whatever reason, the first link on washboards comes up with an error, though it's a valid URL. If you're interested, just copy and paste the link in your browser and the article will come up.
Major Tom

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 #13 
a few interesting articles on the phenomena of washboard roads from the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute (with a name like that, who can argue?): http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF12/1291.html  and why roads corrugate: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF6/619.html
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