Death Valley 04 Short Trip

Sometimes you get the feeling that something might wrong on a trip. This was such a trip. There was this funny feeling. The week prior, I put in a brand new alternator. Pep Boy rebuilds are just not as reliable. One of the radiator hose was close to the burnt wire near the alternator, but it was not leaking. I didn't want to dump the radiator fluid into the ground to change out the hose, and it was too late to bring it to a shop. Off I went on the trip. It will be taken care off after I return...

Part of the lineup of the truck at the beginning of the trip. We made a right off a dirt path soon after passing the town of Trona.


Down hill trail to Panimint Valley. It was a beautiful day. You could see for miles with the clear blue sky. Fish Canyon is to the left up.


Partway down the hill, my radiator hose sprang a leak. Then the engine started making a knocking sound. The last time it sounded that way, the valves were out of adjustment. Someone suggested adding some oil into the engine since we were going down a steep hill. A little duct tape and some oil latter, I was on my way again. The knock also went away mysteriously. Theory 1: Leak in hose caused cylinder head to overheat. Expansion of cylinder head opened up the valve gap which made the sound. Theory 2: Engine was starved for oil. We will never know what was the cause. The sound never came back again.

The rest of the group went in to Fish Canyon. A few of us stayed behind. I took the chance to put some zip tie around the radiator hose to reinforce the duct tape. One of the Jeep had oil blowing out of a new just installed breather filter. Some make shift baffle fixed that problem.


Mean while, Brett in his Bronco slashed a tire in a difficult location. He only had a small spare tire. Prior to this the other Bronco on the trip got stuck, and it took a while to get free. After an hour or so latter, Brett got the smaller tire on the truck, and with some careful driving, turned his truck around on the tight trail.Terry and a group of others walked on the find the elusive fish canyon grave site. It was not to be found even with Roger's GPS coordinate.

Brett decided to turn around and drive back into town to change out the wrong size spare tire. If he finds a right tire for the right price, he woud rejoin the group the next day. I decided to go with him to town just in case something else happens.


The worst was not over. At 60mph on the highway, Brett's small spare tire blew. We packed his family into the 4Runner, and made a trip into town. We got to the store just before closing and bought a used tire for $20. Even that one latter leaked after we installed it into the truck. Another trip to the tire store fixed it.

As for my radiator hose repair. It held out until just at the edge of LA when it started to leak a little. It would not have made it through the LA traffic on the 405. After a mini environmenta disaster by the side of the freeway and half an hour latter, I got a new hose in. The truck immediately ran better. It idle smoother, and sounded better. Curiously, a small leak on the Toyota will cause you all kinds of engine issues. Previous American trucks I had, small radiator leaks are common, and you will never notice it.

This year's trip was cut short. It was also the year that we had the best weather. It was blue skies all weekend. I ended up having to get my off roading fix in at a local Azusa OHV.