Video documentary of the Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek

SCX10_II_Rubicon_trekADV
Words/Photos: Rodney Wills

Back in 2013, we published a series of blog posts that I wrote documenting our efforts to take a bone-stock 1/10th scale Axial AX90028 SCX10™ 2012 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon 1/10th Scale Electric 4WD – RTR out of the box and drive it over the world renowned full-size Rubicon Trail.

Our Rubicon Trek took place in October of 2012, and those blog posts reflect each day’s events from start to finish. What those blog posts did not show is the video footage documenting this trip – until now! We have two video’s; one at 9-minutes long talking about the trip over video footage and the second one at 55-minutes that shows a lot more footage for your milk & cookies viewing pleasure.

The photos from that trip was purely secondary to the docu-trip as they were shot with a little Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS pocket camera carried in my pocket. The video camera and heavy duty tripod was the “heavy equipment” weighing in at 19-lbs. I did not shoot every square inch of the 15+ mile trail, so there was a lot of shoulder time with the camera as getting in-and-out of the Jeep was not practical as we had all the camp gear and equipment spread out in the Jeep once we were on trail. Regardless of the rigors I personally went through, I am very stoked to have the opportunity to plan, execute and document this trip. These videos reflect the Axial SCX10’s pure performance capabilities.

Need a jump-link to those previous blog post?
http://www.axialracing.com/blog_posts?cat=814

 

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: The Transit

Photos & words by: Rodney Wills

Hopefully you’ve read the pre-Rubicon Trail story “License to Adventure!” as it gives the lead-up to how this whole trip came about. If you missed it, I encourage you to read that post before reading this post: License To Adventure!


The weekend before we started our trip towards the Rubicon Trail, we first had to have the Jeep SCX10JK all nice and shiny for the Off-Road EXPO in Pomona, CA as it would be in the Maxxis Tires booth courtesy of Rebel Off-Road.

The following Monday we showed up at the Axial office to load all of our gear and slap knobbies on pavement for 10-hours to the Sierra Nevada’s. It took us longer than we expected to pack, and I got a little nervous as I wanted to be packed and gone inside of 30-minutes and that was not the case. It was a tedious game of Jumanji stacking all of the gear inside of the JeepSCX10JK. Yes, it has four doors and a spacious cargo area perfect for a family weekend getaway. But for four guys, gear, food, water jugs and the addition of R/C equipment AND camera gear, we were packed tight by the time we got everything sorted.


I finally took my first photo of the trip once we passed Los Angeles and over the Grapevine Peak on the 5FWY headed north.


This sign can mess you up if you are not paying attention to the arrows. It’s located at the 5/99 split about an hour and 45-minutes heading North from Los Angeles; practically in the middle of nowhere. So it’s kind of easy to just glance up and see the name of the area you want to go but miss the little arrow as to which side you need to be in to reach the destination of choice.

The right sign has the arrow pointing to the left and the left sign is pointing to the right. Either way will take you to Sacramento, but if you were to headed to Oakland/SF and took the 99, you would be doing some extra driving. Plus, you will find 99-ways to not drive on the 99FWY going bumpidy,bumpidy, bump… all the way! We are headed towards Sacto and we’ll turn off to head toward Lake Tahoe.


As we approach Sacramento, it’s getting close to afternoon rush hour traffic. To avoid the traffic, I start looking at the maps for small bypass roads to avoid the city altogether.

From the 5FWY we exited at County Road E13 to Twins City Road 104 into Lone, Ca. From there we took East Plymouth Highway 49 into the tiny town of Plymouth, California.


Heading north of Plymouth on HWY49, the name changes to the Golden Chain Highway and we run this up to HWY50 and on into Placerville, Ca. It’s scenic all the way and we’re busy making forward progression, but we have to stop for 10-100′s!


Did you know that South Lake Tahoe has a hobby shop? We didn’t, but we found it as we drove into town before sun down and before the store closed.

We spent some time with the hobby shop owner and made arrangements with him to leave Brian Parker’s “Red Rocket” in the parking lot as this would be where we would meet up with him and stuff his gear into our SCX10JK.


We would make a stop in town to fill up our 20-gallons of water for the trip. I hope you read my previous post that included how I determined we needed 20-gallons. If not, just jump back to the blog post and read our water, food & waste itel: axialracing.com/blog_posts/1073901855


And then the final stuffing of the SCX10JK!!!


The final gas stop before we head up Ice House Road to Loon Lake off HWY50. The station was closed but the pumps were open for late night fuel consumption.


Testing out the Rigid Industries bonus lights just before we get to our camping spot for the night.

Next post: Day-1 of the Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trail blog!

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: DAY-1 On The Trail


Photos & words by: Rodney Wills

First photo of Day-1 on the Rubicon Trail. We camp literally on the rocks at Loon Lake Staging area.


I shoot a photo of Brian Parker from my sleeping bag, sorry for the tilting earth. Parker and I camp under the stars in our sleeping bags donned with Bivy sacks.


ScottG is “glamping” with his cot. Yes, glamor camping…


Brad Dumont pitched the Eureka Timberline 4 tent. Maybe he was the most “glamporous” of all on this first night.


I detect a bit of frost on my sleeping pad as it was a wee bit chilly in the low 30′s. We are pushing the envelope of this trip in the first week of October.



We are tourist, first-timers except for Mr. Parker, so we take a survey of all the signs at the trail entrance.


We were gifted these bandana’s by a small group that was coming in to do some maintenance on the trail this morning.


Time to pack up and start our Rubicon trail journey!


We mount up our Trasharoo trash bag as we want to set an example of not leaving any trash behind on the trail. We also do not like to carry the trash inside the rig and plastic bags hanging off the back of the rig looks a little… well, trashy. Yes, we are victims of style and anything resembling a backpack I have the fever for. At least this backpack’s intention is for a GREAT cause!


Gatekeeper is the first obstacle we encounter, and it barely resembles the spectacular obstacle it once was. Parker told us stories about guys driving days just to get to the Rubicon Trail, only to be turned away by this very first obstacle due to breaking parts or not being able to physically pass through.


Once we get through Gatekeeper and on through a wooded area the trail opens up into this massive view that overlooks rock in every direction! When they named this area Granite Bowl, they were not kidding as it is granite in every direction. Its solid rock from top to bottom.


While we trust Parker’s navigation, we know we are headed in the right direction when we see a sign posted on a tree as we climb up the other side of the massive valley of rock and off into another section of wooded area.


Even with massive 37” tires the rocks seem to find their way to cramp the space below the SCX10JK. Good thing we are equipped with the ICON Vehicle Dynamics suspension and Currie Rock Jock 60 axles. Not that we have to have them to cross the Rubicon, but they do make obstacles less challenging; especially when we have the rig loaded down and self supported, these items help us remain focused on the task at hand: filming the tenth scale Axial SCX10 making its way over the same rocks and obstacles.


There is a trail down there and while it is an awesome view, there are also hidden challenges to navigate. For myself, and I am sure for my counterparts who are also Rubicon first timers, emotions are all over the place when the environmental conditions and terrain provide sensory overload.

And with the sensory overload it is time to interject yet another sensory overload – LUNCH!

Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Teriyaki, Scrambled Eggs with Bacon and Beef Stew are served up for lunch from Mountain House.

Add hot water provided by my little JetBoil PCS stove.


This would be the ultimate test, the moment of truth to see if these guys would like this Mountain House freeze dried food in a bag concept. This is what we’ll be eating for the next three days – three meals a day! With my history with ScottG, I already have a reputation of supplying “cardboard” for food as I like a wide range of “meal bars,” so I know he was going to be a tough critic. Then there is Brad, Mr. Meat & Potatoes and I am not even sure if he likes potatoes. Parker on the other hand, I think he will eat almost anything. Luckily, everyone was very pleased and rather impressed at how good the taste was. Our taste buds were lit and stomachs filled!


Lunch is served and it is time to hit the trail!


This is one of the rare shots of both rigs traversing the Rubicon Trail.

I will tell you now that you are not going to see many images of the SCX10 as my main mission was to document the whole trip in video, so all of these images came from the pocket camera on the fly. Whenever the Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon was in view, I would be peeking through a tiny hole of the video camera trying to keep it in fame.

I know you have seen the four minute and 44-second long The Axial Rubicon Trek (teaser) video, if not here is that video:

But, there is a scratch longer video in the works!


With well feed stomachs, we make way to Walker Hill.


It’s a nice hill from my perspective as I just see a bunch of boulders, nothing major. But my confidence has risen in both Parker’s trail knowledge and spotting ability as he safely put the full-size SCX10JK through the trail all morning.


We have quickly learned to trust Parker and our Maxxis Trepador tires.


Easy by-way? Yea, NO! I look back and see Parker is starting to have fun putting the full-size SCX10JK through the fun-line with a perfectly smooth by-way sitting on the outside… Parker! That’s our ride home dude!


The Maxxis Trepador’s seem to be right at home walking all over the obstacles.


We are almost to the newly rearranged Little Sluice as we flex the SCX10JK across this rock garden.


Upon arrival to Little Sluice the sun is on the descent and we look up at what we thought would be the end of forward progression for the tenth scale SCX10. I think I murmured this is going to take a long time in a short section. The Rubicon Trail mandate is that all vehicle travel must be within a within 50-ft of the trail. That is 25-ft to the left and 25-ft to the right. My mind is starting to race and ponder if we can actually drive the rig through this section. Brad and I do a quick reconnaissance of the trail before we begin the ascent – it’s just littered with bowling ball size gnar-gnar rocks from the recent reconstructive surgery to the Little Sluice. Brad does what Brad does best… he wheels through the cracks and crevasses and wiggles the Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon RTR through, over and around a mine-field of obstacles. It was not the prettiest. Saying we scraped is an understatement. To see what I mean, you’ll just have to wait for the video. We ate a lot of time, but Brad wheeled it from the bottom to the top! That will forever be burned into the memory hard drive! At that point, I knew we had earned that badge!


It’s always interesting to see how machinery adapts and reacts to nature as the full-size SCX10JK traverses through a small v-notch. You push the rig up the wall to clear the rock, trying not to inflict body damage on one side and gently slide down the wall to cut around the drop off that is just in the foreground. These are the same types of scenarios we try to put our R/C rigs into for the same visual effect. This was one of those fun moments to watch as this giant full size R/C rig [in Parker's mind] slithers through the v-notch as he spots the driver through the obstacle.


Making use of rock rings on the Walker Evans Racing wheels makes for a real “gritty” noise as it passes over the rock face and especially when we are out in the the quiet of woods. Brings up that whole thing about if a tree falls, does it make a sound? Of course it does!


As we approach our camp point we spot our first memorial of Mr. Richard Carl “Ritch” Theis. That is a very nice quote!

I personally think the main thing is, even if you never make it to the Rubicon Trail, you should get out there and find your own “Rubicon,” in your own backyard. Put yourself in motion on your very own adventure. Ritch and Nike collectively say it best…


I like these lucky shots. The lighting is just so-so and I am lined up on the tail light in a way that the red just burns through like the sun and casts a cool glow.


We make camp out on the end of this ledge as darkness sets in fast. From the ledge in the viewable distance would be Buck Island Lake.


END OF DAY-1! We quickly make camp and Parker asks for the big food bag. You know what that means!


Parker dumps all the Mountain House out and makes the dinner menu call, but more importantly, he is going on about spying the dessert earlier in the day… We hear a loud, “FOUND IT!”


The highlight of tonight’s dinner is Mountain House Blueberry Cheesecake for dessert!



Chef Parker was quite comical but he is down to business!



What a way to end a great day! Food and friends on top of the mountain! It’s a good time to reflect on the day’s accomplishments and the SCX10 did an awesome job getting through the whole day, without issue! Making it through the Little Sluice was no little accomplishment and for that we know the rig has earned its stripes! But, the mission is not over as we have more full size miles and full size obstacles to cover.

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: DAY-2 On The Trail


Photos & words by: Rodney Wills

The next morning starts Day-2 of our Rubicon Trail experience. Fresh Stance “boy scout” socks are ready to slide on and the NorthFace shoes are ready for another long day hiking the Rubicon. The sun is up and out and we are closing down camp to get ready for the traverse down to Buck Island Lake. Yesterday, the Axial SCX10 1/10th scale Jeep ran flawlessly! Brad had a blast driving the rig over the trail and I’m sure it burned his memory bank as an exceptional time and experience. This is his first time on the Rubicon Trail and he’s hiking while driving the Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon to earn that Trail Rated badge!

The breakfast of champions! Parker and I are fond of the Cranola with Milk and Blueberries. Brad and Scott are all about the Scrambled Eggs! Hey, food is important out here!

You’ve seen them before. You know how you feel when you see them in unexpected places… little tire tracks in the mix with big tire tracks. Just so cool! It makes you wonder what the next guy is thinking when he sees them? Is he an R/C guy?

Here we are coming into the Buck Island Lake area and our first real water crossing.

SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon RTR & SCX10JK – in all their glory!

Buck Island Lake makes for a great lunch location! Mr. Brian Parker is sampling the Beef Stroganoff with Noodles for lunch today.

Then he’s on to dessert. Yep, that’s an ice cream sandwich! I know what you are thinking… No, it’s not Adobe Photoshop CS7 with the new “ice cream lasso” tool. It’s a Mountain House Ice Cream Sandwich! Remember, we do not have a cooler for this trip.

You’ll have to try one for yourself!!!

Lunch is over and we make our way up to Buck Island Lake. Nice view and I make a mental note on those clouds, too. It’s a great day, but that could all change very fast.

Axial SCX10 Maxxis Trepador 1/10th tire tracks on the Rubicon Trail. Making tracks and doing work!

While hiking the trail and setting up for each shot, it was impressive to see the full-size Jeep SCX10JK come into frame and pass over the natural terrain. It would be the same as the Axial 1/10th SCX10 Jeep JK came into my viewfinder – looking just like any other rig coming though.

I would be breaking down the video camera from the tripod, I would look up and just giggle as the true perspective of what I just witnessed would sink in.

That was a 1/10th Axial SCX10 Jeep Wangler Unlimited Rubicon radio controlled rig that just drove by!

The other thing I noticed was that Brad would not always take the easy line. I later asked him about that and he said that he too, wanted the real challenge of the Rubicon Trail and to put the Axial SCX10 through its paces. So, at times he would look for those lines that would give him and the SCX10 a good challenge.

The funny thing about this photo is that this little snake is about the only thing we saw on the trail. We spotted him cutting across the road from the Buck Island Lake. But that’s not the funny part. The “funny” was being in town after the trip at the gas station and having people who were inquisitive about our trip and asking if we saw deer, bear, elk, dinosaurs, or Sasquatch. Nope. All we saw was this this little snake! We didn’t give the little guy any trouble and we don’t want any trouble from big mama, so we passed onward.

What was cool about having Brian Parker as our tour guide for our Rubicon Trail experience was just that… the experience! He has it and he shares it. With all that comes some history, as he explains to us geographically how the Big Sluice Box was before and what it took to navigate the terrain.

There were only three times on the trail, that, after we completed an obstacle section, Parker would give out a little sigh of relief and explain that this particular portion of the trail had been his nemesis. This would be the first of three of those area’s. We did not make it around the tree in the direction we are pointed.

We would back up, go right and over a very large set of boulders in effort to not inflict body harm to the bosses rig. Crossing the boulders was not a flat land easy pass either, but did not inflict body damage as the tree-rock combination would have.

While we opted out, Parker explained his trials and tribulations with his nemesis and added raisin body treatment. We thanked him for making our passes look and feel so easy with not a paint scratch. Parker does not like to personally back up and go around… We asked, so what are the next two? Parker replied, “no comment” and something about pleading the fifth with a smirk followed by a smile.

This section of trail was one of my favorite “scenic” sections. I could have spent a half day shooting this section! It was not the degree of difficulty, just something about the long skinny bed-rocked road surrounded by the tall trees that had an attitude about it. The trail was observed by these grand trees and anything on site was just miniscule. These were not super-grandios trees. I’ve seen those before. These tree’s filtered the light in a way that gave off an emotionally shaded tint. Of course the camera doesn’t quite capture that look or feeling… that takes extra time, extra work, extra forethought to pull the trigger in such a way to capture an image that gives those results.

DO WORK, DRIVER!




Looking back up from where we drove down you could see this nice long section.

Yea, we where there… we drove an SCX10 down that!

For me personally, this section was the gnarliest section of the whole trail. It looked like a mini Colorado rapids without the water. It just looked gnarly with loose boulders strewn all over the place and ledges dropping into holes the size of Volkswagens!

I think you can see it in Scott’s face that he agree’s with me about this waterfall section without the water is kinda ‘gnar-gnar…

Photos just never capture that true sense of what we saw. We felt like we were going down into the abyss of a black forest. Could you imagine this in the rain? Could you imagine this in the snow? How about on a unicycle? Well, we did it in a 1/10th scale off-road vehicle… that’s crazy talk!

When we did get to the bottom, we did find the abyss of black water!


This isn’t the food color induced black water lagoon at Disneyland. But, Bigfoot and Loch Ness do pass through the metaphysical senses.

And then we passed across the Rubicon Bridge that somehow seemed to transport us from the rough we had just transited through and onto the flat dusty two-track into Rubicon Springs where things seemed to calm down.

Jed Clampett, you in there!?

As we head out from Rubicon Springs it’s apparent that the end of Day-2 is nearing.

The museum of outhouses on the Rubicon Trail Trip 2012

Parker took a moment to practice his high flying tight rope routine. The rope broke – the dust settled and we moved on… nothing to see here kids. Tape erased to protect the innocent.

Parker announced “bonus points if you gently roll the back tire down and off the log…”

ScottG complied with the slow-roll request and an answered with a plush articulate dismount!

It’s getting dark but we’re almost to our prime camp location!

The tents are tossed and Chef Parker goes into action calling out tonight’s options from the Mountain House menu.

JetBoil PCS warms the water to wet the freeze dried food to warm the body. The end of a great Day-2!

The Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon RTR out-of-the-box after Day-2. Not a lick of work has been performed, no repairs needed, just pure driving bliss!!! What a way to end the day!

Restock your milk and cookies and read on!

If you haven’t read the previous entries, check them out here!

License to Adventure!

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: The Transit

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: DAY-1 On The Trail

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: DAY-3 On The Trail


Photos & words by: Rodney Wills

Day-3: The sun is up and I crack open my tent to check on my camp mates.

We set out for a morning hike as the terrain and views are epic. No one says it, but we know our trek is nearing the end so we want to take in as much as possible and cherish every moment! I’m thinking about my team back at the office who could not come on this trip and take as many images as I can so they too can share the moment. I’m also thinking about our work duties and who knows, you might see these images on future Axial boxes or advertisements. It’s all about the lifestyle that we live! We live to dream, we dream to live.

Lightning hit this tree, burned the center out and peeled the lower portion of the tree down like melted plastic. Just crazy how and what lightning can and will do. Nature inflicting nature.

Wutang Rock! At least that is what I am going to call it!!!

It’s a pretty big rock too as we contemplated a bug-out hut.

Peace Sign Rock. We came in peace and left it in its natural pieces… I’m sure the next heavy rain it will be gone.

That is not our paint. All our paint belongs to us!

So we get camp packed up and start making our way out and I notice how tight the trail is. This is not the Axial 1/10scale rig, this is the full size rig and that is full size paint left by others. I had to climb in from the other side of the vehicle to shoot this so you can get a perspective of just how tight the trail can be even on this relatively flat ground. When the rocks aren’t barking at your vehicle the trees will try to bite!

Time to pay respects when you get to Oakland Ave.

As we approach Cadillac Hill, located at “Oakland Avenue” we pass this memorial site. We pay our respects first and pass through.

Funny, as I sit to write this blog while looking at these images, this one in particular, a song pops into my head… Tyrone Brunson’s Sticky Situation. Yea, it’s on YouTube. Not that the situation for the Jeep is anywhere near sticky, but you get the point… Just play along with me please.

Then we arrive…


Cadillac Hill is #13 on the FunTreks EveryTrail map and a 10.6+ on the richter scale.

http://www.everytrail.com/guide/rubicon-4×4-trail-california/map#poi-9

I would say this was the second most challenging section of the Rubicon Trail, but who am I, I’m just a hiker hauling camera gear! In the first photo, that is Parker walking ahead to do a little obstacle reconnaissance. We also hear a group making their way down Caddy Hill. They made it look so easy as they traversed down, but their rigs where very well suited for the environment, but not big budget built or flashy, very home built and I liked them. I have to make sure the long-cut video includes them as they were the first folks we saw on trail over the three days.

As we crest Cadillac Hill it starts to drizzle on us.

Not minutes later and the drizzle has produced a wet trail ahead.

Is it 1:10th or 1:1?

While you know its the full size Jeep coming up the trail and it looks cool while doing so, my mind is wondering what is ahead? How steep is it going to be? How slick are the rocks going to be? Will it turn to snow?

Nothing to do but carry on!


We find ourselves under dense foliage and on dry ground, but the precipitation must have been isolated to the area behind us. Parker perks up, but for another reason…

We pop out of the woods onto a large slab of rock called Observation Point that overlooks the valley. You can see evidence of the rain that just passed through. But something is missing! You can’t have a glory moment without both vehicles in the picture!

Now that is the real glory in all its rain speckled and dusted-dawg honor! The Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon did us right and did us good!

And then…

It’s just not a handshake among friends in a posed photo without Parker having his signature “cradle shot!” Here ScottG gets the first lift. ScottG was our driver of the full-size Axial SCX10JK Jeep.

And then…

It’s Brad “Bender” Dumont’s turn for the cradle shot! He prepped and drove the Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon the whole way – every day! One for the record books.

And then…

With Parker being the master of the “cradle shot” we thought Parker should receive the treatment as well! While this is a small “victory dance” for the Axial SCX10′s accomplishments, this is not the end of the trail.

The good thing is…

We see blue sky ahead!

And it must be lunch time!

Parker said, “I got your blue sky right here in this blue bag holding all these blue sacks of Mountain House FOOD!”


Well, the blue sky has gone to grey, but the stomachs are full and its time to visually inspect the vehicles, mount up and head on down the trail!

The next section…



The trial from Observation Point to the Rubicon Staging Area transitions from the rocky granite to a more dense forest with a dusty trail with very minor obstacles. It became a rather boring transit even for the 1:10th Axial SCX10 with the only “excitement” would be running up on a couple of rigs who were coming into forest for the weekend.

As we arrive at the Rubicon Staging Area we see this very large map and Parker told us about how this whole area would be littered with trailers and tow rigs stacked into the large parking lots, but you would still be staging two miles down the road due to the amount of rigs attending the larger events. It was hard to imagine as we were the only people there with only two tow vehicles in the lot from a couple of guys who where coming in for the weekend. The threat of rain is high tonight so We all load into the Axial SCX10JK Jeep with camera gear and the Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon sitting in our laps and make our way towards town as we will crash in a hotel tonight.

Its not civilization…

But it is Lake Tahoe and we know our hotel is just around the corner.

I knew we had come to the right spot when I walked in the door and read this quote from Claude Monet! We stayed the night at the Lake Of The Sky Inn in Tahoe City as this is close to the trail head and most of all – affordable!

Now comes the celebration!

What do we do? We crack open the Mountain House food and add hot water boiled right from the JetBoil PCS stove! I know what you were thinking that we should be doing… But we drag the camera gear out, dig for cables to plug into the TV and start watching the video clips eating our Mountain House food right in the room!

Four 32-gigabyte cards filled to the brim! This little adventure is not over until we are home as we have the awesome HWY395 to transit back down from Lake Tahoe to Southern California.

If you haven’t read the previous entries, check them out here!

License to Adventure!

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: The Transit

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: DAY-1 On The Trail

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: DAY-2 On The Trail

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: Transit Home

Photos & words by: Rodney Wills

We drive 10-hours and hundreds of miles to get to the Rubicon Trail, spend three days traversing the Rubicon Trail and the following day at the gas station to fuel up for the transit home, we notice dribbles, fresh live dribbles! You know when you pull into the gas station you spend a minute looking around your rig checking any for fresh for fluids on the ground. The dribbles brings a quick double take and brings the pulse up! Closer inspection reveals that it is in fact ours and it’s coming out of the rear differential; and it’s enough to be truly worried!

Off to the local auto parts store we go!

With our past off-road experience we have all heard the noise, smelled the smell and know it only ends in disaster to push a rear-end with no fluid. It’s one thing when your racing; just call the troops and drag it onto a trailer, but this was our sole source of transportation home!

We have never seen Parker go into “get after it mode” like this! What we found was that the axle center section gasket was seeping oil on the left side of the cover. We dig out the tools and check for loose bolts and find that we indeed have loose bolts. Let’s pause and sidebar for a moment here. This is the first real shakedown with the new Currie axles. These axles come un-assembled allowing us to install our specified gearing and such – so this is not a Currie fault. With shakedowns, things just loosen up and when you have custom stuff like this, it’s going to happen! So, we simply re-tightened all the bolts on the rear housing and pulled the fluid dip stick on the axle! Yes, kinda’cool, the Currie Rock Jock 60′s have dipsticks to check fluid levels!

Pulling the dipstick out reveals there is gear oil in the axle but we do not have an indicator mark on the dip sticks. We scratch our heads at this point and call up the Currie crew and ask them how we are suppose to know how much fluid is suppose to be in the axle? We were informed that upon installation, add the recommended XXX quarts and make a mark on the dipstick indicator for future reference. OOPS!!! Service them enough and I guess you wouldn’t need the indicators but in this situation, it would be nice to know if we are in the safe zone or the “not drive home” zone.

While ScottG is on the phone with Currie Enterprises…


Brad is putting the “pinch-mod” on the muffler so we get better fuel mileage on the way back home. We ask him to change those muffler bearings while he is in there too. hehehe He is actually bending the muffler back out as the muffler got the ledge-slide-pinch. I think we need to install the Oakland Whistle Tip!

Now on with the fun!

We can not drain the whole axle and re-fill to get the correct top off level in the parking lot, but based on Currie’s experience and how much fluid is currently indicated by measuring from the bottom of the dipstick, we have not put the rig in harms way. We only need to do a little topping off, and what a relief!

To get a small amount of gear oil into the axle we have to pour from the bottle into the small funnel into the filler hole located on the front-top-passenger portion of the rear differential housing.

Parker loves origami, Twister mats, Rubicon trail snacks and long walks on a skinny rope. Dial 867.5309.2011 any time.[I truly made that number up on the spot so do not call it asking for Parker, please and thank you!]

Would you let a guy who wears these work on your rig? We would any day as long as they are attached to Mr. Brian Parker’s feet! Great tour guide and field service operations director!

We drop Parker off at the hobby shop where his “Red Rocket” is parked and gift him with the Trasharoo Off Road Spare Tire Trash Bag we used for this trip. Thank you Dave Druck of Trasharoo and THANK YOU PARKER!!!

It is time for us to make our way home and the way home is also very scenic as we travel down HWY395!

As we gain a little elevation, we realize that the rain that fell last night was in the sticking form of snow at the higher elevations. The crew was stoked that we stayed in the hotel. Personally I was a scratch bummed as I have yet to do my snow camp and have already missed two opportunities recently, but I am glutton for punishment.

From Lake Tahoe all the way to Bishop, snow had fallen across the mountain range that sits west of HWY395.

This is one of my favorite spots along the 395. This is looking over Paradise, California as we descend the Sherwin Grade approximately 20 miles north of Bishop, Ca. With a population of 120 at an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level it is a quite a little place that most do not see as the homes are out of view down below the ridge. On a previous trip, I was hitting side roads and found this place as a MTB path at the top of the grade caught my eye. I turned around, followed the path and found Paradise, California!

That is at least what the sign said, but upon further inspection back home on Google Maps it came up as Swall Meadows, California. Cool! Even better, not exactly “listed!”

Next up is Bishop, California which is a very cool little mountain town and base for Mt. Whitney. As I have passed through on several occasions, the local MX shop once had a short course track out front; small, but fun and right on the street as it was at the furthermost edge the the MX shop’s parking lot. But it went away. Then I noticed this little place on the edge of town on another pass through but never saw anyone out there. One day at the office we were contacted from this group from Bishop stating they were building a crawl course and asked for a couple of banners. We sent them out, and on this pass through Bishop we saw the banners!

We stop in and check out the development and were quite surprised by the facility! Let’s take a look at some of the trail features:



OKAY – YEA! That is a vehicle teeter totter! That is cool!

For many, this may simply looks like a pile of rocks. But, for all of us, this is a playground!!!!

If you are ever traveling thorough Bishop California on HWY395, pull into the Owensville RC Club and run a few laps or trails!

Owensville RC Club R/C
Race Track and Adventure Crawl Course located in Bishop, California 286 Meadow ln.
Bishop Ca. 93514

http://owensvillercclub.com/

We say our hi’s and bye’s, load up in the Axial Jeep SCX10JK and head home!

While this is the last photo for this trip, it is not the last at all, only a pause in the continual pursuit of exploring. While we have gone to the extreme level of traversing the Rubicon with the 1/10th scale Axial SCX10 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, we only wish to inspire you to make your own adventure. Limits are what you place on yourself – your dreams are achievable. We wish to give you the excuse, the courage and the thirst to adventure. Fun starts when tires touch dirt!™ Where pavement ends, the adventure begins™. Even if it is just on the edge of your yard! No matter if it’s five minutes or five days, seek adventure and pursue your quest!

Thank you for taking the time to read these words and visually consume these images.

Please visit the Axial Facebook page and post your adventure no matter the length of video time or word count. 1/10th scale or 1:1 scale and if both are mixed together as we have done, all the better!

Share your adventure!

Your ambassador of fun – rodney/AXIAL

If you haven’t read the previous entries about our Rubicon Trek, check them out here!

License to Adventure!

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: The Transit

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: DAY-1 On The Trail

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: DAY-2 On The Trail

Axial SCX10 Rubicon Trek PhotoBlog: DAY-3 On The Trail

License to Adventure!


LICENSE TO ADVENTURE! Story & Photos: Rodney Wills

Acquiring the Jeep licensing for the SCX10 chassis is landmark. This is Axial’s first automotive manufacturer license, but with it came a bit of a challenge. When working with Jeep on the licensing deal they were a bit hesitant to include use the Trail Rated™ badge. I found this quite interesting as they were willing to let us use the Jeep® logo and the signature 7-bar grill, but the Trail Rated™ badge they were protecting with a lot of pride, and rightfully so! I saw it on another level beyond the paperwork as a personal challenge or maybe I used it as the excuse to push me along to a personal challenge.

Warily they granted us the rights to use the Trail Rated™ badge, but I felt indebted, not in the monetary sense, but on the honor of what the badge stands for. So I wanted to unequivocally uphold the honor of what that badge represents and I was willing to take on the self-imposed challenge. And more importantly my team was willing to take on the challenge; most importantly Axial’s top brass were stoked on the idea of what we wanted to accomplish and willing to back us as well! This is not hard to believe when we have a vice president who is also active within the 1:1 off-roading community! All the while, our partners at the Jeep brand were completely unaware of what we were planning.

Jeff Johns [Axial Vice President] and Brad Dumont [Axial Public Relations / Media Specialist] got close to doing the Rubicon Trail during the Wheelers For The Wounded event only a few weeks prior to our SCX10 Rubicon trip plans. Their mission fell short with severe steering issues due to some very brand new aftermarket steering parts and modifications on the full size Axial SCX10 Jeep JK. No, it was not the new liquid filled 2-ton electric steering servo, but the mishap happened 10-hours from the office and a mere 40-miles away from the trailhead, only to unleash a sequence of long faces and lots of steering fluid loss. But it was better that they did not break down on the trail, yet as a result they did not make it out for the annual Wheelers For the Wounded event.

After the event I placed a phone call to Kevin Carey of Method Motorsports as he is one of the event organizers of the Wheelers For The Wounded Rubicon Trail Event. I was explaining the details about the steering issues as the reason our guys were not in attendance and very bummed to not participate this year as we have in years past. I told him we would attempt the Rubicon Trail again if he would be our tour guide. This time we would have a whole different purpose for the trip as I explained to him the idea of driving the 1/10th Axial SCX10 remote controlled 4X4 over the Rubicon Trail. The Axial SCX10 is a trail rig after all! We set the plans as we wanted to squeak in this last-chance trip over the Rubicon as the window of opportunity was closing due to weather. Yet, we were also planning the Off-Road Nation game release for that weekend during the Off-Road EXPO so we had to be there in attendance prior to making our Rubicon attempt. This stacked our schedules as we would have to make our Rubicon trip attempt the week after Off-Road EXPO. We have all the plans on deck and our last minute time juggle put Kevin out as he could not get the whole week off that we needed immediately after the EXPO.
I did have a backup tour guide in mind and a long laundry list in front of my eyes to check off! I was getting nervous! Time to tick off check boxes and fast!

Don’t think for a moment I didn’t want to be the man on the wheel of the SCX10 for this adventure, but I know my role on the Axial team is to dream up, capture and document, so I called Brad “Bender” Dumont into the office and asked if he had ever been on the Rubicon Trail and he replied that this was in fact on his bucket list to do, especially after coming so close just a few weeks prior! I asked for his first actual trip if he would be willing to hike it while driving a pre-production SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon RTR. He was in with a grin! Next call was to Scott G of Axial to ask if he was willing to drive the full-size rig to transport all our gear we would need for this trip. For some reason I chose this last call to be last as it was the most important, and the call went out to Brian Parker AKA: Mr. Axial Man and Recon Crawlers G6 mastermind as this would be my ultimate tour guide backup plan. I knew he had been very busy with previous events just the week prior and he has a full time job in the full size world, so I knew I would be pushing my luck. Also lurking in the back of my mind is THE FACT that I’ve never wheeled with Parker before! I know he has put in his time, but I still had to ask the questions especially the one, “do you know your way around the Rubicon?” He replied, “do you want to go in at the pitch of black at 2:00am, I will take us there!” Hmmm, I pondered and my brain flashed visuals of Parker doing some sort of spirit-dance.. and asked, “Do you know all the key spots?” Parker spouts off all the locations we want to check off the list. We are locked in! I’m good with my decision to have Parker as tour guide and vehicle spotter, but I’m not going to be in the full size rig while on the Rubicon, that will be Scott G’s job! Maybe Scott G will write a first hand experience of this adventure.

My biggest concern was food and water for four guys for three days and extra in case the inevitable happened. I wanted to be prepared. Scott G and I have been on this overland tip for a minute and had previously secured the mil-spec plastic five gallon water cans of which we would use for this trip. You are suppose to have one gallon of water per day, so four persons plus an extra gallon equals five gallons per day. Our trip is projected for three days, so we took four cans equivalent to 20 gallons of water. One gallon = 8.34lbs X 20 = 166.8lbs. You would think weight would be an issue but three of us would actually not be riding in the vehicle during most of the trek. Parker would be outside the full size rig navigating and myself and Brad would be out of the rig driving the R/C and filming. But all this stuff along with us included has to be packed into the rig for the transit from town into the Rubicon trail head and back out to town after the trail. We would be minus a cooler for ice to save space that we did not have. The nights would get down to the low 30’s so we would simply put out what we wanted cold the next day.

Food is next on the list and I did not want to make the preparation of food on the trail such a chore. Plus the transportation and preserving takes considerable precious space. With my backpacking and dirt biking adventures I have learned all about Mountain House food in a bag! Mountain House produces freeze dried food and meals that are lightweight, have a long shelf life [for all you preppers out there!] and are perfect for all types of outdoor recreation such as our Rubicon trip where space is going to be minimal! The Mountain House product is easy to prepare by simply adding hot water, stir, stand and EAT! All I had to do was sort our three meals a day from Mountain House assortment of various flavors, add a couple of snacks and a little desert for three days for four guys. This equals 36 meals to be served!!! It was time to visit our local REI store in Tustin, Ca.

To cook all the food, we employed the use of my JetBoil PCS stove to boil the water. It is small yet powerful as two cups of water boils in about two minutes. The Mountain House bags of food are designed to cook and eat right out of the bag! This makes food preparation simple by just boiling water, adding the appropriate amount to each Mountain House bag, stir and let sit for appropriate time, then EAT! This means no stove cup clean up! No plates or bowls to clean up! The clean up process would be as simple as flattening the Mountain House bag, reseal and tossed the remains into our Trasharoo spare tire garbage bag.

Next in line is the one topic most do not want to talk about, much less discuss at length, but that is simply why things become major issues on the scale that someone or some agency has to take action… What goes in, must come out and what comes out has become an issue in national forest due to the amount of visitors and the lack of self consciousness. SO, with the Rubicon Trail being located in the national forest, it has a “PACK IN – PACK OUT” rule – including all human waste! Yes, we are talking poop here! The Rubicon Trail has seen enough infestation of the “white flowers” as these “white flowers” have been imported from human bathrooms to singular deposits that seemed to have not been buried in a proper manner. Yes, we are talking about toilet paper piles on the ground – aka: white flowers. Due to this issue not only on just the Rubicon Trail, but in all of our major national forest with high traffic tourist destinations, the forest service have placed the “pack in – pack out” rule. No matter where you personally stand on the issue, it is an issue and you will be very upset when you find you are standing in it – in the middle of the night while setting up your tent. And now it has became policy or rule as no one seems to have read the book, “The Complete Walker” by Colin Fletcher & Chip Rawlings as proper human waste field service is discussed thoroughly in the this book.

To take things a bit to the next level and to deal with the imposed “pack in – pack out” rule I personally wanted to make sure my crew set an example and same time be comfortable while in the wild, so I obtained The PETT / Cleanwaste GO anywhere portable toilet® as they manufacture a rugged foldable commode and degradable waste bag system that packs flat therefore smaller that the “5-gallon bucket system.” Again, space and weight are the premiums and this PETT system is the best I have found. And for my personal off-road adventures, my family members consist of girls… comfort and ease of use is important stuff!

This is the moment you cue the Beverly Hillbillies or Sanford and Sons theme music. I personally like the Sanford & Sons music, “The Streetbeater” produced by Quincy Jones. The plans are set and the word to the guys is PACK LIGHT as we have one full size Jeep JK to fill with four guys, camping equipment, two SCX10’s, radio’s, batteries, R/C tools, 1:1-tools, recovery gear, supplies, camera gear, personal bags, sleeping bags, pillows, sleeping pads [and someone had to bring a cot], and tents (Parker opted for his Hammond Hammock tent). Our luxury items would consist of four camp chairs.

While the Axial SCX10JK is outfitted with a Rebel Roof Rack, I didn’t want to have big boxes on the roof rack as that would cut down on the gas mileage to/from the Rubicon Trail as that is a 10-hour tarmac transit each way plus I was not sure about the tree limb exposure on the trail. Truth be told, I simply do not have the proper travel boxes yet, so that made it easy that everything had to fit inside.

All this to traverse over the Rubicon Trail to film a 1/10th scale Axial SCX10 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.

OK, travel plans and supplies are set. Lets do the Rubicon! It’s time to get our #AxialAdventures™ ON! This is going to be AWESOME!!!