Patooyee Wheels the Southeast

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Thanks to the help of 3 hard workers, I was able to finish The Big Yellow Buildup in time for my spring break this year!  (Thanks again Tyler, Bobby, and Andrew!)  Ahhh ... spring break ... 9 entire days to wheel!  Well, of course, I didn't get to wheel the entire time.  A combination of breakage, maintenance, and weather conspired against me to cut my wheeling time down to only about 4 whole days.  But they were some fun-filled days!

I'm sure that everyone reading this article knows what it is like to be building their truck and not be wheeling during the process.  The buildup of Patooyee took a little over a year of weekend work days, the entire time reading articles and looking at pictures of other people wheeling and having fun.  It was finally my turn!

On this trip, my spotter/co-pilot was a good friend of mine named Andrew.  Andrew and I started out wheeling with a club out of Birmingham, AL called Central Alabama Offroad Society 4x4 (CAOS4x4).  We wheeled a small trail named Link Road Creek.  I don't know that I've ever met a nicer group of people to wheel with!  They were completely happy to let us crash their trail ride and we had a great time!  We were so sad to not be able to wheel with them more that we made sure to attend their monthly club meeting since they happened to be having it while we were in town.

Later on we drove over to Gardendale, AL and met with some of the guys from Offroad Connection.  One of them was named Dustin and was nice enough to call a friend of his named Mike to show me around the hard-core trails of Gardendale.  The next day, Mike and I went up the infamous Launching Pad and a few other obstacles before I managed to break a front axle shaft and tear the bolts that hold my spring to the d60 front housing out of their holes.  To prove how far southern hospitality goes, Mike towed me to a nearby house owned by a friend of his named Sam.  Sam wasn't home at the time, and I never actually got to meet him, but we spent the majority of the rest of the day fixing my poor front axle.  (If you're reading this, Sam, thanks a lot and enjoy the beer!)  By the time we were finished fixing, there was still a little bit of daylight left, so Mike showed us around what the locals call Playground, a fun little area of rocky dirt hill climbs.  Alas, night fell and Andrew and I had to get on our way to Tellico!

After a 3-day layover in Atlanta, GA fixing an annoying intake manifold leak and some bent axle bracketry, Andrew and I were on the road again to Tellico, NC!  (Thanks again for letting me use your shop, Chase!  I hope the wife enjoys the newly-lifted Cruiser!)

We arrived at Tellico early enough to fit in a quick run up Rock Garden and then went back to Crawford's Camp for a good night's rest.  (Steve Crawford is quite possibly the nicest man I've ever met.  If he is reading this, I want to let him know that I am MORE than happy to help him put up his new gazebo some weekend.)  At this point, everything on the Jeep seemed to be working well.  The next two days were the best of the entire trip!  We managed to meet up with CAOS4x4 again and stuck with their group the entire weekend.  Patooyee crawled up everything Tellico threw at it!  Slickrock, Hellicopter Pad, Peckerwood Connector, Guardrail, and Fain's Ford just to name a few.  BY the time we had to leave, we had run every obstacle in the ORV area except Upper 2.

By the end of my spring break, Andrew and I had met some of the nicest people of our lives.  I hope to be able to wheel with them all much more in the future.  If there is anyone that I failed to mention, please shoot me an eMail and let me know so I can thank you publicly!

My overall first impression of my newly built rock crawler is that it is amazing!  Every time I looked at an obstacle and thought there was no way I was going up it, I just put it in low-low-low and practically idled my way up!  I attribute what I consider to be a massive success to the 140ish:1 crawl ratio, 44" tires, and 118" wheelbase.  The tires are a little hard to turn when the engine is bogged down and it takes too many turns of the steering wheel to get from lock to lock.  I plan on installing a 2" hydraulic ram and speeding up my PS pump to solve this.  The rear suspension makes some noises as it flexes, which I have yet to locate.  Other than those, I love my new truck and can't wait to get to ERoCC with it!

Enough chit-chat for now though!  On to the pics!:

 

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