Soon we were at the slickrock fin. Matt was the first to go up, and after about 50 feet or so Terry saw that Matt was leaking fluid. At that same time Matt's Jeep started to shake very badly. Matt stopped to see what was going on with the front end of his Jeep. He saw right away that his new front axle assembly had locked up and was leaking gear oil. The axle only had 200 miles on it! It took a few tries to get the axle to free up and start moving.
Matt turned around and went back down the slickrock fin. Each time he tried to back up, the axle would lock up. After a few minutes, Terry and Matt thought that it would be the best to just push on and finish the trail instead of turning around and going back. They knew that by continuing south they would be going down most of the obstacles or the obstacles had bypasses to go around them. It was easier than turning around.
At the Wall, Matt did the obstacle in two-wheel drive because he did not have four wheel drive after his front axle gave out. Terry went down the Wall on the right side instead of down the middle of it. Matt and Terry did not have any issues with the obstacle.
For the most part, Matt did not have many issues with the rest of Steel Bender in only two-wheel drive, but he had to drive his Jeep very hard at times to keep going on the trail. Terry went down all the obstacles and he was having a great time.
At the last creek crossing, Matt hit a rock and bent his track bar and lower control arm brackets. That's when Matt lost his steering. So Matt and Terry removed his track bar and used Matt's winch cable to keep his axle from moving. It was a great trail fix and he was able to drive the Jeep off of Steel Bender to the end of the trail.
After finishing the trail they put Matt's Jeep up on his trailer. Matt was Terry's passenger for the rest of the week. When Matt got back home he took the Jeep to the shop to have the axle repaired under warranty. The original front axle was completely ruined after spinning the pinion bearing. It messed up Matt's vacation plans but in the end it all worked out.
Reports from Other Days: 4
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