Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wandering The Desert

Yesterday I explored the desert trails south of Baker, CA. In particular, I wanted to recon the 4wd road that I hope to take when I hike Cowhole Mountain next month. That road would get me right to the base of the mountain, leaving a short hike. I've learned over the years that desert roads can range in condition from easy (street cars can handle), to moderate (rocks and washouts), to bushy (overgrown creosote scratches your car), to dangerous.

It's a good thing I checked out the road in advance. The last 1.5 miles has been blocked off by the BLM with a sign indicating no motorized vehicles are allowed. I walked part of it and it's in great condition! Much better than any of the roads I took to get there. Oh well. This just means that I'll have to park there and walk the last 1.5 miles before starting up the hill. Here's a Google Map centered at the road junction where this sign is located.

That wasn't the only road blocked off. I encountered the same sign on other roads that I planned to explore. The weather was cooler than I expected. It was about 60F and overcast, compared to the forecast 72F and sunny. This made all of my photos dreary looking.

Before heading home, I drove over to East Cronese Dry Lake. Apparently, it's an ACEC. It's also a desolate place. There's loads of dead blackened brush. I wonder if there'd been a wildfire there. I'll return another day to drive Cronese Road north across the playa toward West Cronese. Here's a Google Map centered on East Cronese Dry Lake. I walked out toward the playa but discovered the flat tan feature that I thought was lakebed, was actually a waist-high sea of dead brush. It looked like I'd have to hike at least another half mile to reach the lakebed.

The BLM sign reads: "The Cronese lakes periodically fill and drain in response to changes in the flow of the Mojave River. During prehistoric times, the area was occupied by native Americans who used lake resources and associated mesquite trees for food. The area was on the trade route between the Pacific Coast groups and the Puebloan groups in the southwest. When the lakes contain water, they are used by birds as a migratory resting place."

Sunday, February 08, 2009

LR3 Ballast Mass?

I've discovered something very unexpected. My new Land Rover LR3 has 2 large ballast masses under the rear of the truck. They appear to be maybe 50 pounds each and they pivot freely in pitch. I googled unsuccessfully to learn anything about this.

UPDATE: Nathan Woods has kindly informed me that these are tuned mass dampers, designed to reduce chassis vibrations. Mystery solved!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Land Rover Zip Ties

I've discovered that Land Rover uses zip-ties to hold rubber dust boots onto the bottom of the rear shock absorber air canisters. This was surprising, mostly because one of them broke. After about 15k miles, the dust boot was sagging down, being slowly worn away by rubbing against various metal rods down there. I took it in to the dealership, who, in their predictable insanity took 3 hours to perform the 5 minute job of replacing the zip tie. Actually, they used 3 zip ties in series to make it around the approximately 6.5 inch diameter canister. You can see the zip tie dangling loose in the first photo.

About 3k miles later, that very zip tie broke. So this time I decided to not tolerate the very poor service of the Pasadena Land Rover dealership. I replaced the zip tie with a hose clamp. You can see from the photo that it fits perfectly. I'm not sure just how well it will hold up, so I'll check it's tightness from time to time before I trust it.