This post may belong in The Garage, and if so the mods can move it. It is the story of my first outing with the 2 and a half year project. The Blazer isn't quite done yet, but I figured I could use this week to run it through some paces and see how it goes. So, a road trip report follows. I finally got most everything running on the rig with the exception of a few things. The interior is still gutted waiting for the roll cage and a full Line-X job. I haven't installed the compressor for the ARB up front yet, and the seats are the stock ones, not the ones I bought to go on the cage. Mechanically though, everything was ready to try, or so I thought. Last week I was still having some issues with the power steering, and the performance of the engine. I got sick of fiddling with it and took it over to a good mechanic for the fine tuning. They got the power steering to stop slipping but found that the Summit HEI distributor was shot. So, a new MSD HEI went in. Then the carb wasn't kicking in the secondaries so that was fixed. For some reason the carb wasn't getting enough gas either. The mechanic calls me and says the fuel pump is shot. I tell him "which one". He says "what do you mean, the only one on the engine". I tell him the PO installed an electric one along the passenger frame rail. He checks it out and finds the most convoluted setup going. Apparently the PO had an electric fuel pump put in, but left the mechanical one hooked up as well. Then there was some weird contraption behind the electric fuel pump returning the gas to the tank or somewhere. So, all of that was removed and a new mechanical fuel pump installed. I had no way to keep things from sliding around so some temporary D-rings were installed in the back to hook some ratchet straps to. Friday morning at zero dark thirty I and my work/hunting buddy head out for Nevada. The rig seems to be running pretty good and does so all the way up to Sonora. However, right off the bat I find that the transmission is shifting at too high of RPM’s. In fact, coming out of first it winds up to over 2,500 RPM before it makes second. And when it does, it slams it into gear in a neck snapping pop. It didn’t do this before but the mechanic was messing around with the linkage trying to get the secondaries to open. I wonder if he messed with the kick down cable too. It takes a long time to make the other gears as well. We stop at Albertsons in Sonora to get some final groceries and then gas up. I notice a tapered lots of sheet metal cut K5 with dark gray or faded black spray paint in the drive through at McDonalds. It has these monster giant mud flaps installed on the rear. I could swear I've seen that rig posted somewhere here on CK5 before. He pulls out and passes the gas station and I see a white guy driving. We head on out and start up into the Sonora Pass. Pretty soon I can see that not all is well with the engine. I’m really bogging down when I get up to the steep part of the pass. In fact, I’m barely able to crawl over the pass and head down towards the Mountain Warfare Training Center. We pull over and look at the fuel filter. It is completely gummed up with crap. There is what looks like clear RTV chunks in there along with pieces of black stuff. Once down on the flat though, it starts running a bit better. We resolve to get out to our hunting area and deal with it later. We arrive out our favorite spot for hunting jackrabbits (go ahead, make fun, I have a good response for that….). This is the place over in Nevada: We hunt jacks all day and due to the heavy winter rains, they are plentiful. We bag many of them and the coyotes will be eating well tonight. In fact, I had to put multiple magazines for the Mini-14 in my pockets as I was running out of ammo with all the shooting. Put that in your pipe and smoke it PETA. After we finish, I pull off one of the VW fuel filters I have on the ends of my diff vent tubes that I run way high up in the engine compartment, and I swap it in for the other fuel filter. We decide to camp out in a place called “Risue Canyon” not too far away. This is always fun because you have to do multiple stream crossings and sometimes it gets a bit deep. The runoff this year is huge and all the rivers we have seen are running deep and fast. We get to our campsite without event since we entered the canyon at the south end where there is only one crossing. We camp for the night and break out the new Coleman Tent I bought to replace the one I had for many many years. Seems tents are getting cheaper and this new one is pretty flimsy. It does the trick though and while my bud sets it up, I do cooking duty. Those that have gone camping with me know that I don’t tolerate crappy food. Been there, done that. I did the Cub Scout/Webelos/Boy Scout/Explorer thing as a guy growing up and have had my share of raw or burnt trail food thank you. I eat well on the trail and tonight’s fare is Tri-Tip which has marinated all day in my special concoction, baked potato with butter and sour cream, baby green beans in butter sauce, and garlic bread. After dinner we sit around the campfire and shoot the ****. We've been doing these trips for over twenty years now. I remember in years past we would tell exciting work stories, brag about sexual conquests and talk 4x4 shop until the wee hours of the morning. Now we just bitch about work, lie about our sex lives, and trade medical ailment complaints until the sun starts to set and then we went to bed. How far the mighty have fallen. Up in the morning, break camp, and head on out the south end of the canyon. There are lots of stream crossings and we are finding them to be pretty deep. Nothing scary mind you, but fun as they are covering the tires. Nothing gets in the cab, but a good time anyway. Sorry, no pics. At the last crossing, we find a couple of folks pulled over to the side of the trail with their hoods up. Seems the guys pretty much stock Bronco made one of the crossings, but their 2 wheel drive Explorer has died after being towed out of the middle of the river. We offer to help suspecting that he has probably done himself good. I pull off the intake and find that his top of the line Fram air filter has about 50 gallons of water soaked into it. We clean out his box, toss the filter, and close it back up. His battery has given up due to too many crankings so we jump him. After a while, the Exploder fires up. We leave him with a bit of advice. One, the rest of the crossings is a lot deeper than the one he just did. Two, if he tries to do it again, there won’t be an air filter there to stop the water from going straight into his engine. Three, Risue Canyon really isn’t the place for a stock 2 wheel drive Explorer. His wife was nice though (and cute) and kicked me down some baby wipes to clean up my hands with. We head back out to the killing fields and indulge our more base instincts for most of the morning then head on out. We stop in Bridgeport, CA to grab a bite to eat and swap in another fuel filter as the replacement is jamming up as well. We contemplate buying some fuel line and running a temporary fuel line straight from the tank to the fuel pump thinking that somewhere in the existing line something is deteriorating and putting junk in the lines. On the other hand, it could be in the tank. That decision is made when we find the Napa in Bridgeport closed for the day. So, off we go back home. I just crawl over the pass again but once I reach Sonora, the truck starts running good. Then by the time I hit Oakdale, I am running just fine. I get home pretty late and am greeted by an empty house since the family is in Washington for a few days. Oh well, I guess I have to surf CK5, damn the luck. Here are some observations from my trip: 1.You don’t realize how much you miss your center console box until you don’t have one to throw walkie-talkies, sunscreen, wallets, etc. in 2.You don’t realize how much you need a stereo until the only sound you hear is road noise and yourself singing off key at the top of your lungs. 3.Bare sheet metal interiors/wheel wells make lots of noise when rocks ping off of them. Line-X in the interior is coming, but I may Herculine the wheel wells too. 4.Bare sheet metal interiors get very hot. Engine, driveline, and muffler heat come right in. Having removed the A/C, relief is open windows and hurricane winds pulling what little hair I have left out. 5.I may have to put a manual window crank in the tailgate. The electric one works 50% of the time necessitating the panel to be removed and a portable drill handy to attach to the cable to lift and lower it. Having no inside panel on the tailgate eliminates it as a cooking and loading area, as well as making it miserable to crawl in and out on. 6.The triple stick doubler setup I have rattles a lot and makes a ton of noise. The WFO knobs I have look great, but one of them is rattling like crazy too. Something will be done to rectify this to be sure. 7.Having a broken cable on the glove box means every time you open it, all of your stuff falls on the passenger floorboards. This also means you look like a DUI when you try and reach it, a physical impossibility that you still try every time. Sorry there weren't more pics, next time for sure. I was concentrating on finding out all the things that needed to be rectified on the rig. Today I will be pulling the gas tank, draining it, and replacing all the hoses to see if that helps.