Mud & More, May 2-3, 1998
Buffalo, MN
This event was our first trip to Buffalo.  Our main reason for going at first was that Petersen's 4-Wheel & Off-Road was going to be there, and we wanted a chance to get into the magazine.  We, of course, were the first ones to arrive for the weekend, and picked a great camping spot.  It put us all the way on the other side of the campground from the rowdy crowd, and since we like to sleep at least a few hours at night, we were grateful for the space.

Highlander has a number of notable changes for the 1998 season.  The biggest change are the 'Tractor Pull' type headers that are sticking out of the hood.  The headers are from Hooker, and are a bit pricey, but they help the motor breathe a lot better, and sound REALLY GOOD!  We also added a hood scoop to help keep the temperature down in the engine compartment, not to mention for the looks.  In the back, we got rid of the old class 4 trailer hitch that was our pull point, and build a draw bar, complete with 2-1/2" pulling eye.  The eye has a rated load capacity of 35,000 lb, so it should be plenty strong enough.
The Buffalo pit was well groomed.  They leave the pit dry between events, which allows them to groom it and repair bad sections as necessary.  Then, a couple of days before an event, they pump about a quarter of a million gallons of water into the pit, and let it soak in.  They drain the pit the night before, which leaves things ready for the trucks to mix it all up.

The pit started pretty wet, but got good and mixed later in the day.  In general the pit was pretty shallow.  In fact, we were able to go pretty much anywhere we wanted on Saturday without getting stuck.  We also were the biggest truck there for much of Saturday.

At the end of the day on Saturday, we realized that the secondaries in our carb hadn't been opening up.  When we looked at it later, we discovered that one of the brackets had bent.  We fixed the brackets, and proceeded out on Sunday with out motor's full potential.  

The mud had dried out a bit overnight, and was the consistency of partially cured concrete by the time we got to it.  We were traversing a spot about where this picture shows us, when we kicked in the secondaries.  Unfortunately, the spring perches on the rear axle weren't quite up to the torque, and let go.  That left the pinion on the rear axle pointing skyward, and the rear driveshaft dangling.

These shots show the damage...  We crushed the stamped steel spring pad on the passenger side of the axle, and broke the welds off of the one on the driver's side.  These pads were 1/4" thick, and made for drag racing, but apparently couldn't quite hold up to the torque of the concrete-like mud that we were in.              
Our change to front wheel drive had another side effect as well.  We had just installed ramps on the trailer so that we could drive over the wheelwells, and not need to take the tires off.  Unfortunately, when we loaded the truck on the trailer, the tires were wet, and didn't want to stay on the ramps.  The result, as you can see here, is that gravity prevailed, and what was on it's way up, came down.  There wasn't any real damage except to my ego, but needless to say, we winched the truck onto the trailer after we got it off.  The little adventure also spelled the demise of the ramps and the wheelwells, as we removed them as soon as we got the opportunity.  Now we just drive over the tires.
After we finally got the truck loaded, and hauled back up to home base, we were back to our hours of washing...

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