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Wyoming Trip Report, Goodbye Transmission
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joetiger Premium Member
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:21 am    Post subject: Wyoming Trip Report, Goodbye Transmission Reply with quote

My daughters and I have completed an epic adventure to Yellowstone (and it is definitely epic when you're traveling with 4 and 7 year-old girls and Mom is at a teacher's conference in New Orleans.)

The girls had a great setup in the back seat. There was much negotiating over what toys and items could come; there was too much crap for my taste, but we made it work.

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Wyoming is beautiful, but pretty desolate. I've heard it compared to Kansas, but that's completely false. Wyoming has the same rolling hills, but there's always a mountain range in the distance.

This is north of Casper, heading to Thermopolis:

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I noticed on the way up that I was getting oil spray on the back hatch. The valve cover seals on both sides of the Subie motor had pretty much given up (which is common after 20k miles, I hear.)

We saw a perfect '86 or '87 Syncro Wesy in Casper, riding on the back of a flatbed. I gave the driver a wave, he was puzzled.

The Dinosaur Museum in Thermop is great for kids. The girls loved the skeletons and exhibits.

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This is just outside Cody, Wyoming. Beautiful country.

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We made it! Tatanka was running like a champ. I love the 45 MPH speed limit in the park; perfect for cruising along, checking out the animals and scenery.

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The girls had watched a documentary on the park before we left Denver. They were concerned about bison ramming us. They suggested that my Vanagon looks like a bison, and that we should add horns and a tail so that the bison would think we were a bigger bison, and leave us alone. I told them then Lakota/Dances with Wolves name for bison, "Tatanka," and the name stuck.

We saw a nice Westy in the lot at Canyon Village Campground:

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Our first campsite was under five feet of snow. I dug out the firepit for two hours, only to have it fill with two feet of water. We got another campsite, this one with another five feet of snow. It took me two afternoons to find the fire pit.

We met a great German couple camped near us. They offered us their fire to cook our dinner. I thought they were being especially nice, then we walked over to their site, and there sat a '91 Westfalia. "Ahh! I see!"

"Of course!" was Thomas and Katherine's response. Vanagon people really do look out for each other. The '91 belongs to his brother; they come to the US every summer and borrow it for a month to see our country. Awesome people.

It was in the high '20's at night; I had a Buddy heater but didn't use it. The confined space and all of the stuff in the Vanagon, it just made me nervous. We were snug, but cold as hell in the mornings.

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The girls were right; the bison got really close, but were intimidated by our much larger Tatanka:

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At Petrified Tree:

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Yellowstone is stunning. We saw Grizzlies, Moose, Elk, lots of bison; the thermal features are simply amazing. The waterfalls, the passes, the valleys, the rivers, I just can't get over it. We got lucky with the cold weather; the park was not very full and we had our run of the place.

The girls navigate to Grand Teton NP:

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The Tetons are breathtaking. The girls weren't super impressed; we have mountains in Colorado, they said. But THESE mountains...just incredible.

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We pressed on to Jackson. An old friend from Denver has a restaurant there, Cafe Genevieve. It's in a log cabin just off the town square. The food was excellent, highly recommended!

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We left Jackson that morning and headed for Denver. The oil leak was getting worse. I'm driving through Wyoming, 30 miles north of Rock Springs, when BAM!

I pop out of fourth gear. Slow down, re-engage. Everything's cool. For those 30 miles, I'm wondering if I'll be able to downshift, upshift, anything. I'm making plans to rent a car in Rock Springs and have the van flatbedded to Laramie or Ft. Collins. I'm thinking I'll call RMW when we stop.

We roll into Rock Springs, and I can downshift, upshift, everything's fine. Whew.

On I-80, just outside of Rock Springs, BAM! It happens again. And again. And again.

I ended up driving 375 miles to Denver holding it, forcefully, in 4th gear.

(I'm unconcerned with the oil leak during this time.)

We made it! It was a heroic performance by Tatanka on that last leg.

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It seems to be shifting fine, but under any load in fourth, it pops out of gear.

Original tranny, 220k miles, it's time. I'm spending this morning looking at rebuild options. There is no rest, though. Widespread Panic is playing this weekend at Red Rocks and I have to get people up there and tailgate, fourth gear or no fourth gear!

All in all, a simply amazing trip. My kids and I will never forget it. I also kept a daily travel journal, which turned out to be 13000 words Shocked. It is a family heirloom.
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joetiger Premium Member
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also wanted to mention:

Major thanks to Classicvibe for recommending this:

http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,73728_Mountainsmith-Modular-Hauler-4.html

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Very clean, very efficient. Awesome idea, it works GREAT, especially when trying to keep kids organized. I highly recommend!!
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Joe T.

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"get metaphysical with it. if it's simply a means to get to and from places, it will let you down. if it becomes your zen, it can't fail you." -dabaron

"Still, it's good to be afield."--VWagabond
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msewalson
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome trip report Joe. Sorry about the tranny, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

Matt
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Saguache
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great trip report, I love this area. Tess and I had our honeymoon skiing the backcountry of Yellowstone and the only time I'd ever go to YS outside of winter is early season before the tourist season really gets going.

Sorry to hear about Tatunka's tranny. Talk to Darrel pronto.
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RGS Paul
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wouldn't drive the van if it is popping out of 4th, good way to end up buying a ring and pinion when you rebuild the gearbox. Don't know if that is as expensive on a 2wd as the Syncro but I bet it still hurts.

Awesome trip report, looks like a great time overall.

Paul
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome trip for the 3 of you. Proud poppa!
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just talked to Daryl at AA transaxle. Great guy.

This trip just got substantially more expensive. Shocked One less thing to worry about going forward, though.
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"get metaphysical with it. if it's simply a means to get to and from places, it will let you down. if it becomes your zen, it can't fail you." -dabaron

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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you got 220000 miles out of an original 84 box then you did very very well.

Excellent trip report -- adventures like that at a young age can affect a person for the rest of their life -- I know that the trips I took when I was little (was 9 on my first visit to Yellowstone) are probably the reason I so love roadtrips to this day.

When our transaxle died in the Safeway parking lot in Naco AZ, Daryl was the first and only call I made. Good luck - you should be back on the road agina soon.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like you had a great trip. Minus the trans of course.

The exact same thing happened to my trans this time last year. It would pop out under any amount of load (while scaring the nonsense out of me), but I could forcefully hold it in. Although, leading up to the chronic poppage, my transmission got increasingly more difficult to get out of 4th gear. It was a rebuild with less than 50k on it too.

It might be worth it to check over the shift linkage and make sure that everything is adjusted properly before you spring for the new trans.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

joetiger,

Perfect timing for some inspiration. I have the same year, same color bus and my three ladies,(wife, and daughters 12 and 9) are planning a road trip from Miami, FL to Nova Scotia in august. Saw the picks of your girls and i cant wait to get this van finished. (bostig, new tranny from daryl, suspensions, wheel, big brake and more)

I have emailed Daryl 4 or 5 times on a rebuild he has yet to do for me, and everytime he gives me more and more information. It helps he has a bostig turbo also. I have yet to read anything negative about him or his services. At that many miles on an original tranny, even if the linkage was out of sorts, i would get that tranny rebuilt so you can continue on these adventures.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jt,

Check the fluid level in your trans. When mine was low, it would pop out of 4th.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahwahnee wrote:

Excellent trip report -- adventures like that at a young age can affect a person for the rest of their life -- I know that the trips I took when I was little (was 9 on my first visit to Yellowstone) are probably the reason I so love roadtrips to this day.


Ditto!! Great story! I'll never forget the trip to NorCal when I was about 8 with my dad to pick up my aunt's new Suburban. It was just the two of us as Mom had to work, and we took a week going back to SoCal, camping along the way.

Bummer about the trans though. Sad
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JoeT,
sorry about the tranny-likely busted the 3/4 slider. I second Daryl at AA Transaxle. He did mine with custom 3rd and 4th gears, working great in front of my 2.5 for the past 6 yrs. You'll possibly have to think about gear ratios-a can of worms to be sure!
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Joe,

First, your interior is the exact duplicate of mine except that mine had seat covers due to the poor condition of the seats. Otherwise exact.

My friends were also in their westy, white, but only arrived in Jellystone Sunday. They said Tatanka was camped next to them but I don't know now if they meant you or a bison...we'll find out. Sounds like a great trip with the kids.

Scott
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great story... I love yellowstone!!! I would write more but it is a pain on my crackberry
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

connorsvw2 wrote:
JoeT,
sorry about the tranny-likely busted the 3/4 slider.


Agreed, and if you keep driving it until it totally blows apart and fills the box with shrapnel the repair costs are going to be much higher.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go find a used one and plug it in. There must be a few left in the greater Denver area. Blakes in Erie must have a few. 1 day job and you get to do the CVs too.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Joe,

Sounds like an awesome trip with the girls. Nice write up & pics too. Sorry to hear about the tranny. Good luck with that. We are heading up to Grand Targhee next week to see WSP. Have a great time at Red Rocks!

Dave
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One of the finer road trip reports as of late. We need more of these ... Very Happy

Tranny: as already said, don't drive until repaired or it will grenade.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great Trip report. Thanks!
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