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Tips for traveling the Dempster Hwy. from Dawson to Inuvik
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epaddler
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:04 pm    Post subject: Tips for traveling the Dempster Hwy. from Dawson to Inuvik Reply with quote

In mid August Iíll be driving the Dempster Highway from Dawson City, in the Yukon Territory to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, and would appreciate some advice from those of you who have driven this 457-mile gravel road.

Iím planning to carry an extra 5 gallons of gas, and of course, extra food and water and a mosquito headnet (hope it wonít be needed).

The main question I have involves spare tires. I have heard it suggested that I should carry two spare tires, because flats are so common. For those of you who have taken the road, does this sound correct? How about one spare, a patch kit and a 12v air compressor? Would it be useful to reduce air pressure in the tires while on this road?

Although I donít really want to spend the money on a second spare, the bigger issue is how to carry it. Iíve upgraded to 16s, and carry my one spare on a swing-out carrier on the back. A second spare would either have to go on the roof, which would require buying a rack of some sort, or Iíd have to travel with it inside and in the way the whole time.

I was also thinking about purchasing some headlight protective adhesives to try to prevent losing a headlight from gravel strikes.

Additional advice?
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh man if you were doing this next year I'd ask if you wanted company! It's on my 'to-drive' list.

When I do get to drive it, I will probably have two spares with me. I also have a CB radio in my van for where cell phones and FRS radios don't work. I already have a compressor and tire plug kit for standard punctures, but you can't do much with a blown sidewall. I would run lower tire pressures, but not too low depending on your speed traveled. It will mostly just keep the ride more comfortable.

Looking at it just now, people are saying plan 10-12 hours, watch out for truckers. I don't know if it's straight through or if there are gas stations in between? I imagine there should be... I get a pretty reliable 400 miles (600km) per tank but might figure out how to carry spare diesel easily.

Definitely post pictures of the trip!!
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having watched Ice Road Truckers for many years, I'm jealous. Laughing And I qualify as an armchair expert. Razz

But to your question, I would carry two spares, and the patch kit and compressor. That's a lot of road without services.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, have fun - that sounds like a grrreeeeaaat run.

On light protectors, PM me. I own a company that installs 3M ClearBras and headlight protection and can set you up. I also make the little piece that your Vanagon came from the factory with on the front of the rear wheel well lip.

For a spare, one idea might be to see if there are any of the many lightweight space saver spares made that would be the correct outer diameter and lugnut pattern. These are surprisingly tough tires and you could store one as an emergency 2nd spare should that happen to you. This would at least keep you mobile to find a good spot to repair the 1st spare in that event. If you find one that fits, they are so cheap at wrecking yards that they are simply left in the vehicle - not even worth removing by the staff.

I've also heard of some people making a metal screen over their windshields against stones of hardware cloth on roads like this one. Stores on the roof when not in place. I have access to an armored windshield film which I use, but installation is going to be needing a pro as it's tricky. Heck, come through my town and I'll get you set up.

DougM
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's gas in Eagle Plains which is a "town" aka govt funded truck stop created as the midpoint of the highway so that people could get gas, hotel rooms, and mechanic services etc. Its around 350km up I think? As far as spare tires, I mean its just a gravel road, IMO one spare and puncture kit should be fine. Depends how much you want to risk it I suppose. Have fun!
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did it a few years ago on a motorcycle. I recommend an extra spare, some basic tools, and an extra gas can. The longest stretch without gas is from Eagle Plains to Dawson. There is quite a bit of traffic, so an emergency will eventually get you help, but it will be expensive. Try to be self sufficient. There are two ferry crossings, both free. The road surface can be bare, flinty rock to marbely, deep gravel. You'll meet up with large trucks throwing up huge clouds of dust. Slow way down for them because you won't be able to see through the dust clouds. That's when it's dry. If raining it'll be slicker than snot. Eagle Plains and Inuvik both have good camp grounds. They also have restaurants, motels, and other services. Enjoy, if it were easy it wouldn't be an adventure.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've driven this road and its no big deal. Forget the extra spare. Bring a good patch kit like the ARB kit and a small 12v compressor and make sure all your tires are in good shape. The road is graded regularly and is in pretty good shape. We had no tires issues at all.

I remember the Mosquitos were plentiful and heathy sized. Have a great time.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Tips for traveling the Dempster Hwy. from Dawson to Inuv Reply with quote

epaddler wrote:
Iím planning to carry...a mosquito headnet (hope it wonít be needed)...

Laughing Laughing Laughing

PS: Hope it's a great trip - update afterwards, please!
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I drove from Fairbanks to the arctic ocean, the Dalton Hwy.
You are correct in your question, tires are THE issue.
I blew one , didn't even realize it and then realized the situation I was really in and it was not good.
So yes carry two spares, fix a flat, and an air pump.
When I asked a trucker what a tow would cost at the half way point, he casually said " a thousand" so it puts cost in perspective.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The solution is simple......swing out tire carrier for the other side!
Two spares. TEN gallons of gas, as 5 doesn't get you very far....
I've got some spare jerry cans if you'd like to borrow them. Heck, i've got one you can HAVE!
Otherwise, just stick the spare over the luggage rack and strap it down. It's been done plenty of times. No magic rack needed.

I would be carrying two spare tires for several reasons. First, it's a syncro so you need some tires with the same tread wear. Second, the tire you have is far from a common size/model to find in the great North, and buying 5 new ones will really suck....

Hi Lift Jack.
A couple of boards.
A lug wrench you TRUST.
An Air Compressor.
A GOOD tire repair kit as suggested (I suggest the ARB one).
AT LEAST one Axe (But every vanagon has at least one Axe in it right?)
Tow strap and shackles so someone else can pull you out of the ditch easily.
CB radio, even if only a handheld one.

Keep in mind also you're going to want to carry a few of the rarer/potentially weak syncro bits with you as well. I wouldn't consider going on a trip like that without that Howitzer amo box I keep behind my front seat. Ever wonder what's in there?
Well it says "Ammunition for Cannon" but it stores so much more. I generally keep in there the following stuff which will turn a bad day into a fair one if you know how to use it:
A syncro front axle.
A rear axle with no CV's on it and one spare CV (Front axle has both CVs).
CV bolts
A tire Innertube for the size tire I run! (Purchased through Sevin's Tires in Slippery Rock, good luck finding them today though...)
Brake Fluid
Brake Cleaner (has it's uses!)
Grease
Carb Cleaner (many uses!)
Good lubricant (not WD40. Ideally Kroil or Fluid Film)
Wiring gear (spool of wire, tons of connectors, gromets)
"MacGuiivers Bag" of hardware, bailing wire, metal plumbers tape
A hacksaw
Belts

Probably a bunch of other stuff I can't remember.
You can take it with you if you need to.


I like the idea of putting innertubes in the tires for that stretch of road, at least. There are many people who will tell you not to, and several I know on here who run tubes in all their syncro tires....
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jackbombay
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are flat tires notably more likely on gravel in Ak than gravel in the lower 48?

I certainly drive more than 457 miles of gravel/dirt roads in a typical year here in Idaho and in 17 years I have only gotten one flat, and it was on pavement...
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't been on that highway, but I was on the Dalton up to the arctic circle... the "gravel" is a LOT rougher than most gravel in the lower 48. Big chunks, lots of big chunks that are broken so they have edges...
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But dual spares look. so. awesome...
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting on the gravel. Up here in N. Idaho the gravel roads are notorious on tires. It's a sharp edged granite that takes chips out of tread blocks, and jams in between them and works its way into the carcass. The Forest Service exclusively used Coopers because they found this to be the only tire that held up well enough to wear out. Specifically the Discoverer S/T. Seems like the dirt roads I've been on around Boise, Haily and in the SE corner of Idaho tend toward the more sandy stuff. Mebbee Alaska roads are also those granite chips, too. They suck.

Interesting on the tubes. I'd heard tubes in tires not made for them will squirm and generate heat. Though in thinking about that logically, I can't see that being true.

Lots of great threads on the tool kits. I'd add the hex for the oil pain drain, and the 12point tip for the CVs if that's what you have for bolts. Spare headlamp bulbs - those filaments are gonna take some shakin!

DougM
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epaddler
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting response so far with some good suggestions.

IdahoDoug wrote:

For a spare, one idea might be to see if there are any of the many lightweight space saver spares made that would be the correct outer diameter and lugnut pattern. DougM


I was thinking about this too. I have a decoupler, so can move the second spare to the front end if needed. I was thinking that if I could buy or borrow any sort of wheel and tire combination that fits the bolt pattern and is close to the overall wheel and tire height Iíd think that would be ok for low speed driving for a limited time.

Phishman068 wrote:
Otherwise, just stick the spare over the luggage rack and strap it down. It's been done plenty of times. No magic rack needed.

Hi Lift Jack.
A couple of boards.
A lug wrench you TRUST.
An Air Compressor.
A GOOD tire repair kit as suggested (I suggest the ARB one).
AT LEAST one Axe (But every vanagon has at least one Axe in it right?)
Tow strap and shackles so someone else can pull you out of the ditch easily.
CB radio, even if only a handheld one.
A syncro front axle.
A rear axle with no CV's on it and one spare CV (Front axle has both CVs).
CV bolts
A tire Innertube for the size tire I run! (Purchased through Sevin's Tires in Slippery Rock, good luck finding them today though...)
Brake Fluid
Brake Cleaner (has it's uses!)
Grease
Carb Cleaner (many uses!)
Good lubricant (not WD40. Ideally Kroil or Fluid Film)
Wiring gear (spool of wire, tons of connectors, gromets)
"MacGuiivers Bag" of hardware, bailing wire, metal plumbers tape
A hacksaw
Belts


Great list Craig. I had forgotten about the luggage rack option for another spare. I had discounted that option when I added the swing-away carrier because I often haul a couple of sea kayaks up top, which doesnít allow room for a tire up there. On this trip, however, I wonít be carrying a kayak, so that should work.

I have a full size air compressor in the shop, so donít want to invest a lot in a 12v version to be used just for emergencies, but I did find the following, which seems like a handy way to package all of the emergency tire gear.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005WG84S2/ref=ox...PDKIKX0DER

jackbombay wrote:
Are flat tires notably more likely on gravel in Ak than gravel in the lower 48?

I certainly drive more than 457 miles of gravel/dirt roads in a typical year here in Idaho and in 17 years I have only gotten one flat, and it was on pavement...


I was wondering the same thing.

BitterBeerFace wrote:
I haven't been on that highway, but I was on the Dalton up to the arctic circle... the "gravel" is a LOT rougher than most gravel in the lower 48. Big chunks, lots of big chunks that are broken so they have edges...


And this is what I have heard from Canadians while traveling in the eastern provinces over the last two summers. Seems like the first thing out of their mouth when I mention the Dempster is ďtake two spares.Ē
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll add my two cents here as well ... Bring two spares.

I did the Dempster a number of years back, before I had my syncro, with a Toyota landcruiser. For the trip I bought a new set of Micky Thompson 8 ply highway tires (with all season tread) and had two spares. By the time I got back there were chunks missing from the lugs and by chunks, I mean good sized hunks of rubber along with slashes in the treads ... Kinda like if you went at it with an axe. The gravel (if you can call it that) is more like very angular, sharp pitrun. They use the bigger stuff because the road is run over muskeg. There are sections that are great and when you first start off you're going to be saying that mike is crazy ... The roads here are just like what we're used to everywhere else. By the time you get back you'll know different. Don't cheap out on the tires by getting the donut spare to save space. They will not last. The Dempster will be like nothing you've ever traveled. The country is absolutely incredible. You'll feel like you're an insignificant spot on the landscape while driving through the mountain ranges. The people are amazing and it really is a trip of a lifetime. I can't stress enough ... Be prepared. If you're one of the lucky ones you won't have an issue but if you do it can go from bad to very serious quickly. You're going to want to be self sufficient. Help is not an easy thing to get there and depending on what you need it could take days. If you break down and it's serious you'll likely need to be brought to Whitehorse. That'll consist of flagging down a transport truck (which only come by once every couple days ... On average) hoping that it has room, and paying whatever the guy wants in cash to help you out. And yeah you'll be looking at around the 1000+ range for that service. There is no cell service, it's unlikely you'll get anyone on a CB, sat phones work but are crazy expensive ... You're basically on your own.
Oh yeah, it'll be towards the end of black fly season up there but it still may be like nothing you've ever experienced before. I went during mosquito season and I still shutter when I think about the little buggers. Seal up EVERY opening, EVERY opening that a black fly can get through. Did I mention seal up every opening?
With all of that said, I would definitely do it again in a heart beat! Let me know if you would like another van along, when you'll be going and Ill see if I can get the time off. You'll fall in love with the Yukon and the NWT. It really is an incredible place.

Cheers,
Mike
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I"d bet money some Vanagon owner along your route has a spare wheel/tire they'd simply let you carry and you could drop it back off a week later or whatever. I do.

That pump looks exactly like my MV50 which is a cult-like well known good value. Pump was tested vs others costing 3 times as much by an offroad mag and kicked butt. I have had two for 5 years without a hitch except bring a couple extra fuses just in case.

DougM
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Get a bug jacket. Not those pansy all-screen ones either. The mosquitos stab right through. The one pictured is the kind the locals buy. And have leather (not cloth) gloves on hand. Be prepared to tuck your pant in your socks too and still spray yourself with bug dope if you're outside sweating changing a tire or something. Otherwise you will loose your mind Shocked and start cutting corners on work just to get out of the bugs. I work in Northern Saskatchewan. I thought the bugs were bad there. Then I started working in Baker Lake, Nunavut. Exponentially worse. Apparently the Mackenzie Delta area is as bad or worse. I wear a bug jacket to take a leak when I'm in camp and get my knuckles bit while "handling the equipment". Surprisingly no bites in other places Shocked .

Just to give you an idea:

Link


Link


Oh, you'd be dumb not to take 2 spares just because others tired managed to survive. Others have described it at it's worst and it can be that bad easily. Could be a breeze, could eat your tires. Google how many places carry Vanagon tires or parts in Inuvik...and NOTHING is cheap in the north.
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epaddler
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

geo_tonz wrote:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Get a bug jacket. Not those pansy all-screen ones either. The mosquitos stab right through. The one pictured is the kind the locals buy. And have leather (not cloth) gloves on hand. Be prepared to tuck your pant in your socks too and still spray yourself with bug dope if you're outside sweating changing a tire or something. Otherwise you will loose your mind Shocked and start cutting corners on work just to get out of the bugs. I work in Northern Saskatchewan. I thought the bugs were bad there. Then I started working in Baker Lake, Nunavut. Exponentially worse. Apparently the Mackenzie Delta area is as bad or worse. I wear a bug jacket to take a leak when I'm in camp and get my knuckles bit while "handling the equipment". Surprisingly no bites in other places Shocked .

Just to give you an idea:

Link


Link


Oh, you'd be dumb not to take 2 spares just because others tired managed to survive. Others have described it at it's worst and it can be that bad easily. Could be a breeze, could eat your tires. Google how many places carry Vanagon tires or parts in Inuvik...and NOTHING is cheap in the north.


You are scaring me with this skeeter stuff. I was in Denali last summer and it was pretty nasty when you got to the interior of the park, but not bad in the front country. The hard part was remembering to lift the netting to eat. I kept getting food in my net. I'll look for a jacket.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2013 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a great vid- not mine...

1983 VW + Dempter= awesome



Link

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