View Full Version : Vehicles For Ghosttown Adventures

09-16-1999, 01:03 AM
Originally posted by pennyan

: I would like others opinions about what vehicles are best used for back road adventuures? Are they durable? Can they be "flat-towed" behind another vehicle? Are shorter wheel bases better than longer wheel bases? Any additional information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

09-16-1999, 06:21 PM
Originally posted by Corrected Glitches-Stephen from Ghost Town Photographers

: I have been an avid 4 wheeler since 1973 when I purchased my first Toyota Land Cruiser and began exploring the Ghost Towns of the Colorado Rockies. In 1978 I bought my second Land Cruiser "Pegasus" and am still driving it today.

: Knowing how to drive your 4wd is as important as to what type 4wd rig you choose. Nearly all can perform the tasks. Which one feels the most comfortable to drive. If you know someone who owns one like the one you're thinking of getting, see if they'll take you out for a spin...or maybe let you drive a bit. One word of caution...if they are a thrill seeker, you may not enjoy your first 4wd adventure...you'll be petrified! Check out their rig...if it's covered with dirt and dents-be careful. But if the rig is clean and has a few scratches and dents, chances are, he or she is a safe 4wheeler.

: Some basic considerations: the short wheel base is the way to go for off road travel. Obviously, the larger the rig the more difficult they are to maneuver in tight places. I feel that gas mileage is not an issue when 4wheeling. As soon as you lock into 4wd, whatever rig you drive, is now getting about half the mileage you get on pavement in 2wd. I always carry a minimum of 5 gallons of gas in a jerrican. I've only had to use it twice. So far!

: Some rules: Be courteous to other outdoor enthusiasts. Stay on existing road grades. Slow, low range travel is best for passenger comfort, dust control easier on the rig and creates less environmental impact. Provide yourself with a well stocked emergency kit. You may end up spending the night somewhere you hadn't planned on.

: A good policy for the novice 4wheeler is to do your explorations in 2wd and proceed until you have to use 4wd. Use 4wd to get out of trouble. Remember, when you get stuck in4wd-you're stuck! Make sure you carry a shovel.

: With the right towing package on your motorhome, hauling a 4wd around is a piece of cake. Some opt to carry the 4wd on a trailer to reduce wear and tear on the rig.

: Four wheeling is a great, fun hobby, especially when it takes you to ghost towns that are really remote. For more indepth info, check out some 4 wheeler magazines. Good Luck!!

09-16-1999, 10:08 PM
Originally posted by David A. Wright

: What vehicle you ultimately purchase depends on you, your driving habits, your skill, your intentions, your personal "redline."

: Do you simply want the ultimate in off-roading, or a practical day to day vehicle with off-road capabilities? How much of your travel do you plan on spending off-road? What kind of off-roading do you plan on using it for - an occasional dirt road, or something only slightly resembling a road? Do you have a high threshold for scary roads, or simply do not want to worry about some sand or a steep grade or two? Do you travel snow covered highways in winter?

: Today's crop of 4x4 vehicles can be equipped from bare bones to luxurious. Virtually anything you can find on a Cadillac can be found on most 4x4's (in fact even most of the luxury auto makers have joined in the luxury 4x4 game).

: I love to explore and photograph ghost towns, I am a published author on ghost towns and historic sites in Eastern California and Nevada, and travel often to photograph and enjoy the sites I write about. In my area there are hot, low deserts, and 14,000+ foot tall peaks. I travel from hot sands to deep snow. But if the road (or something resembling a road) pegs my personal adrenalain meter, then I'd rather get out and walk. I would say I am a moderate off-road enthusiast.

: Since my rig is also a daily driver, which takes me to and from my normal daytime job (22-miles away on a wide open, desert highway), it also must be relatively comfortable.

: I presently own and operate a 1996 Chevrolet S-10 extended cab 4x4 pickup with a color matching camper shell (it appears in a number of my photos on this website). I chose the Chevy (I lean more toward Fords usually) due to the fact it was equipped exactly as I wanted and it was a good value due to the fact it was a "left-over" 1996 model after the '97s were released.

: My truck is equipped with the 4.3 liter V-6, a 5-speed manual transmission, manual 4x4 selection, heavy duty everything, medium grade suspension, the LS package (upgraded interior, bucket seats w/center console), power steering/brakes, optional gauges, A/C. I've added cruise control. It does not have power windows/mirrors (didn't want them), nor push button 4x4 selection (a big factor as to why I didn't buy a Ford - they've gone primarily to electronic activation).

: It rides comforably on or off the road. It is relatively quiet (I also own a '96 Cadillac, so I know what quiet and comfort is), powerful and has proven a capable off road machine. It is not the ultimate, but works well in the real world of what I put it through. I have not had it stuck yet, but I've come close. Gas mileage seems to hover at 21.5 MPG no matter what I put it through, all trips where I've clocked mileage (with mixture of high speed highway miles, low range crawling, winds and grades) consistantly turns up that figure. I've presently put 59,000 miles on it without a mechanical problem.

: Short wheel base will result in a choppy ride. But short wheel base will be easier for you to tow behind a motor home. Short wheel base is also more nimble in cramped off-road situations.

: If you plan on towing (without a trailer) choose a model with a neutral position in the transfer case, which will help reduce wear on your transmission while towing.

: Ground clearance is another factor to keep in mind. Those parts under the body are expensive and could be the difference in walking back to camp or driving. My truck has lots of vulnerable looking aluminum under there (engine oil pan, transmission, transfer case), but skid plates and good packaging well up off the dirt by Chevy has kept impacts nill to date, although the beefy frame rails have a few scars.

: Many car based SUV's are biased more for improved roads than for serious dirt. I would recommend a vehicle with a low range in the transfer case. Lower gearing keeps your feet off the brakes during down hill driving, gives you more control in most situations requiring your speed to be keep to a crawl. I keep the case in low range whenever I'm in 4x4 unless I'm driving on a bladed dirt road or am on a snow covered highway or road where I'm traveling 25+ miles per hour.

: And if you go the luxury route for your 4x4, keep in mind, though they are not necessarily hobbled physically in the rough due to their luxury goodies, you will not be so apt to get it dirty nor want to get it scratched or damaged; which will in itself limit your exploring.

: That's my 2 cents. Stephen has pretty much covered the bases. There's a lot of SUV's out there, so weigh your needs and choose the vehicle that comes closest to it.

09-28-1999, 07:53 PM
Originally posted by Lewis Shorb

: : I would like others opinions about what vehicles are best used for back road adventuures? Are they durable? Can they be "flat-towed" behind another vehicle? Are shorter wheel bases better than longer wheel bases? Any additional information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

: I have owned over 5 different 4WD vehicles:

: Toyota Landcruser: built like a tank, can climb a wall, very rough ride, slow & loud inside, parts get very expensive and have to be specially ordered.

: Ford Bronco #1: spent most of its time broken down, parts are fairly common. gas hog. Good clearance.

: Ford Bronco #2: spent most of its time broken down, parts are fairly common. gas hog. Good clearance.

: Toyota 4Runner: Parts expensive, bad gas mileage,

: Good clearence. Blew a headgasket in Panamint Valley @ 25K miles, brakes work poorly also. Goodyear tire exploded in Titus Canyon, Death Valley.

: Currently own 2 Jeeps:

: Grand Cherokee 6 cilnder: Parts cheep and easy to get, reliable, good gas mileage, excellent off road, had problems with powered windows. Could use more clearance.

: Cherokee 6 cilnder: New, Good gas milage, excellent off road, destroyed a brand new Goodyear tire while visting some Nevada gt's recently. Could use more clearance.

: Ford Pinto:, took to Death Valley in 1978, when we got home, I marked $100.00 on a piece of cardboard, placed it on the windshield and sold it that day!

: Also,friends don't let friends go to ghost towns on Goodyear tires, I recondmend BF Goodrich All terrain T/A's, these tires take much more abuse from exploring.


: Lewis

09-28-1999, 11:36 PM
Originally posted by David A. Wright

: 1970 Ford F-100 4x4 - Lousy gas mileage, no low range, good clearance, cheap parts, easy to work on, gave me 343,000 trouble free miles.

: 1967 Volkswagen Beetle - go anywhere, reliable as a rock, cheap parts (in 1970s), great gas mileage.

: Goodyear tires - AMEN!!!!! Trash them!!! BFG's will be the only tires from here out on my 1996 Chevrolet S-10 4x4 (good gas mileage, reliable, can't tell you price of parts -- haven't bought any yet, Ok clearance, etcetera, etcetera ...