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Old 03-08-2009, 06:43 PM   #1
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T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting

The SMB vehicle sits on the front launch pad, fueled with 47 gallons of ultra-low sulphur winter-formula diesel ($1.96 a gallon!) an additional 3lbs of propane for heating and cooking, and 1.75 litres of cheap Lewis and Clark vodka for sterilization for the internal water tank. All systems are green for a predawn launch on Saturday, March 14th for the two-week Spring Mojave Desert Trip #5, to Anza Borrego SP, Joshua Tree NP, Mojave NP and Death Valley NP.

The SMB returned from the vehicle assembly building (the local Ford dealership) ten days ago with a clean bill of health, the Amsoil system re-plumbed, motor oil changed (Amsoil synthetic 15w-40), Atlas transfer case oil changed (Amsoil synthetic SAE 75W-90 API GL-4) , U-joints greased and front caliper rails checked and greased. Analysis of previous oil showed two moderate, but not serious anomalies, with viscosity moderately low at 11.3, and minor fuel dilution at 2%, this after 10,000 miles since last change and present mileage at 18,600. Our four-wheel drive consultant determined that the 2% fuel dilution was normal for operating a diesel in extreme cold conditions such as are found in the Northern Rockies.

Yesterday, vehicle cleaning and gear checking were completed, taking advantage of warm 40 degree F temperatures and sunny skies. A final pressure check using the Hella Tire Pressure Management System has been delayed, awaiting the passage of the latest winter storm and cold temperatures. Final loading of provisions, including several litres of cheap Washington State wine, will take place 24 hours prior to launch.

Launch control is closely monitoring the present winter storm (air temp 14 degrees F, wind chill -5 degrees with light snow and moderate white out conditions) the third major weather disturbance of the last ten days. The long term forecast for the weekend launch window looks good, with clear skies, and 45 degree temperatures for this coming Saturday.

As is normal for a desert trip, launch direction will be to the southwest along Interstate 15, with the first major goal of successfully clearing Monida Pass on the Montana-Idaho state-line. During last year’s launch, Mojave Desert #4 cleared the pass only to encounter heavy icing conditions in eastern Idaho. The ensuing delay plus the heavy rush hour traffic in the Salt Lake City Metroplex, resulted in failure to reach the first day’s destination of Cedar City, Utah. Several years ago, Mojave Desert Trip #3 was delayed for three days due to the closing of Interstate 15 south of SLC due to winter storm conditions.

Hopefully all will go well this weekend and the SMB crew will be enjoying warmer weather in Valley of Fire State park, NV next Sunday afternoon!
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Old 03-08-2009, 08:35 PM   #2
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Re: T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting



Have a great trip!

1 jealous SMB owner!

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Old 03-09-2009, 05:52 AM   #3
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Re: T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting

Thanks CJ.! This morning's weather is zero degrees F with a negative 15 degree windchill with light blizzard conditions. I have to get out of this place and warm up!

You really have to plan on which days to do any work on the SMB, cause nothing's going to get done on a day that's this cold. That and I have to keep brushing the snow off of the penthouse roof to clear the solar panels so that they can continue to charge. Can't wait until Saturday.
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Mohawk Royalex Solo 14 foot canoe (light white-water)
Mad River Kevlar Explorer 17 foot canoe (flat water)
Dagger Royalex Legend 16 foot canoe (white-water)
Maravia New Wave 13.5 foot raft (fishing and white-water)
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Old 03-09-2009, 07:04 AM   #4
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Re: T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting

Presently awaiting Trip Report and Photos......
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Old 03-09-2009, 03:22 PM   #5
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Re: T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting

As a loyal resident of Washington state, I am glad that WA wine, cheap or otherwise, will be on board at launch time. One small sip for man, on giant gulp for mankind...
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Old 03-09-2009, 04:15 PM   #6
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Re: T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting

Psomaki, let me revise my remarks. I should have said reasonably priced Washington wines. Everything is under ten bucks a bottle thanks to Safeway's six pack discount on wine. Don't need those $30 dollar bottles of Walla Walla reds in the desert.
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Mohawk Royalex Solo 14 foot canoe (light white-water)
Mad River Kevlar Explorer 17 foot canoe (flat water)
Dagger Royalex Legend 16 foot canoe (white-water)
Maravia New Wave 13.5 foot raft (fishing and white-water)
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Old 03-09-2009, 05:17 PM   #7
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Re: T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting

Ed, I am with you. We have wineries right here in Port Townsend that produce decent stuff, and even some quite good wines, but they charge enough for it that I don't drink it regularly. Had fun last time we were in Walla Walla visiting and tasting, but didn't bring much home with us. And I'm no aficionado, but I know there are very drinkable wines for under 10 bucks a bottle.

Have a great trip! Hey! How come there aren't any smilies clinking wine glasses?
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Old 03-11-2009, 06:11 PM   #8
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Re: T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting

Have a great trip Ed. I'm sure that I am not the only one looking forward to your trip report and pictures.
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:12 PM   #9
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Re: T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting

Thanks Blackeye; we've got two Canon 35mm DSLRs loaded and ready for wildflowers and landscape pics. This trip has been a long time in the planning!
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Mohawk Royalex Solo 14 foot canoe (light white-water)
Mad River Kevlar Explorer 17 foot canoe (flat water)
Dagger Royalex Legend 16 foot canoe (white-water)
Maravia New Wave 13.5 foot raft (fishing and white-water)
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Old 03-13-2009, 08:33 PM   #10
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Re: T Minus 5 days, 12 hours and counting

T minus ten hours and counting for tomorrow's predawn launch of Mojave Desert SMB Trip #5. Present weather conditions are 35 degrees F, partly cloudy skies dry roads and no wind, an enormous improvement over Wednesday morning's extreme conditions of 14 degrees F below zero air temp with a 30 below zero wind chill factor.

Still, Mojave Trip #5 will be racing tomorrow to miss the incoming late winter storm on Saturday evening, projected to hit areas north of Salt Lake City on Interstate 15. Tomorrow's goal is once again an ambitious first day of 675 statue miles down range to the south-southwest at Cedar City Utah. Wish us luck.

The SMB launch vehicle is 70% loaded on the front launch ramp, with all but the freezable equipment and provisions already on board. The launch countdown was momentarily put on hold this afternoon with a partial failure of the Hella Tire Pressure Management System (HTPMS) during tire pressurization. The vehicle's two front tire electronic pressures were confirmed with a manual check using a Monkey 4X4 gauge, but the vehicle's two rear tire electronic pressures read a -8 lbs from the manual gauge check. After several restarts for the HTPMS and manual readings, the launch committee determined that the HTPMS readings were faulty, and the countdown clock resumed. This item will be monitored throughout the launch.

Godspeed everyone, and we will report back after reentry into civilization in two weeks.
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2006 Baja Tan SMB 4X4 EB50 PH 6LPSD
Mohawk Royalex Solo 14 foot canoe (light white-water)
Mad River Kevlar Explorer 17 foot canoe (flat water)
Dagger Royalex Legend 16 foot canoe (white-water)
Maravia New Wave 13.5 foot raft (fishing and white-water)
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