When most people think of going to Disney, they think of Disney World in Florida or DisneyLand in California. But when you are a Jeeper or off-roader and thinking about going to Disney, you usually talk about a little town in Northeastern Oklahoma next to Grand Lake.
Mike brought the PartyWagon down from Colorado for some Oklahoma fun. Disney isn’t a huge off-road area, but it is unique with the type of terrain it offers. Ridinlj has been to Disney a handful of times, so he was going to show the PartyWagon around the area and what it offers. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get anyone else to join us because it was Mother’s Day weekend.
We decided to start a little later in the day as we woke up to it raining outside. Thankfully, some of the primary and most known obstacles dry out quickly. So we decided to meet around 11 am. By then, most clouds had disappeared, and the sun was starting to shine. Our CTO agreed to join us on the trip but had to catch a flight, so we knew when to get him back to his rental car.
Disney, OK, is unique because some main obstacles are in the Grand Lake Dam spillway. When you explore the area, you will see different spillway sections. During times of lots of water, when they have the spillway open, this causes everything to be washed away and leaves large areas of rocks for us to play on. Since we had a timeline, we decided to head to the farthest part of the rocks and work our way back to where we parked.
As we made our way to Lil Blue, we decided to go ahead and play on the waterfall. Waterfall has a couple of different option lines: the classic one is where the water is flowing, and one is to the right of it. The standard line was pretty slick from moss and water, and the Jeep didn’t want to climb, so I decided to do the optional line to the right. PartyWagon doesn’t like water a whole lot so he didn’t mess with the main line and followed on the right line.
After finishing the obstacle, we swung back around and checked out Viagra Hill and Cialis. Some of the most famous obstacles in Disney. If you want some excellent entertainment, head to YouTube and search Viagra Hill Disney, OK.
Now we headed over to Lil Blue. Currently, the water level is very low at Disney. The first time I ran it, there were probably a couple of feet running down the obstacle, but today, barely a trickle. I started the main line a little too high on the passenger side and walked up the line after adjusting. PartyWagon followed and walked it like it was nothing.
The spillways create many fantastic posing shots, and after running Lil Blue, that is exactly what we did. Then, after playing around on a few ledges and getting those glamour shots, we decided to head over to the rock garden and staircases. Mike agreed to let Matt drive as we headed that way.
What I love about the rock garden and staircase area is there is no one line to try; you can try and make it up anything you want to put tires on. After struggling, I decided to back down and hit a more manageable line. Unfortunately, the PartyWagon had hit a different line and was already on the top. Once I got up, he decided to try the same line I was trying. This is where it all went sideways. After PartyWagon got a little sideways, he tried it again and hit it a little harder. That’s when the clanking started to happen.
No one knew precisely what happened, as no hanging parts were under the Jeep. But when Mike tried to put it in reverse, it acted like something was locked up in the transmission or transfer case and would not budge. He tried to move forward, and we all heard awful clanking noises. I pulled my LJ behind and hooked up the WARN synthetic winch rope and Factor 55 Flatlink Pro to the rear of Mike’s LJ to drag him down off the obstacle so we could evaluate the issue. Once we had the LJ down on the flat ground, it was time to figure out what had happened.
The Jeep still wouldn’t go in reverse. We would drag the LJ slightly to get the transfer case out of gear and into neutral. The vehicle still wouldn’t move properly, so we decided to jack the rear up with our Badlands jack to see if we could twist the rear driveshaft, but still nothing. After unlocking the front hubs and doing a little swearing, we decided to go ahead and pull the rear driveshaft off at the rear axle. After swearing at whoever used a bunch of Loctite on the U-bolt nuts, we finally got each one off. It was a tag team between Mike, Matt, and myself to get those off. Before we took it off, I had Mike get into the Jeep and make sure he had his foot on the brake for when I pulled the u-joint off the yoke. And I am glad I did. The whole Jeep shifted, validating that something went wrong in the transfer case.
Mike had been complaining about the transfer case not staying in gear correctly, and we were all pretty sure why that was. When writing this, Mike had dropped the transfer case off at Core Off-Road for them to take apart—and yep, total failure of the Midnight Metalworks Dana 300 transfer case. A snap ring was not installed correctly, causing the shifter to keep popping out of gear. That piece slid back just far enough to catch some gears and shred them apart. From what we can tell so far, the case is also toast. Time will tell if Midnight Metalworks will do anything. But we were all heartbroken after the break. We had planned on going to Rugged Mountain Ranch on Sunday. We will have to make another trip once the PartyWagon gets back together.
Even if the weekend was cut short and we could not make it to Rugged Mountain Ranch, I still had a fun time. A bad day of wheeling is still better than the best day of work.