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2020 - Trip Reports - Broken Down

Broken Down

 by Bob Jaussaud

We were in the middle of nowhere in high Nevada last July trying to find an old mine. While heading up an especially gnarly canyon road in low-range 4wd with our e-locker engaged, there was a loud bang that came from our rear differential and forward motion ceased. Our faithful old Nissan Nismo with its Skamper camper was broken and we were in the wilds of Nevada without even the advantage of cell service.

Fortunately Sue and I had not come on this trip alone. We were exploring with a few other crazy Desert Explorers (Ron, Glenn, Mignon and Robin). I can’t over-stress how important and comforting it was that they were with us.

Anyway, we still had the use of our front differential so we tried to continue. After much clanking and slipping, our front wheels finally got traction and we started moving in the desired direction. Thankfully it was only a short way to the Mohawk Mine where we found a better road leading out. Our goal that evening had been to camp along Cottonwood Creek. Our intended route was not possible with front wheel drive only so we had to detour through Silver Peak and follow pavement north to Nevada’s “Loneliest Road” (Highway 6). We reached Cottonwood in time for a very late, but wonderful, happy hour. The next morning Sue and I limped home with just our front wheel drive.

Being inherently thrifty, I decided to try and repair the truck myself. Over two months later (at this writing) our truck is still apart. But, there is hope! Turns out I had stripped the splines on a rear axle when a side gear in the e-locker broke. Ouch! It turns out that one cannot buy just a side gear. The Dana Nissan e-locker is sold as a complete unit only. Double ouch! I thought about welding up the old broken side gear and modifying a Nissan Titan axle to fit, but Steve Marschke and Bill Gossett talked me out of that foolishness. So I shook the moths out of my wallet and now have the required new parts. But there’s a story there too.

I shop the internet a lot and I found a site that had the new e-locker needed for  considerably less than the competition. However, when attempting an order the site would not work on my computer. So, I ended up calling C&M Gear in Missouri to try and place the order. The man I spoke to had a very heavy Ozark accent that I could barely comprehend. I thought he said, “Sure, I’ll take the order” so I gave him my name, address and credit card information. He could evidently understand my accent all right as, without repeating anything back to me, he said something like, “OK. It will be in the mail this afternoon” and ended the phone call. I wondered if I had just been scammed. An anxious hour later, another man (with the same accent) called. Our credit card hadn’t gone through. With corrected information, his call abruptly ended. He did, though, call back a short time later to say it had gone through OK. At this point I had the belated presence of mind to ask for a receipt. He said he would send me the tracking number and again ended the call. Sure enough, a few minutes later I got a text with a photo of a USPS (not UPS or FedEx) mailing label, but nothing else, no receipt, no nothing. I was not very assured and told Sue I may have been “had.” To make a long story short, I was extremely relieved when the part arrived quickly, as promised and as represented. So, when you need fourwheeling parts you might consider C&M Gearing. I will use them again. Who needs a receipt?

With the new e-locker in hand I started looking for a new axle. I finally found the hard-to-find, discontinued axle I needed at a Phoenix Nissan dealer but, of course, it was pricey. Triple ouch! However, they shipped USPS (what’s with that?) and we got an email receipt. Now that the new axle has arrived, as promised, I feel the hard part is over.

I just need to quarantine myself in the garage and put it all together. So, letsall get past this Covid thing and go camping. I think we’ll be ready! ~ Joeso