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Tillamook Offers More Than Just Cheese

Posted in Events on October 4, 2017
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Photographers: Tracy Podzimek

Tillamook is famous for milk, cheese, and ice cream, but this region of Oregon has a lot more to offer than dairy products. Even the lactose intolerant can have a blast exploring the Tillamook State Forest (TSF). We recently paid a visit to the 364,000-acre public forest, which is managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry. Located just west of Portland, Tillamook State Forest is home to miles of hiking trails, target shooting locations, and tent and trailer campsites. TSF also has four OHV areas, which is what drew us to the area.

We visited Brown’s Camp OHV Area, but Jordan Creek, Diamond Mill, and Trask all offer motorized recreation for quads, UTVs, and fullsize 4x4 vehicles. In all, Tillamook has over 100 trails for motorized recreation. Perhaps the most notorious of them in Crushers, which was our destination for the day. Comprised of giant boulder fields, Crushers definitely lived up to its name on more than one vehicle’s sheetmetal.

Kyle Falls wheels a second-generation Toyota 4Runner because they are inexpensive and easy to find. When he smashes the body beyond recognition he just finds another one to drop over his tube-frame chassis.
Crushers is located on the side of a mountain, so all of the crawling has gravity working against you. James and Dylan Treacy didn’t have too many issues, though, in their new portal-axle buggy.
Todd Wright brought out his James Treacy–built buggy for the weekend. It has Dana 60 axles suspended by 2 1/2-inch-diameter Fox coilovers and four-link geometry front and rear. During the week Wright works in nearby Clackamas for Warn Industries.
This was the first trip out for Alec Koch since adding all of the tube work to his Toyota pickup. The confidence of a full rollcage allowed him to try lots of new lines in his locked truck.
The rocks on Crushers tend to move around, which makes it common to get high-centered and nearly impossible to follow the line of the guy in front of you. Tall Swampers and relatively small Toyota axles kept Drew Simmons from getting diff hung on a regular basis.
We brought our lightweight Tracker project out to play with our friends in Oregon. The small, nimble size was a benefit on tight trails, but in Crushers we could see the value of having even larger tires than our 37-inch Maxxis Trepadors.
Our 4WOR Oct. 2017 cover boy, Jerry Zimmerman, put the trip to Tillamook together for our visit. He runs Fox coilovers from Accutune up front and leaf springs in the rear of his Tacoma to keep the 43-inch Super Swamper SX tires on the ground.
Jason Thomas’ Samurai buggy follows the same principles as our Tracker: lightweight and small with a lot of tire. Thomas runs the stock 1.3L Samurai engine and transmission but then transitions to larger Toyota parts for the dual transfer cases and axles.
This was the first trip out for Greg Brown’s Ford after a long build process. The old Bronco worked incredibly well with Super Duty axles filled with ARB Air Lockers, 5.38 gears, and Yukon chromoly axleshafts.
Alec Koch’s propane-powered 22R had plenty of power to spin the 36-inch Super Swamper Iroks when he needed to. Dual cases allow the truck to crawl along when the traction allows progress without the need for momentum.
Fox air shocks front and rear were combined with a custom link suspension to stretch the wheelbase of Jason Thomas’ Samurai buggy out to 112 inches. The suspension is well balanced and does a great job of keeping the BFGoodrich Krawlers on the ground.
The 6.0L engine in Jerry Zimmerman’s Tacoma is backed by a TH400 and a four-speed Atlas II transfer case to provide enough horsepower and gearing for any situation. Despite all the power, he prefers to crawl obstacles when that option is available.
Greg Brown topped the factory 302 in his Bronco with FI Tech fuel injection and put a granny-geared NP435 behind it with the factory Dana 20 transfer case. This drivetrain is a great balance between weight, power, cost, and gear reduction.
Drew Simmons used to have an Xtra Cab Tacoma, but years of wheeling in the trees of Oregon meant that the body slowly went away as it was scratched and dented. It still has the 3.4L V-6 engine and manual transmission, but the factory driver drop chain drive transfer case was replaced with dual Toyota gear driven cases with a passenger drop to match the front axle.
James Treacy put a 3.5L V-6 in his newest tube buggy not only to save weight but also to allow the entire drivetrain to be pushed farther back in the chassis. The little engine has no problem lighting up the 39-inch BFGoodrich Krawlers and getting them hot and sticky.
Lots of tube and minimal sheetmetal is a reoccurring theme in the Pacific Northwest, and Jason Thomas’ Samurai is a great example. He has upgraded the Toyota axles with Longfields, 5.29 gears, and spools for increased strength.
One of the most common questions about our Tracker is the wheelbase. It is actually 105 inches, similar to a Toyota pickup or Cherokee but without any of the overhang to limit approach and departure angles.
Under the Toyota sheetmetal Kyle Falls runs a 5.3 V-8 that routes power through a doubler to spooled 1-ton axles. He isn’t shy about spinning the 43-inch Super Swamper SX tires to get over whatever happens to be in his path.
Wheeling Oregon trails means that body damage is not a matter of if, but when. Jerry Zimmerman takes it all in stride, though. He got up against a tree in his beautiful black Tacoma, but we would not be surprised if the body looks like new the next time we wheel with him.
When the rear of Jerry Zimmerman’s Tacoma got light, Harry Wagner evacuated the area in a hurry! Fortunately, Zimmerman powered through and kept the truck from “endoing,” and Tracy Podzimek kept shooting while Wagner was running for safety.
The synthetic winch line on the front of our Tracker broke, but Mark McKinley just needed some tape and a ballpoint pen to repair the line. We use the winch to preload the front suspension on steep climbs.
Much of Tillamook State Forest has been logged in the past, including the area where we wheeled. There was still plenty of beauty in the area, though. Several types of flowers were blooming, including fireweed.

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