The CrowsWing Teardrop Finally Lands in Baja!

jim65wagon

Well-known member
THE WIND! IT'S ALWAYS THE WIND!

Sunday January 7th 2024
The morning was cold! Not actually cold, I mean, it was 42 degrees. It was just colder than it has been. We dressed, pulling on our puffy down jackets, then went down to the couch with a blanket to sit on and coffee cups to warm our hands. We sat there drinking our coffee, watching the sun rise. With the sun the day warmed quickly.

It started off pretty windy so we took the opportunity to transfer the photos and videos we've taken onto computers and hard drives. After a couple of hours it seemed as if the wind had died down a bit. The waves on the water weren't white capped, I mean, there were still waves but the water looked floatable. We launched and quickly realized that fishing was out of the question, the waves were enough that concentrating on floating was more important than fishing. We paddled around a bit then decided to call it quits and paddled back to shore. The swells were large enough we were surfing in on the waves, landing on the beach with the water flowing over the backs of our boats and into the cockpits.
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Wet and sandy we cleaned out the kayaks, and hung all of our gear out to dry. After that we cleaned ourselves with a nice hot shower (Camp Chef water heater for the win!) and settled into the teardrop. We napped a bit, then began perusing our maps for campsites to stay at on our way back to the states. We picked a few places that looked promising and tagged them with markers on both Google and Gaia maps.

The wind picked up quite a bit and I rolled up the awning walls. The awning walls are modified Ozark Trails Gazebo walls from Walmart. Beth sewed them up a few years ago and attached them directly to the awnings. They just roll up into an attached storage bag for a quick and convenient shower house/changing room setup. With the wind it became apparent that we'd missed our window of opportunity to easily load the kayaks onto the truck. Our new kayaks are light, extremely light. As a matter of fact they got blown across the road the day they were delivered to us in a big gust of wind as a storm hit. We took the first and got it up on the rack, then I held it down (extra weight helps, and the gravity of the situation required an extra helping of mass) while Beth tied the boat secure. Boat number two was a quick repeat of the first. We collected all of the gear, vests, ropes and paddles went into the bed of the truck while the fishing rods and tackleboxes went into their respective spot in the side door on the cap.

The stinging winds were storming down the valley in the mountains. Lucky for us this put our stove in the lee so Beth was able to get some Fajitas cooked up. We had to sit right next to the trailer to avoid getting sand in our food. Our neighbor, Francis came over to report that the winds were supposed to worsen over the next few days. We timed this one right it was definitely time to leave the valley.
 

jim65wagon

Well-known member
RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME

Monday January 8th 2024
Sleep was fitful over the night. You could hear the winds racing down the arroyo like a freight train. Closer and closer, louder and louder until it hit the trailer and we rocked through the gusts. A minute of quiet and just as you would start to fall back asleep another gust would build up speed in the arroyo. Whoooooo! Rock, rock, rock! Bleary eyed we crawled out of bed and finished packing our kit up. By 8:30 we were on the road and heading up the steep, twisty Ramen Noodle Road.


Along the way to Loreto we stopped at a site iOverlander had tagged for free water, but it appeared to have been plugged off. No free water for us so we continued up to town and pulled back out onto the beach with the palapas. We dropped the trailer and made sure it was secured then we drove into Loreto and picked up some groceries. Due to the winds it was necessary to have charcuterie for supper sitting in the teardrop cabin. We drank our wine out of coffee cups (flat bottom, less chance for spillage), and watched some videos on TV. Ironically, we also ordered a new propane campfire (the irony is that this is the same beach the old one got stolen from...) and set it to be delivered to my mother's house. It's cold in Indiana, she could use a campfire.
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We did not leave anything sitting out this night....
 

jim65wagon

Well-known member
I CAN'T FIX THIS: THE ADVENTURE YOU WANT VS THE ADVENTURE YOU GOT...

Tuesday January 9th 2024
We slept in, tired from the loss of sleep the night before. We drank our coffee standing close to the teardrop to be out of the wind. We had to put on our puffy jackets and gloves to stay warm. Quickly we got hitched back up and drove into town to the Tabor Pura and filled our water jugs and the trailer tank. I love the pricing for water in baja. Today we paid only 21 peso for about 37 gallons of water.

We made our way north doing a slow cruise past Bahia de Concepcion. Even the bays that were shielded from the wind when we came down were getting rocked this time. The water in the bay was churning. We decided to continue north and try our luck in the desert on the other side of the mountains.

With a stop in Mulege to fill our bellies for lunch, then a stop in Santa Rosalia to fill the gas tank in the truck we followed MX1 as it turned west and wound it's way through a couple of mountain passes. As we dropped into the valley beyond we pulled off the road onto a sandy narrow track on the back side of Tres Virgenes. We found a wide spot at a crossroad and I backed the trailer in. The plan was to unhitch and drive the truck further in to find a nice campsite. We both jumped out of the truck. I made for the back of the truck to start disconnecting things, but I noticed something odd about the trailer. I looked at the trailer not quite comprehending. The tire was angled funny. My heart sank. I heard Beth say, “Come on let's go find a campsite”
“I think we're here” was my reply. She was all like “What do you mean, we're just parked in a wash on the road?” I told here she had to come see what I was seeing. I was looking at the spindle end. Normally you can't see the spindle it's supposed to be behind a dust cap, which is behind a center cap on the wheel. The center cap was gone, so was the dust cap.....and the spindle nut.....and part of the spindle.....

The tire was leaning in at the top and out at the bottom with the end of the spindle grinding into the hub. I grabbed the bottle jack out of the truck. I had enough thought still going that I remembered to loosen the lug nuts on the tire before I took the trailers weight off the ground. The whole time Beth is standing there asking me about spare parts and all I'm thinking is “I can't fix this”
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With the trailer on the jack I pulled the wheel and removed the hub. Somehow, we'd fragged a bearing. There had been no smoke in the mirror, and there was no heat on the spindle now. It didn't just freeze up and burn itself off. It looked like it just exploded, maybe on one of those potholes coming out of Santa Rosalia, maybe at the edge of the road as we pulled off onto the dirt. I don't know. I never noticed the trailer do anything weird, I never heard any weird noises, never felt any weirdness in it's pull or it's tracking. And I've had lots of experience towing trailers, especially this one in particular.
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My stomach was in knots as I was examining and photographing the damaged spindle. “I can't fix this” I said out loud, finally. I carry spare bearings and races, but I don't have the ability to cut out and replace a spindle, even if I had a spare spindle. Beth stepped up, put a hand on my shoulder and said, “Let's go back into town, there's cell signal, we'll search until we find an RV shop that can repair it”
I looked up at her, and while my anxiety was still there, it fell back to a manageable level. She was right, we had a problem but it was nothing we couldn't solve one way or another.

On the 45 minute drive back to Santa Rosalia we discussed what we'd need. Minimally, we'd need a set of jack stands to prop the trailer up and stabilize it. With that we could live in the desert of Mexico. (insert meme; “This is where we live now”) We'd be just like the fabled broken wheel communities of the Appalachias of the the United States.
“Ope, my wagon wheel broke, I guess this is home now. Let's get to building that log cabin”

Beyond that we needed an RV repair shop, or a hardware store that sells trailer parts. I wasn't beyond throwing a cheap axle under the trailer and towing back to the United States on a Tractor Supply axle as a temporary fix. Our internet search yielded nothing RV repair wise nearby. I posted threads on Expo, Reddit and Facebook in search of a repair shop in the Santa Rosalia area. The people in the Autozone store were unhelpful, not even offering a suggestion of a mechanics shop. We at least found a set of jack stands. We did not find RV parts. The nearest we could find axles was up in El Centro. We toyed with the thought of buying an axle, driving up to El Centro and hauling it back down.

Then I had a bright idea. As we came into Santa Rosalia I had noticed a race style truck sitting in front of a shop surrounded by other more mundane cars, a few big delivery trucks, and there were a couple of nice looking 50's era classics sitting there too. The truck I spied was a first gen Tacoma that was kitted out with a long travel suspension and a roll cage. I thought that if that shop had built the truck or at least knew the owner of the truck, they might just know someone who could fix our problem or at the least point us in the right direction.

We decided at that point we had nothing to lose, so I drove us up to the shop called Service Truck Bastida's and parked in the midst of cars in various states of disrepair. I grabbed my phone and keyed up Google Translate (there's an app you will not regret downloading) and walked over to the noises of somebody working on metal. You, dear reader won't realize this as you read. But this entire conversation was a mix of English, Spanish, Charades, speaking into and reading from Google Translate. From afar I'm sure it was comical to watch.
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I gave a loud “Hola!” The metal clanging stopped and I see a guy pop up from behind a pile of parts.
He said “Hello!” I was ecstatic hearing English and replied with “Oh! You speak English!”
That brought out a laugh and he replied with “pocito” That was when I brought out my Translate and said into it, “Do you know of a shop that does RV or trailer repair?”
I let him read the translation figuring it was easier and quicker than me trying to speak the words.
“Si, Si”
I translated the issue of the loss of the bearing and spindle and to my surprise he said in English,
“I can fix it, we can fix any trailer, car, little truck big truck. We fix everything”
At this point another much taller but younger man showed up. I showed them the photos and video of the spindle. The taller man ran his fingers across his throat in a cutting motion. All three of us agreed on that assessment. The first guy said something I didn't understand and the tall guy ran off. Then he asked me where the trailer was. I showed him on the map, 47 km away and about 5 km down a sandy two track on the other side of Tres Virgenes. He looked at the map and rubbed his chin. I could see the gears turning in his head. This man was making plans to get our trailer and bring it to their shop.

Tall guy returned with an old very rusted very used spindle in his hand. “yours looks like this?” he asked.
I said “Yes, it's not the same size but it's just a straight spindle welded onto an axle tube”
My heart sank as he uttered the words “No shop sells these near here” there was a long pause
“But I can make one”
I was flabbergasted, utterly gobsmacked! The shocked look on my face made him smile. He started discussing with his cohort on how and when to pick up the trailer. I interrupted them and suggested that we could just bring them the axle. It was his turn to be flabbergasted. With a shocked look on his face he asked, “You can get the axle off your trailer and bring it?”
“Yes” I said “Removing the axle is the easy part, you've got the difficult job”
He smiled and we made plans to have the axle in his hands by 9AM the next morning. We shook hands and I walked away. With the days adrenaline finally beginning to ebb, I was shaking and nearly in tears by the time I made it back to the truck.

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Once back to camp we started immediately on the task at hand. Firstly to get the trailer stabilized and on jacks stands. I grabbed the faux trax (Maxsa Escaper Buddies) traction boards out of the truck and used them to keep the jack stands from sinking in the sand as we put the trailer's weight on them. Secondarily, I got out the big table and set the tools out, selected the various sockets, and wrenches I'd need then I crawled under the trailer. By sunset, the axle was on the ground and by dark the wheels and tires were locked to the tongue with our big cable lock.

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jim65wagon

Well-known member
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SEEING YOUR CAMPER ON JACK STANDS IN THE DESERT IS WEIRD

Wednesday January 10th 2024
At sunrise we were out of bed. It was all of 29 degrees and we dressed for the occasion. The wind wasn't blowing so at least we could fix coffee. Then we emptied our boxes of gear out of the truck. With a five foot bed we had to lean the axle on the can carrier of the swing gate, at least that kept it from bouncing on the tailgate. We tied it down solid with some paracord, and left the truck cap glass open – worst case as we drove it would be stopped by the spare tire from bouncing onto the hub of the axle.

I was met by the men I talked to the day before, along with a couple of other younger guys and girls all working on different cars, and an older very tall man (who I took to be the father of the men I was talking to) The took our axle and laid it on some stands, The guys I talked to quickly removed the hub and brakes. The older tall man sat down on a stool in front of the fragged spindle and looked it over carefully. He said a long string of Spanish, none of which I understood, but he made a cutting motion where the spindle attached to the axle. The four men all talked for a bit and then the first guy I met yesterday walked over.
“This will take most of the day, come back at five”
“At 5? Today?” I really couldn't believe my ears. Is it really possible that they would have it repaired in one day? I was hoping that it would take less than a week, but one day would be outstanding! We shook hands once again and Beth and I left. We dropped our laundry off at the Lavendaria, the lady there was nice and kept calling Elizabeth, Lizbeth and we understood that she'd have our laundry done by 1PM. This is working out pretty well.
From there we stopped by the El Boleo Bakery and grabbed a variety of pastry, cookies and biscuits.

All we had to do now was wait, so we drove back to camp. To keep our minds off the situation we walked up the road that T'ed off the main one finding a few nice campsites with trees and firepits. Too bad we don't have wheels on the trailer otherwise we'd move and stay for a week or so. We decided, instead to take a nap.
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After about half an hour we heard the rumble of a diesel engine, looking out a huge converted ambulance turned at the T and disappeared up the road. From our camp we could see the top of their rig over the trees, they parked at the gravel pit. We were awake now so we drove the 45 minutes back into town, with a brief stop at the Lavendaria to pick up our clothes (I don't think they've ever been cleaner!) and the Super Ley for red onions (we forgot to buy in Loreto) and some wine.

We waited at the town square playing on the internet until 430. Then qe drove back up to Truck Service Bastida's. By that point it was 4:45, and no one was there. Our axle wasn't in sight, the little building was open but no one there. I got on the phone and called the number on google. I said in my very bad Spanish “I'm here to pick up my axle”
He replied with “Manana, Uno tardes” Tomorrow, 1PM, got it.
I asked how much it would cost and he rattled off a fast string of numbers “unintelligible....pesos”
“Que?” I asked
“unintelligible numbers....pesos”
“Que?”
He laughed and said “No Ingles” I laughed and said “No Espanol”
We'll figure it out tomorrow at one.
 

jim65wagon

Well-known member
WE HAVE AN AXLE!

Thursday January 11th 2024
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There were clouds doing there best to prettify the volcano even more. I sat and watched them slowly dissipate. Then it was more back into town. As we passed the landfill/dump/burn pit we noticed what looked to be hundreds of vultures circling overhead. There must be something tasty in the landfill today! We made it back to Bastida's and one of the guys showed me on his phone the words 9500 pesos. (As of that day that was about 545 dollars US) which seemed reasonable to me. Then they showed me the axle, all in one piece. The hub turned freely on it's spindle. The welds around the axle tube looked solid. I asked him if they took tarjeta and he said “No, In effectivo” meaning cash only

We excused ourselves and drove into town finding an ATM at the Super Ley. Beth was refused the transaction for the entire 9500 pesos (we tried several times) getting a fraud notice on her phone. She clicked the links telling them it was her getting the money. Elizabeth said she thought it was above the limit she set back when we opened the account but she couldn't remember the actual amount. We tried once more this time for 7000 pesos (we had enough cash to cover the other 2500 pesos) This time the transaction went through.

Back at the shop we handed over the 9500 pesos and they loaded our axle into the truck. We tied it down and counted the money we had left. 450 pesos. That's it. We've reached our spending limit. No more Lavendaria, no more tacos, certainly no campgrounds. Our trip is basically finished. When we had left Loreto the other day we had thought that we could go back to Ojo de Liebre to see if the whales had shown up yet. Between the number of days it took for the repair and the lack of money in our pockets meant this was it. It was time to leave Baja. Bummer that, but we've got an axle! We don't have to be ExPats (yet!)
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Back to camp and we jumped right down to business. It took us three and a half hours to get the axle installed, shocks reinstalled and brake wiring rewired, and the tires back on. By that point it was 4:30, I was exhausted, but I got the tools cleaned up and put away. The wind was really windy so we settled, once again, for charcuterie in the trailer. All in all it was a very good day, afterall we have tires back on the trailer and each other to snuggle up to for the night. Goodnight. I passed out....
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jim65wagon

Well-known member
Friday January 12th 2024
We packed up camp and with the windows down we slowly rolled out of camp. Beth walked alongside, listening for any weird noises. I leaned my head out of the window doing the same. Nothing, that's good sounds to hear. We stopped at the end of the washboarded two track before bouncing on the highway to have a look-see at everything. We both crawled around looking at the tire angle (vertical, that's good!) and the weld at the axle tube (still solid no cracks!)
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Then we drove about 50 km up the road at speed (80 kph or 50 mph) then pulled over in a wide lot and checked again. Everything looked good. We continued on to Guerrero Negro where we got gas in the truck. While the attendant filled the tank I put my hands on each rim comparing hub temps. Both sides were warm to the touch but by no means hot. Perfect.

We drove up MX1 holding our breath at every pothole I couldn't avoid. We stopped at a gravel pit before we got to MX5. That would be our home for the night. Once we parked I got out the bottle jack and checked the bearing on the axle. It wiggled just a little bit, so I got out the tools and tightened the hub bearing about one flat of the nut. That was enough to remove the wiggle, the hub still turned easy and free. We sat in our gravel pit and Beth cooked up some crispy shredded pork tacos and made some corn salsa for dinner. I 'm starting to relax once again.
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jim65wagon

Well-known member
Saturday January 13th 2024
The drive up to San Felipe was uneventful. We stopped in town for gas once more. The hub temps were still good to the touch. We drove right on up to the beach we camped on when we first arrived. It looked a bit different this time, like there had been a good rain. It also looked like several people had been stuck with deep ruts criss-crossing the area we camped. We found a less rutted spot near some shrubbery and parked for our last night in Baja.
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Sunday January 14th 2024
It was about 9AM by the time we left San Felipe. We made it up to Mexicali with no issues and found the exit lane for trucks, trailers and rvs. The line was moving so slow! We crept along finally seeing that they had some of the lanes closed off and people kept having to maneuver to get into an open lane. After 2 hours we finally reached the border agent, I rolled all the windows down. He checked our passports then apologized that he was going to make us open up some doors. We opened the side door on the cap, the bedroom door on the teardrop and the basement door below that. He apologized once more and said I just don't want to send you to secondary. I laughed and told him I'd open up any door he wanted to see. He looked inside and said
“You're good to go” and he handed back our passports and we drove on our way. Just like that we're back in the States. We stopped in Yuma and swapped the sims in our phones back to the originals, I checked bearing temps once more. Ice cold baby!
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Driving a little further east brought us to the Mohawk Mountain BLM lands where we found a nice patch of land to spend our first night back in the US. Over the next week we needed to make our way back to Texas to work February and March before the next adventure could begin. Our Baja adventure was over. There were high times and there were low times, but I wouldn't trade the outcome for anything. For me it felt like a true adventure and I'll remember it forever!

Farewell for now Baja! We will return!


and that's it. The End. Fini. If you've made it this far, thank you for sticking with it, or at least looking at the photos. I hope you enjoyed reading about our Baja adventure. Cheers!
 

3IMOH

New member
Thanks for taking the time to post your adventure, it was great to read!

Your axle issue has me wondering how things would have gone if you had something other than a leaf spring setup. I have been debating using that vs. timbren vs. a cruisemaster setup on a trailer I have been designing and ease of repair in remote places is a big consideration. Glad you were able to get back on the road so quickly.

We have spent many a new year's on the beach south of San Felipe...I can relate to your challenges with the wind down there. It can be brutal.

Howie
 

jim65wagon

Well-known member
Thanks for taking the time to post your adventure, it was great to read!

Your axle issue has me wondering how things would have gone if you had something other than a leaf spring setup. I have been debating using that vs. timbren vs. a cruisemaster setup on a trailer I have been designing and ease of repair in remote places is a big consideration. Glad you were able to get back on the road so quickly.

We have spent many a new year's on the beach south of San Felipe...I can relate to your challenges with the wind down there. It can be brutal.

Howie
When we did our very first drawings of the design it actually incorporated a fancy swing arm air bag set up like the old AT Chasers used. Along the way we eventually discussed trailer usage, maintenance and ease of acquiring parts for repairs.

The standard leaf and axle setup is so simple. We can buy parts from lots of sources in the US (or have them made in Mexico).

The leafs work fine on the road, forest roads, gravel roads. I've never gotten hung up on the axle tube (yet).

I've read a lot of people talk about flex for a trailer suspension, but in my experience the flex is all at the hitch. Put a trailer tire on a rock or stump and let it lean, just build it with a low center of gravity (hence the water tank and basement storage on ours - no weight is up high)

The only down side I've found is severely wash-board roads (like the race track road in Death Valley) I crawl over those condition for two reasons
1)I don't need to beat my home up just to go somewhere
2)I usually have tons of time since I'm out for three months at a time and not three days

The upside is I can walk into a Tractor Supply and source springs, brakes and other parts.

Sent from my SM-G986U1 using Tapatalk
 

RealTruck

Supporting Sponsor / Approved Vendor
This was a fun read, with so much to take in at each stop. I quite enjoyed your shot of the full moon and the smooth rock loveseat. The unfortunate mechanical failure at the end- I felt your pain! But your quick thinking was a real lucky break. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with us.
 

jim65wagon

Well-known member
This was a fun read, with so much to take in at each stop. I quite enjoyed your shot of the full moon and the smooth rock loveseat. The unfortunate mechanical failure at the end- I felt your pain! But your quick thinking was a real lucky break. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with us.

Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for the likes and comment. The whole trip was so much fun. The building of the couch was as much a puzzle as anything, making stone comfortable can be a challenge.

Thank you for taking the time to share! Very helpful to people who haven't made it down there yet!

Glad I could help (it's not much but a little of something is better than nothing!)

Yes, Thank you for taking us along.
Baja is another place I probably won't make it to.

You're welcome, I'm glad you enjoyed it

Sent from my SM-G986U1 using Tapatalk
 

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