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Has anyone, driven the HDT and trailer down then up Hwy 20 to Bella Coola?


mr. cob

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Howdy All,

 

I would suppose this question is directed more at our Canadian members as Bella Coola is kinda out in the middle of nowhere in the wilderness of BC. If all goes well I'll be accompanying some Canadian Uralistas on a trip to Bella Coola this coming summer. Looking at photos of the area I can't wait for this trip to happen, then again looking at photos of "the hill" as grade going down to Bella Coola and the climb back out is known as, is going to be a hair raising ride.

 

The reading I have done says that the road is open year round and that is supports heavy and semi trucks, that said the worst of the decent-climb is hard packed dirt or gravel. I only have a single axle on my truck and found out when I was having some trouble on wet grass that I have an open differential that can't be locked to drive both tires. The prospect of climbing 14-18% grades and losing traction sliding backward down a hill and over a cliff is not my idea of fun. However in my experience having driven just about every road and high pass in the western States many of the roads a person hears the horror stories of are not that bad if approached using common sense and LOW gears and especially on the down hills LOW speeds.

 

So what say yea, am I nuts to think about driving the HDT there and back, its the only way Donna would ever see such country and I have been told, I'll find out this summer, that the "Rip Rap" is a wonderful camp ground that our rigs would fit into. Thanks for any information you can share.

 

Dave

2001 Peterbilt, 379, Known As "Semi-Sane II", towing a 2014 Voltage 3818, 45 foot long toy hauler crammed full of motorcycles of all types.  Visit my photo web site where you will find thousands of photos of my motorcycle wanderings and other aspects of my life, click this link. http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/

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Dave ,

 

Likely someone with more current information might help you out regarding the "grade" down to Bella Colla......ya see our rig was a almost new 1962 Chev 3/4 4x4 so we were well equipped for the "grade" when we wandered down to Bella Colla the first time.........so how many years ago was the mid-60's.........

 

Anyhow it was no big deal since we were Oregon hillbillies so to us any road that did not need four wheel drive was a highway and the Bella Coola grade was 2 wheel drive with a "view"......

 

Obviously in +50 years any road might change a bit......however since the "grade" pretty much scales a few thousand feet vertical of a cliff there is very little you can do to put "lipstick on this pig"......

 

The road is one thing but the story of the road is as epic as the road is stunning...........a bunch of logger decided that they were tired of being at the mercy of the boat / ferry system high prices for all of their "outside" goods.....so.... they first ask the Canadian govt to build the road the gvt responed that a road could not be built for any amount of money............SO.....being loggers they just started building the "road" mostly on weekends and holidays with pocket change and borrowed equipment...... At first the gvt simply chuckled that a bunch of dumb-loggers would try the impossible task ........then a funny happened......those dumb-loggers in fairly short order had blasted and dozed more than half way up the darn cliff......but the loggers were running a bit short of blasting powder so........the gvt sent a engineer in a airplane to take a peek at the “grade” …....the gvt folks took a bit of a gamble a tossed a few $$ into the powder fund and the “dumb-loggers” blasted and dozed the rest of the way to the top of the cliff.

 

I have a book back in Bend that details the epic-road build and the black & white pics are priceless......

 

I have flown float planes into Bella Coola a few times over the years and flown over the grade many times but the “Best-Way” to get to Bella Colla is to drive the “grade” …..the boats and planes are for sissies........

 

I would imagine the Bella Colla book is long out of print but if I get by Bend soon I could maybe ship it up to you...... it is a hoot to see what happens when folks just roll up their sleeves and do the work that gvt says that can not be done........

 

Likely some one local BC could give you a more current road report........

 

Drive on.........(not much guard rail on the Bella Colla ….....grade)

97 Freightshaker Century Cummins M11-370 / 1350 /10 spd / 3:08 /tandem/ 20ft Garage/ 30 ft Curtis Dune toybox with a removable horse-haul-module to transport Dolly-The-Painthorse to horse camps and trail heads all over the Western U S

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Dave ,

 

Likely someone with more current information might help you out regarding the "grade" down to Bella Colla......ya see our rig was a almost new 1962 Chev 3/4 4x4 so we were well equipped for the "grade" when we wandered down to Bella Colla the first time.........so how many years ago was the mid-60's.........

 

Anyhow it was no big deal since we were Oregon hillbillies so to us any road that did not need four wheel drive was a highway and the Bella Coola grade was 2 wheel drive with a "view"......

 

Obviously in +50 years any road might change a bit......however since the "grade" pretty much scales a few thousand feet vertical of a cliff there is very little you can do to put "lipstick on this pig"......

 

The road is one thing but the story of the road is as epic as the road is stunning...........a bunch of logger decided that they were tired of being at the mercy of the boat / ferry system high prices for all of their "outside" goods.....so.... they first ask the Canadian govt to build the road the gvt responed that a road could not be built for any amount of money............SO.....being loggers they just started building the "road" mostly on weekends and holidays with pocket change and borrowed equipment...... At first the gvt simply chuckled that a bunch of dumb-loggers would try the impossible task ........then a funny happened......those dumb-loggers in fairly short order had blasted and dozed more than half way up the darn cliff......but the loggers were running a bit short of blasting powder so........the gvt sent a engineer in a airplane to take a peek at the “grade” …....the gvt folks took a bit of a gamble a tossed a few $$ into the powder fund and the “dumb-loggers” blasted and dozed the rest of the way to the top of the cliff.

 

I have a book back in Bend that details the epic-road build and the black & white pics are priceless......

 

I have flown float planes into Bella Coola a few times over the years and flown over the grade many times but the “Best-Way” to get to Bella Colla is to drive the “grade” …..the boats and planes are for sissies........

 

I would imagine the Bella Colla book is long out of print but if I get by Bend soon I could maybe ship it up to you...... it is a hoot to see what happens when folks just roll up their sleeves and do the work that gvt says that can not be done........

 

Likely some one local BC could give you a more current road report........

 

Drive on.........(not much guard rail on the Bella Colla ….....grade)

Howdy DollyTrolley,

 

I have read the story of how the road came to be, my hat is off to the folks who first built it. I am not concerned about going down, that's the easy part just go slow, but sometimes going up especially on non paved surfaces one needs a bit of speed to maintain momentum. Loss of traction going up and not being able to regain it is my only real concern pulling a large trailer with one drive axle with an open differential may be asking for serious trouble. When I do the Ural trip this coming August I'll have a much better idea of what the road and the grade is like.

 

Dave

2001 Peterbilt, 379, Known As "Semi-Sane II", towing a 2014 Voltage 3818, 45 foot long toy hauler crammed full of motorcycles of all types.  Visit my photo web site where you will find thousands of photos of my motorcycle wanderings and other aspects of my life, click this link. http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/

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Dave,

 

Be careful buddy! Myself I would not venture off road without a "locker" pulling your 18k load. That's me thou, you probably will be just fine.

 

Curt

2001 Freightliner Century, 500hp Series 60, Gen 2 autoshift, 3.42 singled rear locker.

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Dave,

 

Be careful buddy! Myself I would not venture off road without a "locker" pulling your 18k load. That's me thou, you probably will be just fine.

 

Curt

Howdy Curt,

 

My toy hauler loaded is right at 20,000 pounds, and NOT having a locking rear axle is my biggest concern. I don't have any idea what it would cost to swap in a rear axle that I could lock but I am going to be researching it. I know axle's are worthless when people single their rigs but cost a pretty penny when you want one, such is life.

 

Dave

2001 Peterbilt, 379, Known As "Semi-Sane II", towing a 2014 Voltage 3818, 45 foot long toy hauler crammed full of motorcycles of all types.  Visit my photo web site where you will find thousands of photos of my motorcycle wanderings and other aspects of my life, click this link. http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/

IMG_4282-600x310.jpg

 

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You don't need to change the entire axle, Dave. If you can find a carrier equipped with a locking differential for whatever make and model of axle is installed in your truck, it would be a bolt-in replacement for your current carrier. You wouldn't have to remove or replace the axle housing or anything attached to it.

Phil

 

2002 Teton Royal Aspen

2003 Kenworth T2000 - Cat C12 380/430 1450/1650, FreedomLine, 3.36 - TOTO . . . he's not in Kansas anymore.

ET Air Hitch

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Phil. Doesnt the carrier have to be equipped with an actuator of some sort to run the locker? I seem to remember someone on here ( many years ago) equiping their diff with a locker and having to machine a slot, or groove in the housing to make it all fit? How about a Detroit locker? They work automatically when a wheel spins

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You don't need to change the entire axle, Dave. If you can find a carrier equipped with a locking differential for whatever make and model of axle is installed in your truck, it would be a bolt-in replacement for your current carrier. You wouldn't have to remove or replace the axle housing or anything attached to it.

Howdy Phil,

 

I kinda figured that might be the case, I know nothing about big rig axles, I'll contact my Freightliner Mechanic Anatolly and ask him, he'll know for sure.

 

Dave

2001 Peterbilt, 379, Known As "Semi-Sane II", towing a 2014 Voltage 3818, 45 foot long toy hauler crammed full of motorcycles of all types.  Visit my photo web site where you will find thousands of photos of my motorcycle wanderings and other aspects of my life, click this link. http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/

IMG_4282-600x310.jpg

 

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Phil. Doesnt the carrier have to be equipped with an actuator of some sort to run the locker? I seem to remember someone on here ( many years ago) equiping their diff with a locker and having to machine a slot, or groove in the housing to make it all fit? How about a Detroit locker? They work automatically when a wheel spins

Howdy bigstick,

 

I was thinking that there had to be something on the rear axle the held an actuator of some kind or perhaps the housing itself is different then that of an open differential, I'll find out.

 

Dave

2001 Peterbilt, 379, Known As "Semi-Sane II", towing a 2014 Voltage 3818, 45 foot long toy hauler crammed full of motorcycles of all types.  Visit my photo web site where you will find thousands of photos of my motorcycle wanderings and other aspects of my life, click this link. http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/

IMG_4282-600x310.jpg

 

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I watched a you tube video of this road. I would love to make this drive in my Yamaha Rhino. But HDT and trailer. YIKES!

Howdy Jim,

 

I too, watched a couple of youtube videos of folks driving that road, there was one from the inside of a large truck climbing the hill in the rain when the dirt was wet, looked like the driver handled it with ease probably a logger who has been driving that road for the last 30 years.

 

Dave

2001 Peterbilt, 379, Known As "Semi-Sane II", towing a 2014 Voltage 3818, 45 foot long toy hauler crammed full of motorcycles of all types.  Visit my photo web site where you will find thousands of photos of my motorcycle wanderings and other aspects of my life, click this link. http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/

IMG_4282-600x310.jpg

 

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Just watched some video of the road. I think you'll be fine as long as you have some weight on the rear. I might suggest a lug style drive tire though for the just in case it gets too wet. If it's wet I might not use the Jake on the downhills so I didn't loose traction, just gear down and enjoy the views. :ph34r:

Alie & Jim + 8 paws

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Maybe a set of snow chains or the sock for the outer drives!

 

Dave

2005 Freightliner Century S/T, Singled, Air ride ET Jr. hitch
2019 46'+ Dune Sport Man Cave custom 5th wheel toy hauler
Owner of the 1978 Custom Van "Star Dreamer" which might be seen at a local car show near you!

 

Check out http://www.hhrvresource.com/

for much more info on HDT's.

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Just watched some video of the road. I think you'll be fine as long as you have some weight on the rear. I might suggest a lug style drive tire though for the just in case it gets too wet. If it's wet I might not use the Jake on the downhills so I didn't loose traction, just gear down and enjoy the views. :ph34r:

Howdy Jim,

 

If it were wet I wouldn't even try it. I forget what the numbers were when my truck was weighted at the rally two years ago but I think that I had around 3.500-4,000 pounds of pin weight, the trailer weighted right at 20,000 pounds, so there really isn't that much weight over the drive axle. The drive tires do have a lug type tread not a knobby but they do have some grip to them. That said I was surprised by how easy I got stuck on wet grass on fairly level ground with only one side spinning and the other set of tires just sitting there.

 

Dave

2001 Peterbilt, 379, Known As "Semi-Sane II", towing a 2014 Voltage 3818, 45 foot long toy hauler crammed full of motorcycles of all types.  Visit my photo web site where you will find thousands of photos of my motorcycle wanderings and other aspects of my life, click this link. http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/

IMG_4282-600x310.jpg

 

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Maybe a set of snow chains or the sock for the outer drives!

 

Dave

Howdy Star Dreamer,

 

Who ever it was who built the deck on my truck messed up by not leaving clearance for chains, I do carry a pair of tire socks but the instructions that came with them said SNOW AND ICE USE ONLY, any surface like dirt, mud or pavement will destroy them in a hurry.

 

Dave

2001 Peterbilt, 379, Known As "Semi-Sane II", towing a 2014 Voltage 3818, 45 foot long toy hauler crammed full of motorcycles of all types.  Visit my photo web site where you will find thousands of photos of my motorcycle wanderings and other aspects of my life, click this link. http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/

IMG_4282-600x310.jpg

 

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Been there three times each time in a f150 4x4. Never saw anything bigger than a one ton dually on that road. The biggest fear is the wind they pushed us around pretty good. The campers we talked with all came in on the ferry. Also the road has an eight foot width max. Great fishing and the cabins are nice too.

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Yea you cut a half moon shape in the mounting flange of the axle housing to fit the shift fork of the new carrier. Then you have to buy a new axle shaft for that side that has the longer splines, put in with the updated bolt kit and she slides right in.

 

Come down to Stoneway and drop an ecology block or two on the back? 75 bux for 3200lbs....

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Pulling 20k up an 18% grade with lockers engaged your steer axle will be lite and your not going to steer on that greasy road. You will have no steering control of the truck. The lockers will not disengage under that much load unless you stop to disengage first. Also there will be oncoming traffic that you have to pull over for and the space given for you is not very large. Lockers are great on straight aways not on curves.

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Yea you cut a half moon shape in the mounting flange of the axle housing to fit the shift fork of the new carrier. Then you have to buy a new axle shaft for that side that has the longer splines, put in with the updated bolt kit and she slides right in.

 

Thanks, Scrap. I'd forgotten over the years that there was that modification to the axle housing. I was thinking that he'd had to cut a window of some kind into the carrier, and we'd all apparently forgotten about that axle replacement.

 

Does all of that apply to both Meritor and Eaton/Dana axles?

Phil

 

2002 Teton Royal Aspen

2003 Kenworth T2000 - Cat C12 380/430 1450/1650, FreedomLine, 3.36 - TOTO . . . he's not in Kansas anymore.

ET Air Hitch

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Dave.....looks like the kind of road I'd enjoy on my R1200GS. :) A few years ago while traveling in Northern Quebec Canada we got turned around somehow on a gravel mining road that ended up to be in very rough shape. I came down a hill in the lower gears and at the bottom was a wooden bridge that had giant holes approaching and exiting the bridge so had to slow right down to a crawl. The 18% grade started about 50ft past the bridge and with the 4.63 gears the allison automatic and locking rear diff made it halfway up hill and spun out on the washboard road underneath us. This scared the heck out of me as I knew there was only one way to go. I slowly backed (skidded) down the hill onto the bridge. I told my DW and kids we probably have one chance at the hill that faced us. I proceeded to put the petal on the floor and shift the gears at max rpm with both tires spinning and bouncing the truck up and down on the washboard road......we just barely made it to the top of that hill.

 

I looked at those video's and the memories came back of this previous adventure. Never again!!! :)

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Dave.....looks like the kind of road I'd enjoy on my R1200GS. :) A few years ago while traveling in Northern Quebec Canada we got turned around somehow on a gravel mining road that ended up to be in very rough shape. I came down a hill in the lower gears and at the bottom was a wooden bridge that had giant holes approaching and exiting the bridge so had to slow right down to a crawl. The 18% grade started about 50ft past the bridge and with the 4.63 gears the allison automatic and locking rear diff made it halfway up hill and spun out on the washboard road underneath us. This scared the heck out of me as I knew there was only one way to go. I slowly backed (skidded) down the hill onto the bridge. I told my DW and kids we probably have one chance at the hill that faced us. I proceeded to put the petal on the floor and shift the gears at max rpm with both tires spinning and bouncing the truck up and down on the washboard road......we just barely made it to the top of that hill.

 

I looked at those video's and the memories came back of this previous adventure. Never again!!! :)

Perhaps, there are some roads that our HDT's should never be on. :unsure:

 

I used to tow with a 4WD F-550 and was always confident that the 4WD would get me out of trouble . . . even if I had to unhitch the 5'er and leave it behind. The HDT, although it tows/stops exponentially better than the F550, it has its limits.

 

Be safe Dave. I would like to spend some time with you at the next HDT-WC Rally.

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Howdy All,

 

Thanks for all the input and advise. No matter what I have done in life I always seem to be pushing the envelope and as long as I am able will probably continue to do so, that said, I would never purposely endanger my wife or do something that risk toys I have worked so hard to enjoy. This summer when I travel this road with the Ural I'll be paying close attention to not only the road but what kind of traffic I see using it and will do considerable talking to folks who live in the area and especially the RV'ers who are at the camp ground we will be camped at for three days.

 

I am going to be doing some investigation on how best and most economically I can get a locking differential installed in my rig. As I was for decades involved in very hard core Jeeping I know well the merits and the draw backs of locking diffs, how they affect steering, and how and when to use them, however never having driven my HDT with one it would or will be a bit of a learning experience. I drove HDT dump trucks on dirt-mud roads so I am not with experience with how they work in that environment but I have NOT towed a heavy trailer with a truck so equipped.

 

Dave

 

I edited this post because I forgot to put the word "NOT" in the last sentence.

2001 Peterbilt, 379, Known As "Semi-Sane II", towing a 2014 Voltage 3818, 45 foot long toy hauler crammed full of motorcycles of all types.  Visit my photo web site where you will find thousands of photos of my motorcycle wanderings and other aspects of my life, click this link. http://mr-cob.smugmug.com/

IMG_4282-600x310.jpg

 

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Hi mr. cob - you could drop your drive tire pressures down substantially at low speed for better traction if you could scope

Out a safe place on the way in to air up again.

 

If you could find a safe place on a logging road to practice a little uphill try before the trip to see how your truck's footing is on dry gravel ...

"Are we there yet?" asked no motorcycle rider, ever. 

 

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