Sunday, March 07, 2021

Cochise Stronghold, Indians, dinosaurs and clogged air filters.

 Quite the eventful drive today with Mariko.

We took FR 345 all the way across the southern end of the Dragoon Mountains and onto the town of Pearce which is the gateway to the Cochise Stronghold area.

FR345 is very rough and bumpy, not as bad as Soren Pass with it's rock strewn conditions but enough to keep one's speed down to less than 30 mph for the most part.

Neat signpost at someone's driveway

There's USFS free camping sites before the actual campground that might be worth exploring some other year, once the burned areas evident from the road recover from the apparently recent burnings.  The campground itself is for tents and truck campers, not for anything larger really.

As you can see, the terrain is quite rugged and perfect for Cochise's band of Apache indians to escape to when pursued by the U.S. Cavalry back in the day.

Instead of returning via FR345 with its bumpy conditions, I elected to head towards the town of Benson and Interstate 10.  Before you get to Benson though, one transits the town of Dragoon.  Before you hit Dragoon, you find yourself driving past metal sculptures of dinosaurs which catch your eye.

Turns out, it's the Rattlesnake Ranch and its collection of metal sculptures.  You care welcome to drive into a small portion of the ranch where the sculptures are:

Neat sculptures, the scale is off of course but still, worth a short stop.

Then it was a run on the interstate, getting off at the exit for the town of Benson and then getting on US80 towards Tombstone.  It was on this stretch of road that Mariko started displaying a lack of top end power.  She eventually couldn't even hold 50 mph on level ground, much less on the inclines!  

Suspecting air flow (more like hoping), I swapped out the new air filter, recently installed which looked very dirty and fouled with oil.  I put in the old filter from which I'd knocked off dust days.

The lack of power persisted so we limped to the exit for Middlemarch road.  I called RichardM, who displayed his usual expertise in troubleshooting.  After trying several things and checking stuff, he suggested trying a run without the air filter in place, just make sure to stay on pavement.

I removed the air box, leaving the carburetor's intakes exposed and went on a test run.  Mariko seemed to run fine and able to achieve 60-65 as expected on the downhill portions and holding 50-55 on the uphill bits!

Then, a run was done with the airbox and filter back in place and again she experienced a lack of top end power!

Thinking I had an air nozzle back at camp, I drove Mariko the ten miles back to camp.  No air nozzle!  However, found that an accessory kit that came with the Smittybilt Air Compressor had a plastic nozzle that worked to blow what I thought was not a lot of dust from the air filter.

Still, got it cleared up, put it back in and drove the ten miles back to pavement (US 80).  I made sure to not drive behind any vehicle spewing the talcum-like dust that is typical of this part of Arizona.

Mariko drove fine with the recently cleared air filter!  Drove her a few miles along US80, US82 and back to the town of Tombstone where I got more gas and some snacks.

So, apparently I have to be more diligent about keeping the air filter clean in these dusty conditions and terrain.  Some chatting with the Sammy Guru: Mike W. might result in using an old t-shirt wrapped around the air filter to keep the dust out, perhaps an old sock on the intake tube of the air box.  We'll see.

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