Battleship Jones: 2015 Tacoma DCLB Build Thread


So in what appears to be a now annual tradition, the wife and I took off for Moab, UT over the Memorial Day weekend. The plan was to hop in the truck on Friday and head west towards Gateway, CO. I had read about another all dirt route from CO to UT (did the Kokopelli Trail last year) and was curious to check it out as it was supposed to dump you on the back side of the La Sals and descend down towards Moab.

We took off around 4:30 on Friday and after working our way through rush hour, torrential rains on the east side of the Eisenhower tunnel and then some snow on the west side of the Eisenhower we finally bunkered down in the access road to the Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area at 11:30 at night. The next morning we were treated to daylight as we traversed the remaining portion of route 141 and ended up in Gateway, CO. Gateway was an amusing little town boasting a massive, world renowned resort but also being absolutely tiny. Making our way through town we ended up at the trailhead for the Gateway Road/John Brown Canyon. Knowing we had another 57 miles of dirt to go before we touched asphalt again I aired down for comfort.

20160528-IMG_0109 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

The road itself wasn't difficult at all. You could navigate it in a Subaru in fact, but amazing sights and cool roads aren't limited to ones only navigable by full blown offroad vehicles. We made our way up out of the canyon bottom and into the high country. Not that long afterwards we hit the CO/UT border that was distinguished by a spray painted fence in what was perhaps the most shoddy state border crossing I have ever seen.

20160528-IMG_1373 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

The La Sals continued to grow in size and still appeared to have a sizable snow pack up in the higher elevations which eliminated my plan of trying to cross over or through them. No matter, I had already mapped a route for us that brought us north of the mountain range. We reached the Polar Mesa/Thomson Canyon junction and turned right towards the Mesa. The first part of the journey was mellow and we were treated to watching a couple of women and cattle dogs drive a herd of cattle. It was pretty neat for them to split at the truck and we had cows on both sides of the truck. It was like a time traveling experience.

After that the trail turned vertical and we headed up the switchbacks that ascend the mesa. Once again, nothing too steep or difficult, just chugging up them. The mesa top is reached fairly quickly and we headed out to the little lollipop that gives you access to the views and mines. We wandered around that area for a little bit before pulling out the awning and getting some lunch.

20160528-IMG_1374 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

At this point the camera went away for a bit as we re-traced our steps and took the cutoff towards Thomson Canyon. It proved to be a long descent off of the mesa top into a canyon bottom. Once again not that difficult but still provided enough challenge to make things interesting. We weaved our way through the canyon bottom and made our way up the very step shelf road exit. At this point we were at the termination point of the Onion Creek trail with the choice of either going up Rose Garden Hill or out towards highway 128. I decided not to push my luck and turned the truck towards Onion Creek road. We splish splashed through the dozen or so creek crossings along the way. It was a unique trail following the spine of a ridge with the creek running on either side. Video to come later. Anyway, I won't bore anyone with the details but we spent the rest of the day going into Moab for a few supplies then navigating the dispersed camping north of town with our 10 million other best friends.

Sunday we decided to head to Canyonlands National Park. The majority of the day was uneventful, just a mash-up of navigating through the hordes of rude and inconsiderate people while peeping pretty awe inspiring canyon views. Snapped a quick selfie of the wife and I up top.

20160529-IMG_1386 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

And Mesa Arch. Pretty killer views, only marred by the fact that it's a mere 1/2 mile off of the main road.

20160529-IMG_1389 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

I had the foresight to get a permit for the White Rim Road earlier in the day when we stopped at the visitor center. The conversation with the kind lady went something like this, "Do you have an appropriate vehicle for the trip?" Me "Yes." Her "With a high and low range transfer case?" Me "Yes" Her "And at least 8" of ground clearance?" Me "Yes." And so it was, we got a day permit for the trip. I did overhear one ranger lady with a finely tuned bullsh!t detector shut down a guy who was inquiring about the White Rim Road who clearly had no clue what was down there nor did he have the proper vehicle to do so. I giggled to myself listening to her refuse to give him any further information.

Anyway, we aired down and headed down the Shafer Switchbacks. They were narrow, steep, and exposed in places but nothing a little engine braking couldn't control.

Once at the bottom we were faced with the choice of heading out and back on the White Rim Road or heading north to Potash Road and back to town. I chose the later but made sure to stop at Gooseneck Point to check out how the Colorado River meandered through the park.

20160529-IMG_1401 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

And turning around to see where we had come from.

20160529-IMG_1402 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

The trip out was kind of a trip. Like being on a foreign planet at points as the salt formed giant white crusties and dried up salty rivers left their mark on the landscape. We passed by the huge open air ponds of the Moab Salt LLC before hitting the Potash company as the road turned to pavement. Such concluded the 4wd portion of the trip, however we still had a few more activities before we returned home.

20160529-IMG_1404 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Monday = Mountain bike day! I rented a bike at Poison Spider, gave my bike to the wife, then hit up the Klondike Bluff trails. We stuck to the easy/intermediate stuff as she is still learning and I didn't want to make that mistake again. We both had fun, the terrain there was very conducive to a beginner.

20160530-IMG_1449 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

We returned the bike after making it all the way to the pavement before I realized I left the front wheel of the rental at the trailhead. Oopsies! With that in hand we returned the bike, grabbed some food and ice cream, then booked it out of town back towards Colorado. We came up with an impromptu plan to hike Hanging Lake on the way back. Things were in our favor as we snagged one of the 50 or so parking spaces shortly before 9am. It was a good hike, not terribly difficult but still pretty steep as you ascend over 1,000' in a bit over a mile. It was well worth it to see this CO gem.

20160531-IMG_1468 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Amazingly the Spouting Rock waterfall, only a mere 1/4 mile away, received way less than half the traffic but was no less spectacular. There were a grand total of 4 waterfalls, one coming off of the top then 3 progressively shorter ones coming out of the rock itself. We played around those for a while going behind them and taking pictures.

20160531-IMG_1478 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Then I got tired of typing so we hiked down and uneventfully drove back to Denver.

The end.
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Watt maker

Active member
Sounds like an awesome trip and amazing pics! Definitely on my bucket list.

Moab in May seems to be very busy. We went to Moab on Labor day weekend and found it to be a lot less busy.


Sounds like an awesome trip and amazing pics! Definitely on my bucket list.

Moab in May seems to be very busy. We went to Moab on Labor day weekend and found it to be a lot less busy.
Yup. We were talking to the waitress at the Moab Diner and she said it's pretty crazy between the Easter Jeep Safari and Memorial Day and then from Labor Day through October. Outside of those time periods the weather is probably a bit of a deterrent for most folks. Oh well, I'll reaaaaally have to consider non-ideal weather next year to avoid the hordes of people.

Dances with Wolves

aka jk240sx
Great trip report. I tend to stay out of Moab at easter/spring because of the crowds. I prefer going in October, less rain and way fewer people.


After a year and a half the rear suspension on my truck needed a bit of refreshing. The Dakar leaf pack was rusty, had settled a bit with all the weight, and the leafs would shift and make a creak noise. So I decided to rip it apart, do the D29XL add a leaf kit, and install the pinion angle correction shim to bring things back in line a bit.

So on Saturday I got up early and went to work ripping things apart. Everything came apart with no problem and within a few hours things were looking pretty empty back there.

IMG_1564 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Once the leaf packs were out it wasn't too much effort until they were disassembled. Look kinda gross eh?

IMG_1563 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

I only wanted to do this job once so while I was at it I decided it was only appropriate to paint everything so I wouldn't be tackling this again in a few years. Along with rebuilding the pack I dumped the larger of the two overload leafs. A fresh coat of Chassis Saver and things looked quite a bit better!

IMG_1565 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Given the higher humidity and temperatures the paint was drying very quickly, so I let things sit for the night then re-assembled the packs the next morning. It was a bit of a bear to get the centering pin through the whole thing by myself but I managed to get them both back together and wrestled into the truck. Things bolted back up easily but given that I needed new u-bolts after all that time I decided to do the u-bolt flip at the same time. I went with the Timbren Active Off Road kit, at $170 shipped I thought it was a pretty good deal for that setup. I did have to strip the paint off of the kit right out of the box cause the paint was chipping off, a coat of Chassis Saver fixed things right up though.

IMG_1570 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

I also scored a set of Icon 2.0 RR shocks off of the interwebz for a pretty penny so I jumped on it. Figure I can offset the cost by selling my current ones while scoring some shocks that will deliver better performance. If aesthetics are an indicator these things are sweet!

Angle shims did exactly what they were supposed to. My pinion angle was off before though I didn't notice any sort of adverse effects; the angle shims can't hurt as they should help with seal and u-joint life.

IMG_1567 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Anyway, long time no update! Been riding my mountain bike a lot recently, that was of course until some piece of ******** stole it. But that is a story for another time.
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Did you do everything yourself? I need to freshen up my leaf pack too and replace one of the leaves I took out when I first installed them. How hard is it to get the leaves out and back in without an extra set of hands? Also how is the new set up working for you?


Did you do everything yourself? I need to freshen up my leaf pack too and replace one of the leaves I took out when I first installed them. How hard is it to get the leaves out and back in without an extra set of hands? Also how is the new set up working for you?
I did do everything myself yes. It wasn't too bad to wrestle the leaf packs in and out of the truck, though I can certainly say I wouldn't have minded a second set of hands to assist in their removal and installation.

I am very happy with the change in behavior of the rear suspension now. I think removal of the larger overload leaf has made my suspension less progressive in a good way. It is still progressive mind you, there's just not a harsh ramp up when you start to get into the travel, more of a smooth transition into bump/overload and it gradually ramps up. Softer but still controlled. It should allow me to use more of my up-travel that was previously unavailable except for extreme cross axle kind of moves. I would definitely recommend doing something similar for those who find their Dakar leaf pack a bit harsh.


Thanks for the info! I don't have much weight in the back so I have the dakars with a leaf removed. The ride and flex are great on and off road when not hauling anything. But when weighed down by camping gear, the back sits a bit low and I don't have much up-travel. Bump stops like you got might do the trick on their own, but I think I'm just going to have to live with putting the lead back in and having a stiffer set up in back to get the performance I want when loaded up.


New member
Hey did you have lunch at Subway on West Colfax last week? I think I saw your truck there if you did.



Just checking in to report that not much is going on. Recently had my Icon coilovers rebuilt as they were making a clunk noise over bumps that required extension and compression in quick succession. Guy who rebuilt them said the oil level appeared to be okay, so I'm guessing the nitrogen pressure was low. The rebuild corrected that and they are up to snuff. I also took the opportunity to replace the ball joints on the upper control arms with the latest iteration from Light Racing. They have a grease nipple for additional longevity. Yay for that!


Bumpity bumpity! Got a little bit of catching up to do.

First up with a trip for my 30th birthday. The wife and I stayed local and went up to Breckenridge for the day before retiring to the woods by Keystone.

Happy birthday to me!
20160709-IMG_3619 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

And on the way down. Nice views I'd say.
20160710-IMG_3620 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Of course with our dogs any camping trip is a challenge. They are downright crazy about exploring whatever woods are around the campsite and will get up super duper early (like 4am) whining to go play. Solution was to make some Reflectix shades for all of the windows, it seems to trick them into sleeping another 2 or so hours. Then we wake up to this
20160714-IMG_3655 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

They wore themselves out pretty good which is the only time the white/black one will snuggle. On the way home we had a couple of tired children.
20160710-IMG_3621 by Tim Souza, on Flickr
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A few weeks after that we headed to Crested Butte for the annual Wildflower Festival. It's kind of a neat place to be anyway, it was super cool with all of the flowers at their peak. It is a subtle show but majestic when you find the right pockets. Anyway, onto the pictures! And sorry for my love of panoramic, I felt they did a better job at capturing the scene.

We both love Crested Butte for it's homegrown mountain town feel. Being further away from Denver than the rest of the major ski towns it's a bit more organic and homegrown. In spite of the affluence of the area it remains relatively untarnished and there's a ton of exploring and things to do around there. Welcome to town!
IMG_1605 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

We spent the day in town just hanging around before heading out along the Paradise Divide to find some camping. It's a pretty neat little trail, not difficult or anything, just scenic. Along the way we passed by Emerald 20160715-IMG_3670 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

We continued up the Paradise Divide before topping out at Schofield Pass. Schofield is the infamous route that a lot of GPS units will take you if you try and go from CB to Aspen, but you will quickly come to regret that advice when you hit the Devil's Punchbowl. That was not on the agenda for this trip and we continued onwards, through the woods and the river. Literally, stream crossing.
20160715-IMG_3677 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

We ended up at the base of Cinnamon Mountain for the night in a secluded little spot. Great views and there was a nearby trail to hike.

IMG_1611 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

IMG_1615 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Nothing like relaxing by a nice fire to ward off the cold and usher in the stars.

20160715-IMG_3742 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

And what flower festival related photo story would be complete without a picture of at least one flower. The state flower of Colorado, the Columbine!

20160715-IMG_3735 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

We came down Washington Gulch road back into CB and got the line on a few more wildflower type hikes. No pictures but we enjoyed a nice stroll through a mountain meadow looking at the various specimens on display. That night we switched it up a bit and decided to find a campground outside of trail. We hopped on Pearl Pass and started heading up a bit. The trail got a bit rougher and necessitated dropping it into 4-low to crawl up a few sections which was good as it kept the crowds to a minimum. We lucked out and found a great little camp spot tucked into a grove of aspen trees.

IMG_1698 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

It was at least great on the surface but had a bazillion biting flies. It was still pretty nice in spite of that, the wife and I grilled up some steak and potatoes, dragged our chairs to the overlook right outside the site and watched the sun set.

IMG_1694 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

The next day was our departure day but we did our best to get in a little bit more exploring before heading out. We went up Kebler Pass and took the roundabout way back to Gunnison on Forest Road 730. This had a few offshoot trails that we took but were rather dismayed to find that the forest service roads were all closed off 5 or so miles in necessitating turning around. No matter however, taking the road less traveled sure beats the pavement way.

And that concludes the adventure to Crested Butte!
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One thing that has struck me as a definite minus of the truck since the beginning has been the abysmal light output of the reverse lights when trying to back up at night. In urban settings they are mediocre, once I got away from any ambient light contributions they are pretty bad. Backing into spaces in the dark was a bit of a challenge and I've had to resort to making sure I stay on the brakes a little bit to allow the tail lights to throw a little bit more light on the situation. I took the first steps in remedying that this past weekend.

Went over to a friends house who was looking to perform the same mod and we meticulously laid out the areas that needed to be cut. Measure twice, independently verify position and orientation, then give er the ole eyeball check. Looks pretty okay to me.

IMG_9318-2 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Then came the point of no return. We popped holes at each of the corners of the cut to establish a radius before hogging out a hole large enough to fit a jig saw blade in there. The jig saw made surprisingly quick work of things and after a bit of finessing the holes were cut. No turning back!

IMG_9319 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

I intentionally cut all holes undersized as there's always an opportunity to remove more metal, not so much to put it back. The plan worked out pretty well as all that was left was a bit of file work before the lights slipped in.

IMG_9321-2 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

Drilled all 4 mounting holes before pulling the lights for a quick coat of Frame Saver on the raw metal edges. Having lived on the East Coast for the majority of my life I have a healthy respect and fear of rust and the toll it can take on a vehicle. I let the paint dry overnight before plopping the lights in the next day.

IMG_1819 by Tim Souza, on Flickr

They aren't wired at the moment, I still need to track down a few supplies for that venture. The idea is to put them on on/off/on switches then tap into the reverse light circuit so I can have them come on with the reverse lights, turned off, or come on independently. With that in mind I have a feeling one of my next mods will be redoing my electrical system to something a bit cleaner than what the Blue Sea block offers.

And for those who are wondering why I am going through all of this effort to retain the stock bumper rather than just upgrading to an aftermarket that has all of the features I'm apparently trying to add, it's rooted in my desire to keep the stock tow hitch. Things are looking like towing a camper will be in my future and I'd rather the peace of mind with the rated tow hitch than the variability of an aftermarket. So stock bumper it is as much as I would love to be able to upgrade to something with a swingout I could mount the spare tire on.
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