The SOS Report. The Full Story


Dr. Frankenstein
The SOS Meet Report
Chapter 1: SOS!​

I know most people have seen these photos already, but they only help tell the story so much. So I decided to do a real report using photos from everyone and filling in the gaps with some words for those that enjoy taking the time to read. Granted, while I was there and did get a lot of everyone's opinions and reactions of others that were on the trip, it will be told by how I saw it and remember it. And if anything this is more for Me and the others that were there to just reminisce a bit. So grab a beer or postpone that work you're supposed to be doing on your computer and enjoy.

We start on Saturday August 10th, 2014. I get up at 7am to finish packing and doing last minute checks on Frankenstein before hitting to road. I have a LONG ways to go in a day and as usual, am late. It is practically a miracle I am even leaving as I just got the truck road worthy the day before after a different incident a month before.

Frank-3.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Thats a different story but needless to say, considering what I was about to do and hadn't had really any time to actually make sure it was 100%. I was a tad nervous. But I packed up and set off for the meeting place where my friends where waiting.

Kamiah Id.

A mere 550 miles or 9 hours to go. Granted that was nothing compared to the distance that some had driven to meet up there so I setup off hoping not to be too late.

Of course, I was late.

Few hours late to be exactly. But I finally showed up with the only drama being stereo issues I was glad to make it there. Waiting for me where my trusted wheeling companions Mike and Ben as well as a new addition to our group, Timmy.

IMG_7670 by digirat99, on Flickr

After a great meet and greet and some mandatory **** talking we set off on our adventure that we had all been waiting for and planing for 4 months. It had come at last.

Our first trail was the Lolo Motorway. A very easy simple dirt road that snakes along the tops of the Bitterroot mountains. Of course at this point it was quiet late and Mike isn't the late night wheel type so finding a camping spot was the agenda for the day.

We hit the dirt road and before long found a lovely camp site right off the road down a small path. It was in a small grove and fit the bill perfectly.

IMG_7673 by digirat99, on Flickr
IMG_5099 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
IMG_7677 by digirat99, on Flickr

We setup up tents, started the fire and made our dinners and settled in for our favorite part of the trip.

Bull****ting and arguing around the campfire :D :cheers:

That and interrogating our new friend Timmy.

Okay so mostly just me interrogating as Mike and Ben had a head start from the night before.

We had a lovely night and were all very anxious for the next day. Little did we know it would be..well..dramatic..

SOS by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

We awoke the next morning ready to hit the road hard. Mike, Ben, and I had been here before but the fires had been much worse so we where looking forward to a much more smoke free horizon.

Ben took the lead at the trail head

IMG_5101 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

As I said before the trail is not hard. A subaru could do it easily. BUT..what is fun is that it is easy. And twisty and lots of bumps and whoops to..test the suspension out. Which Mike, Ben and Timmy where all VERY eager to do as they all had relatively new setups up front. Mike had brand new Kings and Timmy had new ADS coil overs and Ben had..sort of new OME coil overs. However, Mike and Ben's rear setups where...well..sad ha. All of that was nothing compared to my totally shot suspension all the way around. Thank god for big tires and low pressure. I was pretty much using the aired down tires as my suspension.

But there was no sympathy for me. My pals left me in the dust out of sheer joy of the long open stretches of road.

I tail gunned naturally...BY CHOICE! :anon: okay not by choice totally..

Mike givin her the beans
SOS by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

This place is complete wilderness area. They do not fight the fires here. They hardly do anything at all to the area. Its great. The fire weed was everywhere here

SOS by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-6.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Once you get up to the ridge lines the road just bobs along the tops of the mountains and dips down into the saddles only to right back up to the next ridge. The views were great. Sadly, there were still some fires in the area so it was a bit smokey.


IMG_7703 by digirat99, on Flickr
IMG_5113 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
IMG_7704 by digirat99, on Flickr

One of the cool things about the area is there are lots of fire watch towers to go check out. We went to a new one this year and it was quiet the house!

SOSMeet-4.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

We tried to go in but once I moved the panel out of the way to step up we quickly decided it was a bad idea. The whole place had been infested by some sort of flying ant wasp type bug. So we retreated and continued down the road.

IMG_5133 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
SOSMeet-3.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-9.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-7.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

By this point we are nearing the end of the 100 miles of dirt road. We are on the last stretch. A new stretch for all of us as the last time we were here it was closed due to a mud slide.

We where all enjoying our evening when Frankenstein decided to..retaliate.

I was once again tail gunning and luckily not going super fast but I came up over a small whoop and when the truck exploded.

SOSMeet-17.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Luckily..if you can call it wasn't my first time and the instant it happened I reacted and somehow managed to keep it half on the road and the other half in the ditch on the right. Which was better then the 1000' cliff off the left side.

IMG_5137 by bspringli photography, on Flickr



A problem.

The damage was pretty bad. My rim was horribly bent. The steering rack was once again split in half and this time the passenger side mount had been ripped off the cross member. Brake line was destroyed and so was the CV axle and the bleeder valve on the brake caliper.

SOSMeet-19.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-20.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr
SOSMeet-18.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Not a trail fix type situation..

Also I apologize but the pictures are a bit thin here as we weren't totally focused on photos so this is a wordy section.

The problems just kept adding up. We were on a basically single lane road. With not a lot of room for others to pass, much less any room for a truck to turn around. Frankenstein was resting on the rim so getting him out of the ditch was an issue as well. Not to mention Frank had no brakes now and no steering. We had no way to tow Frank even if we got him out. I couldn't find a repeater on my HAM radio to get in touch with my dad and we knew there was no cell service within 40 miles until just outside Lolo, MT.

But this wasn't our first rodeo. So we came up with a plan and executed.

I knew that I needed my Dad. We had just gone through this and we knew how to fix it and how to trailer it. But he was 500 miles away back in wyoming. It would take him at least a day to get here. And we had to decide the best way for him to get to Frankenstein as there was NO room for him to turn around close by. So the options were have him drive 10 miles down the highway more and 10 miles on dirty to just drive in facing the right way. Or take the shorter route and back the trailer up to Frankenstein for a mile.

We sent lead foot Ben off to Lolo to call my Dad to bring a trailer and the FRV, the only rig we knew of that could tow the fat *** of Frankenstein the speed limit. He set off in a cloud of dust and a phone number to make the rescue call.

This left Mike, Timmy and I with the problem of getting Frank out of the damn ditch. It took a long time but we ended up using two high lifts to lift Frank off his own tire so we could get him to move. Then I used my own winch to winch off of Mikes truck to pull him out. Amazingly I found I actually still had power steering to the drivers side wheel, but only in one direction. I used the engine and reverse gear in 4lo as my brake. We would jack the truck up and place the blown out LBJ on a log and slowly winch it forward. Using this we got him out of the ditch.

SOSMeet-23.jpg by Monte Nickles Photos, on Flickr

Then Mike had a good idea.

Using my shovel we placed it under the LBJ. Timmy held on to the handle to semi “steer” Frank and Mike got in his rig and pulled me while I used the clutch as a brake to not kill Timmy. Using this method, We drug Frankenstein about 20 yards down the road to a sort of wide spot to get him off the road with plenty of room for my dad to either pull bye or back up too. The shovel barely had a dent in it after. Quite the shovel!

Jacked up the truck and put some wood under the LBJ and Frank was good! Least good enough for me to camp in.

We then set up camp. Right in the middle of the road. Luckily it was not a popular road so this wasn't a major issue. But we had no place to go really. So I took my frustration out on splitting logs and we had a fire in the center of the road before long.

Ben finally showed up with a rather humorous story on how the phone call went. It went something like this.




Ben-”Hey Steve, this is Ben, from Tacoma world?”

Dad-”Oh yea! Hows it going bud?”

Ben-”Not...not great. We need you to come tow Monte. He broke another lower ball joint on the trail.”

Dad-”......................You ************* kidding me?”

Ben-”What? No sir, he broke the other one this time. We are at the end of the Lolo and he wants you to bring the trailer and everything from last time. Its real bad. Worse then last time.”

Dad-”I told the bastard to replace the other one! There is internet proof! I posted it on the internet!”


Love that guy. It was a great bit of humor to hear in the situation and to me really was nice to hear my Dad having a bit of a sense of humor about it.

Anyways my Dad said he would leave the next morning and would be there sometime in the afternoon.

Despite my frustration. We had another fun night under the stars. It wasn't the worse camp site. Then again it never matters when you are with good friends in an great place with good drink and a campfire. And an awesome Dad for that matter. One that I can always call out SOS to and will always respond.


The Theme of the trip..It has begun.

To be continued!

The Rescue and Repair?
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New member
Looking forward to reading the rest.

Thanks for sharing with us. Sounds like you've got a great bunch of friends and great backup!


Dr. Frankenstein
Thanks guys! I do have some great wheeling buddies and family.

I have chapter 2 done but waiting for the next page to keep the loading time down per page. Writing chapter 3 now.


New member
I suppose the big question is: Was there proof he told you to replace the other one? Cuz if the internet says so you can't dispute that ******t


Dr. Frankenstein
Chapter 2: Rescue and Repair?​

The next day was a slow one. Very slow. It was a day of waiting. Luckily Timmy came prepared and taught us how to play Dominos. And for some reason Ben was very good at, which bothered Timmy.

Eventually we wasted enough time away for Ben and Timmy to hop in Bens truck and head off to Lolo to try and meet my Dad to show him the way to Frankenstein. Mike and I stayed and blasted some tunes from Frankenstein while monitoring my HAM radio waiting to hear from my Dad.

I was in the middle of explaining the pros to HAM to Mike when my Dad called me on the radio. His first question was:

“So who you gonna ride ***** with for the rest of the trip? Cause we are still doing Morrison”

Over the fire the night before We were all pretty much decided that Frank was out for the count. There was no coming back from this in the few days we had till our scheduled run up the Morrison Jeep trail. And I had been pretty adamant about not riding shotgun as I had done that before the first time Frank broke and I could barely stand it.

Everyone else was set on me coming but we hadn't come up with a compromise yet asI wasn't to the point of being ready to ride shotgun for the next week and no one wanted me to drive their rig after the track record I had been building up this summer.

Can't say I blame them...

Turns out Ben had spotted my dad driving down the highway towards the Lolo and they passed each other on the highway. Luckily, Ben recognized my Dads rig, The FRV, short for The Frankenstein Recovery Vehicle. But its pretty easy to spot too, especially with a trailer.

FRV to the rescue, living up to its name
IMG_5146 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Ben showed my dad where to go and Dad proceeded to back up the trailer a mile up hill on a skinny cliff side road. ************

IMG_5150 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Of course it wasn't the first time my Dad had been sucked into a tacoma meet via me breaking ****. So he was rather jolly about being out in the hills and showing off the truck. It was great to see him. We sprung into action getting Frankenstein on the trailer as we had a lot of ground to cover to get to back home to Powell.

Overall, it went pretty smooth as my Dad and I had just done this a month earlier. The “technique” of winching up a wheelless truck was still fresh in our minds. Mike Timmy, and Ben all stood back and let us do our thing lending the very much appreciated hand when needed.

IMG_5153 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Winching Frank up the trailer
IMG_5156 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Getting Blocks set on the skid
IMG_5163 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Whats left of the passenger side...everything..
IMG_5166 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

And of course as we were finishing up I gave Frankenstein a bit too hard of a slap on the *** and bent the tail gate..sheesh..
IMG_5167 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
Not much room
IMG_5165 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Amazingly, we had Frankenstein out of the woods within an hour of my Dad showing up. Now it was the real test of the FRV. We had just regear the FRV so the 34'' tires weren't as big an issue as last time we towed Frankenstein. However, the mountain passes we were about to cross were going to put a strain on the supercharged beast.

Least The FRV would sound good while doing it. And come on. From the right angle. FRV towing Frankenstein looks DAMN good :D

IMG_5170 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

However on the other side Frankenstein looses his..bad assness..

IMG_5171 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Needless to say our caravan of tacomas led by the trailered Frankenstein got a LOT of looks as we drove through Lolo and Missoula MT. And continued to on the interstate. Was rather humorous.

But then the the Old Mans bones began to ache and he demanded we find a place to camp. Once again, Mike isn't a fan of the dark.

Luckily I new of a place we could go just outside Missoula so we shot for that. It almost didn't work out but somehow we found a rather nice spot up in a canyon by a creek. We setup camp and once again. Enjoyed the campfire. My Dad really spiced up the party by bring some real liquor to put some lead in Ben's he so eloquently put it..hahaha!

Our campsite for the night.
IMG_5186 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

The next morning we awoke ready for the very long trip to Powell of all highway. But Timmy decided to make the morning a bit more interesting.

Somehow in the night he managed to find a way to slash most of the layers of the outer side wall on his front passenger KM2. So now there was a very large bulge poking out of the tire. We all deemed it unsafe for travel. So while he unpacked his spare, my Dad and I ripped off the old one and helped put on the new one. Everything seemed great and we hit the road. Until Timmy came over the radio reporting that his rim was rubbing his brakes.

This is a very common issue with running 15'' rims on the later years of the 1st gens. Mike promptly offered up his spare as he was the only other one in the group with a 33x10.5r15 and it was mounted on a rim that he knew for sure would fit on Timmy's rig as he had tested it on his. So we pulled over first chance we got and changed his tire again.

IMG_5194 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

After this we finally hit the interstate
IMG_5195 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

FRV managed to get a whoppin 6mpg! So on one of our MANY fuel stops :laugh: we were eatting lunch in Bozeman and all decided to try and fine a new tire for Timmy somewhere close by considering that finding one near Powell would be damn near impossible.

Well, turns out finding one anywhere in Wy or Mt was damn near impossible. Of all places, Sears was able to get one for Timmy to Billings, a 100 miles away from Powell. But it was better then nothing so he ordered it and we figured we would pick it up later.

Stopped at another gas station

IMG_5199 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

This particular gas station had a lovely vending machine in the restroom. Of its many magical items there was one that stuck out to us all and I bought it promptly to give to our good friend Old man Mike.

I think it speaks for itself don't you?

IMG_5201 by bspringli photography, on Flickr


So despite that day being spent on asphalt roads, we still had a good time.

On the way down my Dad and I had a lot of time to brainstorm on what to do with Frankenstein. Usually lots of time to brainstorm between us leads to trouble but this time we where thinking of truck saving ideas. We really assessed the damage and decided, it really wasn't that bad. All we needed was a new LBJ and steering rack and I had all the other parts. The key to the whole thing would be finding a newish steering rack in one of the three local junk yards.

Now originally we had planned for the next few days to be mod days. Ben was getting a new frankenleaf pack from me and we had some fun projects lined out to do to Mikes truck. Mike was more then willing to sacrifice his mod time to bring back Frankenstein from the dead and graciously offered to wait on the mods for another day :cheers:. Ben was in a pickle and needed the rear leafs however.
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Dr. Frankenstein
Chapter 2 Continued

I was more then willing to fix Ben's leafs and we started the next morning as I figured it would take 2 hours tops.

IMG_7713 by digirat99, on Flickr

Boy was I wrong. I had failed to take into account the much much more humid environment that Ben's truck lives in and the front leaf hanger bolts were fuzed in good. So. The cutting tools came out.

IMG_5228 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Amidst all of this Timmy decided to add a hand throttle for fun. It was an easy and cheap mod and would come in handy for winching....when he gets a winch haha

IMG_7715 by digirat99, on Flickr

Ben's truck fought a bit more but eventually we got his old leafs out. His Frankleaf pack ended up being a newer stock leaf pack with an added Skyjacker leaf I had lying around and his old AAL. It turned out damn near perfect.

IMG_5247 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
IMG_7722 by digirat99, on Flickr

Then the big project started. We pulled Frankenstein in to the shop as much as we could as the rain had started to fall. The goal was to get the passenger wheel back on so we could get Frank up on the car lift so I could reweld in the steering rack mount. I had ordered a new LBJ from the parts store that morning and it had shown up that afternoon amazingly.

You could say we are toyota Fans. 6 tacomas and a per taco. :cool: is it weird that 4 of them are my own families? :anon: :cool:

IMG_5258 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Dad and I going basaltic on Frankenstein. MUST FIX!

IMG_5252 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
IMG_7736 by digirat99, on Flickr

service your ball joints people!
IMG_7735 by digirat99, on Flickr

Whats left of my old rim..
IMG_7742 by digirat99, on Flickr
IMG_7748 by digirat99, on Flickr

It actually didn't take super long to get the wheel back on and we where able to get Frank up on the lift.

At this point my Dad and I left to our favorite Junk yard where I was pretty sure we would find our steering rack. The whole trip was hanging on finding a steering rack at this point for me.

Ben and Timmy where rather bored of being in the peanut gallery and took the opportunity to go explore some local country I usually bang around in.

IMG_5285 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Plus Ben had to go test out the new leafs
IMG_5286 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
IMG_5296 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

It's worth noting that amongst all of this my Mother, Sister and Brother had all run up to Billing for shopping or something and had graciously picked up Timmy's new tire for us. Worked out great!

But back to the steering rack mission. We drove out of town to the junk yard and went to the one tacoma we knew was there that we had robbed parts of of before. heart sank as I approached it and say there was no steering rack in. We had come so close to finishing. We went back up to office and asked if he had anymore tacomas to which he replied no. Then I asked if he had any 4runner in the yard and lo and behold he did!

Of course it had no wheels on it at all and was flat on the ground so that made extracting the steering rack quiet a *****. But there was no motor so that was handy. After wrestling with it for a good while we finally left with my new steering rack and headed back to the shop.

From here We were able to get the mount lined back up close and I started welding

Pretty cool photos eh?

IMG_5272 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
IMG_5269 by bspringli photography, on Flickr

Used some good ole elbow grease to get **** lined up
IMG_5273 by bspringli photography, on Flickr
IMG_7749 by digirat99, on Flickr

3 racks in a month..sheesh..

IMG_7752 by digirat99, on Flickr

At 11:20pm that night. Frankenstein was declared alive..again. Now with the 10th donor truck giving parts to his cause he really was frankenstein. Exhausted, we went home and had a small fire in the back yard before passing out.

But I wasn't out of the woods yet.

My alignment was off..okay not off it was ****ed. I had to get it in to a tire shop and we only liked one shop in town. Who naturally was booked solid. I got there there minute they opened and left Frank there for them to try and squeeze in at the end on the day, but there were no promises.

We took this day to shower up, do some laundry and enjoy some good food. But I was anxious all day praying Frank would be okay.

Around 4:30 with no phone call, my Dad and I went to go pick him up assuming the worst. But when we pulled up we saw Frankenstein up on the rack! As we walked into the shop the tech smiled and said “good timing! You're good to go!” I couldn't believe it.

Apparently the alignment was hardly out of spec other then the toe being completely off. He didn't even charge me, saying “ Oh im sure ill be seeing you again, a lot more”. Considering it was the second time I had seen him in a week, he was right. Got my business! Even mounted my tire on a spare rim Mike had brought for me. I thanked him extensively and drove Frank home.

Granted, didn't feel the same and turned a bit harder then usually. But all seemed well. The camp fire that night was great and the excitement of the next trail began to sink in.

We were about to take on the infamous Morrison Jeep trail. Only I had done it before and figured it would be a cake walk considering previous experiences. My god was I wrong. So, so wrong.

But we didn't know that yet. We where all still trying to come to grips with the fact we had managed to repair Frankenstein in 11 hours. As far as we where concerned. Nothing else could go wrong! Once again.We were wrong. So, sooooo wrong.

To be Continued..

Chapter 3:
The Longest Day


Dr. Frankenstein
Have you considered changing over to a solid front axle on your truck?
Yes. Especially after all of that. All in all though. It doesn't fit what i need out of the truck or want. I have a Long travel kit coming though to give me more flex and be more fun on the big open dirt roads out here.

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