Build your own pothole crawler

Ken Simmons
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The bombed-out streets of Insert-Crumbling-Democacy-Here would not hold a candle to the frost-ravaged thoroughfares of the Avalon Peninsula these days.
Yes, we could sit in our cars, lamenting our popped tires and ruined rims, but that's not the car-guy way, now, is it? No, we look at the situation, determine the weaknesses of our machinery and undertake the proper project to attack this daunting terrain.

Now, all the best projects start from scratch. You sit down, list out what you want out of your car, figure the shortest/cheapest way to reach that goal, then start shopping.

For this little exercise, we shall defer to the folks for whom a sound thrashing is always the prime directive - the four-wheelers.

Off-road enthusiasts know what it take to make their vehicle stand up to the worst cowpaths and washed-out riverbeds they can find. So they're perfect for, say, Topsail Road.

Step 1: vehicle selection.

You want something small, and light. It needs to be manoeuvrable enough to dodge the worst of the emaciated pavement. It needs to have minimal overhang front and rear. Don't want that front bumper getting hung up on the asphalt when the nose drops into your average mid-lane sinkhole.

Don't be afraid to look around your personal wrecking yard for the additional parts you'll need. Axles, springs, various suspension upgrades, will all make your fresh project better able to take to the worst the St. John's, Paradise or C.B.S. councils can throw at you.

Step 2: safety.

As you develop your ride, remember to equip it with the little things that can help you out when the going gets really rough. Good, solid recovery points front and back are vital if you need a tow truck or crane to pull you back to the pockmarked surface. Mount up a winch, and carry a tow strap with a high enough rating to lift your car. A ladder might help you get close enough to the road to wave for help.

Step 3: tires and lift.

This is really the most important bit. Where the rubber hits the road, if you will. Bigger tires on smaller wheels are best. Choose a compound that can run in city traffic with low enough air pressure to effectively collapse against the jagged rim of your standard urban crater without leaving the wheel, and strong enough to withstand the abrasive force of our finest blacktop.

Larger tires will roll through - or over - the smaller obstacles with barely enough disruption to spill your coffee. Give your vehicle as much wheel travel as you can muster. A good 12-inch lift should soak up the bulk of the rubble on the morning commute.

Step 4: Tread lightly.

In the off-road world this means leaving Mother Nature in the same state you found her.

For our on-road excursions, it means taking a bit more time to get from A to B. Pothole crawling may not be a recognized motorsport yet, but its emergence is inevitable. Perfecting the right technique today will save your equipment for the ride home, and put you in winning form for a rugged riding future. Keep the shiny side up!

Ken Simmons, The Telegram's new media editor, breathes exhaust and exhales clean, fresh air. Twitter @Ken_Simmons_NL/Tumblr


Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: St. John's

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