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Rig Review - What worked and what didn't at the end of 2022?

December 18, 2022.

The final three months of 2022 have seen several more trips and the Tacoma has weathered them well (as usual). Interestingly, while the set of trips is large, the actual driving for these trips has been relatively small:

The Olympic Peninsula - while large - is located in our home state, eliminating the long drives to-and-from that have become so common. The Highway Hikes and Panamint City trips in Death Valley shared a single the long drive south, and added (essentially) no off-pavement travel to the Tacoma. Even the Inyo East trip - during which we explored several canyons leading into the Inyo Mountains - encompassed fewer than 100 miles of dirt roads.

With that in mind, let's get down to it.

Blackstone Labs Oil Test - My Engine is Happy

The full report, minus my deets.

TL;DR - I had my first oil analysis done, and with 235K miles on the Tacoma, it came back great.

I'm Not Happy with SPC (the Company)

Older SPC UCAs with SpecRide bushings vs. newer arms with the X-Axis joint.

TL;DR - I no longer recommend SPC upper control arms (UCAs) if they contain X-Axis bushings.

I Got Another Flat with My Cooper ST/Maxx

That's not right either. After running on this for two miles or so at 65mph, even though it looks pretty normal, the tire is toast.

TL;DR - I got my third Cooper ST/Maxx flat ever, all on the same set (my fourth) of tires. I still think they are one of the best tires out there.

The Zipper on the CVT Tent is Shit (resolved)

End of the road.

TL;DR - The zipper finally failed catastrophically. Both CVT and YKK had amazing customer service and solved the problem in different ways.

I'm Starting to Question My Choice of GPS Navigation Software (new)

The detail of our location using BCN (left) and Gaia (right).

TL;DR - For years I've used Backcountry Navigator. After checking out Gaia on our last trip, I'm considering a switch.

The Rear Diff is Weeping (new)

Caked dust - a telltale sign of a slow leak.

TL;DR - the form in place gasket (FIPG) used to seal the carrier to the rear axle housing is leaking just a tad and needs replacing.

The Transmission is Leaking (new)

Is this cavity ever dry? In real life?

TL;DR - The seal in the transmission that accepts the input shaft from the transmission is leaking and needs to be replaced.

Carrying Three (3) Jerry Cans of Fuel (Impressions)

These are the best fuel canisters out there. They are hard to get in the United States, but if you can, you should.

TL;DR - I've begun to carry three, 20L Scepter military jerry cans full of fuel and despite the extra weight, it's been great.

The Canon R6 and RF Lenses (Two-Year Review)

Love this thing!

TL;DR - I don't ever really mention them, but my Canon R6 and lenses are doing great.

Seemingly solved from previous Rig Reviews

  1. The Zipper on the CVT Tent is Shit

Unchanged / Still an issue from previous Rig Reviews

There are some things that have been featured in Rig Reviews that are - as yet - unchanged from when I originally reviewed them. Rather than highlight those things again, I'll simply link to them here.

  1. My Suspension Squeaks
  2. Skid plate attachment could be better




More Rig Reviews


  1. SK
    SK January 23, 2023

    I've been too cheap to pay for Gaia but I am pretty happy with the openstreetmap data via the OrganicMaps app. free with downloadable maps for the whole planet.

    • turbodb
      turbodb January 23, 2023

      Thanks for the tip SK - I hadn’t heard of that app before and I just checked it out. Looks like a pretty good light weight mapping app!

      Probably a little bit too lightweight for me, as I need to have at least public land designations, but I can imagine that this would be great for many, many scenarios.

    JOHN D MORAN January 23, 2023

    Great update/reviews! Also, probably, very helpful! Sorry to hear about the bearing problem. Great to hear that CVT & YKK did you good. I've been concerned (from day 1) about the cover/zipper on my BodyArmor tent. The cover fits so tight that it's a huge chore to get it back on and zip the darned thing up. I struggle with the cover in effort & time more than anything else. Originally thought the cover would stretch in time and BodyArmor customer service sucks when it comes to advice. I've been looking at GAIA also & when spring comes (travel season) may try it out. Congrats on your oil analysis, you're doing something right evidently! I've been driving my pickup for a few weeks since all new shocks and front end lift and it's much more comfortable. Still not sure if I'll need a front end alignment as tire wear shows nothing (looks even) in spite of looking like it's off a bit. Always enjoy your trips AND you're equipment analysis!

    • sk
      sk January 23, 2023

      yeah public land designators are indeed helpful

  3. Tom
    Tom January 23, 2023


    • turbodb
      turbodb January 23, 2023

      Thanks Tom!

  4. Sam Wilson
    Sam Wilson January 23, 2023

    I used to use backcountry navigator exclusively(except for paper maps as a back up) for my offline GPS use and it seems like the past 2 years, the interface and downloading have gotten more difficult to use, so I have been using CalTopo(out in the field) now in combo with Google Earth (on the desktop) and that has been working nicely. I think I will be transitioning fully to CalTopo once it proves itself over time. Thanks for all your posts !

    • turbodb
      turbodb January 23, 2023


      Over the last couple years, I have started using Backcountry Navigator XE and I find its downloading interface to be better than Backcountry Navigator Pro (the old version).

      However, I’ve never found XE to be as stable as Pro, so I’ve been using a combination of the two on trips, XE to do real time mapping, and PRO to record the track of the trip.

      I haven’t used GaiaGPS get myself, but so far it seems to have better maps for the real time navigation, and my wife seems to be able to record tracks just fine. I will probably give it a try, in conjunction with BCN on an upcoming trip.

  5. David Devoucoux
    David Devoucoux January 23, 2023

    I love Gaia. I bought the pro version. The layers are amazing. They are constantly working on new features as well.
    Recommended, Dan....
    P.S. I'm deleting two other programs(not to be named) as they are no longer needed!

  6. Machine Man aka Kurt
    Machine Man aka Kurt January 23, 2023

    I purchased Gaia Pro about 4 years ago and am very happy with it. You need to plan ahead to download maps so you have fast internet if you don't have every detail of a trip planned when you leave home. I am using it mainly on an old iPad and that works out quite well. There are no USB ports in my 1st Gen Tacoma so we pack a small inverter with a cigarette lighter plug that offers both 120 VAC and also has 2 USB ports. With this we can charge the iPad when driving during the day which works great for use in the vehicle. We also pack a 6 Ah, 12 VDC Lithium ion battery and a suitable battery charger but we mainly use that for running an awesome old Sharp boombox for listening to music while camping.

    In the Death Valley area there is a CalTopo map that has many features located by users which is worth checking out.

    I went through a zipper repair a few years back on an old good quality down bag that I just couldn't throw away. It is a 10 degree rated bag so deals with most of the 3 season work in DVNP & dry climates except in winter at higher elevations. After a lot of screwing around I was able to match the YKK zipper pull and the little brass clamp that holds the pull captive which were both from a vendor on Amazon. Worked like a charm and the whole repair probably cost $8. Almost like new.

    Bummer about the seal leaks and rear diff flange leak. The diff leak is probably due to not putting the sealant on perfectly when you pulled rear axles and removed the 3rd member (can't remember what repair you were doing). I would think that is a very minor leak and it appears to be near the top of the flange where 90W is not normally in contact with housing (shouldn't be a lot of driveway mess). I think I would probably sit tight on the diff leak but unfortunately the transmission leak probably needs to be dealt with (is that an automatic or 5 speed?).

    I do hate pulling the transmission and transfer case on a driveway but you probably have a garage to work in.

    Thanks for doing all these Rig Reviews, I think they are extremely helpful to folks that maintain their own vehicles.

    • turbodb
      turbodb January 23, 2023

      I have to pre-download maps on BCN (both Pro and XE) as well, so doing that with Gaia doesn't bother me too much. Plus - at least so far - the downloads seem relatively small and quick, so that's a plus.

      That's two votes for CalTopo. Gonna need to check it out.

      As for working on the truck - part of the reason I'm going to leave the work for a few months (and just refill lost oil) is that I don't have a garage I can work in. My garage is *just& big enough to park the truck in, with almost no room on either side. Oh, what I would give for a 2-car garage!

      Glad you're enjoying the posts, it seems pretty rare that people actually talk about how the gear they have works out (vs. just trying to make it look awesome for the 'gram), so these are some of my favorite pieces to put together, and it's always nice to hear when they are found useful.

  7. Tylar Overturf
    Tylar Overturf January 26, 2023

    I've seen the complaints about the new SPC joints also. I think I saw somewhere that they're working on a new joint that won't fail so early.

    • turbodb
      turbodb January 27, 2023

      Man, I sure hope they are (a) working on a new joint and (b) will replace X-Axis joint owners arms if/when they fail. I'd love to hear more if you remember where you heard about the new joint, and/or if you hear that the new joint gets released. Thanks for letting me know!

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