It is imperative that your rig be DEPENDABLE! We will be quite a distance from any parts or services that we cannot carry with us and perform in the field. Hopefully, we will not spend any significant amount of time stuck doing repairs in camp or on the trail while mechanical failures are addressed. But, it will probably happen. We expect it and consider it part of the game. However, do not invite such occurrences by bringing a vehicle with known shortcomings. If your rig is not a trailer queen or king, it will need to get you to and back from Southern Alberta. It is a long trip for some folks. You will need to have a fairly capable rig to ensure problem free passage over some of the more difficult trails but you do not have to have a tricked out and overly modified rig either. A purely street equipped wagon or a stone stock early model '40 series will be out of their elements when the trails get tougher. Specific inquiries about whether or not certain tires or equipment is suitable will be left for discussion on our River Shiver mailing list, which, the first forty (40) paid applicants will be added to. There, we will try our best to answer your specific questions and help you prepare sufficiently to make the event more enjoyable.
Here is a list of some of the preliminary Cruiser requirements we suggest your rig posses:
CB Radio with a correctly tuned antenna.
Recovery points on both ends of the Cruiser (tow hook, shackle or pintle hook for example. Trailer ball hitch does not qualify).
All vehicle batteries will be secured
No vehicle will have excessive fluid leaks
All vehicles will have, at minimum, a stock roll bar (40 series).
All service and parking brakes must be in correct working condition
All vehicles must have correctly functioning brake lights
All vehicles must be equipped with seatbelts for all passengers
All vehicles must be registered and insured
All vehicles will have a full size spare tire (certain vehicles that can safely run at 0 PSI may be exempted from this rule)
Some runs will require at least one pair of Tire Chains
In addition to requirements for the vehicles, we have requirements pertaining to vehicle related gear and personnel gear that must be carried while on the trail.
All vehicles will have a jack-all, hi-lift or equivalent (60 inch version recommended)
Tow strap (no chains!)
Misc tools for trail repairs (discretion left to individual participants)
Misc parts for trail repairs (discretion left to individual participants)
Vehicle mounted and readily available fire extinguisher
There are only a few things you really need to do in anticipation of winter wheeling. In addition to ensuring that your rig is really very reliable, as it always should be, you will want to be aware of the following points:
You will want a mix of 50/50 water and glycol in your radiator. Manufacturers will specify a mix for certain conditions, but generally, if your coolant is 50/50 you should be fine to about -35, which is about as cold as we ever get around Calgary.
There are some variations in summer/winter thermostats. Winter thermostats generally open at a higher temperature. It's a good idea to install the highest temp thermostat you can find. This will ensure that your heater gets the hottest coolant it can.
It's a good idea to test your heater core ahead of time, especially if you're from a climate that doesn't use if often. They can become filled with crud that prevents a good flow through them, or a good heat transfer. If you have a shedding pet, then you will want to pick all the hair out of your heater core's fins. It's probably a good idea to take your heater core out, acid flush it, and make sure it is clean. If it's a cold day, it will be blowing on high all day long and you really want it working.
Cut a piece of corrugated cardboard the size of your radiator, and practice sliding it in front of your rad (especially if you're wheeling a diesel and it's below -5C). It keeps the valuable heat in the engine bay, in the coolant and flowing through the heater core. Don't forget to pull it out before hitting the freeway, or you could over heat! If it is below -15C or so, you just might want to leave it in for the freeway trip.
Many heater controls have a fresh air and a recirculated air setting. It is tempting to set it to recirculate to maintain the heat that's inside your vehicle, but sadly, it is not possible to defrost the windows when on recirculate. Often, it is best to adjust the setting to somewhere in between, about 1/3 recirculate, to get maximum heat, but also keep the windows clear.
Winter windshield washer fluid and wipers are beneficial to possess. Winter wipers are regular wipers but with a rubber casing around them so that ice cannot get into the joints and freeze them.
Install the lightest oil you can. 0W30 is about right for winter use. This will help your engine turn more easily and let the cold oil flow to those critical bits before it has warmed up.
If your brake/clutch fluid is old and full of water, now is a good time to replace it. No sense letting that freeze in your brake lines.
Have a good snow brush/ice scraper with you.
Carry a few little containers of gas line antifreeze.
A can of ether has many uses in the wintertime too.
Block heaters. Don't worry about a block heater/battery warmer, there's no place to plug it in where we will be. Most gassers will spring to life if the battery is strong. So will the diesels if they also have strong batteries and healthy pre-heating systems. If you need to run your diesel at night, please make sure your exhaust isn't suffocating a fellow camper. We know lots of tricks to get trucks started. We'll have lots of jumper cables and if you're really unlucky, maybe you'll get a visit from the ether bunny!
Make sure your battery is healthy. If it is a serviceable battery, service it. If it is maintenance free, then test it with a load tester. If you are replacing a battery, get the highest 'cold cranking amps' CCA, that you can afford.
Tires. When it comes to winter wheeling, all terrain tires seem to have the advantage with their incipient siping. Lots of little edges are the trick to traction in the snow. Being aired down definitely helps on the ice, but don't expect to float over the snow with anything more than 1 or 2 PSI in the tires. Chains help too as they provide awesome traction on ice. But, you cannot be aired down with them on, they're a pain to install and pack around and then don't make your tires any taller in the snow to reach the ground and traction underneath. Narrow tires are much better at cutting through snow than wide ones.
For the Cruiserhead and his/her Family
Clothing: The reality is that when winter wheeling, you'll be in and out of your warm vehicle for varying periods of time. So, your dress needs to be warm, versatile, and able to withstand frequent changes in temperature. You also want to stay dry. Snow sticks to denim, melts and get you wet in a hurry. Denim on an outer layer is not so good. You want some synthetic/nylon material that snow won't stick to. You also want to keep the wind off you. This is where technology such as Gortex, or even nylon is important. This is also true of your footwear, headwear, and hand wear. Another good general rule is never to have just one of anything. In this way, you always are wearing the dry item while the other is drying next to your heater in the truck. The final general rule is to keep your clothing relatively loose fitting. If it's tight it won't actually keep you warm. You need to have air pockets between each layer. Not to mention, if it's too tight, the restriction in movement is uncomfortable. Recommended headwear includes a classic touque, head bands, ear muffs, balaclava (think corner store armed robber), a variety of neck warmers and scarves. With a neck warmer over the nose, a touque in place and the windproof hood of your outer shell pulled over to cover it all up, you are able to deal with the most severe cold ever to be found in Southern Alberta. We are recommending some secondary footwear (slippers, sneakers etc.) to wear in the buildings so people aren't racking snow into the bunkhouses. Ultimately, clothing requirements will vary between individuals. Please refer to the River Shiver Forum or Peter's clothing guide for additional information.
Sleeping bag: The camp is very rustic so you'll need to bring your own bag. The colder the bag the better if you plan on heading out to the falls for the overnight campout as temperatures outside can range from being cold to very freakin cold.
Emergency food: Enough for every passenger. This is separate from and above and beyond whatever normal supplies you chose to carry.
Misc: A weekend supply of any legal vices you may use (cigarettes specifically).
Other suggestions that you may want to consider. These are good ideas but are not required in any means:
First Aid Kit onboard
Winch - never a bad idea to have. We should have no shortage of winch- equipped rigs in our group however.
One or more snatch blocks to use with the winch
Shackles for winch and tow strap attachment. Manually operated come- along in lieu of winch
Tire chains if you have the clearance to run them
Additional fuel capacity - A fuel dump will be available at camp to ensure no one needs to run to town and miss out on any fun
Extra oil, grease, lubricants and fluids
Assorted nuts and bolts (lug nuts, wheel studs, driveshaft bolts, spring centerpins, carb nuts, etc.)
Electrical wire, connectors, fuses
Duct tape, safety wire, silicon sealant, epoxy glues, chain, zip ties, hose clamps, C clamps, etc.