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'04 Outback VDC, wrecked-to-overland build

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I picked this up about a year and a half ago. '04 Outback VDC with every option, and most of the available accessories. It was in a decent wreck, but it was at just the right angle and not hard enough to set off the air bags.


35529463302_fc31d73633_k.jpg[/url]NCM_0445 by Numbchux, on Flickr


35529463622_1cec50ebdd_k.jpgNCM_0448 by Numbchux, on Flickr



I got a lot of parts from our local UPull yard:

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4281/35529466042_13801ff378_k.jpgNCM_0802 by Numbchux, on Flickr


But they won't do body cuts, so Oak Leaf Auto Salvage saved the day (these guys are awesome, and specialize in newer Subarus):

35529466022_3f37cefe31_k.jpgNCM_0810 by Numbchux, on Flickr


Fast forward.....

35659068666_334e9ddfaf_k.jpgNCM_0840 by Numbchux, on Flickr


While I was at it, I added an auxiliary transmission cooler. Plumbed before the radiator to reduce overcooling.

35311299790_7ac4c36919_k.jpg20160326_155341 by Numbchux, on Flickr


I took it through the DMV inspection so that I could get plates for it about 2 weeks ago. I went down 2 days ago (it's been at my parents' place) and threw a trailer hitch on it, and brought it home.


A few pictures of it with our '03 at a rest stop on our way home:

35698358545_b865aede98_k.jpg20160508_182200 by Numbchux, on Flickr


35567803421_2c3c2706d6_k.jpg20160508_182216 by Numbchux, on Flickr


The '04 has a Reese trailer hitch on it, and the '03 has a Subaru Accessory one:

35698361065_60735eaeae_k.jpg20160508_182229 by Numbchux, on Flickr


35311302510_7e22eb3c8e_k.jpg20160508_182245 by Numbchux, on Flickr


AFAIK, these are the only options for these cars that go over the exhaust, all the others hang under it. The Subaru one requires the bumper cover to be cut in a few places, where the Reese one extends to the front of the car further and doesn't interfere with the bumper cover (although I did have to lower the charcoal canister to do it).



Yesterday, I rented a vacuum pump from AutoZone, and bought a new receiver/drier. I then replaced every o-ring in the engine bay, added a little UV dye, and replaced the PAG oil (FSM calls for .27 fl oz with condensor and receiver/drier replacement). Put a vacuum on it, which held for an hour. So I ran the vacuum pump for another hour, then I emptied 2 12 oz cans of refrigerant in it (FSM calls for .6-.7 KG, which works to 21.1-24.6 oz).




I have a '97 Legacy that I did some work on and am reselling. The day that sells, I'm ordering a 2" SJR lift with trailing arm spacers. And I'm planning on 235/65R17 Kumho Road Venture AT51s on 17x7+48 '07 Outback 7-spoke wheels. A good friend of mine has a 2013 Forester with a 2" ADF lift and 235/75R15 General Grabber AT2s (0.1" taller than the setup I'm looking at) on 15x7+40 Team Dynamics gravel wheels. We're planning a camping trip up the UP of Michigan in August that should have us driving off-road more than on-. And completely living out of the vehicles. So there will be lights, recovery gear, full-size spare tire, etc.

Edited by Numbchux
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Awesome job!


Do you have any pictures of welding the front cut into place?


Not really, I have this picture with all the ruined stuff cut off, and one of the junkyard bumper beams mocked up on it:

35659067966_fd229ce097_k.jpgNCM_0839 by Numbchux, on Flickr


I was making it up as I went, so I didn't really ever have any pictures of the process. And I'm not real proud of some of it, the framerails are solid, but some of the stuff around the headlights and under the airbox is still pretty ugly.





We took it to Headwaters Regional Rally this weekend over in Walker, MN (as the name implies, the stages aren't too far from Itasca state park and the headwaters of the Mississippi). Swapped the Yakima rack over from our '03 (almost was a problem. With the hatch open, that sexy rear wing only clears the back tire on my 29er by about a 1/2" with the rack pushed as far forward as possible).

35311304620_e409191fdb_k.jpg20160522_130336 by Numbchux, on Flickr


Temperatures were about 80* all weekend, the A/C worked flawlessly. I love climate control. And even with the bikes on the roof, 89 octane and the A/C cranked, we got about 25 mpg (rural roads, cruising at about 60 most of the time).



This week we re-pack for 4 days in the boundary waters next weekend.

Edited by Numbchux

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I have a cabin near Marquette Mi and love taking my 84 off roading when we're up there. Where are you camping at? Any good trail rides you can recommend? We also have an 07 outback that I will slowly be modding for camping as it better suits our growing family. I dig the wagon, cant wait to see it lifted.

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Here's what I've found in my research so far:


There's an old rail road bed that runs from about Merriweather, and turns north near Kenton, and can be followed past Houghton, without driving on pavement almost at all. Most of it isn't too challenging, but there's a section just Northeast of Mass City where it crosses the forks of the Firesteel River, and there are some pretty cool Railroad bridges that you can drive across:



There are also a series of Minimum Maintenance roads up near Copper Harbor that lead to the Easternmost tip of the Keweenaw. There's a beach there, that is supposed to yield some seriously spectacular sunrise views over the lake. An old NASA rocket range, and a small lake with an island (I've heard it's worth bringing a small boat and camping on the island).


That's the highlights of our planned route this year.



There's also more than a little to be seen in the Huron Mountains. Not really well documented, but it's there.


DNR Trail maps here: https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10371_14793_55471-38330--,00.html

There are 2 waterfall photography sites that show cool places, and some descriptions of how to get there on a map:




And Geocaches can lead to some fantastic locations. By nature, the instructions are a little vague on how to get there (as the whole point is to use coordinates and a GPS to locate it), but they can get you very close (sometimes with coordinates on where to park), and frequently people use it as a way to share fantastic spots.

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Good info, and i will keep that all in mind. I was somewhat disappointed last summer when we were up with how over crouded things have gotten along lake superior east of marquette and to the soo. We had to cancel a few days of hiking and camping along pictured rocks nation lake shore because with the growth jn tourism, you are no longer allowed to hike certain areas with a dog.


With that aside, what has sold you on sjr over adf? Not sure which to go with here cor my build. I havent payed much attention to the new gen stuff and who is doing what for lifts. Is there much difference between the 00-04 and 05-09 thst youre aware of? Ive owned both now but they were just pavement pounders.

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Mostly because I've used Scott's parts before, and he's contributed a lot here over the years. Certainly nothing against ADF, I was very impressed with that kit we put on my friend's '13 Forester.


SJR and ADF both offer kits of just strut top spacers for $300. SJR offers a kit that adds trailing arm spacers for $425. ADF offers a kit that adds "Multi-link spacers" for $550, with no picture or description of what that is. I assume that is similar to the newer kit that lowers the whole rear subframe (which is necessary on the newer ones, as the trailing arm does not have it's own mount).



The '05s are pretty similar. There is one significant change, the rear bushing on the front control arm changed. Throughout the '90s, up to 2004 for Legacy chassis, and '07 for Impreza, that bushing was mounted horizontally. After those dates, that bushing is mounted vertically, which means that regular suspension movement, flexes the rubber. This seems to drastically reduce it's longevity, and these bushings are pretty strained with a suspension-only lift. I recently discovered that 2011+ STis have a spherical bearing there that flexes freely, and is a direct swap for 2008+ STis, and 2011+ WRXs, it's been documented on a few others with supporting track width mods (axles, tie rods, etc.). We're trying to figure out what would be involved on that 2013 Forester, as the components have different part numbers, but appear to be the same or at least very similar....

Edited by Numbchux

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ADF offers trailing arm spacers as well, those are for cars with trailing arms. The multi link spacers are for the multi link rear suspension on 2000+ Legacy/Outback, 09+ Foresters, and 08+ Imprezas. Like your friends '13 Forester. And they're needed to keep the geometry at healthy angles. I know you probably know most of that anyway.

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There are 2 different versions of the Subaru Multi-link rear. The '00-'09 Legacy one has a big beefy trailing arm that is basically also the knuckle and pivots in one place on a bracket that's bolted to the body much like the modified MacPherson rear trailing arms, and then also uses 2 lateral links that bolt to the crossmember.


The '10+ Legacy chassis and '08+ Imprezas use a very different setup. There's a separate knuckle again. And there's a trailing arm, a lower lateral link, a rear link that's basically just a tie rod (and adjusts toe just like a front tie rod), AND an upper A-arm (which has a ball joint in it, that is not replaceable separately).


That newer setup requires a spacer on top of the strut, and then 4 spacers to drop that subframe down, and it all moves together, and the geometry stays together. And with the complexity of all those links (some of them are rather short), and the angles that upper ball joint already sees, I would not run them at a steeper angle than stock.



The older multilink setup can be treated much like the modified MacPherson, where you leave the subframe against the body and just lift the suspension, BUT, because unlike either the MacPherson, or the newer multilink, there is not a pivot between the trailing arm and the knuckle, any increase in trailing arm angle puts twisting force on the bushings at the lateral links. IMO a trialing arm spacer is crucial (whereas, IMHO, it's purely cosmetic in the MacPherson cars).


ADF definitely offers trailing arm brackets for the modified MacPherson rear cars. But he does not list or picture them for the '00-'09 Legacies. He just shows a kit which includes "multi-link spacers", which is the exact same description as the newer multi-link cars. From what I've heard, he's a great and knowledgeable guy, so it could be solved with an email, and he'd probably build me exactly the kit I want. But, SJR already makes it. I can see a picture of it. And I want to support him anyway.

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Another 320-some well-loaded miles:

35567805981_3c93789806_z.jpg20160530_121745 by Numbchux, on Flickr


Load it down, set the cruise to 70+ mph, set the climate control to 68*. Awesome. We spent 4 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area this weekend. And while we ended up getting scattered showers most of the last weekend, right as we were setting up our last camp site, the clouds blew over, and we were rewarded with a fantastic sunset. Many of us rolled out our sleeping pads right on the bedrock and slept under the stars.

Edited by Numbchux

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Almost 650 miles on it this weekend....


A good friend of mine recently lifted his 2013 Forester (It's been mentioned and pictured here...), and he was anxious to bring it up to the OHV recreation area in Gilbert, in northern Minnesota. Several members of the Ziptie Rally Team have some 4WD vehicles, with varying levels of experience, and eager to try it out, so we gathered a group of 5 vehicles and went up.


I left straight from work Friday afternoon, and drove up north and stayed at a friend's house. And we all left early Saturday morning to head over to the park.


Our group:

35682503030_78b6c0c14e_k.jpg13418373_10100460104149457_7171720721831413890_o by Numbchux, on Flickr


I was in the Outback (obviously), with by far the most experience up there. The guy with the WJ Grand Cherokee has been there a few times. The other 3 drivers were completely new. Jeep had by far the most suspension travel, but open diffs. FJ Cruiser has rear locker, and Atrac traction control. Forester has a lot of ground clearance, and good tires, but is a manual transmission, so he had a serious gearing disadvantage. Obviously the Outback has a ground clearance disadvantage, but the VTD 4EAT did excellently. And the X5 was cranked up into it's highest ride height, which left a ton of ground clearance, but virtually zero travel, and low profile tires meant the AWD system was working hard, but it still did well.


Being that I had the most experience and the least capable vehicle, it made sense for me to lead. So, I did:

35682503170_e12b38d2a1_b.jpg13413005_10107744258730360_6110313075677664850_n by Numbchux, on Flickr


I dragged the exhaust and the trailer hitch over everything...

35939303461_f4c0c21071_b.jpg13413773_10107744257996830_7770212468363781785_n by Numbchux, on Flickr


I now have an exhaust leak, might be a good excuse to get that OBX Stainless, catless, manifold set.



Then we drove to the Minneapolis area for a house warming party, picked up a set of 2003 Outback wheels, my cousin's college graduation party, and then home. Car never missed a beat.

Edited by Numbchux

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Exhaust leaks identified:

35529615562_d2d846b38b_k.jpg20160623_165837 by Numbchux, on Flickr


And fixed, OBX Stainless set from eBay:

35567807431_374e139e24_k.jpg20160623_173614 by Numbchux, on Flickr


If you look closely in that picture, you can see that the OBX header set doesn't have the mounting tabs to the transmission. So I made up a little metal bracket that bolted to the tab coming off the transmission, and then clamped to the exhaust:

35311309540_8d64097a5d_k.jpg20160625_095144 by Numbchux, on Flickr


45* Stainless oxygen sensor spacer required to prevent P0420 and keep the sensor off the driveshaft:

35529617742_284eef247e_k.jpg20160625_095131 by Numbchux, on Flickr


35311307320_08de48bc06_k.jpg20160625_095137 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Edited by Numbchux

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Another 450ish miles this weekend. Loaded up the bikes, hooked up the jet ski ('89 Kawasaki 650SX...if you were wondering) and set off across country to our family's cabin. It was over 90 degrees for most of the drive over, and it never missed a beat. Set the cruise, set the climate control, awesome.


35311310770_3e4f2d802d_k.jpg20160701_184051 by Numbchux, on Flickr



Just over 4 weeks until we close on the new house, and then I'll have a garage (and our payments should be about $200/month less than we're paying in rent now....)!

Edited by Numbchux

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Overdue Update. Lots of miles on it. It's been working hard as moving van out to our new house:

36031364516_4324f8a2dc_k.jpg20160724_170102 by Numbchux, on Flickr


Parked at the new house, less than an hour after we closed:

35902385152_fea3dc9c13_k.jpg20160810_142540 by Numbchux, on Flickr


One of many overloaded trips:

35262977543_098acf44d9_k.jpg20161107_072311 by Numbchux, on Flickr


Headlight restoration:

35529638322_43c77a94a7_b.jpg2017-07-03_01-55-16 by Numbchux, on Flickr


Made a world of difference. This car is so much easier to drive at night

35938551281_1266d5cb3f_z.jpg2017-07-21_03-52-56 by Numbchux, on Flickr


215/65r16 Nokian Hakka R2s on '98 Forester 16x6.5+48s (About .5" taller than the stock 225/60r16s)

35682176210_d0a36d0fa2_k.jpg2017-07-21_03-53-24 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Edited by Numbchux
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Congrats on the new house.  It looks like you have lots of room outside to work on cars too!




And yea, almost 700 sq ft of garage space, and over 22 acres of land.



I should have posted this picture. I was moving stuff around in the garage, and had all 6 of my cars in one picture:

35231715814_5b74e7f130_k.jpg20161120_133202 by Numbchux, on Flickr

L to R. 97 Legacy, 04 Outback, 89 XT6, 84 Brat, 87 4Runner, and 91 Celica

Edited by Numbchux
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Not much to say, car's being awesome.

Had a headlight burn out, and decided to go for a little upgrade. I bought a set of cheap LED headlight bulbs about a year ago for the fog lights in my Celica, and I was actually very impressed with them. So I bought a set in the H1 variant for this car.

These ones:

At $40, it was worth a try. Sure beats the $150-200 for most of the name brand equivalents.

My main concern was beam pattern, I know that if the point from which the light is emitted is in an even slightly different place, it can throw light where you don't want it. So I took a before picture of the pattern against the inside of the garage door to really analyze things (obviously, I put a functional bulb in it for this comparison):
35682234790_d3c1b9a0db_k.jpg20170106_190722 by Numbchux, on Flickr


I had a bit of a scare when I put the first one in, as the pattern was awful, but when I pulled it apart to put the halogen back in there, I realized the LED wasn't seated correctly. It took some finagling to get the wire hold down under the electrical wires coming out of the side of the bulb so that everything would seat correctly, but then it was great:
36031496276_dcf3786448_k.jpg20170106_194357 by Numbchux, on Flickr


And from down the driveway:
35263123013_800a967a9f_k.jpg20170106_194211 by Numbchux, on Flickr

I'm very happy. More light where I want it, nothing where I don't. Cheap, and required zero modification to the housings. Time will tell how they hold up, but they've done well in my Celica so far....

Edited by Numbchux

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Not much to update on the Outback. Still a fantastic car. All-season tires/wheels back on a few weeks ago.



In case you're wondering. 4 33x12.5r15 mud tires will fit in the back:

35311322700_64ea212139_k.jpg20170517_191936 by Numbchux, on Flickr


But the spare will have to go on the roof:

35311323550_35812a0e03_k.jpg20170517_191941 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Edited by Numbchux
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The local offroad park had their annual open-house last weekend. Pretty cool event. I went early and rode along for some gnarlier trails, then after lunch my wife brought up the Outback and our 3 month old daughter to ride along.


We rode some mild trails for several hours, and she slept away in her car seat (we used a halo head support that we don't normally use).



Obligatory group poser shot:

35311323730_7d24e3acfe_k.jpg20170520_142939 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Edited by Numbchux

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Came here to replace the photobucket links, so I thought I'd give a small update. We're mostly just putting miles on it. Something about having a 50 year old house and 5 month old daughter slows down the exciting car projects.

A couple weeks ago we took my ATV up to a buddy's family farm to do irresponsible things which will not be pictured on the internet. It was a hot day, and we loaded up the family, and the gear, set the climate control and the cruise control. I kept having to check the rear view mirror to see if the ATV was still there, couldn't feel it at all.

36072381485_ee20e80f9d_k.jpg2017-07-21_04-11-32 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Edited by Numbchux

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Overdue updates!



Stock light configuration, as I'm sure you know, has a dual-filament bulb on the bottom to function as running and turn lights, and top one just as turn. Whenever I see these cars, it bugs me just a bit that the headlight is the top light, and the running light is the bottom one.

20180828_193222 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Also, this spring I found myself in a campground wishing I had just enough light to navigate slowly without turning on the headlights and lighting up other people's tents. Bright switchback running lights seemed like the answer.

So, I stopped at UPull and got some extra dual-filament sockets/pigtails, only took a moment with the dremel to open up one notch in the housing to get the socket to fit. Then splice the 3 wires in, install a switchback bulb.

Now my running lights look like this:
20180828_195314 by Numbchux, on Flickr

And turns like this:
20180828_195329 by Numbchux, on Flickr

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Drove it to South Carolina and back this spring to visit my In-laws. Ran flawlessly, but had a couple exhaust failures. OBX headers have a flex joint where the factory setup didn't, and I think that introduced some extra movement. One of the flexes began leaking, and the midpipe broke off right after the resonator. Some muffler tape, and adapter and clamp got us home without too much ear trauma.


2018-04-04_08-41-17 by Numbchux, on Flickr



20180406_130736 by Numbchux, on Flickr


A Walker mid-pipe with some POR15 on it, and a repair flange to reinforce the flange on the axleback, and I got it fixed:


20180427_212858 by Numbchux, on Flickr



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Original rear Ujoint ate itself, taking the rear yoke with it:


20180105_185438 by Numbchux, on Flickr


I got my hands on a junkyard shaft that actually had good joints in it. I decided not to replace them, but try to make them greaseable. I had to get my hands on a carbide drill bit to get through the caps, but drilled, tapped, and installed a grease zerk into each joint to pump some fresh grease into them. 


2018-01-30_10-11-44 by Numbchux, on Flickr


This worked for 6 months or so, but the vibration started coming back. I didn't want a failure on our trip last weekend, so I replaced them. Truth be told they weren't that bad when I got them out, but I didn't want to worry about it.

So I put some new joints in it. Really wasn't that bad of a job with the help of a press


20180827_203215 by Numbchux, on Flickr


Took a picture of all my cars this spring (I've acquired an SVX parts car since then:


20180610_140943 by Numbchux, on Flickr


3 Generations of Subaru H6s:


20180610_132310 by Numbchux, on Flickr


With some 1 1/4" square tube as a spacer for the front, a Primitive skidplate from a '95 Impreza bolted right up:


20180827_214432 by Numbchux, on Flickr

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Put about 700 miles on the car this weekend, about 50 of which was off-road. Nothing too crazy, but it was fun to get off the beaten path.

Dan (FJ Cruiser), Jesse (BMW X5), and Martin (Lifted '13 Forester) left the Twin Cities Thursday evening and camped in the Cheq forest in Wisconsin, then Friday they drove on a section of Minimum Maintenance Road which turned out to be more of a No Maintenance Muddy Path. I left Duluth after work Friday evening and met them at the campsite at Agate Beach one the Western shore of the Keweenaw outside Toivola, MI. Our campsite was just up the hill from the beach, so cool.

Here's our group at the site in the morning. It was a little foggy in the morning, but still way cool.
20180901_090635 by Numbchux, on Flickr

The 2 Subarus in the group.  Mine being exceedingly stock on highway tires, Martins with a lift and General Grabber A/Ts
20180901_131259 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Saturday morning, we made our way north through Houghton, then taking the ORV route (rail road grade, not challenging, but good to get away from the traffic) up the hill from Hancock to Calumet. It had a few big puddles, and some good views.
FB_IMG_15360772879349834 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Then up to Copper Harbor, where we got some ice and firewood, and other Dan caught up with us after working an overnight up in Hibbing and hauling rump roast to catch up with us in his WJ Jeep Grand Cherokee.

On the edge of Copper Harbor, the road turns to gravel, and there's a sign that says "Road Ends". Excellent!
FB_IMG_15360773684868233 by Numbchux, on Flickr

We made it to High Rock Bay (the easternmost point on the Keweenaw) right about sunset. There were many other people camping, but we still got a spot right on the rocks near the water (so close, that we set up a few lanterns to mark the edge so nobody would accidentally fall off in the dark). Here's our campsite from inland looking out into the lake, Manitou Island appeared out of the fog for a little while.
20180902_082907 by Numbchux, on Flickr

And from the point looking back towards shore:
20180902_085627 by Numbchux, on Flickr

I love this picture, as the low-hanging fog over the bay makes it look like we're up in the clouds:
FB_IMG_15360779104587057 by Numbchux, on Flickr

And a few pictures from the trail back from High Rock Bay. This trail wasn't super challenging, several puddles that were a foot or so deep, but nice solid ground at the bottom, so wasn't too tough. I had zero trouble with the stock Outback without even airing down tires, but I would have been on edge if I hadn't had other people in the group and plenty of recovery gear.

FB_IMG_15360772474750514 by Numbchux, on Flickr

FB_IMG_15360773809562716 by Numbchux, on Flickr

FB_IMG_15360773225444218 by Numbchux, on Flickr

After driving up over Brockway Mountain (very rainy and foggy, so we didn't stop...still had to drive it, though), we stopped at Jacobs Falls:
FB_IMG_15360773022671377 by Numbchux, on Flickr

Then down south of Bruce Crossing to Bond Falls for the night. This is a really cool park, the UP Power company dammed the river, and made a pretty cool little park around the lake/reservoir/flowage that ensued, including lots of pretty nice camp sites.

After a hike around the park, and a picture of the falls, we headed our separate ways towards home.
2018-09-05_01-23-41 by Numbchux, on Flickr

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amazing work on cars and great views there. so you still have both bumpers ok ? i mean i was just hating when i just cought front bumper just everywhere. so i cut it and cut rear one too. its different world. and lift. why no do it ? its free if you make simple spacers on struts. nothing else needed. still amazing how you drive in all those places with being so low

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