Daily Archives: July 29, 2016

Black Rock Desert, Stuck in the Playa, Day 4 (Second Recovery) – June 4, 2016

So we got the Fuso out of its hole and were on our way to the staging area and firm ground. The bulldozer had stayed with the Fuso. Carman and the pick-up truck had waited with the Fuso. The mini excavator and I headed back to the staging area. I arrived pretty quickly and waited for everyone else to arrive. I waited for 5 to 10 minutes and noticed that the Fuso did not appear to be getting any closer.


The Fuso isn’t getting any closer.

There was no tell tale dust cloud behind the Fuso, so I headed back. The mini excavator moves at a slow walking pace, so Gary had only gotten about halfway between the Fuso and the staging area.

When I arrived, it was obvious why the Fuso stopped. It had gotten very badly stuck on the driver’s side. The Fuso had sunk down to about the same level as we had originally gotten stuck on Wednesday.


Willie, Jon and Carman had already started working towards extricating the Fuso. The back of the Fuso was hooked up to the bulldozer which was pulling backwards and a little towards the driver’s side. Dirt has piled up a little in front of the lowest storage box and to the side of the front wheel.



The bulldozer was able to pull the Fuso several feet backwards.


The tracks under the front of the Fuso show how much it has moved backwards.

After doing this, there was quite a bit of dirt between the storage boxes and around the rear wheel.


Using our experience in getting the Fuso out the first time, the bulldozer pulled the Fuso towards the high side (the passenger side this time). They started by pulling the front part.


Carmen is hooking up the tow chain to pull the frame by the back wheel to the side.

There is now quite a pile of dirt alongside the front wheel.

The front end has been pulled a couple of feet to the side. The back has only moved about a foot.



And now you can actually see and get to the rear wheel.



And now all of the lower storage boxes are above ground level.



The next step was to try using the giant tow rope to yank the Fuso backwards.



They are ready to go.



The bulldozer digs in.


Pulling hard.


On the first try, the Fuso moved backwards several feet.


We tried it again.

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Ready for the second pull.




The Fuso has definitely moved backwards. There is a lot of dirt behind the front wheel and the lower storage boxes are a little lower.



Jon and Willie assess the Fuso’s current situation.



The Fuso has tilted a little more.



A view of the passenger side.


Gary has arrived after he walked back from the mini excavator.


There is now quite a bit of dirt to the side of the passenger side front wheel. But the passenger side wheels are on top of the caterpillar tracks which should made them a little more firm.



Jon and Willie take a walk to prepare for what comes after getting the Fuso out of the second hole. No one wants this to happen a third time. The best way to keep that from happening was to plan the best route to get to firm ground.


Jon and Willie plan a route. The mini excavator is in the distance. The bulldozer has left a lot of tracks.


When they return, we prepared for another pull forward. No rope this time. If the Fuso does get out, the rope would require them to stop before continuing. Inertia will help keep us from bogging down again.




We are ready to go.


The chain broke.

Video of the chain breaking.

Here is the link in case the internal link doesn’t work:


Thank goodness no one was hurt. It broke with a lot more momentum than when our chain broke the last time. This time the chain popped up to hit the front of the Fuso. It broke a headlight and front spot light, but it didn’t break the windshield. We can drive without headlights as long as it is daytime.


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Gary offers to get another chain. Willie decided that he would go back to the semi-truck and get a heavier chain. It gave me a chance to take a few more pictures.


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The bulldozer has been leaving lots of tracks in the attempts to get the Fuso out of the ground.

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Signs that the bulldozer has been active.


Jon and Carman look at the damage and remove the broken chain.

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Willie comes back with a bigger chain and Jon hooks it up to the Fuso.

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We are ready for the next pull.

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And the Fuso is out.

The Fuso gets free a second time.

Here is a link to the video.


Jon and Willie had made a plan for what happened once the Fuso was out, so they continue driving until they come to a good place to stop. At about 17 seconds, you can watch the rear wheels of the Fuso break through the playa up to the rear axle. If they had not be moving, the Fuso would have gotten stuck, again.

They stop to reevaluate the ground and decide on the best route back to the staging area and firm ground.

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Jon and Willie get out to plan the next part of the drive.

The marks in the foreground of the photo are from the undercarriage of the Fuso dragging when the rear wheels dropped down into the playa during the first part of the drive (at around 17 seconds on the video).

Jon and Willie continue forward after a few minutes.


The Fuso is finally on its way to firm ground.

A link to the video of the Fuso’s escape.

You can see how much the Fuso wallows from side to side as it drives over uneven surfaces. It does it even with the stronger replacement frame. Add to that the weight of the vehicle, it makes it easy to imagine how one side could just drop through the playa crust.

Fortunately, the playa gets generally firmer as they get closer to the staging area.


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Finally driving out to firm ground.




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