The Rise of Trail Mater

4x4 Magazine 4WD how to article 862

4x4 Magazine 4WD how to article 843What do you do when someone calls you the “Dollar General version of Matt’s Off-Road Recovery” on YouTube? In the case of Rory Irish in Moab, you roll with it.  Rory has been making recoveries in Moab for about four and a half years.  He’s built a business separate from his shop at Moab Motorsports to handle trail recoveries, and in Moab, trail recoveries happen multiple times a day.

There are the easy ones, the ones stuck in the sand that just need a push or a tug. There are the medium ones, the breakages that need a trail fix to get on their way. And then there are the tough ones – the breaks in the bad places, the non-trail fixable breaks that will need to be trailered out. Everyone is different, but you just don’t know what you’re getting into until that phone rings. Rory says, “it’s always easier to drive one out than to carry one out.”

Rory’s recovery vehicle of choice is the TrailMater.  A 1982 Chevy one-ton that was once a K 30.  Front axle to back is a stock Chevy; rear is Dana 80. Detroit front, open diff in the rear (right now.) 37: BFG KM3’s, 410 gear ratio, 35 spline axles.  It’s a beast.4x4 Magazine 4WD how to article 858

On July 12, Rory got a call in the early evening, one of those 6×6 with lots of seats used by a local tour company had broken on Fins and Things on a downhill slope, just before an incline.  The rear control arm broke.  Rory took the chains and comealongs to drag it out because the rig was too big to carry.

4x4 Magazine 4WD how to article 856It turns out the tires had latched together and broken a brake line. All the tourists had gotten out safely and been hauled back to town; it was just Rory and the tour operator working on the recovery.

“I can pick it up on the pole and get the leaf spring back in place,” Rory told the operator, “it’s in gear, right?”

Yes, it’s in gear.

It turns out it was not in gear. The front tires started to lift, and it started rolling down the hill, the strap fell off, and the whole motion started going the bad way. The TrailMater took its own tumble, smashed the pole, did significant damage to the rig, top, passenger, and hood.

TrailMater landed on its side, Rory tossed the winch controller and walked away. When he was composed, he called his buddy and a Tow Truck to pick up the rigs.  Getting back to the shop to survey the damage, there was a lot to do, and quickly.

The TrailMater has had more bracing added and front bars replaced.  The cab was smashed, but there wasn’t an easy way to replace that, so he pounded out the dents and tightened up the roof rack to the cab to hide the damage. Every dent has a story; you can’t change the cab without ruining the truck.

Because the pole was smashed, Rory changed how everything mounts in the bed to provide more strength and stability.  He reused as much as he could; the truck was originally built out of the used parts bin at Moab Motorsports, it hasn’t changed all that much.

4x4 Magazine 4WD how to article 8444x4 Magazine 4WD how to article 850Eight days after the accident, TrailMater was on the job again. Through the generosity of a GoFundMe campaign that cut off as soon as they hit the goal and the tour operator who contributed to the accident, recoveries are once again available in Moab.

If you’re looking for help on the trail, or want to see what goes on out there, give Rory a call, or subscribe to his YouTube channel – trail mater.

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