IH8MUD founder, Brian “Woody” Swearingen, was on the internet before most of us knew what it was. Driving one of his 8 vehicles on the hardest core trails, you find Woody wherever the people are. Check out this episode number 98
4:05– we mowed seven days a week, every hour that we could
9:56 – I basically scrubbed floors and cleaned toilets in a suit and tie for years
11:13 – the better you are at continuing to learn new thing, the better you will be
18:33 – I laid in the driveway under the truck and my friend would sit in the drivers eat and yell through the holes in the floor
29:45 – The links on I8MUD go back to 2002
36:03 – you’re officially white trash when you put your clothes in white trash bags
40:52 – I’m just going to leave a check on your counter
54:41 – I just stand back and see what things need to be done that nobody else is doing
We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine.
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[00:00:01.150] - Big Rich Klein
Welcome to The Big Rich Show. This podcast will focus on conversations with friends and acquaintances within the fourwheel drive industry. Many of the people that I will be interviewing, you may know the name, you may know some of the history, but let's get in depth with these people and find out what truly makes them a four wheel drive enthusiast. So now is the time to sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation.
[00:00:29.430] - Speaker 2
Whether you're crawling the red rock of Moab or hauling your toys to the trail, Maxxis has the tires you can trust for performance and durability. Four wheels or two, Maxxis tires are the choice of Champions because they know that whether for work or play, for fun or competition, Maxxis tires deliver. Choose Maxxis Tread victoriously.
[00:00:55.990] - Speaker 3
Why should you read 4low Magazine? Because 4low Magazine is about your lifestyle. The four wheel drive adventure lifestyle that we all enjoy. Rock crawling, trail riding, event coverage, vehicle builds, and do it yourself tech all in a beautifully presented package. You won't find 4low on the newsstand rack. So subscribe today and have it delivered to you.
[00:01:20.170] - Big Rich Klein
On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Brian "Woody" Swearingen. Most people will know Brian from the Toyota days, and I8mud, but we're going to get into rockcrawler.com. Everything that he does from the Toyota. What was it? Toyota drivers testing or something like that? It was a Toyota program. We'll get into all that. He'll give you the right information. Anyway, Brian, thank you for coming on board and talking with us.
[00:01:52.160] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Oh, you're welcome.
[00:01:54.490] - Big Rich Klein
So let's jump right in with both feet and let's talk about your life. And where were you born and raised?
[00:02:02.470] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So I was born outside of Rochester, Minnesota, back in 67, I guess, which puts me in my mid 50s, still a child. Yes, I know. Well, for some, yes. My dad worked for IBM for 30 years. So we lived in Rochester for a few years and then moved out into the country about 10 miles from everywhere. And then I went to school in Byron, Minnesota, which is basically a bedroom community for IBM and the Mayo Clinic.
[00:02:33.490] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so dad worked IBM, did mom work at the time?
[00:02:39.730] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Mom had a teaching degree, but she was basically to stay at home, keep track of myself and my brother. So I just got one younger brother. So keeping track of us and running us around with sports and everything else kind of added up back in those days, especially when you were 10 miles from everything.
[00:02:54.080] - Big Rich Klein
So what's the age difference between you and your brother?
[00:02:57.610] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
We're three years different. My brother is three years younger than me. He's more of a computer engineering type of guy and actually arguably retired in his 30s after inventing something that was pretty cool.
[00:03:11.790] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, all right. So then growing up? Well, I guess at that point when you guys moved out into the wilds it was pretty damn rural because you said you were out in the middle of nowhere. So what did you guys do for entertainment?
[00:03:26.590] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Playing in the dirt, mostly. Lots of Tonka trucks, lots of mowing. Dad had ten acres, about probably three of which was grass. We had a garden that was large enough to feed two families of four in fresh vegetables for a year. So every evening after school was spent weeding the garden and snow, blowing the driveway or mowing the lawn or taking care of helping mom out with the flowers and the gardens and all the other stuff or mowing the trails or whatever. So there is plenty of chores to be done to keep ourselves occupied.
[00:03:55.990] - Big Rich Klein
Well, cool. The mowing. I've got to ask this. Did you at least have, like, a tractor or a riding lawn mower, or did you have to do it by push mower?
[00:04:05.840] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Both. So, dad, we were just joking about this the other day with my dad when I was on the phone with him, and now he had a John Deere 318 for a while and he forgot to set the parking brake, and it rolled down part of the hillside and plowed itself square into a tree. So there was a period of time where we had one summer where we mowed seven days a week, every hour, that we could be out there with a 1960 something John's Rude push mower, trying to keep up with the grass that we could keep up with on the hillsides that we could walk. And my brother and I, we mowed nonstop.
[00:04:42.750] - Big Rich Klein
[00:04:43.520] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So when they dew get out of the grass, we'd start mowing and we'd mow until it was dusk and start over the next day to just try and keep up. And even then, we were only mowing half of it because a 20 inch push lower is not doing much, especially when you're getting tired of pushing.
[00:04:56.890] - Big Rich Klein
But it did have a motor.
[00:04:59.770] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes, it did have a motor. Yeah. This is not one of the reel styles. So it wasn't quite that bad.
[00:05:03.830] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. We never had enough grass growing up. I grew up pretty much in the city suburbs area, San Francisco, but there was never enough grass to get anything with a motor. So it was always those real. And oh, my God, I hated that thing. I tried to sabotage it so many times.
[00:05:27.970] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
We never wanted to sabotage the tractor because that was our savior to be able to ride that around.
[00:05:32.150] - Big Rich Klein
Absolutely. So you said trails were they for, like, snowmobiling or cross country skiing or something?
[00:05:41.290] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
We did a little bit of cross country skiing, mostly just walking and hiking trails. The ten acres that my dad had out in the country extended back. We had farmers on both sides and extended quite a way up a hillside and then took over a little corner of a farmers field at the top. So, I mean, granted, it's Minnesota there's not a lot of elevation change, but it was a 36 or 42 inch wide trail that we had mowed with the mower just to go out and hike and walk and take the dogs out and do whatever.
[00:06:08.910] - Big Rich Klein
[00:06:10.030] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Excellent. My dad's not a motor sports guy. He's great with woodworking, but he's not a motor sports guy. My gear head phase didn't start until much later.
[00:06:18.120] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So in school, were you studious, were you athletic or did you do your own thing?
[00:06:27.430] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, the joke when I was in basketball is I was one of Barney's bench warmers, and that was my sophomore year. Yeah. So my sophomore year of high school, I was on the basketball team and arguably collected splinters more than anything. I could run and I could do stuff, but I was not a stellar athlete by any means. From the study side, I pretty much never picked up a book until I'd walk into class. I do a quick breeze through and then I take the test and I'd get a B plus or an A minus, and that would be fine. So I didn't have to study very hard. College was a lot different because it was much harder. But high school was pretty easy for me, at least. My big thing in high school was music. So my dad still has a eight foot Steinway Grand piano ten foot Steinway Grand piano that he bought when I was a kid. And I learned to play on that and did competitions for music and was a trumpet player and picked up the trumpet in fifth grade. And so the music side was my big thing between concert band and jazz band and then taking that into College as well.
[00:07:29.840] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, excellent. And where did you go to College at Gus Davis Alpha College.
[00:07:36.160] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Which is in St. Petersburg, Minnesota. Southern Minnesota, but coast of Mankato. Liberal arts, Lutheran based, still very little arts and very Lutheran based, but one of the better. At that time, it was one of the top, I don't know, top ten rated academic small Liberal arts colleges in the US. And at the same time, it was also one of the top ten party schools in the US. So not really quite sure which decision it was that I went there, but I definitely earned a bit of both of them. The first couple of semesters was mostly the party side, and then after that, I got a little bit smarter and realized I wasn't going to stay if I couldn't get some bridge.
[00:08:15.070] - Big Rich Klein
You said you did music at the College level as well.
[00:08:19.390] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah. So I was in the concert and there are various jazz bands and ended up with a music minor as well. So I've got an accounting degree, but my music minor was a last second instead of geology, which is what I was originally going to get. The classes I needed to finish that off got canceled. So I went and talked to my professors over winter break. And I tested into all of the second level music classes and breezed through with a very easy last semester senior year to get a music minor.
[00:08:49.820] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So with going through an accounting degree and music, what was your next step?
[00:09:00.490] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Mostly being jobless. I really had no plan. After College graduation, I worked for a company that was the Custodial company, so they were a third party out of Minneapolis that was contracted to clean the pool, clean the dorm rooms, clean the toilets, all that kind of thing. And I was an office manager there for a little while during the summers, I would scrub floors and clean carpets and do the night shift on the University campus. And when I graduated, I really didn't have a plan. And my boss at the time offered me a summer job and extended that. And that ended up being probably worked for them for six years, five years. Part of that at the campus that I was at, then ended up in Wisconsin, up in Ashland, Wisconsin, at Northland College for a few years, and then in University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, and then finally after that with a different company for a year into Appleston, Wisconsin.
[00:09:54.570] - Big Rich Klein
[00:09:56.830] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Didn't realize that basically I scrubbed floors and clean toilets in a suit and pie for six years.
[00:10:03.370] - Big Rich Klein
I figured you were using your accounting degree.
[00:10:06.670] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
No, my accounting professor told me that I was not a good accountant, that they didn't want me to sit behind a desk and crunch numbers all day. Like your management skills that you got from the accounting degree far better off used in management. So I extended that. And the last job I had was with that group was actually an operations manager for a company.
[00:10:29.530] - Big Rich Klein
I think that a lot of College degrees, and I wish that kids would explore that more is my degree. I don't use my degree, and I did for a short period of time and then decided to get out of that industry. But I don't use my degree, but I use what I learned from all the classes that I took, even though what I do has nothing to do with commercial photography except for maybe the magazine. But it has nothing to do with it. But it's the sense of being able to finish projects, be able to critical thinking and those kind of skills, and then working with people, I think was a big thing.
[00:11:13.730] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So I think the longer you stay in school, regardless of whether it's a College or a tech or even taking extended classes as you grow older, basically teaches you how to learn. And the better you are at continuing to learn new things, the better you will be at any position you're in, regardless of whether you stay in your degree or you take off into something random.
[00:11:33.790] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, exactly. So what was the first car you ever drove? We know the first thing you ever drove was a tractor, right?
[00:11:41.890] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, obviously the tractor, yes. So between that and my grandfather's old tractor in the farms down in Missouri and all the other stuff first car when I learned to drive in was a Volkswagen Rabbit diesel.
[00:11:56.900] - Big Rich Klein
There you go.
[00:11:58.510] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah, that was my mom's car. Dad's car, whichever at the time, they had that. And then they had a pair of Buick Sabers. One was my dad's, and it was my grandfather's that he gave to us where my dad bought from him back in the day. So we had a 76 Buicklessaber with probably a 350 in it. And then we had a 75 Buick List Saber that ran on regular gas and had the big 400 in it. And that car, you couldn't keep it on the road because it had so much horsepower and no weight in the back that I ditched that car a couple of times. So I didn't drive it much.
[00:12:30.940] - Big Rich Klein
But those years, those things were boats.
[00:12:35.170] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Oh, that thing was a tank.
[00:12:36.610] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I had one while the kids were growing up, and I could take, like, half a little riches. Popcorn or football team to games. You could line them across all the gear.
[00:12:48.570] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah. Banks big enough for ten kids. Other gears. Yeah, exactly.
[00:12:52.330] - Big Rich Klein
It was amazing how big that thing was. And it was a $500 car and lasted for years.
[00:13:00.170] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
They don't build them like that anymore, that's for sure.
[00:13:03.590] - Big Rich Klein
I forgotten that I had had a Volkswagen Rabbit diesel as well. And it was a great little car until I needed to change the timing belt and getting all of those gears meshed up from the injector pump and everything else. The valve train, the whole drive system. I was off by just a hair, and I could never get that thing to run right again. And I could not get it lined up no matter what I did.
[00:13:37.370] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
All it takes is one truth to be wrong.
[00:13:39.390] - Big Rich Klein
God, I tell you. And it was like 15 years you had to line up just perfectly, and the belt never would go. It'd be like, perfect. And then all of a sudden, one would move to line up. I could never get it. That was the most frustrating car I ever had.
[00:13:54.890] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
My least fond memory is with the Volkswagen Diesel was going on to a date in Southern Minnesota when it would be 30 below zero. And you get done with going to a movie or going out to a dance or whatever. And then the car wouldn't start because it was too cold. So dad would drive out with the Buick or whatever he had at the time with a tow strap, and he'd take me and my date home. And then I'd get to sit in the Volkswagen while he would tow strap me to ten or 15 miles home in single digit temperatures below zero with my head out the window. Yeah. Not always great memories.
[00:14:29.520] - Big Rich Klein
He didn't put you on the strap with the date in the car.
[00:14:34.070] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
He wasn't quite that mean. He wasn't that mean. He would at least take her home first. It wasn't her fault the car didn't start. Of course, it wasn't mine either, but still.
[00:14:42.850] - Big Rich Klein
So how many times after that did you get a second date?
[00:14:47.330] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Rarely. But it did happen? Yeah, not very often. For the most part, I was done after that, I really didn't have much chance, which is fine.
[00:14:56.330] - Big Rich Klein
So did you play sports in high school?
[00:14:59.810] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I ran cross country and I did Trot and then my Barney's benchwormers version of basketball. So those are the three that I participated in.
[00:15:09.910] - Big Rich Klein
And did you play basketball more than one season?
[00:15:14.210] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, I played all through fifth grade up until my junior year and then finally decided my senior year. There was no point in sitting on the bench. It was a good exercise and gave me something to do.
[00:15:23.360] - Big Rich Klein
[00:15:23.910] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
And at that point, the music side was getting busier as well. So while the spring and fall were busy enough, you'd have a marching band as part of the football games, so we'd have all the whole marching games to play and then other things that would go on with that and that didn't interfere with across country at all. But in the wintertime, the jazz and everything else picked up. So I stuck to the music side over the winter.
[00:15:45.360] - Big Rich Klein
That makes sense. Okay. So then working as a floor mopper and polisher, where did you make the next step?
[00:15:54.890] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, yeah. So I worked at Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, for a few years. So I basically was a few blocks off of Lake Superior. And then from there I went to UW Stevens Point with the same company for another two years, I believe. And then a company hired me away and forgetting what year that would have been, probably 95 or so to move to Appleton, Wisconsin. And then I got in with Nina Foundry Company as customer service with their extensive line of manhole castings and tree grates and sewer castings and all that kind of stuff, and basically did that for eleven years.
[00:16:32.220] - Big Rich Klein
So I have to ask because this was one of the things that I was always told to go do if I was bored. Have you ever played tiddly Winks with manhole covers?
[00:16:43.670] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I have not. No.
[00:16:46.790] - Big Rich Klein
I know it's impossible, but I was always told that if you're bored, go out and play tiddly Winks with manhole covers. And at first I didn't know what that meant.
[00:16:56.810] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
You got to be pretty bored with that.
[00:17:00.530] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about those years at the Foundry.
[00:17:04.970] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, I started there as customer service and I started there in part and got the job in part because I was dabbling on the Internet at the time. So I knew a little bit about Web page design and they needed somebody to get their web page started. So I spent three years in customer service and then another two years or three years as the pricing director. Probably another two or three years as the marketing director before I finally left in 2007, I think, or early 2007.
[00:17:36.350] - Big Rich Klein
During that time, I'm assuming that's when you started to get into off road.
[00:17:41.870] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, so I bought my first Land Cruiser in 89 when I was up in Ashland, Wisconsin.
[00:17:47.270] - Big Rich Klein
[00:17:47.940] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I bought a 77 FJ 40 for one $800 that ran and drove and get kind of dabbled at that point.
[00:17:58.490] - Big Rich Klein
And what kind of dabbling?
[00:18:01.010] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, I've never changed oil, so there's all kinds of things to learn. So in my case, I lost a hydraulic slave cylinder for the clutch and I didn't know what that was. So I bought a Haines manual with the local Napa. And I bought some metric tools because I didn't own tools. And then I did some research and ended up finding spectre offroad out of California and ordered the slave cylinder from them. And then whenever that of course, this is all on magazines and phone calls because this is obviously pre Internet.
[00:18:32.830] - Big Rich Klein
[00:18:33.830] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
And then basically I had a buddy who kind of knew something about vehicles and he sat in the driver's seat while I laid underneath the truck working on it, and he would yell through the holes in the floor to give me directions on what I needed to do. This was actually done on a Friday night in my driveway, snow covered driveway in single digit temperatures in February. So, yeah, I'd actually take my hands and warm the wrenches on the exhaust before I would start wrenching on things because it was too cold to touch anything.
[00:19:06.980] - Big Rich Klein
[00:19:08.570] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah. Not something I'd prefer to repeat, but it was a good way to learn, I guess.
[00:19:14.690] - Big Rich Klein
So what kind of things did you do Besides maintenance stuff? Or once you got all the maintenance items taken care of, what was your first mod?
[00:19:25.950] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
That's why you really could afford mods. So I lost the clutch of the vehicle. This was at a 305 Chevy in it, which is a bad motor in the first place, but it's what was in there. And it had an advanced adapters Bell housing to it to a stock Toyota for speed. But they had used a morphed combination of random stuff to build the clutch because they didn't know what to put in. So again, you go back to the magazines and I discovered what center force was. So I realized that I needed a center force clutch in there after I had replaced it with a local mechanic. And I go back in after the clutch goes out again six months later. And I had realized I needed the center for us. And it's like, well ordered up. We'll put it in and I'm like, I can't afford to put it in. I'm making 750 an hour here and I'm broke. This is my second vehicle, and I am flat broke on this. So he brought me in as an apprentice, basically. And I work at his auto shop in the afternoons and on the weekends. And we would wrench on my vehicle.
[00:20:22.260] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
And then we'd also wrench on his. He had an early Bronco, which was on huge tires. He was on 35s. So that monster size tire back in the early 90s, that was a big thing. And then the two of us would go wheeling. We go wheeling on Saturday afternoons. We go wheeling on Sunday. One of us would probably break, and then we'd work on it the rest of the week. And he taught me all kinds of stuff in the shop about it's for free. I worked for free, and I was basically kind of being taught as we go on how to do different things.
[00:20:49.960] - Big Rich Klein
That's not a bad route to go if you have income to live off of from another job.
[00:20:56.120] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes, that was a great way to go. Taught me a ton of stuff. I wasn't committed to be there every single day. And at a certain point, I got better on some projects, especially with wiring, than he was. So he would have a project come in. And I remember he had a Subaru that was sitting there that was blowing tail light bulbs. For some reason, he had tracked it down and he wouldn't let me work on it because he knew I'd fix it within a week and it would annoy him. So he let it sit for a couple of months and never did get it fixed. And finally says, fine, fix it. And about 2 hours later, I had everything working just fine.
[00:21:24.870] - Big Rich Klein
[00:21:26.790] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
There's a lot of mechanical things I couldn't do, but wiring I was good at.
[00:21:30.750] - Big Rich Klein
Now, you said it was your second vehicle. You mean you had two vehicles at that time? Correct.
[00:21:36.110] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So, yeah, when I was in College, I had a ten speed versus a car accident. And clearly I was not in the car. So I separated the shoulder and had some other things. And then insurance came around and handed me a check for I don't forget even how much. It wasn't much, but it was enough to buy a brand new 1988 Mazda three, two, three hatchback.
[00:21:55.590] - Big Rich Klein
[00:21:55.920] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So I had a brand new car that was paid for that I could run around in and do stuff in that got 40 miles to the gallon and this fun drive. And so having the Land Cruiser as a second vehicle was not painful when it was down, other than the fact that I couldn't afford to fix it always.
[00:22:11.000] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And how long did you work as an apprentice in the shop? Learning about mechanics.
[00:22:19.050] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I was probably in there with him for probably two years, two and a half years. So basically, as long as I lived there, because I was in Ashland for three years and I met him probably six months in that works. Yeah. Mike was great. He taught me a ton of stuff.
[00:22:32.070] - Big Rich Klein
Are you still friends with him?
[00:22:34.410] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
No, I'm not. He kind of vanished off the grid years later. We kept in touch off and on for years, and then lots of things were going on in his life, so he kind of disappeared. That happens.
[00:22:47.300] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, life happens.
[00:22:48.870] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes, it does.
[00:22:50.060] - Big Rich Klein
So when you were at the Foundry, did you meet anybody special?
[00:22:54.450] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, interesting story. My first wife was actually she and I had met just before I started working there and had a lot of mutual friends that were there, too. And then when she and I split, I met my current wife. Her dad was the plant manager there for 30 plus years. One of my assistants was named Heidi, and she and I had been friends for four or five years at that point. And then I left the Foundry in 2007, did a Toyota thing for a couple of years. And when I came back, I was out for martinis with Heidi one night, and Heather walked in. So I already knew her dad, I knew her younger brother, I knew her younger sister. And Heather and I had never met, and we hit it off and have been together ever since. So it was actually after the Foundry that Heather and I met.
[00:23:44.270] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. I knew it was because of the Foundry.
[00:23:47.210] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes, it was because of the Foundry, but it is kind of funny that I knew the whole family. I just had never met her. And I saw photos of her first wedding, and we just had never run into each other. So going to the first family thing, I already knew half the family.
[00:24:01.230] - Big Rich Klein
[00:24:02.850] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, fortunately, they liked me. That made it handy.
[00:24:05.850] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, exactly. So then you talked about you were at the boundary, and then you left and did the Toyota thing. What was the Toyota thing?
[00:24:17.130] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So Toyota had a marketing program from 2006 through 2008 to help promote the FJ Cruiser. The first two years, it was the FJ Cruiser Trail Teams. The third year, they renamed it to the Toyota Trail Teams. And oddly enough, I'm wearing an FJ Cruiser Trail Teams T shirt right now, which I thought was kind of funny. Awesome. So, yeah, I've still got some of the stuff. And it was a very successful marketing program to promote the vehicles and to take them off road and to show consumers and new owners how well they could perform. So I jumped in for year two and year three. So I spent all of 2007 and 2008 as an off road trainer instructor for a Toyota marketing program. And I put 120,000 miles on an FJ Cruiser in 18 months.
[00:25:03.760] - Big Rich Klein
Wow. Very good.
[00:25:07.110] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
We wheeled the lower 48 States. We wheeled Tellico, we wheeled the Rubicon, you name it, we did it. So it's a great opportunity and a lot of fun. And at that point, it was making pretty decent money. Not great, but decent money and having no expenses because I had a little bitty house at the end of that was paid for very good.
[00:25:27.040] - Big Rich Klein
They paid for travel and all that as well, right?
[00:25:30.330] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah. We had full per diem and basically everything was covered, so we'd be on the road. I remember seven years, 2008, I flew to California on full safe February 1. The next time I saw my house in Wisconsin was the middle of May.
[00:25:47.190] - Big Rich Klein
[00:25:48.190] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah. So you basically disappeared and were on the road.
[00:25:50.640] - Big Rich Klein
You didn't have pets, right?
[00:25:52.530] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
[00:25:55.990] - Big Rich Klein
Anyway, by the end of the trip. Nope. So then let's talk about how the Internet started for you.
[00:26:10.130] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, back in the day, there was the off road mailing list. The Or ML was in the early 90s, started by Stefan Roth at a Georgia Tech. And I had joined that when I was at UW Stevens Point. And you would send an email to the list server, and then the list server would spit out either every one of those individual emails as a real time response to everybody who was registered on the list server, or it would send out a digest of the last 20 or 50 or whatever it may be in these days. That would literally mean millions of emails a day. Back in those days, if you might get 30 or 40 comments and discussions in a day, that was a lot. So that was 92 for a rough. Yes.
[00:27:00.110] - Big Rich Klein
The mailing list instead of like a bulletin board, correct?
[00:27:05.520] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes. There's pre forum days. So the forums really didn't exist at that point. There were websites out there, but not many. My first online article goes back to I believe I had written something up and I had a little private website, private page when I lived in Appleton, but I was still learning the website, right click view, source, learn the code, understand what the TRS and the TDs and the TLS and all the other things were, and try and make a web page out of it. So I started that back in those days. So the Land Cruiser mailing list morphed into the I'm sorry, the offer mailing list. Then I helped get the Land Cruiser mailing list started up, which was a total Land Cruiser Association. I wanted to do something similar and I wasn't involved in it, but kind of gave them some subtle advice. And at that point, I was starting to play with the forums a little bit too. So Pirate Four X Four was in existence at the time. And I joined on there and remembered number 250 something. I don't even know why, but fairly early on on one of their renditions, I think on the current rendition, even because I know they lost members and lost data a couple of times right back when backups were kind of crappy as well.
[00:28:18.680] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So it all kind of started back in the early 90s.
[00:28:23.340] - Big Rich Klein
And let's talk about the progression of the mailing list to I Hate Mud.
[00:28:30.650] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, the I Hate Mud plate was in 1992, so that still got as I'm standing in my shop, I can see the September 1992 I Hate Mud Wisconsin plate on the wall with a little bit of blue spray paint from one of my crafty paint jobs. As those began to grow, you began to get more and more people on them, and it was hard to keep up. And Pirate was around at that point and expanding and exploding with regards to their traffic. And then I was collecting tech links. So between the mailing list and what I would find on Pirate members, people would post up a link to a power steering conversion on a little website that they had put up on GeoCities, for instance, if you want to date yourself pretty quickly so they have a GeoCities page, you would say, here's how I did a power steering convergence. Here's a GeoCities page on how I added an added leaf to my leaf Springs in the back of my FJ 40, or whatever the project may be. And I collected all of those initially as BOOKMARKS in my browser so I could send a link to somebody if they asked a question.
[00:29:37.760] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
And then later I've created a simple single page that just kind of collected them all in one place. Full links.
[00:29:45.750] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
And then from there it just kind of expanded. I started getting emails from people asking, how do I do this Scout power steering conversion on my FJ 40? I'm like, I didn't write that article. Somebody else did. So I can link you to the article, but I can't answer the questions. And I looked at that, and I looked at what Pirate was doing. A forum that people can actually answer questions on. Some of the articles that I'm linking and communicate with each other might not be a bad idea. So I started up one version of the forum, probably in 99 or 2000, and a couple of other variations thereafter, and officially the current version. And the current data goes back to 2002. So I've now got members that are celebrating 20 year anniversaries on the I Hate Mud forum right now.
[00:30:34.800] - Big Rich Klein
Wow, that's awesome. So then you run that I Hate Mud. And what other websites do you have?
[00:30:46.950] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
The others that are sizable at all? Rockcrawler.com and Utdweekly.com, UTV Weekly I haven't done much with it because I haven't been in the UTV market myself for the last four or five years. And then Rock Crawler, we were doing some articles and some stuff on there, but as social media has kind of taken over, even that really hasn't done much. It's got a small forum on there with some build threads and some guys picking up traffic. I Hate Mud. It's still 99% plus percent of what I need to keep up with every day.
[00:31:16.170] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. That's phenomenal that it has staying power like that.
[00:31:21.990] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, it's got staying power. It still registers 30 to 50 new users a day. The majority of those are real users and not spammers and scammers. There's build threads on there. It's expanded to the FJ Cruiser. Originally, it was all Land Cruisers because that's what I had. Right. And then back in, I remember what year it was. Probably 93 Spectre Offroad had their own forum as well. And I got a call from it wasn't K or Marv. It was one of their staff that called me up. Maybe it was K. Anyway, I got a call from somebody one day randomly, and they said, we're going to close our forum down and send all of our forum traffic to Ihave mud. And it's going to happen sometime in the next six months or still trying to work all the details out, but we'll let you know when it comes up. And I said, okay, that sounds great. And I went and looked at their form, and they were arguably they had a lot of content on it, but managing it from the business side gets a little challenging because if somebody doesn't like your product now you're defending your own product on your own website.
[00:32:22.970] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
And that perform side that can get messy.
[00:32:26.220] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Which is why they were getting out of it. And I think they saw the writing on the wall of how much works can go into keeping one of those functioning and happy. So they basically called a week later and said, this is on a Thursday, if I recall. And they said yes. So we're going to shut it down tomorrow morning. We hope you're ready for it. That was one of those shocking moments. It helped kind of help get things fired off as the form was growing and expanding to see all these members come in. There are a lot of 80 series owners and a lot of 60 series owners that were part of the Spectre Off Road page, and they had nowhere else to go. So they all started showing up.
[00:33:07.690] - Big Rich Klein
That's pretty damn cool that they chose what you were doing to have that.
[00:33:15.010] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah, it's kind of crazy. And that was a lot of things that helped get the site fired off back in the early days, but that was definitely one of them.
[00:33:22.890] - Big Rich Klein
So then right now, you and Heather, Wisconsin Foundry, then Toyota Trail Teams, then you met her because of the Foundry, and then how did that all evolve into what you're doing as well? Did you guys date right away and just stay solid, or was it off and on and then got together again? How did that work out?
[00:33:49.150] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Actually, she and I met and just instantly hit it off between the people that we knew they were in common. She's not going to be an offroader per se. She doesn't. She enjoys the events and she enjoys a lot of the places that we get to go and seeing all the people. But she's not a big off road fan, but the doing things in the travel she really loves. At that time, she worked for VF Corp. Specifically for the North Face line, doing customer service.
[00:34:17.280] - Big Rich Klein
[00:34:17.630] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So she stayed there for three or four more years until her daughter graduate was close to graduating high school. And then once her daughter graduated, the ongoing joke was your graduation party is going to double as an open house. And it almost did. So we sold the house there and then moved west. And now we're in Toquerville Utah outside of St. George.
[00:34:36.930] - Big Rich Klein
Yes, you could call it basically the growing home of off road businesses.
[00:34:44.110] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah. We're one of the early transplants to the area. So I think we're one of the first four or five that ended up out here out of the hundreds, I think, that have ended up here now.
[00:34:53.000] - Big Rich Klein
Exactly. So let's talk about Toyotas and your collections and the things that you've had. What's your favorite vehicle that you've owned?
[00:35:03.370] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
My favorite is probably my DJ 74. It's right hand drive four cylinder turbo diesel out of Japan. Of all of them, it's not the most capable, but it's the most unique of the ones that I have right now that are running and driving.
[00:35:21.870] - Big Rich Klein
And that's the red one.
[00:35:23.710] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes, the little red one.
[00:35:25.630] - Big Rich Klein
That's a cool little vehicle.
[00:35:27.610] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
It is. It's one of those that everybody looks at it. Everybody has questions about it. There's always people looking at you weird as you're driving down the road because you're on the wrong side or as I joke. No, I'm actually on the right side.
[00:35:43.010] - Big Rich Klein
Of course you're on the right side. Okay.
[00:35:45.220] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah. Got to have a dad joke in there somewhere.
[00:35:48.860] - Big Rich Klein
Oh, yeah, absolutely. Let's talk some more about the vehicles I know that you have. Is it the 80s? Was the dark green? I think it's dark green. Or is it blue?
[00:36:03.810] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
No, dark green. Yeah. That one's name is Gretchen. So I bought that truck, actually. My first wife and I were headed to Texas from Wisconsin for an event called the Roundup that I'll be down again for in this March down to Katemcy. At that point, it was K One. Now it's K Two. So we were down back when K One was open and we were on our way down with a 28 foot Class C Ford POS motor Home towing my FJ 40. And we put a hole in the side of the block in St. Louis on Saturday morning. So get a tow truck, tow us there. Meet a guy who worked at the mid duty truck dealer that we were dropped off at who was part of Midwest Jeep thing. And he knew me from the Mailing West Forum stuff. And he helped us get a U Haul set up and help us hot wire the U Haul to hook my trailer up, packed all of our gear into white trash bags and became officially white trash because you don't carry luggage in a motorhome, which is weird packed everything we had in the white trash bags and white Styrofoam coolers.
[00:37:10.070] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Finished off our trip down to the Dallas Arca to stay with friends for a couple of days. And then I bought that 80 series from a friend down there and then use that to tow home. So I bought it at that point, it had 100,000 miles on it. Now it has 300 and something on it. I'm not even sure over 300 original motor. So I did swap it out. I use it as a tow rig. So after I blew the motor home up, I didn't have another tow rig. So I used it as a tow rig for a few years. The current motor that's in there probably has $270,000 on it. So I swapped it out a number of years ago just because I got one for a great price. I still have them. I don't have the old motor anymore. I finally sold that to a guy in Vegas recently. But yeah. So it's only got 270,000 miles on the motor.
[00:37:55.980] - Big Rich Klein
Good. That's the great thing about Toyotas. Absolutely.
[00:38:00.480] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah. Toyota is just getting broken.
[00:38:04.350] - Big Rich Klein
And your love is basically Toyotas.
[00:38:07.830] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, yes, it's kind of what I got into. And I looked at Scouts and Jeeps and Samurais and a few other vehicles in early Broncos when I was first shopping back in the day to find something to buy when I was just out of College because I had gotten my little Mazda stuck in the national forest a few times and realized that getting a Mazda stuck in the middle of nowhere is not a great idea because not many people come along when you're on the Shuamagan National Forest in the middle. I mean, it's 50 miles to anything up there in some places. Bought the Land Cruiser and bought that in park because my dad had a Toyota Camry that was super reliable. And I didn't know that the small block Chevy was going to completely. And the other things that the previous owners screwed up were going to make it unreliable. They messed up a lot of things in there.
[00:38:54.120] - Big Rich Klein
[00:38:54.800] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
But dad had a Camry that he put even with me driving it when I was in high school, he put 180,000 miles on it. So any car that could survive me for a couple of years of high school, that was a pretty good car.
[00:39:06.390] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So then let's talk about your move out to the St. George area you're in tokerville correct.
[00:39:18.510] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
[00:39:19.340] - Big Rich Klein
And talk about what you're doing out there and the life that you live in and about the off road world.
[00:39:31.830] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So we moved out here because it was in the center of everything. Denver is 9 hours, Rubicon Trails 9 hours. Ensenada is 9 hours. Moab is four and a half. Johnson Valley is six we're close to a lot of stuff. I had never actually wheeled out at San Holo at the time, but got out here and met a lot of people and got into the scene. I try to get out wheeling a couple of days a week, helping with different clubs and groups and just kind of volunteering and doing that kind of thing. The website does keep everyday busy. There are things that need to be done daily. It kind of looks like it would be pretty simple. But online babysitting is a lot of work. Sometimes it's not always that simple. So I spend my days in the mornings working on the website stuff and then break away late morning and jump out to the shop and either wrench on my new buggy or work on one of my other vehicles or plan other projects that I come up with out here, do some mountain biking if I get a chance at the gym when I get a chance, but primarily try to get out and wheel as much as possible.
[00:40:37.110] - Big Rich Klein
And you now get a buggy. Did you do an F toy at one time?
[00:40:46.230] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes, I had an F toy for a few years.
[00:40:48.470] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. And do you still have that or is that moved on?
[00:40:52.590] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
No, I sold that to a guy in Virginia who bought it and now cops, actually, and we rock with it. So he bought it a friend, he was coming out, I guess a year plus ago, a year and a half ago for trailhero. And I get this call from another friend, Cam. He was like, so Richard's coming out, he wants to. And Richard calls me, hey, do you mind if I borrow your F TOI for the week? I'm coming out to Wheel. I know you're going to be too busy to use it because I also know you're thinking about selling it. So do you mind if I borrow it for the week? I'm like, sure. So he came out and wheeled it on Monday and Tuesday. And I think it was Tuesday night. He came up and he was like, so my wife has never wanted to go wheeling with me. And I've known this guy for 20 years. He's got an 80 series. It's all tubed out and buggy dust and all this stuff. So he comes up, he says, my wife has never wanted to go wheeling. She wants to go wheeling tomorrow. She really likes how the buggy sits, how it rides.
[00:41:48.330] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
She wants to go. He's like, so don't be surprised if I leave a check on your counter when the week is done and the buggy goes to Virginia. So sure enough, I came back after because once I'm out at Trail here, I'll take the motor home out and spend a week out there and don't come back to the house. And they were staying at the house. And sure enough, I came home on Saturday or Sunday, whatever day we got back and there's a check sitting on the counter along with a bottle of whiskey and a thank you note.
[00:42:12.450] - Big Rich Klein
[00:42:12.970] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Off at length.
[00:42:14.100] - Big Rich Klein
Nice test drive. You had a whole week test drive?
[00:42:16.830] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
[00:42:18.270] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about the other things that you're doing out there. I know that you've guided Besides guiding trails. I know you've guided trails in Moab. You've guided trails there in Sand Hollow. What other things are you working on?
[00:42:36.450] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I don't have any new projects per se right now. Okay. I guess I do. I just picked up a sprinter van. I'm not sure if that was a good idea or not, but that's kind of a new little build project to set that up as a regional rung tow rig to be able to head out and do small stuff. A lot of what I do is just tinkering. I've got a couple of guys that I talk with on their buggy builds and give them advice, good or bad, mostly bad, because I'm still new at this. So most of the things I do are experiments that I do in four times and then change my mind again later. But even bad advice is still advice you can use. So I've got guys I talk with fairly regularly and go to breakfast with and just kind of throw ideas off each other and hopefully something sticks or it helps them come up with a better one than what I came up with.
[00:43:23.390] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. So then what are the plans for you in the future as far as living down there and off road and that kind of thing, or do you have any long term goals?
[00:43:41.790] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
We're looking for property and a smaller house. We've agreed that the place that we're at, while we love it, as far as the location goes and we've got it set up to where we're comfortable with it. It's more house than we need. It was what was available when we got here. So that's kind of one of those things that you just stick with what you've got because it's what you have. But actually Heather just found some property today that she wants to peek at and she's been keeping her eyes open trying to find something we don't have in the area we love. We love the weather, we love the people. We love the wheeling opportunities. We love the other outdoor hiking and mountain biking and all the things that you can do in this area that is just non stop. We love being below the snow line, so just kind of keeping the eyes open. This area is great. There's a lot of property that's around here. Of course, everything in this area, because of the explosion with the economy, has really gotten expensive. So our house is appreciated quite a bit. But as I always say, if I sell my house, I'm going to buy something that's going to be equally expensive.
[00:44:38.230] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So why would I sell my house right? At this point, we're stalling, we'll see what happens in the future. But I'm holding out as long as I can. She'd sell tomorrow if I'd let her.
[00:44:49.330] - Big Rich Klein
But you get to downsize, right?
[00:44:52.490] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
That's always the goal for two people. It's us. It's two adults and two dogs. We just don't need all the bedrooms and all the space that we have. So at some point we'll find the right spot to make the move. But I suspect it will be a few more years. And either way, I want to be in this area.
[00:45:07.770] - Big Rich Klein
Well, I know that Casa. I hate mud. Gets a lot of traffic.
[00:45:12.610] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes, we do. We get a lot of visitors. So when you've got. Let's see, what do we have? Five guest beds in four bedrooms. So plus you add in the motorhome and now the sprinter van. I've even got another bed in there. So there's plenty of opportunities for folks to come in and spend the day, spend the week, and the shop gets lots of traffic with people coming through that are broke. And as guys have come through with broken transfer cases and everything else, they're like, well, what do you want for it? And I'm like, well, I don't want anything. What I want is the parts back. So if you steal one of my data 300 off the shelf, then just send me another one. And so far that's worked out really well. So we have people that I don't even have to be here. We had some friends who came through, I guess, Sunday night, and we were in Salt Lake and they came through Sunday night and were in the shop and used a bunch of things and everything got all cleaned up when they were done. And it's like they weren't even here.
[00:46:04.530] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So that's kind of the ideal situation for me is I can have a place that people can come, work on their vehicles and do whatever. Of course, the joke is if you leave your vehicle, I've got a list in here. So the joke is if you leave your vehicle on the list and I come home, you should leave the title too.
[00:46:22.970] - Big Rich Klein
[00:46:23.900] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So far, that's only been abused once, and that was actually by my neighbor.
[00:46:27.320] - Big Rich Klein
I thought it was going to be my son and now he made a reservation.
[00:46:31.870] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So that wasn't the same. It's different when you tell me it's going to be there for six months when it shows up and you're going to be out that day and all of a sudden it's four days later and I need it. No, that's not how that works. It needs to go.
[00:46:42.880] - Big Rich Klein
Okay, so if you downsize the house, are you looking for property where you can maintain a shop?
[00:46:55.730] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Oh, yeah, definitely. I'll end up with a bigger shop. The 40 X 40 I have now is nice. I'd like something that I can fit the motorhome well down to. You can't get it down here anyway, but be able to fit the motorhome inside and be able to fit more vehicles inside. I was talking to someone the other day, and I think we have eight licensed running driving vehicles right now, and most of them can fit inside, but not all of them. So I either need to downsize or I need to come up with more shop space and shop space.
[00:47:25.820] - Big Rich Klein
Is that absolutely more ideal?
[00:47:28.370] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes. I don't want to sell anything if I don't have to.
[00:47:32.420] - Big Rich Klein
So have any of your neighbors ever complained about all the vehicles? I know some neighborhoods or cities, you can only have so many dogs, right.
[00:47:42.910] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So nobody ever has because arguably everything is below grade. So the shop is 12ft below street level, which means if you're driving by, you might see the rooftop of a vehicle. But as long as you don't see the whole vehicle, it's not parked in the street, it's not an eyesore. So I'm pretty careful to keep things tucked in, out of the way and out of sight. I want to be that guy, but I don't want to be that guy that gets yelled at. Right. So it's a fine line in the neighborhood. And when people come by and they need a welder, they need air or whatever, I've got all those things and they're happy to welcome to use them anytime. And that does help, too.
[00:48:18.530] - Big Rich Klein
So you keep the neighbors happy.
[00:48:21.050] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
That's always the goal.
[00:48:22.350] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, absolutely. So I want to delve more into, like the Toyota Land Cruiser Association and the things that you have done on that side of things with Toyota. I don't know if you were ever like one of the board members or anything like that, but I know that you do the Rubicon stuff with the Toyotas and all that kind of stuff. So what kind of runs have you done and where have you done them with like, TLCA or other organizations?
[00:48:56.510] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I've had events. I don't know that I hit every TLCA supported events, but I've had a good chunk of them. We've been out to stuff out in Tennessee, at telecom stuff up in Paragon, things that have been in the Midwest, down south, down in Texas, Hot Springs. The Rubicon Trail member of TLCA since I want to say about 1990 is my guess. Wow. So they've got a membership numbers, and I don't know what their numbers are up to now, but I'm in the 1500, so I've been with them for quite a while, and I've never been an officer or really officially involved with them. I mostly stick in as a kind of a client guidance thing. I find that's a little bit easier where things are going on and issues are happening or whatever else. And I'll get that random phone call from a friend who's on the board or who's part of the process and just kind of bump some ideas off and give them my two cent. It seems to be. It's easier to stay slightly removed that way.
[00:49:56.750] - Big Rich Klein
Definitely. So what's your favorite place to wheel Besides Sand Hollow?
[00:50:04.310] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, we go to Europe, Colorado every summer.
[00:50:06.450] - Big Rich Klein
[00:50:07.380] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Heather and I got married out there, right. So we got married at Clear Lake outside of Silverton seven years ago. And I had gone out there initially as a guide for the event, the FJ Summit that happens every year in July, and then started dragging Heather out with me. This was back when I was with trail teams before she and I had met. And so then I dragged her out there for a few years and she fell in love with it, too. And then when we got engaged, she picked that as where we're going to get married. So we go out there for two or three weeks every July and just enjoy the snow and the weather because in July there's still snow in the ground out there. Just enjoy the scenery and the little breweries in the restaurants and driving around and exploring and let the dogs run. And it's nothing fancy, but it's not hard wheeling, but it's so scenic and so beautiful. This is hard to pass. And anymore, half the time when I'm doing the wheeling side, I enjoy I enjoy San Hollow because of the challenge. I was just down in Johnson Valley for a couple of days with Koh and brought the buggy down and wheeled a bit down there.
[00:51:08.870] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
But you look more towards the people and the events and the personalities and everything else that show up, and that's frankly more fun than the wheeling side anymore. We've got an event that we've missed a couple of years out in Hot Springs, and we just love the people that are there and love the event. And it ties in with Trail Heroes. So we end up with Trail Hero every year. But someday the dates will be different and we'll get a chance to make that one again. The event we do down in Ketemsi for roundup ton of great people, great bands, great food, and a lot of good friends that end up at those events. And Trail Hero is the same thing. There's a lot of friends that come in from around the country to make that event Rubicons that way. There's just so many if you go for the people and the wheel is just a byproduct, right?
[00:51:50.930] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. That's how Easter Jeep Safari is for us.
[00:51:55.010] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes. It hasn't been much in a couple of years.
[00:52:00.770] - Big Rich Klein
[00:52:01.170] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Things have just kind of been too busy with us to be able to make that every year.
[00:52:04.850] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, I'll be there this year. Our youngest daughter is supposed to have a baby at about that time.
[00:52:16.430] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
[00:52:17.630] - Big Rich Klein
She's up in Minnesota, so Shelley's going that direction. I'm going to Moab, but we're going to do the normal thing and hang out at Grandpa's garage and do some scenic wheeling and stuff like that and maybe jump in somebody's buggy and do some wheeling. But that's the one chance I get to do that every year. Like you said the last couple of years we haven't done it because one year it was shut down and the next year it just didn't work out where we were at to make the trip there and have to come straight back. So it didn't make sense.
[00:52:48.550] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
It's hard for me to have many excuses because it's only 4 hours, four and a half hours away.
[00:52:53.120] - Big Rich Klein
Right. You have to have something else busy wise.
[00:52:59.870] - Big Rich Klein
They're at roundup this year at K Two. We should be there that weekend as well. I believe we're getting in there on that weekend. We have our opening rock crawl the next weekend.
[00:53:16.070] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
You got the opening, we rock that following weekend. We had looked at trying to stay for that and ended up with concert tickets that weekend and weren't able to stay can only do so many things is the problem. I keep pushing myself about getting into the competition side with the new buggy and trying to see what I can learn from that. But schedules conflict and we've got so many little things that we both want to do and part of that is trying to do things that Heather like they can't be all wheeling or she'll get a little upset.
[00:53:42.380] - Big Rich Klein
Right. So what's the concert?
[00:53:45.350] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
[00:53:46.910] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. I have no idea who that is.
[00:53:49.490] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So he was the lead singer for Saint, okay. And he is arguably you'll have to listen to his music. He is extremely good. We have seen a couple of his concerts, very flag orientated, very pro USA. He's a good guy and his music is excellent. I guarantee you've heard a bunch of his songs, more than likely. But he's playing in Loughlin, Nevada. So we saw him in Vegas a couple of years ago and then of course everybody's tours kind of fell apart for a year and said that he's playing down in Laughlin. So we've got tickets with our friends Jason and Anne to go down and see him.
[00:54:24.800] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. Let's talk about trailhero and what you do out there and Besides trailhero, I know that you helped with the ultimate adventure leading that area, didn't you?
[00:54:41.730] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes, we got involved with ultimate Adventure. Got a chance to help Scout and help them plan for that one day that they were out at San Hollow to play out there the trailhero I fit into the non assigned group of what needs to go on. My wife takes care of registration. Crystal and Aaron have their kind of duties. Crystal does all the guides. Aaron kind of helps set up all the events and coordinates a lot of those things and I help with the recovery side and keep things on track there. But a lot of what I do is just stand back and see things that need to be done that nobody else is doing and then take care of them. The joke was two or three years ago, they had all the vendors sitting out at San Juan. They moved all of them back out to the parking lot at San Hollow. And the vendors are all lined up and the food trucks are coming in. And I started looking around and I realized that the garbage cans are sitting in front of the stage for the bands or they're sitting next to the food trucks and nobody throws their trash away at the front of the stage and nobody throws their trash away next to the food truck.
[00:55:44.640] - Big Rich Klein
[00:55:45.530] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So I started gathering up trash cans and relocating them into central locations. So as you would leave the stage and then start to scatter out of the three or four aisles that you might walk out of that the trash cans were located there. And it's dumb things like that that I see that nobody else has caught or nobody else has thought of. And that's just kind of an example of the kind of things that I do at Trailhead. And then every day it starts whenever I feel like it's going to start, and then I finish whenever I feel like I'm going to finish. But I seem to be busy all day doing random things that just haven't been done yet that somebody's missed or somebody hadn't thought of or whatever. And the duties of the signed guy at Trailhero.
[00:56:23.270] - Big Rich Klein
I can tell you from personal experience that having that help like that on an event is priceless. The We Rock events, it's just Shelley and I, for the most part, 99% of the clean up and the setup. But over 20 years I got all those little things pretty much worked out. But most events you're so busy on dealing with other things that the small stuff sometimes can turn into really large stuff and a problem if it's not taken care of.
[00:57:01.810] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
And if you're quick, you catch it right away. We don't obviously catch everything. Trailhero is constantly growing and expanding process, and every year it seems to get bigger and better. So there's always new things to catch and new things to figure out if that's part of what makes it fun, right? You don't know what you're into until you really get going. All of a sudden you're like, oh, we hadn't thought of that, and we forgot about this. Let's go scramble and take care of this.
[00:57:26.650] - Big Rich Klein
When you only do it once a year, there are things that and it grows the way it has grown. You know, you're constantly finding new things.
[00:57:39.790] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
And it's also nice because we've got other events that come through the area and run out at San Jose as well. So you can attend those. I attended a guide to the Winter Jamboree and guided a couple of days, and you see things on how that event is done that you can apply to yours or not apply to yours depending on what you like and dislike and look at how things are, and you kind of compare notes without actually talking to anybody. You just look at stuff like, oh, that's not how I would have done that or, oh, that's a great idea. Why would we think of that?
[00:58:10.030] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, that's good. Is to learn from other events. I did that for a few years before we started Cal Rocks, which then morphed into We Rock. One of the reasons I decided to do it is because I attended those other events, worked the other events as a volunteer, and then went, Man, I think I can be better organized than that. In my own mind. I've been. I don't know if I really have been or not.
[00:58:35.290] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Sounds good anyway.
[00:58:36.260] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. So look at our schedule and see about bringing your buggy out to Cedar City. I know that we'll be out there.
[00:58:43.570] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Cedar City is definitely on the list.
[00:58:45.770] - Big Rich Klein
[00:58:46.230] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Hoping I can get that figured out and get up there. It's funny. I look at the comp stuff and obviously you're pushing people into lines they wouldn't normally take.
[00:58:55.360] - Big Rich Klein
[00:58:55.670] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
It's kind of what the competition is all about. So that's the part that obviously the trails that we have around here are plenty of challenging. You can find plenty of trouble. But forcing yourself to drop into a crack at a certain angle and figure out where the rear needs to be and to not kill yourself or roll over or whatever the process is, I'm interested to see how that's different than the normal stupidity that we do.
[00:59:18.740] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. I mean, one of the things that everybody I always say when I watch people do these extreme lines and these different, like at Sand Hollow or the Hammers or anything like that, it's like, okay, that'd be really cool if they would. I'd put cones over here and then let's see, because everybody figures out like, okay, this is a good line. And then everybody takes that same line. And I've noticed that some of the guys, like Dave Wong now are starting to move off of the normal line and picking other lines. So they're looking for where I'd put the cones is what I like to say.
[00:59:59.090] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I ran the Ft for a few years and was one of the few guys that actually had a chance to go wheel with some of the rear steer guys. When you're running an F toy that's linked in the rear and has leased Springs in the front and has no horsepower, you learn to take very different lines every time because nothing that the guys ahead of you on a link front suspension and 42s versus my only 40s and running Toyota axles and all that. I had to pick some unique and creative lines anyway. So I'm pretty used to being the guy that Christensen. When we first started wheeling together, we were running Santhrax and we're running a section through there where it's a deep crack, and you got to take a hard left off this steep climb. And I start coming into the deep crack. And I had looked at him, and he's kind of spotting me, and I get part way through, and I stop. I'm like, so nothing you're telling me works with this car. That's not what I can do. So why don't I just figure it out, and then we'll see what happens, and you can correct me if anything goes bad.
[01:00:54.630] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I drove through the whole thing, and he's like, all right, I don't need to spot you. That's good. And you're allowed to come along because you actually made it through without any problems.
[01:01:03.230] - Big Rich Klein
That's one of the things I'm doing here shortly in the middle of March is going on a couple of day trail ride event. Kind of like an ultimate adventure. But we're going from Chacalaca, Alabama, up through Alabama, Tennessee, and then into Harlem, Kentucky.
[01:01:26.090] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
[01:01:26.590] - Big Rich Klein
I'll be taking the Cherokee, the Beater XJ, and hanging with these guys that are obviously going to be bigger tired, but I think I'll be able to hang. We're going to see we're working on the vehicle right now, prepping it to make sure that there's no obvious problems before we get started. But it will be the first time I've done something like this, so it'll be interesting.
[01:01:51.470] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
A few years back, I was out on the Rubicon Trail, and Joel Mornson was riding with me or part of the day with me. And we jumped into old Sluice and we jumped in right after Volkswagen Rock. And I'm following Mudrack on his 40 or 42 inch tired FJ 45. And whoever was behind him was on 40s with portal axles and an FJ 40. And here I am in my 80s series on 35 on a full body truck. And we ran all old sue. So he got out a couple of times to give me some advice here and there and only added one dent. But that was an intimidating spot when you jump in like, oh, so everybody ahead of me is way bigger, and everybody behind me is way bigger. Here I am the little guy in the heaviest truck, right?
[01:02:34.750] - Big Rich Klein
I can remember the first time I ran Olds Lucy. I was in a 53 CJ five, but the military version M 38, a one on 31s, open, open and manual steering. I come out at the bottom and there's a bunch of bug guys that much bigger built. Some were I'd call more truggies than buggies because that was so early in the 2000s. And they were like, you just came down that I was like, yeah, was I not supposed to? Because they were just looking at me like, what are you doing? But getting yourself into trouble is one of the things that I'm really good at.
[01:03:16.310] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah, me too. Some days before I had the F toy, when I was first exploring sand hollow. We were running chain reaction. I'm on the upper section following a guy on a buggy, and he comes back and he's like, I don't know what you're doing here. It's like, you are not in the right vehicle for this. I'm like, yeah, I'm aware of that, and I need to go shopping. It was shortly after that that I bought the F TOI nice.
[01:03:37.490] - Big Rich Klein
So let's talk about the buggy that you have now. What is it?
[01:03:42.830] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
It's the Jesse Haines new trail series chassis. He's done three different renditions of the chassis. The first one, a friend of ours, Logan, has here in town, and there were some issues. I'm not going to call him mistakes, but things that he changed immediately after. Number one chassis is number two, which is version two. Rich and I both have and mine's all finished out, and rich is in process with his. And then there's another version with the next ten chassis. And then they returned back to this version for the next series. I think everything going forward is going to be this version. It's just minor changes in the node. So this is my first ever chassis that I built. So Jesse delivered the chassis all welded out, and then had to add the tabs for the link suspension. And then I had him. Originally, I was going to do a data 60 day to 70 combo and do front and rear steering with that. And then my friend Sam, who actually is coming in this week from Texas to visit, he called me up. We were on our way to Mexico, and he calls me up, and we're busy chatting, by the way.
[01:04:46.020] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
And he's like, why are you doing a 60 to 70? Because it's what I have. He's like, so how long do you plan to keep this buggy? I'm like, I don't know. He's like, then do the portals. He's like, just spend the money. Do the portals, build it once and be done with it. So I literally messaged Jesse five minutes later, and here we have portals. So it's been an experience. I've never done anything of this level or anything like this before. So every tab and Bolt and everything else has been changed 20 times. I've actually got a couple of things lined up to change today that I'm not happy with. So a long learning curve, so it works very well, but there's little things that I just want to make adjustments on.
[01:05:29.380] - Big Rich Klein
So what axles are you using?
[01:05:32.090] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So they're Toyota based JHF, the trail gear housings with eight inch Toyota differentials, front and rear branch, inners RCD outers PSC steering. It's kind of the standard stuff.
[01:05:47.450] - Big Rich Klein
And what motor are you running in it?
[01:05:49.800] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So I'm running a 1998 Bonneville v six supercharged L 67 motor that was originally transverse. So 60 degree Bell housing on that with a rear intake. So the actual the intake throttle body is facing the passenger compartment. So the air cleaners on the floor of the passenger seat. And then that mates up to a 700 hours floor transmission that I originally built about 15 years ago. That was in my FJ 40. And then that mates up to a midnight Data 300 case with stock gears. Then you've got the 198 to one in the portal box and then 48 in the dips. So I'm about 75 to one or so for a call ratio.
[01:06:36.110] - Big Rich Klein
Nice. Excellent. It is complete. And you've been wheeling it, correct?
[01:06:41.450] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes. I've had it out for probably 45, 50 some days since I finished it right before Trail Hero. Okay. And had it out a little bit at Trail Hero. And I'm still learning it. The F Toy I could out drive. I was a better driver than what the F Toy could get itself into. And so far, this rig is still a lot. I'm still learning what it can do, and I'm still figuring out where my limits are because the rig arguably has none. And I just haven't figured out how to drive it yet. So it's been fun to push myself and to learn new lines and to figure out the rear steer because that changes. Obviously that changes everything. But even having a Lake front suspension has changed things. And having the rear winch where I can cinch down in the front wing to cinch down. And the horsepower that I didn't have, the 22 re.
[01:07:26.450] - Big Rich Klein
Right. And you just have a lot more tools.
[01:07:29.570] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes. Lots of buttons, a lot more tools.
[01:07:33.230] - Big Rich Klein
So basically it's a Trail two seater, but built like a Comp buggy.
[01:07:42.330] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yeah. So it's still 85 inches outside of tire. So it's a little bit too wide for unlimited type class as far as Wheeling goes. And it's 112 wheelbase, so it's perfect for the Trail. It's very capable when it comes to the Trail lines, but when it comes to really tight dodging and really tight maneuvering, it's a little long and a little bit wide, but it does still work very well. If I was in Comps more, I would have done an ARB in the front. I went with a school in the front just for simplicity's sake and kept the ARB in the rear. But running an ARB front and rear is better in Thompson to get some other tools that you would need, too. Right.
[01:08:20.790] - Big Rich Klein
Well, cool. So Besides the Buggy, are you working on any street able rigs or what are your plans that way?
[01:08:32.010] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, just bought the Sprinter van and it needs suspension and some other changes to it just to kind of get ready. I used it to tow out the King of the Hammers and for a weekend four or five day trip with just me, it's perfect. With some short trips with Heather, it'll be perfect as well. Places where you don't want to take the motor home and try to get to.
[01:08:53.430] - Big Rich Klein
I have to ask you, are you going to use the hashtag vanlife?
[01:09:00.930] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
[01:09:03.350] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I'm not using that hashtag. All right. I'm not there yet.
[01:09:08.820] - Big Rich Klein
[01:09:10.290] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
I am using the hashtag. I think sprinter things is what I use or ban things because I use the buggy things hashtag all the time with the budget.
[01:09:17.410] - Big Rich Klein
[01:09:17.710] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
So I had to use something else with hashtag something things. And I don't know if I figured out which one I'm going to use yet, but anyway.
[01:09:23.180] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. Is the Sprinter two or four wheel drive?
[01:09:29.170] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
It's four wheel drive, so I've already put a little bit bigger tire on it. I've got an adolescence and then new shocks coming forward that should deliver anytime between now and another few weeks, depending on availability. I'm trying to modify it enough to make it so I can still drive it. I drove it to Salt Lake this past weekend and got 15 miles to the gallon. So trying to make it so it's fairly mild because I don't need another four wheel drive that's super capable. I have too many of those already.
[01:09:59.630] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah. Just to get yourself out of trouble if you need to.
[01:10:02.930] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Right? Yeah. Well, the worst case is if I get myself a big enough trouble, I'll have the buggy on the trailer behind me and I'll pull it off and unstick myself. Yeah. I did that with a motorhome once. I sunk that Class C at a campground up in the Castle Mountain Lakewood and literally pulled my FJ 40 off the trailer, pulled around the front, put a toe strap on, put the Land Cruiser into a granny gear on the SM 465, and then hopped in the motorhome and I pulled myself out.
[01:10:31.850] - Big Rich Klein
I've used the Cherokee a number of times to get the semi truck out.
[01:10:36.350] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Yes. That's a bit of a weight disadvantage there. Yeah.
[01:10:40.640] - Big Rich Klein
But it doesn't need much once it gets moving. It's good. It has a tendency to get just spin right where you're at.
[01:10:50.090] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Got you the wet grass issue with the semi.
[01:10:56.030] - Big Rich Klein
God. Anything else that you guys got any big trips planned or anything? That's really cool.
[01:11:03.770] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Nothing planned yet. We've always got ideas on things that we want to do. We just haven't taken the time to sit down and figure out Heather wants to take the van up and explore around Yellowstone and hit some of the national parks and have something now that we can poke around a bit. Yeah. We don't have anything too exciting planned right now.
[01:11:25.990] - Big Rich Klein
[01:11:27.470] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Project wise, I've got a 2010 Land Cruiser that I want to build up one of these days. So it's sitting in Colorado Springs and has been for a few years. So I need to get that back here. And now that I've got all my other projects arguably finished up and built, I can bring that home and start working on it.
[01:11:43.630] - Big Rich Klein
Excellent. That's cool. Well, great. Woody, I want to say thank you so much for spending the time this morning and talking with us and I really appreciate your friendship over the years and everything that you've done for the sport.
[01:12:00.890] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Well, thank you, Rachel. I appreciate it been a good talk this morning.
[01:12:04.220] - Big Rich Klein
Yeah, absolutely. So take care and I'll let you know when we're going to air this.
[01:12:10.430] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
Sounds great. Thank you.
[01:12:11.760] - Big Rich Klein
Okay. Thank you. Take care. Bye.
[01:12:14.390] - Brian "Woody" Swearingen
[01:12:15.950] - Speaker 3
If you enjoy these podcasts, please give us a rating share. Share some feedback with us via Facebook or Instagram and share our link among your friends who might be like minded. Well, that brings this episode to an end.
[01:12:28.420] - Big Rich Klein
I hope you enjoyed it.
[01:12:29.470] - Speaker 3
We'll catch you next week with conversations with big Rich. Thank you very much. Bye.