Conversations with Big Rich

Episode 113 features Ned Bacon and his adventures around the world

June 02, 2022 Guest Ned Bacon Season 3 Episode 113
Conversations with Big Rich
Episode 113 features Ned Bacon and his adventures around the world
Show Notes Transcript

Variety is the stuff of legends, hear from the master, Ned Bacon, about traveling the world, writing, drawing, competing, and where that landed him. At home now on the ranch in Nevada, Ned has some tales to tell, including managing an 80 car collectors museum. Listen in to Episode 113 on all your favorite podcast channels.

3:15 – I’ve been a gearhead and a car nut as long as I can remember

11:13 – I think I would have been way safer on a motorcycle

23:29 – then I grew up and put it back to stock

39:13 – I discovered this ad in a magazine about crossing Africa in a 4WD

51:18 – he actually went out and looked at my Jeep, Pewe was the first one

1:04:55 – I got started in the magazine industry drawing Cheap Tricks

1:31:36 – we were meeting our match, and our vehicles were definitely meeting their match

1:44:23 – everything changed in 2010

We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine. 

Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.

Support the show

[00:00:06.370] - Big Rich Klein

Welcome to Conversations with Big Rich. This is an interview style podcast. Those interviewees are all involved in the offroad industry. Being involved, like all of my guests are, is a lifestyle, not just a job. I talk to competitive teams, racers, rock crawlers, business owners, employees, media and private park owners, men and women who have found their way into this exciting and addictive lifestyle. We discuss their personal history, struggles, successes, and reboots. We dive into what drives them to stay active and offroad. We all hope to shed some light on how to find a path into this world we live and love and call offroad.


[00:00:53.790] - Speaker 3

Whether you're crawling the red rocks 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.


[00:01:20.170] - Big Rich Klein

On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Ned Bacon. Anybody who's been around the four wheel drive industry or as an enthusiast should know about Ned, at least prior to 2010. He's kind of quiet on the off road front nowadays, but we're going to get into all of that. Ned was one of the original competitors into rock crawling and made a mark early and wheeled with some of the greatest off road Legends there are. So, Ned, thank you for coming on board and spending some time, and let's have a conversation.


[00:02:00.430] - Ned Bacon

Thank you, Rich. It's great to be here. It's an honor to be asked to do this.


[00:02:05.470] - Big Rich Klein

So let's talk about your beginnings. And where did that all start?


[00:02:12.910] - Ned Bacon

Well, I was born in Reno, Nevada, but my family I grew up on a cattle Ranch in the Carson Valley, which is about 50 miles south of Reno. Little towns of Minden and Gardnerville, which aren't so little anymore, but they've sort of grown together. But I still live in that area. I've been all over the world and traveled quite a bit, but I always seem to come back to this area, and I've always called it my home.


[00:02:43.970] - Big Rich Klein

You know, there's something about that I'll never go back to where I was born and raised, and that's the San Francisco Bay Area on the Peninsula. It's just way too crowded for me.


[00:02:55.290] - Ned Bacon

Don't blame you for that.


[00:02:56.780] - Big Rich Klein

I had no choice in where I was born, you might say, but it was a great life when I was young. It was a great area living near parks and stuff. But you grew up pretty rural. So let's talk about those early years.


[00:03:12.090] - Ned Bacon



[00:03:13.050] - Big Rich Klein

What did you guys do?


[00:03:15.130] - Ned Bacon

Well, growing up on a Ranch, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I mean, I had 400 acres of country to just tear up, learned how to do so at an early age. Also was right up against the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. So there was a lot of trails and roads and hiking and stuff to fool around on up in there, too, that I discovered at an early age. And Lake Tahoe is right over the Ridge there, so all of that is very close to the east. I had the Nevada desert that spreads out forever. You can pretty much still drive all the way from home to the Utah border without touching pavement other than crossing a few of them. And I've done that several times. It was just a wonderful playground and of course, being on a Ranch, lots of mechanized things to learn about at an early age, and I definitely indulged in it. I've been a gearhead and a car nut as long as I can remember. And my dad was also a car guy collector. More than anything else. He amassed a pretty large anti car collection during his lifetime, and he was not mechanical.


[00:04:38.350] - Ned Bacon

I don't think he knew which way to spin a wrench, but he knew a lot of the histories and things about various automobiles. And I spent a lot of time scouring the country with him at a very early age, early 60s, looking in barns and people's backyards and dragging prewar cars home on trailers and watching him build his collection. But I definitely had more of an interest in how things worked and how to take them apart. Right.


[00:05:14.750] - Big Rich Klein

Let me ask a couple of questions about the car collection. So he was just amassing cars and was he flipping them or just, like, keeping them as a Museum, keeping a lot of them.


[00:05:26.910] - Ned Bacon

When he passed away in 2010, he had 116. Wow. And I've still got about 80 of them that I'm maintaining today. And they're all in a formal Museum type setting nowadays, but it's by private appointment only. I do a lot of car clubs and people coming through and personal people that gather a group of friends and ask for a tour, and I'll give a personal tour. I've done four or five of them this month already. So, yeah, that was something I grew up around. He mainly focused on really early stuff, 1910 to 1930.





[00:06:08.810] - Ned Bacon

Which is still what the core of the collection is. He was a car guy. He was very knowledgeable of the early stuff. He was a judge at the Pebble Beach Concourse for about 30 years, was very involved in all of that. So it was kind of a side by side show with me. He never understood my offroading interest or my sports car racing interests, which we'll get into. But he was always doing his car shows and his car club stuff and that kind of thing. And we intermixed sometimes, but not all the time.


[00:06:54.290] - Big Rich Klein

So when you say you liked figuring out how the mechanical end of it worked, did he let you do that on those cars, or did you have to get other things to work?


[00:07:05.110] - Ned Bacon

Never. I was never allowed to touch him, which was probably a good thing. In fact, he never even let me drive one until probably 2008.


[00:07:16.690] - Big Rich Klein



[00:07:17.350] - Ned Bacon

I think was the first time. And most of them had been dormant for many years in this Museum type setting. And late in his life, he got lured by various friends of his to get some cars out and take them on tours again, which was something he did a lot in the early sixty s. And by that point, he really couldn't physically drive them anymore. And so he came to me and asked if I would drive the cars for them. And we do this together. And we had three pretty magical years of using them at the very end there. And I actually got to drive them and work on them and get them running. And some of them hadn't been running in 50 plus years.


[00:07:57.290] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome.


[00:07:57.980] - Ned Bacon

That was interesting. But yeah, growing up around them, I've given tours and things since the 80s, probably maybe earlier. I knew all the stories and knew the backgrounds on a lot of them. But as far as tinkering with them or getting one out and driving it, I was on my own.


[00:08:18.830] - Big Rich Klein

What did you start building and taking apart first? The toaster, the vacuum, the tractor?


[00:08:26.270] - Ned Bacon

Let's see, going way back, I guess first things I took apart were bicycles and stuff like that. I got my first real bicycle I can remember in 1965. And it was a Schwinn Typhoon, and we actually had to go order it from the hardware store, the local hardware store, which had a Schwinn franchise, and I had to wait months for it to show up. I ordered it out of a catalog and I wanted a Stingray in the worst way. And they had just come out and my parents said, wow, those are just a fad. You can't get rid of those. You need a real bicycle with balloon tires. So I got a black Schwinn Typhoon, and I think the first thing I did was take fenders off of it and strip it down. So I would have been eight years old, seven, eight years old. So I remember fooling around with bicycles and such, and then that morphed into I never really was allowed to tinker anything with Ranch equipment, although you always tinker with Ranch equipment because it always breaks. So as I grew older and got to learn how to use farm equipment, farm tractors and balers and slaughters and that type of stuff, they're always breaking.


[00:09:48.440] - Ned Bacon

So you definitely learn how to wrench on those things at a pretty early age. But from the bicycles, not to get ahead of myself, but I was never allowed to have a motorcycle. And some of the Foreman's kids, our Foreman in the 60s had three boys and we all grew up together and they all were allowed to have motorcycles. And I definitely felt left out on that one. And we used to ride their motorcycles around. But I was unbeknownst to my parents. I was out riding their motorcycles, but I was never allowed to have one. But I did get a go cart when I was maybe nine or ten that didn't have an engine and probably was the first go cart ever built. It was pretty crude, and I traded it for you. Remember the Cox airplane? Little 49 Cox planes. And then they came out with a Myers Banks Dune buggy and a Baja kit that had the same engine. And I traded one of those Baja Cox toys for this gokart frame. And then I found a lawnmower engine and a cast away lawnmower in the barn and figured out how to graph that onto this thing.


[00:11:13.050] - Ned Bacon

I got one of the Ranch to help welded on there and finally got the thing going. And it never had any brakes. It didn't have a clutch and had a direct chain to the rear axle. And you had to start it on a block and kick it off the block and chase after it and jump in it and go carrying around. I think I'd have been way safer on a motorcycle, but I ran the heck out of that thing. And the only pavement on the Ranch, which was my parents driveway. But I could do pretty good figure eight. And eventually I ran out of talent and ran into a brick wall with it and pretty much folded it in half on myself and came away with just some crapes and bruises. But that was my first FOIA into something motorized. That was mine. And then from there, well, I got my first car, but let's wait before that, because I can remember the first thing I ever drove was a Ford Eight M tractor. And I don't know if you could call that a drive. I remember sitting on my dad's lap, and I couldn't have been more than eight.


[00:12:21.960] - Ned Bacon

And we were out in the field, and he let me steer it and work the throttle. And I was told to drive around all the cow pies in the field. I could just remember the connection between my brain and the steering wheel and guiding this machine around obstacles. And it just fascinated me at an early age that you could manipulate this machine and pick a line and go around these things and take it where you wanted it to go. And that just clicked with me really early on. I still remember that. And then from there we had an old 48 Dodge one ton truck on the Ranch. It was kind of the most beat up truck on the Ranch. And I sort of graduated to being allowed to drive that around. And I remember putting wooden blocks on the clutch and the brake and the throttle with baling wire was back when you had real bailing wire, not twine, so that I could reach the pedals right. I was only allowed to drive it in first gear, which was granny gear and it was non synchronish. So I remember learning how to. Well, I learned how to double clutch when I wasn't supposed to be because I obviously get it out of first gear any chance I could, but especially.


[00:13:44.120] - Big Rich Klein

When nobody was looking.


[00:13:45.650] - Ned Bacon

Exactly. But I think that poor old flathead six saw more high RPMs in first gear than any other old part six. I drove that thing around a bit and kind of cut my teeth with that. And then of course by then I was driving tractors and learning how to work tractors. And another thing I remember vividly and I couldn't have been more 1011 really pretty darn young. But I was allowed to go out and clear this not really a field. We were making it into a field and there was a lot of brush and weeds and such and I was out on a fairly stout tractor towing a drag behind it, kind of knocking down all this brush. And I can remember the first time it got bogged down, pulling this heavy load behind it and the right rear wheel would start spinning. And then I would stomp down on the locker, which a lot of tractors have mechanical lockers, but you have to stay on a pedal to get them to engage. And I can remember the first time I was struggling with one wheel drive and stepping on that pedal and the other wheel would kick in and the thing would lunge forward and both tires would spin and.


[00:15:10.660] - Ned Bacon

Wow. Is that a cool feeling? That was better than the steering around the cow pies. And so at a really young age I got it with the traction and the steering and the picking a line and maneuvering things. So had a lot of good practice at that, long before I had a driver's license.





[00:15:32.990] - Ned Bacon

I'm kind of thinking what came next at that period. I guess my first car would be the most important thing next. I totaled the gokart and was pretty proficient with tractors and farm equipment. I discovered this old Renault Four CV which was a little rear engine car similar to a VW, but smaller. They had like a 750 CC inline four banger in the back of them. So they were a transaxle type car. Flanch. Scary. And I managed to get it for $25.





[00:16:14.310] - Ned Bacon

And it was abandoned behind this factory in town. And I remember my dad said if you want that car you need to go talk to the owner of this company and get it away from him. And I was terrified. I think I was about twelve. Anyway, I went in and met with the owner of this company and asked him about his little car out back and he rode me along for a little bit about it and then finally asked me how much money I had and I said I had $25 and we made a deal and my dad towed me home on a rope, and I literally was sitting on a milk crate. It didn't have any seats in it. It didn't have any. But I was pretty good with a handbrake by that point because lots of Ranch equipment never has a break. I was pretty good at stopping, and I did have a working hand brake. So we made it home. And then I didn't know anything really about engines. And I just learned by trial and error, and I think I was in 7th grade, and I just asked the guys that worked on the Ranch, asked anybody, what do I need to do?


[00:17:25.640] - Ned Bacon

How do I get this thing to run? Well, first thing you need a battery. Okay. Well, then I need to earn a little more money working around the Ranch here and go buy a battery. So I bought a six volt battery from the local Napa and got the thing to turn over. And then it was like, okay, now what? Well, does it have any spark? Well, what's that? Okay, so I learned about distributors and spark plugs. Once you got it to have spark, and it was. Now what? Well, you got to get fuel to this thing. I learned about dirty fuel tanks and rotten fuel lines and fuel pumps and carburetors and take them apart. Had a little tiny Solix on it, and I got really good at taking that thing apart. Anyway, I finally got the thing to run. It took me about four months, and finally the thing popped and fired up, and it ran. I think it burned more oil than it did gas, but I was a terror. That was my car, and I could do anything I wanted with it. I had to behave when I was in the Ranch trucks and tractors and such, but everything was off limits with those, but with the Renault look out.


[00:18:39.590] - Ned Bacon

So then I learned all about drifting around dirt corners and putting things on two wheels and sliding around and running through the ditches and ripping through the fields when they were being irrigated and they were wet and slick and learned a lot about car control in that little car, even with 25 HP. Anyway, I spent a lot of time ripping around in that. And then I went on to VWs. I always had a thing for VWs from very early on. It was, of course, these were the Myers Bank stays and the Dune buggy craze and all that.


[00:19:14.570] - Big Rich Klein

Were your Volkswagens, like, off road bugs, or were they off the street?


[00:19:20.850] - Ned Bacon

Well, everything was off road because I was on a Ranch and I didn't have a driver's license. Right. I didn't have any money either. So they were all clapped out, horrible things. I think my first, quote, unquote Dune buggy was a 64 bug that had come from the Midwest and was totally rusted out. And I got it for $50. I do remember that. And I took the body off of it with a quarter inch drive socket set. And I pretty much figured out that if I just tightened the bolts instead of trying to loosen them, they just broke off. And then I took the backhoe and lifted the body off and probably bashed the body off and basically made a Pancar out of that. And with the support for the steering wheel. And I had an old gas tank off of a baler I remember found in the barn bolted on behind the seat, and it had the old seats in it. It was an absolute death trap. And I just tore up the place with that. I figured out how to jump things with it and how I killed myself in that. I know.


[00:20:28.910] - Ned Bacon

But again, the motorcycle probably would have been safer. But yeah, I think I had four or five EWS before I ever had a driver's license.


[00:20:38.360] - Big Rich Klein

Nice. What was the earliest.


[00:20:42.230] - Ned Bacon

Earliest of all my early junk ones? I had a 57 Rag top that I got for $100. I had a 59 convertible that I got for 125. And I had a single cab transporter of 59 that I got for 175. These were all cars I had before I had a driver's license. And the one that became the Pan car was a 64. And yeah, there was also a 55 that I still own. That was a family car. My dad actually bought it new in 55. It was the third Bug ever sold in Reno, Nevada. And it has a long history behind it. It was given to my mom to drive around, and then she sold it in 64, and it got trashed by some local high school kids. And then I found it abandoned out in the pine nuts east of here, the Pineapple Mountains. And I had a fellow friend's Ranch, his dad's place, and we rescued it in about 68. And it was kind of a father son project, except, like I said, my dad wasn't mechanical, so we decided to restore it and put it back to original. But he sent it down to a friend of his in La, basically.


[00:22:06.360] - Ned Bacon

And they restored it basically. And it was kind of a joke because it was so beat up. They were just like, Bruce Myers is right down the street making fiberglass bodies. Why don't you guys just go that route? No, I want it restored back to original. And I don't know what he spent on it, but we ended up with a really cherry 55 Oval window Bug with SEM, four traffic turn signals, and the whole bit. Anyway, that car, the deal always was when I turned 21, I could have the title to it. And so I've had that car forever. And it's in perfect restored carry original shape.


[00:22:47.290] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. My first car was a 53 Oval window because 53 was split window 54 was the first of the Ovals. And my dad's best friend knew him as like an uncle. He sold me that car for $300 in 1972.


[00:23:14.830] - Ned Bacon

Going on? Yeah, we're about same age.


[00:23:17.190] - Big Rich Klein

Man, I love that car. I wish I still had it.


[00:23:20.530] - Ned Bacon

Yeah, they're great. And this one is a peach. I mean, it's got its original 36 horse, original numbers, matching engine, tranny, everything.


[00:23:29.480] - Big Rich Klein



[00:23:29.920] - Ned Bacon

And still runs like a champ from when it was restored in 69, I guess, when it really got restored. And of course, I screwed around with it in my twenty s and put a 21 80 in a close racial training and lowered it and did all kinds of stupid things. But then I grew up and put it back to stock, and it's been back to stock now for 30, 40 years.


[00:23:55.160] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome.


[00:23:56.320] - Ned Bacon

But yeah, VWs have always been a part of my repertoire. And then that morphed into portions later on when I could afford them. But we'll get into that later, I guess.


[00:24:07.680] - Big Rich Klein

So in school, during this whole time you're living on a farm, your dad's collecting cars, you're running around with death traps, which was good. You're still alive. Sometimes I think back on things and I'm absolutely amazed I'm still alive in school with school, just something that you just couldn't wait to get done with and get back home. Or do you play sports or do anything?


[00:24:42.490] - Ned Bacon

School was never my forte. I was never a student, and I was never really an athlete. I was always sort of the skinny kid. And I grew up with a lot of big strapping farm boys and Ranch boys and a lot of German stock.


[00:25:02.330] - Big Rich Klein



[00:25:02.640] - Ned Bacon

And when it was time to play football or any kind of sticking ball sports where I was terrible, I could not dribble a basketball to save myself. I couldn't hit a baseball, wasn't big enough to handle football over hated those kinds of sports. I excelled at skiing. I became a very good skier. And growing up around Tahoe and stuff, I was pretty proficient at that at a pretty early age. But there was a big segue in my life. And when I was 13, I got sent away to boarding school. And I think my parents just didn't want me to grow up in this rural environment. They didn't want me in this little Hick town to their way of seeing it, even though they loved living here. They had come from Southern California originally, and my dad's ranching life was something that he chose and did, but it wasn't something I don't think they wanted me to do. And it drew a wedge between us at that very early age that stayed with me my whole life. I hated boarding school. It was an all boys boarding school in the Santa Barbara area, beautiful area, California.


[00:26:34.610] - Ned Bacon

But the guys I went to school with were mostly Californians, Southern Californians. They were surfers, they were stoners, they were from wealthy families. And I never really clicked with a lot of them and I wanted to be in the mountains, I wanted to be on the Ranch, I wanted my cars and my toys couldn't have them down there in fact, we weren't allowed to drive, we weren't allowed to own cars, there were no girls which definitely set me back a pace, I feel.


[00:27:08.870] - Big Rich Klein

And how many years were you in the boarding school?


[00:27:11.240] - Ned Bacon

I did four years there, all of high school, okay? And I begged and pleaded all sorts of ways to get out of it and never could save my parents and it definitely put a wedge there but one thing I did manage to do, there was nobody at the school that was car oriented gear head oriented whatsoever and I was miserable they did allow the guys there to have dirt bikes if they were so inclined and I think there were three or four guys in the entire school that were in the dirt bikes and there was an old barn on the property that we could keep dirt bikes in and I persuaded my parents to let me take the Renault down to school as a working project just to keep me sane and I had to go through all sorts of Hoops and things with the school to allow it but it was a little car and so they allowed it to fit in there with the dirt bikes in the barn shed and there was sort of a makeshift motocross course that was out in the back 40 of the school there and the guys who ride their bikes around out there and I used to rip around the motocross course and they're in all pound networking but that was the first engine I ever rebuilt like brand new from scratch and that would have been not until my senior year of high school I definitely had bits and pieces of engines apart but I never rebuilt one all the way from scratch and we all had to have a senior project and of course most of the guys in this school were brainiacs and they were all going on to Ivy League schools and


[00:28:56.420] - Ned Bacon

what have you and I decided for my school thesis thing, whatever I had to do, that I was going to rebuild an engine and the school just didn't know what to do with me on that I think they found a professor that had maybe changed the oil in his car once and so he was put in charge of watching over me while I rebuilt this engine and I pretty much just did it on my own, reading books and Chilton manuals and got most of the parts from JC Whitney and built this whole engine up, hauled all the parts down to local machine shop and carpet RIA and had the crank turned and had everything done and that was my first engine rebuild and when I graduated I drove it all the way home 500 miles back to Nevada, which was my big crowning achievement with my fresh Renault engine.


[00:29:54.540] - Big Rich Klein

You made it. I hope you got an A.


[00:29:57.950] - Ned Bacon

Made it without a hitch. I think it ranked like 45 flat out 45 six. And by then I definitely had graduated onto better vehicles. The Renault just was something that got hauled down to the school and left down there. For the three years I didn't have it in my freshman year, but the other three years it was down there. But Meanwhile I'd had numerous bugs. And then I got the four wheel drive Bug. And I guess first I've been around four by. We always had four X four trucks on the Ranch. We had a lot of Scouts which won't go into that farm equipment.


[00:30:46.290] - Big Rich Klein

Dodge truck.


[00:30:47.740] - Ned Bacon

Pretty much farm equipment. But I got a hankering to get a Jeep. And I guess I was a junior in high school and I had thought about building a nice Baja Bug instead of all the junk I had. And then it morphed into wanting to get a Jeep. And I looked at several of them. I looked at a flatty with a V Six in it. And I looked at a couple of CJ fives with V Sixes. And then I came across this 60 Willys CJ five with a 283 Chevy in it. And the price is right. And I sold like four clapped out VWs and a 38 Chevy pickup. That was really rough to buy this Jeep. And I remember it was $1,400. And that Jeep became the killer Bee. And I still have it today.





[00:31:42.940] - Ned Bacon

But I was 17. And so that was my first introduction to Jeeps in Wheeling. And it was also an introduction into how you could break things with a Chevy V eight that didn't weren't designed to have that kind of power. And I broke, oh, gosh, I think 1390s. Wow. Before I upgraded the transmission. And I don't even know how many data, 25 front ends I went through. But I got really proficient at doing ringing pinions and twisted axles and all that stuff early on. And T think I could have done them in my sleep. I break those all the time. So, yeah, that was the beginning of Wheeling for me.


[00:32:38.230] - Big Rich Klein

And what year was that about?


[00:32:41.590] - Ned Bacon

I got that Jeep in 1975. So I was a junior in high school. So I can only use it in the summers until I got out of my drudgery boarding school. Anyway, when I got out of high school, all I wanted to do was come back to Nevada. And so I enrolled in UNR in the recent Nevada Reno. Right. Because I was sort of in a situation where it wasn't if you go to colleges, where you go to College, coming out of a fancy boarding school. And it was just expected that you're going to College. And I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do. All I wanted to do was work on cars and live in the mountains and go wheeling, go camping, go hiking, be outdoors. I also have an artistic knack, which we haven't touched on, but it goes way back. And so I had that going for me. But like I said, it wasn't really athletic or anything else. So coming back to UNR was more of an excuse to be back in the mountains, being near Tahoe, be able to ski, be able to go island, and, you know, also go to College, quote unquote and appease my parents.


[00:34:02.180] - Big Rich Klein

So let's touch on this artistic. What was your interest or what was.


[00:34:09.280] - Ned Bacon

Your well, my interest was cars, cars, cars, cars. Always cars. And I can go back to kindergarten days, pre kindergarten. My dad had lots of magazines around and lots of car automotive magazines. And one collection in particular stood out was he had stacks and stacks of motor Tran. And he wasn't into hot Rod, so we didn't have hot Rod and he wasn't into foreign stuff, so we didn't have road and track. But he had motor trends dating back to the early 50s, all the way up through the remember scouring through those as a little kid and memorizing the look of every single American car made in the could tell you not only the year, but the make, the model, everything. And I still can to this day of everything made in this country all the way up through the started drawing them, and my mom saved a lot of that stuff. I've got these drawings like Ford Ranch wagon. And you look at these childhood drawings from a kid that's maybe five years old, and it looks just like a 58 Ford Ranch wagon.


[00:35:28.260] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome.


[00:35:29.450] - Ned Bacon

Cool. And they're free hand. They're not traces or anything that I took out of these magazines. I would just look at these pictures and then draw them and drew lots and lots of stuff like that. But fortunately, she saved and I have some of that. And then when I got into high school, I had a good art teacher at this boarding school who tried to push me towards painting. And I did some pretty good, interesting painting stuff, but I never really liked it. My favorite genre, whatever is pen and ink. And I just really liked fooling around with just pen and ink. And I really wanted to draw cars. And I was really good at drawing cars. And I could draw very good cartoonish cars. And there was an artist named Dave Dial, I think you may remember him who did a lot of stuff automotively in a cartoon fashion. He did a lot of Volkswagen based stuff. He did stuff for Mg, Mitten, for all their ads back in the 60s, there were some models that were made like toy plastic models that were made off of stuff. I just really admired his work.


[00:36:43.500] - Ned Bacon

And I sort of followed that form, that cartoonish great big tires and funny looking people driving them and characterized automobiles. So I did a lot of that in grade school and then on up into high school. So I always kind of had this thing in the back of my, you know, my toolbox as far as being able to draw things. But I didn't do a lot with it. I was more interested in hands on working on stuff. So the College thing went along. I went to class, I did this. I did all the one on one courses that you're required to do, but I drifted away from it rather quickly. And I wound up getting part time jobs. I worked in a gas station and pumped gas and did grunt work for the mechanic on duty back. Remember when there were gas stations where there was a gas jockey that pumped your gas and then checked the oil, all that kind of stuff doing work. And they always had a Toby around to clean the greasy valve covers and the oil pans and the dirty brakes, and I did a lot of that. And then I morphed into a body shop and I worked in a body shop and learned some of that.


[00:38:06.370] - Ned Bacon

I never really got into the whole painting and stuff, but I learned about body work and I learned about taking things apart and had a lot of little odd jobs through school. And I did more and more of that and less and less of going to school, but I learned a lot. And I also have a lot of other odd jobs. I had a summer job at Lake Tahoe taking engines apart from boats that had been sunk in the Lake. And they had mechanics on there to rebuild the engines. But they'll get on a boat that will sink and wind up down in the sand, and especially if it turns upside down, the engines would get all full of sand and everything. So they bring these boats up with this Big Derek they had, and then they had to go through the engine. So I was like the guy that pulled the engine out of the boat and then took it all apart and broke it all down, and then it went in to get cleaned up and rebuilt. So that was the summer job I had, and I delivered mail for the state one year.


[00:39:13.500] - Ned Bacon

I had a lot of just weird odd jobs. And then I discovered this little ad in a travel magazine about crossing Africa in a four wheel drive truck. And that just hit home. It was just like, I need to get out of here. I want to go see the world. I want to travel. And crossing Africa in a four by four just sounded like the bomb. And I remember it was $1,200. And I worked and worked and saved and saved and saved up enough to do this thing and plus the airfare to get to Johannesburg, South Africa. And in 1980, I took off on my own with a backpack. And I went to Joe Berg, and I met up with this cast of characters. I was the only American, and it was a British run company called Encounter Overland. And I spent the next six months crossing Africa all the way to London from Joe Bird in this big old Bedford diesel truck. Wow. It was an amazing adventure. And there were 21 of us in this one big five ton Bedford four X four. And it was the trip from hell in a lot of ways.


[00:40:34.170] - Ned Bacon

It was supposed to take three months, and it ended up taking six, mainly because we had a lot of mechanical breakdowns and problems, including snapping the front axle in half in a ditch. And Lucia, Zambia. And I think the highlight was blowing the rear end in the Republic of Central Africa, which is near the Congo. It's sort of in the central part of the continent, about the most remote spot we could have been in to break an axle or not an axle, but blew the diff, actually. And the driver of the truck there was a driver that worked for the company that was in charge of the truck, and he did all the driving, and he was the only other one of our group that was really mechanical Leather and myself. And we waited for three and a half weeks in the deepest part of the African jungle waiting for parts to be flown in a sesame. And we were at a nondenominational mission that we ended up camped out, and we literally had to go out with machetes and chop down the runway when the plane came in. The plane only came every other month with medical supplies to this little community.


[00:41:54.190] - Ned Bacon

And so we were able to radio out on a shortwave radio to Nairobi, Kenya, and get these parts ordered out of England. And we waited three weeks in the jungle until they flew them in. And then Brian and I literally set this diff up with nothing. We're talking a five ton truck, and fortunately, it did have adjuster rings for the backlash. But we used a Hacksaw blade and a spark plug feeler gauge to measure the backlash. And then we used mustard as, like an engineer's bluing to get the pattern right. And it was in torrential rain. It was monsoon season. We were in our knees up to mud underneath this truck. And crazy mosquito bites ended up getting malaria on this trip that probably came from that area. But we got that disc together, and we made it all the way to London with it. Anyway, that was a fun mechanical story, but it sparked a travel bug in me that I pursued heavily for the next almost ten years, I guess all through my 20s.


[00:43:17.380] - Big Rich Klein

Did you keep a Journal on that?


[00:43:19.900] - Ned Bacon

I've got various journals from different trips I took. There was a Canadian guy that I hit off with pretty well that was on that trip. And he was an iron worker. He worked up in the Yukon on a lot of big amp projects and such, and he would save up all his pennies and then he would take off and go somewhere in the world. And we clicked and we ended up going on a bunch of wild adventures together in the early 80s, all over the world, a lot of Southeast Asia, and they did Australia, New Zealand, gosh.


[00:43:59.950] - Big Rich Klein

When was the book coming out?


[00:44:04.570] - Ned Bacon

It's just all up there written a book on it. But we were just two vagabonds and a lot of kids from Commonwealth countries, British backed countries, Australia, New Zealand, Canada. That's the thing that they did in their early 20s, late teens. A lot of them would take a year off from uni, they call it, or between high school and uni or before they went on to a career job without going to College. They would take a year and travel around the world with a backpack. And I tapped into this thing because all the people on this trip are mostly from Commonwealth countries, and that's kind of what they were doing when they wound up in Africa on this truck. So Ian and I taped all over the place with a backpack and no clue how we were getting home again. And I worked on our jobs fixing people's trucks and fixing cars and this and that all over the place, just for room and board and food and just enough to get on down the road to the next spot and did a lot of that all the way into my late twenty? S and school College kind of just went by the wayside.


[00:45:24.720] - Ned Bacon

I was just tracing around the world and doing interesting things, and it was a Vagabond lifestyle. And I would always come back here to Regroup and Nevada and find a real job for a while and do something else. It was always usually mechanically oriented, and then I would take off again and go do something crazy in some other part of the world. So I did this a bunch in the early 80s up until I'm trying to think if we're getting had anything here.


[00:46:06.550] - Big Rich Klein

What did your parents think about these trips?


[00:46:11.650] - Ned Bacon

They never discouraged them.


[00:46:13.640] - Big Rich Klein



[00:46:14.210] - Ned Bacon

But I think they were still just wringing their hands with what are we going to do with this kid? He's not going to be a doctor and a lawyer and all he wants to do is mess around with cars. But my parents had traveled a lot and so they were fairly worldly, and so they never discouraged it, which was great, and they didn't really support it either. So I was on my own to do that. But in hindsight, I admire them greatly for that, too, because I learned a lot about how to finance my own things. And if you want something, you got to work for it. And coming from the family I did, which you probably guessed by now. I didn't necessarily have to work that hard for something, but nothing was ever given to me. And I really admire them for that. I wanted this car or that tool or this or that. You go earn it, you work for it, and you get it that way. Right. It's not going to be given to you. And I've always appreciated that. Admired that work ethic is huge. And so, yeah, I wasn't accomplishing anything other than just having a great time and seeing a lot of the world.


[00:47:36.860] - Ned Bacon

But at the same time, I was paying my own way and fixing up a few cars along the way and helping people out, I guess.





[00:47:49.310] - Ned Bacon

So let's see, eventually I got involved with a local Gal that she was a divorcee and she had two kids. So I remember being in Nepal with Ian and finally deciding I'm going to marry her, and I'm going to take on this responsibility of this instant family. And so I need to stop this lifestyle, and I need to get a degree in something. I need to settle down and have a career. I'm going to have a family and support them.


[00:48:28.850] - Big Rich Klein

That's a big decision.


[00:48:30.300] - Ned Bacon

Yeah. And I remember I was way up in the Annapurna Mountains in Nepal when this came. And I remember I guess when you get to really remote places in the world, you end up having these epiphanies where you start thinking about where the hell is this all going? And was getting to that point, too. He met a girl and he was going to settle down with her. So those days were numbered. And so I decided, what do you really want to do? And there were two things that stuck in my craw. One was I would really like to write for four wheel drive magazines. That was something that was in there. I don't know exactly where it came from, but I can remember sitting by a Creek in Nepal camping and thinking of that. Or I just want to become a full fledged mechanic with an ASE degree that says, I know what I know and learn all the little things. I don't know. So go to school for that. So when I came back to the States, I actually made an appointment and went down and met Bill Sanders, who was the editor of Four Wheeler.


[00:49:46.010] - Ned Bacon

And this would have been about 1985. And I had a meeting with him in his office, and I can't remember where the offices were, but it was pretty small little outfit in those days. And he asked me questions about my journalism background and this and that. And I was just, yeah, right. I wrote in high school and he pretty much told me, you need to go to school and get a journalism degree and pretty much just shut me down. I went out of there feeling pretty dejected. And so then I turned my sites on the mechanical being a mechanic, and I wound up first marrying the Gal and then who became my first wife, put it that way and moving to Phoenix, Arizona to go to AAI Arizona Automotive Institute, which is in those days was a competition to UTI, which I know is still going on there. And so we settled down in a little track house in Glendale, Arizona and I went to school in the mornings and she was a bank teller, so she got a job at a bank and the kids went to school there and everything. And then I decided I really needed to have a job in the afternoon and keep supporting this whole thing I'd got myself into.


[00:51:18.350] - Ned Bacon

And so I remember I took the B, I had the killer Bee. We haven't talked much about all my various vehicles, but I guess we can get back around to that and the morphing of that Willys through the years. But I had it. I'd taken it down to Arizona and I looked up in the phone book. Remember those? Yes, looked up every four wheel drive shop in the Phoenix area and I jotted down the addresses and I took off in the B and I just drove around every single one of them and put in a resume and met with the powers that be at each one of them. And I was looking for a mechanic's job and I told him, if you want to see the kind of work I do, my Jeeps out in the parking lot and by then it was pretty tricked out for the day and I got all the way over to Tempe, Arizona and I went into a little shop over there called Republic off Road and I walked in and I went up to the counter and I met a guy named Rick Pewe. Pewe was the manager.


[00:52:30.350] - Ned Bacon

He was not the owner and I gave him my little spiel and want to look at my work go out in the parking lot. And he actually went out and looked at it and I think he was the first one, the only one that did, and he went out and crawled all over my Jeep, which had a fiberglass flat Fender body on it at that point and had a 350 Chevy in it at that point and had an SM 420 granny box and still sporting a 25 in the front and a 44 in the back. But we can go into all that later. But anyway, he looked it over and he was probably knowing Rick like I do now. It probably wasn't exactly his cup of tea, but he was very polite and told me that he would get back with me and I went away from there and he actually called me back about a week later and he said he didn't have any openings in the shop in the back, but would I sell parts for him up front for a while until something opened up and he was in the process of buying the business at that point.


[00:53:36.340] - Ned Bacon

And so things were going to change. And anyway, so I went to work for Rick as a counterboy. And this was of course before computers and we had to look everything up in the books and answer the phones all day long and try to beat out the price of the next guy down the street. But I learned a lot about marketing and selling things that way. And then eventually he did buy Republic offroad and within the year and things changed around in the shop in the back and he hired a guy named Frank Ryan to be his main mechanic back there. Frank had a long history with four X fours and Jeeps in particular in the Phoenix area. His brother worked over at Four Wheeler Supply downtown. I can't think of his name off the top of my head. But anyway, Frank became my mentor as far as all things gear related and Jeep related. And I went to work under him in the back there for Rick and worked as a mechanic for Republic up until the end of the 80s when I decided to move back home. And my wife and I were never really that happy down there, although we did meet a lot of really great people.


[00:54:54.720] - Ned Bacon

We joined the Phoenix Four wheelers four wheel drive club which had a great P four W Ranch out in Wickenburg, which was just hundreds of miles of trails in the Arizona desert. And so I really cut my teeth on desert wheeling and meeting a lot of neat people. Of course, this was all before everything exploded with crazy modifications. This was old school Jeeping still, and we were on Armstrong true tracks and spring under and a tight power lock was about your best locker unless you stepped up to Detroit and not too many did. But anyway, I learned a lot about we and I learned a lot about Jeeps. I learned a lot met a lot of really neat people and it was all leading up to things that happened to me in the 90s. Let's see then from there we moved back up here to Nevada and I started my own business which was basically a mobile automotive repair shop. I put all my tools and things in a truck and I traveled around and worked on people's vehicles either in their driveways or their place of work, also in my own garage and driveway.


[00:56:20.690] - Ned Bacon

Oh, anyway, so I got going on that and it was very lucrative. Had I weeks and weeks of work backed up just a one man show. Mountain Motors became my little business and it worked out quite well. And one of the guys that I hooked up with was a vintage racing enthusiast that had two pretty prominent fifty s and sixty s road racing cars. And he was up in the Reno area. But he took a shine to my work and whatever and ended up employing me for three to four days out of the week. And he would pay me to commute all the way up to his shop and then he would take me to the races with him when he was racing and I did all the work on his race cars and it really got me enthused about vintage road racing. And by that time I had my first Porsche which was an old 356 that I bought that was completely a wreck and clapped out and I had restored it in my free time and decided to put that on the track. And that's where I sort of morphed into this hobby of racing sports cars and stuff, which we can go into that whenever.


[00:57:42.920] - Ned Bacon

But anyhow, let's see, the marriage dissolved in about 91 or something like that and I was busy with my business and not to get into the details, but when all the ugliness of this divorce shook out, the judge said, I think your daughter, whom I had a daughter with this Gal by that point, along with her two older kids. And the judge said, I think the daughter's better off with dad. And I wound up with custody of a three year old. And so I instantly became a Mr. Mom, right. That was a huge responsibility. And it wasn't something that I took lightly and it wasn't something that worked very well with me dropping transmissions on my chest and having a three year old girl crawling around in the dirty shop. And so I sort of said, Gee, I've got to find a way out of this another form of employment. And by that point I had met quite a few people in the magazine world from various trips on the Rubicon and this and that. This was late 80s, early 90s, about ninety s. And one of the people I had met was John Stewart who was the editor of Four Wheeler at the time.


[00:59:14.750] - Ned Bacon

And another guy was Tom Moore and of course Jimmy Nylon. And Rick and I were very close, good friends, even though I'd left him as an employee. We continued the wheel together a lot and he would come up here in the summers and we'd do the Rubicon every 4 July and I'd go down to Arizona for all the events and things that we've been doing together for the last several years when I lived down there. And so we kept that friendship going and a lot of the other guys I'd met in Arizona, we would all get together at various points and go Wheeling teardale. Seoul was another one that was always the season opener, we called it. And we'd all meet down there in the salt and sea and go wheel and show off our latest creations that we'd come up with. So I guess that was when the whole modification thing started getting crazy we started figuring out how to make more articulation and figured out how to get more. I'm wavering away from my magazine Morphing I was talking about. But yeah, we were fooling around with different ideas with leaf Springs and different ideas with traction.


[01:00:40.080] - Ned Bacon

I remember meeting Tom Moore and I think it was 89 on the Rubicon. And he had one of the very first ARB Air lockers for a day and 44 in the back of a CJ. That was Project Dirt, Claude. And none of us have ever seen a locker like that. And they've been selling ARBs over here for Toyota, I think for a year or two already. But ARB came out with this one for a 44. And of course it was a major game changer. And we watched that Jeep go through the Rubicon like we'd never seen anything go through the Rubicon. So I made a point of reaching out to Jim Jackson and I think I got one of the at least the first five ARBs in the country that was for a 44 and put it in the B. And things started happening after that. We discovered 35 inch tires and we discovered how much spring over would increase your articulation. I had actually fooled around with springover early in the early 80s. That was a thing that was being done up here in the Sierra's long before it became common. But I remember I sprung over the beach again in like 1990 or something like that.


[01:02:08.430] - Ned Bacon

And then all the guys came up from Arizona with their sprung under flatties and stuff. And I just ran circles around them with articulation and this ARB locking diff and bigger tires. And then it just started and everybody would go home and start recreating something better and we would meet up somewhere else and try to outdo each other. And everybody had a different idea of how it should be done. And it was fun. We were just creating and cutting down old truck axles and making them narrower. You break one thing, you find something a little bit bigger and stronger and try that. And we did a lot of crazy stupid stuff. It was fun and all. In the early 90s this was going on. But anyway, getting back to the magazine Morphing. So anyway, I'd met Tom, I'd met John, I'd met Jimmy, and now I suddenly was a Mr. Mom. And so one of the things I reached out to John Stewart because I had looked in road and track and car magazines and they always had these fun little artistic drawings and things down in the corners of magazines in the car magazines.


[01:03:39.470] - Ned Bacon

And some of them are fairly prominent artists that did stuff for these things just to sort of jazz up the page. And I asked John if he'd been all interested in having little artwork in the magazine just to jazz it up. Little off road drawings and such and this and that. And he said, no, I really don't have any room for something like that. But he said, we have this page in the back of the magazine called Cheap Tricks. And of course I knew what Cheap Tricks was. And that was a deal where readers would write in with some sort of cheap Fixit idea that they had come up with, and they describe it in a letter, and then they would have somebody explain it and make a little column. And it was usually like three of them, I think, to a page. And he said, we've had a graphic artist doing the Illos for these ideas, but he's gotten in trouble because he's been doing them for Peterson's as well or something. And he said, you think he could draw drawings if I sent you these letters that we choose and could you illustrate what these people are talking about?


[01:04:55.390] - Ned Bacon

I think I can handle that. That's how I started in the magazine industry. Was drawing Cheap tricks.





[01:05:06.970] - Ned Bacon

So yeah, John would send me these hand picked letters that he would pick out or whatever, and then I would illustrate what these people were talking about. So I started doing that just in the evening, three times while I was still running my business and working on cars during the day and taking care of my daughter. And I draw these Zillows late into the night. And so that went on for a while, and that worked pretty well. And then I got a call from Tom Moore and he was over with millenn and Yee at Off Road. And he said, hey, can you do some illness for us? He said, kind of like what you're doing here? And I've got this guy Moses liedell that is doing these tech articles for us, but we'd like you to illustrate what he's talking about. And I was like, all right, let's give that a shot. I don't have any kind of written contract or anything with John. And John was general media in those days, which was Penthouse. So we pretty much were a nice write off for Penthouse. So it was the golden days of four wheel drive magazine.


[01:06:15.670] - Ned Bacon

It was just a blank check, especially a little later on when I started doing things with the staff and going on four Wheeler the year testing and all that kind of stuff. It was great in those early days. So I started doing loads for Moses work and was cranking out more and more and more. Of course, it wasn't paying very well, but it was getting my foot in the door. And then Tom called me up one day and he said, hey, can you write anything? And I said, well, I don't know. I haven't really written anything since high school, but I went to this fancy high school and I had some pretty good English instructors. So I said, well, give it a crack. And I said, well. I said, I don't even know how to type. And I don't have a typewriter and I don't have a computer. And not too many people did in those days. And he said, well, he says, write it out to me long hand and I'll take care of it. And so I did my first article, and I can't really remember what it was. I remember one of my very first one was on the Jeep Eater transfer case conversion for Toyotas.


[01:07:31.810] - Ned Bacon

And Chris Collard had one in his Hilux. And this was before Marlin ran with it. And the whole idea had come out of Iceland. And there was a little company in Sacramento that was making these things called JP Eater and basically the same idea as putting a second low range box up against the Toyota truck transfer case. That was one of my very first articles. And I also did one on a YJ with some off the shelf lift kit spring thing. I can't remember the brand of it, but those articles sent me on my way, and that would have been with Tom at Offroad first, and I literally sent him my first three or four articles longhand. And he said, you're pretty good. I'm not really having to edit your work very much, and your photography is good and you articulate, and you know what you're talking about. You really got to learn how to type or at least get a computer. He says, this is killing me, translating all this long hand. And so I bought my first computer used from some Gal that had a computer school in town. And then I don't even remember how I morphed over into four Wheeler.


[01:09:01.920] - Ned Bacon

But it wasn't long after that that I started writing for John as well. And then from there it went to Phil Howell and pretty much all of them except Peterson, because that was sort of the most direct competition to four wheelers so that we couldn't do that. But I was just lucky I was in the right place at the right time. And I brought something to the table that I don't think too many others had at that point, which was I could write and be articulate about what I was talking about and do a concise form. But I could also photograph because I had an artistic guy and I knew a bit about shooting pictures from all my travels and such, and I could rent and a lot of the guys couldn't do one or two or all three of those things. They could write really well, but they didn't know how to work on them. So they'd have to take the project to a shop and then maybe they'd have another photographer along to take a picture of it and the work that was being done. So I managed to just be in the right place, the right time, and carve this niche for myself where I could work freelance for them and do it all.


[01:10:24.180] - Ned Bacon

And it just went from there. And I did it for 20 something years and got to know a lot of the great guys in the industry got to work alongside them with, like, where we live in the air type stuff and this and that. And then, of course, the top truck came along. That was 93 was the first top truck, Jimmy Island. And I went down to Hollister Hills, and I think it was in 92. It might have been early 93 and checked out the property to see if it would work for this idea that Jimmy had come up with. And it had spawned from something that Car Craft was doing. And so we pulled off the first top truck challenge in 93. And I remember it was like a lot of Indians running around with no cheese. And we had. I think there were twelve competitors right out of the gate. So we had these people that come from all over the country and brought their rigs and their families and friends and everything, and we were just bumbling around, put this thing together and pull it off. And it was just bugging the heck out of me.


[01:11:43.920] - Ned Bacon

And so I just sort of took over and started barking orders and telling everybody how to run this thing and how to do it. And I ended up with a nickname, a sheepdog. But I also wound up the next year being the chief engineer and judge and everything for all the engineering and laying out the courses and everything else. And that was something I did for four Wheeler for 13 years, I think, and recruited a lot of my good friends and former competitors into that whole thing. We had Tim Hardy and Randy Ellis and Shannon, and of course, Pay Way was in on that. And we were all just a bunch of cronies that got together and pulled that off every year. And funny story. A lot of these guys, Sonny Hugginger is another one. I met Sonny at the first. I think he was in the first top truck, but guys like Randy and Shannon, little side story. They used to come to Republic off Road when they were in high school when I was working there. And so that's when I first met them. And they would come in after school and buy parts or just hang around and drink beer because we'd let them drink beer.


[01:13:06.420] - Ned Bacon

And he was probably 17 or whatever. So, yeah, I got to know a lot of those guys way back and just kind of rambling on that front, but. All right, put me back on course here. Where should we go from here?


[01:13:25.300] - Big Rich Klein

Let's talk about the vehicles along the way. Besides the killer B, okay. You had to have Besides.


[01:13:35.430] - Ned Bacon

So I got the B in 75, and it got painted yellow pretty quickly. It was red when I first got it and painted it yellow pretty early on. And I remember I got a set of two tracks on ten inch Kelsey Hayes solid steel wheels from Dick Seapech. Might have been 76, my first big tires. And I remember this because CPEC was still working out of his garage. And my God, was it Compton or somewhere down there little paper newspaper magazine like thing with his Baja Proven products in there. And I remember four mounted balanced Armstrong True tracks, which were 32s on, ten inch wide by 15 Kelsey Hayes black steel wheels shipped to Barbell, Nevada from La $342. And I remember because it was a big expense and I put those on the Bee and then of course, they rubbed and so then I had to do Springs and so I think I had some Burbank Springs that I put on it. Anyway, so the bidding started. It was my daily driver for two years, I think. And then I finally bought my first new and real truck and it was brand new and it was a 77 Chevy step side, four X four with a stick.


[01:15:20.350] - Ned Bacon

It was a Scottsdale. It was chocolate Brown and bought it off the lot in South Lake Tahoe. It was sitting on a lot brand new, and it was a stripper. And it was exactly what I wanted. Rubber mats lined up, windows, no air conditioning, and a little step side. That was the first thing I ever had to make payments on. And I only kept it for two years because I couldn't stand the payments. And I ended up selling it to a local rancher who still has it and it's still working a Ranch here in town, and it's got probably half a million miles on it.





[01:16:01.930] - Ned Bacon

Anyway, and I reverted back to the B. And I remember that same summer I took my first trip to Baja with a couple of old friends from my high school days, boarding school days who were surfers, and we drove way deep into Baja to La Perisima on a surfing trip. And of course I was not into surfing, never was, but went down with them just for a Lark. And that was my first foyer into Baja on my own. And I took the B on that. And I've been hooked on Baja ever since. And I couldn't tell you how many times I've been down there, but back to vehicles. So of course I started getting into this travel bug thing where I was gone a lot, and so I really didn't need that many vehicles. So the B was always there to fall back on. And then by then I turned 21, so I had the $55 as well. And those were kind of my two staples for quite a while. But then I bought Chevy Love, four X four Chevy Love in. It was like a year old and I ended up jacking that up and putting like 30s under it, which felt like 35s on a Love.


[01:17:23.040] - Ned Bacon

And we beat the heck out of that truck and I also built my first off road race car around that period of time, which first I'd help a couple of friends build a Baja Bug, a class five car, and they didn't know any about VW. So I got recruited for that one. We built that car and raced it in the Vora series up here in like 81, I think. So for 82, I decided to build my own race car. I started with another Bug and had a class five, and then I raised that for a while and then that morphed into a class two, which in those days, Class Two Unlimited was like a two seat Buggy. And I started with a chat with sand frame and reinforced it and added more tubing and things into it and made a desert car out of that, so to speak. I remember we ran the first Frontier 500, which was Vegas Torino, which was HDR back in those days, and went down to play with the big boys in Vegas and got a real ass whipping. We realized just how Podunk we were up here when we went down to Vegas and saw these real race cars and we never finished the race.


[01:18:42.710] - Ned Bacon

I don't think we made it past Perm and dropped a valve or something. We ended up hitchhiking home with a race team to Reno with the Buggy. And that was another story. So, yeah, I was dabbling around and off road racing and had that Love truck for a while and then always wanted a Toyota from when they first came out in 79. And you couldn't get them, and if you could get them, they were like super overpriced and all the dealers were gouging on them. But by 83, that had settled down and I pretty much destroyed this Love by that point. And I managed to buy a new Toyota pickup that was another brand new one. And that's the truck I had as my daily when we moved to Arizona. And I put 100,000 miles on that thing in about three years. And then I screwed it up. It was never a hardcore Wheeler, but I did put my first winch on that, not on the Bee, I remember that. And then the training went out and it had about 95,000 miles on it, and that was pretty common on those early Toyotas. And I didn't want to to put a V Six in it.


[01:20:05.660] - Ned Bacon

And I ended up sticking a Buick V Six in it with a turbo 350 and about 1987 in Arizona and just ruined it. It got like 10 miles of the gallon and it had all kinds of cooling issues and electrical issues. And I took a really good little truck and wrecked it. And so I ended up selling that and getting a Blazer for my wife, and that was her driver. And so I fumbled around with just some crummy commuter cars. When I was working for Rick, I had a 79 Subaru station wagon that I ended up putting a five inch lift on it. I ran into a guy that worked at Four Wheeler Supply named Kurt Brenmeyer. I don't know why that come to me. And he had a Subaru Brat with nine inches of lift on it and then 31s on it. These were the really early little tiny Subaru. And I had this old clapped out wagon and he got a five inch lift sitting around for that. And we put that on it. And I drove that as my commuter car in Phoenix back and forth to Republic every day from the west side of Phoenix.


[01:21:25.770] - Ned Bacon

And we hold all kinds of parts in it and everything else for Republic. And so I had that thing up until I moved back up here. And then I bought a new 89 Chevy short bed pickup when the ISS had first come out and I ordered it, first thing I ever ordered brand new. And it was black, had a five speed in it, got dragged five speed and a 350 throttle body. And that truck went on. It became my work truck for my business with all the tools and everything and way overloaded. And that thing got worked hard from day one and it towed the Bee all over the place. By then we were doing all these different adventures, wheeling together long before competitions or anything. But I'd go down to Arizona a lot telling the Jeep Southern California this and that, always with all the tools in the thing and all the Jeep behind it and everything else. Anyway, that truck got used hard. It put like 250,000 miles on it in like six years or something. And that became one of my articles that I did in the mid 90s called ISS no More where I cut all the ISS out of it and put a Dana 60 under the front of it and the 14 in the rear.


[01:22:59.920] - Ned Bacon

And that kind of stuff just really wasn't done yet. Ben Stewart did around the same time do a truck that he had professionally done at a shop. And I did mine as a backyard hack. And it was a very popular article that I wrote and multi series thing. A lot of guys identified with it and how to get rid of that ISS and put straight axles under these trucks now.


[01:23:31.020] - Big Rich Klein

It's so common.


[01:23:33.250] - Ned Bacon

Yeah. Well, then it was Off Road Unlimited or one of those companies started making a kit for it shortly after that. Well, everything so changed today. It's funny. This was only in the 90s, which I guess you think back now that's 25 almost 30 years ago. But we seem so archaic back in compared to now some of the stuff we were doing. So let's see, that takes us up. Meanwhile, the B was kind of always there and always morphing starting in the early 90s with the longer leaf Springs and the spring over and going to Dana 60s in the rear and wide, 44s in the front and ARB's front and rear. And of course a bigger engine. Still using carburetors fuel injection wasn't a thing then and I was a staunch stick guy. I ran SM 420 early GM Penny boxes for years. And with an 18 transfer case and the fiberglass body, the flat Fender, whole thing happened back in 85. The original steel body. I swapped it over too many times and it was pretty rusty from being a Tahoe Jeep anyway. And the floors were pretty gone out of it. So I swapped it over and made a flat Fender out of it in 85.


[01:25:11.780] - Ned Bacon

And that was before I moved down to Arizona. So when I first went to Arizona, it was already a flatty, but it was a lot fiberglass body from Lincoln, California. That body. So let's see then towards the mid 80s, leaf Springs that kind of run their course. And Sonny came along with his little flatty and he had these little Rod coils under it that came from Speedway or somewhere. It wasn't even a four by four say they were like stock car coils. And I decided that looked like the way to go. And so I think it was about 96. I stretched the wheelbase out to 98 inches and did what became known as the comp cut in the rear, which was basically just an ugly way to remove the back of the tub so that the stretched out wheelbase would fit and the thing would articulate still. And I was never proud of it. But man, did that take off?


[01:26:18.190] - Big Rich Klein



[01:26:21.190] - Ned Bacon

I think there was a rare shot of the Bee on the cover of some magazine around that time showing that comp cut corner pretty prominently. And next thing you knew, everybody did. It wasn't one of my prouder moments.


[01:26:37.150] - Big Rich Klein

It was that part of the Jeep that if it was going to get damaged, that was it.


[01:26:41.370] - Ned Bacon

We're always getting tore up anyway. So I just wacked it up. Yeah, that was a popular thing. And another thing I did to it around that period that didn't take off right away was hydraulic steering. And I remember I decided from driving backhoes and being around farm equipment, I knew what hydraulic steering was like. And I thought that's got to be the answer for crawling over these rocks and not binding up the steering and everything. And nobody was doing Rams or anything at that point. And I remember going around Reno and asking various shops if they could set me up with some kind of hydraulic steering system. What did I use? What parts did I need? And I went to like three or four places and they just shook their head and said, no way, we're not helping you with that. That's too dangerous. And then I went to this one guy and same story and he looked at me and he said, yeah, I can make that work. And he was a sprint car racer and he just had enough WaveOS. He didn't care enough. Yeah, we can make that work. You want to drive a Jeep with hydraulic steering?


[01:27:58.250] - Ned Bacon

And he found me an old double ended forklift Ram. And then we used the Charlotte valve and the regular GM pump and put it all together with a bunch of hoses. And bingo, I had hydraulic steering and I use that in the early comps and stuff. But I had it before we did the first comps and everybody thought I was nuts, but everybody couldn't believe how I could steer through things and over things. And it was awesome. And it was a handful on the highway.


[01:28:38.210] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah. I would imagine.


[01:28:41.330] - Ned Bacon

The steering wheel walked all the time just like tobacco does. And it darted all over the place constantly. It was quite vague, but I wasn't using it that much on the street at that point. So it really didn't matter. And that original system carried me through most all the comp stuff I did. I remember it broke finally in Montrose in Colorado towards the end of my Rock comp career, which we'll get into in a minute. Anyway, that was the end of that. And then by then AGR had come along, which was Tom Allen and Cronies. And they were doing these Ram systems and they ended up building me a morphed Bronco and Scout box that would fit the bees configurations with a Ram. And of course, that was an article I did and kind of helped put the whole hydraulic steering thing on the map and that parts of that system are still on that rig today. Oh, wow. That went from still carrying on. So let's see back up a little bit. I've been meeting up with a lot of these guys goofing around all through the we were always trying to make a better mouse trap and outdo each other.


[01:30:04.150] - Ned Bacon

And then Bob Hazel came along with his competition thing down in New Mexico. And I think it was Farmington and it was just like, hey, let's all go down there and do this competition. That's what we've basically been doing all along anyway, is competing against each other and just trying to outdo each other and come up with better widgets. And so now we got a guy that's organizing it. Okay, that sounds like fun. So we all went down and convened on that. That course is history. And it was just amateur hour and there were no helmets, there were no safety whatsoever. It was just like what we've been doing for the last seven or eight years, just goofing around and going wheeling.


[01:30:57.150] - Big Rich Klein

But maybe without a beer in your hand.


[01:30:59.730] - Ned Bacon

Yeah, exactly. And now there were cones. We had to drive around and there were points we had to figure out. And I remember a couple of these early ones. There was a great video of Randy Ellis rolling over and beer cans all falling out of his rig. And that was just pretty much the way it was. It had been that way all through the 90s. Nothing was really changing except the courses. And what was the guy's name? Phil. That was laying out those early courses?


[01:31:34.830] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, yeah, Phil Collard.


[01:31:36.420] - Ned Bacon

Yeah, Collard. Phil Collard. He was making some really interesting stuff and some really interesting lines and some really difficult things. And we were meeting our match, and our vehicles were definitely meeting their match. And the technology just wasn't there for these courses he was building. And so momentum became your friend. And I had spent the better part of 25 years of wheeling at that point trying to master what I call mechanical ballet. And that's a term that was originally coined by Mark Vaughn in auto week. And I just remember that was just a great way of describing what I thought proper rock crawling should be, which was a dance with the vehicle. And you never spun a tire. You tried not to lift a tire. You just mechanically Ballade your way over these obstacles and stuff. And it was a beautiful sight when you got it right. And it was just effortless. And he just did this little dance through these rocks with this machine. And of course, when the cops came along, Bam, that went out the window. And it was mainly because we didn't have the equipment to match the terrain. The technology just wasn't there yet.


[01:33:07.080] - Ned Bacon

And my hats off to the guys doing it today, Jesse and all of those, they've got mechanical ballet, for sure. Oh, it sure is in spades. But look at the equipment and where it's gone and what they're doing with that now. In those days, we were just it was amateur hour, and it was momentum and putting on a show, and the crowds loved it, but it bothered me. And the other thing that really bothered me was there were a million people making videos in those days. Vhs were all the rage. And every amateur with a camera was making a video and selling it on the infancy of internet and this and that. And it was showing us at our absolute worst is how I saw it. And I wrote a column about this. You and I may have butted heads about this. We did.


[01:34:13.530] - Big Rich Klein

We did.


[01:34:15.450] - Ned Bacon

I know there were some great stickers made, and I wish I had one that was a red slash with no bacon, either bacon or there was a strip of bacon with a slash through it. And I took a stand. I had my own column in off road adventures with Dennis Snow in those days called Rasher bacon. And I took a stand after about maybe two and a half years of doing it. And I was always up in the top five. I don't think I ever want anything off overall or anything, but I just said, you know, guys, we're going about this wrong. We're just showing ourselves at our absolute worst and everybody's making videos and selling this to everybody. And we're tearing up all our favorite spots and we're just handing, I think I put it we're handing bullets to the environmentalists and stuff to shoot us with. And really my solution I offered a solution was to put this stuff in a controlled environment. And that was coming from my background in racing at that point. Sports car racing, where you are on a track in a controlled environment. And that stems back to where sports car racing started after World War II.


[01:35:47.820] - Ned Bacon

And GIS came home and realized European cars could corner and American cars couldn't and they could turn both ways and not just go fast in a straight line. And a lot of that early sports car racing was done on street circuits, road racing circuits, the Pebble Beach races and domestic forests were famous for that. And a lot of people got killed spectators. And then they started building dedicated tracks. That's how Laguna Sega got started, because too many people got killed in the Del Mari forest in Monterey. Anyway, so I was coming off of that mentality and that we really need to put this stuff in a controlled environment and not out in our favorite trails like Joe Cherry and God in all the places we were doing at Montrose. Anyway, it all shook out as it shook out. Maybe I was a little ahead of my time, but I took a stance and said, I'm not going to do this anymore because this is just against my feelings. And of course, the sport went on. It kind of had its peak. And I think the technology that came out of it is phenomenal. And all the stuff we were just making by hand from old truck parts and stuff, now you can just go down and buy them all.


[01:37:19.060] - Ned Bacon

And a lot of that also happened is also from the OES taking notice of what was going on and developing much better products for the everyday consumer.


[01:37:35.050] - Big Rich Klein

Hence the TJ.


[01:37:36.630] - Ned Bacon

Of course I'm talking about the TJ and the Rubicon right from that. And then, of course, the JK from that. And that's a whole another story. Where should we go from here?


[01:37:51.480] - Big Rich Klein

Well, I can remember the first time that I met you, and it was on Pritchette Canyon. I was living in Cedar City at the time, and I was there with the color country four wheel drive club guys like Dean Bullock and Dock.


[01:38:10.190] - Ned Bacon

Phenomenal driver. Yeah, Dean was amazing.


[01:38:13.510] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. We came up behind you guys and it was you, I want to say it was Walker could have been and Sunny, I believe.


[01:38:27.530] - Ned Bacon



[01:38:28.320] - Big Rich Klein

And there was a couple of others and somebody pointed out that's Ned and it was after your article.


[01:38:35.850] - Ned Bacon

And I was like, that asshole.


[01:38:38.380] - Big Rich Klein

Okay. I need to talk to him.


[01:38:41.370] - Ned Bacon

Wow, cool. I don't remember this, but carry on.


[01:38:45.810] - Big Rich Klein

But we were just above. You guys had just cleared. Tim Hardy was with you and he was from my stomping grounds Placerville area.


[01:38:57.710] - Ned Bacon



[01:38:59.670] - Big Rich Klein

So after you guys got done playing there on Rocker Knocker and before you got up to Rock Pile, I walked up the Hill and we had a discussion about your article. And I have to say at that point I didn't agree with you, but we had a great coverage. No, I know that. I know that's the first time that you and I met personally and had to talk. Now I may have seen you on the Rubicon in the 80s because I started doing in the Rubicon in late 82.


[01:39:47.050] - Ned Bacon

Probably did.


[01:39:48.970] - Big Rich Klein

But that was.


[01:39:52.450] - Ned Bacon

Might have bought a T shirt from us on 4 July, quite possibly somewhere in there. We used to go up there before July. I was part of the Flat Centers four by four club out of Placerville. It was Kate Noli Olson and those guys. And we used to sell T shirts that I drew every 4 July and then Little Slews and we'd camp there back when you could and we'd sell all these shirts to everybody. It kind of became a thing and we take all the proceeds. And then we did this Christmas drive every year for the elderly in Placerville with the money that the club had and we'd go around and buy foodstuffs and clothing and stuff for the elderly that couldn't take care of themselves kind of thing. That's awesome. So yeah, we did all these crazy T shirts for, oh, I don't know, ten years. Anyway, I think we were doing those every once in a while. One still surfaces, some greasy old tattered things. Okay, well, I don't remember our precious encounter, but you probably had a lot.


[01:41:02.200] - Big Rich Klein

Of conversations like that at that time.


[01:41:04.750] - Ned Bacon

I did. But it's all good.


[01:41:10.180] - Big Rich Klein

Oh, absolutely.


[01:41:11.670] - Ned Bacon

It's all gone where it's gone. And I continue to work for the magazines and write stuff and branch out and a lot of different venues since then. Stopping the competition stuff didn't really bother me all that much. Plus by then things really needed to build a rig that was dedicated to strictly doing comps. And I had always had that damn killer B. I still have it. And it had always been my one and only Wheeler. And I just kept redoing it, remodeling it, rebuilding it. The only thing left of that original Jeep that I bought in high school are the two main frame rails, which are still unaltered front to back, bumper to bumper, although I took a 58 Willys frame and took all the Cross members out of it. And this was back in the late eighty s, ninety s and sandwiched the rails from the 58 frame into the 60 frame and basically box the whole thing and then did different Cross members. But the outer part of that frame are still the original rails from that Jeep I bought and then part of the tailgate, the Willys tailgate, which has the killer Bee logo on it that I painted back in the 80s, that's still there.


[01:42:38.290] - Ned Bacon

And the serial number and that's it. That's all that's there. And actually probably the Jeep that I used as my comp rig in the late 90s there. I don't think there's really anything left of that in the vehicle I have today either. So it continued to morph and grow and go on to other things, including racing it three times in the Nora 1000 in Baja in more recent years. It's done that and a bunch of other things. And it's got an LS in it now and Dinatrax under it. And of course, it's on forty S and coilovers. And I think a lot of that a lot of that happened after the competitions. Like I'm saying, we were pretty primitive in those early days.





[01:43:29.630] - Ned Bacon

We were 35 inch buggers and still running 44s in the front and breaking them right and left. And I don't think I put an automatic in it until the very end of my comp days. I was still doing it all with a stick. So I was definitely just there in the very early parts of this stuff.


[01:43:52.730] - Big Rich Klein



[01:43:53.080] - Ned Bacon

And then it went on from there. So let's see, where do we go from there? As far as Ned and his career, I continued doing magazine work all through the first part of the millennia. Got remarried to Cat. Everybody knows Kat these days. My wife and partner in crime.


[01:44:21.710] - Big Rich Klein

Well, we all have a better half.


[01:44:23.660] - Ned Bacon

She's definitely a better half. She's a jewel. I met my match with that one. She's been right in there with all my wheeling and all my Porsche racing and everything else. So right up until 2010 was a big change. My dad passed away in a car accident, actually, but sort of suddenly and I pretty much had to put the brakes on everything I was doing and come and take care of his ranching operation. And at that point, he had four ranches and lots of employees and lots of cows and lots of everything. And he didn't really have his Ducks in a row. He was 83 at the time, and we've been on him for a long time to get his affairs in order. And he had drugged his feet and didn't. And then he got in this accident, which he caused, and suddenly we had this massive ranching operation and nobody there to run it. And I pretty much had to just put the brakes on everything I was doing and step in and run this Ranch and deal with a bunch of lawsuits and all kinds of things that were a fallout from this event.


[01:45:47.860] - Ned Bacon

And that was kind of the end of my writing career. And I kind of once again got lucky. I got in it at the right time, and I think I got out of it at the right time. The magazine world was falling apart, and I think a lot of the writing was falling apart. A lot of the editing was falling apart. I think at least with the mainstream books and guys were just writing things on their cell phones and while they're on a plane from one thing to another and nobody was editing it. And I was pretty upset to see some of the stuff I read in that time frame. I always prided myself in trying to have using proper English and complete sentence and proper punctuation and carrying through in a proper format. And that was all kind of going away. I'm not saying that's true. We've got a lot of niche books now, especially like yours, that are beautifully done. But the main thing Luckily, I married.


[01:47:01.280] - Big Rich Klein

A really good editor.


[01:47:03.350] - Ned Bacon

Yeah, well, it makes a difference, and I think it's important. Anyway. Fortunately, I was always freelance, so I always called my own shots. And I had developed a lot of different techniques that I used my before and after stuff. We didn't even talk about that. But that was something I started in the 90s with suspension installs and stuff. It was something that bothered me early on was the magazines and stuff. If they were talking about a product like suspension, they would generally rewrite the instruction book if they wrote anything about it. And I came in there and I thought, you know, you either are going to read the instructions if you're going to install it yourself, so you don't need to read about that in a magazine, or you're going to take your rig to a shop and you're going to have them do it. You don't really care what it's like to install the thing. What you want to know is what's this product going to do on my vehicle and how is it going to be different. And that was my beginning of my before and after series that I did, and I did a lot of them with just about every suspension manufacturer in various vehicles.


[01:48:22.270] - Ned Bacon

And I would take a stock truck out and drive it around over a course that I'd laid out same course all the time, had various spots where I could shoot different articulation angles and breakover angles and this and that. And I'd shoot all these pictures before and after. And I take the truck in the shop and I put the lift on it, put whatever it was, and then take it out and reshoot it and redirect it over the same things and write a whole thing about my observations and comments on how it performed differently. And I would highlight any kind of situation I came across in the shop with difficulty with installs and that kind of thing and try to be honest with the reader and not hurt the manufacturer too badly. And it worked. And it was a format that was picked up by others. And I think it's still used quite a bit today, but that was something that I was proud of doing that. But anyway, back up into the last decade, like I said, I feel I kind of got out of it at the right time. I was there for the digital age with photography, which sure makes things a lot easier than the old transparencies that we used to do.


[01:49:42.720] - Ned Bacon

But the writing on iPhones and tablets and whatever and just cranking things out without a lot of great editorial just really kind of bothered me. And I was kind of glad to step away from it. And it took several years to straighten out the whole family situation and everything, and eventually we ended up selling. He had four ranches when he died, and we sold two of them, at least the other two out, which I'm still working with today. And I have them leased. And of course, there was the car collection to deal with and take care of. But around 2013, the dust settled down and Cat and I looked at each other and we always wanted to do travel in a vehicle. And we have this great VW bus named Charlotte. It's a VW van again, Synchron, which is a foil drive version of a VW van factory thing. And of course, I've modified the heck out of it. But in 2014, we took off in Charlotte and drove her all the way to the tip of South America and basically lived in the thing for all in all, after we did South America, I shipped her back from Santiago, Chile, to Long Beach.


[01:51:08.290] - Ned Bacon

And then we were home for a little bit, and then we drove it all the way to Prudo Bay to the top of Alaska. It's a dead horse and all points in between. All in all, it was about a 40,000 miles trip, and we basically lived in this VW van for two years straight. And great adventure, I think the greatest adventure of it ever. And met some great people, ate some great food, saw some amazing country, and definitely sparked up the old travel bug again. And she's the perfect companion for that kind of stuff. So we've done a lot of shorter stuff since then, all over this country and all over Mexico. And we were actually slated to ship the van to Europe just before this COVID stuff started. And we had a container lined up and everything else. And we were going to enter to Europe and then spend several years doing all the outlying parts of Europe and Eastern block countries are all aflame now, and who knows where that would have gone. I even consider driving her all the way across to the east, through the stands in Mongolia and all the way to Magadin, Russia.


[01:52:33.420] - Ned Bacon

It's kind of on our radar. And then this COVID nonsense came along and kind of put the brakes on that. I pulled the plug on that container just in time. So we've kind of been in a holding pattern for the last couple of years. And Meanwhile, I mean, I certainly can't complain. We live a great life, and we're still doing a lot of charity work. We're involved with one outfit in particular, which is called Free Wheelchair Mission that we're really much behind. It's a nonprofit that donates wheelchairs to the poorest and the poor all over the world. And we've done numerous distributions with them. Uganda, for instance, Vietnam, El Salvador, putting wheels underneath people that have spent their lives crawling in the dirt. And it's something near and dear to my heart, and it's something that's been up my alley putting wheels under people. It's kind of cool.


[01:53:45.510] - Big Rich Klein

It is. Absolutely.


[01:53:46.950] - Ned Bacon

So, yeah, we've been doing that. I'm involved with the national automobile Museum up in Reno, which is the old Harris collection. I'm on the board up there. So we're busy. I'm still racing Porsches quite a bit. And we race the Norah race every year. We've done that like nine times down in Baja, which is kind of like vintage offroad racing. We just got back from doing the 22 one, and we've got a class five bug that I built up from a vintage car that was built originally in the nineties. She had a great run down the Peninsula. Never took a tool out of the bag for five days.


[01:54:32.610] - Big Rich Klein

Very good.


[01:54:33.540] - Ned Bacon

And we ended up getting second in class by eight minutes. We lost eight minutes to first place after 1300 miles and five days of racing to a Mexican team out in Sonata. So that was really cool, though, that they won. I was happy to see that they got to win in their own country. So it's all good. So, yeah, that kind of brings us up to date.


[01:54:58.010] - Big Rich Klein

So do you still want to take that synchro across to Europe and make that I know that right now things are kind of screwed up.


[01:55:10.090] - Ned Bacon

Yeah. The world has just gotten so sketchy. I definitely do. I'm really itching to get out there again and live that lifestyle. It was so different from anything I've ever done. It just became a way of life. It was so simple, kind of like what Randy Ellis is up to. Just get up in the morning. And it was just like, what am I going to do? Where are we going to go today? We never had any plan. I just had to figure out where to get food and where to get gasoline. And we took the back roads everywhere we could stay off the Panama Highway. We're mountain people, not beach people. So we didn't tend to focus much on the beaches and surfing or anything like that. We stayed up all through the Andes. Lots of mountains, little villages and dirt roads as the Crow flies from Fruto Bay to Yashua is like 10,000 miles. And we turned it into 40 a lot of circuitous routes. So I would love to do that more I've been to Europe multiple times, but it's been a long time, really. And I've never been to a lot of the outlying parts of Europe and Balkans and Macedonia and that type of stuff.


[01:56:34.830] - Ned Bacon

I've seen a lot of Asia, Southeast Asia. I think I'm kind of over that. But a lot of big chunk of crossing the globe east to west or west to east is Russia, and that's kind of sketchy right now.


[01:56:54.720] - Big Rich Klein

Yes. And then if it's not Russia, then it's China, which is even I've been.


[01:57:01.440] - Ned Bacon

To China and I have no desire to ever go back there. So that's not really on it. I'm toning down poor old Charlotte. She's getting up there. That van has seen more than any VW van. So logically at this point, I think we'd be smarter just buying something in Europe and keeping it over there and going back and forth maybe, and doing shorter trips instead of just diving in.


[01:57:34.420] - Big Rich Klein

And living one long, epic trip. Yeah.


[01:57:37.310] - Ned Bacon

And one big, long epic trip, especially in a vehicle that's already done a lot of epic. And so I think we're leaning more that way, but we're sort of still just in a holding pattern as to where this crazy world is going right now.


[01:57:51.780] - Big Rich Klein

Well, I can tell you going back to things that you talked about earlier, your Museum. I would really like to hook up with you and do a tour.


[01:58:03.180] - Ned Bacon



[01:58:03.970] - Big Rich Klein

So I don't know what kind of schedule you do. My schedule is always all over the place, especially this time of year, fall and winter is when I have more time.


[01:58:15.560] - Ned Bacon

Not a problem. I mean, dead of winter, it's cold up here, it's snow, and these buildings are not heated or anything, but we all got big coats, so I'm game anytime, Rich. Okay. I'm doing one this Thursday and I've got another one next week. I think I just did a few I just mentioned earlier. So come on up here anytime now. You're in Texas, you incorporate Christyfield.


[01:58:45.990] - Big Rich Klein

That's what we're calling our Homebase right now, especially in the off season. During the rock crawling season, we're constantly on the move in the Taj Mahal or the semi truck. But right now, for the last month, nearly we've been in Placerville. We got another week or two here and then we got to finish up our season. And then after the Rebel rally, but I'll be here another two weeks, talk to my wife. Maybe we'll get in sooner.


[01:59:14.990] - Ned Bacon

I drove through Plaza Hill this weekend. Hop on over.


[01:59:19.400] - Big Rich Klein

I think so because I've got some friends in Dayton where we always stay, too.


[01:59:27.690] - Ned Bacon

You're more than welcome to stay at our house to the Museum tour, if you will. It's anywhere from three to 5 hours, depending on how interested you are. And you should come over and just stay with us. And we got a guest room and all and just come on over. Okay.


[01:59:50.160] - Big Rich Klein

I'll talk to the wife.


[01:59:51.150] - Ned Bacon

When immediate family members are interested, bring them to.


[01:59:55.320] - Big Rich Klein

Yes, it would just be my wife and I.


[01:59:57.460] - Ned Bacon

Perfect. Bring them on.


[02:00:00.590] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome.


[02:00:02.370] - Ned Bacon

Yes. These things are just I don't consider the mine. They're still tied up in the family estate and my mom's still alive with us. Fortunately, she's 93, 94 now or whatever. So I'm kind of hanging on to all that as well. We don't really know what's going to happen. I don't know if we're going to be able to keep them forever, but I'm just kind of boots on the ground and curator and lucky enough to have these things to share with people. And what good are they if you can't share them with somebody?


[02:00:35.970] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. What do you name it and can we find it online?


[02:00:40.410] - Ned Bacon

No, I won't even put that out there because security is so tough.


[02:00:46.690] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, it makes sense.


[02:00:48.690] - Ned Bacon

Everybody nowadays has to tell everybody about everything, and I'm very old fashioned that way. I kind of try to keep to myself and keep it quiet. And of course, we just did this whole thing, which is great. I feel honored to be a part of this whole deal you've been putting on. It's great to watch them and hear a lot of people that I know already and hear their back stories. A lot of it I don't know the details of. And I haven't been out in the limelight in quite a while now. I didn't even go to Moab this year. And the Bee hasn't really been outstretching its legs either. I got involved with Mahindra a couple of years ago with their Rocks or Project, and I ended up racing a rocks or for them in both the Sonora Rally and the Nora 1000. And I know some of you listening and seeing what happened with that rocks or during Covet, actually, after Mahendra got their media blitz out of it that I promised them, they pretty much said, okay, do whatever you want with this thing. And I ended up putting a 49 CJ three A body on it and shortening it up.


[02:02:05.160] - Ned Bacon

And it's been dubbed Pig Pen did a video on it in Colorado a couple of years ago. What's their current little thing that they're doing?


[02:02:21.130] - Big Rich Klein

The name is Escape Me Now.


[02:02:23.350] - Ned Bacon

Yeah. It's not the dirt every day because of course, that's Fred, right. Another guy I got in this industry for better, for worse. For him, anyway. Gone Jeeping.


[02:02:39.920] - Big Rich Klein

That's it.


[02:02:40.750] - Ned Bacon

Yes. Rick and Tracy Steel. And yeah, he did a neat little interview with me with Pigpin. So, yeah, the last couple of years, my wheeling has sort of just been involving this ratty flatty thing, which, of course, is a movement nowadays, too. And you got all these guys embracing beat up flat fenders, and that's become a new thing in the business. But I don't know, we haven't even gotten into that whole side of things.


[02:03:12.230] - Big Rich Klein

Exactly. That's on my list of wants. As soon as we get done retired here. We got somebody that's going to be taking over the rock crawling events for us now and we're going to be stepping aside. I plan on getting a shop and setting up a workspace and I'm going to get a flat Fender. I'm going to find another 50s bug and the kind of things that I've always wanted to build. That's what I'm going to do.


[02:03:43.930] - Ned Bacon

Good for you.


[02:03:45.290] - Big Rich Klein

And then live on the boat.


[02:03:46.990] - Ned Bacon

Well, I listened to Randy Ellison's podcast And I heard about your boat dreams and I think that's wonderful. Good for you. It's just more power to you. My hats off to Randy and what he's done, too. I've known him a long, long time and watched him come up from a high school kid when he was thriving with Randy Ellis design and everything and to where he just pulled the plug at a right young age and said, you know, this isn't what I want to do. This is what I want to do and I'm going to do it. Randy has always been a guy that when he says he's going to do it, he does it and he does it Randy's way and that's just awesome. That's what it should do.


[02:04:35.330] - Big Rich Klein

Absolutely. Well, Ned, I'm going to say thank you so much for coming on board and spending a couple of hours and talking to me and sharing your life with our listeners. Definitely going to talk to my wife about coming up and taking a look at the Museum and I really appreciate you spending this time.


[02:05:00.910] - Ned Bacon

Well, it's been fun. I really enjoy it. And Hi to everybody out there. I'm still around.


[02:05:07.910] - Big Rich Klein

All right.


[02:05:08.860] - Ned Bacon

Just keeping quiet. Anyway, give me a holler in the next week or so and let's put something together. All right.


[02:05:16.290] - Big Rich Klein

Sounds good, Ned. I appreciate it. Thank you.


[02:05:18.670] - Ned Bacon

All right. Thank you so much.


[02:05:20.020] - Big Rich Klein

All right. Bye bye.


[02:05:21.240] - Ned Bacon



[02:05:23.090] - Big Rich Klein

Thank you for listening to Conversations With Big Rich. Please let your friends know about this podcast. Let us know what you think of Conversations With Big Rich. Please forward ideas to me contacts of those that I should attempt to interview leave a rating on any of the services you found us on. We look forward to your comments and ideas. Enjoying life is a must follow your dreams and grab all the gusto you can.