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Ford Bronco Tangled in Wire Cable Mess Shows Dangers of Dumping Trash in the Desert

It took five grinder wheels, three batteries, and two hours to get the truck unstuck.
Elliott Strickler/Bad Lines, Good Times

You don’t need me to tell you that there’s a dumping problem in the deserts out west. People will toss whatever the heck onto the ground and leave it far behind as they head for the hills or the canyons. Making matters worse, because the areas are so remote and expansive, folks usually get away with it. Just because the landscape seems infinite doesn’t mean tossing trash is OK—that’s actually all the more reason to keep it clean—and it can result in real harm to the environment as well as everything that enters it.

Just ask the driver of this Ford Bronco, who hit a mess of wire cable and was stuck for hours trying to get it untangled.

They were driving on the sand near Barstow, California when the sun apparently blocked their view and kept them from seeing the nest of metal. It was actually sitting beside a group of dumpsters that had all been filled by a local Clean Dezert event. Adam Filbin, organizer of the clean-up effort, explained on Instagram that the cable was ditched beside the dumpster after the event was finished. They filled something like 11 roll-off receptacles in total.

I talked with Elliot Strickler, one of the guys who helped with the Bronco recovery alongside others like Mike Liakos of Fab Lab Fabrication. Strickler’s company—aptly named Bad Lines, Good Times—was a sponsor of the conservation meet. He got the call to come out with a grinder in hand, so he responded and went to work.

“That was a bad line, bad time,” Strickler joked over the phone.

It was a tricky situation that could have been a lot worse if the Bronco were a side-by-side or a motorcycle. The cable got so tangled up underneath that it actually sheared the fitting off the brake caliper, cutting the line loose. Fortunately, Strickler and Co. had a fix.

“What you do is take a pair of vise grips and you pinch off the brake line,” he said. “In this case, we zip-tied it to the leaf spring so basically he would still have three brakes.”

This being the internet, there were plenty of folks critiquing the fix. Everybody asked why they didn’t take the wheel off, but as Strickler recounts, one of the lug nuts was seized on and the stud just kept spinning. Getting the Bronco roadworthy was never the goal as it was bound for the trailer, so they cut for about two hours until it finally rolled free.

Strickler said they burned through five grinder wheels and three batteries during the job. You can see in the Instagram Reel here just how much they had to work through. Many sparks were thrown, but thankfully there wasn’t any dry brush nearby to catch fire. The job was done about as efficiently as you could hope for, given the resources on hand.

In the end, they were able to winch the bundle of cable away from the Bronco and toss it into the dumpster. Several off-roaders assisted, including Filbin from the Clean Dezert initiative. The way it all went down was a little unusual, but it goes to show just how treacherous trash can be out in the wide open. It could’ve been so much worse for the driver as well as his rig, especially if they were driving fast.

So please: Don’t throw your junk in the desert. And if you see any out there, do all you can to get it somewhere safe.

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