Another Week, Another Update

Robert sent me a few pictures through Facebook yesterday morning, including this one showing the potential engine location:

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It’s hard to see from the photo, because of all the stuff in the background, but the engine is sitting pretty low in the frame. It looks a lot lower than it really is, which gave me a short-term panic attack. I was concerned about having the transmission hanging so far down below the frame, and worried that, even with a skidplate, it might be a rock magnet.

So I hightailed it out to Robert’s shop to get a good first-hand look at it. I was there for almost two hours, and we both got frustrated with each other at times, but in the end he persuaded me (yet again) that this’ll work out. And he suggested a change to the body configuration that I think will actually work better than the original!

One of the things I did when I got there was take my own pictures. They’re not much better than his, at least for differentiating the Jeep parts from the background, but they’re bigger files, so if you click on the thumbnail in this post, you’ll get a larger version on your screen.

This was the scene in his shop when I got there. The cowl and front clip of the ’61 are in the foreground; the frame and back end of the ’61’s tub are in the left background, and the JeepMonster, with the engine location mocked up, is in the right background.

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Here’s a closeup of what’s left of the ’61. It’s almost at the point where it can be rolled outside and parked.

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Here’s a shot of the engine sitting on (very!) temporary engine and transmission mounts in the JeepMonster’s frame:

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This photo shows, a *little* more clearly, how the engine/transmission/transfer case assembly will sit in the frame (at least vertically – it might move a little bit fore and aft as other parts are installed):

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If you click on this and get the full-size photo, you might be able to see that a strengthening plate has been welded on the frame, with its curved back end just in front of the C-clamp. From there, the frame is straight all the way back to the rearmost crossmember / winch mount / bumper.

This is where Robert’s and my frustrations lie. He says, quite rightly, that having two back axles will put a BIG side-to-side strain on the frame when I’m turning, because the tires will be resisting the sideways force against the pavement. [If you’ve ever tried to turn a tandem-axle trailer, like a big U-Haul trailer, by hand, you know how much the tires scrub on the pavement. By contrast, a single-axle trailer will turn much more easily. The same will be true for JeepMonster.] By keeping the frame straight, without welds, angles, cuts, or other weakening modifications, it will be better able to resist those forces.

How-EV-er, when I was designing this thing in my mind, I had envisioned something more like this, where the red lines show how the frame would have dropped down so that the body would be lower.

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This would have had all kinds of benefits, including a straighter driveline, a lower center of gravity, a Jeep that would be easier to get into… But there’s one fatal flaw: With those added angles, the frame would be weaker in that area, and more prone to flexing side-to-side and possibly cracking and breaking. And there are other variables that I keep forgetting to take into consideration, too – like how much the springs are going to compress once the whole thing is built (right now the frame is sitting on jackstands at an artificially-high – although not by much – distance above the axles). I honestly don’t know how tall JeepMonster will be when it’s done. I just hope it’ll fit in my garage (which has a seven-foot-tall door).

As I was bitching and moaning about this, and how the lack of a dip under the floorboards meant that the back (cargo) deck of JeepMonster would be five inches above the frame, Robert said, Well, why don’t you just drop the whole floor down so it’s at the same level as your floorboards, instead of having the five-inch step up like the original? Since we’re going to be creating new floor panels and wheelwells *anyway*, why not just make the cargo bed five inches deeper?

<blink blink> Talk about being hit upside the head with a two-by-four…

My first reaction was, NO! Then the tailgate won’t be the right size and it won’t look original!

But I’ve had a day to mull it over, and I’ve come to the conclusion that this might be a good thing after all, for several reasons:

  1. If I drop the cargo floor down to the frame, that drops everything that I’m planning to put *inside* that area five inches lower, as well. This includes the gas tank, which I had considered making a well for so that it would sit lower. If the whole floor is lower, then no well is needed.
  2. I had also considered putting some kind of enclosed, lockable storage (maybe similar to this Tuffy product) in the back. With the floor five inches lower, that would leave more usable space above the storage and still relatively low in the body for things like, oh, a spare tire.
  3. It might render more of the space in the rear corners of the JeepMonster (directly behind the tires, outside the cargo area) usable. I’m thinking of putting my batteries in the back corners, both for weight distribution and for protection, and having a taller compartment behind the rear tires might make the battery installation easier.
  4. If I don’t have the step up in the floorboards, it’ll be easier to build the mounting brackets for the seats, and I might be able to put them lower, too – but I don’t know whether I want to do that, because of ergonomics related to my long legs. More trial and error and fit and test is required here; this means I have to decide on what seats I’m going to get and then actually *get* them.

So that’s where things are right now. Before I left yesterday, I told Robert to go ahead with mounting the engine where he placed it. Once the engine is in, he’ll be able to start building the links for the front axle’s suspension. I think.

One last photo. This is from the front, (sort of) showing how low the engine will sit in the frame. I need to get parts for it, too, like fuel injection; the a/c compressor; the *other* air compressor; a high-output alternator (part of an onboard welding package), and more. But having the engine low like this will offset the water pump pulley from the electric fan motor and decrease the possibility of the two wanting to share the same space sometime in the future.

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Categories: 6x6, Custom Frame, Jeep, Jeep Frame, JeepMonster, tandem axle | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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