6wd

Other Monsters

*sigh*

It’s been more than a year since I brought the JeepMonster home from the builder’s shop. In that time, the only thing I’ve managed to do is buy a (partial) set of gauges:

Gauges

I wrote about these earlier this year, along with the other gauges I want to have. But I thought I’d repeat myself a little bit, if only for some continuity.

In the meantime, I thought you’d like to see some of the other 6×6 rigs that I’ve used for inspiration. Enjoy.

http://www.fourwheeler.com/features/1707-loco-hauk-steam-powered-6×6-jeep-jk-built-by-kenny-at-2017-easter-jeep-safari-in-moab/#photo-01

loco-hauk-steam-jeep-lead

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f7/3-axle-tj-200070/

3 axle TJ.JPG

http://www.jeepforum.com/forum/f8/6-wheel-drive-cj-1027690/

CJ 6x6

http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/jeep-non-hardcore/1055085-urban-assault-tj-zombie-killer-build-9.html

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http://www.fourwheeler.com/project-vehicles/129-0212-1995-dodge-ram-trex-6×6-truck/#photo-01

129-0212-01z+1995-dodge-ram+rear-passenger-side-view

http://www.ewillys.com/tag/6×6/

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This isn’t an exhaustive photo set, by any means. If I don’t get back to work on the ‘Monster itself relatively soon, I may post another photo compilation for your enjoyment.

But at least you know that I haven’t disappeared. 🙂

 

 

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Categories: 6wd, 6x6, Gauges, Jeep, JeepMonster, Uncategorized | Tags: | 3 Comments

Homecoming!

Have you ever looked forward to an event (with either anticipation or trepidation) and thought it would *NEVER* arrive, only to have it sneak up on you before you were really ready for it? That happened to me during the past week, and today I’m proud (and relieved) to announce that the JeepMonster was successfully installed in my garage yesterday afternoon.

The process started Friday evening, when I arrived at R&W about 6:30 PM. Robert had invited me the previous week to come at 6, and then early Friday afternoon he said I could come sooner, but I was trying to do too many things at once and ended up being late, even for the original appointed time. Robert was quite gracious, though, and didn’t chew me out *too* badly. 🙂

I had thought there was going to be more to do, but all that happened was I loaded the tow bars into the truck and Robert winched the JeepMonster onto his trailer for transport the next morning.

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We were supposed to meet at 4Wheel Parts Saturday morning at 7, but I was asked to stop somewhere and pick up some burritos for breakfast, so I got there a little late. By the time I arrived, Robert had already offloaded the JeepMonster and his buggy and moved the truck-and-trailer out of the way.

I apparently wasn’t paying attention, because when I looked around at some point, the local classic-rock radio station, KLPX (96.1 FM), had set up for an on-site broadcast. [Robert had arranged with the 4Wheel Parts people to display the ‘Monster from 8 to noon, and the store was running a one-day sale, so it made sense to have the radio station there – I just didn’t notice when they arrived.]

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There was good attendance at the event, as evidenced by all the 4x4s clogging up – er, parked in – the parking lot.

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After the party at 4Wheel Parts, Robert reloaded both his buggy and the ‘Monster. Then he delivered the ‘Monster to my house. He, a friend of his, and I (well, he and his friend) got it off the trailer, and they helped me get it turned so I could winch it into the garage. They were (rightly) skeptical of my plan to use a 2000-lb boat winch, but I had successfully pulled my truck up the driveway and into the garage on Friday using it, so I pressed on. This picture shows a point where I had to re-rig the winch line and straps for the second phase. The boat winch doesn’t have a very long cable, so I couldn’t simply unreel enough to get from the ‘Monster to the anchor point in the house. The Jeep’s weight also taxed the winch to the point where it overheated and quit a couple of times, but it always recovered sufficiently to get over the next obstacle.

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One thing I had always been concerned about was the Jeep’s height, especially when Robert told me he had to remove the top bow to get it out of his garage with the 7′ door (his shop has a taller door, so that wasn’t an issue there). But he had reassured me several times that the Jeep would be under 7 feet tall, and by golly he was right! The next photo shows the highest part of the Jeep *just* missing the weather strip at the top of the door opening. It’s a good thing, too – otherwise, I was likely going to have to put the top down every time I went in or out of the garage. At least I don’t have to worry about that! [Plus, when it’s all done, it’ll be heavier and will presumably sit lower as a result.]

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So it’s now in my garage, more-or-less (I hope more than less!) protected from rust-producing rain and humidity while I work on it for the next however-many-months it’ll be. It doesn’t *quite* fit under my storage racks, so I’ll have to take that into consideration when I plan heavy-duty stuff like pulling the engine. But it *does* fit inside my garage! See?

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Here’s a parting shot of me sitting proudly in the JeepMonster at 4Wheel Parts on Saturday, August 13, 2016. It sure is big!

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Categories: 6wd, 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Frame, Custom Jeep Body, Jeep, JeepMonster, tandem axle, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

It Went Outside!

…Granted, it was on a very short leash and it didn’t go *far*, but it’s no longer in the R&W shop! (It’s in Robert’s other garage, both to keep it clean [ish] for the August 13 party and also to free up space for other feats of fabrication magic.)

First, though, a few final construction photos, from my visits on July 6, July 12, and July 15, and a couple that Robert sent me.

From July 6, this shows the front fender in progress, and the slider (aka rocker panel protection and footrest) mocked up in almost its final location.

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From July 12, this shows the front fender all completed. Not only is the curved panel installed, but the filler panel between the fender and the hood is welded in, too. The slider hasn’t yet been permanently mounted.

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This picture, of the passenger-side fender, shows the artistry and effort that went into its construction. There are at least 3 separate pieces of bent tube and more than 8 pieces of plate in each fender! The top curved piece had to be bent to match the curve of the hood; the tie-in to the grille (not shown here) had to be custom-formed; the multiple pieces of tube had to be sleeved, welded, and ground smooth; the various other pieces of plate needed welding and smoothing, and so on. I don’t know, and I don’t think I *want* to know, how many manhours went into each fender – but I’m sure it was a lot!

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Also from July 12, here is a shot of the cargo area. The spare tire carrier is welded to the framework that also supports the gas tank (which is hiding behind the angled plate beneath/behind the tire). The box in the foreground had to be narrowed by about a half inch (I don’t know the exact amount of narrowing required) to fit it between the fender wells, but now I have secure space for tools and parts and other stuff!

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And from July 15, here it is, ready to go outside for the VERY FIRST TIME! The tow bar is in its permanent location, but will either be replaced or modified so that it sits level when the ‘Monster is actually being towed. I hope that doesn’t happen very often!DSC03613

From the front it looks a little like The Flying Nun. The fenders only look weird from straight in front of it – if you move even just a little to one side, they come into perspective really well.

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At the “Coming-Out Party,” Robert wants to show some of his handiwork that’ll be hidden when it’s all put together, so he unbolted the tool/parts box, the gas tank, and the spare, and I brought them all home with me. The cargo bed looks HUGE without them!

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This is one of the photos Robert sent me – it’s the passenger-side fender, totally unbolted and sitting/lying on the floor. LOTS of work in this!

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Here’s a shot of the gas tank cover / spare tire carrier.

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Last, but NOT least, here is the JeepMonster outside! You can see the terrible angle that the tow bar makes; I have a 10″-rise hitch, and Robert found someone with a drop end on a tow bar, so between the two we should be able to make a solid towing connection (that I hope will never be used!).

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Some of the proportions look slightly “off” in this photo, but I think that’s because of the particular camera angle and the tree in the background. When it was in the shop, NOTHING seemed the least bit out of its proper proportion!

As noted before, the JeepMonster will be at the Tucson, AZ, 4Wheel Parts store (on Speedway) from 8 AM to noon on Saturday, August 13. If you’re anywhere nearby, please come see it in person!

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Frame, Custom Jeep Body, Jeep, JeepMonster, tandem axle, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The “Coming Out” Party

It’s official! Robert has declared that his work on the JeepMonster will be done by August 13, and it will actually COME OUT OF HIS SHOP (on a trailer, but still…)!

Our plan is to show it off for a few hours (8 AM to noon) at the local 4Wheel Parts store (4001 E. Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ, USA) before bringing it to my house for the next phase of construction – you know, the part where I get to cut holes in his masterpiece for lights, steering, brakes/clutch, etc., etc., etc., and figure out where all the lines, wires, tubes, linkages, pipes, hoses, and so on will go.

If you’re in Tucson on August 13, and want to see the JeepMonster in person, this is the time to do it!

This will also be a chance for you to test your rig’s articulation, as Robert has said he’ll bring his RTI (Ramp Travel Index) ramp.

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Frame, Custom Jeep Body, Jeep, Jeep Frame, JeepMonster, suspension, tandem axle, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Protection

That word has many meanings and connotations – from the mob providing “protection” (for a fee, of course), to using protection during sex, to any number of others. Today I’m going to talk about keeping my Magic Box safe from the predatory practices of the trails I like to run.

Here’s the current situation: In order to get power from the middle axle to the back one, I had two options. I could use a pass-through low-pinion 9-inch axle in the middle, and another low-pinion axle in the back, or I could use a gear-driven 1:1 transfer box on the middle axle (again with a low-pinion 9-inch), with an “over-the-shoulder” output yoke to power the back axle (with a high-pinion 9-inch). For multiple reasons, I chose the gearbox option, knowing that it would hang down below the bottom of the middle axle’s differential.

What I didn’t know, and had no way to foresee, was how far below the differential the box would hang and how difficult it would be to build a skidplate to protect it. This photo (which you’ve seen before if you’ve been following me), although not of my axle, gives you a good idea of the challenge:

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After much thought, Robert (at R&W Custom Sliders and Offroad) suggested I swap the third members in my two back axles and bolt the Magic Box to the high-pinion gearset. That would move the Box up 4.5 inches and get it out of harm’s way, and would make building a skidplate for that axle vastly simpler. It sounded good to me, but there were a couple of things I wanted to verify with the Box’s maker (SCS Gearbox) before going that route (I didn’t want to get everything taken apart only to find out we couldn’t do what we wanted to do).

The first question I had was whether the pinion shaft had been modified at all. I didn’t *think* it would have been, and I couldn’t see any reason why it *should* have been, but since I had never seen it, I didn’t want to make any assumptions. I was assured that, while the pinion bearing support had been machined (to fit the Box instead of a seal and yoke), the pinion shaft itself had not been touched.

The second question I had was whether I could lay the Box over more horizontally without having lubrication issues. Since it’s designed to go on a low-pinion axle, the Box’s centerline is angled at 45 degrees, allowing the output yoke to clear the center section and the axle tube of a standard 9-inch axle assembly. But by raising the bottom of the Box 4.5 inches, I don’t have to worry about the axle tube any more, so I wanted to know if I could lay the Box over and thus reduce some of the height increase at the top end. SCS said I might have to play with oil levels somewhat, but they didn’t see any problems.

So here’s the plan: Bolt the Box (with the modified pinion bearing support) to the high-pinion gearset, and use that assembly on the middle axle. The low-pinion gearset will go on the back axle. While everything is apart, the Box will get a new set of bolt-holes drilled so that it can be mounted more horizontally – say, somewhere around 20 degrees above horizontal, instead of 45 degrees. This accomplishes the following:

  1. The Box’s lower end will be 4.5 inches higher than it is, which will put it well above the bottom of the axle’s third member and will get it out of the way of the rocks. Instead of 8.5 inches of clearance, I’ll now have 10-plus inches.
  2. The Box’s upper end will be about 1 – 2 inches higher than it is (due to the more-horizontal orientation). This alleviates the issue of getting the upper end *too* high and maybe sticking up into the tub somehow. We may still have to make some changes in a crossmember and/or build a tunnel for the Box, but it won’t be as bad as if the Box still sat at 45 degrees.
  3. The Box’s upper end will be a couple of inches closer to the passenger-side framerail than before, reducing the operating angle on the driveshaft yokes. [I had originally planned the Box’s yokes to be directly behind the transfer case’s yoke, but I didn’t know / remember that the drivetrain was offset in my Jeep, so when it was installed centered in the new frame, they didn’t line up.]
  4. Laying the Box over more horizontally will actually help with oiling. This picture shows the current level (the horizontal penciled line) and the new level (the angled one). There really isn’t much oil in the Box, and I think having the extra volume will provide a sort of “insurance policy” for the gears and bearings, without it being overfilled.

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There are three downsides to this. One is so minor that it’s hardly worth noting, and is that the Box’s drain plug will no longer be at the exact lowest point of the Box. But it’s still so close that it won’t have any practical effect. The second is that, instead of the axle-to-axle driveshaft being nearly horizontal, it will now be about 5 – 6 inches higher at the front end than at the back end. But as it’s about 40 inches long, the operating angles shouldn’t be too severe. The third one is that the rearmost pinion / yoke is now potentially vulnerable to rocks and damage. I’ll alleviate this with a skidplate, and may eventually buy another high-pinion assembly to move things back up and out of the way. Maybe. Eventually.

I took both axles to Tucson Differential on Tuesday and expect them back in about 3 weeks (due to other work ahead of me, and the fact that they’ll have to send the Box out for drilling).

In other news, Robert let me know that he was ready for the CJ-6 tub, so after dropping the axles off at Tucson Differential, I loaded up the tub on Robert’s trailer and delivered it to him.

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There isn’t a whole lot of the existing sheetmetal that we’re actually going to *use*, but it provides a good template from which to build the custom tub. And the parts we *will* use are indispensable – at least to me.

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, axle, CJ-6, drivetrain, JeepMonster, tandem axle | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Time Marches On

First, some updates from my June 26 post:

  1. The radiator I got was custom-made, so the manufacturer wouldn’t take it back. We knew that, so Hi Speed agreed to order me a new one and said they’d absorb the cost of the first one. Then I got a call with some further information: The manufacturer puts the tranny cooler tube in the *outlet* tank because the coolant has been, well, cooled at that point and thus can do a better job of cooling the tranny fluid. Oh. Okay. (D’oh!) So I retrieved the original radiator and took it to R&W. I figure I have three options: run hard lines from the driver side of the engine bay (power steering box and pump) to the passenger side (the cooler); use the finned mini-radiator I was using before; or do both and put the finned mini-radiator in line with the cooler. I think I’ll probably take the third option, on the theory that more cooling is better than less, but it also depends on how much real estate I have on the fenders when it’s all put back together.
  2. I opened the onboard air system and discovered that they had sent me a serpentine-belt clutch for the air pump, despite my specific written request for a double-V-belt clutch. I let them know; they apologized for the mistake; they sent me a new one and I sent the wrong one back. As far as I know, I now have all the correct parts for the onboard air system.
  3. The stud/bolt kit for the high-steer arms arrived. I took it to R&W when I delivered the radiator, so the steering system can be put together more-or-less permanently now.

Now, on to the new stuff!

Robert wasn’t very optimistic that he could straighten out either of the two grilles enough to be useful, so I went to Willys Works to see what they had lying in their yard. I actually found an early-CJ grille that still had almost everything still on it! The place where the grille had bolted to the frame had either rusted off or been cut off, but since we weren’t going to use that anyway, it didn’t make any difference. So I bought the grille.

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It turns out that this one is a little bent, too, but I don’t think it’s bent as badly as either of the other two. In any case, I told Robert to use the best one of the three. One potential advantage to using this grille, though, is that with the original radiator shroud/mount still attached, Robert could use part of it to hang the a/c condenser off of, instead of having to build something that works off the radiator mounts. This way, the a/c condenser and the radiator would be totally separate and wouldn’t be affecting how the other is mounted. But I’ll have to wait and see what he comes up with.

Robert’s also been working on the back end of the JeepMonster. This is the rear bumper / winch mount as it looked last Friday:

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Each end is approximately the height of the frame (5 inches), and the winch hangs down an inch or so below that. The center cutout is where the hitch receiver will go. When it’s actually attached to the frame, end pieces will be added to protect the rear corners of the body. This will all be aft of the back end of the body, so Robert’s going to make a lid for it that’ll serve as a step as well as a cover for the winch and the solenoid box. If there’s space, he’ll make a small box to put winch-recovery gear in.

The BIG news is that the JeepMonster is actually on its own six tires now, at least temporarily.

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I say “temporarily” because, after all the remaining pieces (transmission mount, rear bumper/winch mount, radiator mount, sliders, etc.) are cut, bent and attached, Robert’s going to take everything off the frame so he can finish-weld everything and do it safely and cleanly. Then he’ll put all this stuff back on the frame and start building the body. There’ll be a lot more to look at when I get back in mid-August!

So that’s where the project stands right now. I have a few small parts to find (in the pile in the garage) or buy (from somewhere…) this week, and I hope to be able to deliver them all to Robert by Friday afternoon – or maybe Saturday morning as I leave on my motorcycle trip. If Robert sends me photos between now and August 16, I’ll post an update; otherwise, we’ll all have to wait for 5 or 6 weeks to find out what has happened in the meantime.

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, Jeep, Jeep Frame, JeepMonster | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Wizardry

I haven’t had a chance to visit Robert (R&W Custom Sliders & Offroad) this week, but he sent me some pictures of the progress he’s made on the front axle’s suspension. As far as I’m concerned, the man is a wizard. While it’s true that he has access to some awesome machines, he has to know how to use them to produce what he wants. I could probably learn to cut flat pieces, but his ability to work in three dimensions, and to know how all the flat pieces will go together to make a 3D assembly, are amazing.

First up, we have a photo of two coil-spring perches. While this is upside down (the curves you see at the top will fit around, and be welded to, the axle tube), you can see how a basic 3D shape can be made from flat pieces.

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Next we have the truss on the front axle. This is where the top two links (of four) will attach to the axle. You can see the curve on the right side where the new truss meets the axle tube, and on the left you can see that the top plate has a little tab on the near left corner to fit the differential housing accurately.

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This photo, from the back of the axle, shows how the plate had to be cut to fit around the differential housing.

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The next photo shows a lot of progress after the previous one. The spring perches, which also hold the lower links (and, eventually, the shock absorbers), have been added. The bracket to hold the upper links has been placed, but isn’t yet welded to the truss. The frame ends of the links are held in place so Robert can start designing and fabricating the brackets.

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Here’s a view of the axle end of the upper links. A lot of times the two upper links will be mounted to the axle independently, but sometimes (as is done here) they’re combined into one connection at the axle. I don’t know whether one way is inherently better than the other or not, but in this case it made life simpler at the axle end.

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The final view for tonight is a shot from the side. All this stuff, when it’s finished, will locate the front axle under the JeepMonster. Springs and shocks, of course, provide the cushy ride <wink wink>, and a GM 350 provides the go power.

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In other news, I learned that the right springs will be available from ADS on the 16th. I also finally found some acceptable U-bolts for the back axles; those have been ordered and are on their way. The clutch slave cylinder (that actually pushes the clutch lever when you push the pedal down) also arrived, so that can be bolted in to test for clearance issues.

I’m still looking for a new transmission mount. I’ve had my transmission / transfer case combination for 20 years, and the existing mount has reached its expiration date. However, that exact mount is apparently no longer made – I guess it was an early version of what they use today, but what they use today doesn’t fit. Nothing fits. There are three possibilities that might be usable; I’ll order them to see what Robert can do with them. The ones that aren’t used will be returned.

I’m also still looking for a new radiator. I think my old one was custom-made, but I don’t want to go that route again if I can help it, because even radiators in *standard* sizes are hideously expensive. But I have to make a decision soon, and order something, so that Robert can add that to the frame.

I also need to get the air tanks for the onboard air system. They aren’t a critical fitment issue, but if I get them now, Robert can add the mounting brackets to the frame before we start working on the body. It’ll be one more thing done at the (relatively) easy stage of construction.

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, CJ-6, JeepMonster, suspension | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Spring has Sprung!

No, I’m not talking about the weather. While spring has definitely sprung in southern Arizona, it may or may not have sprung where you are. I’m talking about the JeepMonster and the fact that it’s *finally* (partly) resting on actual springs which are (temporarily) attached to the frame and back axles!

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The motor mounts are also in (sort of – they’re tack-welded and need more reinforcement, but they’re actually holding up the engine), which brings me to a good-news-bad-news moment. The good news is that the middle driveshaft will actually be a little bit longer than I had calculated, so as it cycles up and down with the middle-axle suspension, the driveline angles will be a tad less than I had thought. The bad news is that the reduction in up-and-down angularity will be offset by a side-to-side angle.

It seems that the engine/transmission/transfer case assembly was offset to the driver’s side of my Jeep when I had it put in originally. I *believe* this was the case with the actual, original 1961 drivetrain, too, but I’m not 100% sure on that. What I do know is that I failed to account for this offset, and the fact that the powertrain is centered in the new frame, when I was measuring and calculating for the axle differentials and where they should be placed on the axles. The plan had been to have all of the driveshaft yokes – back axle, middle axle, transfer case, and front axle – be in a straight line fore and aft so there wouldn’t be any side-to-side angle in the u-joints. While I got it right for the middle and back axles (see picture below, where the two pinion yokes are directly above the floor’s expansion joint), you can see that the transfer-case yoke (in the foreground) is quite definitely *not* on the same line. It’s not a big deal; I ran the CJ-5 with a similar side-to-side angle for 10 years without a problem. But when they’re supposed to be in line and the *aren’t*, well, you just have to live with it.

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I don’t have a photo of it, but the front axle yoke is even farther off – but in the other direction! It’s much closer to the frame’s centerline than the transfer-case yoke. Again, I don’t think it’s a problem, but it adds more angularity to the u-joints and could, i suppose, shorten their life if the angle gets too great. But I don’t think anything is in the danger zone. I don’t have any excuse for this mismeasurement – I just goofed somewhere.

Another change is that the rear suspension is now spring-under-axle. I don’t remember whether any pictures in previous posts showed it clearly, but up until this past weekend, the springs had been on top of the axles – which made the whole frame (and everything attached to it) sit five inches higher than it does now. Obviously, you need sufficient height to clear the tires and axles, but too much is not good. As it sits now, it’s too low, which also isn’t good – there’s no room for the back axles to move up before they hit the frame. So I’m going to get a set of springs that’ll lift the frame 2 to 3 inches from its current height. That’ll still leave it a couple of inches lower than it was before.

Here’s a shot of the frame, engine and axles, looking forward from the back axle.

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In other news, I went to the Overland Expo in Mormon Lake (about 30 miles from Flagstaff) this past weekend. I had some vendors I was specifically looking for, who had been there last year – for things like bumper pieces and a multiple-battery management system – but they weren’t there. I *did* talk to the Phoenix-based company that I’m going to buy my expedition / camping trailer from, and got some of my questions answered (like could they modify the frame to include a winch mount at the back, and how good was the water resistance of the doors / hatches), so that was good. And I got lots of new literature to look at, which is also good.

But the most exciting display, in my opinion, was the one that actually had one of the Jeeps that inspired JeepMonster! It’s called a JK6 and is a (very heavily) modified Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited. I wish the ground had been dry, instead of soaked from snow and rain the day before, because I *really* wanted to crawl under it and see how the drivetrain was set up. The person manning the display confirmed that the middle axle was a pass-through design for a Ford 9-inch axle, and also that Tyrant wouldn’t be able to modify a 2-door Wrangler because it would be too short. But there it was, in actual reality:

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I was surprised at the relatively small tire size. The Wrangler runs on 16-inch wheels, and these tires were metric, so I don’t remember what their size was (and didn’t write it down), but it looked to me like they were about 33 inches tall. And the back two tires on each side were so close together that I don’t think there’s any possibility of going to a larger size if the owner would want to. But hey. If you have the money to blow on one of these, maybe you don’t want to go places where you might need 35s or 37s.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go order more parts for JeepMonster. It needs lots of things, some of them (like exhaust manifolds and springs) rather urgently so Robert can keep building. 🙂

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, Custom Frame, JeepMonster | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Axles! – Well, two of them…

Today I put the tires on my front and back axles (the middle one will be a while getting back to me).

I actually *started* to put the tires on the front axle yesterday, but I didn’t reckon with the floppiness of the two ends with no tie rod to hold them together:

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So they sat this way overnight while I tried to figure out a way to get everything to cooperate with me. My first thought was to level it out so the pinion was pointed in the right direction (toward the back of the Jeep instead of at the floor). However, when I tried that, everything just flopped the other way and the pinion ended up pointing at the ceiling. So I had to think of a Plan B. I finally came up with a “temporary tie rod” (actually a broomstick and some lightweight rope) to keep the tires in one position relative to each other, and then I used the rest of the rope to lasso the pinion and keep it from rotating back toward the floor:

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Then I tackled the back axle. By comparison, this was a piece of cake. Since the ends are fixed, I simply jacked up one end and put the tire on, repeated with the other end, and voila!

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I guess this is as good a place as any to give you the specs, so here goes.

The three axles are all 60 inches wide, from wheel mounting surface to wheel mounting surface. I measured the back axle’s overall width this afternoon with the tires on; it measures 74 inches. Since the Jeep’s body is only 60 inches wide, the tires will extend past the tub about 7 inches on each side. [This detail will become relevant eventually, when I start work on the body.] The axles all have the same gear ratio of 4.57:1. This is especially important for the back two axles, of course, since they’re always going to be connected and both will always be powered. If they didn’t have exactly the same gear ratio, this setup wouldn’t work. Having the front axle match the gear ratio also makes life simpler when I’m in 6wd. It’s not *as* important for the front-axle ratio to exactly match the back axle(s), because when your front axle is also driving, you’re typically on soft surfaces (dirt, mud, snow, air) that allow wheel slip, but if they are the same, then slip is minimized.

All three axle housings were built by Currie Enterprises, based on a Ford 9-inch axle design. The center sections for the front and middle axles were also built by Currie and include ARB Air Lockers. Both are a low-pinion style of center section. The center section for the back axle is a high-pinion style, was built by TrueHi9, and also includes an ARB Air Locker. All three axles have disc brakes; the back two axles also have small drum brakes for the parking-brake system. I plan to use these parking brakes in pairs, with the driver-side brakes connected to one brake lever and the passenger-side brakes connected to a second lever. This will allow me to manually brake one side or the other of the back two axles, helping reduce the Jeep’s turn radius.

I’ll be running 35-inch-diameter tires on the Jeep. While they’re not super-huge – at least, not in today’s world of 40-inch and larger tires on Jeeps – they’re plenty big for my purposes. They also satisfy one criterion for an expedition I hope to be invited on someday: the Ultimate Adventure that’s put on every year by Petersen’s 4Wheel and Off-Road magazine. Among other things, every vehicle on this adventure must be on tires at least 35 inches in diameter. I don’t know yet what brand I’ll be using, or even what tread style (all-terrain or mud-terrain). The wheels are 15×8 chrome-plated steel. I chose them because they get the job done and they’re reasonably priced.

Categories: 6wd, 6x6, axle, Jeep | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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