Custom Frame

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

Bodybuilding

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to post an update here. This week, though, Robert at R & W Custom Sliders & Offroad sent me some very tantalizing photos.

This one shows progress on the underbody structure. Each of the channels was hand-formed on his metal brake. The red objects are polyurethane body mount pucks.

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This one shows some of the floor panels in place. Nothing is welded to the underbody structure yet, as Robert specifically wanted me to be able to see the support structure before they made it really difficult to get at and take photos of.

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Well, naturally, I was drooling over this, so he invited me to come by yesterday – an invitation I was happy to accept.

Since he had sent pictures to me on Thursday, there really wasn’t a whole lot more that had been done, but I was able to crawl around and look at everything. One thing Robert mentioned to me was that the new orientation of the “Magic Box” on the middle axle looked as though it wouldn’t require any changes to the frame or body. This was something I had been concerned about, since the bottom of the Box is now 4.5 inches higher than it had been, and even with the new indexing, the top of the Box was also higher. But I crawled down under the JeepMonster to take a look, and sure enough, there appears to be plenty of clearance, even when the axle is at full compression. (These may turn out to be an instance of “famous last words” but for now everything looks good.) These two shots show the Box as it currently sits.

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In addition, the driveshaft angle from the Box to the third-axle pinion doesn’t look like it’s too bad, either!

This photo gives a good view of the new firewall. Robert asked me if I wanted to use the one from the cowl of the ’57 CJ-6, but it’s full of holes and is rusty and all that, so I asked him to build me a new one. This one will be sturdier and safer, and also gives me more room for my feet!

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The frame is 6 inches longer than the body. This gives me room to work the back winch, as well as providing a strong bumper. This photo shows the winch in the frame, with the rearmost body support along the right. When it’s all done, there will be a lid over this area, both to protect the winch from prying eyes and to provide a good surface to stand on if needed.

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The final photo is an overall side view. From this angle, it’s kind of hard to see all the sheet steel sitting on the ‘Monster, but you can see the grille (which, by the way isn’t in its permanent location), the firewall, and the floor.

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The next step is to build the inner fenderwells for the back axles. At that point, we should be able to get a pretty good idea of where the seats need to go, which will tell us where the back hoop of the roll cage has to be, which will help us with setting the location of the bulkhead between the cab and the cargo area, which will… well, you get the idea.

So while they’re busy bodybuilding, I have to get going and order some more parts – like the seat adjustment tracks and the pinion protectors for the front and back axles (Robert recommended I get these from Ballistic Fabrication here in Tucson), and some pieces/parts to build the custom twin-stick levers for the transfer case. I’ll have a lot of things to take over there the next time I go.

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

I’m Ba-a-a-ack!

…and I have PROGRESS! – Well, actually, *Robert* had progress to show me today.

As y’all know, it’s been several weeks since I last posted here. In that time I rode my motorcycle 7500 miles, followed Historic Route 66 from Holbrook, AZ, to Chicago, attended the EAA AirVenture Fly-In in Oshkosh, WI, and the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, SD (duh), and visited one of my beautiful daughters and her husband. (If you’re interested, you can catch up on my travels here.)

Today I visited Robert. There wasn’t a lot of progress, both because I’ve been away and because he’s had other projects to finish, but more details on the frame are done.

The power steering box mount is now permanent.

The power steering box mount is now permanent.

The transmission mount / crossmember has been fabricated.

The transmission mount / crossmember has been fabricated.

The rearmost crossmember / rear winch mount / receiver has been fabricated and welded to the frame.

The rearmost crossmember / rear winch mount / receiver has been fabricated and welded to the frame.

And, wonder of wonders, I think we’ve actually come up with a way to get the “Magic Box” (as I call it – it’s the 1:1 power-transfer gearbox on the center axle) higher off the ground! Here’s the best shot of it that I could find in all the pictures I’ve taken (or found) so far. It’s not *my* Magic Box, but you can see that it hangs below the bottom of the differential by a good inch to inch-and-a-half. It’s by far the lowest point on the whole JeepMonster, and because it’s both aluminum and big, it presented a serious protection challenge.

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Robert’s suggestion is to swap my two back-axle ring-and-pinion assemblies so the Magic Box will be bolted to the high-pinion assembly, and the low-pinion assembly it’s currently bolted to will go on the third axle. This accomplishes several things:

  1. It moves the Magic Box about 4 inches higher than it is now, putting the bottom of the Box well above the bottom of the differential housing. This will make it much easier to build a skidplate for the whole assembly.
  2. It moves the output U-joint 4 inches higher above the axle tube, giving gobs (that’s a technical term for lots) of clearance between the “interaxle” driveshaft and the axle tube on the middle axle.

It does two other things, too, which are not so good:

  1. It raises the front end of the “interaxle” driveshaft 4 inches and drops the back end 4 inches, so the operating angle on this driveshaft will be more than originally thought.
  2. In raising the whole Magic Box 4 inches, there might be clearance issues with one of the frame’s crossmembers that we’ll have to deal with.

On the whole, though, the two improvements vastly outweigh the two downgrades. I’d much rather have the whole Magic Box sit higher off the ground than it does right now, and figure out how to mitigate the two downgrades, than leave it the way it is.

There’s also the possibility, which I have to confirm with the Box’s builder (who is in Ohio), that I could rotate the Box so it’s more horizontal than it is right now. It currently sits at about a 45-degree angle up and to the passenger side; if I can rotate it so that it’s closer to horizontal, the downgrade issues won’t be as severe. We’ll have to see about that.

So right now, Robert is going to measure and tack-weld the back-axle shock mounts to the frame, and then pull the two back axles off for me to take to Tucson Differential for reassembly. After that, I’ll take the CJ-6 tub to him so he can start working on the new body.

Categories: 6x6, CJ-6, Custom Frame, drivetrain, Jeep Frame, JeepMonster | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Baby Steps

I went out to Marana to see what progress had been made on the JeepMonster’s frame since my last post. Robert was sick most of last week, so there isn’t much to report, but the front winch mount has been added. We decided to reuse the existing assembly, so it was basically a matter of trimming and welding – and welding, and welding, and welding… It’s now an integral part of the frame and it ain’t NEVER goin’ nowhere! I think if I had the traction, I could probably pull a tank or a train with it.

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There’s still a lot of work left to be done. Robert told me he originally estimated 100 hours to build the frame, and he now has 58 on the clock. Still to come: front suspension; middle- and back-axle shock mounts; engine and transmission/transfer case mounts; body mounts; roll cage mounts; back winch mount; and some kind of bumperettes or “ears” outside the frame at both ends to give me something to put the jack under when I have to lift a corner.

And then we get to the body. I’ll be spending a good part of next Saturday out there, removing the last few connections between the body and the frame and the engine on the old Jeep, and probably cutting the tub apart so we can start figuring out where the new body mounts will be, and also how the engine and its related bits (radiator, A/C condenser, electric fan, etc.) will fit in. Once the engine is more-or-less located, Robert can then start building the front-axle links around it to avoid interference issues.

We had to move the frame yesterday, too. Robert has a couple of other projects that he needs to finish and get out the door, so we hefted the frame off its sawhorses and put it back above the axles. We’re both looking forward to the point where the frame and axles are attached so it’ll be a single, movable unit!

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Our best guesstimate at the moment is that the JeepMonster will be about three inches taller than the CJ-5 it’s replacing. That’s not insignificant, but it’s less than I was afraid it might be, and I think (I HOPE!) it’ll fit under the 7-foot garage door opening here at home.

Categories: Custom Frame, Jeep, Jeep Frame, JeepMonster | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

Bits ‘n’ Pieces

Late last week, Robert, my frame guy, let me know that he was finally going to be able to get some time to work on the frame over the weekend. There had been a delay in getting some of the parts he needed for the linked front suspension, and he had some other projects to get done, PLUS he has a full-time job in addition to his own company, so sometimes I wonder where he finds the time to do anything on the JeepMonster. I told him that I was busy Saturday, but if I could, I’d be out on Sunday to see the progress.

So yesterday I made the time to go see what he had done. It’s an hour from my house to his shop, so it’s not a trip I make with any regularity, but it was definitely worth it to see more pieces being added to the frame.

[Did you know there’s a difference between “car parts” and “car pieces”? There is – to me, anyway. “Parts” are those things you get at the stealership when you take it in for service, and they tell you this is broken and that’s worn out and, oh yeah, this is unsafe to drive with and so you need to give us lots of money to replace all these things so you won’t crash. Or you can get them at stores like O’Riellys, NAPA, CarQuest, PepBoys, and AutoZone and do the job yourself. On the other hand, “pieces” are the things that go together to make assemblies, or structures, or “parts.” In this post, “pieces” specifically refers to the bits and chunks of steel that Robert is fashioning into spring mounts on the frame.]

Back to the story.

When I got to Robert’s shop, he was apologetic that there wasn’t much to show for his work – only a few pieces of steel welded to the frame for the middle and back axles’ spring mounts. I told him I totally understood, as I have done the same thing – work and work and work and work and work and not too much to show for it. In this case, he has to cut lots of small pieces of steel to just the right size and shape, and then weld them all together – and to the frame – in perfect alignment so the frame stays square and the springs will flex freely. Here are a few pictures of what he’s been doing.

This photo shows the outside of the frame, looking from front to back. The structure in the center of the picture is where the springs for the middle and back axles will meet. Since there is a slight overlap of the springs, the set for the middle axle will be offset toward the center of the JeepMonster, while the set for the back axle will be offset away from the center. This means that each mounting point has to be braced and gusseted to prevent (or at least minimize) flex.

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This photo shows the passenger-side common spring mount. There are at least ten unique pieces of steel in this photo, not counting either the frame rail or the square tubing that is the crossmember. Robert tells me he’s going to close in the angled opening, too, so that’s another piece to add to the count. Each piece had to be designed, cut, drilled, placed, clamped, and carefully welded so that it would combine with the others to make a solid spring mount.

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This is a closeup of the driver-side mount, looking forward on the outside of the frame. There are at least five pieces in this shot that didn’t show in the previous photo, for a total of 15 or more for each common mount.

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And finally, this is where it’s all happening – in Marana, Arizona. The company name is R&W custom Sliders & Offroad. The ultimate test of the product will be when I get the JeepMonster on (and off!) the road, but right now I have to say I’m quite impressed with the quality of the work Robert’s doing.

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Categories: Custom Frame, Jeep, Jeep Frame, JeepMonster | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Construction Has Begun!

Time sure flies when you’re (a) not paying attention; (b) having fun; (c) busy; (d) all of the previous [pick one]. I’ll take Option (d), please…

Way back on the 9th (yes, two weeks ago…) I made my last post on the Jeep’s progress. A few days after I picked up the middle axle from Tucson Differential, I took it over to R&W Custom Sliders and Offroad, where the frame will be built. Due to the weight of the assembly, I decided against trying to put it in the truck, and opted instead to put it on my motorcycle trailer:

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It was much easier to load with my hoist, and to unload with the R&W hoist, than it would have been had I tried to slide it into the pickup’s bed. And I found another use for the trailer. 🙂

Over the course of the last two weeks, R&W has built both framerails and, at last notice, had finished most of one side of the rear spring mounts. Here’s a picture of the main rails together, showing how they drop from the front (in the engine bay) to the back (under the body) and also widen out as they go under the body. The extra width will give me a lot more stability than I had before. Here’s a shot of the rails being checked for straightness, equal (but opposite) angles, and proper lengths.

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This shot shows one of the rails more-or-less properly positioned relative to the axles:

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The next shot is from the front, and shows how the “magic box” sets up power to go to both the middle and back axles. From this angle, the frame looks like it has a “V” notch in it, but in reality the first angled piece drops the frame down from engine-bay height to under-body height, while the second angled piece widens the frame from 31 inches to 35 inches as it goes under the body to the back end.

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This photo shows how the springs will be set up for the middle and back axles. Because the springs are longer than the axle separation, they had to be offset from each other. The middle axle’s springs will be on the inside, and the back axle’s springs will be on the outside.

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So that’s where it is right now. There’s still lots of work to be done – the crossmembers have to be added, the rear suspension needs to be completed, the front suspension has to be done, engine and transmission mounts are needed, and more – but it’s not just a random collection of expensive parts any more! Now it’s an *ordered* collection of expensive parts…

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

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