Posts Tagged With: SCS Gearbox

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.

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

My Axles Are Back!

Hallelujah! After two months of waiting, I finally have my middle and back axles back in my grubby little paws and can take them to R&W!

You’ll remember that in mid-August I took the two axles to Tucson Differential with a request that the center sections be swapped. This entailed a lot of steps:

  1. Disassemble both of the axles so that the center sections could be removed.
  2. Disassemble the low-pinion-and-“Magic Box” combination.
  3. Machine the front pinion support / housing on the high-pinion center section so it would accept the “Magic Box.”
  4. Drill new mounting holes in the “Magic Box” so that it could be clocked over to a more-horizontal orientation; in turn, this would mean that the upper end (with the input and output yokes) wouldn’t stick up as high as it might have otherwise and that it would be more in line with the transfer case yoke.
  5. Weld the original mounting holes to prevent leakage from the “Magic Box.”

When I took the axles to Bill, he told me that it would be about 2 1/2 weeks before he could work on them. I visited him after about 3 weeks and he had just disassembled them. We had originally thought that he could swap the pinion supports, but that turned out to be impossible as the high-pinion support has extra galleys inside to ensure that the bearings get oiled properly. Those galleys interfered with the ring gear in the low-pinion center section. Also, the low-pinion support didn’t have any corresponding oil galleys, and it wasn’t practical to reinvent them, so the result was that the high-pinion support was itself machined to provide a clean, smooth mounting surface for the “Magic Box.”

The back axle was ready in short order, as it only had to be disassembled and reassembled with the low-pinion center section. I opted not to take delivery of it, though, until the middle axle was ready. Because Tucson Differential doesn’t have the ability to machine or weld aluminum, that work had to be subcontracted – and then both Bill and I had to wait on the subcontractor’s schedule!

This week, it all finally came together. The subcontractor returned the modified “Magic Box” to Bill, Bill put everything together – again, and I collected them two days ago (Thursday, 10/8). Here are some photos I took.

Back axle - formerly high-pinion; now low-pinion.

Back axle – formerly high-pinion; now low-pinion.

Middle axle - "Magic Box" is higher off the ground and more horizontal than before.

Middle axle – “Magic Box” is higher off the ground and more horizontal than before.

Middle axle - before changes. "Magic Box" is more vertical and sits lower on the center section.

Middle axle – before changes. “Magic Box” is more vertical and sits lower on the center section.

You can see clearly here that the "Magic Box" no longer hangs below the axlehousing.

You can see clearly here that the “Magic Box” no longer hangs below the axlehousing. This is a good thing.

We ultimately couldn’t lay the “Magic Box” over as flat as we wanted to, because of interference issues between one of the center gear’s bearings in the Box and the bolts that hold the Box to the center section. But my guesstimate is that the Box is now at about a 25-to-30-degree angle instead of its former 45 degrees. And that’s going to be fine, not least because it now holds more oil.

There will probably have to be some changes made to the frame now, because the upper end of the Box is higher than it used to be. But that’s a small price to pay for the vulnerability reduction to the Box!

I’ll be taking the axles to R&W on Monday. Let’s hope this is the last change we need to make to the axles, and that the frame can be completed and the bodywork begun!

Side note: I am very pleased with the quality of the work done by Tucson Differential and recommend their services without reservation.

Categories: axle, drivetrain, JeepMonster, tandem axle | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back (Or Vice Versa…)

A couple of days ago I went out to R&W to see how things are going (Robert had called me and said he had things he needed to talk to me about) on the JeepMonster. On the way, I stopped by Tucson Differential to find out whether there was any progress on the axles, as I had dropped them off three weeks ago and Bill had said 2 to 2 1/2 weeks before he could do anything and that he’d call me when he started and he hadn’t called me.

So I walked into Tucson Differential and found the axles all apart. Bill had just started on them, so he’s right on schedule (sorta kinda more-or-less, but not far enough off to make a stink about). Here’s the back axle housing:

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Since all that had to be done to this was to take off the high-pinion center section and put on the low-pinion one, that was done yesterday. The middle axle is a bit more complicated because there are several other things that have to happen, too. First, the transfer box has to be redrilled with a new set of boltholes so that it’ll be clocked over more horizontally than before (its original angle was about 45 degrees up from horizontal; now it’ll be closer to 20 or 25 degrees). Second, the pinion bearing support flange for the high-pinion center section has to be machined to accept the transfer box. [The original plan was to simply swap the supports, but the high-pinion one has baffles and troughs to get oil to the pinion bearings, and the low-pinion one doesn’t. So the flange has to stay with the gearset in order for everything to work right.]

It turns out that the transfer box itself is a very simple, elegant piece of work. The case is billet aluminum. There are three gears. Each gear rides on its own shaft (duh), and each shaft is supported by ball-bearing assemblies. And that’s it. No shims; no adjustments; no needle bearings. Here are some pics I took while I was there.

This half of the case bolts to the center section. You can see the ball bearings for the intermediate and upper (input/output) shafts.

This half of the case bolts to the center section. You can see the ball bearings for the intermediate and upper (input/output) shafts.

This shows the input yoke and its assembly (with ball bearings and how it fits into the front half of the case (with another set of ball bearings. Just add a silicone gasket and bolt together!

This shows the input yoke and its assembly (with ball bearings) and how it fits into the front half of the case (with another set of ball bearings). Just add a silicone gasket and bolt together!

This shows the intermediate gear and the lower (pinion) gear in the front half of the case. Everything rides on ball bearings and simply bolts together. Easy-peasy!

This shows the intermediate gear and the lower (pinion) gear in the front half of the case. Everything rides on ball bearings and simply bolts together. Easy-peasy!

So now we wait for the differential’s pinion-support flange to be machined to accept the transfer box, and for the box itself to be drilled for its new (more horizontal) orientation, after which it can all be reassembled and put back under the JeepMonster.

On another note, I answered several design/style questions of Robert’s while I was there. He’s ready to get the body going, even though there is still some finishing-up to do on the frame. YAY!

Categories: drivetrain, JeepMonster, tandem axle | 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

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

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

Axles!

Last Friday I posted on my Facebook page that I had finally gotten my middle (front back? first back?) axle from Tucson Differential (TD), and that I would have a blog entry “tomorrow” – meaning Saturday. Oops… If you follow my Peripatetic Traveler blog, you know that I was busy traveling to Toyland all weekend, and I just… simply… didn’t write anything.

So, in atonement, I offer this photo of my Jeep, sitting on its own 35-inch front tires and a pair of borrowed, wimpy, wouldn’t-be-caught-dead-on-the-trail back tires:

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To be fair, it wouldn’t be caught dead on the trail anyway, because it’s already dead. *sigh*

But now to the middle axle. I originally took it to TD late last fall to have it (and the back axle) assembled. The “magic box” had arrived from Ohio, and the housing, axleshafts, third member, and all associated parts had arrived from California. TD told me both axles would be assembled during the week after Christmas and that I could pick them up in early January. They were, and I did.

There was just one minor problem, which TD pointed out to me when I got the axles. The “magic box’s” rear output might have interference issues with the axlehousing. They suggested a fix, which I decided to think about.

It didn’t take much thinking to change “might have” to “would definitely have” interference issues. I didn’t even take the axle out of the truck when I got home. The very next day (still the first full week of January, if I remember correctly) I took it back to TD and asked that the fix be taken care of. They said sure, they’d get it done, and it would be a couple of weeks.

It turned out to be a couple of months, but the job finally got done. TD was even kind enough to give me a price reduction for having to wait so long. So last Friday I collected it, and tomorrow I take it over to Robert’s shop (R&W custom Sliders and Offroad) so he can get to work on the frame. In the meantime, here are the pictures I promised.

SCS is the company that built the “magic box.” They have done work for drag racers, truck-pull competitors, and other high-horsepower, high-torque racing machines, so I don’t have any qualms about putting it behind my puny, 200 hp (more or less), stock GM 350 small block. This is the front of the axle; at the upper left is where the driveshaft from the transfer case connects to the whole assembly. The box itself is essentially a 1:1 transfer case. An intermediate gear transfers power down to the axle’s pinion shaft, while another yoke on the back of the box carries power to the back axle.

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This photo shows the axle from the back; the yoke to the upper right of the center section is where the driveshaft to the third axle will connect.

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The next photo is a closeup of the notch that was cut into the housing so that the third driveshaft would clear the center section:

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This photo shows the driver’s side of the “box”. Surprisingly, the whole box only adds about three inches to the forward length of the axle, compared with where a standard pinion yoke would be. Because of other modifications I’m making to the Jeep as I build it, I’ll actually have a driveshaft from the transfer case to this axle that’s about three inches longer than the old driveshaft was. (Longer is better here!)

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And finally, a view looking down at the top of the axle. Here again, you can see the notch that TD cut into the center section housing. If I had all the drivetrain pieces here at home, I’d line them up and give you a view of how they’ll all fit together, but everything else is over at R&W. As soon as I get the frame and drivetrain back, I’ll let y’all know.

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In the meantime, I can empty my bank account buying the necessary body panels and other stuff I need/want. I’ll also take advantage of the space in the garage to clean it up some and (I hope!) get it all painted. Oh, and posting blog entries any time Robert sends me pics of his progress on the frame.

Categories: 6x6, axle, drivetrain, Jeep | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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