No heroics. No huge obstacles to overcome. No on-road drama. Just a well-built Cummins-powered CJ-6 that loves to eat up the highway miles and a dad and his son eager to enjoy a week at Easter Jeep Safari and all that the Moab area has to offer.
For those who missed the buildup of the official vehicle of the 2017 Ultimate Adventure, we took a JK Unlimited frame shortened about 9 inches in the middle, hung a pair of Eaton ELocker-equipped Ultimate Dana 60 axles with 4.88 gears on a Skyjacker LeDuc Series coilover suspension, and stabbed the ultimate manual drivetrain behind a Cummins R2.8 turbodiesel. There’s an Advance Adapters Ranger Overdrive, an un-rebuilt 1950s-era SM420, and an Offroad Design Magnum Box Underdrive with a twin-stick Ford NP205. And for the final act, we channeled a vintage 1971 CJ-6 body low over the frame, chopped the windshield 3 inches, and used the Dana axle crates and Cummins engine crate as the floorboards. The resulting vehicle turns the 38x13.50R17 Falken WildPeak M/T tires easily at freeway speeds up to or over 80 mph, but I like to keep the Magellan TRX7’s speedo in a 65-75 mph window. That’s where this vehicle is happiest and returns a not-too-shabby 17-18 mpg. All with no diesel smell or smoke.
Check out some photos and enjoy a few captions of what it’s like to drive an Ultimate Adventure vehicle 800 miles to Moab, and be sure to check back at fourwheeler.com for more updates from the 2019 Easter Jeep Safari.
The UACJ-6D has been getting by with a makeshift dry air filter that was mounted virtually behind the front tire. It sucked a ton of dirt and required constant cleaning to the point that the weave began letting go and fine particulate was getting into the intake tube. A Unique Metal Products (UMP) filter (uniquemetalproducts.com) with a 4-inch inlet and 3-inch outlet flows enough to feed clean air to the R2.8 turbodiesel and will deliver a constant supply of super-clean, cold air. The only problem was figuring out where to mount it.
After some head scratching and a few different mock-up attempts, I finally decided to bolt the canister directly to the back of the dash and run the intake tube through the firewall with a 90-degree bend. Be sure never to use a tight-radius coupler to minimize turbulence and restrictions inside the intake system.
I got a length of 3-inch aluminum tubing from UMP and after determining where to punch through used a 3-inch hole saw to make the pass-through. I cut the tubing to length and built the rest of the system with a mix of 30-, 45-, and 60-degree elbows I bought from frozenboost.com.
With the dash and electronics put back in, you’d be hard-pressed to tell there’s a big 8-inch-diameter air filter hiding behind that dash.
The intake plumbing worked out great and in the end I didn’t even have to relocate the Cummins R2.8’s ECU.
The filter is high and sucks a steady supply of cool, clean air from behind the dash. And any particulate that does get ingested is spun to the outside of the canister thanks to the centrifugal fins inside the filter housing and is ejected out of a burp valve in the cover between engine shifts as the canister pressure changes. Plus, there’s a highly efficient Donaldson filter element in there that ain’t letting anything through.
With the bags packed and the bikes loaded I headed over to Caelin’s school to bust him out a few hours early, and we hit the road right around 11 a.m. for Moab.
We hit the I-15 and suffered through the majority of the SoCal traffic, stopping for a quick lunch at the top of the Cajon Pass. It was a Friday afternoon so the big worry was we would get stuck in the LA-to-Vegas weekend traffic, which can cause a huge backup, as the I-15 becomes a bumper-to-bumper 5-mph slogfest from Baker all the way to State Line.
We got to Baker, California, where a few law enforcement officers almost ran over to gawk at the UACJ-6D and pepper us with questions about the build and wish us a safe journey.
After topping off with snacks, filling the ARB fridge with drinks, and topping the tank with diesel to the tune of 16.95 mpg, we hit the road toward Vegas, glad to have beaten the SoCal gambler traffic.
The Magellan TRX7 serves as the UACJ’s speedometer and a Painless switch panel is the vehicle’s source of electrical power.
Vegas or bust! We hit a little bumper-to-bumper traffic around rush hour, but it wasn’t anything too bad, and before long we were sailing toward Arizona at 75 mph.
I normally don’t wear a hat when I’m driving an open-top vehicle, but as the sun was setting it started frying my skull, so I put my favorite Cummins baseball hat on. If you’ve ever had a sunburn on your head, you know why it’s a chance worth taking. Unfortunately a passing big rig blew it off into the center of the I-15, so if you’re traveling northbound be on the lookout for a cool green Cummins cap.
Arizona and the weather was holding!
By the time we hit Utah we started encountering a few scattered showers and the temperature began dropping rapidly with the sun.
We stopped in St. George to quickly bundle up and I discovered in the 3 months since he last wore it Caelin had outgrown his winter jacket. He bundled up in dad’s old Jp jacket and I froze in only a sweatshirt, but it was only another hour or so to Cedar City where we were staying for the night.
We awoke in Cedar City the next day and topped off the tank at 17.01 mpg and went on the hunt to find Caelin a jacket that fit him.
We spent almost an hour browsing through the C-A-L Ranch store in Cedar City. There’s so much cool stuff it’s unbelievable.
The store sells everything from tractor and trailer parts to really good clothing to guns and ammo to baby chicks and ducks, and everything in between.
With the boy properly bundled we hit the road again for I-70, and as the elevation climbed the temperature dropped.
It’s been a family tradition since 2005 that we stop and take a photo in Richfield, Utah, in front of this snow-capped mountain. There’s now a Home Depot and some other buildings in the way, but it’s still a scenic backdrop, and it’s fun to watch the kids getting taller in front of the peak.
Caelin is a world-class traveler. We pulled 9 hours in the UACJ-6D the first day and he didn’t peep once. On Day 2 he took a 45-minute snooze as we rolled from Richfield up into Fishlake until I woke him to watch the scenery.
We finally pulled off on the I-70 exit for Highway 191, and with Moab within striking distance snapped the requisite photo before finishing the trip.
We arrived at our condo right before Verne Simons pulled in with the UA2018 Derange Rover and ace photographer Harry Wagner slid in with his AEV-equipped LJ.