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Green Flash

Posted in Features on August 17, 2002 Comment (0)
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Contributors: Randall Jachmann
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As the sun sets on the Pacific Ocean, a strange and elusive phenomena occurs that not many can claim to have seen, and then in an instant, it is gone. That's right, blink and you'll miss it. What is it, you ask? It's a green flash that occurs during the final milliseconds of a sunset and is caused by the setting sun's light rays reflecting at the perfect angle upon the water. While it is almost impossible to photograph such a masterpiece, our own Randall Jachmann managed to capture another type of green flash on film for all to enjoy.

Some 2,000 miles away from the blue Pacific in a town named Wichita Falls, Texas, Bryan Taylor and his best friend Jeff Cullar have created the Texas equivalent to the green flash. Working from about 7 p.m. until 12 a.m. every Monday through Thursday evening and all day on Saturday for two years, the dynamic duo created a masterpiece that could be missed by some, if they blinked, since this rig is so fast. Having built a total of six quality show trucks over the previous years, Bryan knew exactly what would satisfy his desire for a smooth-riding, unbreakable, hard-core off-road vehicle.

With the exception of the factory hood, the side doors, and the cab from a '96 Extended Cab Chevrolet truck, Bryan and Jeff built the entire vehicle by hand from the ground up. The main frame of the truck consists of 1-3/4x0.120-inch-thick 4130 chrome-moly tubing, including the transmission cradle and shock hoops. The interior rollcage fabricated from 1-5/8x0.083-inch-thick 4130 chrome-moly tubing is mated to the frame by seamless TIG welds. All of the tabs and mounting locations were custom-designed and -fabricated in house by Bryan, including the custom-altered ARP 12-point motor-mount hardware.

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Once the skeleton was completed, the emphasis shifted to the suspension of this masterpiece. Having dealt primarily with the tried-and-true leaf spring suspensions on their previous creations, Bryan and Jeff decided that in order to create their desired smooth-riding and reliable four-wheeler, the suspension would have to provide a respectable amount of front and rear wheel travel. Recognizing the amount of wheel travel and punishment that monster trucks endure, Bryan decided that the implementation of a front and rear four-link suspension system would be the most beneficial to his desired outcome.

After locating drawn-over mandrel 2-1/4x0.250-inch-thick seamless mild steel tubing for the four-link bars, his fun began. Between the 1-1/4x1-inch chrome-moly Heim joints and 1-3/4-inch front and rear Schroeder Super Speedway NASCAR sway bars, all you have to do is look at these components to know that this is indeed a no-nonsense kind of vehicle. All axle brackets and other key components of the suspension were either TIG-welded or mated together with Grade-8 hardware.

To provide the smoothness that he was aiming for, Steve Combs of Nightstalker Shocks built four 3-1/2-inch nitrogen-charged units with reservoirs that are backed by dual Beard limiting straps to protect from any possible over-extension when Bryan and crew are flying through the air. When all is said and done, a whopping 14 inches of wheel travel is available.

Charged with making this rig vanish as fast as its West Coast counterpart, Auto Shop of Wichita Falls, Texas, took a 540ci tall-deck big-block Chevrolet motor that exists only in some of our dreams and found a place to corral 700 horses. The 4.50 bore Dart Big M block houses an arsenal of high-quality components. A 4.250 stroke Callies Stealth crankshaft moves the Oliver 6.535 length rods and JE custom-designed pistons, rings, and pins up and down inside the polished cylinders.

Ported and polished Dart Pro 1 345 Runner heads are seamed to the block via ARP 12-point head studs and main studs. Completing the top end of the engine is a Bullit Brand hydraulic roller camshaft, a double-roller Cloyes timing chain, 2.30-1.88 stainless Manley valves, and Crower stainless steel rocker arms. Custom CV chrome-moly pushrods also take refuge inside the powerplant. A CSI high-output starter in conjunction with an MSD Pro Billet distributor carries the necessary current to the MSD wires and electronics for perfect start-ups every time.

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Prior to lift-off, the fuel flows from a Triangle Engineering custom-built 20-gallon fuel cell through Aeromotive fuel pumps and filters into the 1,600-cfm port-injected, throttle-bodied, Electro Automotive EFI unit with a custom-fabricated CSI throttle linkage. A custom-built, combination four-core C&R Racing radiator with integrated oil cooler complete with dual 13-inch SPAL fans keeps the remaining fluids at acceptable operating temperatures.

The engine oil is cooled further by an aluminum high-capacity Steffs oil pan. To be honest, 700 hp never sounded or felt so good thanks to the 2-1/8-inch-diameter custom-built headers and 3-1/2-inch lead pipe that transitions into a massive Flowmaster big-block muffler and 3-inch tailpipes. All ceramic header coating was applied by Airborne Coatings of Oklahoma City.With such a tremendous amount of horsepower on tap (did we already mention 700 hp?), the rest of the drivetrain had to be bulletproof.

A GM Turbo 400 transmission with a manual valvebody and a 10-inch Coan converter, and an 8-inch Fluidampr harmonic balancer was selected as the leader of any forward charges that the truck takes. An Art Carr partial shifter allocates the gears for both the transfer case and the transmission. An aluminum TCI transmission pan and Fluidyne Enduro HD transmission cooler keeps the fluid flowing with no interruptions between the sudden gear shifts. Once again borrowing from other motorsports technologies, such as monster trucks and tractor-pulling, Bryan bolted an SCS quick-change transfer case rated at 3,000 hp to the Turbo 400. His reasoning behind the quick-change setup was so that he could alter the gear ratios as he went from normal everyday street driving to slow rockcrawling territory.

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The front and rear driveshafts emanating from the transfer case are custom-balanced and -fabricated 3-1/2x0.120-inch-thick steel units that house 1410 Spicer U-joints built by Longhorn Truck and Trailer of Wichita Falls. Front and rear axles were prepped by Dynatrac. The matching center pinion-situated Dana 70 HD units with 4-inch tubes were stuffed with 5.60 ratio Dana Power Lock units and covered up with finned aluminum Off Road Unlimited covers. Hardened 35-spline outer shafts were appropriately installed. At the end of each Dana 70 is a set of 35-spline Warn Premium locking hubs. A Borgeson offset steering box and joints along with dual hydraulic steering cylinders assist in pointing the massive 16.5x14-inch Weld Super Single Racing wheels with 39.5x18x16.5 Interco Super Swamper TSL Boggers wherever they must go.

As previously mentioned, the factory cab was one of the only remaining original components of the '96 Chevrolet. However, even that component had to be altered as a result of the radical frame and vehicle configuration. For starters, the entire floor of the cab was cut out and channeled to fit over the frame so that the original design and safety of it wouldn't be compromised. Then, the factory firewall was removed, a new one was fabricated out of 16-gauge steel and installed 4 inches back from its previous location. This was done so that the up-front weight from the motor could be distributed more evenly upon landings so as not to have the third member housing puncture the oil pan. The bed sides with the hand-rolled 3/4-inch lips are fiberglass Pro Truck Racing units that have more than hundreds of hours of labor in them. When the team of Paul James and Mark Coleman were complete with the bodywork, the team of Danny Moreno and Kane Hibbs of Classic Paint and Body in Wichita Falls began to apply the '99 Ford Ranger Jalapeno Green paint, with a PPG clearcoat to follow. After curing time was over, all of the factory glass was reinstalled including the rear smoke-colored Lexan window.

One glimpse of the Budnik GT billet aluminum steering wheel with the carbon-fiber trim ring and you begin to make the association with the interior design of the truck as a cross between an F-1 racer and a full-on SCORE Trophy Truck -- thanks to the use of the carbon-fiber-faced Auto Meter gauges and shift light, which all seek refuge in the custom-built carbon-fiber panel that fits inside the tricked-out dashboard and custom-built console. Nestled comfortably between the two gray tweed Beard seats with five-point Simpson Cam-Lock harnesses is an Art Carr gated shifter. For ease of cleanup, the carpet was replaced with a Texomo Rhino Linings-applied black Rhinoliner. All interior wiring of the gauges and electrical systems was performed flawlessly by Ron Francis Wire Works, also of Wichita Falls.

Perhaps the best part of this whole project is the fact that Bryan's dream truck is 100 percent street-legal, which makes it more than possible for him to enjoy seven days a week -- especially now that he is working on building a '68 Pro Street Camaro that requires many trips to the parts stores. So the next time you think you saw a flash of green, remember that it can be either one of two things: Mother Nature's green flash or Bryan Taylor's. Honestly, we'd take Bryan's any day of the week, so long as we were the ones doing the driving.

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