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Tube Rock Buggy - The Banshee

Front Angle
Jimmy Nylund | Writer
Posted April 1, 2008

Eaton's Poster Child

The Banshee is truly different from the other tube buggies zooming around on the trails these days, and not just because of the liberal use of aluminum in its construction. Fenders, headlights, a windshield - and of course, the unique design - really sets this speeder/crawler apart from the masses.

It's not often you see something truly different on the trails these days, but Jared Prindle did manage to construct something out of the ordinary. It had to be different because the Banshee was built to not only conquer obstacles in the dirt, but to serve as a business card for Eaton on the show circuit. And different it is.

The gennie '40 Power Wagon headlights, a windshield off of an XJ Jeep with functional wipers, and the removable fenders do set this buggy apart from the crowd of bent tubing with round springs on wheels, if for no other reason because it makes the Banshee quasi-street legal. Mostly, though, it's the liberal use of aluminum that makes the Banshee a oneof- a-kind, and the reasoning behind it was to save weight. Oh, and to be different.

Aluminum is a heck of a lot lighter than steel or cast iron, and its use was crucial in achieving the desired low weight of the Banshee, but it's also trickier to work with. Jared enlisted the help of his brother, Josh Prindle, of Prindle manufacturing & Performance, to help make reality of what Hulst Design had drawn up on paper.

In case you didn't notice, the use of aluminum goes beyond the body panels, as the entire frame is made from aluminum tubing. It's a blend of 1.75- and 2-inch 6060-T6 wall thickness, 0.188 inch in high-stress areas and 0.120 inch in less-critical portions. To help relieve stresses in the structure, the frame was baked for Eight hours after completion. Further reducing weight (and ugly unsprung weight at that) are the aluminum knuckles and the Dana 60's centersection on the Currie axles, plus the invisible and effective gun-drilled axleshafts.

The devil is in the details, they say, and those are abundant on the Banshee. This vehicle is more sculpted than merely built. There are several ways to mount an led taillight, for example, most all of them easier than this. Dana Westburg at Westfab, who did the paint and bodywork, has the kind of vision and the necessary patience needed.

More obvious weight losses were achieved by using an alloy engine and an aluminum Ron Davis Racing Products radiator. Keeping the mass as light as possible is a surefire way to get great overall performance, but things get even better when a slender vehicle is combined with plenty of power. An ls2 crate motor massaged by Turn Key Engine Supply puts a tci-built TH700R4 to the test by producing a dyno'd 518 horses at the flexplate. Novak Conversions assembled a Dana 300 transfer case to handle the distribution of forces to Tom Wood's-built-quality driveshafts, after which Currie axles get to redirect the torque laterally to 37-inch BFG Krawlers on trailready, yes, you guessed it, aluminum wheels.

With such a low overall weight and powerful engine, the Banshee should absolutely scream as it twists its way over hills, dales, and trails, right? Actually, we don't know how well all the work put into this machine turned out to function in real life as the Banshee was heading for its first offi - cial appearance at the Off Road Expo the day after we snapped the photos of it, to be followed shortly by the big-bore sema Show. The Banshee's keeper, Eaton's Scott Frary, was quite understandably less than enthused about getting dirt and rock gashes on the pristine machine, but by the time you read this, it has probably lost its virginity on some decent trails, and will likely keep showing up on them. As for that screaming, we suspect it was a small vacuum leak that made the Banshee live up to its name and are curious if the name was conceived before or after the initial startup of the ls2.

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