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Camburg Kinetik Trophy Truck - Kinetik(ally) Speaking

Posted in Features on April 1, 2011
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Photographers: Jerry Zaiden Jeff Young

One of the coolest aspects of building an off-road racing truck is that there's no set blueprint to follow. Outside of a few rules laid down mostly for safety's sake, there's a lot of room for innovation and creativity.

On the flip side, one of the most nonsensical aspects of building an off-road racing truck is that there's no set blueprint to follow. Few if any trucks are built following any sort of mass-production model, making each one essentially a prototype. Prototypes are expensive and often contain bugs that have to be worked out. Ever hear of the "new truck blues?"

Camburg Engineering has been in the business of producing high-performance suspension systems since 1997 and knows a thing or two about building hand-made products with repeatable precision. "We've used modern technology to build our products since the beginning," Camburg's Jerry Zaiden said. "We were using laser-cut parts and getting our judgment questioned by other builders. Now everyone's using laser cutting.

"We've got in-house CNC capability so we can have hands-on quality control and make sure our products meet our quality standards every time. Once we've got all the parts to make a given suspension system or other product, we hand-weld the components to make the finished product."

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Camburg makes a wide variety of bolt-on suspension systems and also builds complete vehicles in its Huntington Beach, California, facility. After successfully racing in several truck classes over the years, Camburg decided that taking part in the Trophy Truck wars was the next step.

"Repeatable precision" isn't just a mantra for bolt-on off-road suspension systems. It's also a way to build a complete truck. Enter the Kinetik concept.

The Camburg Kinetik Trophy Truck is built from the ground up as a repeatable, practical way to jump into off-road racing's premier truck class. The chassis and suspension were computer-designed, and the laser-cut, laser-notched, CNC-bent tubing was assembled and welded on a heavy, rigid fixture table. By contrast, most of the off-road racing field's trucks and buggies are built one by one, by hand. Precision tools are used in race vehicle fabrication, but it's been a rare happening in the off-road racing world to build a complete vehicle in a computer before getting out the fabrication tools.

The "X" in the front window is the first indication that this isn't like every other TT in the field. The dashboard is filled with AEM gauges and was wired using mil-spec wires and Scosche power cables. Below the dash, a monster-sized AEM filter feeds the engine the cleanest air possible.

The Kinetik TT chassis is based on 2-inch-diameter 4130 chromoly tubing that's been TIG-welded. Critical tubing joints get a second TIG pass to add even more strength to that which is already stout.

Once the chassis is complete, it's filled with a competitor's wish list of high-zoot hardware. Of course, Camburg realizes that many customers might want different parts or might want to save some cash by doing some of the work themselves, so the Kinetik TT is available all the way from a bare chassis to a complete ready-to-run turnkey truck.

How much does Camburg's repeatable precision save? It's significant. Many of the current crop of one-off Trophy Trucks cost $400,000 to $500,000 when all is said and done. By contrast, you can buy a bare Kinetik chassis for just over $50,000 and a complete ready-to-run truck starting at about $200,000. None of those prices are pocket change, and most of us will still only be able to watch from the sidelines, but it does illustrate what repeatable precision can do to bring the price a little closer to Earth.

Here's what's underneath the Glassworks Unlimited fiberglass exterior. Like the rest of the Unlimited Truck/Trophy Truck/Trick Truck field, it's a pure off-road hot rod built for nothing else but winning races.

We've talked about price, but there are two other critical concepts here: shorter lead times and better performance. First, the lead time. When each tube of a new TT (or any other custom build) must be hand-measured, hand-bent, hand-notched, and hand-fitted, it takes a lot of time even for an experienced fabricator.

A Kinetik TT is built from tubing that's pre-formed and pre-notched. Camburg uses a jig table to ensure that assembly is accurate, but the guesswork and hand-fitting has been chucked out the window. Next, performance is improved because the complete truck was designed all at once to work as a single unit. The design could be optimized for suspension geometry, weight distribution, etc.

Sparco Evo2 seats provide an ideal combination of comfort and body containment. Dual RaceAir filters feed clean, cool air into the occupants' helmets. Note the power shut-off switch within easy reach from both sides.

As of this writing, the first Kinetic Trophy Truck has several races under its belt and is poised for a full season in the 2011 Best In The Desert series. If you're among the fortunate ones who can get into Trophy Truck racing, Camburg's Kinetik concept demands a look.

Vehicle: Camburg Kinetik Trophy Truck (Best In The Desert calls them "Trick Trucks")
Owner/Hometown: Camburg Engineering/Huntington Beach, California
Engine: GM Performance Products tall-deck Chevy LSX built by Turnkey Engine Supply. Displacement:470 cubic inches. Horsepower: 750
Induction: Multi-point EFI, AEM air filter
Transmission: TH-400 built by Steve Culhane
Front suspension/Travel: Camburg Kinetik A-arms and steering knuckle, Camburg 2.5 front hubs, Fox 3.0 coilover and 3.5 bypass shocks, Eibach coil springs/27 inches
Rear suspension: Camburg Kinetik four-link, Fox 3.0 coilover and 4.4 bypass shocks, Fox bumpstops, Eibach coil springs, Tubeworks rear axle/32 inches
Ring and Pinion: Varies by racecourse from 5.13 to 5.43
Rear Differential: Tubeworks full-floater housing, TCS 2-3/16-inch 36-spline 300m axle shafts, GearWorks spool
Tires: 37-inch General Grabber Competition
Wheels: KMC 17-inch Enduro Beadlocks
Interior: Sparco EVO2 seats, Sparco steering wheel, Sweet steering wheel quick-disconnect, Crow Enterprizes harnesses, PCI race radio, Lowrance GPS, AEM gauges, dual fire suppression systems, live satellite tracking by IRC
Body: Complete fiberglass body by Glassworks Unlimited
Other: Plumbing by Brown & Miller, Optima batteries, mil-spec wiring, Scosche power cables, Magnaflow mufflers, KC-Pod HID lights, Baer Brakes, CBR coolers and radiator, safety bladder fuel cell, Bosch dual fuel pumps, Drivelines Unlimited driveshaft, Lucas Oil products used throughout

The adjustable steering column is a nice touch, and indicates just how much planning and engineering went into this truck.
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