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January 2010 Readers Rigs - Rubicon Edition

Posted in Features on January 1, 2010
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The Rubicon Trail is always a great place to see cool rigs. During a recent visit to the 'Con, we trained our cameras on a few of the rigs we crossed paths with and we clicked off a few frames. Here's some of what we saw.

Adam's Creation
Adam Johnson, active-duty USAF, has this '00 Jeep Wrangler Sport, and its specifications read like a "How-To" book for building a capable trail rig. Some of the mods on this rig include a twin-stick 4:1 Dana 300 transfer case; full-width eight-lug Dana 44 front axle with 300M U-joints, chromoly axleshafts and ARB Air Locker; full-width Dana 60 HD rear axle with Detroit Locker; Yukon 5.13:1 gears; modified Rubicon Express front three-link suspension with BigHorn coilovers; custom 4-link rear suspension with BigHorn coilovers; and 37-inch Nitto Mud Grapplers. The rig also has a 12/24-volt battery converter to run a portable Ready Welder without removing the batteries from the rig, six-point frame-mounted rollcage with integrated suspension seats, custom shock hoop setup with engine crossbar, engine skidplate, front tube fenders, and full hydraulic steering.

Sturdy FJ
Harald Pietschmann, Rubicon Trail guide/outfitter, has a long history of wheeling in exotic places like Indonesia and Kazakhstan. He was also a part of the mega-dramatic Warn/Iceland expedition of 1991. Nowadays, one of the rigs he uses on the Rubicon is this '77 Toyota FJ-40. It has the stock 4.2L I-6 engine, SM420 transmission, stock transfer case and axles, 4.88:1 gears, ARB Air Lockers, and a Warn XD9000i. We've seen the rig in action and it serves him well.

Trail Blaser
Randy Blase traveled all the way from Hillsboro, Missouri, to run the Rubicon. His '95 Jeep Cherokee Sport has a high-output 4.0L I-6, automatic transmission, NP231 transfer case with slip yoke eliminator, ARB-locked high-pinion Dana 30 front axle, Detroit-locked Ford 8.8 rear axle, 4.88:1 gears, 6-inch Tomken front coil springs, 6-inch Rubicon Express rear leaf springs, 15x8 American Racing wheels, and BFG Mud-Terrain T/A tires. Wait, that's not all. The XJ also sports Rusty's Off-Road Products fiberglass front fenders, a Quadratech cowl induction-style hood, interior rollcage, full homemade skidplating and custom bumpers capable of storing compressed air.

Part CJ, Part YJ
Bob Johnson hails from Hays, Kansas, and this is his YJ-tubbed '80 CJ-7. He says he built the rig about 10 years ago, and since then it has carried him over a slew of trails in his home state of Kansas, as well as in Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Baja California and of course, the Rubicon. The rig sports a TBI Chevy 350ci V-8, TH350 transmission, twin-stick Dana 300 transfer case, Dana 30 front axle with Detroit Locker and disc brakes, AMC 20 rear axle with Detroit Locker, 3.55:1 gears, BDS 5-inch leaf spring suspension lift, 3/4-inch body lift, Pacer 10-inch-wide aluminum wheels, and 35-inch Kumho tires. Other mods include a Ramsey winch, air conditioning, hard and soft tops, owner-built custom bumpers and tire carrier, Rhino-lined interior and Steel Horse seats.

YJ With Some Ford DNA
Darrel Mauldin's '87 YJ is one of those ongoing projects (20 years!) that he has morphed to suit his needs. The rig's long list of features include a 5.0L Ford V-8, NV 3550 transmission, Atlas 4.3 transfer case, ARB-locked Spider 9 front axle with F-450 outers, Pro Rock 60 rear axle, 4.88:1 gears, custom three-link front suspension with Fox coilovers, custom four-link rear suspension with Fox coilovers, TrailReady beadlock wheels, and 40-inch Swampers. The rig also has a Premier Power Welder setup, custom rock sliders and rollcage, MasterCraft seats and a PSC steering system. When asked if he would change anything, Mauldin says, "I wouldn't change a thing. I can do some of the hardest trails in the country and still drive it down the highway at 60 miles per hour with no problems."

Rubicon on the Rubicon
John McGoldrick, also active-duty U.S. Air Force, says he loves to wheel on rocks. Perhaps that's why we found him near Big Sluice in his '05 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. In addition to all the usual Rubicon accoutrements, he has added Superior chromoly axleshafts to both axles, CTM U-joints up front, 4.88:1 Yukon gears, a Clayton Off Road Manufacturing 5-inch long-arm suspension, 17x9 Walker Evans beadlock wheels, and 37-inch BFG Krawlers. He says the factory lockers broke, so he is now running a Detroit Locker up front and an ARB Air Locker in the rear. Other mods to this rig include a Rokmen Manufacturing front bumper and rockers, Warn winch, Hanson rear bumper and tire carrier, T&T Customs Phantom front fenders, GenRight rear corners, and a York on-board air system.

Send Us Your Rigs
Want to see your vehicle in Readers' Rigs? Of course you do. So go ahead and send a description of everything you have done to your rig, and include a good photo of it. No, you don't need no stinking application. Just go ahead and send it to: Readers' Rigs, Four Wheeler, 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048-5515. Or send your description and high resolution digital photos to us via

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