If you’ve been a fan of Mud Life for a while, you most certainly know the name Big Ed the Butcher. From event articles to hunting trips, Ed Wojtusik has been there time after time to help us out when we needed something. So when he told us about the new swamp buggy he was having built at Big Head Aluminum in Royal Palm Beach, Florida, we promised him a small feature in the magazine once it was ready. We just assumed that this would be an average well-built hunting rig that most of our readers are used to by now, but man, were we wrong. Big Ed wanted to build an extremely unique rig that looked as well as it performed, so lots of chrome and custom paint had to be included. Don’t let the killer graphics and shiny metal fool you though. Big Ed definitely isn’t afraid to cover it in a thick coat of Florida mud from time to time.
Starting with ¼-inch-wall, 2x4 box tubing, Dave Boden from Big Head Aluminum chopped, grinded, and welded a solid straight frame that has an 11.6-foot wheelbase without bumpers. Once the bumpers were fabricated and welded to the new frame, the finished length came out to 20.6 feet end to end. Next, the uprights were added and the aluminum deck was secured, officially making it a buggy in our books. The entire chassis rides on 2½-ton Rockwell axles equipped with Grizzly lockers and installed using mounting brackets from PMF Customs in Royal Palm Beach. A set of Skyjacker leaf springs from an ’09 Ford F-350 takes care of the suspension, and 26x25 wheels on 23.1R2 tires give Ed the height he was looking for. PMF Customs built the wheel centers, and Longs Wheel and Rim sent the tractor barrels. An SCS gearbox with a 3:1 gear ratio is working alongside a Turbo 400 transmission to transfer the power from the engine to the wheels. For power, Ed enlisted the help of Pro Racing Engines out of West Palm Beach to assemble a balanced and blueprinted 383ci Chevy V-8. Flotex heads and a Quick Fuel carburetor are a few additions, along with exhaust from Advanced Muffler.
Once Dave had a fully fabricated and functional swamp buggy built, the time came to rip it all apart and give it some color. The majority of the metalwork is covered in PPG Sublime Green paint thanks to Dave Nichols at Schmits Auto Body in Royal Palm Beach. After the paint had time to dry, the buggy was dropped off with Chris “Bones” Tolson at Bones Custom Paint in Royal Palm Beach for some insane airbrush work. Ed’s signature Grinch logo was naturally added, but this time he wanted even more style, so Bones sprayed some killer-looking meat cleavers on the rig since Ed is a butcher by trade. The handles of the cleavers look exactly like real wood, and when the wheels start to spin the chopping action looks pretty wicked. Anything that could be unbolted and hadn’t already been painted was boxed up and shipped out to Spectra Chrome for some serious bling. Hi-Tech Spray Liners finished off the prep work by coating the top of the buggy deck so no one’s feet will get burned on a hot day in the woods. Once all the parts were back to the shop, Dave started final assembly. Ed was on the sidelines just itching to rip it though the mud!
This build took the guys around six months and cost approximately $58,000. Compare that to a nice fishing boat or a fully built mud truck and the cost is pretty reasonable. Ed and his family take this rig out to mud events, airboat and buggy shows, and even hunting through the South Florida swamps. This wasn’t Ed’s first time building a swamp buggy, so he knew what he wanted and when he wanted it done. The plan came together and a very impressive piece of engineering is the result. We can guarantee you that this won’t be his last build, so keep the name Big Ed in your minds because it’s going to come up again.
2014 Swamp Buggy
Owner: Ed Wojtusik
Engine: 383ci Chevy V-8
Transmission: Chevy Turbo 400
Transfer Case: SCS Gearbox
Suspension: F-350 leaf springs and shocks
Axles: Rockwell 2½-ton with Grizzly lockers
Wheels: 26x25 Longs Wheel rims, PMF Customs centers