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Anatomy Of A 1960 Jeep CJ-6 Swamp Buggy

Posted in Features on July 23, 2014 Comment (0)
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Swamp buggy racing is a unique and fascinating form of off-road competition, and the rigs are one-of-a-kind. Held at the Florida Sports Park in Naples, Florida, racing takes place on a course completely saturated in 17-19 inches of water. As an added challenge, there are two “sippi” holes that measure 5½ feet in water depth. There are several classes of competition in swamp buggy racing, and one of the most popular is the Jeep class. Vehicles in this class must adhere to mandatory build rules, which basically require the use of specific Jeep drivelines as well as frames and bodywork.

When building Jeep-class rigs, builders try to design the machines to accommodate water flow. In other words, they want the Jeeps to cut through the water with the least resistance possible. They also want the vehicles to shed water because water adds weight and weight slows the vehicle.

Also as critically important is waterproofing. The rigs must be capable of sustained operation in 1½ feet of water (along with the associated water spray), but also must be able to operate in the deep sippi holes while almost totally submerged. One of the most unique aspects of these rigs are the homemade ultra-narrow wheels and tires that are designed to cut through the water with minimal resistance while still providing the traction needed to propel the vehicle.

The way-cool ’60 Jeep CJ-6 you see here belongs to Clay Madl of Kathleen, Florida. When we photographed the rig it was brand-new for the 2014 racing season. However, Madl isn’t new to racing and has been competing in Jeep-class rigs since 2001. Here’s an in-depth look at the anatomy of his cutting-edge Jeep-class swamp buggy.

Front axle/Suspension/Steering
-Dana 30 front axle from a Scrambler CJ-8, locker, welded vent tubes (to keep water out), no brakes (eliminates weight and they’re not needed anyway), modified housing and custom brackets to help cut through water
-Three-link suspension, Jegs High Performance-sourced universal link arms with spherical rod ends, Can-Am UTV coilover shocks, custom adjustable upper coilover mounts
-SeaStar Solutions hydraulic steering, SeaStar Solutions double-ended ram, Racecar Engineering stock car-application steering endlinks with spherical rod ends

Transmission/Transfer case/Driveshafts
-BorgWarner T-90 three-speed manual transmission, custom button clutch
-Spicer 18 two-speed transfer case, clocked approximately 8 inches using a custom adapter (to alleviate driveline angles), new locations added for fill and drain capabilities
-Custom driveshafts with factory-sized U-joints, custom driveshaft loops

Rear axle/Suspension
-Dana 44 rear axle, mini spool, welded vent tubes, no brakes, custom bracketry
-Three-link suspension, Jegs High Performance-sourced universal link arms with spherical rod ends, Can-Am UTV coilover shocks, custom adjustable upper coilover mounts

Engine
-134ci F-head I-4, bored 0.060-over
-BRC Performance pistons
-Crane cam
-Manley Performance Products stainless steel valves
-Custom valve cover with oil spray bar to lube the rocker arms
-Custom aluminum intake
-Holley 600 cfm four-barrel carburetor
-Custom upswept exhaust (to keep water out)
-Electromotive crank trigger (impervious to submersion)
-Cowl-mounted waterproof Pelican case houses the electronics
-Custom radiator
-Meziere Enterprises electric water pump

Chassis/Rollcage/Fuel Tank/Electrical/Body
-Jeep CJ-6 chassis
-Rollcage made from 1.5-inch, 0.095-wall tubing
-Jaz 2-gallon fuel cell with Carter Fuel Systems fuel pump
-Optima BlueTop battery, custom wiring harness
-Custom steel skin from firewall rearward, factory CJ bodywork from firewall forward, Kubota orange paint

Interior
-Jegs High Performance-sourced plastic racing seats
-RaceQuip safety belts
-Aftermarket steering wheel
-Sun Pro oil pressure and water temperature gauges mounted in a custom aluminum enclosure (gauges are slathered in silicone to make them waterproof)
-Auto Meter Autogage tachometer waterproofed with a plastic bag and zip tie (allows removal of the bag between races to eliminate condensation)
-Rollcage-mounted custom aluminum air intake box fit with Outerwears pre-filter (loosely fit to deflect water spray) and 5-inch-diameter plastic tubing

Wheels/Tires
-Custom 40-inch-diameter, 1.5-inch-wide solid steel wheels with Jeep wheel inserts (so the factory bolt pattern can be used), 3-inch spacers on each rear wheel to match the track width with the front axle
-Custom airless tires made from a rubber skid steer track (approximately 10 feet of track for each wheel), which are fit into a wheel channel and then bolted in place

About This Series
This is the fourth installment of the “Anatomy of a…” series. In this occasional series we’ll take a look at the tech (or lack thereof in some cases) that’s integrated into four-wheel-drive vehicles that we may not normally feature. Some of these vehicles are packed with tech, others may be surprisingly simple, and some may have unique features specific to their type of wheeling.

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