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Roach Coach 2.0 - This custom Jeep YJ makes short work of any trail

Posted in Features on January 21, 2016
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Sequels rarely live up to the standard set by the movie they are following. Have you seen The Hangover Part II? Or Anchorman 2? They are unbearable. Fortunately Jason Roche’s YJ doesn’t fall into this pattern. Roche had a Jeep YJ (dubbed the Roach Coach) when he was living in Reno, Nevada, a few years ago, but unfortunately some dirty thief felt he or she needed the Jeep more than Roche and it was never seen again. Fast forward and Roche is now living in Silicon Valley, but he still returns to Reno and the Sierra Nevada Range with his family and friends. Since you can’t schedule a ride across the Rubicon on Uber, Jason needed to build another Jeep. Cucarachón was born.

Chassis

Jason started with a bone stock ’94 YJ his mom had owned since new and delivered it to Dr. Smash in Carson City, Nevada. Soon after, boxes from GenRight and Dynatrac started to make a daily appearance on Smash’s doorstep. The good doctor started by performing a nip and tuck, cutting off all of the leaf spring mounts and raising the body mounts 1 inch to provide more drivetrain clearance with the GenRight BellyUp skidplate under the frame.

The front suspension is a GenRight Legend kit that uses 14-inch travel, 2-inch diameter King coilover shocks with triple rate springs. The suspension is a 3-link setup that uses huge 2-inch, 0.250-wall DOM tubing and 1 1/4-inch forged Currie Johnny Joints. While the Legend kit works great right out of the box, Dr. Smash modified it to lower the ride height. This involved notching the passenger side frame rail for track bar clearance at full bump and moving the steering box forward 3 inches on the frame. A custom Dr. Smash skidplate protects the Saginaw box, which is ported and tapped for hydraulic assist and works in conjunction with a PSC power steering pump, reservoir, and 1 1/2x8-inch hydraulic ram. The ram is mounted to the heat-treated chromoly 1 3/8-inch diameter tie rod with a custom tube clamp built by Dr. Smash. Both the tie rod and drag link use 7/8-inch FK rod ends and the steering benefits from little custom touches such as the double sheer mounting of the steering linkage and pitman arm thanks to Dr. Smash.

The rear suspension is also part of the Legend kit from GenRight. The kit uses triangulated 4-link geometry to eliminate the need for a track bar with the 2-inch, .250-wall lower and 1.75-inch, .120-wall upper DOM links fit with 11/4-inch Currie Johnny Joints. Another set of King remote reservoir coilovers are mounted on GenRight mounts frenched into the frame for tire clearance and allow fitment of 14-inch travel coilovers without having to mount them through the tub. The shocks are positioned to allow four inches of compression and 10 inches of extension. A GenRight sway bar and PRP limit straps complete the rear suspension.

Drivetrain

The stock 4.0L engine is still going strong with more than 202,000 miles on it. The engine breathes through a Turbo City intake and is fired by a Die Hard Platinum battery. The motor mounts were raised 1 inch to match the body lift, but fan-to-shroud alignment is a non-issue thanks to the Flex-a-lite aluminum radiator and electric fan. Dr. Smash built the custom exhaust from 2 1/4-inch tubing that uses a guard on the tail pipe to keep it from getting, well, smashed. Custom heat shields were also added since the exhaust is tucked up so close to the tub. Behind the six-cylinder engine, the original AX-15 is still going strong. It is mated to an Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case with a 4.3:1 low range to provide plenty of gear reduction on the trail.

While the original engine and transmission remain, the axles are about as far from a vacuum-disconnect Dana 30 and C-clip Dana 35 as you can get. Dynatrac ProRock60 axles are found fore and aft with 5.38 gears and ARB Air Lockers. The axles use 35-spline chromoly axleshafts, disc brakes, and a 5x5.5 bolt pattern. The front axle uses ball joint knuckles and Warn Premium hubs, while the rear axle is a semi-floater.

Body and Interior

The armor on this Jeep is straight outta the GenRight catalog. Jason could have had Dr. Smash fabricate some custom tube fenders, but why reinvent the wheel? The front stubby GenRight bumper houses a Warn Zeon 8-S winch with Warn Spydura winch line and an aluminum fairlead. GenRight 4-inch Hi-Flare front fenders, GenRight rocker guards, GenRight 4-inch Hi-Flare rear fenders and corner guards with vehiclelight.com LED taillights add to the mix. The Hi-Flare fenders create room for 40-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers with a very low ride height.

Inside, Dr. Smash installed a GenRight rollcage with custom touches, all covered with a Spider Web Shade. PRP seats and harnesses keep Roche safe, and an ammo can has been appropriated for use as the center console. The rear seat has been shoved all the way back to the tailgate, adding legroom and space for a Smittybilt CO2 system and Hi-Lift jack. Above the front seats, an overhead console in the cage holds a Yaesu FTM-350AR Ham radio, Uniden BCT15X Scanner, and Cobra CB radio for communications on the trail. Other electrical upgrades include the Truck Lite LED headlights, and the single-diode Oznium LED turn signals in the hood and rear corners.

Good, Bad, and What It’s For

Jason’s mom bought this Jeep new. Even before he bought his first Jeep, he kept hounding her about buying her YJ, and she finally gave in. Now she probably doesn’t even recognize it! Cucarachón makes short work of technical rockcrawling obstacles, which is what it was built for. The only limitation is the factory 4.0L engine, which fortunately doesn’t make enough horsepower to break parts if Jason has a momentary lapse of judgement on the trail.

Why I Wrote This Feature

YJs don’t get nearly the love that TJs and JKs get in magazines or on the trail. If you change the entire suspension and axles under your Jeep though, why not start with a less expensive YJ? Jason’s Jeep uses the same engine and transmission as a TJ but offers more bang for the buck. Plus, it’s hard to not get excited about any Jeep that sits this low on 40-inch tires and is completely functional on the trail.

Hard Facts

Vehicle: ’94 Jeep Wrangler YJ
Engine: 4.0L I6
Transmission: AX15 five speed
Transfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas II
Suspension: Genright Legend kit with King coilover shocks
Axles: Dynatrac ProRock 60s with 5.38 gears, ARB Air Lockers, and 35 spline chromoly axleshafts
Wheels: 17x9 Pro Comp 97 Series steel wheels
Tires: 40x13.5R17 Nitto Trail Grapplers
Built For: Traveling across the Rubicon in style
Estimated Cost: A few Twitter stock shares

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