Long-Term Updates is a new monthly department in OFF-ROAD Magazine that will be showing up from now on. We created this section because we remember how we always felt as readers-seeing cool new stuff in the magazine and finding out what would happen during the product testing or install, but never knowing the long-term survivability. What happens to that part or product a ways down the road? What happens after time, over-aggressiveness, and the rigors of off-road take their toll on something? We always wanted to know those things, so we're guessing you want to know, too! Therefore, we'll cover a ton of the stuff we've installed, driven, built, or tested ourselves over the past couple of years, and even a lot of things that our friends, enthusiasts, and other industry people have tried out as well. Sure, we'll probably end up burning ourselves with an advertiser or two, and maybe even get ourselves fired in the process, but we'll be able to get some pretty good information to you while we're at it. So, please enjoy the first installment of Long-Term Updates.
B&M Torque Converter
This B&M torque converter came out of a TH400 in back of a 500hp big block in a fullsize Blazer turning 39-inch tires. It got run from Southern California to Southern Idaho and back, to Moab and back, but didn't survive a freeway trip home from Northern California at midnight on New Year's Eve. Because the load (where the flexplate bolts to the torque converter) was not spread out over more surface area on the torque converter body, the welds ripped and the torque converter tore completely free of the flexplate. This did not happen all at once and instead tore over time, and we should have noticed that's where our transmission was leaking from but it wouldn't happen unless we were actually driving down the road. This was a case of using a torque converter that was never built to handle the load and torque of the engine, tire and gearing combo we used. B&M tells us they have other torque converters to handle more load than this unit did.
The Dynalocs are over twice the price of conventional hubs, even Warn's Premium hub. They're machined here in the United States and have a lower profile than a conventional hub lock. If they break, they default to a "locked" position.
We have broken more than a few locking hubs in our time, but we haven't yet broken the Dynatrac hubs. We've only tried one set, and they're on our crew cab Super Duty STD with 40-inch Toyos. The truck seems to never run right, but the times the truck does get run, it gets beaten.
The hubs are holding, but some people might find them too difficult to turn by hand, and might end up opting to use a set of pliers to lock or unlock the hubs.
We've been running multiple pieces of fiberglass over the years, and we have to tell you that until you've actually used fiberglass fenders, you don't realize how resilient fiberglass really is. This particular Glassworks conversion front clip has been wasted over the last three years, and it's held up amazingly. We did put a crack in the left one after ramming the truck in between two trees in an effort to fit, and the right one was broken in two places after we landed the entire truck (sideways) onto that front right fender. But they always held their shape, never dented, and it was easy to fix them with some resin and sandpaper.
The only bummer is that fiberglass fenders are definitely not substantial enough to offer proper structural support and bracing for a factory frame. If you remove all your front factory metal and don't build an engine cage, you're going to bend your frame. We found that out the hard way.
We ran hard for about four months on our OMF beadlock-and-Douglass wheel combo that OMF offers for smaller off-road vehicles. They looked great, kept their finish, and still haven't faded out even two years later, but they just didn't take to a 1,000-pound rock at 40 mph for some reason. We bruised the rim enough to not hold air, and we had to limp it back to camp very slowly. Thankfully, we had a beadlock on the other side of the wheel. In the wheel's defense, we also bent the frame and gouged out both front lower A-arms.
Dude, I don't wanna even talk about it. Maybe you remember when three injectors and a fan clutch went bad about a year ago? Well, three more injectors on the opposite bank and another fan clutch have gone out. Well, at least we got 3,000 miles out of the Super Turd Diesel before it had to go back to Diesel Tech. This time, we'll put in all new aftermarket injectors, and maybe we'll try electric fans....
Dodge Ram Suspension
After installing a 6-inch Rough Country suspension on a 2002 to 2008 Dodge Ram 1500, the owner proceeded to flog the Hell out of the truck.
The details of the incident are hazy, but one day in the desert the lower A-arm actually broke just in back of the lower ball joint, and the upper A-arm taco'ed. We're not surpised. We can't believe how dinky that factory upper A-arm is. Chevy uses a similar weak little link.
The disconnect of the knuckle, tire, and wheel of the truck also managed to pop a CV shaft apart as well. Luckily the knuckle and lower subframe suffered no damage and the truck was able to be put back together with new A-arms.
Fitch Fuel Catalyst
Bet you thought this was snake oil, huh?Well, guess what-it works! The Fitch unit refines the fuel inline as the fuel passes through, and we have now found an honest 2.5 to 3 more miles per gallon that our V-8 engine is getting. We know this seems really hard to believe, so we're happy to tell you again. This definitely works. We know multiple people who have tried the Fitch units, and it has worked every time. And it's worth a 20-percent improvement in fuel economy but that's just what the manufacturer claims. We actually got more like a 25-percent fuel-economy improvement.
Our onboard mileage computer sometimes reads a little screwy since we installed the unit, but we think that's because we mounted it sideways (against the instructional recommendations) and air pockets are possibly forming within the unit. But having the unit sideways has never made the engine stutter or affected the way the truck runs though.