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Trail Rig Upgrades - Under $200

Posted in How To on March 1, 2010
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There's a cacophony of woeful tales relating to the recent economic downturn. Editorial focus lately is toward ways to get by with less, and this is one such story. At the same time, we think that information about penny-pinching is useful whether times are prosperous or tough. Think about it: when the economy was better, did you have an unlimited budget? We didn't either.

What's assembled here is a collection of goodies that cost $200 or less. No, we haven't unearthed a magical source of custom axles for $199.95, but we have found 21 items that can potentially improve your trail rig, or improve your backcountry experience.

Upgrades don't have to break the bank.

Price Zone Guide:
$ = $1 to $49.99
$$ = $5 to $99.99
$$$ = $100 to $149.99
$$$$ = $150 to $200

(Disclaimer: Price range was correct at press time. If you get to the point of purchase and the price has gone up, it has nothing to do with us. We can't take credit if the price has gone down, either. Oh well.)

The JackMate
Price Zone: $

The JackMate replaces the standard-issue top clamp on high-lift-style jacks with a multi-purpose jack attachment that can be used in a variety of useful ways.
• Attaches to jack bar with a quick-release pin
• Increases the jack's winching, clamping, and crushing capabilities when used as a top clamp
• Used as a replacement jack base, the JackMate bites into logs or boards to keep the jack from sinking

Rescue 42
(888) 427-3728

Nitro Excalibur 300M Competition U-joints
Price Zone: $$$ to $$$$

Want your U-joints made from ultra-premium material? Look no further than 300M, a high-grade alloy with superior strength and durability.
• Bushings are used in place of needle bearings
• Needle bearings are a common weakness of typical U-joints
• No needle bearings means greater strength
• Caps are retained by full-circle snap rings
• Machined from 300M billet material
• Made using high-precision machining and state-of-the-art heat treating
• Made in USA
• Lifetime warranty against breakage

JT's Parts and Accessories
(509) 888-2953

Micro Green Filter
Price Zone: $

The Micro Green filter is capable of filtering out particles as small as two microns. Compare that to the smallest size filtered out by a typical paper-element filter, which is 25 to 40 microns.
• Superior filtering ability keeps the oil cleaner and preserves the oil's additive package
• With this superior filtering capability, oil change intervals of up to 30,000 (yes, 30,000) miles are possible
• Looks like a traditional spin-on oil filter, but the patented internals are vastly different
• Reduce your oil change costs and use less oil with the Micro Green oil filter
• With the Micro Green filter, you'll change the filter more often than the oil: change the filter once or twice a year, and change the oil once every two years

SOMS Technologies
(877) 757-7667

Olympic 4x4 Products D-ring Mounting Brackets
Price Zone: $$

Olympic 4x4 Products' D-ring mounting brackets bolt to several manufacturers' Jeep JK front bumpers. The D-ring mounting brackets can also bolt to Olympic’s new utility receiver mount, which slides into any two-inch hitch receiver.
• Bolt-on, no-weld design eliminates the chance of heat-related embrittlement
• Each side of a D-ring bracket is 3/8-inch thick, which gives you 3/4-inch of steel at the D-ring hole

Olympic 4x4 Products
(323) 726-6998

Buck QuickFire Knife
Price Zone: $$

Buck's QuickFire knife features ambidextrous-assisted opening. That means fast blade deployment when needed.
• Non-serrated and partially-serrated blade styles available
• Blade length is 2-3/4 inches
• Blade is made from 420 HC steel
• Thermoplastic handle is lightweight and provides a solid gripping surface
• Made in USA

Buck Knives
(800) 326-2825

Ultimate Tow and Recovery Ropes
Price Zone: $$$ to $$$$

Ultimate Tow and Recovery Ropes has standard length ropes in stock, but they can custom-build them in any length to suit your needs.
• Three-strand rope construction
• Ropes can stretch up to 40 percent of their original length to absorb shock loads
• Nylon construction is long-lasting, waterproof, and resistant to rot and mildew

The Ultimate Tow and Recovery Ropes
(717) 768-0112

One-touch Speedometer Calibration from Classic Instruments
Price Zone: $$

Bigger tires and lower axle ratios are very effective at throwing off speedometer readings. Classic Instruments has an electronic module that makes accurate speedometer calibration a one-touch reality.
• The Classic Instruments SN 74 calibration module installs inline between the transmission pulse signal or the ECM output and the speedometer head
• The SN 74 converts all known tranny/ECM signals into a signal that your electronic speedometer can read and display
• To calibrate, push the button, drive a measured mile, and push the button again

Classic Instruments
(800) 575-0461

Design Engineering Hi-temp Shrink Tubes
Price Zone: $

Design Engineering's high-temperature shrink tubes have a 3:1 shrinking ratio, yet remain flexible after shrinking.
• Thick-wall construction protects against abrasion
• Also protects against solvents and dust
• Provides strain relief
• Protects against temperatures from -67 to 275 degrees F
• Can withstand a maximum of 394 degrees F for short durations from 30 to 60 minutes
• Tubes are shrunk by applying heat from 120 to 180 degrees F

Design Engineering
(800) 264-9472

Dave's Customs Unlimited Universal Shock Towers
Price Zone: $$

If you're custom-mounting a longer set of shocks on your trail rig, Dave's Customs Unlimited can streamline your fabrication process with a set of universal shock towers.
• Made from 3/16-inch-thick steel
• Can be bolted to the frame using a pair of 9/16-inch bolts or can be welded on
• Universal design can be adapted to front or rear applications on Jeeps, Toyotas, Scouts, Broncos, Suzukis, etc.
• Overall height 17-1/8 inches
• Top of frame to center of shock mounting hole is 13 inches
• Shock bolt hole diameter is 1/2 inch
• Bottom width is 5-1/2 inches
• Width just below shock mounting hole is 4 inches
• Tower angles out 15 degrees from the frame

Dave's Customs Unlimited
(970) 216-8179

Nealey Tire Repair Kit
Price Zone: $

Nealey's tire repair kit can save down time and towing bills.
• One kit includes ten repair strips and an inserting tool
• Versions are available for four-ply-and-thinner tires, and six-ply-and-thicker tires
• Handy storage container keeps the kit at the ready

Nealey Company
(800) 289-9781

Trail-Gear Rock Assault Reservoir and Filter
Price Zone: $$$$

If you've got a high-zoot fully-hydraulic steering system on your hardcore trail rig, it makes sense to protect your steering investment with a high-quality filter. Trail-Gear's Rock Assault reservoir-and-filter combo is a user-friendly way to complete your steering system.
• Also works with ram-assisted power steering boxes
• Filter is a full-sized model made for hydraulic system fluid
• Reservoir features an internal baffle
• Reservoir also features two internal magnets to catch and hold magnetic particles
• Drain plug at bottom of reservoir lets you easily drain your system
• Fluid flow design maintains fluid flow when the vehicle is on its side or at other extreme lean angles

(559) 252-4950

Rough Country 2-inch TJ Wrangler Lift Kit
Price Zone: $$$$

If you need just a little more ride height for your TJ Wrangler, Rough Country has a lift system for you that will clear 31-inch tires.
• Spacers install between the front and rear coils and add lift height
• Front is lifted 2 inches, rear is lifted 1-1/4 inches, netting a level stance
• Four new shocks freshen up your suspension
• Easy installation

Rough Country Suspension Systems
(800) 220-6901

Stockton Explorer Wheel
Price Zone: $$$ to $$$$ (per wheel)

Sorry, you can't buy a whole set of Stockton Explorer wheels for $200, but the Explorer wheel is a durable steel wheel that will last a long time.
• Available in several sizes and finishes
• Beadlocks can be added at time of order for additional cost
• Multi-spoke design cuts weight compared to solid steel wheel designs

Stockton Wheel Service
(800) 395-9433

Inchworm Gear Driveshaft Flange Adapters
Price Zone: $$

If you're running a chain-driven Toyota transfer case and you want to swap in a different Toyota drive shaft, odds are you'll need an adapter. Inchworm Gear makes three styles of adapters to get dissimilar Toyota bolt patterns to play nice with each other.
• Adapt to the standard Toyota U-joint, a 60mm square bolt pattern
• Adapt to the Toyota front CV pattern
• Adapt to the turbo U-joint 66mm square bolt pattern

Inchworm Gear
(530) 677-8111

Off-Road Trail Tools Barrel Storage Bag
Price Zone: $

No matter how many cubby holes there are in your rig, you always need more. Here's an easy way to add storage space.
• Easily mounts to roll cages or grab handles via a pair of Velcro straps
• Ten inches long, 5 inches in diameter
• Store tools, snacks, personal items, etc.

Off-Road Trail Tools
(520) 579-2079

Misch 4x4 JK Trash Stash
Price Zone: $

The Misch 4x4 Trash Stash fits in the cupholders of the JK Wrangler's center console.
• Stash your trash in here, or use for other types of small item storage
• Easily removeable for cleaning

Misch 4x4 Products
(620) 251-9100

Trail Sport Wheel Spacers
Price Zone: $$$ to $$$$ (depending on application)

Trail Sport's wheel spacers can be used to increase track width and improve turning radius.
• Available in any bolt pattern
• Thicknesses from 1-1/4 to 2 inches
• Billet aluminum construction
• Bolt-on installation

Trail Sport
(909) 370-0144

Daystar D-ring Isolators
Price Zone: $

Rattles are annoying. Rattling D-rings can chip paint, which is also annoying. Isolate and silence your D-rings quickly and easily.
• Snap into place on any standard 3/4-inch D-ring shackle
• Available in red, yellow, blue, or black
• Urethane construction is long-lasting and maintenance-free

(800) 595-7659

Fourtreks Pull-Pal Mounts
Price Zone: $$$

The Pull-Pal is a very useful trail tool, but it's also something you don't want flopping around inside your rig. Fourtreks makes a set of dedicated mounts for the Pull-Pal.
• Mounts fit on round tubing diameters from 1 inch through 2-3/8 inches
• Rubber-lined Pull-Pal clamps hold securely

(818) 517-6145

Durabak Textured and Smooth Multi-Purpose Coatings
Price Zone: $$ to $$$

Durabak is a protective coating that can be applied to a variety of materials. Available in textured or smooth versions, Durabak can be applied at home with basic tools.
• Kit includes one gallon of Durabak and application roller liners
• Both textured and smooth Durabak are available in a variety of colors
• From the author's experience: wear a filtered painting respirator while working with Durabak
• Also from the author's experience: buy some empty one-quart paint cans to store unused Durabak in, as the original can is tough to open without damaging it
• Unused Durabak may cure in the can unintentionally, so filling smaller cans full with unused Durabak will increase the shelf life
• Durabak does a great job of deadening sound, surface protection, and adding foot traction to slippery surfaces
• Author's assessment: great stuff. Highly recommended

The Durabak Company
(303) 690-7190

Amsoil Universal Synthetic Power Steering Fluid
Price Zone: $

Amsoil enjoys a stellar reputation for product quality. Amsoil's power steering fluid is suitable for any brand of power steering system.
• Better lubricity in cold temperatures
• Superior resistance to thermal breakdown in high temperatures
• Delivers cooler operating temperatures
• Promotes quieter system operation

(800) 777-8491

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