Matilda Isn't Quite Finished
Okay, so things didn't go exactly as planned. If you've been following along with our mission to feasibly run 47-inch tires on a daily driver, we were scheduled to have Matilda, Jeeps R Us' fullsize Cherokee on 47-inch Pit Bulls, finished by now. Why Matilda? Because that's simply the name that pops into our heads every time we look at this big Jeep.
Matilda was supposed to have some cool swapped-in axles, new shocks and bumpstops, and a completely revamped steering system this month. But we got this great idea that we needed to build the axles on a budget-oh, and start from scratch-just like any guy who was building a custom axle from scratch. What we are learning is that, sometimes, it really is just cheaper to buy the seemingly expensive super-wazoo front end-especially when you factor in time. Tracking down parts definitely takes some footwork and phone calls to make happen. Doing all this yourself to save a few bucks sounds nice in theory, but here we are at end of another issue and we're still not finished. The rear axle build is remaining fairly economical because we didn't have to change much hardware, but this front end is quickly raising its price tag and taking some time. And now we've decided that the knuckles need to be turned by Dynatrac to account for the large amount of suspension lift and pinion angle. Things are not staying as cheap as we had hoped.
We're building a passenger-side drop Chevy Dana 60 front housing that we picked up for $200, bare, off of a pallet of old military surplus parts. We are loading it with 35-spline axles, an ARB locker, Reid Racing knuckles, and Dynatrac kingpin kits, spindles, bearings, and hubs. Though we want to build strong and have good quality parts, we're going to try to not spend ridiculously. This is the same reason we are building a GM 14 Bolt axle in the rear. The original 10.5-inch ring gear 14 Bolt is known for being as strong as a stock 2.5-ton Rockwell axle, yet they are cheap (like under $200) and readily available, and hopefully all we'll need to do to it is drop in new gears and an ARB locker.
Though our axle builds have fallen behind, our steering equipment is looking good! We knew we'd need more than the average crossover steering setup with this big of a tire, so Offroad Design sent us an HD crossover steering setup and we ordered up a new PSC steering box and hydraulic ram assist to help move these giant tires back and forth under the truck. Without going fully hydraulic, this PSC, Reid Racing, and Offroad Design combo we've put together is just about the strongest steering setup we could build for our fullsize Cherokee.