• JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler

Budget Upgrades - Five Ways To Improve A Trail Rig

Posted in How To on April 1, 2012 Comment (0)
Share this

Before getting started, a little disclaimer: There's an unwritten law that says welding caps are required to look goofy. Blue polka dots were the least of all the evils when I bought the one in the photo. Besides, the cap reminds me of the ones my grandfather wore while working as a railroad engineer on the Milwaukee Road. Yep, railroading caps are goofy, too.

Now that that's out of the way, what do you do when you've got more time than you've got cash? How can you make your rig better and still have enough funds to put fuel in the tank?

The answers might be closer, easier, and cheaper than you think. When you’re on a budget, big sweeping changes are left to the future. Immediate stuff usually falls under three categories: strengthening/reinforcing, maintenance, and equipment organization. In other words, focus on the details.

Presented here are five ways to improve a trail rig. None of these upgrades costs over a grand, and some are under $200. How do details make the difference? Details are often the difference between driving home and calling a towing service. Details are the difference between an equipment-cluttered interior and a space that's organized and keeps your sanity on long trips.

Check out these six suggestions and start brainstorming. Then get to work. Goofy hat not required.

Upgrade 1
Problem: too-short or too-weak OEM wheel studs. Factory wheel studs are often designed around factory wheels with little thought given to potential wheel upgrades down the proverbial road. Late-model Toyota’s are especially plagued by this (pun intended) shortcoming. Quite often, aftermarket wheels and OEM Toyota wheel studs are a combo that allows for dangerously little thread engagement.

View Slideshow

We've had the ARP studs up front for over two years with zero troubles. We’re also using the ARP studs on the Currie 9-inch out back with equal success. Currie pressed in the ARP studs for the rear axle.


Upgrade 2
A gallon of Durabak prevention now sidesteps an ocean of troubles later on. Durabak is a polyurethane coating that’s available in smooth or textured finishes and in a variety of colors. It’s ideal as a non-skid floor coating, especially in an open-top Jeep or a pickup bed.

Instead of using paint, smooth Durabak was brushed onto this Protofab XJ bumper. Patience was required, but none was around at the time. There were sags and runs in the Durabak, owing to a single heavy coat instead of multiple light coats. Even so, the Durabak dried well and provided exceptional metal protection.


View Slideshow

Upgrade 3
These days, it seems everyone is upgrading to MP3 players and satellite radio. That's great news if you need to replace a dead OEM audio head unit, as used ones are often in good shape and cheap to purchase. Dust and vibration had long rendered the factory CD and tape players inert. This new-to-me head unit was found on www.toyota120.com and purchased for a paltry $60. The dead dusty original is on top, and the fresh, functional replacement sits underneath.

View Slideshow


Upgrade 4
Spherical bearings (AKA "uni-balls") and rod ends (AKA "Heim joints") can get sloppy over time. This slop translates into an obnoxious clicking noise and at worst the joint can rattle itself apart. Don’t let this happen. As soon as the noise starts and you can feel the play with your fingers it’s time to replace the bearing or rod end. This uni-ball is part of a Total Chaos upper control arm, but many off-road suppliers, such as Poly Performance, offer uni-ball components a la carte as fabrication parts. Total Chaos keeps bearings in stock to service the suspension kits it sells. For fabrication parts Poly Performance says, "We got what you need."

View Slideshow

With the snap ring settled back into its groove, the process is finished and the A-arm can be reinstalled on the vehicle.


Upgrade 5
Cargo capacity and room for passengers doesn’t mix very well. You can either leave the passengers home or you can find new places for the cargo. Baja Rack makes roof-mounted cargo racks for a wide variety of vehicle applications including the Toyota 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, and Tacoma. The Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee are also covered as are the Ford Explorer and Explorer Sport Trac. Installation varies with the vehicle but is generally simple.

View Slideshow

On our trip through the Mojave National Preserve, the Baja Rack proved an ideal place to store firewood. As you can see, there’s still a lot of room left for other cargo.

Sources

Currie Enterprises
Corona, CA 92880
714-528-6957
http://www.currieenterprises.com
Summit Racing
Akron, OH
800-230-3030
SummitRacing.com
Poly Performance
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
805-783-2060
www.polyperformance.com
Aircraft Spruce
Corona, CA
877-477-7823
aircraftspruce.com
Total Chaos Fabrication
Corona, CA 92880
951-737-9682
www.chaosfab.com
Durabak Company
Aurora, CO 80014
303-690-7190
www.durabakcompany.com
DMZ Fab
Norco, CA 92860
1-951-371-8500
www.dmzfab.com
Fermans Mini Truck Salvage
7145541391
Baja Rack
San Diego, CA 92154
17606210171
www.bajarack.com

Comments

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Sponsored Links