No Steer, No Brakes
Q I recently got my hands on a ’72 International Travelall 1110 for what I thought was not so bad a deal. It needs a new steering gearbox and power steering pump. Can the brakes be messed up by my steering pump going out like on the military HMMWV? I am in the Army; that is why I am asking. The brakes are acting like the HMMWV’s when the pump goes out.
A I doubt the brake problem with your Travelall is related to steering, unless it has been outfitted with a hydroboost system. The hydroboost brake system uses hydraulic pressure from the power steering pump to boost the brake pressure, resulting in an easier pedal. If the power steering pump goes out, you’ll feel a very weak brake pedal.
I think your problem may be a faulty brake booster, or a vacuum leak. The standard brake booster is run off of a vacuum hose from the engine and has nothing to do with the steering pump. I have included two photos: one of a vacuum brake booster, the other of a power-steering-pump-fed hydroboost. If you have the hydroboost then, yes, the power steering pump is part of your problem. If you have the vacuum booster then you may have another problem with the brake system, be it a vacuum hose leak, booster failure, or something between the master cylinder and each wheel cylinder. Take some time and search for leaks. Remember, you are dealing with a 40-year-old system so it may be time for some repairs and upgrades.
Q I have an ’03 GMC Sonoma and I’ve been looking for upgrade suspension parts for it and can’t seem to find anything. You know of any place that might sell parts for my truck?
A BDS (www.bds-suspension.com) offers 5-inch suspension lift kits for both the ’95-’05 S-10/Sonoma and the ZR2 versions. The S-10 and Sonoma suspension will clear 31-inch tires; the ZR2 version will clear 32-inch tall tires.
Q I’m stationed in Germany, but on a recent trip home to Washington, I picked up a ’75 Cherokee Chief for $800. It sports an AMC 401, a TH400, and a BorgWarner Quadratrac. I don’t like the idea of relying on a chain-driven transfer case (not to mention the low range doesn’t work) and was thinking of switching to either a Dana 20 or 300 doubled with an NP203. I’d read an article on a forum where a guy had doubled the Dana 20 with an NP203, but I haven’t been able to find anyone that makes a doubler for it. A few companies seem to make doublers for the 300. That in itself kind of narrows it down to the 300 for me. In your opinion, which would be the better choice for use on trails and mild rockcrawling? If you think the Dana 20 would be better, do you know who make a doubler for it?
A In my opinion the Dana 300 is a better transfer case than the Dana 20; however, you must realize that either case will see a massive torque increase by doubling them with a 203 low-range box. The doubler idea makes sense, but the second transfer case in the double (in your case the 20 or 300) is taking a larger torque load because of the 203 low range upstream. The torque is multiplied by each gearbox, first through the transmission, then through the 203, and then through whatever case is behind that.
I would recommend an NP205 behind the 203 box since they are massive compared to the Dana 300, which is larger still than the Dana 20. The Dana 300 is lighter weight and lower geared than the 205, but since your Chief has the big, torquey 401 and is pretty much a fullsize wheeling rig, I’d lean toward the 205 if you are going to get into some rockcrawling scenarios.
The other problem you’ll run into is that all of these transfer cases—the 20, 300, and 205—have a centered rear output. The rear axle behind the Quadratrac is offset a bit to the passenger side. If you run a centered transfer case to the offset rear axle you may be prone to driveshaft vibration. I’d suggest looking for a new centered rear axle; another Dana 44 would be fine unless you are planning big tires, then probably something heavier duty like a Dana 60 or a 14-bolt.
Q I have an ’08 F-350 with a leveling kit and 35-inch tires. I will be hauling a heavy slide-in camper, so I want to ditch the leveling kit and go with a 4- to 5-inch suspension lift. I was wondering whether the lift blocks for the rear (in any given kit) would hold up to the added weight, or should I look at new springs instead?
A I don’t understand why you want to ditch the leveling kit for a lift kit just because you are adding a camper. In my view, adding a camper means you want easy access to the bed of the truck to get in your camper, and lifting it 4 to 5 inches won’t make this any easier. Plus, by raising the truck and then adding a camper you are making it less stable with a higher center of gravity. I’m not saying don’t do it, but it seems counterproductive. I’d rather you put a set of airbags on the rear if you really need help supporting the camper.
Now maybe you just want the truck to be taller than the leveling kit offers. If so, then I understand the lift kit, and I agree that a kit with new rear leaf springs offers a more stable suspension than one with rear lift blocks. The lift blocks will work, but the lift springs in addition to a taller, heavier load like a camper will be less prone to axlewrap. You may also want to look into the new airbag mounting cups from Daystar and BDS. These support the airbags, allow the axle to droop out without stretching the airbags, and allow you to compensate for the added lift height with spacers under the airbag cups.
One More Time
Q You tell everyone you can’t flip a low-pinion axle to get a high-pinion rear axle, but what about flipping a high-pinion to get a low-pinion rear? You wouldn’t have a problem with oil starvation, would you? If I’m crazy, tell me why I’m crazy so I understand. I have a couple of high-pinion 44s that I want to put in a ’92 XJ.
A Flipping a low-pinion axle over will not make it high-pinion, and flipping a high-pinion axle over will not make it low-pinion. Flipping either axle over will make it turn backwards. It all has to do with the gear cut. The high-pinion axle is cut different than the low-pinion one; they are not the same and not interchangeable. The rotation of the pinion is the same, but if you flip the axle over you are in effect putting the ring gear on the opposite side of the pinion and this will make the wheels turn the wrong way. If it starts as a high-pinion front axle then it can be turned around to be used as a high-pinion rear axle, but it cannot be flipped upside-down to be used as a low-pinion axle, and the same goes for a low-pinion axle.
The only time you would ever flip an axle upside-down is if you turn the direction of the engine around, like if you point the front of the engine towards the back of the vehicle (say, in a custom buggy), but 99.9 percent of four-wheelers never build anything like that. When the back of the transmission and transfer case point towards the front of the vehicle, then you would want the axle flipped upside-down so it makes the vehicle go in the right direction.
Q For the last 10 years I have been wanting to build a vehicle for the Ultimate Adventure. Now I have finally started on my own. I am currently building a ’79 K30 (her name is Rita). She started as a 2WD, but I converted to 4WD. I used S10 rear springs and will be changing to a fixed front shackle. I did a shackle flip in the rear to meet the height in the front. The rear axle is a cab/chassis 14-bolt (with street tires, all tires fit in the rear fenderwells) and D60 in front.The question I have for you is how do you think a leaf-sprung dualie would do on an adventure? I do know that I am limited on the rear flex and I weigh a lot (6,000 pounds). I have not seen any trail footage of a dualie navigating trails, besides the off-road recovery team. If you can give me any insight on my project and the survivability of Rita on an Ultimate Adventure that would super! The picture enclosed is how she sits now. I have not installed the 37-inch tires nor removed any sheetmetal.
A Most dualies with the bulging rear fenders would have a serious problem on most of the trails we hit on Ultimate Adventure, but I think your truck would be really cool. In fact, by running the narrow cab and chassis rear axle you would actually have a larger rear footprint than many rigs, and this may allow you to always have a tire on the ground in the back where other wheelers might get caught up on rocks and stuff. I think you’ll need to do some trimming of the bed to clear the 37s and maybe even tub the bed floor to get them to fit inside, but I think it could be a very cool project. If you were running a standard dualie rear axle I would suggest looking into some Hummer H1 steel wheels. These are 16.5-inch wheels and have a ton of backspacing to allow you to suck in the tires tight when running dualie axles with single wheels front and rear. I think if you found some tall skinny 36- or 37-inch tires you could make your project work just fine. One problem is many 37s are wide and you may need a spacer between the inner and outer wheels on the rear. This is not ideal, as it can push that outer rear tire even farther outward, requiring more body trimming, but it may be your only option. There are some good tall skinny 35- and 36-inch tires such as the Q78 Super Swamper and 35x10.50R16 Boggers, but as the tires get taller they also get wider. You may be able to get custom rims made as well, but again, this is getting expensive. The concern with wide tires is you don’t want your inner and outer dualie tire to rub. I don’t think weight is a concern; 6,000 pounds isn’t that bad for a fullsize wheeling truck—in fact, it’s pretty light. You’ll of course want all the required stuff: winch, lockers, 35-inch or taller tires, as well as your camping gear, etc. The leaf springs can be made to flex just fine, so I think you are on a good course to make a cool, unique wheeling machine. I can’t promise that you will come home without body damage, but I don’t think Rita being a dualie will be a detriment.
Work & Tow
Q I want to build a new tow rig. Do you see any problem with building a Ford Super duty with a utility bed as my tow rig? I like the idea of being able to haul tons of stuff in the toolboxes. I work during the week in the field where I use lots of tools, but I like to tow my rockcrawler to the trail on the weekends and think using the boxes then would be a great way to haul parts and tools.
A I think this a smart way to build a tow rig, and in fact many of the Baja race teams use just such a truck as their chase vehicles. The toolboxes on the side are great because you can use them all week on the job and then get home, swap out the work tools for camping and wheeling gear, and head for the trail. The only downsides I see is a utility bed will add considerable weight over the stock bed, and leaving gear in any truck unattended can be inviting to theft since it’s pretty obvious that toolboxes may have tools inside.
Nuts, I’m Confused
To Boat or Not
Q I have a ’78 Chevy K10 that I want to boat side but some people tell me that welding the new rockers to the body and the frame will tear the truck up when the truck flexes. I was wondering if this would actually happen or if it would have any affect at all? Also is there anything I should look out for when doing this.
A That all depends on how you do the job. If you cut off your rocker panels and build thick steel plates that weld to the body and to the frame, then it may warp your body if the frame flexes. But I think just the opposite will happen: It will actually stiffen the frame by tying it into the cab. Of course you may also want to tie your rollcage in to the frame, and this will help stiffen the whole cab and chassis together. However, tying everything together makes for a louder vehicle on the road because all chassis noise and vibration is passed up into the body of the truck.
When we built the Ultimate Adventure Super Duty in 2009 (“The Ultimate Ranch Truck,” Aug. ’09–Jan. ’10) we boatsided the cab and welded the rockers directly to the frame so the cab would have to be cut off if it was to be removed. When we built the UA F-150 in 2011 (“Ultimate F-150,” July ’11–Jan. ’12) we boatsided the cab, but these were not tied to the frame, just to the cab. This protected the cab and made clearance for off-road abuse, but the cab was still supported by the body mounts. That truck had its rollcage also tied into the cab, but not to the frame, and we cut off the lower portion of the door and replaced it with thicker steel armor.
If you are building a primarily off-road vehicle, tying them all into the frame would be my first choice. This will help stiffen the chassis, and I’d rather have the suspension do the majority of the flexing, not the chassis if possible. The ’78 half-ton frames are not exactly rigid in stock form, so plan on plenty of gusseting and triangulation of your cage to make it rigid. If you expect to drive the truck on the road or as a daily driver, then boatsiding just the cab but having it still supported via the body mounts will make it more comfortable.
I think there are a lot of people considering boatsiding these day as a way to keep their cab but still add ground clearance out where rock, boulders, and logs like to bash body panels. We used to always add rock sliders, but now cutting and trimming the rocker panels makes a svelte truck for twisting through hard obstacles. I have picked your question as this month’s Nut’s, I’m Confused Letter of the Month. Your prize will be a copy of the latest Ultimate Adventure DVD showing our annual on- and off-road trip to some of the craziest trails in the nation.
Confused? Email your questions about trucks, 4x4s, and off-roading tech using “Nuts, I’m confused” as the subject and include a picture (if it’s applicable). Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file. Also, I’ll be checking the forums on our website (www.4wheeloffroad.com), and if I see a question that I think more of you might want to have answered, I’ll print that as well. Otherwise drop it old-school style with the envelope addressed to the address below. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 fax to: 310.531.9368 Email to: email@example.com