Step By Step
When we hung these All Pro rocker guards, we never anticipated running tires much larger than the 37s we had. The 42s tagged them good. Out came the Craftsman 9.0-amp saber saw (PN 27391) and the protruding nub was hacked off. Each of the four tire/wheel combos weighed 149 pounds.
Once in Johnson Valley, we articulated the suspension and were amazed to see that our somewhat conservative hack job on the body looked pretty close. The backspacing on the Eaton rims is 4 3/4 inches. Any less and the huge lugs would mangle the rear sheetmetal at full stuff. However, well probably hack a bit more body and get some 3 1/2-inch backspacing rims because the tires tagged the front springs and steering box when the wheels turned.
A lot of metal from the front fenders and inner fenderwells had to go. Its even tougher on a Dodge because a lot of it is triple-wall and structural. We used the Craftsman saber saw along with the heavy-duty air nibbler we got from Eastwood (PN 28039) to make some space.
A B.F.H. was used to peen back the upper lip of the rear fenders to prevent any contact. We also noticed that we didnt trim enough material from the rear fenders to keep the tires safe. We hooked our Craftsman saber saw up to a buddys Premier Power Welder and did some on-trail body butchery.
With the clearance issues solved, it was time to hit the trails. The huge tires rolled over voids that would have swallowed 35s, and the massive lugs clawed and manhandled the biggest boulders. Most appreciated, though, was the increased ground clearance under the diffs. We now had 13 1/4 inches under the huge Dana 60s.
We used to constantly get hung up on the thick webs of the Dana 60HD rear when running 37s, but now we could take the same lines without so much as scraping bottom. We didnt get hung up on a rock once, although we put ourselves out of commission before we could get into seriously gnarly stuff.
You dont have to run a 3-inch body lift and 12-inch springs to run really big tires. In fact, not running a really tall lift with big tires makes for a more stable, better-wheeling vehicle. And if we can squeeze a set of 42s under a Dodge with only 6-inch springs and sagged body bushings, then you Ford and Chevy guys with bigger wheel openings have no excuse.
Sure, there are tradeoffs to massive rubber. Bigger tires are more expensive, they usually ride rougher, theyre heavier, and youve got to be willing to cut more sheetmetal than if you were running smaller tires. But if youre a fullsize guy who takes his rig off road (for real) and youve already invested in 1-ton axles, then youre missing out on a whole new realm of off-road enjoyment by sticking to smaller meats.
Thats where we were with our Dodge. After the installation of the Dynatrac Dana 60 front axle that appeared on 4wheeloffroad.com, we were letting much of its new off-road potential go unrealized. The 37-inch Boggers worked well, but they offered only 11 inches of clearance under the axles and, at 13 inches wide, didnt do much to help stability at angles. We hooked up with the big tire experts, National Tire and Wheel, who sent us a set of 42-inch Swamper TSLs and Eaton heavy-duty 16 ½ x 9 ¾ chrome rims. The rims have extra-heavy-duty centers and are actually one of the few rated for use with up to 44-inch tires. National got our tires and wheels to us a week after we hung up the phone with them. No small feat considering the wheels alone are 41 pounds each.
We mounted the tires at home, hacked from the body what we thought we needed for clearance, then headed out to Johnson Valley with the saber saw and a hammer for an on-trail tire test.