Part 3: Beefing A Super Sleeper
Building An Ultimate Adventure rig is not easy. You might think there is an infinite supply of parts and money for a rig that has "ultimate" in the title, but that simply isn't the case. Though the rig's primary purpose is to lead our thousand-mile wheeling expedition consisting of unknown terrain, off-the-chart backroads, and jaw-dropping obstacles that is the Ultimate Adventure, it also needs to represent what we think a 4x4 should be. We, like many of you, plan our builds around a few basic elements that generally make sense to us, the main two being, how much does it cost and do we really need it? When we set out to build this year's '00 GMC 1500 we weren't thinking of all the parts that we could rip out and replace, but rather what we could reuse.
This elemental idea was based around the fact that while most of you (including us) would love to yank out the worn old 5.3L and stuff in a GM Performance series 572ci big-block, it's just not something we think our accountant would approve of. So does this mean the Ultimate Z71 isn't really ultimate? Of course not. In future issues you'll see that by keeping many of the truck's parts virtually untouched, we are able to spend more time on developing vital components like our trick suspension, and keep moving along with our theme of building a super-sleeper Z71. Besides, a stock engine and transmission are way easier to find, replace, or service when you get stranded in the middle of nowhere, U.S.A.
So far we've shown you how to tear it down (Aug. '08) and bob it up (Sept. '08), and now we are ready to work on body protection, build our front axle, and start making headway into the suspension department. Creating this Ultimate masterpiece at Off Road Evolution is Mel Wade and his band of metal-morphing sidekicks that continue to amaze us with their top-notch fab work. Well, once again we are back to the grind, and for those of you that can't wait until next month for your UA Z71 fix, cruise over to our Web site (www.4wheeloffroad.com) for more pictures and a behind-the-scenes look into how it all came together.
Building a rollcage requires confidence in both your ability to weld and your ability to understand loading forces. We spent countless hours triangulating and bracing our cage for whatever impact this 1/2-ton may encounter. The cage is comprised entirely of 13/4-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing we acquired from Tube Service Co. Though DOM isn't your only option when building a cage, for a recreational wheeler it's hard to beat the price and strength.
Originally we planned on reusing our rear springs under the frame of the truck, but once we pulled them out we noticed that one had developed a negative sag and the other was bent. At this point we made a call to the experts at Alcan Spring to purchase a set of stock replacement springs, but on their advice, we had a pair built that was virtually stock in every way minus the stiff overload springs that would hinder our flex. Keeping in mind that we lowered our spring mounting points a few inches. Putting your stock springs under your frame is an economical and relatively easy way to gain lift without harming your ride and travel.