Part 3 Improvements In Handling
Our Project Everyday Titan returns this month with a whole new personality. Some of you may remember Part 2 (Jan. '07), where we addressed and improved upon the truck's functionality through additional front bumper beef, a winch, auxiliary lighting, and a Prerunner Series Tire Gate to help manage the 34-inch spare tire. While most of those add-ons did serve us well during the first two years of the rig's purposeful life, one staffer managed to unintentionally remove the Road Armor front winch bumper while executing a vehicle recovery. Evidence pointed to a flaw in the bracket design as the culprit. However, we didn't hurt the Ramsey 9500 in the process so we decided to proceed down the custom fabrication route, giving master metal crafter, Toby Lavender of XXX-Traction in Seaside, California, full creative control over a new prerunner-style front bumper design. Still a work in progress, the new custom-fabricated bumper pointed the truck in a whole new direction.
The path would now include towing, some weekend fun in the desert, and the same around-town reliability sought early on in the buildup. We removed the dated graphic treatment and began replacing the body panels with bulged fiberglass units from Glassworks Unlimited. Our plan was to fit as large a tire as possible with only minimal lift. The front fenders, hood, and bedsides (not shown) speak volumes about the new direction of the project.
Then it was time to address the rig's stock suspension system. From the factory, Nissan equipped our Titan with Rancho shocks, which had sufficed perfectly until now. Because we intend to tow our Carson trailer with other Four Wheeler projects rigs aboard, we craved heavier-duty shocks with adjustability and improved weight-carrying capacity. So we got in touch with the folks at Rancho Suspension. Rancho offered its new line of RS 9000XL shock absorbers for the rear and a pair of Quick Lift adjustable front struts for the cause. Once installed, we proceeded to add a product called Roadmaster Active Suspension to the rear leaf-spring arrangement. Together, the Rancho shocks and this new coil-spring assisted rear-leaf configuration would greatly improve the truck's stability while hauling heavy loads. As with the evolution of any project vehicle, we intend to report on the long-term results of our modifications, but for now, check out the highlights from the installation process.
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New Tires and Wheels
We updated the Everyday Titan's wheel-and-tire package with a similarly sized set of Nitto Dune Grapplers on 18-inch Weld Commando wheels. These wheels were mounted on the Mega Titan at one time and only required a light sandblasting and a metallic grey powdercoat to fit the bill for the new direction of the Everyday Titan. We ran this package in sand, snow, mud, rocks, and on pavement and are extremely happy with how they perform. Especially in the snow, the Dune Grapplers seemed to work much better than we anticipated.
How's it Work?
With everything said and done, we couldn't be happier with the Rancho shocks and Road Master Active Suspension products. Both products inspire greater confidence when towing heavy loads and the Rancho shocks, with their adjustability, are the cat's meow for washboard roads leading to our favorite wheeling destinations. The rear of the truck does not squat down as far as before, and when loaded up with tongue weight, the side-to-side sway is virtually eliminated. We feel that the additional beef to the rear suspension will allow us to eventually swap in a much heavier-duty 3/4-ton rear axle without having to source different springs. To see more on the project Everyday Titan, log on to fourwheeler.com and the project vehicle page.