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Custom Rock Crawlers at the Sierra Trek

Posted in Project Vehicles on January 1, 1998
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Most every year, we make the trek to northern California to run Fordyce Creek Trail and check out different rigs, new ideas and interesting innovations. This year's Sierra Trek was no disappointment-we saw plenty of custom rigs, ranging from mild to wild, hanging out at the campground and trying an unofficial RTI ramp running up the back of a flatbed hauler, courtesy of Greg Muhsemann.

Smittybilt bumpers loaded with Warn winches are found front and rear. Two shackles and three receiver mounting points provide additional pulling support from many angles, and an easily accessible battery switch provides a choice between the dual Optimas.

A considerable number of rigs came by to give it a go after seeing the Greg's Willys (shown in this story) splayed out about as high as any vehicle can climb. Not many of the attempts looked as good, with the exception of a rig with a rough prototype all points pivoting-spring mount setup.

These days, many of the interesting ideas in the trail-ride realm are dealing with max axle travel. And the subject is fascinating. But looking around the Trek, it's apparent that most vehicles are equipped with springs mounted in the factory locations. And most of us have seen that 20 inches of wheel travel is not really necessary to run the majority of trails here or anywhere. Lockers and low gearing, together with reasonable ground clearance, are the requirements for the average 'wheeler, and though long-travel suspensions are interesting, safety on the highway is a primary concern. So radical chassis mods are not for everyone.

If you're not an accomplished fabricator, try running your idea by a pro and see what they think before you begin. Most people wouldn't try to design and fabricate a five-story building on their own; custom suspensions should be approached with the same attitude. Here, we take a look at a couple of interesting vehicles, one featuring an interesting long-travel setup, and the other simply loaded with innovative ideas.

A good example of a well thought-out long-travel suspension that provides stability and flex simultaneously.
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