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2001 Jeep TJ & 1986 Jeep Cherokee - Mud Monsters

Posted in Project Vehicles on August 1, 2002
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Contributors: Wendy Frazier

There's really nothing less complicated than mixing water and dirt. The complication comes in the task of compiling the right drivetrain components and gargantuan amounts of rubber. Bigger motors mean more cooling. More torque equals beefed-up axleshafts, U-joints, and knuckles. This, of course, is why we're bringing you big, bigger, and biggest buildups for mud rigs. The rigs were selected based not only on their capability but also on their MA (mud aptitude). Since all of the trucks have major disguises, don't be surprised at what you'll find underneath their skin.

Greg Bowman skinned the body from an S-10 and pinned it to a 31/44-ton frame and a 1-ton running gear. The Chevy cab truck was designed for multipurpose use but sees its share of sticky mud. Greg's ingenuity helped him tackle a mud-proofing project that manifested itself in mounting the MSD ignition box inside the firewall (just above the passenger kick panel) to protect it from nasty crud, water, and mud. Mud Builder's Tech Tip: To keep electrical components dry, route and mount electrical wiring and ignition wires as high as possible. Or in the case of the ignition box, mount it close to the firewall inside the cab.

Make: S-10 Extra Cab shell
Model: 31/44-ton frame with 1-ton running gear
Engine: '86 Chevy 350
Transmission: '86 TH400
Transfer Case: '86 NP205
Front Axle: Dana 60, 4.56, Detroit
Rear Axle: Corp. 14-bolt, 4.56, Detroit
Tires: 44-inch TSL Boggers
More: Howell radiator

Push The Limit
Trail anomalies in the form of tubular buggies have become more commonplace. Owner/builder Frankie Fountain combined design ideas from a Jeep TJ and Avalanche Engineering's Sniper to create what he calls a "Reaper." This tubular creation has been built for all obstacles, including a casual donut or two in the mud. The rig's backbone comes in the form of two deuce-and-a-half axles. Mud Builder's Tech Tip: With the gargantuan beef, ultra-low gear ratio, ability to incorporate pinion brakes, and practically unbreakable inners, the 211/42-tons are the next step in ultra-heavy-duty axles. That's not the only thing this monster has going for it. Check out the technical specs below.

Make: '01 Reaper
Model: ASM No. 1
Engine: '94 LT-1 (minus the rev limiter)
Transmission: '80 Turbo 350
Transfer Case: '80 NP205
Front Axle: 211/42-ton Rockwell, pinion brake, 6.72, Detroit
Rear Axle: 211/42-ton Rockwell, pinion brake, 6.72, Detroit
Tires: 44-inch TSL Boggers
More: 32 bolt self-made bead-lock wheels, 22-gallon extreme-angle fuel cell, reverse four-link suspension, hydraulic four-wheel steering

Off The Hook
When you pull up to any mud hole and you're wearing goggles, the unspoken message is, "Stand back, this is serious." You'll find Randy Swartz practically every Sunday at his local stomping grounds in Azusa Canyon, California. Mud Builder's Tech Tip: Randy moved the engine, cab, and front clip back 12 inches to move frontend weight back toward the center of the vehicle. The weight shifts the center of gravity more evenly upon the 44-inch Boggers.

Make: '77 Chevy Truck
Model: Pickup
Engine: Chevy 454
Transmission: Four-speed SM465
Transfer Case: NP205
Front Axle: Dana 60, 5.13, Detroit
Rear Axle: Corp. 14-bolt, 5.13, Detroit
Tires: 44-inch TSL Bogger

Militant Mudder
Like we've said before, more power means more heat. More heat means more cooling. More cooling means a bigger radiator. A bigger radiator means you need more space. Chad Horton's '48 Willys doesn't have a whole lot of engine compartment space to accommodate a four-core GM radiator. He routed the cooling lines and mounted the cooler to the bed. This can also help keep mud out of the radiator and the lines of coolant flowing to the motor.

Make: '48 Jeep Willys on GM truck frame
Model: Pickup
Engine: Chevy 350
Transmission: GM SM465
Transfer Case: NP205
Front Axle: Dana 44, 4.10, Trac-Lok
Rear Axle: Full-floating Corp. 14-bolt, 4.10, Lincoln locked (welded spider gears)
Tires: 44-inch Boggers
More: 114-inch wheelbase

950 Screaming Ponies
Two words aptly describe Dave Detrick's XJ-mud and racing. XJ, huh? That's right. It has a 540ci big-block powerplant under the hood. If that's not enough, all of the drivetrain is a credit to the Chevrolet design, including the rear GM Corporate 14-bolt. Dave takes the beast through the National Mud Racing Organization (NMRO) in the midwest. Here's Dave's mud tip: "You can build anything if you put your mind to it. Once you've built to your liking, let the truck work for you and relax. Always buckle up and sling it."

Make: '86 Jeep
Model: Cherokee (XJ)
Engine: Chevy V-8
Transmission: '76 Turbo TH350
Transfer Case: '98 GM241
Front Axle: Dana 44 with Chevy knuckles, 4.10, Detroit EZ Locker
Rear Axle: Corp. 14-bolt, 4.10, Detroit
Tires: 36-inch Buckshot (front), 35-inch Swamper (rear) More: Extended wheelwells, modified engine compartment, coilover shocks, disc brakes, 22-gallon fuel cell, full rollcage, race-prepped engine with approximately 950 hp

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