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Running With Moose Buggies - Jeep CJ-10 and 1976 Chevrolet Half Ton

Posted in Project Vehicles on August 1, 2006 Comment (0)
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Photographers: John Wichman

While searching for drivetrain information late one night, we ranacross Brook Green's www.alaska Web site. And in fact, it wasn't the first time we'd run across it. Brook has some good tech up on his site, and this crazy buggy that people called "The Freak." When we found out we were going to Alaska late last summer, we knew we had to make a stop by the Kenai Peninsula for a chance to run with Brook's Freak and some other moose buggies. What's a moose buggy, you ask? Well, take a look. Here are two prime examples. A lot of guys up here like to travel off into the backcountry to look for some meat for the freezer, and moose seems to be what's on the menu in Southern Alaska. Guys up here build unbelievable 4x4s (moose buggies) to get them through the Alaskan swamps (yes, swamps) and over the seldom-traveled trails (there are still under a million people in all of Alaska, almost no trail up here is well traveled). But these buggies also have to be able to carry an entire moose back with them while traversing this terrain. John Wichman and Brook had two of the best performing moose buggies we ran across, and we were lucky enough to catch up with them for a trip into the Caribou Hills. This is an area where you build your rig to look like this just to stay on the trail, not to venture off. A lot of the land around Alaska is sensitive to the impacts of truck travel, so these guys take the utmost care to try and take a straight line through the backcountry, while tearing up as little ground as possible. Those huge tires are just what it takes to give enough flotation to keep moving, though we bet they'd work great at a good ol' fashioned mud bog as well.

Brook Green's moose buggy started out life as a '76 Chevy 11/42-ton. The body was chopped, the bed was pulled, and the tube was added. Under those two orange stripes down the hood and behind that single Light Force light and Warn 8274 winch rests a 472ci Cadillac motor that was bored and stroked to 513 ci. It gets fed by a Holley Pro-Jection and receives spark from a Pertronix distributor. This might be a little more than Brook needs to push those giant farm implement tires-but hey, just in case, right?

Inside Brook made a custom dash for his moose buggy utilizing his trade as a machinist. Toggle switches and custom gauges control and monitor this Alaskan 4x4, while a dash-mounted Pro-Jection control module can be tuned from inside the cab should it be necessary. And in the top of the picture, you can just make out the original wink mirror that Brook left. All the amenities of home, except without carpet. Sweet.

In the back there is, of course, enough room to throw on a moose, with some gun toters mounted on the exocage for a means to get the moose. Another 8274 Warn winch can pull either a truck or carcass into position as well. Behind the Warn is a custom-made aluminum fuel tank and rear-mounted radiator and Taurus fan. Under the fluids is a custom-made four-link rear with an adjustable antisquat feature, while 4-inch-lift XJ coils placed in custom coil buckets do the duty of holding up the rear, and limiting straps keep the springs from popping out.

John Wichman's moose buggy more closely resembles that of Jeep's original inception, but barely. An original CJ-10 body (used as an airport tug mostly, never sold as private transportation) was fitted onto a 31/44-ton Chevy frame. Inside the framerails, John's got a big 454ci with a Holly TBI fuel-injection system that sends power down to a TH350 tranny spinning an NP205 transfer case.

John kept his cab more original inside, which is just fine for us. The steel dash was laid out so nicely from the factory, there's hardly any reason to modify it. John did fit it with a few extra gauges and switches, but most of it is as it came from Jeep. Even the original specs placard is still above the glovebox.

Up front, John triangulated the upper and lower links so he didn't have to use a track bar. Normally, this would give some bumpsteer if it had a crossover steering system, but John did away with any hard linkage and went straight to a P.O.S. full hydraulic steering system. That four-link grabs onto a Dana 60 front axle, also fitted with 5.13 gears and a Detroit Locker, and floated by coils on custom coil buckets and bumpstops that retain the coil when fully flexed out.

Once the trail put Brook's buggy in a more accommodating position for our pictures, we got the chance to check out what he put together. Under the front is a Dana 60 with 35-spline stub shafts, drive flanges, welded U-joints, a Lincoln-locked diff, and 4.10 gears. It's fitted with a P.O.S. full hydraulic steering system and custom hysteer arms to carve those big tractor tires. A front radius-arm suspension was utilized with 14-inch King coilovers to help the big buggy flex. It's attached to the original '76 Chevy frame that has had generous amounts of tube welded to it for the exoskeleton. Taking all that power from the 513 Caddy motor is a TH400 tranny with an Art Carr full manual reverse valve body to give Brook the utmost in control and some compression braking to boot. Behind the tranny you might notice that Brook flipped his NP203 transfer case upside down and used a WMS doubler kit to reduce gear ratios even further with a flat-mounted NP205 (of course with 32-spline outputs).

On the trail we found one little mud hole we bribed Brook to romp through. This isn't really what his buggy was made for, but we'd ask a guy in a golf cart or a combine to hit the same mudhole if we thought it were possible. Brook just took the bait, and made a mighty splash to boot.

John built an exoskeleton around the CJ-10 body and Chevy frame to keep that rare body in one piece above the 44-inch Swampers on 15-inch rims. In back of that cab there's enough room for gear or the occasional moose, should one drop onto it. A custom smokestack exhaust also resides in back of the cab to give this moose buggy a real work tug look. And just because this CJ-10 isn't tugging planes anymore doesn't mean that its work is done. The exocage has mounts for a Gin pole to do some logging with. Does your 4x4 have one of those? A 14-bolt axle with 5.13 gears, a Detroit Locker, and homemade disc brakes sits under a leaf-sprung rear done with a shackle flip to keep the springs a little flatter for a better ride.


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