A Pair Of Real-World Wheelers
Whether you're building a weekend wheeler, a full-on trail rig, or just a pile of bolts to go beat around the woods, there is always an underlying element of function that allows you to justify that vehicle'svery existence. When we met up with Chris Steuber and Dave Stambaugh in Gorman, California, we quickly learned that these two very different trail machines were both built sharing the utilitarian model of creating a vehicle that has everything they need and nothing they don't.
Chris' goal was to create a vehicle that would offer reliable transportation and trail capability and serve as a go-anywhere camping machine. The vehicle that made the most sense to him came in the form of an '06 Ford E-350 with the 6.0L diesel. To accommodate his off-road needs a custom solid-axle conversion was implemented using a simplistic leaf-sprung suspension system that sits atop a trail-proven Dynatrac front axle. The belly of the beast houses a fullsized 38-inch spare along with lockable rear storage and a couch. And to keep the floor long lasting, a healthy coating of Line-X was sprayed in. We were lucky enough to watch Chris as he aired out the front end and continued to blast his way up hillclimbs and finesse his way over the rocks. So for all you skeptics out there, we are pleased to tell you that this fullsize van more than gets the job done.
Cruising behind Chris was his friend Dave Stambaugh, whose 4x4 needs were a little more concise when it came to getting the most out of his '02 Chevy 2500. As an avid hunter and outdoor enthusiast, Dave needed a truck tough enough to survive the Colorado and Montana backcountry. Enlisting the help of the crew at Off Road Unlimited he started with the removal of the weakest link, the independent front suspension. To keep nature from leaving too much of an impression on his daily driver, a set of Road Armor bumpers was installed along with a 16,000-pound Warn winch to make sure he doesn't get stranded for too long in the woods. The result for Dave was a no-frills, tough-as-nails truck that has been transformed into a useful tool as well as a means of enjoyment.
Not all trail vehicles have to be over-the-top rockcrawlers. Building a vehicle for your needs is often more rewarding than throwing beaucoup money into parts and gadgets that sometimes simply are not necessary. Sometimes simple simply works.
Year/Make/Model: '06 Ford E-350
Engine: 6.0L Power Stroke
Transfer Case: NV271
Front Axle: Dynatrac Pro 60 housing, Power Lok limited slip, 1410 yoke, 35-spline axleshafts, F-550 knuckles and brakes, Dynatrac free-spin hub kit, Spicer hubs, ORU differential cover, 4.10 gears
Rear Axle: Sterling 10.5-inch, Detroit Locker, ORU differential cover, 4.10 gearsSuspension: Atlas 8-inch front and 6-inch rear springs, Bilstein 5150 shocks, Bilstein nitrogen bumpstops
Steering: Custom crossover steering, hydraulic ram assist
Tires & Wheels: 38x15.50 Mickey Thompson MTZs on 20x10 Mickey Thompson Classic Locks
Misc: Shorten fuel tank, ORU Cryogenic treated rotors, custom sway bar, custom front bumper, enlarged front and rear fender openings
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Year/Make/Model: '02 Chevy 2500 HD
Engine: 6.6L Duramax diesel
Transmission: Factory Allison, TransGo shift kit, Mag-Hytec pan, TTS triple-disc torque converter with upgraded clutches and valve body
Transfer Case: Factory with Pro Comp slip-yoke eliminator
Front Axle: Dynatrac Dana 60, Power Lok limited slip, 4.56 gears
Rear Axle: AAM 14.5-inch, Mag-Hytec differential cover, 4.56 gears
Suspension: Off Road Unlimited solid-axle conversion, Atlas 6-inch front springs, dual Bilstein 5150 shocks, ORU dual shock hoop, Atlas 8-inch rear springs with Bilstein 5150 shocks, ORU sway bar
Steering: Dendenbear steering knuckles, ORU crossover steering, ORU hydraulic ram assist
Tires & Wheels: 38x15.50 Toyo Open Country M/Ts with 18x10 Raceline Renegade wheels
Misc: Transfer Flow 46-gallon tank, ORU rear airbag system, Banks six-gun with speed loader, Banks 4-inch exhaust, AMP research steps, front and rear Road Armor bumpers, 16,000-pound Warn winch