Part 2: Skid, Steer, And Stop
Are you ready to rock? That's good, because after last month's teardown of our '99 Dodge Durango, dubbed the Heavy Metal Mudder, we're ready to get this mud-lover farther from the shop and closer to the pit. Still firing away in Eastern Texas with Carl Yarborough and his crew at Old Town Customs, we turn our focus this month to building up the already beefy 2 1/2-ton Rockwell axles. We refreshed the massive axles ("2 1/2-Ton Teardown," Mar. '09) using a set that we picked up from Red River Parts & Equipment, and began the prep for all of our aftermarket axle upgrades. Though not much needs to be done to toughen up the 16-spline six-lug beast, we do have a few important items to address.
A new set of stoppers was at the top of our list since we plan on driving the mudder to the trailhead and back home. Though we know a lot of rigs have great luck with off-road-only pinion brakes, we needed something more conventional and safer for the road. TC Design and Engineering offers a fully bolt-on front and rear disc-brake conversion kit for the 2 1/2-ton Rockwells. The kit allows you to retain the massive six-lug bolt pattern, and with its low-profile four-piston calipers at each corner we have the option of running a smaller and more traditional 15-inch wheel. This opens up our tire choices tremendously.
Among the other axle upgrades, one of the hot-topic items that we had to deal with was our steering system. After examining all our options, we decided to go full hydraulic using a double-ended ram kit from PSC Motorsports. Though we could give you a big song and dance on why we didn't run a steering box and create some elaborate steering system, the reason for going full hydraulic is simple--it's easy and strong and works great. And since this is definitely something worth taking a closer look at, we wrote up a separate article about full hydraulic steering systems that you can read about next month.
So until we meet again, keep those engines roaring high and tires slinging higher, and always remember to rock hard and tread lightly!
It seems like our list continues to grow for our Heavy Metal Mudder, but time equals progress, right? We hope so! Be sure to check out next month's installment as we tackle the new suspension system for this mighty Mopar and come just a little closer to getting this Barney Brawler in the dirt.