Bug-Out Blazer Part 6: Tires fit for apocalyptic-level mayhem, B.O.B. becomes one with its 40-inch Toyo’sPosted in Project Vehicles on April 28, 2016 0) (
There’s special spot in our hearts for things that do their job well and without complaint. Ever own a pair of hiking boots that refuse to wear out? How about a rifle that keeps running regardless of how badly you abuse or neglect it? That knife that seemingly holds its edge for all of eternity? That’s the level of regard with which we hold Toyo’s Open Country M/T tires. Durability, longevity, and overall effectiveness are the reasons we’ve become fond of these tires over the years, and (picture us with tinfoil hats on for the following) given B.O.B.’s grand purpose of surviving an apocalyptic-level meltdown of society, they seemed the logical choice to run point and serve as the first defense between vehicle and ground. We don’t know of any pneumatic off-road tire that will actually stand up to small-arms fire, but in the non-literal sense, the Toyos have proven pretty bulletproof.
For the daily driver relying on a mud-terrain tire to get through the workweek and down the trail on the weekends, the Toyo MTs are an outstanding option in any of the 50-plus sizes they’re currently offered in. They’ve always run amazingly true—requiring very little balancing weight to roll vibe-free in our experience—and typically provide outstanding overall pavement-pounding qualities. Why are on-road attributes important for an off-road–centric build like B.O.B.? It’s impossible to predict all anticipated scenarios under an end-of-the-world climate, and since sustained highway-speeds may be one of them, the level of B.O.B.s “streetability” was a factor that needed to be plugged into our apocalyptic calculator. Having solid off-road capability was top on the checklist, but B.O.B.s tires needed to carry a diverse resume—not just hold a specialty degree in one or two.
Since the 40x13.50R17 size we fit B.O.B. with didn’t stand a chance of operating within the confines of the factory fender openings without rearranging the sheetmetal (at least up front), we hauled B.O.B. over to buddy Gus Johnson at Lucky Gunner Garage to take advantage of his sheetmetal-working skills. Gus’ resume includes a ton of off-road and hot-rod–related fabrication and some killer heavy-duty truck bumpers (including the one you see here, which we’ll get to in a future installment), but—more importantly—he has exponentially more patience behind welder and grinder than we do. For cleaner lines—with no sharp edges or cavities for mud to pack into—instead of simply hacking off the bottom-front portions of the front fenders, Gus took the more skillful approach of sectioning the fender and blending in the lower portion approximately 5 inches higher than factory. This proved to be the most steel you could remove from a K5 without surgery on the radiator support. Even though it looks like a lot of work compared to simply buzzing off sheetmetal, it really only took 30 minutes or so per side start to finish. Depending on how well our springs flex, the rear openings may work untouched. We won’t know for sure until we flex B.O.B. out on the trail. We’ll likely end up limiting the suspension’s uptravel by fine-tuning bumpstop length.
We’ll report back on our impressions of the 40s when B.O.B.’s rolling under his own power again, but in the meantime, keep an eye out for the next installment where we’ll be ditching the aluminum NP208 T-case in favor of the anvil-rugged cast-iron NP205 case and then finally making our driveline connections complete with a pair of heavy-duty custom-length driveshafts. B.O.B. is on the home stretch but stay tuned. The fun stuff is just beginning.
While it appears we might get lucky out back and be able to leave the rear wheelwell opening mostly untouched (we’ll know for sure once B.O.B. hits the trail), the fronts were a different story completely. Because we had Offroad Design build our front springs packs with the center pins relocated forward—and in turn, pushing our front axle forward by 1 1/2 inches—the front-lower section of our front fenders needed surgery to allow the tires move about the wheel openings at will.
Instead of hitting the easy button and hacking off the bottom part of the fender, Gus from Lucky Gunner Garage sectioned this portion to raise the lower edge by 5 inches, with the end result being a factory-like appearance. The process involved several rounds of marking and cutting…it’s always better to make multiple small cuts to fine-tune fitment then to make one large and screw up big. Once Gus was happy with the fit, he spot-welded the panel in place, being careful not to warp the steel by concentrating too much heat in any one place. Once the spot’s covered the entire seam like one continuous weld, Gus ground them flush to reveal a nearly finished trim job.
The end result of our trim job was a clean factory-like profile, with no sharp edges or gaping cavities. For a temporary fix we blended in some primer and brown paint we had kicking around to cover the bare sheetmetal, but once B.O.B.s mechanicals are squared away, we’ll be shooting it head to toe in a flat-urethane, earth-tone paint job.
The 3 1/2-inch backspacing of our TrailReady HD17 wheels, matched with the Toyo’s conservative 13 1/2-inch section width left very little tire sticking out beyond the factory sheetmetal. In turn, this should help keep zombie-guts and radioactive-mud from plastering the sides of B.O.B., and speaking pre-apocalypse, it shouldn’t attract too much attention from the local fuzz. The little amount they do stick out will do a small part in keeping B.O.B.s sheetmetal from dragging across passing obstacles.
When said and done, between the lift provided by the Offroad Design and BDS suspension, and the additional height gained by the jump from a 31 to 40-inch tire, we netted a total of 14-inches of body and frame clearance over stock.
Now that B.O.B. is fit for and rolling on its new 40-inch Toyo’s, we’ll be crossing the remaining drivetrain items off the to-do list in the next installment. Stay tuned as we swap out the aluminum NP208 transfer case for a bulletproof cast-iron NP205, burn the rear spring perches into their final resting places, and connect the dots with a pair of bomb-proof, overbuilt driveshafts.