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It All Started When This Owner Almost Rolled Backward Down a Hillclimb....

Front Right View
Ken Brubaker
| Senior Editor, Four Wheeler
Posted November 1, 1999

The Story Behind This Scrambler

Step By Step

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  • Kevin and Donna Kaylin's Scrambler.

  • Kevin selected a hi-po GM crate 350 V-8 for his Jeep, in keeping with the simple-stuff-that-works concept. A Holley Pro-Jection flows the fuel through a Weiand plenum, and the mixture is sparked by an HEI fitted with an ACCEL Super Coil. Stainless steel factory Corvette headers spew the spent stuff through 3-inch tubing and dual Flowmaster mufflers.

  • Bare bones and basic are what this Jeep is about. No frivolous frou-frou crap clutters up the dash, and a nice hose-’em-out interior keeps upkeep to a minimum. Trick items include a quick-release steering wheel and marine-vinyl seat. The rollcage ties the seats to the frame and includes a cage around the engine.

  • Front-end action is ensured by the Dana 60 axle from a ’78 GM 1-ton truck. Fitted with 5.13 gears and a Detroit Locker, the 35-spline inner and outer axleshafts will keep the big tires turning. The front suspension is stock GM three-leaf, but positioned to move the axle forward 3 inches. The soft springs and longer wheelbase make for a cushy, compliant ride. The Super Swamper TSL tires are 44 inches tall and make for easier steering than Boggers would.

  • A bulletproof NP205 transfer case from a GM truck is supported by a Jeep crossmember, which needed a bit of modification and lowering to fit. The Chevy T-350 automatic received heavy-duty clutches, a shift-improvement kit, and a B&M shifter before it was bolted to the transfer case and engine.

  • Rear axle duties are handled by a GM 14-bolt full-floater with a Detroit and 5.13 gears. The springs are ’86 S-10 pickup items mounted on top the axle and grafted to the lengthened frame. Rear disc brakes help stop the big Scrambler, even with the massive 44-inch Swamper Boggers on the rear. Custom traction bars allow for lots of articulation with a minimum of spring wrap.

Scramblers seem to be natural candidates for conversions, and Kevin and Donna Kaylin went all out with their big green beast. It all started when they nearly went over backwards on a steep hillclimb. Even though Donna often tells Kevin where to go—she’s a 911 dispatcher and he’s a State Trooper in Gaffney, South Carolina—Kevin easily convinced Donna that longer and wider would be the better way to go. Together they worked on the scrambled combo to create a one-of-a-kind mud monster that’s still a daily driver and can max out a ramp.

Starting with the front of their ’7 and the back of an ’8, they stretched the frame and body by 24 inches and slapped fullsize 1-ton running gear underneath. The bare-bones concept meant that super-strong components, like the Chevy running gear and custom spring arrangement, had to be used. The Kaylins even laid the purple tiger stripes over the green paint—their first attempt at paintwork. Cole’s Welding in Gaffney made sure that all the fab work was strong and right, and the result is a show-stopping rig that can still wheel with the rest.

Kevin says that there’s nothing fancy on the dash, just the appropriate gauges and no radio. He prefers the B-52-like hum of the 44-inch Swampers and the sound of motors singing and mud flinging.

Though not built from all Jeep components, The Kaylin’s Jeep rides as well as it ’wheels, and without the cost of the high-priced Jeep Rods so common on the trails nowadays. The bunch of awards under the Jeep’s belt shows that homegrown engineering can compete with the best and walk away from the rest.