Step By Step
Just looking at this engine explains why they call diesels oil-burners. It takes a long time to go 170,000 miles with only 135 hp. Todd longs to add a turbocharger for those uphill runs so pedestrians will stop passing him. A factory four-core radiator, dual batteries, and Hydro-Boost power brakes come as standard equipment here. The original TH700R4 (above, left) was rebuilt with extra friction material in the clutch packs and a high-performance Second gear servo to prevent transmission slip. An auxiliary cooler was added to keep it cool. The NP208 transfer case works just fine with the stock slip yoke and is protected by a high-clearance skidplate that follows the contour of the aluminum case.
An orbital valve from a tractor is the heart of the hydraulic steering setup. The valve is connected to the stock steering column and controls the 3-inch ram connected to the tie rod. These types of systems are rarely street-legal and have no return-to-center feel in the steering wheel, but theyre just the thing off-road.
Theres nothing but proven GM strength out back in the form of a 75 3/4-ton 14-bolt with a 10 1/2-inch ring gear and full-floating axles. Four pounds of welding rod went into the differential gears to lock the rear tires together. The 38s are motivated by 4.56 gears and slowed by 13-inch drum brakes. Lift height is simple and comes from 4-inch Pro Comp blocks working with stock springs and Pro Comp shocks.
Rockcrawling in South Dakota means wide-open spaces, but trail bodywork is still common. Tree dents, 5-6 Sawzall blades, and a wild imagination worked to trim the fenders, remove the doors, and french the taillights into oblivion. Yes, behind those Jeeplike taillights and across the windshield reads: Youre right, I dont understand the Jeep thing. Visibility is terrible in a fullsize. Anyone that says otherwise is a liar. The solution for poor visibility is a beefy Bubba-Built front bumper to deflect trail obstacles, and 38.5x14.50x15 Super Swampers wrapped around 15x10 wagon wheels to float over everything else. A 3-inch hydraulic steering ram is mounted to the Dana 60 and provides the steering effort needed to fight rocks and win. The front axle runs 4.56 gears, and a Detroit Locker provides the traction, yet this still allows for better steering than a spool would. No, you arent going blind, there is only one Rancho shock up front. The other RS 5000 got ripped off on the trail and Todd hasnt gotten around to replacing it yet.