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2013 Top Truck Competitors - Superheroes

Posted in Top Truck Challenge: 2013 on September 17, 2013
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Contributors: Ken Brubaker
Photographers: Ken Brubaker

Ladies and gentleman, here are the 10 competitors and 2 alternates for Top Truck Challenge 2013! You selected them from the 42 Top Truck candidates that published in the April 2013 issue of Four Wheeler, and they competed in the 21st running of Top Truck Challenge (better known as TTC) in Hollister, California.

In next month’s issue of Four Wheeler you’ll get to see incredible photos and read all the fascinating details of how each competitor did in all seven of TTC’s gnarly off-road events, but this month we take an in-depth look at each rig. We’ll dig into how these vehicles are powered, how the drivelines are configured, how the interiors are set up, and much more. We’ll also give you an insight into how each driver thinks. What event are they most looking forward to? What event do they dread? They’ll answer these questions and more (some you may not even want to know).

This year, TTC underwent a major rule revision that excluded buggies and required each vehicle to resemble a mass-produced truck or SUV. You responded positively to this change with the strongest voting numbers in years, and you elected a group of rigs that included five GM vehicles, four Fords, one Toyota, one Volkswagen, and one International Harvester. Apparently you wanted a break from Jeep vehicles, because you didn’t vote in even one of the 15 Jeep candidates. This is the first time in TTC’s 21-year history that the Jeep brand has been absent from Top Truck. When you turn the page and begin perusing this year’s competitors and alternates, you’ll see them in their pre-competition condition. These photographs were taken just a few minutes before they went into TTC battle, and they didn’t look this way for long as they valiantly fought TTC’s grueling challenges. We’re talkin’ nastiness like the Tow Test tug-fest, freaky Frame Twister, malevolent Mud Pit, obstinate Obstacle Course, horrible Hill Climb, criminal Coal Chute, and the tempestuous Tank Trap. So read on and get the nitty-gritty on these off-road superheroes.

Josh Middleton Bronco
Middleton promised, “If I’m picked, I’ll do my best to make the Ford fans proud.” You took him seriously and made him the number one vote-getter for 2013. Now this lumber mill foreman (and brother to TTC 2013 competitor Justin Middleton) is ready to deliver on that promise. Since you last saw his rig in the April 2013 issue, he has done a few mods to his Bronco to make it TTC-ready. Among other things, it now sports a narrowed front clip and he has swapped out the 49-inch tires for a set of 54s

The most obvious exterior mod on the Bronco is the narrowed front clip, and Middleton estimates that he removed over 25 inches of width. The narrowed front end required lengthening the front fenders to compensate, so he combined two sets of fenders on each side to stretch the fenders approximately 11 inches. Perched on the slim front end is a homemade front bumper and it holds a pair of D-rings and a Smittybilt X20 12 winch. To give the big 54-inch Boggers (on 20x12 Stazworks double beadlock wheels) plenty of room to move without body contact, the fenders were radiused approximately 10 inches each. Other exterior mods include removal of the factory doors, a pair of KC lights in place of the factory headlights, and a “rattle can” yellow paint job.

The Details
Driver name/city: Josh Middleton/Shelton, Washington
Occupation: Lumber mill foreman
Vehicle model: 1978 Ford Bronco
Engine: 468ci Ford V-8
Transmission: C6
Transfer case(s): NP205
Ratio(s): 1.96:1
Suspension (f/r): Four-link, 16-in-travel F-O-A remote-reservoir coilovers, F-O-A hydraulic bumpstops/4-in-lift Tuff Country leaf springs, Tuff Country shocks
Axles (f/r): 2½-ton Rockwell, welded spider gears/2½-ton Rockwell, welded spider gears Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 20x12 Stazworks double beadlock
Tires: 19.5/54-20LT Interco Super Swamper TSL Bogger
Comp weight (lb): 6,635

Josh Middleton Speaks
Most looking forward to: “The Tank Trap, because I’m looking forward to letting it all out and burying my Bronco in the Trap.”
Not looking forward to: “The Obstacle Course, because from the top of the hill looking down it looks steep as ****.”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “Disturbed.”

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Retzloff K15
This wasn’t John Retzloff’s first invite to Hollister, as he was an alternate in 2011. This time Retzloff, along with his two brothers, came ready to throw down in the big show. While his rig may have appeared mild next to some of this year’s mega-sized rigs, this subtle fullsize would have the competition paying close attention by the end of the week.

Retzloff’s ’77 GMC pickup was deceivingly simple looking, but a closer inspection revealed a tremendous amount of well-planned fab work. From the custom-reinforced and heavily-trimmed fenders to the relocated body mounts and crossmembers, the subtle details and use of common parts (leaf springs, 1-ton axles, and so on) surprised many with how well it performed. A medley of 1.5-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing fishes around the truck for body protection and holds a place for the Warn 9.5ti winch.

The Details
Driver name/city: John Retzloff/Covelo, California
Occupation: Heavy equipment mechanic/fabricator
Vehicle model: 1977 GMC K15
Engine: 454ci GM V-8, Summit Racing headers, DynoMax muffler, propane injected
Transmission: TH400
Transfer case(s): NorthWest Fab Black Box, NP205
Ratio(s): 1.96:1, 2.72:1, 5.33:1
Suspension (f/r): 52-in GM rear springs w/add-a-leafs, Rancho shocks/stock ¾-ton 63-in GM leaf springs
Axles (f/r): Dana 60, Superior chromoly axleshafts, 300M U-joints, Warn hubs, OX Locker/GM 14-bolt, Detroit Locker
Axle ratio: 4.88:1
Wheels: 20x12 Stazworks steel beadlock
Tires: 19.5/46-20LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claw
Comp weight (lb): 6,705

Retzloff Speaks
Most looking forward to: “The new rock course hopefully. I like rockcrawling the best.”
Not looking forward to: “The Hill Climb. It just keeps getting tougher every year!”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “On my stereo I usually have some sort of rock/heavy metal music playing.

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Skopliak Jimmy
As the owner of a yoga and fitness studio, we half expected Nolan Skopliak’s big green GMC to be littered with easy listening CDs and Power Bars, but we couldn’t find any. One of a few Canadians in the competition, Skopliak used his 8.1L-powered Jimmy to put on a show every time he had the chance.

In just three years’ time Skopliak was able to convert his ’87 Jimmy into the well-used wheeler you see here today. A 3-inch body lift provides additional room for the 46-inch Claws and boxed sections of the frame strengthen the chassis. Inside of the custom plate front bumper is a 16,000-pound Warn winch.

The Details
Driver name/city: Nolan Skopliak/Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada
Occupation: Franchise owner of Oxygen Yoga & Fitness
Vehicle model: 1987 GMC Jimmy
Engine: 496ci GM 8.1L V-8, 3-in dual exhaust
Transmission: TH400 built by D.T.T., Winters shifter
Transfer case(s): NorthWest Fab NP205
Ratio(s): 1.96:1
Suspension (f/r): Custom 8-in-lift, Chilliwack leaf springs, traction bar, Bilstein 5120 shocks/custom 6-in-lift, Chilliwack leaf springs, traction bar, Bilstein 5120 shocks
Axles (f/r): 2½-ton Rockwell, Ouverson axleshafts, Detroit Locker/2½-ton Rockwell, welded spider gears
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 16x12 double beadlock
Tires: 19.5/46-16LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claw
Comp weight (lb): 6,890 “I do yoga.” —Nolan Skopliak

Skopliak Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Tank Trap! Ever since watching TTC from VHS tapes I’ve always wanted to run that nasty section.”
Not looking forward to: “I’m not scared to put my truck in any situation or through any type of obstacle or terrain! I drive GB like it’s my four-wheel-steer rock buggy (that I also have).”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “Chief Keefe.”

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Fava K30
What were you thinking? You voted in this mega-sized Chevy Crew Cab that is massively tall and exceptionally long. Further, the engine is in the wrong location (it’s under the cab), and the truck weighs over four tons. The Tank Trap will eat this enormous Chevy like an hors d’oeuvre. Or will it? What if Fava’s Chevy was the only rig to complete the Tank Trap? Is that possible?

Fava’s K30 is still sporting the factory chrome wheelwell trim. Yep, there’s no wheelwell mods to this massive truck. Frankly, they don’t need mods because the truck has approximately 27 inches of total lift. Some of that lift comes from a 3-inch body lift and tall tires, but the majority is from the custom bracketry that resides between the factory chassis and the axles. Being the low-buck, hands-on guy that he is, Fava designed and constructed the bracketry, as well as all of the other custom chassis work, and he used metal that he had acquired for free. He says a lack of time was why the bracketry wasn’t sandblasted and painted. The truck is fitted with 54-inch Boggers and they’re mated to custom 20x15 beadlock steel wheels. Each wheel was constructed from two ’65 Deuce-and-a-Half wheels. Other exterior mods include a 12,000-pound Warn winch, and since you saw the truck in the April 2013 issue, Fava has completed some bodywork and sprayed on International Harvester red paint.

The Details
Driver name/city: Aaron Fava/Gold Beach, Oregon
Occupation: Hook tender at Never Give Up Logging
Vehicle model: 1989 Chevy K30
Engine: 454ci Chevy V-8
Transmission: TH400
Transfer case(s): NP208, remote-mount NP205
Ratio(s): 2.69:1, 1.96:1, 4.65:1
Suspension (f/r): 56-in dump truck leaf springs with military wrap, dual Rancho RS5000 shocks/63-in custom leaf springs, dual Rancho RS5000 shocks
Axles (f/r): 2½-ton Rockwell, Ouverson axleshafts and spool/2½-ton Rockwell, Ouverson axleshafts and spool
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: Custom 20x15 steel beadlock
Tires: 19.5/54-20LT Interco Super Swamper Bogger
Comp weight (lb): 8,130

Fava Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Frame Twister, because that will be the test of how hard I can hammer down at the Tank Trap.”
Not looking forward to: “Definitely not looking forward to the Coal Chute. Looks like tire-eating leftovers from an earthquake salvage yard. A flat tire here would surely be a DNF.”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “Out of 2,000 songs on my iPod, I think a Frampton tune was on when I shut the crummy thing off. Generally, basic stuff on there, AC/DC, ZZ Top, Airbourne, Motley Crue, Ozzy, Hagar, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Cars, and the classic rock and ’80s metal library from my old CD collection.”

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Smith Bronco
Proving that the off-road hobby is fun for the entire family was Jennifer Smith, with husband Christopher as her co-pilot. While Smith experienced her first rollover at TTC, it didn’t curb her spirit, or stop her SVT-powered ’68 Ford Bronco for long. The saying could be true- a family who wheels together, stays together!

Clever fab work preserves the classic lines of Smith’s early Bronco. For protection, a pair of modified ProtoFab bumpers were used and fazed into the 1 1/4-inch tube quarter panels. Custom 2x6-inch sliders connect to the modified framerails which were widened by two rail sizes up front. Extra clearance is provided by a 1-inch body lift and fuel range is extended with a 23-gallon BC Bronco tank.

The Details
Driver name/city: Jennifer Smith/San Martin, California
Occupation: Homemaker
Vehicle model: 1968 Ford Bronco
Engine: 281ci Ford V-8, supercharged
Transmission: C6, dual coolers
Transfer case(s): StaK 3-spd
Ratio(s): 1:1, 3.05:1, 5.44:1
Suspension (f/r): Custom three-link, 18-in Ballistic Fab hybrid coilover-air shocks/custom four-link, 14-in Ballistic Fab coilovers
Axles (f/r): High-pinion Dana 60, RCV Performance axleshafts, Eaton E-Locker/Sterling 10.5-in, Detroit Locker
Axle ratio: 5.13:1
Wheels: 20x12 Dick Cepek DC-2
Tires: 19.5/46-20LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claw
Comp weight (lb): 6,225

Smith Speaks
Most looking forward to: “I’m looking forward to the Mini Rubicon. I’ve had the most practice in the Mini, although I know it will be more difficult for TTC.”
Not looking forward to: “The Hill Climb is my least favorite. Honestly, I was OK with this event until my co-driver and another friend started telling me about how everyone rolls, and I have yet to roll. So, I’m a bit nervous.”
Playing in her iPod/CD player: “Christian rock, some Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Pistol Annies, a little Johnny Cash, and some Kid Rock.”

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Green F-350
As a professional crane operator, Glen Green is not afraid of heights or maneuvering heavy equipment. While Green admits that his ’79 Ford F-350 was built with mud in mind, that didn’t stop him from using his stroked 540ci Ford V-8 to battle the assortment of TTC courses all week. When it comes to enthusiasm and dedication, Green’s co-driver gets the award as he actually has a tattoo of Green’s Ford under his arm.

Green’s ’79 F-350’s body was about as clean and dent-free as they come. The custom hood, complete with original Ford Motor Co. stampings, was crafted from two ’89 Ford Ranger tailgates and two ’79 Ford truck hoods. The custom front and rear four-link suspension utilizes coils and Rancho shocks, along with air rams at each corner to offer more dampening and adjustment for when the truck gets off-camber. Coupled with a Trail Master 3-inch body lift, the classic Ford had no trouble clearing the 54-inch Boggers.

The Details
Driver name/city: Glen Green/Lake Country, British Columbia, Canada
Occupation: Crane operator
Vehicle model: 1979 Ford F-350
Engine: 540ci Ford V-8, bored .030 over, 950cfm Quick Fuel carburetor, Weiand intake, Hooker Headers, 3-in Flowmaster exhaust
Transmission: C6, TCS converter, Scat flexplate
Transfer case(s): Dual NP205
Ratio(s): 1.96:1, 3.76:1
Suspension (f/r): Custom four-link, adjustable air rams, Rancho shocks/custom four-link, adjustable air rams, Rancho shocks
Axles (f/r): High-pinion Dana 60, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, spool/GM 14-bolt, Yukon chromoly axleshafts, spool
Axle ratio: 5.13:1
Wheels: 20x14 MRW beadlock
Tires: 19.5/54-20LT Interco Super Swamper TSL Bogger
Comp weight (lb): 6,540

Green Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Definitely the Mud Pit. My roots are in the mud, and I’m sure that’s where my truck will shine.”
Not looking forward to: “I would say I’m looking forward to all of them, but least of all anything to do with the rocks because it is the rocks that I have the least experience with. The Tank Trap is obviously the pinnacle event of the competition, and I’m very curious to see where my truck stands with the competition.”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “I’m a big country music fan, but right now I would say I’m probably listening to Jason Aldean and good old-fashioned Guns N’ Roses.”

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Palomo Tacoma
When it comes to the powertrain, Pepe Palomo’s Toyota is far different then the other rigs in this year’s TTC slugfest. The ’yota has half the cylinders of the other machines and it’s the only rig fitted with a manual transmission. Before assuming these things will hinder the rigs performance, it’s important to factor in that Palomo has 19 years of wheeling experience, his truck is built stout, and it weighs the least of the 12-truck field. It’s hard to believe that this truck that Palomo calls “Macho Taco” had been a lowered, airbag suspension-equipped, two-wheel-drive street truck.

A set of 18.5/44-15LT Super Swamper TSL tires deliver power to the ground and the Tacoma’s fenders have been radiused approximately 3 inches to eliminate tire-to-body contact. The tires are mounted on 10-inch-wide Allied Rock-a-Thon beadlock wheels. Other exterior mods include All-Pro Off-Road rock sliders; a custom stinger-style front bumper with winch mount; Smittybilt X20 8 winch; stinger-style rear bumper with tire mount; forward-facing KC lights; green Roundeyes rock lights; and paint and bodywork by Moonlight Auto in Fontana, California.

The Details
Driver name/city: Pepe Palomo/Fontana, California
Occupation: Owner of Global Off-Road Supply
Vehicle model: 1999 Toyota Tacoma
Engine: 2.4L Toyota I-4
Transmission: 5-spd manual
Transfer case(s): Dual Marlin Crawler
Ratio(s): 2.56:1, 4.70:1, 7.26:1
Suspension (f/r): Three-link, King 14-in-travel remote reservoir coilovers/5-in-lift Global Off-Road Supply leaf springs, Bilstein 12-in-travel 5100 Series shocks
Axles (f/r): Dana 60, Detroit Locker/Dana 70, spool
Axle ratio: 5.38:1
Wheels: 15x10 Allied Rock-a-Thon beadlock
Tires: 18.5/44-15LT Interco Super Swamper TSL
Comp weight (lb): 4,505

“Off-Road is my life. There is no other sport I’m into. Everything in my life revolves around four-wheeling.” —Pepe Palomo

Palomo Speaks
Most looking forward to: “I would have to say the Frame Twister, probably because I’ve followed TTC since 1993 and that is the one obstacle that I’ve tried to figure out but never felt I could. Every time I’ve watched it on videos I’ve tried to pick my line from home and when someone takes that line the results are always different than I expect. So in reality I’m intrigued and really curious as to how this obstacle is in person. I don’t think there is a particular strategy to hit the logs. Everyone’s results are going to vary depending on a little bit of luck and the accidental right line.”
Not looking forward to: “The TTC event I’m least looking forward to is going to have to be the Mud Pit. Mainly because I’m the underdog of the whole group. I’m the only vehicle competing this year with a four-cylinder engine.”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “Social Distortion.”

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Justin Middleton Blazer
If you don’t recognize this Blazer, there’s a reason. You see, Middleton (brother to TTC 2013 competitor Josh Middleton) significantly reworked the machine to make it TTC ready. It received some body mods (mostly doing away with stuff like doors and the fiberglass hard top) and it also got some fresh paint. He said that if you voted him in he’d upgrade to Rockwell axles and 49-inch tires. He amended that plan and instead chose to install a different powerplant and transmission. He ended up with a rig that was the second lightest in weight of our 12 truck group. Will his strategy pay off? Find out next month.

Middleton jettisoned his Blazer’s top and doors, which helped to lighten the rig. Up front, he installed a custom winch bumper and it holds a Smittybilt X20 12 winch and a pair of tow hooks. The front fenders were radiused to give the 44-inch tires room to travel. The paint job is from a spray can. The rig rolls on 19.5/44-17LT Interco Super Swamper TSL Bogger tires mounted on B.A.D. beadlock wheels.

The Details
Driver name/city: Justin Middleton/Shelton, Washington
Occupation: Sawmill worker
Vehicle model: 1978 Chevy Blazer
Engine: 6.0L Chevy V-8
Transmission: TH350
Transfer case(s): NP205
Ratio(s): 1:96:1
Suspension (f/r): 10-in-lift leaf springs, Tuff Country shocks/6-in-lift leaf springs, 4-in blocks, Tuff Country shocks
Axles (f/r): Dana 60, welded spider gears/Dana 70, welded spider gears
Axle ratio: 4.56:1
Wheels: 17x10 B.A.D. beadlock
Tires: 19.5/44-17LT Interco Super Swamper TSL Bogger
Comp weight (lb): 5,840

“I’m easygoing, a hard worker, and I’m ready to do this! TTC here I come!” —Justin Middleton

Justin Middleton Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Tank Trap, because this is the hardest challenge and will show what your truck is made of.”
Not looking forward to: “That would be the new event. I have seen some clips of it on YouTube and have never been on anything like it.”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “Five Finger Death Punch.”

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Huit Rabbit
If Wranglers bore you and you really appreciate unique rigs, then Matt Huit’s Volkswagen Rabbit pickup is the one for you. Sure, it may look out of the norm, but the colorful-camo rig quickly proved to be a serious TTC contender. Volkswagen may be the people’s car, but Huit’s creation is all his own.

Underneath the VW Rabbit pickup body are the remnants of a Blazer frame, which was shortened slightly at each end and reinforced with 0.250-wall box steel. The Rabbit’s rocker protection is comprised of 2-inch, 0.250-wall steel and merges with the 3⁄8-inch plate that was used to stiffen the frame. A Harbor Freight universal winch mount was used in the front to carry the 12,000-pound MileMarker winch.

The Details
Driver name/city: Matt Huit/Spokane, Washington
Occupation: Aerospace assembly mechanic
Vehicle model: 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit pickup
Engine: 454ci GM V-8, ACCEL tuned-port injection, 2.5-in Flo-Pro Turbo mufflers
Transmission: TH400
Transfer case(s): NP203/205 doubler, Jed’s Machining adapter
Ratio(s): 1.96:1, 4.0:1
Suspension (f/r): Triangulated four-link, Ruffstuff Specialties rod ends and towers, Heretic Fab links, 16-in-travel Sway-A-Way coilovers/triangulated four-link, Ruffstuff Specialties rod ends and towers, Heretic Fab links, 16-in-travel Sway-A-Way coilovers
Axles (f/r): 2½-ton Rockwell, Ouverson axleshafts, Ouverson Ultra Locker/2½-ton Rockwell, Ouverson axleshafts, Ouverson mini-spool
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 20-in double beadlock w/Stazworks insert
Tires: 19.5/54-20LT Mickey Thompson Baja Claw TTC
Comp weight (lb): 6,725

“My wheeling philosophy has always been ‘If finesse fails, stupid pedal will prevail.’ ” —Matt Huit

Huit Speaks
Most looking forward to: “All of the events have their personalities. I’d probably have to say the Coal Chute, simply because it has yet to be in the competition.”
Not looking forward to: “The Tow Test for sure. After towing my rig clear to Hollister to compete, the last thing that sounds fun is more towing!”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “Big & Rich, ‘Faster Than Angels Fly.’”

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Boundy Silverado 1500HD
Paul Boundy submitted two vehicles for TTC 2013, a Jeep Wrangler and a Chevy Silverado 1500HD. You overwhelmingly chose the Silverado, placing it in the top five of vote-getting rigs. Since you last saw the truck, Boundy has added a full exocage, a 383ci engine, and a set of 49-inch tires, among other things. This tall truck looks Mud Pit-ready, but will he be able to keep it upright in the off-camber Obstacle Course?

Some of the work on the Silverado was done by Extreme Motorsports in Cobourg, Ontario, Canada and Foremans 4x4 in Rosemead, Ontario, Canada. Foremans 4x4 built the exocage that protects the trucks bodywork and the ’cage was made from 1.750-inch-diameter, 0.120-inch-wall material. Speaking of the body, it sits on a 3-inch lift. Other exterior mods include a custom front stinger bumper, Warn 16.5ti front winch, Superwinch LP8500 rear winch, and front and rear hitch receivers. The truck rolls on 21/49-17LT Interco Super Swamper IROK tires that are mounted to 10-inch-wide B.A.D. beadlock wheels.

The Details
Driver name/city: Paul Boundy/Grafton, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Self-employed roofer
Vehicle model: 2003 Chevy 1500HD
Engine: 383ci Chevy V-8
Transmission: TH400
Transfer case(s): Dual NP205
Ratio(s): 1.96:1, 3.92:1
Suspension (f/r): Ladder bar, King remote-reservoir coilovers/Four-link, King remote-reservoir coilovers
Axles (f/r): AAM 9.25, ARB Air Locker/AAM 10.5, welded spider gears
Axle ratio: 4.56:1
Wheels: 17x10 B.A.D. beadlock
Tires: 21/49-17LT Interco Super Swamper IROK
Comp weight (lb): 8,130

“I always go all out.” —Paul Boundy

Boundy Speaks
Most looking forward to: “I’m looking forward to the Hill Climb and Tow Test the most because my truck is long and heavy. It works well at both the events.”
Not looking forward to: “I don’t think I will fare well at the Frame Twister because of the tight turns.”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “’Mud on the Tires,’ Brad Paisley.”

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Daffin F-150
Alternate Brad Daffin is proud to admit that his truck is a well-used machine and that it still sees frequent time on-road as well as off. Daffin’s ’78 Ford F-150 showcases years of use, and seeing him behind the wheel, it was clear that he was very accustomed to how it operates. Next year, Daffin will be looking for your votes again as he hopes to complete his dreams of making the TTC top ten.

The well-used sheetmetal on Daffin’s F-150 is protected by a custom front bumper, which houses a Warn M12000 winch. A custom rear bumper provides additional recovery support with a Warn XD9000I. Gracious fender trimming was performed in order to keep the truck low and still cycle the 44-inch Boggers.

The Details
Driver name/city: Brad Daffin/Hamilton, Montana
Occupation: Lawn service
Vehicle model: 1978 Ford F-150
Engine: 521ci Ford V-8, bored .030 over, balanced and blueprinted, BIGS Performance Stage-5 950 cfm carburetor, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, Hedman Hedders, 3-in exhaust
Transmission: C6, SFI flexplate
Transfer case(s): Offroad Design NP203/205 Doubler
Ratio(s): 1.96:1, 4.0:1
Suspension (f/r): Bloody Knuckle 7-in long-travel kit/stock ½-ton leaf springs w/two 1-ton leaves added per side
Axles (f/r): High-pinion Dana 60, Alloy USA axleshafts, Longfield U-joints, Detroit Locker/Sterling 10.25-in, welded
Axle ratio: 5.13:1
Wheels: 17x10 B.A.D. beadlock
Tires: 19.50/44-17LT Interco Super Swamper TSL Bogger
Comp weight (lb): 6,800

Daffin Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Tow Test. It’s because all I do every day that I go wheeling is tow out stuck rigs, so I feel that my truck is very good at pulling stuff.”
Not looking forward to: “The event I’m most worried about is the Tank Trap, but only because I think the water is a bit deep for most ‘normal’ trucks.”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “Ozzy Osbourne ‘Road To Nowhere.’”

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Jensen Scout
A mechanical engineer by trade, Rick Jensen’s passion and enthusiasm for Scouts fueled his heavily-modified ’63 International Harvester build-ultimately landing him one of the two available TTC alternate positions. With two steering Rockwell axles, a big-block, and can-do attitude, Jensen hopes he can make the official cut next year to reap the benefits of his hard-working International Harvester.

Jensen’s International Harvester rides on a shortened Scout II frame, which is braced by a series of custom crossmembers. To protect the IH-tub, 2-inch, 0.120-wall tubing was used, along with an assortment of 1⁄4- and 3⁄8-inch plate. The 3⁄8-inch aluminum bellypan and boatsides were also owner-crafted to keep the rig on the move. For recovery gear, a classic Warn 8274 geardrive winch was bolted up front.

The Details
Driver name/city: Rick Jensen/Valley, Nebraska
Occupation: Mechanical engineer
Vehicle model: 1963 International Harvester Scout 80
Engine: 440ci Dodge V-8
Transmission: TorqueFlite 727
Transfer case(s): NP203/205 doubler
Ratio(s): 1.96:1, 4.0:1
Suspension (f/r): Custom three-link, Fabtech coils, Ballistic Fab 3-in joints, Bilstein 6100 shocks/triangulated four-link, Fabtech coils, Ballistic Fab 3-in joints, Bilstein 6100 shocks
Axles (f/r): 2½-ton Rockwell, Detroit Locker/2½-ton Rockwell, Ouverson axleshafts, welded spider gears
Axle ratio: 6.72:1
Wheels: 16.5x8.25 H1 double beadlock, re-centered
Tires: 43x14.50-16.5LT Interco Super Swamper TSL SX
Comp weight (lb): 6,930

Jensen Speaks
Most looking forward to: “Coal Chute, because it is new, relatively unknown, and most likely it has some pretty wicked crawling.”
Not looking forward to: “Frame Twister. Mud + Logs = Brutal. Not to mention what you have to go through before and after the logs.”
Playing in his iPod/CD player: “Mainly classic rock, with a little country thrown in the mix. Of course, that’s in the tow rig. On the trail I rarely have the tunes playing—I would rather listen to what my truck is doing.”

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