Ultimate Adventure 2016 Super Duty Thrash #UA2016Posted in Ultimate Adventure: 2016 on July 7, 2016
I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m kind of bragging. When I “officially” came to 4WOR from Four Wheeler it was only seven weeks before the 2016 Ultimate Adventure yet no official UA vehicle was in the works. For about a half a minute I toyed with the idea of thrash-building my 1971 CJ-6 on Rockwells, but then reality slapped me in the face. Seven weeks to plan, prep, prerun, organize, pull permits, and accomplish all the minutia for an event that normally takes seven months to plan would be a miracle in itself. Building an “official” UA vehicle on top of it? Uh, no. My Rockwell CJ-6 was nowhere near drivable, my flattie couldn’t reach the required 60-65 mph maximum speed required for UA rigs, and none of my other junk was hardcore enough to make the trip, let alone lead the pack without requiring constant and daily field fixes.
Then Fred Williams reminded me 4-Wheel & Off-Road still held the keys to two former official UA buildup vehicles: the 2012 Ultimate Adventure double-ended JK and the 2013 Ford Super Dirty. I’m a fullsize guy at heart, so Fred put in a call to Mike Shaffer of Shaffer’s Offroad and Performance in Alameda, California, and asked him to top off all the fluids and tighten all the bolts. Shaffer had built the Super Dirty to begin with and had been its custodian for the past couple years. Other than outfitting the suspension with some new Skyjacker M95 monotube shocks, installing a quintet of Falken’s newest 38x13.50R17 Wildpeak MT tires, and ditching the old scratchy Cobra CB for a crystal-clear Rugged Radios 25-watt communications system, the overall buildup is the same as when the Super Dirty hit the trail on the 2013 UA. The beadlock bolts were tightened down while Jordan Rickman from Rickman Transportation waited in the wings to deliver the truck to me from Alameda to San Diego, California.
Less than 20 hours before check-in time, I slid behind the steering wheel for the first time to pull it off of Rickman’s trailer. So here’s the aftermath of when a former fullsize guy turned flatfender guy plugs a completely new-to-him full-bodied tow rig through trails intended for small Jeeps, Land Cruisers, and Samurais on Ultimate Adventure. Enjoy the carnage. We’ll make more.
Super Dirty crawls like a tractor thanks to the 4:1 factory six-speed auto, combined 5.33:1 (combined 2.72:1 and 1.96:1) ratio in the Offroad Design Magnum Box, axle gears, and 1.5:1 portal boxes. Still, it is a big truck with a fullsize body. Or at least the body was fullsize before I squeezed it through Isham Canyon, Flatfender Alley on the Rubicon, and Winch Hill No. 1 on Fordyce.
Super Dirty was frequently submerged in nasty, alkaline water during the 2013 Ultimate Adventure and the winch hadn’t been used since. As a result, the solenoid on the big M-series front winch would click but the motor was reluctant to turn. Chris Durham from Warn put a moderate load on the cable while I smacked the motor housing with a breaker bar, freeing the motor internals. A quick respool of the cable to work the motor around a few times and the winch was good as new. Simply respooling the cable after its last use on UA2013 would have prevented this annoyance but the simplicity of our field fix speaks volumes to Warn’s quality. Any other winch would have been a complete throwaway.
This year was a first for Ultimate Adventure in that CBs weren’t allowed at all. Instead, the boys from Rugged Radios installed a high-quality RM-25R dual-band 25-watt UHV/VHF radio in each vehicle and equipped each copilot with a RH-5R handheld radio with multiple battery packs. It is no exaggeration to say the difference between communications capabilities with the Rugged Radios UHF/VHF and old-school CB radios was like a cellphone compared to a couple of cans attached by string. We could speak clearly with other vehicles in our group up to (and probably over) 5 miles away in rocky, deep desert canyons and twisty trails. Amazing.
Super Dirty’s portal axle boxes aren’t very conducive to sustained travel at freeway speeds since the 1.5:1 reduction gearing inside creates a bit of heat and then the vents start purging 90W lube all over everything. Still, despite their post-trip oil sheen the Skyjacker M95 monotubes provide the same cushy, pillowy ride on all four corners of Super Dirty after the trip that they did at the start.
Super Dirty was built for 40-inch tires. Thankfully, UA’s current tire sponsor, Falken, came out with some beefy 38x13.50R17s just in time for Ultimate Adventure 2016, which are proportional for the big truck. Super Dirty is a big, heavy pig, and I was running the tires a bit too low on the first trail and punctured one of the sidewalls in the sharp granite of Isham Canyon. For the rest of the trip I increased the air pressure from 11 to 15 psi and had no more problems despite taking the hardest lines and trying all the obstacles. Falken’s newest Wildpeak MT earned a lot of trail cred given the insane abuse that Super Dirty dished out to them.
I’ve used many different kinds of synthetic line—either kinetic or standard—and can honestly say Bubba Rope makes the best stuff available, period. Super Dirty was repeatedly called on for tow duty (OK, and I wound up turtled on the rear hitch and rockers a couple times), so I mounted the Bubba Rope within easy reach on the rollbar with a Gator Jaw soft shackle. If you haven’t checked out Bubba Rope’s Gator Jaw yet, you really need to. They are easy to use and so strong you can use one to pull a standard steel D-ring apart.