We could go on and on for 12 more issues about our super-cool Cummins-powered UACJ-6D project, but unfortunately it’s time to wrap things up. With the drivetrain snugly in the chassis, axles hung, suspension installed, and brake system in place, it was time to put the finishing touches on the UACJ-6D. We literally worked until an hour before the official start of the 2017 Ultimate Adventure wrapping up the headlight install, adjusting the PSC Motorsports hydraulic-assist steering ram, torqueing the mounting hardware on the TrailReady HD Beadlock wheels, and tackling all the essential trail items like finding a place for our 10-pound Power Tank, tools, recovery gear, and more.
In all, the UACJ-6D was one of the most problem-free UA buildups in the history of the event. That’s no small feat, but it speaks volumes about the dedication and talents of Tech Editor Verne Simons, 4WOR freelancer Trent McGee, and everybody else who lent a hand in turning this forlorn former Border Patrol 1971 CJ-6 into one of the coolest UA builds to date. It’ll be hard to top, but you can be sure we’ll sure try when it comes time to break out the tools to build the UA2018 vehicle.
To reiterate what we said at the start of the buildup series, we used a JK frame to greatly simplify the suspension, axle, and steering installation. We selected a full PSC Motorsports ram-assist steering system, which, aside from the engine-mounted pump, was a direct bolt-on deal. Tech Editor Verne Simons installed the steering gear to the factory JK frame mount before installing the grille and cooling components.
There’s simply no other winch that looks as good on a vintage 4x4 as the trusty Warn 8274. Simons built a custom winch mount and bumper that submerged our Warn 8274-50 winch as low as possible.
To keep the Flex-a-Lite TJ radiator out of where the power steering lines and intercooler ducting wanted to be, we offset the radiator slightly to the passenger side. The driver-side headlight bucket was unaffected, but the passenger-side bucket required removal. Meh, symmetry is boring.
With the PSC Motorsports power steering lines connected and the Axis Industries intercooler mounted between the radiator and grille, Simons measured for the intercooler ducting. We got all the elbows and tubing we needed to complete the job (in addition to a lot of good advice) from our friends at Diesel Power Products.
We perseverated for days over what backspacing to order for the TrailReady HD Beadlock wheels. TrailReady can build the super-nice HD Beadlocks with any backspacing. After some quick math, we decided on a 4-inch backspacing, which, given the wheels’ 8.5-inch width and the full-width WMS-WMS of the Ultimate Dana 60 axles, would keep the sidewalls just outside the CJ body tub for a hot rod look.
Simons and freelancer Trenton McGee mounted the 38x13.50R17 Falken WildPeak M/T tires on the TrailReady beadlocks, and then Simons trimmed the tub for clearance with the suspension sitting on the bumpstops.
The WildPeak M/Ts are a nearly perfect height for the UACJ-6D’s wheelbase and stay just outside of the tub line while static. Check your local laws before duplicating—or just stash away a huge fine fund and have fun.
The front obviously has to contend with more tire clearance, especially when turning at full lock. Simons performed a very tasteful trim job on the ragged, stock fenders that still kept some semblance of their round-fender origins. A true flat-fender cut would have been a lot easier, but this is how I wanted it. Looks killer.
With the vehicle sitting on the wheels and tires, Simons got to bending up a 2-inch-diameter, 0.120-wall hoop out of DOM steel tubing. Simons theorized that the larger proportions of the CJ-6 would look a lot better with the 2-inch tubing. He was right.
After a back-and-forth texting session that ended with me posing what I thought was a rhetorical, “I wonder how it would look with 3 inches chopped out of the windshield?” question, Simons texted back this photo of the chopped windshield frame. We have a winner!
Rather than lower the main hoop and bringing it dangerously close to the occupant’s skulls, Simons left the rear hoop in place and chopped out the seat mounts, putting them as low to the floor as possible. Then he whipped up a lower front hoop that just poked above the level of the chopped windshield frame. It evokes feelings of a 1950s T-bucket build. Perfect.
Simons finished up the cage bracing and tied the whole thing to the frame. We left it raw, but hit it with some WD-40 to keep the flash rust at bay.
This was the scene a mere hours before the official start of UA2017. Simons was swapping in a new 4.3L long block in his S-10 Blazer while I and the rest of the crew thrashed on last-minute items for the UACJ-6D. The windshield frame was sent out to a local glass shop for a cut windshield that fit the smaller opening. Our buddy Mike Tarvin swung by with an old bikini top and a set of killer old-school buggy headlamps that fit just outside the passenger-side opening.
I hate electrical wiring and gauges in my vehicles, so out came the factory speedo assembly in favor of the Magellan TRX unit. The Magellan serves as speedometer, altimeter, and navigation system, and, when plugged into the Cummins OBD port, can operate a full complement of digital gauges. Anything the OBD port monitors the Magellan TRX can display. The only thing missing is a fuel level gauge, but I just use a measuring stick like the WWII GIs used.
The driver-side headlight is a Truck-Lite LED unit, while Tarvin’s buggy lamp sits outside the passenger-side opening. One of Simons’ calling cards is installing an interesting radiator overflow bottle. The UACJ-6D’s happens to be a stainless steel martini shaker welded to the front bumper.
The UACJ-6D drives down the road just like a newer Jeep, gets a little better than 20 mpg on the highway, and has plenty of room for trail tools, a full Warn recovery bag, VooDoo Offroad rope and soft shackles, and a 10-pound Power Tank. It turns heads wherever it goes and so far has been eating up the trails all over the western side of the country. Look for it at a 4x4 event near you. Chances are good you’ll see it.