Time was ticking and the Ultimate Adventure was growing near. All we had to do was finish the Ultimate Avalanche, pack our gear, drive 2,500 miles across the country from California to North Carolina, and then do all of the initial off-road testing of our big red hulk in the mud and trails of the Southeast. So it was, of course, business as usual.
Some people think that building a conservative rig in the allotted time and then getting some testing in would be the way to go. We, on the other hand, had certain goals that we needed to reach, and as crazy as they were, we wouldn't be happy until they were accomplished, even if this meant no sleep and living off of coffee and doughnuts for our daily allowance of vitamins and minerals. We can honestly say that when the truck hit the trail, it was as ready as possible without any testing, and most everything we planned on was installed.
Unfortunately, the DVD player with surround-sound didn't make it, but we felt that that was one concession we would sadly make, plus it may have been a bit excessive. So to all of our sponsors and shops, we want to say thanks for the jobs well done. As for any damage incurred on the trip, well, we hate to lay blame, but Pw did it.
With our rear steering installed, we decided to give the front steering a boost as well. In the past we have had good experience with the AGR Rock Ram and decided to give it another try. Our kit included a new pump, reservoir, and ram. In addition, we sent the steering box to AGR and had it prepared for plumbing. You can definitely tell that the kit is on the truck, and it makes the steering easier than stock when running the big tires. We also had a custom tie rod built for the front axle and mounted the ram from the axletube to the tie rod with welded-on gussets.
At some point we started to think about what we should take with us, and immediately we thought of tools. We never expected that we would need these for our vehicle, but as you may have read in the coverage of the event in this issue, they were used almost daily. So for tools we went for the reputation of Matco. Matco has everything you would need to keep a truck running. Our list included standard and metric pro-swing ratcheting wrenches (darn truck couldn't decide on just one system), sockets, screwdrivers, and Allen wrenches for getting stubborn parts loose.
If that didn't work we also had pliers, prybars, and a really big hammer. In addition, we brought a 12-volt test lamp. In fact, the only thing we didn't need was the snap-ring pliers, though we're sure they will eventually come in handy.
The tires measure less than 1/2 inch under 39 inches and the tread pattern was similar to the smaller sizes. One thing that we discussed with the representatives at BFGoodrich is how the tires are bringing the tread rubber compound down onto the sidewall of the tires to improve traction and sidewall strength. We think these tires are some of the best off-road tires you could get if your trails have everything from mud to rocks. Though the compound is soft, the tread held up respectfully well to the many miles we put on the truck. Check back next month when we fill you in on some of the carnage we endured during the adventure, and what we plan on doing to fine tune our big red romper.