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Ultimate Adventure 2015 Cronies & Staff

Part 2: Cronies, Staff & Support Rigs

In Part 1 we gave you the lowdown on the diverse bunch of readers and sponsors who attended the Ultimate Adventure this year. While these people are the reason the UA exists, the event couldn't happen without a small but dedicated group of 4-Wheel & Off-Road staffers and a select few volunteers. Everyone knows that Camp Counselor Péwé is responsible for organizing and executing off-road summer camp each year, while both Editor Fred Williams and Senior Editor Verne Williams stay pretty busy trying to capture cool pictures to fill these pages. Then there are the Old Cronies, a motley group of guys that Péwé relies on to help keep the group moving, whether that means staying with a broken-down reader or pulling cable for a stuck vehicle. Last but certainly not least are the volunteers who man a select number of support vehicles. These vehicles are not used for assisting broken vehicles (there are no trailers allowed on the UA) but are instead used to haul the copious quantities of gear and people needed for the video crew. Here's a closer look at the people behind the scenes of this year's Ultimate Adventure.

1986 Jeep CJ-10
Drivers: Rick Péwé and Ken Smith

If you've been paying attention to the UA coverage, you already know that the transmission in Péwé's CJ-17 died before the trip even started, so he called for reinforcements, namely UA veteran Ken "Skinny Kenny" Smith and his freshly built CJ-10. What you might not know is that Smith ducked out in the middle of a family vacation and had only a few hours to prep for the trip. No word on how his wife felt about the whole situation, but the fact that he was there means she is extremely understanding. Péwé broke trail every day in the CJ-10 while leading the UA pack and showed it no mercy, yet the unusual TJ-based Jeep, and its owner, took it all in stride. Kudos to Smith for building such a cool rig, and kudos to his family for letting him make the trip.

Engine: 4.0L
Transmission: NV3550
Transfer Case: Stak aluminum 300
Front Axle: Super Duty Dana 60, 5.38, Detroit Locker
Rear Axle: 14-bolt, 5.38, Detroit Locker
Springs & Such: 4-link front and rear with 10-inch stretch, 0-inch lift
Steering: PSC hydro assist
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50-17 Falken WildPeak MTs on Raceline 17x9 beadlocks
Lighting: Stock TJ foglights
Winch: Warn
Other Stuff: TJ chassis, bed, and dash; Chris Durham Motorsports hood; split bench seat; many salvage yard parts

Old Crony
Bailey Blue Tube Car
Drivers: Keith Bailey and Tom Boyd

Keith Bailey and Tom Boyd once again combined to create the perfect team. Bailey brings the mechanical expertise to the party, while Boyd brings the antics. Just like last year, Boyd arrived a full week in advance of the UA at Bailey’s shop in Alabama, the Off Road Connection, to transform Bailey’s buggy into a mobile water cannon. There were many refinements to the water artillery this year, including a mobile concoction that involved parts of an 18-volt cordless drill that left fellow cronies a little nervous (water + voltage + Boyd = Danger). Unfortunately for Boyd, no one needed any help getting wet this year due to copious daily rain. All joking aside, these guys are an indispensible part of the trip. Bailey can fix anything on the fly while being a fantastic spotter, while Boyd keeps things light and entertaining.

Engine: 5.7L Hemi
Transmission: 545RFE
Transfer Case: Atlas II 4.3:1
Front Axle: ORC high-pinion Dana 60, 4.56, Detroit Locker
Rear Axle: 14-bolt, ORC shave kit, 4.56, Detroit Locker
Springs & Such: 4-link front and rear with Fox 14-inch coilovers
Steering: Hydraulic steering
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50-17 Falken WildPeak MTs on Fuel 17x9 beadlocks
Winch: Warn XP9500 with Warn Spydura rope
Other Stuff: Onboard air, Bruiser chassis, custom water cannons and storage

Old Crony
Gillis Green Tube Car
Drivers: Sam Gillis and David Chappelle

Sam Gillis and Dave Chappelle spend most of their time in the back of the pack as tailgunners for the group. As such, they often miss out on some of the fun as they stay behind helping fix broken vehicles, chasing parts, and generally trying to keep all the cats herded. We wouldn't want any other guys to have our backs because these two can fix just about anything, and what they can't fix they can usually rig well enough to get to the next town. Gillis' green tube car is as reliable as it is capable, so as a result it spends very little time broken down or on the end of a winch cable but plenty of time at the tow-rig end of a Voodoo rope. This year was no different. For the first time in several years, Gillis and Chappelle were even able to camp with the group every single night.

Engine: 5.7L LS1
Transmission: TH350
Transfer Case: Atlas II 4.3:1
Front Axle: Hi-pinion Dynatrac Dana 60, 4.56, Grizzly Locker
Rear Axle: 14-bolt, ORC shave kit, 4.56, Detroit Locker
Springs & Such: 4-link front and rear with Walker Evans 2-inch Air Shocks
Steering: PSC full hydro
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50-17 Falken WildPeak MTs on Spyderlock 17x9 beadlocks
Lighting: Yes
Winch: Warn XP9500 with Warn Spydura rope
Other Stuff: Custom chassis, twice-modified aluminum fuel tank, hydro-boost brakes, green pool noodles for rollcage padding

Old Crony
Beat Down Blazer
Drivers: Trent McGee and Ricky Berry

Trent McGee was something of a hybrid this year, being part crony, part staffer, and part support crew. Partially responsible for making sure freelance lensman and all-around good guy Ricky Berry got to all the best photo spots, McGee also manned a camera, served as midgunner, and generally filled in whenever anything else was needed. The team's steed for the week was McGee's tired old 1989 Blazer, which he had slapped together just a couple of weeks before last year’s trip and which had received very little attention since. The truck received quite a few new sheetmetal bruises thanks to McGee's drive-by-braille method of 4-wheeling. By some mechanical miracle it stayed together the entire week. In case you were wondering, the Blazer now has a perfect score: There’s not a single straight body panel on it. McGee is ready to find it a new home, so if you need a gently abused Blazer track him down.

Engine: 5.7L TBI
Transmission: TH700-R4
Transfer Case: NP208
Front Axle: Dana 60, 5.13 Nitros, Detroit Locker
Rear Axle: 14-bolt, 5.13 Nitros, Detroit Locker
Springs & Such: 6-inch Superlift springs front and rear with BDS shocks
Steering: PSC hydro-assist
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50-17 Falken WildPeak MTs on Method beadlocks
Winch: Warn Zeon 10-s
Lighting: Stock
Other Stuff: Corbeau seats, Verne Simons–built rock sliders, Optima battery, Offroad Design front bumper, custom massaged sheetmetal

Old Crony
Borrowed Yota
Driver: Chris Durham

Chris Durham threw everyone off guard this year when he showed up in something that was not a Jeep, yet the Toyota FJ-40 hybrid seemed like a typical Durham build: low, big tires, and V-8 power. That's because he built the rig several years ago for friend Bob Poore. Poore always intended to apply for the UA but has been unable due to health issues, yet he has always hoped to see his unique Yota in these pages. Durham came up with the idea to bring it on this year's UA, and the rest is history. While there isn’t much Toyota left in it, it is a bulletproof combination and, with Durham behind the wheel, unstoppable. In addition to being one hell of a wheel man, Durham can fix anything. He raised the bar when it came to getting video crew members to the best filming spots.

Engine: GM 5.3L
Transmission: TH350
Transfer Case: NP205
Front Axle: Dana 60, 5.13, Detroit Locker
Rear Axle: 14-bolt, 5.13, Detroit Locker
Springs & Such: Triangulated 4-link front and rear
Steering: AGR ram-assist
Tires & Wheels: 38x13.50-17 Falken WildPeak MTs on Walker Evans 17x9 beadlocks
Lighting: Stock
Winch: Warn Powerplant
Other Stuff: Custom bed, highline fenders, rear disc brakes, twin-stick T-case, Optima battery

Old Crony
The Wrinkled Sammy
Drivers: Tim Hardy and Rick Reed

For the second year in a row, Tim Hardy surprised us. Last year he showed up with beadlocks. This year he not only showed up with co-driver Rick Reed (only the third time Hardy has had a co-driver), but he also trailered his rig to the starting point! For those who don't know, Hardy is the leader among the cronies for the most miles going to and from the UA in a trail rig over the years. He brought back the raisin once again, this year sporting 37-inch Falkens without altering the ride height, which is quite a feat on a Samurai. The rig did just fine despite intermittent starter issues, and even managed to complete most of the trip's miles under its own power this year. However, after the trip the guys lost a wheel on the way back to their tow rig. Note to Hardy: This is what happens when we get tired of pestering you for your tech sheet.

Engine: Foru sick hamsters and a rubber band, but he often just uses the starter
Transmission: Transmission? Damn near killed her.
Transfer Case: Whittled from an oak tree
Front Axle: Custom clown car, 5.12
Rear Axle: Custom clown car, 5.12
Springs & Such: Yosemite Sam special
Steering: Mostly by faith
Tires & Wheels: Black and round Falken WildPeak MTs that hold air on beadlock wheels
Lighting: No thanks. Trying to cut down.
Winch: The first Warn M8000
Other Stuff: Runs on unicorn farts; entire car fabricated from a 3-foot-square cube of aluminum cans using only a pen knife; questionable maintenance; Hardy’s inability to turn in a tech sheet means we make stuff up

Support Rig
2013 Ford F-250 Super Duty
Drivers: John Mears and Rocky Dorame

John Mears is a geologist, which means he goes 4-wheeling for a living. He also happens to be an off-road enthusiast and a friend of the 4WOR staff, and when we asked him whether he might be able to help haul camera gear and equipment, he was happy to oblige with his giant F-250. He uses the truck for field work in Alaska and other remote areas, so it's already set up as a mobile home base and has the creature comforts, including a rooftop tent, fridges, and a 3,000-watt inverter. UA veteran Rocky Dorame helped with transport duties, as well as gopher and head sandwich maker for the camera crew. The guys made sure everyone on the camera crew stayed hydrated and never went hungry, and we sincerely thank them for their indispensible help.

Engine: 6.7L Powerstroke
Transmission: Stock
Transfer Case: Stock
Front Axle: Stock, 4.30, ARB Air Locker
Rear Axle: Stock, 4.30, ARB Air Locker
Springs & Such: 4 1/2-inch Carli lift kit with King remote reservoir shocks
Steering: Stock
Tires & Wheels: 37x12.50-17 Falken WildPeak MTs on Method wheels
Lighting: Lifetime LED light bars on rack and in bed
Winch: Warn 16.5
Other Stuff: custom bed cage and rock sliders, custom canvas top, ARB tent, two ARB fridges, Zodi shower, 3,000-watt inverter, onboard air, Optima batteries

Support Rig
2010 Chevy G3500 Quigley Van
Drivers: Tiger LeBrun

Several members of the 4-Wheel & Off-Road staff, as well as yours truly, have a serious thing for 4x4 vans. Fortunately, companies like Quigley keep the 4WD van fetish alive even though the last factory 4x4 van rolled off the line long, long ago. It also turns out that 4x4 vans are darn practical for transporting copious quantities of video equipment and soggy videographers from place to place. Quigley was kind enough to lend us a van and driver Tiger LeBrun for camera-hauling duties, and boy are we grateful! Not only was the van invaluable for dry storage of sensitive camera gear, but it also spent plenty of time in four-wheel drive getting the crew where they needed to go. Thanks again to Quigley (and Tiger) for lending us the perfect UA support vehicle.

Engine: 6.6L Duramax
Transmission: Stock
Transfer Case: NV261
Front Axle: IFS GM 9.25, 3.73, open
Rear Axle: GM 14-bolt, 3.73, Gov-Loc
Springs & Such: 3-inch Quigley lift, 1/2-inch body lift
Steering: Quigley conversion
Tires & Wheels: 35x12.50-17 BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A tires on 17x9 Black Rock wheels
Lighting: Stock
Winch: N/A
Other Stuff: Quigley 4x4 conversion, custom storage compartment in back, lots of room for cameras and gear

Support Rig
2015 BDS Carvallorado
Drivers: Carter Reed and Tony Carvallo

BDS Suspension marketing guru Carter Reed knew he was going to have his hands full with picture, video, and social media duties this year (many of his pictures and video are posted on the 4WOR Facebook page), so he tapped UA veteran Tony Carvallo to assist with the driving of the 2015 BDS Colorado, which hauled camera crews, gear, and equipment throughout the trip. Somehow, even with the truck in strictly a support capacity, Carvallo managed to both break a front CV shaft and majorly stick the truck in a ditch, in two different incidents, all on the first trail day. Many of us suspected sabotage (Carvallo's day job is somewhere high up in engineering for Jeep), but from then on the truck was dubbed the Carvallorado. Despite the early CV axle failure, the truck did a fantastic job hauling gear and bodies from one place to the next, and the extra ground clearance of the BDS lift was handy on multiple occasions, even with the truck in two-wheel drive most of the week.

Engine: 3.6L V-6
Transmission: Stock
Transfer Case: Stock
Front Axle: Stock IFS, 3.42, open
Rear Axle: Stock, 3.42, limited-slip
Springs & Such: 5-inch BDS high-clearance lift with Fox 2 1/2-inch coilovers (front); 4-inch BDS block kit with Fox 2.0 shocks (rear)
Steering: Stock with BDS mods
Tires & Wheels: 33x12.50-20 Mickey Thompson ATZs on 20x9 Eagle Alloy wheels
Lighting: Rigid 30-inch light bar
Winch: N/A
Other Stuff: MagnaFlow exhaust, N-Fab Nerf steps, Extang tonneau cover