Rock Crusher - 2000 Jeep Wrangler CJ-7

    A Full-Throttle Custom Rock Buggy

    Kevin McNultyIllustrator, Writer

    High-tech custom-made rockcrawling machinery has come full circle since the early days of competition when a crawler used to be based on a modified assembly line four-wheeler. Nowadays, totally custom, computer-designed, all-out hybrid crawlers dominate the sport. Charlie Melchner's '02 rig is no exception. He has designed this rock buggy with two things in mind: the ability to take the abuse he throws at it and to win competitions. Since building this tough creation, Charlie has been doing just that.

    If you have had the opportunity to watch Charlie compete, you would understand why his machines endure a thorough beating: he pilots the rig pedal to the metal with confidence and aggressive experience. In order to sustain the full brunt of Charlie's wheeling aggression, 20 years of experience and great care were put into the fabrication of this frame, which is crafted from 2-inch steel tubing. The tube frame was built with a fully integrated safety cage, and the forward section was sized to accommodate a CJ-7 fiberglass front clip.

    The front and rear of the rig is four-linked, which provides traction and cancels axle wrap. The links are connected with 1-inch heim joints. Custom 17-inch coilover Bilstein shocks provide a great degree of travel and smooth out the competition courses. The truck utilizes a Boyce hydraulic steering system in the front, and a Boyce electric hydraulic steering system in the rear for amazing maneuverability.

    The axles were built by Tibus Off-Road in Ogden, Utah. Its Killeraxles are a hybrid combination of Mercedes-Benz Unimog and Tibus Off-Road components. They feature cable-operated lockers, MOG 404 axleshafts, a 2.16:1 reduction box, and a final drive ratio of 7.54:1. Once the suspension was completed, a set of BFGoodrich 37x12.5x17-inch Krawlers were wrapped over 17x8-inch Allied Racing bead locks.

    Supplying plenty of power and dependability, the Rock Crusher sports a '97 350 Chevy fuel-injected engine. A 1-3/4-inch Hooker exhaust system was installed to help the engine aspirate easily. Transference of power to the ground is completed via a Turbo-Hydromatic (TH400) transmission coupled with an Advanced Adapters Atlas 3.0:1 transfer case for Low gear crawling. The buggy is fit with custom-made Tom Wood driveshafts.

    The Rock Crusher is the culmination of ideas that Charlie has put together after his first creation, the Crusher, another successful rockcrawler. Both vehicles have successfully taken Charlie through ARCA, Pro Rock, NEUROC, and Ramsey Challenge events over the past few years. Charlie would like to thank his sponsors Advanced Adapters, BFGoodrich, Bilstein, Killeraxles, Tom Wood, and Boyce Equipment. We are sure we will see Charlie, the Rock Crusher, and his natural rockcrawling talent make a bold statement in these competitive challenges for years to come.

    SPECIFICATIONS
    Owner/hometown:Charlie Melchner/ Mahopac Falls, NY
    Year/make/model:'02 custom rock buggy
    Engine:'97 350 Chevy
    Induction:Fuel injection
    Transmission:Turbo-Hydromatic (TH400)
    Transfer case:Advanced Adapters Atlas 3.0:1
    Frontend:Tibus Off-Road Killeraxles
    Rearend:Tibus Off-Road Killeraxles
    Suspension:Custom four-linked (front and rear) Bilstein coilover
    Wheels/tires:37x12.5-inch BFGoodrich Krawler/17X8-inch Allied Racing bead locks
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