Building Plan B Fab Wheels - One Ton Axle Tech: Part 2
Axle Assembly and Plan B Fab Wheels
With the plan to build an unstoppable 1-ton rig, we installed some parts form Yukon Gear & Axle into the Mud Life buggy thanks to the crew at Bigg Boy Auto Repair in West Palm Beach, Florida (Feb./Mar. ’14). We were looking for a little more digging ability in the deep mud where we have been getting stuck recently. The front Dana 60 axle now has a Zip Locker that is manually controlled by the driver thanks to an onboard air tank from Hornblasters. The ability to have both front wheels pulling when needed was the initial reason for performing this mod, and Yukon promises great results.
At the last few events our diesel-powered buggy has gotten itself stuck one too many times due to the factory-installed limited-slip differential, and we were hell-bent on replacing it. With the axles already apart, we went ahead and added a set of Yukon chromoly single-piece axleshafts and new Timken bearings for reliability. The rear Dana 80 axle has been beefed up as well using Yukon axleshafts, gears, and Timken bearings. Performing these upgrades will not only help our rig go more places, but it will also allow us to install a bigger set of wheels and tires for more ground clearance. With the axlehousings bolted down, this combination of hardened steel and tightly packed gear lube should get our buggy through most of the thickest muck in Florida without a single weak link.
Now we need to address our current wheel and tire combination. Our previous rims were 24-inch Plan B Fab steel wheels that had a stagger-fit offset for our needs. That means the face of the rim is set back farther in the back rim than in the front. This is a common setup when using different-length axles like we are. The new eight-lug Dodge wheels will are built out of 28-inch tractor barrels and ½-inch steel centers. Rob Pigue and Jason Dvorac from Plan B Fab are known worldwide for their unbelievable custom wheels and brackets, so naturally we called them up for some advice. After around 15 minutes on the phone, Pigue had our order ready and Dvorac had already started on the design. We wanted something one-off and extremely unique, but we were blown when we saw the product they delivered. Perfect welds and precise measurements are their forte, and they do not disappoint. Plan B Fab can custom make any size or style of wheel for any bolt pattern in existence, so give them a call and see what kind of crazy design they can make for you.
Next we were off to Action Powdercoating in Ft. Pierce so that Rick Briggs could add color to these badass wheels.
We know there are a lot of 1-ton fans out there, so we promise to keep bringing you all along for the ride. Time and time again we hear that 1-tons are just as strong as 2½-tons when they are built right, and ours are officially built right. We are without a doubt going to bury these axles in nasty mud, so be sure to check back in future issue and see if they hold up.
Bigg Boy Auto Repair did a great job rebuilding our axles with all the parts from Yukon Gear & Axle (Feb./Mar. ’14).
Once Jason Dvorac had the wheel design all drawn up in CAD, he transferred it to the HD laser cutter in the other room.
Plan B Fab is one of the leading manufacturers of mega truck wheels and parts. We have been working with them for the past few years now without a single problem. Everything they cut is clean, precise, and very reasonably priced.
This machine is specifically designed to cut through ½-inch-thick steel like butter, leaving absolutely no slag or burs to grind off.
Rob Pigue’s youngest apprentice, JR Zebelle, grabbed the freshly cut wheel centers from the cutting table and starting prepping them for welds. A few wipes with some degreaser and a test fit is needed before Pigue can start welding.
With some 123 blocks set inside the wheel on a flat even surface, Pigue placed the ½-inch steel rim center into position and added a few tack welds to the corners.
Measuring over and over again is somewhat of an addiction to most fabricators, and Pigue is no different. There is no question that it is in the right spot before any final welds were made.
The offset of our new wheels has to be stagger fit since this buggy has 1-ton Dodge dualie axles. The rear needed to be measured on site, so we brought two wheel centers to Dave Boden at Big Head Aluminum for the rear wheel welds. Since Boden builds buggies exclusively he is the perfect person for the task.
It took around two hours for the crew to run all the welds, but the outcome is just as impressive as the last time. These are going to be showstoppers at any event we attend, and you can get this same pattern for your rig too.
A coat of reflective blue powder from Action Brass and Powdercoating in Ft. Pierce makes these wheels shine bright when the sun hits them right. Can't wait to see the covered in mud! Hubbs Tire & Service took care of mounting the tires, and they even have a hot tire-changing mud girl on staff!