This'll be a little long-winded, but you'll see where I'm coming from...
We live in Cleveland OH and have property in rural WV, about 4-5 hrs away. The place is basically a valley, with several pretty steep hills to get down into it.
Have an 00 Sierra, extended cab 4x4 pickup. She works great most of the time, and it's a comfortable vehicle to travel in. Problem is, it's a heavy vehicle and, when it rains, we can't get off the property because the tires fill up with mud and we slide right off the driveway. Have a nice new dent in the front fender/door from last week's visit.
The neighbors all have those little quad 4x4 ATV things. They seem to go just about anywhere, but only carry one or two people and aren't street legal (although they are routinely driven on the county roads).
We'll probably end up getting a few ATVs (which are surprisingly expensive, even used). My observation is that they work so well because they have wide and knobby tires, and they're light weight so don't sink into the mud. They barely disturb the ground where our truck puts in ruts everywhere it goes when the ground isn't hard.
We put our camper down on the property last week, so we no longer need to haul a bunch of stuff down when we visit. Been thinking about building something that would be capable of getting us into and out of the property, while being street legal enough to drive down on the state routes (never faster than 55mph). All we need to do is haul the wife and I and the dog, maybe a lightweight trailer for a cooler.
I have a pull-a-part down the street. Prices are pretty decent. Been thinking about building something.
Thought about starting off with a Ranger chassis. Then get a drivetrain out of a compact pickup or Cherokee. There were some rangers with a 5 speed and 4x4 and that'd be ideal. Figure I'd use the existing drivetrain and the back half of the frame. Then fab front rails and use the front axle off a Cherokee, which is basically a straight axle with ball joint ends. Ugly, but not as much as IFS. Mount that up with a transverse leaf much like a rod, ahead of the engine so I could get the engine as low as possible. I don't need a lot of ground clearance - probably get more than enough with some conservatively-sized mud/snow tires. Would like to get the drivetrain as low as practical - about axle height - to keep the center of gravity down to make it stable.
Then I'd build a fiberglass body, something along the lines of a tudor, but probably just a similar shape and not any sort of reproduction. Just need space for two seats and a shelf for the dog.
I found this pic on the HAMB:
Something with that sort of stance would easily clear the 4x4 drivetrain if you pushed the front axle forward. I'd have to add some sort of fenders.
Surely wouldn't be a traditional rod of any sort, but I'd like to kind of capture an old school type look, and that sort of vehicle is inherently light weight with a minimal body and a suspension that was made for rough roads.
Just throwing this out for thoughts/comments. I'm a little new to the offroad type vehicle thing and maybe this won't work as well as I think it will..
I know this is a little off-the-wall.:)
You have some options here...One is a used Jeep Wrangler which I found with mine and some 31' tires would get me anywhere I needed to go..The other option is to look for a older Chev blazer with the solid front axle..Pull the body off and move the engine back to behind the front axle to get some better weight dist and build a rat rod type body on that chassis..If you do that you will lose a lot of weight and be able to run some 33's or 35's which will work better for you and still be able to do what you require..In any case start with a chassis that came from the factory as a 4wd,,
Once you pull the body off of a factory 4wd the chassis rises quite a bit with all that weight off and the stance looks pretty good and you can fit some good size tires to it and you will not need to spend a great deal of cash on lift kits and such..
Thanks for the advice.
Hadn't considered moving the engine back in the frame - that's a lot easier than leaving the engine where it is and extending the frame out.
Is there a real benefit to large diameter tires? I know I'd get a better contact patch, all other things equal, but it also seems (again, all other things equal) that I'd loose a lot of torque. Although it looks like, if you want wider tires (which I think would help a lot), then you have to go with larger diameter tires.
Of course, the extra clearance is likely a plus too with the larger tires.
I don't have a bunch of experience with this kind of terrain. The area doesn't drain all that badly, but the soil is mostly clay and gets slick in spots. Although I've cleared a lot of trees, it's still pretty shaded and doesn't dry out quickly either. I guess I'm looking for traction without sinking in or sliding off. Would be a bonus if we could visit the property during the winter.
I tried to take our Sierra uphill (going forwards). Once I lost traction up front, the nose started to drift sideways. I'm guessing this is because the engine is above the axle and up in front and it basically wanted to swing itself around so the heavy end was pointed down. I think getting the engine lower and behind the wheels would mitigate this, at least to a degree - might even help transfer the weight to the back wheels to help traction back there, which is awful on the Sierra. Considered trying to go up backwards, but after we kissed the tree and dented the truck (while pulling it off the side of the driveway with the tractor), my wife decided she really didn't want to go anywhere that badly that night.
In the mud a set of 35's with a good paddle pattern like Super swampers will make a big difference..Getting rid of the body work on your Sierra and moving the engine back will make a huge difference not that I would do that to the good truck..You can find some of the short wheelbase 4wd drive trucks around for a small amount of cash and as long as it runs good and drives this job can be accomplished of for not a lot of outlay..Kinda like what CBoy did on the "Rat on a shoestring project" only on a stock 4wd chassis..
Weight is the enemy off the road and we often see some big truck stuck beyond belief while some guy in a wrangler or Samuri drive right on by..
Yep. Weight is the killer. The wrangler or samurai is a good suggestion.
Samurai Is a lot lighter then the jeep too, and the mileage is better.
We have a Gas well guy here in Pa that bought the suzuki samurai from a guy, used, because it was the same price as a 4 wheeler. Plus it has heat and a roof if it rains.
4 wheelers are popular but dont offer protection from rain,and sun, and snakes and briars and and and and and.:D
Geo traker is about the same as samurai, just a tad heavier.Street legal, 4X4 and fuel efficient.
Yup geo tracker and samurai are good options as is the wrangler..but not nearly as much fun as something one built himself..if I were closer I would like to get involved with that kind of project as those are cheap to do and way too much fun..
Thanks for the info on weight. I suspected as much, but it's good to get confirmation.
The Samurai/Tracker are unitized bodies, right? Would seem making major changes (like pushing the engine back) would be pretty difficult in one of those. Could presumably build a frame and mount the components - they're plentiful in the local yard.
I wish the Cherokee was a full-frame. I like the size and straight-axle simplicity (and the inline 6). The FS Blazer would probably work, but they're a bit on the larger side and harder to find locally.
What about the Ranger/Explorer chassis? From what I've read, they're about the same, the Explorer being a bit wider in the mid section. A lot of guys seem to use them under early vehicles, so it would fit my body plans.
There's also the S-series blazer/pickup.
I like the idea of a more compact starting point, both for lower weight and for better mileage on the way down and back to the property. Rangers could even be had with a 4 cylinder and 4wd IIRC. Not a big fan of small powerplants, but the gas mileage and compact packaging are appealing. I'm not going to be rock crawling or tearing up hills at breakneck speed. Just want to steadily climb a slippery slope.
What's your opinion on IFS vs a live axle up front? The straight axle appeals to me because it's simpler and presumably more durable. But most OEMs (aside from the Cherokee) use IFS on their 4x4s. It would be a lot easier to get ahold of a IFS 4x4 frame than the straight axle if there's no real downside (other than the looks with a "traditional" body style).
I do not see a downside on the IFS other than the "look" for your intentions..The S-10 Blazer or similar would be a good starting point for what you contemplate..I use the following recipe for building a "brush buggy"
I strip the body off saving all the wiring and such by unplugging it..Move the engine back so the front pulley is 10/12 inches behind the centerline of the front axle..this requires relocating the motor mounts and cross member to suit..Trim the rear frame rails off just past the rear spring mounts and weld in a crossmember there..
Cut the cowl firewall and floor pan out of your body and remount that in the rearward location..then it is a matter of extending the steering shaft to meet up with the steering box in the stock location..
Optional is to replace the stock frame rails with box tubing as it looks nicer and makes the job more finished. Putting a roll cage on allows for having a windshield and Allows a bikini top which is nice in the rain and also shade in the hot sun..Mount some kind of PU box for carrying stuff..the spare tire mounts up on the rear of the roll cage..Gas tank is in the bed to be up and away from damage..
Remove the sway bars to allow the suspension to "work"..
Careful as this can be addictive and joining in on some 4wd drive runs can be just "too much fun"
Thanks for all the advice, Sam!
Still kicking this idea around.
But I've gotten a few sources of inspiration.
One is this little truck I found on that other forum.
I like the idea of parallel front leafs with the axle over the leafs. It solves a lot of problems for me - locates the axle while also providing the suspension, and it is compact in that it stays in line with the frame rails. The axle I'm currently planning on using (Cherokee) is front steer, and the arches would protect the tie rod and provide a place for a basic bumper (to meet requirements for getting it inspected as a home built)
I think if you z'd the frame to raise the rails high enough to clear a live axle, it wouldn't look all that bad. The grill would hide the pumpkin if you pushed it a bit forward. I'd probably build the whole thing a little higher, but I really don't need huge ground clearance - traction and weight distribution are my biggest issues.
I also found this article Steve Pierce Builds an All-Weather Deuce - Street Rodder Magazine about a guy building an all weather hot rod.
Inspired by the way he packaged everything inside the frame.
http://image.streetrodderweb.com/f/3...rage_scene.jpg although I don't think a divorced transfer case would be necessary.
Might necessitate going with a four cylinder to clear the front driveshaft while keeping the crank centerline in line with the rest of the drivetrain within the frame rails, but a small six would be a bit shorter if it would clear. The guy in the article offset the engine to the right, which is also a possibility, but one I'm not sure I'd want to make (although it would probably help balance the vehicle when it was just me driving).
An old yj or cj spring over axle and 33-35 call it a day or an old Cherokee they can be had stupid cheap also
Sheesh; grab a CJ-2a and drive it. Fix it up as time allows; and drive it.
It does all these things; it has a flathead, it will do 55 if you change the gears in the axle, and still have plenty of low speed torque.
If you want to put a rat rod body on the frame...fine; but you could also turn the jeep into a pick up body pretty easy and other have made them rat "rodderish." To me flat fenders are sacred; adding less gear or say a 4cyl/5spd is cool and all but Id leave it alone...and drive the snot out of it.
You can get them in need of help for under a grand.
We've had one at our cabin since 1968. It was a side by side utility vehicle WAY before this new stuff AND its street legal.
Only concessions I'd make, aside from lowering the axle ratio slightly is look at converting the hubs to run a more conventional rim/tire package (it used to be hard to find a tire to fit those rims, and the military tires can be scary at high speeds, although they will go through any mud you can find), convert to 12v and put a small winch and trailer hitch on the vehicle.
Hey if it worked in the slop of WW2; it'll be fine for anything you and your dog get into.
Ours (47 CJ 2A) was converted for the Ford(?) bolt pattern at one time I believe, but now its back to stock wheels and military tires; has a 12V conversion, a "winch" made from a Model A transmission and a BIG handcrank and an angle iron front bumper with a hitch ball on it (we used it to push trailers around) Its ugly but it works and all us kids learned to drive it. We love it more than my Uncles Polaris RZR side by side.
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