Q For the last 10 years I have been wanting to build a vehicle for the Ultimate Adventure. Now I have finally started on my own. I am currently building a ’79 K30 (her name is Rita). She started as a 2WD, but I converted to 4WD. I used S10 rear springs and will be changing to a fixed front shackle. I did a shackle flip in the rear to meet the height in the front. The rear axle is a cab/chassis 14-bolt (with street tires, all tires fit in the rear fenderwells) and D60 in front.The question I have for you is how do you think a leaf-sprung dualie would do on an adventure? I do know that I am limited on the rear flex and I weigh a lot (6,000 pounds). I have not seen any trail footage of a dualie navigating trails, besides the off-road recovery team. If you can give me any insight on my project and the survivability of Rita on an Ultimate Adventure that would super! The picture enclosed is how she sits now. I have not installed the 37-inch tires nor removed any sheetmetal.
A Most dualies with the bulging rear fenders would have a serious problem on most of the trails we hit on Ultimate Adventure, but I think your truck would be really cool. In fact, by running the narrow cab and chassis rear axle you would actually have a larger rear footprint than many rigs, and this may allow you to always have a tire on the ground in the back where other wheelers might get caught up on rocks and stuff. I think you’ll need to do some trimming of the bed to clear the 37s and maybe even tub the bed floor to get them to fit inside, but I think it could be a very cool project. If you were running a standard dualie rear axle I would suggest looking into some Hummer H1 steel wheels. These are 16.5-inch wheels and have a ton of backspacing to allow you to suck in the tires tight when running dualie axles with single wheels front and rear. I think if you found some tall skinny 36- or 37-inch tires you could make your project work just fine. One problem is many 37s are wide and you may need a spacer between the inner and outer wheels on the rear. This is not ideal, as it can push that outer rear tire even farther outward, requiring more body trimming, but it may be your only option. There are some good tall skinny 35- and 36-inch tires such as the Q78 Super Swamper and 35x10.50R16 Boggers, but as the tires get taller they also get wider. You may be able to get custom rims made as well, but again, this is getting expensive. The concern with wide tires is you don’t want your inner and outer dualie tire to rub. I don’t think weight is a concern; 6,000 pounds isn’t that bad for a fullsize wheeling truck—in fact, it’s pretty light. You’ll of course want all the required stuff: winch, lockers, 35-inch or taller tires, as well as your camping gear, etc. The leaf springs can be made to flex just fine, so I think you are on a good course to make a cool, unique wheeling machine. I can’t promise that you will come home without body damage, but I don’t think Rita being a dualie will be a detriment.
Work & Tow
Q I want to build a new tow rig. Do you see any problem with building a Ford Super duty with a utility bed as my tow rig? I like the idea of being able to haul tons of stuff in the toolboxes. I work during the week in the field where I use lots of tools, but I like to tow my rockcrawler to the trail on the weekends and think using the boxes then would be a great way to haul parts and tools.
A I think this a smart way to build a tow rig, and in fact many of the Baja race teams use just such a truck as their chase vehicles. The toolboxes on the side are great because you can use them all week on the job and then get home, swap out the work tools for camping and wheeling gear, and head for the trail. The only downsides I see is a utility bed will add considerable weight over the stock bed, and leaving gear in any truck unattended can be inviting to theft since it’s pretty obvious that toolboxes may have tools inside.
Nuts, I’m Confused
To Boat or Not
Q I have a ’78 Chevy K10 that I want to boat side but some people tell me that welding the new rockers to the body and the frame will tear the truck up when the truck flexes. I was wondering if this would actually happen or if it would have any affect at all? Also is there anything I should look out for when doing this.
A That all depends on how you do the job. If you cut off your rocker panels and build thick steel plates that weld to the body and to the frame, then it may warp your body if the frame flexes. But I think just the opposite will happen: It will actually stiffen the frame by tying it into the cab. Of course you may also want to tie your rollcage in to the frame, and this will help stiffen the whole cab and chassis together. However, tying everything together makes for a louder vehicle on the road because all chassis noise and vibration is passed up into the body of the truck.
When we built the Ultimate Adventure Super Duty in 2009 (“The Ultimate Ranch Truck,” Aug. ’09–Jan. ’10) we boatsided the cab and welded the rockers directly to the frame so the cab would have to be cut off if it was to be removed. When we built the UA F-150 in 2011 (“Ultimate F-150,” July ’11–Jan. ’12) we boatsided the cab, but these were not tied to the frame, just to the cab. This protected the cab and made clearance for off-road abuse, but the cab was still supported by the body mounts. That truck had its rollcage also tied into the cab, but not to the frame, and we cut off the lower portion of the door and replaced it with thicker steel armor.
If you are building a primarily off-road vehicle, tying them all into the frame would be my first choice. This will help stiffen the chassis, and I’d rather have the suspension do the majority of the flexing, not the chassis if possible. The ’78 half-ton frames are not exactly rigid in stock form, so plan on plenty of gusseting and triangulation of your cage to make it rigid. If you expect to drive the truck on the road or as a daily driver, then boatsiding just the cab but having it still supported via the body mounts will make it more comfortable.
I think there are a lot of people considering boatsiding these day as a way to keep their cab but still add ground clearance out where rock, boulders, and logs like to bash body panels. We used to always add rock sliders, but now cutting and trimming the rocker panels makes a svelte truck for twisting through hard obstacles. I have picked your question as this month’s Nut’s, I’m Confused Letter of the Month. Your prize will be a copy of the latest Ultimate Adventure DVD showing our annual on- and off-road trip to some of the craziest trails in the nation.
Confused? Email your questions about trucks, 4x4s, and off-roading tech using “Nuts, I’m confused” as the subject and include a picture (if it’s applicable). Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file. Also, I’ll be checking the forums on our website (www.4wheeloffroad.com), and if I see a question that I think more of you might want to have answered, I’ll print that as well. Otherwise drop it old-school style with the envelope addressed to the address below. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 fax to: 310.531.9368 Email to: email@example.com