Archive for March, 2016

The Getaway Jeep Project

Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

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For about two years now a project has been slowly forming in my head to build my version of the ultimate adventure truck. I knew it would be based on a Jeep TJ platform for that trucks adaptability and off road capability along with its simple, repairable design and wealth of cheap parts. However I wanted the flexibility of an open bed pickup for small loads as well as the ability to load bikes and gear low where they’re not getting smacked off trees on the way in to adventure. So pretty early in the design process I knew I’d be building a custom top and roll cage to create the ultra short bed Jeep pickup that isn’t currently available on the market (though it’s recently been promised by Chrysler for 2018 so I guess I’m just ahead of my time). The bed would have a hard tonneau top and truck logistics racking to make it easy to add or remove cargo baskets, spare fuel tanks for the way-back country, and two bike racks. And just to make it stand out a little more while eliminating Jeep’s rust prone fenders, I’m going to cut the stock fenders off entirely in favour of some perfectly round fenders more often seen on tractor trailers. With some creative trimming it’ll give the truck a design nod towards the classic Kaiser and Power Wagon heavy military trucks.

Inside there will be a nearly completely customized dash. This is not only to make room for the extra electronics, lights, power, and recovery equipment, but also my custom head unit. Instead of a conventional radio I’ll be repurposing an android tablet. Besides the required mp3 player this will also put navigation, a full set of guages and diagnostics, and a copy of the service manual within easy reach at all times.

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So why am I bringing all this up now? This past weekend the project took a huge step forward. I purchased the truck that all this is going into back in the fall – but as you can see from the photo above it needed a little work.

The previous owner got their license on a Thursday, picked up a freshly certified truck on a Friday, and had spun it into a tree on wet pavement before the end of the work week. Inexperienced drivers and short wheelbase vehicles can be dangerous. For me, however, here was a Jeep Sahara with the upgraded drivetrain that had been freshly gone over and certified and only needed some body work. It just so happens I already had another TJ with a good body that needed some undercarriage work. A match made in heaven it would seem.

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After a couple weekends of ripping and stripping in my spare time I had the truck down to a near bare frame – just where I wanted to start. Since I’d need to reach this stage in a body swap, and with some of my upgrades to near this stage even with a new truck, it made sense.

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As it looks today the rear end is even more bare. But it’s the perfect time to go over the frame and clean it up to be worry free for years to come. As well as an amazing time for some undercarriage upgrades. I have a shiny new performance exhaust kit as well as a 3″ suspension lift and 1″ body lift for the truck. The goal is to put some more air between me and the ground for when the trail disappears but not so much as to hurt on road drive ability or need major component upgrades. I also have some new adjustable control arms to milk more articulation and control out of my truck.

Up to this point however the project has been nothing but destruction and spending on parts. That’s where this weekend was key. At long last I finished the process of destruction and put a fresh coat of paint on the rear axle finally beginning the process of creation.

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Not many jeepers can say that their axles are so clean that they shine grey under a photo flash instead of black…but now I am one of them. Keep watching for more as the project evolves but so far what do you think of my latest brain child?