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  • 4x4 Bench Build

    For awhile now, I have been considering a ground up 4x4 build and thought you all might enjoy some discussions regarding same ... specifically, I want to pick the brains of; Superbuickguy, STINEY and Loren.

    I have not even settled upon a CJ or FJ base, but would like to keep it in the popular models in order to have the largest available selection of aftermarket parts. As for the style, Florida is the flat lowlands so we don't have mountains or snow, no deserts or cross-country Baja racing. What we do have is a lot of swamps and sugar sand that will suck you in like a sinkhole. Therefore, I think we are looking for a mud buggy over a rock-crawler.

    I've seen some of those aluminum body tubs and custom mandrel bent frames. Would 42" - 44" tires be too extreme? Please join in with your thoughts, suggestions, recommendations and / or ramblings.

  • #2

    Re: 4x4 Bench Build

    what are you going to do with it? Daily it? Drive it? trailer it? Once you get past that question, open top or tin top? Open top is great - but you get lots dirtier driving it, and not just fun dirt - grease, whatever is picked up by the tires (think wheeling in a cow field). Now that you've decided what and where, how - heavy sucks in sand, but is required in mud because you're high hp WOT all the time so you need the strength of a larger truck (all of these things can be had, it just costs more money). Why is easy - because 4x4

    I always suggest to this question that you look at what the locals run, then copy them.

    okay with that said, here's how I answered the question.

    I love snow wheeling, which is akin to sand wheeling, but can also be like wheeling in mud. HOWEVER, in snow, floatation is everything and I need the ability to weave through tight places. I wanted to drive it whenever and never trailer it to wheel. So that means shorter wheelbase.

    For tires, I run a 38.5 and can run up to a 40. The axles are 3/4 ton that have been modified to 1 ton spec - in snow you do use finesse but also rpm. That means that stuff can try to dead-stop the tire when spinning.

    I like open tops, but in snow, that's a bit of a problem, so I have a soft top that keeps it quite warm inside.

    FJ or CJ... FJ will bring a lot more money if you sell it then a CJ. Outside of that, there's little difference because they both need to be modified to run large tires. Inherently the FJ is stronger, but also heavier. In this class are also Scouts, Samurais, and Land Rover Defenders/2A.

    Given what you said, an CJ on 33s is a really good place to start. Cheap, goes a lot further then you might guess, and gives you time without the investment to determine how to answer those questions. Don't forget - my FJ40 is my 8th FJ40 and "who knows the number" 4x4.... what I like and use came from decades of doing.

    and finally..

    LOCKERS BEFORE LIGHTS.
    Doing it all wrong since 1966

    Comment


    • #3

      Re: 4x4 Bench Build

      Excellent start ... I think a streetable driver so there's no hassles with trailering it, but really a toy for off-road fun, not a daily driver or cruiser. Initially I was thinking totally open with just the rollbars, but you make excellent points regarding undesirable foreign debris, therefore choose softtop with some power going to A/C (hellooooo - Florida).

      Believe that I'll spend more time on sand on trails with occasional mud holes rather than the huge mud pits that require a monster truck. So, looks like lighter will be the order of the day and I'm guessed torque over horsepower. Shorter wheelbase and don't expect to tow with it.

      Admittedly, I've never done this before, so your caution to start off slow is also good advice. I usually need somebody to put the brakes on my over-the-top visions. With that all said, if I do go the CJ route with 33's ... what years and options should I be looking out for and which to avoid ?

      Comment


      • #4

        Re: 4x4 Bench Build

        70s or 80s, avoid rust buckets (so pretty much anything Stiney owns )

        Alternatively, and since you love Corvettes, I think you'll like this - Suzuki Samurai - get one, put 30 inch tires on it and go make everyone with big 4x4s mad. There are updates you can do to them, but they really are, in my opinion, the best, stock 4x4 ever built. I would suggest wheel spacers, though, to widen their track a bit.

        The reason I suggest it with your Corvette in mind - they're a very simple vehicle that does what they're supposed to do very, very well. No pretense, just an honest 4x4.

        About A/C - how do you feel it when the roof is off? it's really just extra weight. Do buy an Alien sunshield, but outside of that - once you're moving, it's actually pretty nice in the space, especially if you have screened shade. If you must have a/c, get a JK (2007-2018).
        Last edited by SuperBuickGuy; April 26th, 2018, 09:35 AM.
        Doing it all wrong since 1966

        Comment


        • #5

          Re: 4x4 Bench Build

          Alternatively, and since you love Corvettes, I think you'll like this - Suzuki Samurai - get one, put 30 inch tires on it and go make everyone with big 4x4s mad. There are updates you can do to them, but they really are, in my opinion, the best, stock 4x4 ever built. I would suggest wheel spacers, though, to widen their track a bit. They're a very simple vehicle that does what they're supposed to do very, very well. No pretense, just an honest 4x4.
          I had not even considered this one.

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          • #6

            Re: 4x4 Bench Build

            Visual aid....

            Click image for larger version

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            My hobby is needing a hobby.

            Comment


            • #7

              Re: 4x4 Bench Build

              I know what they are ... I just always thought of them as a pretend "street" jeep that a twenty-something year old chick drove to the beach. My friends and I always referred to them as the "flip-mobile".

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: 4x4 Bench Build

                Two thoughts,
                I think a TJ would be a great starter four by. LOVE THE COIL SPRINGS . You can find them easy with air and it isn't impossible to find a stick shift if you like them .
                Second would be a Rusty CJ 7 . Find the cheapest one and replace the body with a fiber glass one .Since you like vettes . Just paint it flat olive drab green or that flat sand tan the army has . That way if you bash something you can glass it back and match the paint easy . better yet camo paint it . As things break , up grade . I couldn't live with a Sammy or a CJ5 .. Too short of a wheelbase and It'd beat me to death , no matter what they would both be eventrually running 38s on 3/4 ton axles and a LS with a carb .
                Previously HoosierL98GTA

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: 4x4 Bench Build

                  .... no matter what they would both be eventrually running 38s on 3/4 ton axles and a LS with a carb .

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    Re: 4x4 Bench Build

                    Two thoughts,
                    I think a TJ would be a great starter four by. LOVE THE COIL SPRINGS .

                    . As things break , up grade . I couldn't live with a Sammy or a CJ5 .. Too short of a wheelbase and It'd beat me to death , no matter what they would both be eventrually running 38s on 3/4 ton axles and a LS with a carb .
                    You know, Dan, trying to kill the moderator will not make you right about those Trail Jokes - even if he dies after death wobbling his way off the freeway. You're still wrong in your Corvette choice and your 4x4 choice (but batting 1000, so there is that).

                    Second

                    Communist Reports lied.

                    Buy a cheap Sammi, learn what you love off-road, then build the LS monster on 40s. Between now and then, you may (like a whole bunch of people I know) fall utterly in love with those tiny little beasts. They're like UTVs, but not 30,000 dollars. They also aren't Barbie cars - those are YJ Jeeps - but are hairdresser cars..... which really, really really makes it fun when you prance around some behemoth who is are so stuck that their tires are sticking out in China. As for rolling - don't turn sharp at 60 mph. While Dan may struggle with this concept, it's really not that terribly difficult of an issue to avoid. So Dan, got the plastic out from your car yet?

                    Humor aside. Avoid TJs because they are way more expensive to modify CJs... add to the problems they have very weak axles (cooked spaghetti has more torsional rigidity).
                    YJs - that's the 90s barbie Jeep - Jeep had no money, but needed a refresh so they put square headlights in them, a plastic dash, and EFI that is a bear to make work correctly.

                    In the offroad world, small is far more usable then huge. Also in that vein, old 4Runners (with the removable top) are pretty popular as well.

                    the best 4x4 is the one you drive all the time... having specialized stuff is cool, but way too often the better it becomes at off-road, the worst it becomes at just 'jumping in for a cruise'
                    Last edited by SuperBuickGuy; April 26th, 2018, 01:57 PM.
                    Doing it all wrong since 1966

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Re: 4x4 Bench Build

                      I always suggest to this question that you look at what the locals run, then copy them.
                      Like with the animal world where an environment will wind up hosting the types that are best adapted to it, what you see already surviving/performing out where you want to go is a good start on what to shoot for. I never in my life had any interest in Jeep Cherokees, until I realized halfway through a Blazer build that once I got out there to the places I intended to go it wouldn't be doing what I wanted to do as well as something that was smaller and lighter, coming to the conclusion by observing out on the trails what was making it and what wasn't before actually attempting much myself. A couple other types of vehicles I also had in mind got the nix for the same reasons. Besides small suv's, regular Jeeps (CJ, TJ etc.) seem to do well in the off-road places we go of course, but then those aren't ideal for the other environment we operate in which is normal street/freeway commuting where we need weather protection, carrying capacity and decent ride/handling. Without the need for it to be a driver we would be free to have something more dedicated off-road and it would be fun to have an open top.

                      And then, for your own desires, are you gonna want something that you have to (or get to) do a lot of heavy-duty modification on or just easier stuff and incremental upgrades? Possibly something somebody has already adapted to the tougher places you might want to go?

                      Or is it the vehicle type that you're really after, and you'd adjust your destinations for what it could do well? Seems like you have a choice in Florida, wherever we go here it's rocks and trails.

                      Frankly just getting out there with anything then figuring it out for yourself (and possibly going through different vehicles in the process) is part of the fun. We've really enjoyed the Chero but I do have thoughts about the next car I'd like to build.





                      ...

                      Comment


                      • #12

                        Re: 4x4 Bench Build

                        Auto fads die hard on the Interweb. In the 90s there were HERDS of Samarui customized to the MAX by hip hoppers, because cheapest most open place to house sub-woofers. Candy Apple, Chromed EVERYTHING, Dayton wire wheels with rubber band gold and white stripe tires. Not a trace on the web. Good thing I guess.
                        My hobby is needing a hobby.

                        Comment


                        • #13

                          Re: 4x4 Bench Build

                          Auto fads die hard on the Interweb. In the 90s there were HERDS of Samarui customized to the MAX by hip hoppers, because cheapest most open place to house sub-woofers. Candy Apple, Chromed EVERYTHING, Dayton wire wheels with rubber band gold and white stripe tires. Not a trace on the web. Good thing I guess.
                          I'm pretty sure these guys didn't get the memo

                          Doing it all wrong since 1966

                          Comment


                          • #14

                            Re: 4x4 Bench Build

                            They DO look like they're having fun, even IF freezing small body parts off. Plus snow is CLEAN. A buddy that had a blown Pro Streeter and a Tough Truck winning 4x4 told me cleaning the blower car before an event was fun. Cleaning the 4x4 after one was agony, but necessary to keep it from eating parts. He said that was THE beginner mistake in off roading. How do the various 4x4s do at repelling and releasing the grit?
                            My hobby is needing a hobby.

                            Comment


                            • #15

                              Re: 4x4 Bench Build


                              You know, Dan, trying to kill the moderator will not make you right about those Trail Jokes - even if he dies after death wobbling his way off the freeway. You're still wrong in your Corvette choice and your 4x4 choice (but batting 1000, so there is that).

                              Second

                              Communist Reports lied.

                              Buy a cheap Sammi, learn what you love off-road, then build the LS monster on 40s. Between now and then, you may (like a whole bunch of people I know) fall utterly in love with those tiny little beasts. They're like UTVs, but not 30,000 dollars. They also aren't Barbie cars - those are YJ Jeeps - but are hairdresser cars..... which really, really really makes it fun when you prance around some behemoth who is are so stuck that their tires are sticking out in China. As for rolling - don't turn sharp at 60 mph. While Dan may struggle with this concept, it's really not that terribly difficult of an issue to avoid. So Dan, got the plastic out from your car yet?

                              Humor aside. Avoid TJs because they are way more expensive to modify CJs... add to the problems they have very weak axles (cooked spaghetti has more torsional rigidity).
                              YJs - that's the 90s barbie Jeep - Jeep had no money, but needed a refresh so they put square headlights in them, a plastic dash, and EFI that is a bear to make work correctly.

                              In the offroad world, small is far more usable then huge. Also in that vein, old 4Runners (with the removable top) are pretty popular as well.

                              the best 4x4 is the one you drive all the time... having specialized stuff is cool, but way too often the better it becomes at off-road, the worst it becomes at just 'jumping in for a cruise'

                              I know some of this is tongue in cheek how much , not sure . But remember , Steve started this by saying " ground up " build so in my head , that means upgraded axles .........well basically everything . But in the mean time , he can wheel it and decide what he needs next . I never once mentioned YJ . So without hurting the feelings those that own them , I'll just leave it at that . Anything CAN be made to wheel . Especially if your willing to replace most of the drive train ., I just don't like them .They are ............. well , I already said more on that than I wanted to . But the TJ ........ I like the coils . I would prefer getting a basket case CJ 7 or 8 and putting on what I already mentioned . There is one other thing to think about . You want to not have the biggest 4x4 of the people you wheel with because when your super stuck ........and need help the rest of the group is going to have to be creative getting you out . Been there wheeling a 77 K5 with friends that had a Nissan and a Toyota .

                              On the plastic fantastics , We can agree that yours looked and will again look cooler than mine ever will but that isn't what I bought mine for .I bought it to get everything under the body for as little money as possible . I'm in for $ 5500 and about another 7 for every u joint and the rear hubs, all the brake pads , and 2 rear tires after almost 2 years of driving it . And it will eat almost anything up when the road gets curvy without telling the world what I'm up to. Since I wasn't completely sure how much was tongue and check and what wasn't I just covered the bases on all of it . Well except the Samuri . I couldn't tell you the last time I saw one in real life ; I thing 90 % of them have returned to the earth in flecks . Other than them being light I have nothing good to say for them . And for some that may be enough .
                              Previously HoosierL98GTA

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