I'd like to start something here, if I may.
Why are you guys so hung up on modifying your rigs to ridiculous states of change?
I have been driving off road for a relatively short period of time
(approx. 7 years). I read ALL the magazines and feel that I'm quite "informed" as
to what works and doesn't. I have driven with people that travel the
back country quite a bit. In all this driving, reading and talking
with people I have come to the following conclusions.
- Jeeps and their ilk require no more than 31" tires (good quality
and pattern), a 3" to 4" lift and some sort of traction aiding device
in the rear.
- Full size trucks (Broncos, etc) require no more than 33" tires,
and some sort of traction aiding device in the rear, and maybe a minor
lift (a couple of inches would be adequate).
With these modifications the vehicles can travel 99% of the back country
that we have access to. I have yet to see a vehicle that has needed
more than this to get anywhere. Case in point. My brother's YJ with 2"
lift and 31" tires has been to Starvation Lake, Hut Lake (haven't tried
Upper Hut yet, but Phil G. said his old Jeep with 31's and a minor lift
made it), Placer Lake, etc.
My full-size Bronco just came back from Placer Lake this past weekend (and
it's stock with 31's). Talking with some others up there, we plan to do
the Whipsaw in September (weather permitting) and I'm told by this person
that my Bronco will make it no problem (this from a person that does this
trail several times per year).
"So what?" you ask. Well, not one of these guys has much more than the
above mods. Only a couple people I have met have swapped the rear end
(more because they had problems from day one and I don't think Jeep ever
satisfactorily fixed the problem). The others run stock axles and slightly
larger tires. One person who's been driving off road for 18 years
(Jeep CJ5) has spun his rear axle 4 times over that entire period (and it's
a stock AMC 20, known for many weaknesses). So is it worth the time and money
to swap out axles?
Sure doesn't seem like it to me (seeing that it only takes a few hours to
repair). For those of you who say that if he had a stronger axle, he
wouldn't have to, well, maybe. But then if you read the mags, they say you
should have spares anyway - and they seem to break D44's and such!
The Camel Trophy goes through more than most of us do (and they run nearly stock
The reason I bring this up is that I have not gone on many outings because
I was told that "you won't make it", "your truck is too big", "you need a
locker to get up". To this I say "Bull!" I might need a tug over a
few areas, but with some skill and luck, most likely I'll make it, to the
surprise of many, including myself. Yes, I most likely will drag something
in stock form, but I haven't done any damage yet.
Breaking parts seems to be a matter of how smooth and skillful one's
driving is. Heavy foot = Broken parts. I've seen many rigs with stock axles running 33" and 35" tires survive for quite some time. I don't think it's
wise or necessary to run such tires, but some do with adequate success.
A drive train is a system. How many of you go and stick a tire on that
is 3 to 5 sizes larger but don't do anything to the brakes or diff. gearing?!
Gee, ever wonder why things break? Oversize tires, too tall gearing...they all create more stress than the other components were designed to take!
It also seems to me that most (not all) people that run these large tires
are purely posers.
One last thing I would like to annoy you all with:
Isn't half the fun of off-road driving the challenge of getting
over/around/through an obstacle - based on YOUR ability, not your rig's?
Granted, your rigs ability is part of it, but it doesn't have to be the biggest part.
How many of you heavily modified rig owners now find most trails too easy?
If you find them too easy, where do you go next? Does your trail boredom
force you to travel in areas where you shouldn't go?
What is it? Do you want to drive into the backcountry to explore and
see the scenery? Or is our goal to build machines that can conquer any given
obstacle? Or is there a happy medium?
Wrenching is part of the game (we all enjoy it for the most part), but
what is enough?
I remember various members on the BC4x4 list talking about quarter-elliptical and
buggy suspensions. Ever notice that the machines that don't have these
suspension systems still go where they want. Are we talking about change for change's sake?
So what do you guys think? I am off base and should be making changes
to my truck? Or should I just get out and have fun?
Darren "Big Unit" Widas
1986 Ford Bronco, 31's - still stock.