After our last blog on the Nitro Suburban build we found ourselves at Easter Jeep Safari thinking about what would be next on the agenda, but delayed (and not in a bad way) as we wheeled, tested product, and worked the big vendor show in Moab. Since returning to the shop we have been busy sorting out the details on what seems to be an ever increasing scope of projects within the bigger build.
Suspension. After initially installing a set of shock hoops up front for the Prodigy coilovers we concluded we needed to build a different set that would put the top mounts further up in the wheelwells in order to increase the uptravel at the lowest possible ride height we could get. That meant cutting the old (but new) shock hoops off the frame and starting over. A lot of work, but required if we wanted to get the front suspension to operate as intended. Our friends over at Build It Offroad bent up the new ones and they’ve since been hard welded into the frame. We’ve yet to finalize the bumpstop location, but have picked up 5 more inches of articulation at this point up front. With all 4 tires still on the ground we can now lift a front tire 43 inches vertically.
Out back we’re still developing the precise locations of the shocks, but did decide we’re going to box much of the frame as part of that mounting process as the open C-channel simply doesn’t look beefy enough to work well and we don’t want a broken chassis down the road. That decision will add more fab time to the project, but should give us more flexibility to get the shock mounts exactly where they need to be when we get there again.
Steering– Another area that has seen a lot of trial and error. The goal is to have hydro assist using a steering box as the valve assembly to drive the piston. That means we have a mechanical linkage between the box and the knuckles that needs to clear everything under full flex in all positions. Packaging all this has been challenging to say the least and we’re still finalizing the details, but it’s getting close. We’re expecting more components for our combination to arrive in the next few days.
Rear steer– Yes, we’re keeping the OE system intact, but with a huge upgrade with custom links using 1 ton tie rods and extreme duty machined fasteners to connect to the cylinder. The original components we’re about 1/2″ diameter rods and we knew we’d bend them the first time we smacked a sidewall offroad. Fingers crossed the steering ram itself holds up ok, but only one way to find that out.
Body Mods- With all the front fiberglass painted we’ve final fitted the fiberglass fenders and hood and fabricated some additional linkage components to allow us to open the 2012 style hood once the grill and headlights are installed. We’ve also opened up the rear wheelwells for additional tire clearance and repainted the rear flares, though not yet mounted them. The rear Mercenary Offroad bumper is fully mocked up, with the front one still waiting it’s turn for installation. Both bumpers are killer and we can’t wait to see how that setup looks after powdercoating.
Drivetrain- The fresh trans and T-case are now bolted to the motor and in the tunnel. We’ve run into a few issues with the power steering pump setup and other accessories up front as well, but have been working through those. The cause has been a switch from the truck type LS intake manifold to a car style. What seemed a minor change has created a bunch of small problems that have required custom (expensive:) brackets to make everything work.
Where it stands- At this point we are making progress everyday, but this is a big project. We still have the fuel system to install/build, finish the suspension with correct length coilovers , install airbumps once the rest of the suspension is done, box the frame as earlier mentioned, finish the Mercenary Offroad front winch bumper and Warn winch and wire up the standalone computer to make this beast run. Those are the big details for now and hopefully on our next update we will have most of these things finished and be onto the small stuff. Stay tuned.
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