It’s been a super busy time for projects here at Nitro Gear and Axle. Not only do we have our biggest build in years in progress (“Big Dog Burban”) we also are developing components for a Land Cruiser 200 series and building our take on a TRD version of that vehicle, beyond those builds many of our employees are working on their own machines on their own time, taking them to events and using them on and offroad as intended. With that in mind here’s the first half round up of most of the rigs in progress right now. To say this is an varied group of vehicles is an understatement, but we think enthusiasm in different areas of the automotive world improves Nitro as a whole and certainly gives us an edge when helping customers who need a little advice from someone who has actually built a similar machine instead of guessing or reading some PR copy about a product or combination someone else told them works. We hope you’ll agree!
“Big Dog Burban”– Might as well start here with a quick update about the monster project we’re building for SEMA2016. This week saw the steering finalized (we think) with a Howe double ended hydraulic ram combined with a steering box and mechanical linkage. The steering box is plumbed to control the ram leaving a mechanical back up and steering feel connection between the wheels and the steering wheel, but with similar power to a full hydro setup. The idea here is the best of both worlds offering huge strength in the linkage and easy steering at the same time. We still need to get everything plumbed, but the layout looks good at this point.
The frame. If you saw the video we posted on FB last week you will be aware we had decided to box the frame front to back. This meant cutting steel after making templates and then fitting and welding them in place. We opted to box the frame for additional strength and to improve our mounting options for the rear bypass shocks as we felt the stock frame configuration was going to lead to a location compromise. Our lead fabricator has the new box frame plates welded in and is beginning the process of grinding the welds smooth for a SEMA show level finish.
Budget Expedition – We’re at an impasse with the Expedition at the moment. We had the rig fully loaded and headed to Moab as a support rig for Easter Jeep Safari when several disasters seemed to occur at the same time. Specifically it developed a misfire that turns out was not fuel or ignition related. Opting to continue down the highway with less than perfect performance we then lost the transmission just west of Ontario, Oregon. AAA towed it into town and the Expedition spent the week in Ontario, before being loaded onto a trailer in place of a Jeep (thanks Build It Offroad) for the trip back to Washington on the way home. We’re still determining what the best course of action is on continuing this build, but it will live again.
Nitro TRD Land Cruiser 200 Series– We put one of these sweet new Land Cruisers into the fleet late last summer after selling off our long serving 100 series Cruiser. We’re using it to develop product and putting it together as our take on what a TRD version of the 200 series would look like if Toyota had/were to build one. We started with a long travel setup with OEM Tundra lower control arms, Tie Rod ends, CV shafts, Billet Icon upper control arms, TRD Pro Bilstein 60mm Piggyback shocks with Internal Zone Control Progressive 3 rate dampening, Old Man Emu Rear Coils. 1.5″ rear wheel spacers, 3″ Wider Track, 3″ front lift, 1″ rear lift for level stance all adds up to a considerable increase in wheel travel. Under that modded suspension are TRD Pro 18″ wheels (same as our older Tundra project) and Nitto 285/75R18 Trail Grapplers all rotated by Nitro Gear 4.88 gearsets mounted to ARB Air Lockers front and rear. We anticipate this Cruiser making it to Cruise Moab next month as it’s first official outing.
LS Silverado– This one belongs to Bruce out of Atlanta and is coming together nicely. The LS motor is a rebuilt 5.3 running a Texas Speed valvetrain and cam along with Icon Pistons with ARP bolts throughout after S&W Performance Machine Shop worked over the block and heads.. Recently tuned after break in the engine made 351HP at the rear wheels on 93 octane fuel. Backing the powerplant is a Performabuilt Stage 3 4L60E with a 3200rpm FTI convertor. A Nitro filled 10 bolt rear end featuring a 31 spline axles, LSD and 3.73 ring and pinion puts power to both 18×12 Billet Specialties rear wheels. Up front 18 x 8 wheels are controlled by Bilstein shocks and Bell Tech lowering kit with Cal Tracs track bar keeping wheel hop under control in the back. DMH performance electric cutouts were recently added to the exhaust. Already fitted with a custom interior the next major mod will be forced induction to increase power even further.
We plan to include a few more employee rides in the next couple blog posts as we continue to update our bigger projects. All these cool rides make the Nitro parking lot a pretty cool place most days!