At one time or another, all of us have had visions of what our perfect off-road truck would be. For some, it would have the traction to move Mount Everest; for others, it would have enough ground clearance to drive over a subcompact car without a problem. Yet for the majority of us, these are just dreams that will never come to fruition. So when we see a built-from-the-ground-up Jeep CJ-5 such as the one that Tom Kamrath of Rice Lake, Wisconsin, built, we get a little excited. But then again, who wouldn't? Especially after seeing this powerhouse up close and personal.
The foundation that Tom started with was a CJ-5 with a narrowed Dana 44 frontend, a narrowed Dana 60 rearend, a Dana 20 transfer case, and 42-inch Super Swampers. Sounds good, right? Let's just say that everything was fine with the old CJ-5 until Tom discovered 44-inch irrigation tires. It was at this point that Tom's dreams would turn into a reality. In order to keep the CJ-5's suspension in place, the running gear would have to be a minimum of 1 ton in strength, and the lift would be at least 4 inches. After a quick consultation about the setup with his friend Brad Reinagle, they were ready to start building.
First on the list of many things to do was replacing the old axles: a new, narrowed 1-ton Dana 60 up front with a Power Lock and 5.13 gears; and a narrowed 1-ton Eaton in the rear with a Detroit Locker and 5.13 gears. Joining the two axles to the 1-1/4-ton military Spicer 200 transfer case are shortened 2-1/2-ton military driveshafts, which were custom-fabricated by Tom's friend, Dave Beffa. The 4-inch lift Trailmaster leaf springs that are mounted over the axles are attached to the boxed and lengthened frame by custom-made shackles. To give the ride some comfort level, dual shocks reside at each corner, as do the massive 44-inch-diameter irrigation tires, which are mounted on custom-made 16x16 wheels.
With components of this size and strength, Tom knew that the steering system of the CJ-5 would have to be revamped. Using the steering column from a Firebird, Tom attached a quick-ratio steering box from a Camaro with Borgeson joints and custom chrome-moly linkages with Heim joints. The fabricated billet steering arm completes the steering system and allows the CJ-5 to be maneuvered quite easily with the massive tires. Stopping such a monster is not an easy task, which is the reason Tom installed the General Motors power-assist four-wheel disc brakes with micro-lock and an adjustable proportioning valve.
The engine and the transmission that Tom swapped into the CJ are equally impressive. The 388ci Chevy stroker motor produces more than an ample amount of torque and horsepower to turn the gargantuan tires. For more performance, Tom added an Edelbrock Performer intake, a Predator carburetor, modified heads, and a complete Flowmaster exhaust system. The transmission is a modified Turbo 400, which had the tailshaft shortened, and has a custom-fabricated transfer case adapter. To keep the overheating issue to a minimum, a modified Howe aluminum radiator with an adjustable electric thermostat was mounted in the front of the Jeep, while a modified Jeep Cherokee radiator was mounted in the rear 6 inches of the Jeep's body for added cooling. To combat those frozen Wisconsin mornings, Tom fabricated a handmade grille and special fans, which reverse to help keep the frozen air from seizing everything up.
Having been in a rollover accident with a previous Jeep, Tom felt compelled to install a 14-point frame-mounted rollcage. In addition to the cage, Tom and his passengers are held in place by form-fitted racing seats and five-point safety harnesses. All wiring for the Jeep was done by Tom, as well as the custom-fabricated dashboard, which houses the switches for the Pro-Comp lights and the Unity spotlights.
Putting his past experiences as a body and fender man to use, Tom modified the fiberglass body and the tub of the CJ-5 by creating the custom 5-inch fender flares for additional coverage of the huge tires. In addition to the flares, Tom made a hood scoop and the custom-louvered rear grille for the radiator. To complement the bodywork, Tom painted the Jeep blue and added diamond-plate flooring and custom-made storage compartment bumpers, to which there is a 10,000-pound Ramsey winch with stainless steel roller fairleads attached at each end.
One look at Tom's creation and you instantly realize why the CJ-5 is referred to as Overkill. But then again, if you could create your perfect dream rig, wouldn't you go just a little overboard? So would we.
|Vehicle : ||2000 Jeep CJ-5 |
|Owner : ||Tom Kamrath |
|Engine : ||388ci Chevrolet stroker V-8 |
|Transmission : ||Modified turbo 400 |
|Axles/differentials : ||A narrowed Dana 60 with a Power Lock |
differential (front); a narrowed 1-ton Eaton
with a Detroit Locker (rear)
|Suspension : ||4-inch lift Trailmaster leaf springs, front and rear |
|Wheels : ||16x16 custom |
|Tires : ||44-inch-diameter tractor tires |
|Other : ||Custom aluminum 20-gallon fuel cell with |
baffles; custom-altered soft top; air cleaner under dashboard; Hi-Lift jack; removable
center console with a radio and a CD player; dual batteries;
120-amp alternator; Auto Meter gauges; emergency battery shut-off switch