“I had the truck torn down from late April of 2009 until the week before Easter Jeep Safari in 2010. The front end was presenting a problem. I could not make my original suspension design work with the factory steering box and linkage. The linkage came from Off Road Design and was a crossover steering set up with a high steer, as well. When the suspension flexed it was causing a bind in the steering. My brother and I started on front suspension version 2.0. This version also included a set of inner Cs from Reid Racing along with a set of their knuckles. I needed to rotate the front output to make a better drive line angle. We made the lower links parallel and attached the uppers to the lowers to make a Y-link on both sides. Turns out this would not work either since we were using Heim joints and not poly joints. Damn, next up, front suspension version 3.0.
“We tried to mimic a Jeep Cherokee or a new Dodge suspension, but we were still having some binding issues with the steering at full flex. So, out come the limiting straps to limit the binding I was having. It was such a shame to limit my 16-inch travel FOA shocks to 12 inches, but we did not know what else to do. I found an NP203 from a ’77 Dodge, and ordered up a doubler, twin-stick kit, and an NP205 from Off Road Design. Stephen Watson was a huge help and was always available for all my questions.
“Well, I guess that brings us to the Easter Jeep Safari of 2010…and what a huge disaster that was. It turns out that once again I did not have the front end dialed in. I did not have much time to test it and had no time with it in the dirt. The first day I headed out to Area BFE and was supposed to hit the Green Day trail with the folks from RockyMountainExtreme.com. Well, the panhard bracket that I had in place did not have any bracing and was just relying on a couple of welds. It failed about 15 minutes into the trail. Figures, this is just my luck, I thought as I watched my front end walk sideways under the truck every time I tried to steer the front tires.
“Thank goodness for my good friends Cheston Beck, Corey Casper, and Randy Swartz, who all came to my rescue and got me out of the trail. And then it started to snow. What else do you do but smile and bear it, and laugh at the funny turn of events? After we got the truck out and back to some level ground I was fortunate enough to bump into a couple of other really cool guys. The Dalton brothers had a welder and steel with them. If it was not for them I don’t know what I would have done.
“We got the truck fixed and I was on my way back to my camp. I arrived there safe and sound but I had some more issues on the front end (broken studs). While working on the studs I managed to break my left thumb with a sledge hammer. I got the truck fixed and back onto the trail only to have disaster strike again: The steering box was separating from the frame. Now that the panhard bar was braced something else had to go. The steering box was only held on by a couple of bolts by the time I realized my error.
“In the course of one day I had wheeled for about 20 minutes, broke the panhard bar bracket, separated the steering box from the frame, broke three studs, and my left thumb. I was done—both with the rig and my patience. My wife and I enjoyed the rest of our week checking out the shops in Moab, along with the great parks, while enjoying some great food.