Now that the build is done and the buggy has a weekend under it's tires it's
time to wrap up the build portion of this project. There will definitely be more
updates as I ran out of time for all of my wish list items and further usage
will reveal new things to tweak. As it sits my to-do list is fairly short:
The need for a limit strap on the front axle is really the only unforeseen
design issue I missed during the build and stems from the way my shifter cable
has to cross under front of the transfer case output on the passenger side.
This routing was not an issue with a fixed carrier bearing driveshaft like my
previous chassis used. The two piece driveshaft the new design uses has just
enough travel to cause the driveshaft to crush the shifter cable against
the transmission cross member when the front axle drops out on the passenger
side. I'll loose a few inches of droop by installing a 18" long limit
strap on the passenger side of the axle but it will keep the shifter cable safe.
I still need to research and see if I can come up with a way to loop the cable
down and around on the drivers side of the transmission so it is inline with the
After some investigating I found it was fairly simple to re-orient the shifter
cable by adding another arm off of the existing shifter linkage. By
maintaining the same distance from the pivot point I was able to get the correct
throw required to hit the gear spacing.
With the reconfigured shifter linkage it looks like I can get away with a 20"
limit strap on the passenger side so I went ahead and put one on each side.
Design wise I think the low mounted rear radiator is my favorite feature.
While can't do any hot weather testing till later, if it works as it has been it
has a ton of advantages such as allowing for a much lower hood line (better
visibility), sleeker /shorter nose, easier shock mounting, quieter (than when it was
up front), it doesn't blow super hot air on the front occupants (maybe not a bad
thing in the winter) and I have full access to the front of the engine.
Disadvantages - more coolant onboard (weight) as well as more plumbing
connections but honestly any of the above advantages easily trumps both
On a similar note the relation of the axle/winch/front end turned out really
nice in that I don't have to do any sort of elaborate winch cable routing to get
it connected to the front axle. The cable just attaches to the axle and
can be used with no need to feed the thimble thru the fairlead. I wish I could
honestly claimed I planned it that way, the reality is everybody gets lucky
sometimes. In my case I didn't even look at my attachment options till the
day before the test run.
I love the storage space and the utility basket out back came in really handy
the whole weekend. I will say the interior storage is harder to access with both
the panels and the chassis at ride height but a large part of that is I did not
put a second foot hole in the side panel for getting into the rear storage which
is an easily fixed oversight. The fluid holder came in handy
although I need to come up with a funnel holder that will keep it secured and
I think the dual Magnaflow mufflers are great motivators when tackling an
obstacle but they are louder than I'd like for cruising around. I want to invest in
an intercom system and am hoping the headphones will cut down on the noise
to and from the trail so for now ear plugs as needed on the longer drives..
The ORI struts were always a big concern, I saw them in action when they first
appeared on the scene many years ago and they did not seem to work too well as
far as stability went. Based on what I have read ORI has made great strides
since then and I can happily say they exceeded my expectations. I chose
them mainly to simplify the suspension since they eliminate the need for air
bumps and sway bars. I also had read about their supple ride and was
pleasantly surprised that even with my initial best guess nitrogen charge they
rode much better than my previous coilover suspension. It is hard to describe
the feeling but in small to medium rocky sections where the old coilovers felt
harsh and bumpy at lower speeds these felt cushy with nearly no jarring impacts.
From what I understand the downside to these struts is their rebound
capabilities: they can't handle multiple large whoops without tuning them to the
point where you loose your stability. They handled my typical race to the trail
driving style with ease and I knew when my wife commented how nice the buggy
rode that I had made the right choice.
Off-road I could not tell much of a difference between these and my old tuned
coilover/sway bar setup. The ORI's articulated nicely and quietly (no
spring rattles) and handled the off camber stuff with ease. On the steep
climbs the struts were very predictable with no hint of unloading. When I did
get to the point of picking a front tire I could hold that position for as long
as I wanted. I have run airshocks in the past and they would hold to a point and
then unload quickly due to push off. I had no sense of that with the
ORI's. I think the most telling situation was when I got the buggy
sideways on one of the steep climbs on Jigsaw. As the buggy twisted the momentum
rolled the body/suspension towards a roll but it never occurred. With my
old coilovers I would have expected more rocking as the shocks bled off the
energy of the downside coils that were compressed as the buggy tilted to the
Cabin ergonomics are a bulls eye. Seat position and angle feels perfect and
re-doing the dash for more knee clearance at the last minute was a good decision
as getting in and out with boots on requires more room than the shoes or sandals
I wore when fabricating this thing. I was worried about the switches being
reachable with the harnesses on but I can easily get every switch with the 4
points engaged. Both front passengers have more leg room than the previous
chassis and you can tell after extended riding periods that you don't feel
cramped or specific pressure points due to being wedged into a position. I do
need more temporary storage for gloves and stuff, the Poly Performance buggy bag
on the passenger side was used quite a bit the first trip out and I will be
adding some more bags like it shortly. My wife liked the retractable grab handle
I built for her on the passenger side and I even had some left over foam grip
material which I used to turn the rear shoulder harness posts into grab handles
for the rear seat passenger.
To utilize the space under the dash a bit better I picked up one of these
Mastercraft storage bags from Polyperformance. I discovered they came with a
slick half turn locking latch setup which worked perfect for my flat panel
I transferred the hole pattern onto a sheet of paper, then transferred it to the
center pane in the buggy. After drilling a bunch of 1/8 diameter holes I
used rivets to attach the tabs that came with the bag, then attached the bag to
Sealing up the passenger compartment paid off in less dust and heat being able to
enter not to mention it just looks nicer. The front headers are ceramic coated
and the exhaust tubing under the floors is wrapped. Despite not having any
heat reflective materials on the body panels I never felt any
engine/transmission heat either of the two days were drove around which compared
favorably with the old buggy which would get toasty even on a cold winter day.
The one thing I did stick to the floors was some self adhesive anti-slip mats I
found at a local Harbor Freight store. I was worried they would not stick
well but so far so good. Worst case I will rivet them to the floor panels.
Rear visibility is limited but no worse than my previous rig, you can't
really get much with a rear seat in the way anyways.
I can't believe I forgot the cup holders! The passenger side
Polyperformance buggy bag has an integrated cup holder but I did not have room
for a bag on the drivers side or in back by the 3rd seat so I bought some of
"Candola" drink holders. The drivers was mounted on the side of the
shifter tower and the 3rd seat drink holder attached to the tube to the left of
the seat. $20 later and problem solved.
Speaking of the 3rd seat,
the single panel ATV seat heater made by Wamseats fit the PRP Preemie seat
perfectly in the "seat" area (could also have been put in the "back" area).
I wired the control up on a moveable bracket next to the seat so Cameron can
select high or low settings as desired.
I can't say much power wise since I didn't really open it up on the roads, was
too busy with everything else. Throttle response was real snappy on the trail
and there was ample torque to launch the climbs in second despite the larger
tires. I did notice the max boost pressure was down a bit despite the smaller
pulley, most likely due to the ported blower. I also don't recall ever
seeing any timing pulled when accelerating which bodes well for the
modifications I installed. I was running a can of octane boost just
to be safe, I may try a straight tank of 91 and see if the timing remains stable
on acceleration. I do plan on getting the engine/PCM tuned and dyno'd to
ensure everything is running as it should.
Fast forward a week later. Further testing showed I was only making 4,
maybe 5 psi of boost at best.
Ever since shortly firing up this motor I have heard a hissing which I thought
was the intake. Turns out it was one of the vacuum plugs I used to block one of
the unused S/C ports which had blown out. This would explain why I wasn't seeing
much boost the first test run. I am still only seeing 4, maybe 5 psi with a 3.3"
pulley. That seems way to low. I know you drop a little boost from porting but
8psi to 4 is a huge drop. Going to pay more attention to this tomorrow when we
are out. If it doesn't look like I am loosing boost somewhere else not sure what
else to do. I don't like how this 97 blower has the little tower coming off of
it with the two ports. I did not have a new o-ring to put on it when I rebuilt
everything and am not convinced this connection is holding up to the pressure.
The 98+ blowers eliminated this connection.
I did have problems with the flanges on the new rear axle shafts working their
way loose. I ended up turning the body of the hub down slightly so the bolt
heads could seat square to the flange without hitting the radius that was left
from the initial machining process. The rub marks are where the bolt still
interferes with the hub body when you first start tightening them. I did
not want to turn the entire hub body down since the sealing surface between the
hub body and cap was not very big to begin with.
The original battery box was swapped out for this Artec unit that fit my battery
better. The original box was meant for a Group 34 Optima but halfway thru
the project when my 2 year old Optima battery died in my Jeep I decided I was
done with that brand and the premature failures I had experienced with their
batteries the last few years.
With the camshaft break in complete I drained the oil and removed the oil filter
from the stock location and installed my remote oil filter and oil accumulator.
I managed to find a 1/4 NPT to -6 adapter that had an extra 1/8 NPT port for my
low oil pressure light sender (installed on the accumulator outlet). I am
omitting the engine oil cooler for now since the cooling system worked very well
on the test runs. I have the option to add a cooler if further hot weather
testing shows it is needed.
My solution for onboard air is a dedicated compressor with a 100% duty cycle.
I chose a Viaair 350C for it's compact size and duty cycle. The new
compressor found a home above the ARB compressor. If my ARB ever fails me
on a road trip I'd like to be able to re-configure and use the Viaair as a last
resort. To aid in getting tires back up a surge tank is helpful. After
some measuring I found a place for one of Viaair's half gallon tanks under my
second cooler. A larger one would be better but I wanted it tucked away.
To help compensate I am using a 145psi pressure switch so I can charge the tank
up pretty good.
I re-used the air chuck I fabricated for my last buggy. The best spot
seemed to be next to the passenger seat since it was about mid chassis and
should keep the chuck cleaner.
The switch for the Viaair compressor found a home under the dash. After
some further testing I also found the electronic fan controller was not
activating the secondary fan like it was supposed to so I wired the relay
trigger for that one to another switch. This will be temporary till I have time
to dig into the wiring loom to find the PCM fan trigger wires (there is one high
and one low negative trigger coming off the PCM). The bad oil pressure gauge
turned out to actually be the gauge which I discovered after I ordered and
installed a new sender. I had a feeling I should have just ordered a
completely new gauge. Not wanting to spring for another $80 Autometer
gauge I Picked up a $20 LED gauge from Harbor Freight. I am actually
pretty impressed with it's build quality and I like the larger sweep.
I also forgot the hard stop for the gas pedal so I cut down a 5/8 threaded
coupling and welded it to the pedal mounting plate. To get the position
just right I tie wrapped the pedal to the mount, ensured the throttle body was
bottomed out on the stops, then welded the hard stop to the plate.