Bessy the Rock Rod - A Crawler Built in Stages

UPDATE: This Jeep likes to party!!

We wheeled Dresser WI on Saturday but didn't take any pictures. We wheeled Frontenac Farms in Lake City MN on Sunday and took a lot of pictures.

The leaf sliders are really stable on side hills. Having nothing hanging past the frame rails is awesome for ground clearance. The bald sticky tires do indeed stick to rocks. The new seats hold you in and make for a super comfortable ride.

I had a super fun weekend. I had the most fun wheeling since back when I lived out west.

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This last picture was the obstacle that instigated the last 6 months of Jeep projects. What you don't see is the 4' tall undercut rock under my driver front tire. Last fall I tried bumping it hard several times in an attempt to make it up, slamming my driver side leaf hanger into the undercut left tire rock which cracked/bent the frame and tipped the jeep into the rock on the right which caved in my rear tub side. Yesterday I CRAWLED the same obstacle!!

The next small projects will likely be a quick release steering wheel (it's very tight getting in and out with the tall side bolsters of the new seats) and probably a hydraulic cutting brake setup (the mechanical parking brake dig brake just don't work that well.

The next large project will definitely be building a legit roll cage (with door bar(s) and harness bars and frame tie ins at A, B, and C pillars. The frame tie ins I have already set in place in .188 wall 1.75" DOM with my combination boat side/body mount design and my shock mounts.

When I build a cage, I am also considering eliminating the factory dash and putting the windshield on quick release pins for visibility when crawling. The cage project might be a little ways out though...I need to balance family time/Jeep projects.

Attached below are some inspiration pictures for reference of the high visibility dash/cage concept I'd like to emulate.

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The rig looks like it is working well. Nice work.

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I love the way that 2.5l sounds.just chugging along pushing those 39's!

I agree! The new muffler is a little louder when you're in the Jeep but it isn't ridiculous.

The gearing is still plenty low enough (despite the larger tires) that the Jeep crawls slowly without much use of clutch. When the tires get really bound (on an undercut rock for example) the little engine stalls out and I'm hoping that lack of power keeps these axles alive.
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It's time for a picture heavy update.

It was fun having the Jeep around over the summer. I drove it back and forth to work a bit and did some more wheeling. It is little fun on the street but such a hoot on the trail! The atlas and the dry rotted red labels have really been a game changer in the rocks. The Jeep will walk lines that it previously struggled on. The leaf springs continue to boggle minds and fuel conversation and debate. The front leaf eye slider boxes flex great but ride like shit at speed. The ground clearance is unreal compared to my previous setup. The factory power steering pump clearly struggles to keep up with the hydraulic assist ram. I also had an issue with the tie rod/drag link pinching my hydro lines so I rerouted them.

The wittle Dana 44s held up to a surprising amount of abuse (and tire).

I spent some time up north at Gilbert OHV park. The wheeling is good and so is the scenery. The trails are rocky, jagged, and unforgiving.

I snapped a front outer chromoly axle shaft in two but I had it coming. I was attempting a hard left front-dig, pointing uphill, with the right rear tire bound. The snapped shaft blew out the locking hub and wrecked the hub spindle too. The inner shafts and the Yukon "Super" joints held up. Note to self: avoid bound, uphill, 4,500rpm front digs! It wasn't too bad of a fix and it was good to find the limit of my parts with these tires. If this breakage becomes a trend I might consider RCVs and drive slugs.

We had an end of season wheeling trip planned late October but got several inches of rain so I took a rain check. Now the Jeep is tucked away in the barn for the winter.

I'm looking forward to wheeling more in 2024! Future plans include some fresh tires and I definitely still want to build a proper roll cage! I also got a 36" Corbeau bench that matches my front seats so I can eventually bring my son along.