When I first started this build I was going to get a repi tub toss it on and restore this thing. That's why I went out a day after buying it and bought a dauntless after finding it had a 231 under the hood incited of the 225. It is also the reason I bought a Myers top and doors. The fj62 axles were the only drive train Mod I planned because they were close to the original 55" size and the spring mounts were close making them perfect as a 3/4 ton alternative to a 44.
Then I started thinking about rust. I did not want to paint this thing every 5 years cause I actually drove it year round. So the steel was out. Then yea I looked at fiberglass. But then I thought back to what I plan on using this for; woods wheeling. Where branches are dragging the sides and I could see that pretty fiberglass body becoming a hanging shattered mess of fibers real quick.
There was also the safety factor. Super light glass bodies are great. But, in a accident they are worthless. There is 15" between the outside of the door to the inside of the cage. The seat sits in about half of that space. In a accident more then half the driver would be crushed. To fix this you toss a 150 lb 3" thick tube underneath held in by 8 bolts and for some reason that is ok.
So I looked for something that would be rustproof yet I would not freak if a soccer mom slammed her door into it. The composite bodies I found were poor at best. And the idea of a plastic panels using a exo skin seemed like it could be made easily enough. Originally, I had a basic family cage in mind. Cutting out the rear upright so that the glass could slide in/out then welding tabs so it could be bolted in to hold the glass seemed like a good idea. In a roll over this area would crush down but with no passengers it was not really a concern. I decided I would make a tube lift gate that would reinforce the weak rear uprights and be able to slide the glass out the bottom for the back. The trouble came when I wanted to have the roof slide out to make a safari. I could not go out the back the tailgate would need a spot to hinge. Not to mention all the cross bracing. So I came up with the idea of a removable bar at the top of the windshield. Once this was slid out the drivers side sideways the roof could be removed and the windshield could also if I ever felt the need.
This tubing had 1/8 "tabs" that hold on the 3/4" panels in a tongue and grove setup. This allows me to slide different panels in or out. The 3/4" panels have the tab on the inside and mount flush to the outside of the tube letting 1/8" hang over the pipe . the 1/8" glass has the tabs surrounding it.
But the body/frame consisted of 2 profile outside tubes. With no cross bracing it would fold over. So I started adding cross bracing. The idea of incorporating the wheel wells into the cross bracing lead me to add panels on them and the floor. Before long the entire tub was a series of tubes on the profile that would be welded to the frame.
I have ripped my fair share of fender flares off. And see guys welding up these heavy tube fenders and knew there could be a better way. I came up with the idea of retractable fenders. Think of a flat fender. Now put flat panels under the fender that are on a track that slide in. Boom retractable fenders. You have the ability to push them in for areas that would crush them or pull them out to catch mud or just be legal on the road. I'm a automation freak and I seen a window motor as the perfect method to push rods and push out the fenders. Well because those fenders are now lower you need to raise them so the tube idea went to the hood. While I was there I thought why not make the hood tilt forward. Why not make it tilt forward 180 degrees so it could serve as a workstation instead of the tight trunk area. So I decided on a 2" tall hood with arms that would slide forward to serve as feet after they were unlocked. Well then I thought of the windshield wipers. These tiny things are a insult in the mud but how could you improve them. euro wipers would leave a huge V in the middle. I went back and forth then noticed a rear wiper on a suv that was moving 180 degrees. After a lot of failed designs. I came up with the idea of a track that had 2 wheels at the bottom that would look like well (oIo) this track would have a normal wiper under it to keep pressure on it then I would have a second track on the upright section (I) that the 180 wiper would turn. It would allow the wiper to cover dang near the entire windshield left to right leaving just the outside few inches. Well I really wanted this to work But I could see the track filling full of ice if it was just placed under the windshield out in the open. So the hood was moved back and the tub area there lowered covering the track of the windshield system. So at this point I had pretty much slightly changed then entire shape of the tub and looked back at the cage. After looking at a lot of crashes from cages that"worked" seeing most of them fail after 1 or 2 rolls I decided a spider like "inner cage" would guarantee I would not end up dead.
The inner cage has the only .250 on a pillars to prevent the top from forcing the tubing into the driver. Because the outer cage has the removable cross brace there.
You seen me talk about the tank thing worried about clearance and settled on raising the floor to make it work before deciding propane would be dependable low cost fix compared to FI.
This whole propane thing was a hard kick to the balls. But, I learned a lot from you guys. While looking at the propane thing I dabbled into other aftermarket parts for the dauntless finding next to nothing. OK no big it is dang near perfect no need to mess with it. Lets look at rebuilding it though. ok 800-1000 in parts not including the crank. Surly my trusty scat can help. no only for the 231 it is different. ok well long story A 350 was looking better and better and finding crate engines or even a 350 anywhere for around $500 t seemed like a good idea. Well, while I'm at it why not just spend some more and consider a torque monster. Humm the t-14 surly wont handle that so I looked to my t-18 that I have used behind 460's without any issue. Then the transfer case became the issue. ok so I will ditch that and go with a atlas. Oh but now that I did that the t-18 wont work so I guess a 465 is a better choice. But now that I have this great Power train I need to move the rear housing to a center. Which is where we are now.
So yea totaling it all up the weight is a issue. And I am being a huge hypocrite because for years I have been giving people beef about bolt on armor, tube fenders, using heavy engines knowing what the end result would be.
So I have a dilemma. I have a lot into tools but as far as the jeep goes I really have not done jack to it except get the 231 to run for a bit. Between the jeep itself for a grand, the 25k 225 dauntless that I paid a grand for, the 350 top/doors, the rebuilt jeep/ford t-18 that I got down south for 400. I have about 3 grand invested.
I have like 5k in tools but I'm not counting them cause I am sure i would buy them anyway later.
The whole idea of building a rig is to have something someone else does not. Any yahoo can follow others cookie cutter plans and make a copy of there rig.
But, heck if I wanted a rig like everyone else I would just but the dang thing already built saving a lot of cash in the process.
Honestly though I am saving up for a house and this toy is going to cost me a lot of money. I have thought a few times about just buying someones rig completed and forgetting about this. I'm trying to have my cake and eat it also. Making a comfy luxury suv into a off road project is something that is really hard. Heck I could get a sweet driver and a pos that I could rag around in without worrying about it like I have done in the past for less then what this thing will cost.
Eventually you just need to see when the thing does not make sense.
This thing started out as a replacement for Goliath.
Goliath was a truck style buggy on unmodified 5 tons using a center mounted transverse Honda 1.8 motor. Top speed like faster then I dare to go. No transfer case needed with the light weight aluminum civic motor/trans and coil sprung rocks with a 9.whatever ratio running on whatever tires I found laying around. With like 700 pounds of un sprung weight including my butt and fuel I could fly over anything that got in the way. With like a 22/1 low ratio it was not a crawler in any sense. More of a runner death trap that I hoped I never rolled. But, as far as something that was bulletproof and a easy first rig it seemed to fit. Best of all I was looking at like 2k total investment(unmodified rocks/high mileage rust bucked mid 90's civic).
I just tried to make something that was a double duty and yea it got out of control.
Heck, with all the shiny tools I have in boxes I'm pretty sure I could make Goliath in under a weekend If I set out the parts before hand.
Will take a step back on this and do some thinking. Sorry for all the stupid questions in thinking this project up. It is all part of the noob learning process.