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2022 FOTY

  • Mattmann

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  • Bow

    Votes: 15 48.4%
  • BroncoJoe96

    Votes: 16 51.6%
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Hey All,

Thanks for voting me FOTM and having me compete in this competition. During my FOTM run I covered a ton of my Bronco build up, and I'll touch on that again. However, to start this run off, I think I'm going to start with some wheeling and mods I've done to my Bronco once I got it together. To kick it all off, I think I'm going to start with one of my most extreme wheeling trips yet.

Before that though, here's a little background on my Bronco. The "cliff notes" so to speak. I've owned this rig for the past 10 years. I bought it at 15, and it was may daily driver all through high school and college. For a majority of it's life, it was on a 6" lift and 35s, but once I graduated and picked up a newer truck as a tow rig/daily, I finished it's transformation into the monster you see above. I lifted it higher, one ton swapped it, stuck on 43s, swapped in a 7.3 Powerstroke diesel, plus a handful of other odds and ends, but more on that later.

After some initial testing on the trails early on, a few of the biggest changes I did to the truck were adding high steer to it, and an ARB air locker up front. Then it was time for a "Shakedown Run" and it worked out perfect, because a few other FSB members needed one as well. Those members were @OX1 and @reptillikus, and we set up a date to go to Rausch Creek this past spring. It rained for days leading up to the Saturday we picked, as well as the whole time we were there. That didn't phase us though, and we ended up going, and I ended up running the most extreme trails I've ever hit-even in the swampy conditions. Here's some pictures from that trip:





We hit a pretty decent slew of obstacles, and it exposed a lot of weak points in my truck, the biggest of which was my already half shot transmission that I finished off out on the trails that day, and lack of adequate cooling for it. After pulling the trans out and disassembling it, I realized it got so hot that the paint burnt off the torque converter, and that the aluminum pump body heated up and expanded so much, that it allowed the front steel seal housing to "fall out" of where it was pressed into. Luckily, I knew the trans was on it's last legs so it failure wasn't too big of a surprise. However, now that it finally bit the dust, it moved to top thing on my to do list before I could get back out on the trails, so I'll cover that in my next post.

Here's a video covering some more of the wheeling that day at Rausch Creek:


Cheers to a good month!!
 

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After that trip out to Rausch Creek, I needed a transmission rebuild before I'd be able to get back on the trails again. That wasn't too bad, but my issue was that I only had about a month before the East Coast Bronco Round Up, so I was a little close on time. With that being said, I didn't have much to do but get to it.


I worked late one night and got the tranny pulled. I shortly realized I needed to acquire a high lift tranny jack. Even with my tires off, the floor tranny jack was too short to reach.


Then I stripped it down on a Thursday, with the plan to rebuild it over the long weekend (Memorial Day Weekend), and that's when I ran into problems. I needed hard parts, and there was no way I was going to be able to get them before/during the weekend. That was going to be a massive set back, so I had to figure something out...


I decided to search Facebook market place for a core to steal parts from, and found one an hour away. When I showed up, the guy actually had a second one on the pallet that he threw in for another like $50. Best part is, buying whole the spare trannies was cheaper than just buying the parts I needed.


I was back in business, with all the spare parts I could ever want.


I was able to get a high capacity pan, I got the tranny back together, and she was ready to go!


Then I took it for a celebratory beer run to test it out. She shifted well, and after installing a bigger tranny cooler we were ready for Bronco Roundup!
 

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You can see the new tranny cooler on the driver side of the Bronco's bumper. With that on, we were ready to roll out!


It was a little wet, but that's okay.

It was still wet when we got there, but it ended up clearing up through out the day, here's a few pictures I got from day one. Most of them are just poser shots, because any of the action I got on the Go Pro.





Overall, everything functioned well on day 1. The cooler kept the tranny under control, everything felt good, and it was a mild day of wheeling. Typically there's three days of wheeling, so it's always a good idea to start slow, and not break your rig on the first day. I did a good job of that, and you can see the action below. However, on day two I wasn't so lucky, but that will be shared in the next post.

 

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Next up was day two of wheeling, again at Rausch Creek. It was a bit nicer out, so I took off the top for the day. We also started moving to slightly harder trails, and I ended the day with a bang.

We played in a bit more of rocks, and Cemetery trail is where I ran into some issues.


I didn't get a ton of pictures from the day, but in the video below you can see the whole trip. If you skip to 7 minutes, that's the obstacle I ended up breaking on, and 9 minutes is right about when I end up breaking.

There was a miscommunication between my co pilot and myself, and instead of climbing up on this huge rock at the top of the trail with my passenger side tire, the smushing feeling that I thought was the 43" Super Swamper wrapping around the rock, was actually my 1.5" DOM quarter inch wall steering wrapping around that same rock. Then I gave the truck a little bit more throttle to climb, and the centering joint in the driveshaft's CV let go. This resulted with a sudden release of energy, and that energy immediately sheared off the the output shaft of of my transfer case. Right at the end of the obstacle too. Now I need to go back for redemption...


My driveshaft with my transfercases flange still attached.

My BW 1356 transfer cases output.

Luckily, getting off the trail wasn't too bad. We rearranged a few rocks, hooked up a winch to first straighten my steering, and then used it to help pull my truck out of the rocks since I didn't want to risk breaking anything else since I was limited to front wheel drive. It was an easy enough pull, and once I was on the main trail I taped up the output of my transfer case to keep it from losing fluid, and then drove the truck out of the park in front wheel drive. Once I hit the parking lot, I aired up the tires and drove 20 minutes on the back roads back to the camp ground in front wheel drive.

Cruising in front wheel drive, and you can see my front steering is still slightly bowed.

Even took 3rd in the car show for fullsize rigs. I think proudly displaying my trail damage helped.
 

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So, with this post I'm going to jump a little out of order. Instead of covering the repairs of my trail damage from Bronco Roundup, I'm quickly going to jump ahead to a project I'm working on this week, then I'll jump back. It's not a ton, but it's a few minor touches that I've been waiting to do for a while. I've been running my front bumper slightly unfinished, and I'm finally getting around to fixing that. It was all 2"x4" rectangular tubing, with a little stinger welded on to it, and so far it's held up well. I've used the angled pieces in the front to assist with turning on tight trails (plowed it into trees), and it didn't move at all, but I'd feel better if I braced it some to give it more rigidity. Also, working under the hood I've been balancing on the rectangular tubing, but it's only a matter of time until I slip off that and come plummeting back to Earth. To fix both these problems, I ended up covering both sides of my bumper with a piece of 3/16th diamond plate. On the driver side, I had my tranny cooler tucked in there, so I relocated it to behind the stinger. To protect it there, I covered the stinger with 1/4" perforated steel. Lastly, I added a few angled pieces on the bottom side of the bumper. I'm sure they help with bracing and strengthening the bumper, but in reality I added them because I think they look cool. Don't pay attention to the Bronco being all dirty. I still haven't washed it since my latest trip.


Here's everything all tacked together. Since this picture, I've welded it all solid and am hoping to grind it all nice and paint it in the next few days. Stay tuned for updates!
 

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So here’s a little update on the bumper. I got it all welded up and ground, and threw some paint on it. I’ll go back and touch up the welds and may powder coat it, but for now I just had to get it buttoned up.






The reason I had to get it buttoned up? A local town was having a Christmas parade and they asked me to be a part of it. Can't say no to that, so after a quick wash we were there!


We threw some lights on the Bronco, my girlfriend dressed up as the Grinch, and we were ready to go!

Wrapped some garland around my spare to make the biggest wreath I've ever seen.

The marine pod speakers were great for blasting some Grinch related music.

All and all, it was a great time, and even my mom road along for some fun. To get there, it was about a half an hour of driving each way, and the Bronco drove awesome on a mix of city roads and highways. I'm finally at a point, where I'm ready to start mixing this in as a daily a few days a week, and probably touch up the body. I didn't do anything to that when I did the diesel swap, just so I didn't have to worry about it on my first few wheeling trips out, plus I had to see what sort of trimming I'd need to do the fit my tires. In my next couple posts, I'll show my latest mods/fixes, that have gotten it to this point of driveability. Then after those posts, I'll go back and give you some of the history of this truck before it was a diesel and when I daily drove it every day.
 

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So now that I covered my recent bumper mods, lets flash back to where we were, finding weak points of my rig at Bronco Round. I did a pretty good job of that. First thing on the list? Replace the output shaft of my transfer case.

Luckily I had a spare Bronco BW1356 electric shift transfer case, and the shafts were interchangeable, so that wasn't too bad of a fix.

Next, once I had a flange to actually measure to, it was time to order a heavier duty driveshaft that was okay operating at steeper angles. That ended up being a pretty penny.


Not only was I doing this to get the truck back moving again, but the local 4x4 club I joined was going to an event called "TrailFest" at AOAA Offroad Park about a month and a half after the Round Up, so I was in a bit of a time crush for that as well. After some discussion, I decided the truck needed more gearing and traction, so that meant I was diving back into the diffs as well during this period.

The rear 4.11s and factory LSD was replaced with 5.38s and an ARB to match the one in the front, and the front was regeared to 5.38s as well.


While I was up there, I put boots on my Heim joints, and replaced the steering that I bent up on the previous trip.


Also during this time, I found a front spring perch that probably should have been replaced while I was building the truck, and somehow over looked it. Luckily, I had a spare Dana 60 kicking around that I was able to steal a perch off of, literally hours before I was hitting the road for the trip.


Lastly, it's hard to pass up a photo opportunity any time the 43s are kicking around.


All and all, the truck was fixed, beefed up, regeared, and locked up, all in the span of a few weeks. With that, we were ready to get back out on the trails.
 

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Now it was time to put the truck to work! I will say, this trip we did play in the rocks some, but I spent pretty much the entire time running the trails with smaller trucks, so we didn't hit anything too brutal. However, there was some fun spots, and what I lacked in technical rock crawling, I made up for with trying to be a boat.








If you want to check out highlights of the trip, as well as getting the Bronco Ready for it, the video below does a good job of covering it. Especially the first two minutes where I almost end up sinking it in big hole, or maybe a pond as some would describe it?
 

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With 5 days left, I think it's time to bring you back to where this truck started, and I'll finish up with plans for the future. To do that, we have to go back to when I was 15, which is roughly 10 years ago. At that time, I was getting to the point where I was going to be getting my license so I needed a car. I wasn't sure what I wanted, so I started looking around. I wanted something cool, relatively cheap, safe, had 4x4, maybe a removable top, and that looked good. After looking into all that, I came to the obvious conclusion that I wanted a full-size Bronco, preferably lifted, and that's when my mission started. I'd sit in the back of my high school classes, and search high and low on Craigslist for Broncos. I found everything from beautiful survivors, to rusty plow trucks, and my dad's phone would get bombarded with a majority of these ads.

This is the one that peaked our interest the most.


It had a 6 inch Sky Jacker lift, 3 inch body lift, 2 sets of rims and tires (one set of 35s and a set of 42s), dual exhaust, racing seats, fender flares, an aftermarket front bumper, and a bunch of other odds and ends. It was pretty sweet.


So we went and checked it out a few days later, and this is how she sat. It had some issues that we noticed immediately, but my dad and I thought it was sick, and decided to buy it. We made a deal to get it for $2,700, left a deposit, and came back a week later with a trailer to pick it up.


We had to bring a set of rollers to get it to fit onto the trailer. Then it was on its way home!


Once it got home, we had to put it on the 42s one last time before I sold them for $600. The goal was to go to 35s and make it a more street friendly build. Now would be a good time to mention one of the many issues the truck came with, a partially blown transmission. You'd need to over rev the truck (like 4,000+ RPM) to get it to shift out of 1st, but that didn't stop us from joy riding the truck around the backyard, my dad specifically. On the first, and what turned out to be the last joy ride on 42s, my dad saw one of his arch nemesises; one of the ground hogs that live under our barn. He decided to attempt to chase it down, and we promptly blew out the remaining forward gears left in the E40D, and the ground hog got away scott free. After limping back to the drive way in reverse, we began tearing this thing down.


Now would be a good time to mention some of the issues with the Bronco. Some we noticed while checking it out, and some we realized later on. In no particular order: the trans was blown, massive rust issues, cut fenders, rear window didn't work, mismatched diff gears (4.56 front, 3.55 rear), broken front axle shaft, rotted spring towers and spring hangers, body mounts rotted through the frame, frame was cracked, seats were a bit ripped up, exhaust was rotted and leaking, multiple check engine lights, along with some other odds and ends I'm probably forgetting. All in all, the truck was rode hard and put away wet, and really should have been scrapped; but where's the fun in that?



Just a few pictures of the rust we were facing. We had a lot of work ahead of us.
 

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For roughly the next 6 months, my dad and I spent any spare time we had in the garage and turned this Bronco from something that belonged in a scrap yard, to a truck I daily drove through the rest of high school, all of college, and the beginning of my professional career. It'd do 85 MPH down the highway as straight as an arrow, and also be able to wheel some pretty decent trails and drive home after. Also, it was likely the best learning opportunity of my life. My dad's an industrial mechanic/fabricator by trade, and a lot of that knowledge was able to transition over to the Bronco build. Plus, anything we didn't know we either looked up here or on YouTube.

We started with rebuilding the transmission, and I painted the frame while it was out. Once we got the trans back in we moved on to anything mechanical, and then knocked out some structural pieces. Lastly, we finished up body work which came out pretty well I think for our first time. To go through those 6 months, would probably take the next 5 days, so instead I thought I'd share a little video I put together years ago covering the build. If you have any questions on anything, let me know and I'll happily go through it in more detail. Also, it's crazy how far the average smart phone camera has come in the last 10 years.


Also, since we're covering the build, I thought it'd be a good place to put in the rear bumper we built which has a swing out spare tire carrier. We built the whole thing out of scrap, and I'm still using it on the back of the Bronco till this day (just slightly modified).
 

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Now that I've covered the main build, I think it's a good time to run you through a few trips and memories with the Bronco from the early days, and then maybe I'll cover a few mods from back then.


First off, here's some pictures from the Port Jervis Bell Game parade when I was in high school. Whenever the game was played at home, a parade the day of was ran through town via police escort, and being a player on the team, I was asked if could run the Bronco in the parade. It is, I believe, the 3rd longest running high school rivalry in the country, and there was no way I was going to pass up on that opportunity. The Bronco was a big hit with the team and the town, and luckily was color coordinated to Port's Red and Black.






Here's another fun memory from back in high school, learning that you can fit 2 12 foot kayaks in a Bronco with a little perseverance.



A few pictures of my first time out off-roading. I had went out with my dad right down the road from us, and had a blast one night after work.


And here's my first mud bog. Took 3rd in the 35s and under class, which wasn't bad for a street driven rig. That mud was still the thickest I've ever found. It was like peanut butter.



Then I had skipped prom to go to my first East Coast Bronco Round Up. It was well worth it, and also my first time in an actual offroad park. Back then, this hole was a cool obstacle and it's fun to look back at it now.



Lastly, here's the Bronco putting in work scrapping the donor for the diesel build.
 

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Hey Bud, Did you make that rear roll bar yourself or is there a kit? What Soft Top is that as well was it made for that bar. I have the Rampage top but it kinda sags in back. I have a 1988 Bronco.
Hey man! It was a kit I got off eBay, the seller was all4funoffroad. As for a soft top, I never ran one but would like to in the future!

@bow Maybe they can open voting for a few more days?
 

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Now that we've got a few more days to run, I thought I'd share some mods from back in the day.


First off, a little bit of recycling. I picked up this parts truck, and snatched the brush guard off it for my Bronco.

After a quick set of brackets, I had it mounted up. Also, I had it set up so that if you pull two pins it'd fold forward so I can have access to the grill and headlights.

Another fun add on was the BBQ mount on the swing out tire carrier. This picture was taken of the parking lot of my freshman dorm. That night every trooper on campus ended up stopping by, and I was asked to go to a more secluded lot for future cookouts.


One of my favorite additions was the built in tool boxes in the rear.



A few pictures before I installed the latch.

And here's the final product. The back seat still even fit.


And a fire extinguisher for good measure.

Lastly for this post, my auxiliary switches I added in to where the map pocket was originally. I really like them in this spot.
 
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