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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is the build up of what I am calling my Trail Buggy XJ. I started with a 1987 XJ that I had been wheeling and modifying for about 10 years. I was to the point where I was ready to buy something with a real frame. Even though the unibody had been reinforced it was still nearly 30 years old and was showing its age. I had looked at getting a YJ or TJ and building it up but while I would gain a real frame, I would still have to deal with body damage. Then I started thinking that a buggy might be a better route. I looked around at buying one of the IBEX kits and using my old XJ parts but knew that I would never have time to build a chassis myself (even a kit like the IBEX) and have a rig ready to wheel anytime this summer. That was when I saw the the Tomahawk chassis that Action Fab posted in the Project Nillionaire thread. I got in contact with, he is local to me, and we talked about chassis options. A couple weeks later I went down to his shop and put my deposit down.

What sold me was the ability to reuse much of my XJ on the buggy, sure any buggy can be set up to use anything, but it was nice to have someone design a chassis with then intent of using factory Jeep parts. I am reusing the engine, transmission, t-case, axles, gauge cluster, steering column, and steering box. My XJ was already setup with a 3-link front and coilovers and I will be reusing the coilovers also. The original plan was to also use leaf springs in the rear and then swap to a 4 link with coilovers in the rear after wheeling the buggy for a year or so.

Onto some preliminary specs. I will post final specs once the rig is done.

Tomahawk Chassis:
2” x 3” rectangle tube and 3/16” plate for the lower rails
1.5” x .120” DOM for the tubing, with a little 1.25” x .120” DOM mixed in.
Integrated winch mount in the front of the frame.
4 seater with 36” rear bench.

Drivetrain:
Engine – Renix 4.0
Transmission – AW4
T-case – NP231
Front axle – Dana 30 with sleeved axle tubes, RCV's, ARB, and Bluetorch cross over steering conversion bracket.
Rear axle – Dana 44 with Alloy USA shafts, Disc brake conversion, and ARB.

For tires, I will start out with the 35” x 12.50” Goodyear Kevlar MTR's that I was running on the XJ.

Here is the Jeep that I had and will be reusing the parts from.



Pulling the engine from the old Jeep.




Engine cleaned up some.



Loaded the truck up with parts to take to Chris for the chassis build.



Totally stripped XJ. I sold off everything that wasn't getting reused.



Delivery of steel and aluminum came in. 1.5” x .120 wall tube for misc chassis additions, 2” x .250 wall tube for links, 2 5x10 sheets of .090” and 1 5x10 sheet of .060” aluminum.


 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Now for the part that everyone wants to see. Here are some photos of the chassis build.








Here is the chassis at home and in my garage. I took delivery of the chassis mid January this year. My chassis ended up being Tomahawk chassis #1.



I quickly got to work and was able to make the chassis a roller a couple of days later.



 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Here is the first mock-up of the fenders and grille. I am using XJ fenders and a narrowed grille. I will not be able to reuse the factory hood.




Then I got a smokin' deal on some coilovers and heim joints so I decided to go ahead and 4-link the rear suspension now. I am using an Artec truss for the rear axle. The truss is very nice and went together very easily. I only had to clearance for the axle tube vent and the ARB air line. For the chassis side upper links, I am using Artec track bar mounts that I cut and modified. I was then able to take the part of track bar mount that I cut off and use it for gussets on the upper shock mounts. The rest of the rear link mounts are random tabs and a shock mount from Ruffstuff.







My redneck fume extractor for welding with the garage doors shut.



Quick look at what the approach and departure angles will look like.


 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Here is some work on the floor and center console. I am reusing the factory transmission and t-case shifters. I am able to reuse the factory transmission cable. For the t-case, I am using a Novak cable shifter for an XJ. From the Novak kit, I am able to use the cable and the bracket for the transmission. I had to make my own chassis side bracket obviously. The chassis side bracket for the t-case shifter gets reinforced later on.





Here is the first shot of the buggy rolled out of the garage.



For coolant lines, I am using 1.25” and 1.5” exhaust tubing with the factory rubber hose connecting the tubing to the radiator. The radiator is a later model XJ aluminum unit. For fans, I am running 2 Volvo 2-speed fans with a custom shroud. The shroud is from .090” aluminum and it was my first aluminum project with my TIG welder.

Coolant lines


 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Radiator Fan Shroud









Here is the exhaust. It is just some generic mandrel bends from JEGS. I am able to reuse the factory front pipe that comes off of the exhaust manifold. I ordered a new front pipe and it may require some extra clearance once I get a new drive shaft. The front pipes have a dent in them to clear the front drive shaft and it looks like mine may need to be dented a little lower down (no photo on the dent). I will probably heat wrap the exhaust. I am a little worried about the heat right next to the heims, but I never had an issue on the XJ with the upper link on the front suspension being right next to the exhaust pipe.





Here is a quick layout of the floor and firewall. The floor and firewall are .090” aluminum For tabs, I am using some body mount tabs that I got from A&A Mfg. that I then welded a nut to the back of.


 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Here are the tabs. This is just a small batch, I probably used 200 of these things with the nuts welded to them.



Working on the side panels. These are also .090” aluminum.






I am reusing some of the fiberglass from the factory hatch for the rear panel. This buggy will be registered and street legal, so I needed a license plate mount.



Battery mount. I couldn't find anywhere else that I liked to put the battery, so it is going against the firewall on the passenger side. It is not in the way of the passengers feet and it is sealed so it won't leak on anyone.



I will have a windshield. With manual wipers. I will be using glass for the windshield. I had a couple pieces cut locally for a little over $100 each. The wiper is just a generic UTV wiper but it uses a normal wiper blade vs the hot rod versions that basically use a squeegee.



Here are the tail lights that I found. These are just some LED truck/trailer lights from Super Bright LED's. These are the only ones I could find that were DOT approved and fit in the space that I have.

 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I picked up a set of Race Mirrors. These things look awesome and I shouldn't have to worry about re-adjusting the mirror every time I rub against a tree.




Boatsides and bellypan are done. They are .250” steel with .375” UHMW skins. These are freakin' heavy. I may swap the steel for aluminum later on.



Brake lines. I am using the factory booster and master cylinder, along with the factory proportional valve. For the rear, I have hard lines along the chassis, a flex line to one of the upper links, another hard line, and flex line to the rear axle with a tee and then down to the calipers. For the front, I have hard lines to a flex line that drops down to the caliper.





I built a tiny bumper for the front.


 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Here is some work on the dash and, auxiliary fuse block, and relays. The dash is all .060” aluminum.






Hood finished. It is .060” aluminum with a .125” aluminum angle frame.



Random front end pic with the ARB compressor and winch relay mounts.

 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Finally fiberglassing the grille back together. My brother came over to help me get started and then I finished it. This is my first fiberglass project and I am sure some of you pros out there may think differently but it turned out good to me.








Here is how I figured out tire clearance for the new front fenders. Once I had the cardboard trimmed, I laid it across the new fender and trimmed an opening that didn't look as goofy.

 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I threw everything else on the buggy and rolled it out to the driveway for some final shots before I tore it all apart.







Rear view mirror is also a UTV part.



Here is the chassis all stripped down and ready for paint. I also weighed the chassis and it came out to 589 lbs. I added some recovery points and some additional gussets after I weighed it, so I am going to call it 600 lbs.




 

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When I started reading this i was not expecting to see all this progress. And I must say I am impressed. It looks good. I would love to build something like this one day. It's a nice starting point for whatever may comt next. Looking forward to seeing more
 

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I love the idea of using all the stuff you had that already works. Not super hardcore, but so much savings in using little stuff that you had...shifters and brake stuff, and all that.

And thats a hell of a bunch of good work you've got done so far.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Thanks guys. I was able to get the chassis and most of the floor/interior panels painted this weekend. I used 4 quarts of Rustoleum hammered black for the chassis. Three of those quarts were sprayed through a Wagner spray gun and 1 quart was brushed on by hand to get the bottom and any spots that I missed. The floor and interior panels are Rustoleum hammered silver.

I sprayed all of the paint un-thinned through the Wagner gun. The paint came out of the gun in a mist with large drops. The large drops would probably make any other paint look like crap, but I think they actually helped out the hammered finish.






 

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Any idea what your head room is going to be? Looks like the top of the chassis could be dropped down 6-8" and still leave plenty of head room.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Think your spring will hit the exhaust at full stuff?
There will be plenty of room for the spring through out the entire motion of the suspension.

Any idea what your head room is going to be? Looks like the top of the chassis could be dropped down 6-8" and still leave plenty of head room.
I don't remember the measurement on headroom, but it is enough. Headroom was initially tight since I decided to run the XP's instead of one of the smaller Corbeaus like what the original plan was. I am also running sliders so my wife can scoot the seat up to drive. The sliders and adapter bracket take up a couple of inches also.
 

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I'll be following this. Any more info on the chassis? Where to buy one, price, options?


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