Hello. Let me give my background first. I"m 18 years old, I drive an '04 Dodge Dakota. Great truck, but far too nice to take off the road. I drive it little. I have enjoyed motorcycling off the road since I was about 6 years old, and I am now interested in 4 wheeling as well.
So I'm considering a "rat" which might be used to play in the sand washes, and go down trails where it might get wacked with brush a little bit. Somethign overall that I don't have to care about. I like big Broncos as a result of my dad.
As long as I can remember we've had a Bronco. First there was the '84 with the 300 and New Process box with creeper gear. That was a good truck for us, but as so many things do in Pennsylvania, it rusted away. It was black with tan vinyl seating and NO AIR CONDITIONING!!! This was the biggest hangup with the truck really. I was about 6 when we got rid of this. We intended to replace it with the '91 Explorer, but my dad "missed" his old Bronco. That lead to the purchase of our '87 Bronco. Another 6, this time with EFI and the other transmission (with overdrive). This was my favorite of our Broncos, probably because I remember spending a lot of time in it. This one had A/C, and cloth seats, although it was still a "Custom", thus still had a vinyl floor. It used to "collide" with bumps on the road, but I still liked it. We sold it to our neighbor, who continued to bring it to my dad's shop for service until he sold it at 273,000 miles. Sold it to a body guy because although it was mechanically sound, it needed some major body work due again to the PA road salt. My dad again thought he would "replace" his Bronco with an Expedition. It again didn't last, and 2 years later we sought out a '96 Bronco which we still have. 351 with an automatic and every conceivable option (it is an Eddie Baur). This last one is a nice truck, but I do not like it perhaps quite as much as I liked the '87.
Anyway now you know where I'm comming from, so I'll dive into some questions:
1) What do you do about the rather large factory mirrors in tight offroad trails?
2) Can you squeeze one of these beasts most places a Jeep can go?
3) Essential offroad mods? Shall we open the limited slip versus locker debate? The 8.8 is a good axle. What ratios do you run? I would think that a 3.55 or 3.73 would be a good compromise ratio for a big Bronco.
4) Any thoughts on the '78 and '79? Anything special go wrong with them? How about king-pin front ends versus ball joints? In terms of stregnth, I would bet more on king pins, but what is all around preferred for off roading and why?
5) 6 or 8 and why? Every 300 that has been into the shop has proven to be damned tough under even the worst of care. The 5.0 burns oil from the day it is new, but as long as you keep after that, they're also rock solid. 351 and 400 aren't bad motors themselves either. I wasn't planning on needing huge ammounts of power for some light dirt-road and trail travel. I don't intend to crawl or anything like that either. I can't think of anything about would make one engine particularly better suited to light offroad duty then the other. I don't believe any of them are especially proned to overheating or anything...
6) Other recommended offroad mods? I haven't seen much trouble with ford hubs and t-cases... Any thoughts? I imagine since some Broncos didn't come with skid plates, that those would be recommended...
Last thing, is what do you think about a crazy idea that I've been tossing around. Haven't had much time to draw anything up and really seriously consider it, but I'll throw some ideas out there for comment.
Well, my buddy has a Chevy K blazer. Similar to the Bronco in that it has a fiberglass top on the back that can be removed. So we were kind of thinking about trying this idea out on his Blazer-
First, I came across this method of boat construction a while back- www.bateau.com
You'll have to look into the specifics yourself, but the quick version is like this:
Get some plywood, bend it around some forms. Then you tape the seams with some biaxial fiberglass tape. Cover the tape with an Epoxy resin. Optionally you can cover the whole craft in layers of biaxial cloth and impregnate it with Epoxy to simulate the stregnth and rigidity of fiberglass. It is watertight, lighter then fiberglass, and advertised as being nearly as strong if not stronger then a fiberglass hull.
Now, the thought is that a custom built top in virtually any shape could be built for a blazer (and needless to say a Bronco as well). I have never personally had the top off of a Bronco, so I don't know much about how it attaches. Looks mostly like about a million little screws into sheet metal, but I could be mistaken. I'm sure attachment could be worked out, as well as costom seals made to try and prevent leaks.
Anyway so I'm wondering what people think of this idea as a possibility. I haven't figured out much of the specifics like how to create formers, although I had the thought that you could use formers to mount amps and stereo equipment. Set it up with a quick-disconnect harnass in the back so you could still remove the top relatively easily...
I'm not sure how windows would work out. You'd want to use auto glass for the stregnth and temper, but I"m not entirely sure how it would work mounting/installing it.
Well, that's it for now. I appreciate any thoughts and comments. I'm not sure when, if I will get a Bronco, but I'm definately considering something to use as a desert rat to kick around out in the desert a bit and not worry about as much as I do for my Dakota...