RyeGuy's Obsession


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Who's RyeGuy do you ask?  That's my alter ego!  Or at least, I used to think so.  You see, I've always had an affinity for a certain alcoholic beverage.  It got the better of me one night, and what was just a way to point me out at a party "you know, that guy who was drinking all that rye, that rye guy" just kind of stuck as a nick name.  The problem is, this alter ego has an obsession with 4x4's.  It has led to the creation of a rather frankenstein truck, built from IHC Scout, Chevy, Ford, Dodge, Toyota, and yes, even a few Jeep parts.  And now a second frankenstein truck, which makes the Comanche look like a stocker.  I should be working to finish up my Ph.D., among other things.  But instead, I spend far too much time tinkering or dreaming up new ways to tinker with this truck.  This series of pages is devoted to this hobby of mine.

The New Truck

Hulk!
This is how my new project looked when I first purchased it, about at the start of 2000.  I had some very definite goals for this new 4x4, which had come into focus over the past few years driving the Comanche:
  • I had built the Comanche to be a long-range camping vehicle.  In almost all respects, it filled this role very well, but there are always things that can be done differently.  I would take what I’ve learned from that project to build a better vehicle.  (Needless to say, I would also use what I’ve learned watching other trucks on the trail and on the street.)  However, I had also asked the Comanche to fit down all the tight, hard-core trails I wanted to drive.  This new project would not be “dual purpose”.  It has to be built to go where-ever I could reasonably ask it to, but I would not expect it to drive tight, purposely abusive trails like RIP.  This means the vehicle could be bigger.
  • It has to be enclosed so that tenting isn’t necessary.  On a great weekend, tenting may be an option, but I have to be able to climb in the back, out of the elements, and enjoy a sound sleep, and you just cannot do that in a wet tent.  Winter camping would become an option, too.  After all, this criterion is the seed for this entire project.
  • The vehicle has to be big enough for “extras” that making camping more fun.  Items like an on-board shower aren’t necessary, but I don’t want to pick a vehicle where these could never be an option due to space constraints.  As such, the vehicle not only could be bigger, it likely would be bigger.
  • If it is to be a pick-up (with a canopy), it has to be extended cab, so I would have more room behind the seat for gear.  One just uses up all the space behind the seat far too quickly with a regular cab pick-up.
  • It has to be affordable to build.  We all work on a budget, and the truck will be built accordingly.
  • It has to be affordable to run!  With gas prices increasing as they have lately, I don’t want to finish building a truck only to find out that I can only financially afford to take it on 4 camping trips a year.
  • The reliability factor has to be there.  It has to be able to get me out of where I’ve gone.  I don’t mind hauling spare parts, but I don’t want to carry a full spare vehicle.  And if parts are readily available in small, desolate towns, even better.
  • It has to handle good on the highway, as well as the trail.  We are seeing lots of purpose built rock buggies in magazines that perform unbelievably on the trail, but can only attain ~40kph on the highway due to squirrelly handling, death shakes, and what-not.  These vehicles are usually trailered to and from events.  For a long-range camping vehicle, this is simply unacceptable.  It has to (relatively) comfortably cruise at (or a bit over) the speed limit all day.
  • The truck has to look “balanced”.  My personal taste tells me that 40” Swampers do not, generally speaking, look good on a long-wheelbase Samuri!
A tall order to fill for any vehicle, really.  Building a full-size Blazer has been brewing in my mind for a long time (I just really like the looks of them).  But so had building a Willies rock buggy.  What I wanted from this vehicle, though, seems to fit a full-size Blazer project very well.  So the word went out, “Find Ryeguy a Blazer”.

My brother offered his ’78 Blazer.  And I was given directions for an early ‘70’s Blazer that was apparently for sale.  But a great opportunity came along, a good friend came across a mid-80’s Blazer that was destined for a wrecker.  Going by his description, it was too good to pass up so we began proceedings to get it.   Lucky for me, and lucky for the Blazer, my bid won and it was hauled to another friend’s place in short order.  A quick visual assessment yielded the following:
  • body tub is in very good condition – no real rust or dent
  • the frame is clean but had a minor tweak in the passenger rear corner
  • the interior is missing lots of parts, and the cap is also missing; this shouldn’t be a big issue, Chevy parts are always easy to find
  • the 350 engine has a bad knock (it will need replaced so plans are to go bigger), but other than that it actually seems to run good, the rest of the fuel system seems to be in great shape
  • the vehicle looks like it was generally very well maintained: a fair number of fresh parts on it
  • the corp. 10-bolt axles are in good shape, but will be pitched since they won’t hold up to the size of tire planned for this truck.
All in all, this vehicle is an excellent start for a project.  It isn’t so pristine that I want to fix it back to stock, but it is in good enough shape to start on this type of project.

So now you’re saying, “Ryeguy, you’re crazy.  I know you, when I read between the lines, you’re looking at 40-inch tires or larger.  You can’t run a big truck, big motor, huge tires, and still expect to afford to drive it”.  Well, a lot of this project is not going to fall into a “normal” build-up, I want to challenge a lot of the standard assumptions and expectations.

Why "Hulk"?  A few of us began to clean out the interior of the remaining junk when I first bought it, we came across a toy Green Hulk, and the name stuck.  No information on its build-up for now, but stay tuned, once the truck if finished (hopefully by the end of 2001), the bugs worked out and running, I'll try find some time to write up some reports on it.  Bad rumors are harder to kill than no information.  I don't think it's going to hit all of my goals perfectly, but it looks like it'll be close enough for me.  And before anyone starts a brand-name war (like "see, he left a Jeep for a Chevy"), be forewarned that I'll be getting everyone in different camps (like Chevy, Ford, etc.) upset!

The Old Truck

The Comanche Is Sold!

Sold?!  Yes.  After 12.5 years and some some 330,000km (some 200,000 miles) it was time to let 'er go.  Through-out the years, it always got me home, and did everything I asked it to in fine form.  So how could I sell such a truck?  It was time to move on.  Having built, then rebuilt most all of the truck to achieve my performance goals, and wanting to go to the "next step", I was faced with a delema: either rebuild the entire truck again, or start with a fresh chassis.  I decided to move to a fresh chassis for a couple reasons:
  • I was very happy with the performance of the truck, and it felt more-less "complete".  There were minor things to finish off, but to move onto the next step would mean re-doing the truck entirely from one end to another.  It would be like destroying a creation - my creation - something that I was very proud of that that I just couldn't do.
  • I wanted something new, too.  Over a decade of looking at the same dash is a long time.  It was time to look at something else in the driveway, learn about a new chassis, try new ideas, and generally start fresh.
  • I couldn't financially afford to keep the Comanche and build another new 4x4.
After some months of advertising the beast on this website, someone came along and took 'er away.  I hope "Ol' Black & Tan" will give him the same good service that I got.

I've decided to keep these pages up (relatively unchanged), though.  Judging on the email I've received over the years, it's served as a good reference point for lots of other people.  That's good, that's what the information is here for.  I'll continue to answer questions about the truck, but remember, as the weeks grow into months since I've sold it, memory on details will begin to fade.
Truck 1989 Jeep Comanche long-box 4x4
Engine 4.5 liter (275 cu. in) inline 6-cylinder stroker, multi-point fuel injection
Transmission 5-speed manual AX-15 from 1990 Jeep YJ (tech article to come)
Transfer Cases 1st: custom based on NP231 planetaries
2nd: custom based on a combination of NP231, NP241 parts

final ratio: 116:1
Front Axle Dana 44, 4.09 gears, Detroit (donated from a Scout)
Rear Axle Dana 44, 4.09 gears, Lockright (donated from a Scout)
Front Suspension Coil spring, Jeep 5-link, ~8.5-9 inches lift
Rear Suspension Leaf spring, spring-over, custom leaf packs, ~9 inches lift
Tires/Wheels Street: Uniroyal Laredo 33X12.5" AT's on 8" aluminum rims 
Offroad: Interco Super Swamper TSL/SX 36X12.5" on 8" steel rims
Other/
Mechanical
heavy-duty GM cross-over steering
dual batteries
on-board air using a factory air conditioning pump, ~5 gallon storage tanks
mini-snorkel
Mobi-weld 90-amp on-board welder
auxiliary electric fan
Tires/Wheels Street: Uniroyal Laredo 33X12.5" AT's on 8" aluminum rims 
Offroad: Interco Super Swamper TSL/SX 36X12.5" on 8" steel rims
Body
front, transfer case, and gas tank skid plates
dented rocker panels replaced with 2x2x1/4" square tubing to act as a built-in rock slider but without any loss in ground clearance
box bobbed (shorted aft rear axle) 10 inches
headache rack
custom light bar mounted on top of roll bar
custom front and rear bumpers (class III receiver incorporated into rear bumper)
far too many trail trophies (dents)
The truck performs quite well both onroad and offroad. Onroad, I pretty much have to keep the sway bar hooked up. Otherwise, the truck sways far too much for my liking, and the steering seems a bit twitchy. Offroad, I have absolutely no complaints.

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The Club

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The Trails

While a large emphasis for what I do as a hobby is the "getting there" part - the challenge, an equally important part is the scenery and company, when we've got there. Larry Soo and I used to write many, many trip reports. Most of these trip reports have moved to the most awesomest, coolest 4x4 site on the 'net today! Check them out! The ones that didn't make it on to this site are still listed below.
1994 Clear Creek Trip
1995 Okanagan Jeep Jamboree
1996 PNW4WDA Trail Jamboree
1996 Okanagan Jeep Jamboree
1996 Dunrovan Ranch Trip
The Boeing Club Visits The Island (1997)
1997 Post-AGM IRC Trail Run
1997 Washington State Trip

For even more trip reports, visit Jonathan Yim's Home Page .

Before I moved to the west coast in 1993, my old stomping grounds were in Manitoba.  Offroading ther consisted of mostly mud bugs, sandy hills, and playing the snow in the winter.  Lots of fun, but not like playing in the rocks!  The down-side to playing on the west coast is it's considerably harder on the truck.   Dents, dings, broken parts abound.  Please note that I doubt that new trip reports will be added to this section.  Monitor BC4x4.COM for new trip reports.  Expect me to update this page with new "oops" pictures occationally, though.

  Robert Bryce ([email protected])