Shop Talk with AK- Elite Build

AK Whatley (00:12):
It’s AK here at Chaos Fab Shop. I wanted to share a build with you that we’re working on. We’re really honored to do this build, and we’re honored that this customer has trusted us to build them a vehicle that’s capable of high speed on-road driving, high speed off-road driving. And it’s something that you can daily drive to work, still park in a parking garage. But imagine if you could take the performance of a side by side, something with a long-travel suspension, and then that with a sports car, something that you can really take out in the curvy, windy roads and throw it around in the corner. And then also combine that with not just a two-wheel drive sports car, but combine that with a all-wheel drive sports car, like a Subaru or something.
AK Whatley (00:56):
And then combine that with a Jeep, and everything that everybody loves about a Jeep. And one of the things that most people complain about on a Jeep is that they’re not the best to drive, especially if it’s a lifted Jeep. A lot of times you hear, “Well, it’s a lifted Jeep, it’s supposed to drive horrible. What’s wrong with you? That’s just how they are.” It doesn’t have to be the case. This is an example of that. The vehicles that we build here, I’ll show you why they drive so well.
AK Whatley (01:22):
Starting off at the front, on one of our Chaos lead builds this is our bumper. Now this is a bumper that we built, well it’s a bumper that I built for my Jeep, because I wanted a high-clearance bumper that would allow me to protect my winch, protect the radiator, protect the lights. Whenever I’m out at the off-road park and I’m clearing trails, I want to mow down trees. I don’t want to get out and get a chainsaw out and cut down every tree that I see, so I use these to mow down the trees and to clear trail. Now, the other thing that we use it for is that this winch line is designed… engaged, disengaged… to come out and go over the top of this bar and down around the axle of another vehicle, and it will lift the vehicle off the ground for changing tires.
AK Whatley (02:11):
I don’t know about y’all, but every time I have a flat, I’m never on a flat concrete parkway, road, pavement. I’m always on the side of a hill somewhere. And it’s usually muddy, it’s usually rocky, and it’s not really somewhere that I want to put a high-lift jack and secure a vehicle up in the air. Anytime that we end up using a high-lift jack on the side of a mountain we have to get two to three winches to stabilize the vehicle anyway, to make it safe enough to actually lack the vehicle up. So the way that we’ve built our bumper is that this supports the weight of it, this is DOM tubing that comes back and ties in here with gussets. And we cut off the frame horns of the bumper. And then it’s held on with grade eight bolts. It makes it strong enough to support the weight of another vehicle.
AK Whatley (03:00):
So now if we have a flat tire, in about a minute and a half we have it changed. And this is one of the things that I really like about our bumpers. And none of us carry high lift jacks anymore. None of us carry any jacks anymore. We just use our bumpers. The other reason that it’s designed like this is so that if you take a hit here, or slide into a tree here, it transfers the load over to the opposite side. We’ve seen so many bumpers that if you slightly bump something, that’s it, the bumper is done. I want the ability to smash. If we hit something, it needs to be whatever we hit’s problem. It doesn’t need to be my problem. So all of this is reinforced, it’s all DOM.
AK Whatley (03:44):
And if you notice, the lights are behind the impact plane. I see on a lot of bumpers where they take these very, very expensive lights and they make them the first point of contact. And I don’t feel like that’s a really good use of the light, to use it as a bumper, I feel like you should use the bumper as a bumper. So, that’s what we do here. Also, when you combine our bumper with a cage, it makes it so that when you roll the vehicle over, not if but when, when you roll that vehicle over, it protects everything inside of the hood, so all of the vital engine components, the radiators, the coolers, the engine, so that even if the vehicle’s damaged, you can still throw it back on its wheels and still get to where you’re going to.
AK Whatley (04:30):
So there’s a lot of thought that went into this bumper and the reason it’s designed the way that it is. And no, we’re not going to change it. No, you can’t have a recessed winch down inside of the bumper. Because truth of the matter is, is that this doesn’t stop any of the airflow. The way that our bumper is designed, when the air hits this it creates a vacuum behind the back side of the bumper and it actually draws air up through by the fan. It’ll go right around and right up where the radiator is at, which is also how they designed the factory bumpers. Also, our bumpers have the ability to have two large heat sinks mounted underneath the winch. So we do really large aluminum heat sinks in there, and it turns our bumper into a huge heat sink that’s sucking in nice cold air. And that’s what we use to cool off the transmission and the power steering.
AK Whatley (05:23):
Other than that, it protects the front end. And I really like the way that Tony over at GenRight, my man, does his fenders. This is just something that I did whenever we built it. But I really like this line right here. So our bumper has this line here that matches it exactly. Thank you, Tony, for doing such beautiful work. In this case we took the Rubicon Dana 44 axle and we’ve upgraded it as far as it can go. So we did an Artec truss, which is all of this in here. We’ve gusseted the knuckles right here. We’ve got 35 spline RCV axle shafts, ARB locker on the inside. And we’ve done high steer. So we’ve changed this track bar mounting location from down here at the bottom of the axle, we’ve raised it up, and then we moved the mount for the drag link from the bottom of the axle up to the top of the steering arm.
AK Whatley (06:23):
And what that’s done is it’s raised the roll center of the vehicle to make it more stable. So even though we have a three inch lift on this, we’ve raised the height of that to match the amount of lift that we’ve put on the vehicle. It’s actually more stable now than it was from the factory. And TeraFlex SpeedBumps inside of here. For this build there really wasn’t a need to go to a hydraulic bump stop. We did the Falcon 3.3 shocks on there, with JCR inner fender wells. We built the brake lines for it. We build custom DOT brake lines here in-house. That way we have the right length all the time. The sway lock gives us a dual-rate sway bar, really helps stabilize it. But then it gives you a softer sway bar for off-road, almost like a Currie Antirock. That way you never have an unbalanced suspension. So it allows you to go fast on-road and off-road.
AK Whatley (07:18):
GenRight fenders, the aluminum fenders, I mentioned that earlier. GenRight side armor with the rash guard on there. And then back here in the back we have another sway lock in the back. You can see the TeraFlex long arm SpeedBumps, TeraFlex rear forged track bar. GenRight armor on the side. GenRight
rear bumper. TeraFlex tire carrier. And if you noticed on our bumper on the front, we don’t have any D-ring mounts. The reason we don’t have D-ring mounts is because I don’t want you to mount your D-rings that you had powder coated to match your shoes and your North Face jacket. I don’t want that. Because they rattle and they make noise. And we use soft shackles on all of our stuff, so soft shackles will go around any of those tubes. Please don’t put D-rings on your vehicle. And if you do, I’m sorry if I offended you. The GenRight lights, we put those in here so he can see behind him.
AK Whatley (08:32):
Inside of here is a Rock Hard cage. So there’s a harness bar, and then he is got the Rock Hard bolt-in cage. Me personally, I would prefer a GenRight cage, like this one up here behind us, fully TIG welded. But a bolt-in cage is fine. Now, one of the reasons I like to do cages inside of builds like this, if we’re going to spend this money on shocks, and suspension, and the frame of the vehicle is allowed to twist, then it really takes a lot of the energy away from what those shocks can do. And if we stiffen everything up and we take the twist out of the frame, then it will force the shocks to do their job and you’ll get a much better ride out of it.
AK Whatley (09:23):
Same thing with going to harnesses to hold yourself in. With a regular three-point seatbelt you move independent of the vehicle whenever you hit a bump. If you strap yourself in tight you’re not thinking about having to hold on when you’re going down the trail. Your mass is included with the mass of the vehicle, which now moves a lot slower and a lot smoother because of the shocks and suspension that we’ve put on. One of the things you can do to make your vehicle ride smoother is put harnesses in and strap yourself down. And you won’t fly around and bounce your head off the side of the cage. The other side we had ARB dual compressor, which is what we use to control sway bars and lockers and everything, and our tires.
AK Whatley (10:04):
Inside of the engine bay, this is where some of the magic happens. Here and underneath. We did an SRT8 Hemi inside of here. It’s a 6.4 Hemi. And we also did an Atlas transfer case. Whenever we did this install the steering box that we wanted to use is much larger than what this kit was designed for. So we modified the air conditioning lines, we modified the motor mounts, we modified the steering box mount, so that we could push the steering box over to the drivers side and push the engine over to the passenger side. So there’s less than an eighth inch of clearance where this engine is shoehorned in there. But it’s got plenty of room to move, it’s secured in there. And now we get to have the steering that we want with the power that we want.
AK Whatley (10:52):
We’ve got the PSC reservoir here. And take a look at the feed line that’s on this. So we’re pumping a massive amount of fluid down to this steering, the PSC hydro-assist kit, the big bore for JKs. And that’s going to give us the ability to just turn the wheel with one finger. Even with the lockers on and 37s. It’s got a racing radiator in it. It’s all aluminum, that way we can keep everything nice and cool. We’ve got additional coolers for the transmission and the steering. That way, when you really want to send it and you really want to go fast, you don’t have to worry about your fluids overheating and starting to boil and fail.
AK Whatley (11:30):
One of the biggest things that I see for off-road, one of the biggest failures that I see, is people out-driving their cooling system. They’ll go out, they’ll splash through mud, they’ll plug up all of their coolers. And then they start to overheat it. They start to overheat their steering, you’ll start to hear your steering pump whine as the fluid starts to cavitate inside of there, and end up blowing out their steering systems. And all of that can be fixed, really, with a hundred dollar cooler, if you know where to mount it and just put it in the right spot. So we add the additional coolers that these vehicles actually need, to go drive them the way that I want to drive them.
AK Whatley (12:10):
I know that our customers may never drive them as hard as we do. They may never take them to competitions like we do. But we’re still going to race prep it as if I’m going to go drive it, as if I’m going to go send it. Because when we go out to play with these things, the last thing I want is for us to be out on a weekend trail, long ways away from home, and something and fails because a nut or a bolt didn’t have Loctite or wasn’t torqued to spec. So take the time. Whenever y’all are doing this stuff at home, take the time to torque it to spec, use Loctite, take the time to paint pin everything so that you can ensure everything is tight. And then feel free to ask questions, if we can help in any way.
AK Whatley (12:58):
Let’s go underneath. We build it with all V-band clamps, which are what all these connection pieces are, instead of just a slide on clamp. And behind here all of this is lava mat, to stop the heat from going through to the inside of the cab. And then we also wrap the entire exhaust system with heat shielding as well. And up here is the Atlas cable shifters, and we did heat protection over all of that. Brand new Atlas transfer case in there, with the 1350 output yokes, [inaudible 00:13:48] output yokes there. All new crossmember at our quarter wall, so that way it’s strong enough to support the weight of the vehicle and gives us a place to mount the Artec skid plates.
AK Whatley (14:12):
One of the issues that we had was over here on this side, to snake, because this Atlas sits so much closer to the front. Normally the exhaust system would pass right behind this crossmember and then come over and tie in up here. But the Atlas is pushed so far forward that we had to reroute the exhaust system and bring it over, have it come together behind the Atlas. And you can see the V-band clamps on the other side, the passenger side, where the exhaust comes out. Whenever we install the long arm system everything is completely welded in, instead of just stitch welded. So it’s made to go abuse and beat on. And this much lava mat, it runs all the way to the outer edges in here. Whenever we took the body off to install the engine is when we did the lava mat and everything inside there. Can’t wait to do go-fast things on this.

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