PUSHING THE LIMITS
Hagen Does It Again, New IFS Design For Sidekick.
Editor: Eric Bewley Story/Photo: Mike Hagen
COTTAGE GROVE, MN – The Orange rig is due for a makeover. Doing the project:RockStar project has kept me out of my orange rig all summer. From experience, I know the project:RockStar will spank the orange car all day long on the trail. The way I look at this is I need to make the orange rig good at some thing the project:RockStar is not good at. One thing the project:RockStar cannot do well is rally or jump. My thought is to build the orange rig into a rally/jumper that can still trail ride.
Our goals are that It will remain street able, will retain trackick steering knuckles, have a center mount diff with long travel, and CV-shafts capable of 18 inches of travel.
To start a build like this it made the most sense to just start with a straight frame. We cut the front off of a 4 door tracker frame and trimmed all the extras away. The strut towers and motor mounts. We reused the Calmini 3 inch lower arms in the stock location for my new upper control arms. We mocked up an upper ball joint mount so we could see how much drop was needed for the lower frame. To keep the thing from being a monster truck we were trying to keep it as low as possible. The lower control arms were treated to some dump truck metal to help it hold up to the trail rash. Next we cut the original, slightly bent, frame out at the front horn. Then the new section was slid up and tacked it into place on top of the original remaining frame. A new upper ball joint bracket was made to replace the mock up one. To get more adjustability we opted for some dirt track coils and weight jacks.
Weight jacks are basically a screw that you can turn to add or remove weight to a tire, essentially raising or lowering the vehicle. To be sure that we had the clearance, we wanted we were testing the parameters as we went. We were able to get 15 inches of travel per wheel while getting very minimal camber change.
Next up was steering, we came up with an idea for a stronger high angle steering setup. The idea is that it rotates around a cantilever type idler. The steering was mocked up and we checked the parameters. The frame was welded and capped and shocks were installed. A set of rancho 5000s for a 90s Chevy K1500 were used because we had them on hand but it will get 9000s after some extra cash comes our way. After we saw the steering system was going to work, we built some durable sleeves it extend the gap made by moving the tie rods to the center. The stock sleeve was cut in half and machined down to slide inside of a piece of DOM.
The same diff Ive been using for over 2 years will be used in this setup also. It is a one off center mount Calmini Anvil. The Axles are the same as you would get with the over the shelf anvil but this diff has 2 of them. I welded the brackets on to the anvil case to get it to fit into my application. Our apologies about the poor pic but most of the pictures I took of it out of the rig were blurry.
This is a close up of the finished product. By adjusting the weight jacks, I can change ride height by 12 inches. Here is a look at the adjustability. This is the ride height I like it to be at. I can lift one tire 37 inches while keeping the others on the ground.
Whew! it was worth all the work! It drives very well down the road and sacrifices nothing off road either. Very well actually. So Mike, The big question… How did it work? “I burned a whole tank of gas today pounding the wee out of it. It was so slippery I had a hard time telling how it will react on a solid surface. I didn’t break it and I tried pretty hard. I jumped it at least a couple a dozen times… Freaking sweet! Its so soft that I cant tell if I actually came off the ground! I had to ask whoever was watching. Without a doubt, it rallies, and jumps better than anything I’ve ever driven.”