Refurbishing a used vehicle can
be a long process, but if done correctly and with a little patience, it can be
a rewarding experience. This is true of converting a Jeep into a rock climber
as well. The process is a bit different than your traditional fix-er-up job, so
it’s not quite as easy to step right into, but with some guidance you can get
to work building your own rock climber and begin enjoying the thrilling hobby
of rock climbing.
What is a Rock Climber?
Sometimes called a rock crawler,
a rock climber is a vehicle that’s been modified to perform in extreme off-road
conditions. Rock climbers are designed to traverse large rock piles, boulders
and rough mountain sides, often at odd or even difficult angles while driving
very slowly and precisely.
What Kind of Vehicle Do I Need?
You don’t necessarily need a
Jeep to make a rock climber, but experts agree Jeep Cherokees, Wranglers,
Rubicons and other similar models fare well due to their basic design. Plus,
many Jeeps are already made for off-roading and can be easily modified to
better suit extremely rough terrain.
It’s important to remember your
rock climber will be performing in high-risk terrain, so a few dings, scratches
and even dents should be expected. Plus, the modifications necessary for a rock
climber can make an everyday commute less comfortable. You
may want to avoid using a vehicle you plan on driving on the road often or one
you wish to keep in pristine condition.
Here’s What You’ll Need
Locking Differentials – In simple terms, locking
differentials help keep all your wheels turning. When one wheel lifts off the ground, the locker sends power to
your wheels on the ground so you can maintain traction and keep moving forward.
You can use either an automatic or selectable locker.
Upgraded Suspension – Leaf springs, air bags and coil
spring suspension systems all are common in the rock climbing world. In
general, you’re looking to keep all your tires on the ground while maintaining
a high clearance, so it’s recommended you have your suspension installed above
Roll Cage – The roll cage keeps you and your
vehicle safe if you make a mistake while conquering a treacherous trail. Many
Jeep models come standard with roll cages, but they’re often not as effective
as custom roll cages built for off-roading. In general, the bigger the vehicle,
the thicker and heavier you’ll want your roll cage.
Recovery Gear – Traversing uneven and exotic terrain
can sometimes leave your rock climber stuck or inoperable. This is where
recovery gear comes into play. In the rock climbing world, a winch on the front
of the Jeep is common. You can opt for a steel winch or winch rope, which is
Skid Plates – Attaching skid plates to the bottom
of your Jeep will protect your crucial drivetrain components from jagged rocks.
Simple skid plates cover only what you need, whereas something more high-tech,
such as Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene, is lighter and covers the
Off-Road Tires – You’ll probably want to upgrade your
tires to something much larger. In general, the larger the tire and lift
package, the more clearance you get. Just remember, larger tires may be more
expensive due to poorer gas mileage and additional wear and tear, and may keep
your Jeep from being suitable for everyday driving.
Things to Remember
There are a few other things
you should keep in mind as you plan your rock climber conversion. For instance,
torque is more impactful than engine power. Since you’ll be driving in lower
gears, you may not need a V8 engine as much as you need a reliable engine with
powerful torque, or acceleration.
Also, when it comes to the
transmission, whether you prefer manual or automatic is up to you. Both work
well, but some may prefer the control that a manual transmission provides while
others choose automatic so they can concentrate on the road ahead.
Finally, as much as converting
a Jeep to a rock climber is about adding things on, it can be just as much
about removing things as well. Doors, stock bumpers and rear-quarter panels can
all be removed to improve weight, visibility and minimize your chance of
getting caught on something.
Choosing the Right Jeep
If you’re looking to convert a
Jeep into a rock climber, you likely have a long, but exciting journey ahead.
You can begin your journey by finding a quality used Jeep or SUV for a good
price. Silsbee Motor Company has a large selection of used
four-wheel drive vehicles available now. Contact us for more information about
your new rock climber by calling 409-385-0409 today!