Monday, November 25, 2013

Rejoined ZOA

It's been about 2.5 years since we were active on Zuks of Arizona. We rejoined in late November 2013. Here's three photos of our rig.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Zuks Off Road sells a nifty item called a "crab."  Basically, it's a weld-on mini-skid plate for your differentials.
The aftermarket has a lot of different protection gear for differentials.  Some Zuk owners cut a large pipe cap in half and weld it to the lower part of the housing.  We've looked at all the alternative and decided Myron's crabs were the best available technology.  Ideally, someday somebody will develop a bolt-on protective device but who know how long that might be.  We went over to Myron's Place on a rainy March day and quizzed him about the physics of the crab and so forth and he gave us very straightforward answers and showed us the type of abuse a crab can take.  It was very impressive.

There are three main areas were skid plate protection is essential.  The front diff  is point #1.  The t-case is point #2 and the gas tank is point #3.  We will soon be getting a bolt on skid plate for the t-case from Trail Tough.

Anyway, we decided to buy a crab for our front diff first.  That's the the thing we worry about the most.  It's the first point of impact if we goof up and misjudge the size of a rock or mess up and get our wheel placement wrong.  (NOTE: Wheel placement is a big deal.  Most wheeling people can see where their wheels are in their sleep.  What we do occasionally is put a lot of empty aluminum cans on a gravel road and make a slalom course.  The goal is to have the tire precisely covering a can.  It sure helps improve your wheel placement.)

Myron said he would install a crab for $20.  So, we took SuziQ over to Myron's March 23rd and had him put on the crab.  His $20 fee was an amazing bargain as it took him and a helped danged near 45 minutes to get the crab on properly and make sure there was clearance for a socket to pull the filler plug.  The total "out-the-door" bill came to $52 for everything.  Myron is an amazing person and the more I deal with him, the more impressed I am.  THANKS, Myron!

Click here for ZOR's online description of the crabs.

Below the photos are additional comments.
Myron's bulldog "Big" checks out the Rust-Oleum Hammertone paint job for the inside of the crab.
Myron doesn't hesitate to dive right into a job.  He reminds me of a professional wrestler in a lot of ways.  Watching him work is a lot like being ringside at a wrestling match.  One of Myron's wintertime employees is a professional hunting guide, Marco.  He's a hoot and is Myron's right hand man.
Here's the crab before Marco shot it again with more Hammertone.  Myron had to burn out the access hole a little bigger because it didn't align right for a socket to loosen the filler plug.  We are VERY pleased with this new addition to SuziQ.  It's going to reduce our anxiety when we encounter tall rocks in the trail.  Our clearance from the bottom of the diff is 8.375 inches.  We often get into discussions that go like this, "You think that rock is 8 inches?"  "Naw, I think it's only 7."  "Well what if it's 8 or more?"  And on and on and on it goes.  Now, we're not going to worry about splitting hairs (or diffs)--we've got some margin-of-error literally built into the Zuk.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

2nd Spare Tire Mount

Here's how we secure our 2nd spare.  We've learned the hard way that if you don't really bolt down your 2nd spare, it can and often will get slightly airborne when you hit rough spots going too fast.  A loose tire likes to roam around!  Luckily for Zuk owners, the solution to cinch down the 2nd spare is very simple.  All Zuks actually come with four so-called "frame nuts" strategically placed to anchor the front of the back seat.  If it's a bench seat, only the far left and right bolts are needed.  If the Zuk was originally sold with the rare twin folding jump seats, then all four bolt holes were used.

The two center bolt holes are 9.,5 inches apart.  We used a piece of aluminum angle stock.  We bought longer 8 x 1.25 mm bolts to really crank in this bracket.  Next, we fitted the bracket with two eye bolts spaced to fit twin lug holes.  We use that other hole to place a bolt that hold down our rigging board described in the blog post below this one.  This arrangement really anchors down the 2nd spare and provides a platform for all of our personal gear described below.

We also use the two bolt holes at the far center back of the body to anchor down our tool tub.  We're thinking about using the rear seat belt bolts to anchor down twin .50 caliber ammo cans.

Personal gear rigging

Here's how we rig our personal gear.  A piece of OSB is bolted on top of the spare tire.  Various eye bolts are placed around the board.  Susun and I each have our own plastic tub for whatever we care to pack.  The bungee cords really hold those tubs down well.  The small cooler wedges firmly between the two tubs and doesn't need a separate tie down.  (Another soft cooler sits behind the driver seat so it doesn't violate the "within arm's reach" Law of Wheelin'.)  On each side of the spare tire are two folding chairs, our hiking sticks and a lightweight camera tripod.
The photo below shows how it looks from the back.  The rear tub holds all the tools and stuff described below.  That tub is attached to the Zuk floor using the two bolts that normally secure the rear sear bracket.  The blue bag to the left holds the tow strap and chain.
The photo below shows how the OSB sits in relation to the spare tire.  Below that is a photo of how we can rig other stuff on the open space in front of our personal tubs.  Having five eye bolts up there gives a lot of options for keeping stuff from moving around.  Two ZOA members are thinking about making for sale a custom rigging set up for the interior of a Zuk.  We sure hope they do but in the meantime, this is the core of what we travel with.  There's plenty of room for our tent, sleeping bags and the other stuff we will need to camp with when that time comes this summer.

Travel Tools

Here's most of the tools we travel with.  This assortment will change when we get back to Idaho.  That's where all my "real" tools are located, as well as all my spare Zuk parts.  At least this inventory is a bare bones minimum to get us through until our May return to Tater Nation.  That's a 10-ton bottle jack.  It's definitely overkill for a Zuk but the big jack was less expensive than a smaller jack.  Go figure.  The jack is sitting on an aluminum plate that helps stabilize it in loose or soft soils.  The black box contains a portable CB radio.  We're hoping to get our HAM license and a decent hand held  HAM band radio before we head north.  We always carry the stuff for the stock Samurai scissors jack.  It's a pretty worthless jack but "ya just never know."  We always carry a breaking bar with the right size socket for any given vehicle's lug nuts.  The Zuk's are 19 mm.

Not shown is a bag containing our tow strap and chain as well as our two first aid kits.  Two first aid kits?  Whazzup wit dat?  Well, one first aid kit is for us humans.  The other one is for the Zuk.  It contains duct tape, electrical tape, baling wire, assorted cable ties, fuses, JB Weld, and Super Glue.

We also need to add a container of coolant and brake fluid.  The only other thing not shown is a small tarp.  That tarp can come in real handy if you're changing a tire in sloppy conditions.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Big Wheel Keeps on Spinnin'

 Enno (left) and Daryl show off The Samurai BBQ.
 The back end will be a huge beer cooler.  
The built-in bottle opener is shown below.
Throughout what we've calling "The Wheel Deal," that line from the Steve Miller Band tune "Jet Liner" keeps echoing in my head.

"I've got to keep on keeping on
You know the big wheel keeps a-spinning around."

So far, I've met five great guys: Sam, Bobby, Steve, Enno and Daryl.  Each Zuk owner has really opened my mind and helped me understand some really cool stuff.  Who knew the search for some wheels could wind up being so danged much fun?

Yesterday "The Wheel Deal" saga continued when I sought to drop off two wheels for Steve and one of his buddies.  I had tried to make the drop at Fry's Electronic on the west side of the valley Thursday.  That didn't work out.  Saturday morning, I got the bright idea to ask the ZOA Forum members if anyone living in the East Valley could get the wheels over to Steve in the West Valley's community of Surprise.  Within a short time, Enno replied and said he could do it.  So, I went out there in the early afternoon Friday.  I had no idea what a great afternoon was in store for me.

Enno and his friend, Daryl, were visiting to talk over some of their ideas for fabricating various Zuk interior items.  Right away I spotted the soon-to-be Famous & Legendary Samurai BBQ.  My eyes about popped when I saw it.  Luckily, Enno and Daryl had time and were in the mood to tell me all about it.  This puppy is the finest such BBQ I have ever seen and is definitely destined for fame & glory.  I'd be willing to betcha real money it will be on a magazine cover in the not too distant future.  It's so awesome it deserves it's own whole blog, not just a mention on this blog post.

After drooling over the BBQ, our talk turned to the various things Enno and Daryl were trying to do for the Zuk People. It's obvious that both Enno and Daryl truly love Zuks of all kinds and types.  We talked over lots of ideas and they were both real receptive to the concepts that I had to offer.  I won't go into detail about them here but I have a hunch one or more of those ideas will be coming soon to a Zuk retailer near you.  It was really exciting to be able to provide some ideas that appeared to be interesting to Enno and Daryl.  It's clear they both have the skill and equipment to turn ideas into reality and that's even MORE exciting!

It was a great afternoon and we can all blame it on "The Wheel Deal."  May that Big Wheel keep on spinnin'!


Have a great day & Cheers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

SuziQ's New Shoes

We completed the tire swap February 21.  Luckily, two of Bobby's wheels and tires were of the correct size and suitable for use as spares.  Big O charged $20 to put them both back into usable condition.  We cleaned both of those old wheels and sprayed them "rattle can white."  Meanwhile we swapped one tire at a time.  Between the trip to Cottonwood and the various other chores (such as finding a place to store 7 of the 205/70/15's, the job took all day.  The new tires make a noticeable difference in SuziQ's appearance.

We weighed each tire and wheel on a bathroom scale.  All six of the new wheels and tires weigh only a total of 36 pounds more than the former six tire/wheel set up.  We thought the weight difference would be much greater than a mere 36 pounds.

We also measured the distance from the bottom-most part of the front differential to the ground.  It was 7.5 inches with the old tires.  We were please to see this distance increase to 8.375 inches with the newer tires.  That's a net gain of almost one inch.  Back country driving can sometimes be a matter of an inch when it comes to clearance of significant obstacles so this is a welcome development.  We're looking forward to evaluating their back road performance soon.
Above are the 205/70/15 stock tires and wheels.  Below are the newer ones.