Dave Niles' Chevy
Dave Niles' Chevy mud truck Short Cuts

By: John Nutter - 10/2000

Dave Niles' Chevy Mudder

Photo by: John Nutter
Photo by: John Nutter
Photo by: John Nutter
Photo by: John Nutter
The dash is all business. A bank of switches and a few Autometer gauages to monitor the engine are all Dave needs.
Photo by: John Nutter
The bed mounted gas tank makes fueling a little different than on most trucks.
Photo by: John Nutter
The forklift test indicates that this mud truck has more wheel travel than most trail vehicles.
Photo by: John Nutter
When posed next to Dave's truck, the author's CJ with a spring over lift and 36" TSLs looks like a stocker.

Dave Niles of Ken's 4x4 has spent the last year rebuilding his mud truck. The results are what you see here.

A Note from the Editor:
   I've seen some gorgeously polished rigs, some that are actually 'wheeled, and others that pound only pavement. When I see a print mag with a clean, chromed monster rig on the cover, I usually roll my eyes when I get to the inevitable claim of wheeling-worthiness ... something like, "As clean as this rig is, it really get's wheeled." Yawn. If it was driven in dirt, odds are the photos would have included pictures of what the 454 and 44" tires did to the itty-bitty axles.
   Well this particular rig was built to WHEEL. Ignore the straight sheet metal, the snazzy paint, and the shiny grill, and focus on the beefy axles, cast-iron t-case, and serious slushbox. Proof positive is the transfer case kept locked in low... this rig is built to beat in the bog.
   I want one.     Randy Burleson

Dave began with something that's nearly impossible to find on a solid axle Chevy pickup in Minnesota -- rust free body pannels. Some pannels were from southern states and others are aftermarket replacements. Bob laid down the cool looking paint job right there at the shop. The interior of the cab was coated with Durabak and contains only the bare essentials. The seats are plastic racing buckets, the auto shifter is on the floor and the dash has only a half dozen switches and a few gauges. The whole interior appears to be garden hose friendly, which is a definite plus when it comes to cleaning out the truck after a mud run.

Underneath the truck Dave started with heavy axles, a GM corporate 14 bolt rear and a Dana 60 front. Both received 5.13 gears. A Detroit locker was installed in the rear 14 bolt while the front was left open to improve steering response and increase durability. Dave used 35 spline Dana 70 outer stub shafts on the front with custom full time drive pucks to mate them to the Dana 60 hubs. The front axle is given directional input through a hydraulic steering setup originally intended for a combine.

Dana 60 front disc brakes were installed on the rear axle, while the front does without. A master cylinder from a Suzuki Samuri provides the stopping power, with both circuits tied together to feed the large calipers found at the rear. When asked why he didn't go with front brakes as well dave replied that in a mud bog the drag of the mud combined with engine braking was usually more than enough to stop the truck. Dave also noted that the divorced NP205 is kept locked in 4wd low range at all times and this transfers the braking power from the rear to the front.

Under the hood is a Chevy 402 big block, bored .060 over. The through-the-hood headers are obvious, but the Predator carb is a little better hidden. The hood itself is worthy of mention as well. It's an all steel aftermarket replacement hood with a built in cowl induction scoop. Cooling comes from dual radiators, a four core mounted in the usual place under the hood and another mounted in the bed with expanded steel screen to sheild it from the mud and electric fans to pull air through it.

The big block sends power to the transmission through a 3000 RPM stall torque converter. Behind the 2wd Turbo 400 is a divorced NP205 transfer case that was set in low range and left there -- becuase there's no shifter. Heavy driveshafts with 1350 series U-joints send the power to the axles.

Holding the truck up off of the axles is a soft 6" suspension lift. 6" wasn't nearly enough to clear the 44" tires, so some stout frame drops were built to add even more lift. Just to make sure there was enough room, a 3" body lift puts the truck a little higher. This simple forumla has yielded a flexy truck, which should help Dave keep all four tires firmly on the bottom of the bog - if there is one. In case there is no bottom, Dave can relay on the cut 44" Boggers at the rear and front 44" TSLs mounted on 16.5 "x 14" Bart wheels to keep him afloat.


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