Dave Brimleys Race-Prepped Trail TJ (Spring 2017 Featured Rig)


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Introducing Dave Brimleys "Race-Prepped Trail TJ"!

RME Interview with Dave Brimley aka RockChucker

RME- What is the story behind your rig?

Dave- I bought it as a junior in high school. My family has been wheelin' for years. And the bug bit me as a wee lad. It was a bone stock TJ with a smiling front axle from a largish 10' high jump the previous owner "accidentally" hit. Once on accident. Twice on purpose for the cool picture. A three week thrash build to get it ready for the family Moab trip ensued. I made it. But wasn't with out problems. From then on I was hooked. RME was the only website I came too. I watched Greg's RME TJ take shape (I think I donated the rear springs to the cause) as well as Ben and Kami's TJ and Spidey's YJ. All were total dream rigs for me. Slowly I built my rig into a capable wheeler. Then I met Casey Beach... and well it was all downhill from there. Wheelin' with that crowd requires guts and equipment. I needed more of both. I had a plan of what I wanted and with Casey's help, made it a reality. This definitely wasn't the standard way or cheapest way to build a TJ. But it is totally unique and can hang in the nasty stuff.

RME- Why did you choose this particular model as a base for building your rig?

Dave- I love TJs.

RME- What is/was the goal behind building your rig, and have you met the goal?

Dave- The goal has always been to have a fun rig to wheel with my family and friends. And keep pushing the limits of what I'm comfortable and capable of doing. As it sits now, I can drive it to work, mob through the whoops, jump it at the dunes and rock crawl. It isn't the best at any of them. But it is a solid all around rig that still has heated seats, a windshield with wipers and a heater. Plus it sounds cool.

RME- If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything different?

Dave- Different steering setup in the works and ditch the 1 ton Chevy brakes on the front that weigh in a 9 million lbs (also in the works), also, more ponies (see 6.0 comments below)

RME- What is your favorite feature of your rig?

Dave- Building it allowed me to meet so many awesome people and build and strengthen friendships

RME- What is your favorite trail?

Dave- I love Pritchett and really enjoyed Upper Helldorado. But I have really been digging Sand Hollow lately. I'd love to get out and explore some of what Colorado has to offer and do the Rubicon too.

RME- What kind of influence has this vehicle had on your lifestyle?

Dave- Jeep is life. Not a day goes by that I don't think about wheelin or what comes next...I did just pick up a '47 Willys.....but that story is for another day...or year. I might be done with it before Carl finishes his....

Build Details;

Engine- GM 5.3L V8 but....there is a GM 6.0 in my garage collecting dust and waiting for some go faster goodies

Transmission- $100 4L80e out of a clapped out 1991 suburban...it may have 185k miles on it. And I may have just installed it and hoped it worked...and it did!

Transfer Case- TWF 3 Speed Hero 1:1, 2.4:1, 4.3:1
1350 rear CV driveline
1350 2 piece front, both 3" tubes

Axles- Custom front TeraFlex CRD 60. My brother and I bored the housing to accept 3.5" tubing. Reid inners and outers with their bronze king pin bushings. Custom sheet metal fabricated steering arm for the drag link. 4.56 gears transfer the torque out to the wheels via a Yukon Zip locker and 4340 Yukon shafts and super joints.
The rear axle is a Dana 60 out of a '99 Ford E-350 super duty van. Paid $45 on a half of day at the junk yard. 3.5" tubes, smooth bottom center casting, factory twin piston disc brakes and large spindles are what make this axle a junk yard gem. I stuffed it with 4.56 gears, Zip locker and 35 spline chromos from Yukon.

Suspension- 108" wheelbase, 16.5" belly height, 7" up travel
3 link front with pan hard. 14" Fox 2.0 Coilovers. 16.5" of useable wheel travel.
Single triangulated 4 link rear, 14" Fox 2.0 coilovers, 15" useable wheel travel. 2" 7075 links using summit machine flex joints.

Tires & Wheels- Well broken in 37" Goodyear MTRs wrapped around 17" Raceline Monster Beadlocks with 4.75" backspacing to reduce the scrub radius

Steering- 1.75" 7075 tie rod, 1 ton chev tie rod ends. Scout II steering gear, ported with some extra goodies inside.
Howe TC pump and 1.75" ram mounted to the tie rod with a ridiculously overbuilt clamp made from 3" solid bar.
Coleman 1.5:1 steering quickener, taking the Corn Husker box from a 4.25 turn box to just over 2.5 after the box was timed to the ram and stops on the axle. This has worked pretty good....but I think there are improvements to be had.

Protection- 2" DOM roll cage, Brimley Built "Rock Toboggan" full length skid - motor to t-case. Big. Heavy. Slippery. Boat sides. Mildly terrifying to install, but worth it.

Bumpers- "Slightly" modified Poison Spyder rear corners and Front high fenders. Both aluminum.

Other Interesting Facts- List of parts left from original Jeep purchase in '07: ~5' of the frame; the tub, minus most of the floor; dash; hvac; steering column; gauges; windshield squirter pump; front skin of the grille. This Jeep is about as custom as it comes. Almost everything on it has been modified in some way to suit a purpose. And if it didn't exist, I designed it and built it. Everything was done for a purpose. It was built as a "race prepped trail rig". I don't ever plan on racing it. But following that mantra has proven to be very successful. I have had a couple very small issues. Surprising considering the magnitude of build. The thing just flat out works.

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Supporting Vendor
Yep, if I ever build another rig, it'll probably be very similar to this. Nice job on it.


This is seriously one of the best executed TJ builds that I've ever seen, very well done Dave and congrats on the feature!


when in doubt, upgrade!
So Jordan, Utah
Love this rig. I really need to get a closer look at your suspension. Looks really clean.

(I am dying to ditch the leaf springs) :)


By endurance we conquer
Supporting Vendor
This turned out so sweet. Nice job!


English is important. Engineering is importanter.
Updates....I've wheeled the daylights out of this thing. Stepped up to 40s. Had to modify the fenders for the tires to fit and was able to keep everything the same. They have a unique shape that I think looks pretty awesome. #uptravelisking

I have had one majorish issue crop up. I lost the rear pinion gear. Looks like the failure was spalling. Probably from running slightly low on oil when my broken off breather let a bunch out when I was sideways in the soup bowl at the end of the Maze. Bummer, but oh well. Time to regear to 5.38s. Going to try some tricks with these gears to see if I can make them survive and be reliable for years to come.

Coming down the pipeline....I bought a 6.0 a little over 5 years ago....It's getting high time to get that built and swapped in. It will have L92 heads, a pretty healthy cam and headers with larger primaries. Should make close to 500 hp. The 4L80 will be coming out at the same time in favor of a 6L90. Should make for some fun.



Love the 40's, are those Creepy Crawlers? I thought you were running Razr's? The built 6.0 and 6L90E are really going to change that thing in a huge way!