We all know Casey Currie as about the most passionate racer on the earth. He spends every waking hour developing a strategy to surpass his competition on every level. His ability to conquer the rocks at the King of the Hammers, the wide open deserts of Baja California and the shout course venues across America is nothing short of phenomenal. When you spend 40 weekends a year on the road, sometimes you need to sneak in some personal time. So, what does a hard core racer like Casey do to unwind? Have a look!
When setting out to build a trail worthy rig, so many things go through your mind. What do you expect from the rig? What do you plan to do with it? What budget do you have to work with? These are all extremely important things to consider when selecting the donor vehicle. However, just know that no matter what you plan for, there will be extras needed, to include the expectations, plans, and budget. Building a 4×4 vehicle to go deep into the elements is not an easy task, and like most things in life, you get what you pay for. This means you have to outfit your choice with the best components available within your budget that will allow you to attain your goals.
This is not at all unlike developing the new SCX10, as all of the same parameters are considered, to include performance expectations and budget restraints. Not budget restraints for development, but budget restraints of our fans and customers. We often read the forums and see what people would like to see in the Axial vehicles. We are forced to make some difficult decisions when finalizing the package, as we want to include the world with these rigs, but also don’t want to ask for $699 for an RTR to get in the game. It is like that with all Axial products, so we do our best to aim for the sweet spot, enough features to perform at the top level, with a reasonable price tag. This is not an easy task. We are faced with the same decisions when building a full size rig. Do we want a supercharged V8, 1000 minimum on the RTI ramp, seating for 4, bulletproof axles? Of course we do, but the budget doesn’t allow for all of them, so we settle for what we can and have a blast doing it.
One of the most common things we read is…. “Oh no, not another Jeep vehicle”, well, I am here to tell you that most of us are Jeep people, so get over it. The Jeep brand is synonymous with the art of back country exploration with extreme reliability, exactly what we strive for with our little brand. It is a perfect marriage and we are happy.
When looking into new options for the new SCX10, we did what all outdoor enthusiasts do, we went into the woods to think about it, to do a little research. We were checking out all the rigs out on the trail and noticed that the XJ was a very popular rig for the most hardcore wheeler and for family back road exploration. We saw XJ’s that were exo-caged on 40′s all the way to bone stock 4×4′s loaded with the whole family and dog. This platform was exactly what we were looking for. It is one of the most popular 4×4 vehicles ever built, with millions of them on the road. Some say that Jeep actually invented the SUV with this release. It was not adapted right away for off-road use, as the old guard (Read: Wrangler, CJ5 and CJ7 owners) looked down upon these Jeeps, calling them cars with big tires, and promptly showing their owners the direction toward the nearest shopping mall or soccer field.
Some XJ inspiration we found on YouTube…
I personally had this experience with my 1993 Jeep grand Cherokee, I was given directions to the soccer field, immediately preceding my climbing an extremely nasty Granite rock face on Los Coyotes Indian reservation back in 1996. The CJ owners immediately began to bicker and argue that the other should climb it. Neither one did, nor did they express themselves again to me on the trail. They learned that day that a Unitized chassis wasn’t the end of the world, and that coil springs are like magic. The Cherokee (XJ) shared the same front suspension with the ZJ, though the XJ had leaf springs in the back, something the Jeep guys were used to back then. Any of the XJ’s and ZJ’s on the trail were hand built, as there were very few aftermarket components available with the exception of suspension which was primarily available to fit larger tires. We told some of our JK friends about our XJ desires and they immediately started flowing some memes our way, most of which we cant publish, but here are a few gems that made us laugh…
Thanks for the support guys…sheesh.
Fast forward 20 years, and these old grocery getters, mall crawlers or soccer field shuttlers are now extremely common to find on the trail. The off-road community has more than accepted them and many aftermarket companies now make a decent living supporting them. The hard part, finding a clean one-owner version with no rust and low miles, kind of like finding a Unicorn. One of Axial’s more predominant partners, Currie Enterprises, was at the forefront of developing suspension for these rigs so that they could be raced in a desert series called Jeep Speed back in the day. We consulted the Currie family and were introduced to Matt Chapman, the owner of the Cherokee that we based our SCX10XJ off of. As we have done in the past, we like to build the full size version of our scale rigs (see here…) to go out and experience what they can do, and stay on the forefront with regards to what the community is doing. At this time, Matt’s Cherokee was bone stock, as it had just been purchased and not modified yet. We elected to team with Matt and the Currie’s in effort to help develop the Full size XJ into an awesome trail machine all the while developing and testing our SCX10 II in tandem.
Here is a shot of Matt’s XJ when he got it, no rust with 150K miles…
After a good amount of research, we started to compile a list of necessities. We knew the rig had to be able to go with 4 door JK’s on 37′s, as most of Matt’s friends were rolling newer JK’s. We needed at least 35″ tires. Fitting 35′s under the Cherokee would require some proper fender flares and keeps the cops in Moab at bay. Notch Customs said “35″ tires with a 4″ lift, some welding required”. Currie makes a great suspension system for the XJ as well as their bulletproof Rock Jock 44 axles, and you know we love the performance of Icon Shocks. So, what we really needed was some armor. We looked long and hard at so many companies making XJ parts, and there is some awesome stuff out there. Russ at Notch Customs introduced us to JCR Off-Road, who ended up having one of the most complete armor systems available. Then we needed some lighting, the natural choice was Rigid powered by sPOD. Almost forgot wheels and tires. In effort to make the full size version look more like the RC, we elected to run a 35X12.50X17 BFG KO2 All Terrain wrapped around Method Mesh wheels. The 17″ wheel looks closer to a 1.9 than a 15″ wheel. Of course we needed some nice tone out of the 4.0 straight 6, so the XJ would need a Magnaflow exhaust. We had some details to sort but the main wish list was assembled!
First things first, the rig had to be made as reliable as possible by going through everything mechanical. We changed all the fluids, belts, hoses, pretty much everything we could to ensure reliability.
So, building a full size rig is just like building a scaler, get the base kit, then select all the options you wish to install. Here is our list!
2000 Jeep Cherokee XJ Parts list:
Currie Rock Jock 44 front high pinion axle with 4:56 gears
Currie Rock Jock 44 rear axle with 4:56 gears
Currie Rock Jock 4.5″ suspension system
Currie Antirock Sway bar system
EATON E-Locker rear, Detroit Locker front
JCR Vanguard Front winch bumper – No stinger
JCR Rear Bumper – tire carrier ready
JCR XJ Classic sliders
JCR Transfer case skid plate
JCR Gas tank skid plate
JCR Adventure roof rack
Notch Customs fender flares
Rigid 50″ E-Series LED bar
Rigid Dually x2 (front and rear bumper)
PSC Ram assist kit – steering
ICON Vehicle Dynamics 2.0 Aluminum shocks
sPOD – Source with Bluetooth control
17X9 Method Wheels – Mesh (5)
35X12.50X17 BFGoodrick KO2 All Terrain tires (5)
Before we started the build process, Jamie Seymour, Axial’s R&D Industrial Designer and resident rendering expert whipped up this drawing for us to envision the build…
Stay tuned as we add more of this story in the coming weeks……
Every spring Axial heads out to beautiful Moab, Utah for Easter Jeep Safari. This is one of the most beautiful places on earth to enjoy outdoor activities. If you are into Jeeping, RC adventure crawling, mountain biking, hiking, or just plain amazing scenery, then Moab should be atop your list of places to visit and enjoy. For the entire week preceding Easter Sunday, the who’s who in the 4×4 industry converge on this little town to share their latest off-road equipment, and their time with their clients and friends from within and outside of the community.
For Corporate Jeep, their week begins the weekend before, where they publicly unveil their Jeep concepts for the year. The “Underground” teams of engineers get to take their dreamt up creations, share them with the world’s press and test them in the ultimate mecca for 4wd enthusiasts. These are the vehicles that we all drool over, and wish we had a 1/10 scale body to mount on our SCX10. Even if we can’t have the bodies yet, we can still take inspiration from their creations. This year had some very cool vehicles, check them out here
In downtown Moab on Wednesday night, Axial builds the Jeep R/C adventure course. This event is put on by Jeep as a customer appreciation night for all the loyal Jeep fans. Part of the lot is set aside for the Axial crew to come in and build a fun demo course. All you have to do is wait in line and you get to try your hand at some scale Jeeping in Moab! This year’s course was a little simpler than previous years, though the man-made obstacles were very cool!
Just after the official Jeep BBQ event, the Axial staff heads off to the “Secret Spot” as it is affectionately called. There is really no secret about it, as it is located right off the main road on the way to steel bender. This spot, however, is absolutely perfect for some scale wheeling. This is the one time of the year that Axial gets a chance to spend some time with all their “Full size” marketing partners. So at about 9 pm, somewhere in the neighborhood of a half million dollars’ worth of Jeeps turn up for a little scale adventure crawl!
After a brief safety chat regarding the cliffs we were about to crawl next to, we fired up the Rigid duallys (powered by 3S lipos of course) and shot a quick group pic before hitting the trail…..
In all, there were 22 of us representing Axial, Poison Spyder, Currie Enterprises, Icon Vehicle Dynamics, Raceline Wheels, CRC, Pull Pal, Rigid Industries and Savvy Offroad. There is something about enjoying this hobby with this iconic group of guys that can’t be beat. This was probably the time of our lives, certainly when it came to our R/C Careers. We were amazed at how much transferred over from full size to scale. Some of the guys had never driven an R/C vehicle before and picked it up right away. We assume it helped having 20 of their closest friends there helping (Heckling).
Check out a few of the shots we were able to catch throughout the evening and during the rest of the week ….…
The new Vanquish lights for the RC Jeeps are amazing!! These babies are stupid bright!
The guys at Poison Spyder put together an awesome little video of the nights action, check it out here!
We were able to get out and do a little full size wheeling with the guys from Icon Vehicle Dynamics. They were kind enough to allow the Axial Grocery getter to come along for a little Hell’s Revenge adventure..
Here is a cool test shot we did with Icon Vehicle dynamics
Casey Currie is an absolute Jeep fanatic. Anyone who follows Casey can see this plain as day, though until you spend a few days with him, you can’t truly know how bad he has it. All hours of the night, in the worst weather conditions, regardless of what is going on or what time it is, Casey is ready to go wheeling. At this years’ EJS, we jumped in the Axial grocery getter, soccer mom mall crawler, whatever you want to call it, and headed out to meet with Casey. He said he had both of his JKs and he was ready to have some Moab fun.
Upon arrival, we see that Casey wasted no time modifying both of his Jeeps. His full size rig was all decked out. We also noticed his Scale JK was equipped with Vanquish Currie Rock Jock axles, Vanquish Rigid Industries light bar, Vanquish front dig, RC4WD Warn Winch. He chose the 55t Axial motor running on 3s for smooth crawling. Once we arrived on Hell’s revenge, he immediately jumped out of his full size JK and started attacking the rock with his SCX10.
Casey always immediately goes for the “Man’s Line”
We just had to get some video to share with you, check it out!