Budget Desert Buggy Build. . .component suggestions???

atomicjoe23

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OK. . .here's the deal. . .I want to build a two-seat buggy. . .mostly for play. . .I'm gonna build the chassis to meet some certain class requirement (I'm not sure which right now. . .I can't open the PDF file to look at the class rules here at school) so that I can upgrade the components as time and my driving abilities dictate. . .I'm on a something of a budget at the moment seeing as how I'm a full-time college student.

First off I want to head off any comments about how I should buy a new or used buggy instead of building one. . .I don't want to nor can I afford to buy either, secondly this will not be the first buggy that I have ever designed and built from scratch. . .so I'm painfully aware of the trials, tribulations, and headaches involved in this type of project. . .I either have the equipment or access to the equipment necessary to build the entire buggy including AutoCAD, SolidWorks, BendTech, welder, tube notcher, chopsaw, lathe, mill, ironworker, shear, hydraulic press, etc. . . .

Here's what I'm looking for. . .my previous experience has only been with single seat buggies for a SPEC race series and were built around ATV/UTV components so I'm not extremely familiar with full-size buggy components. . .

. . .could you guys make some suggestions as to "budget" buggy components. . .I'm gonna design and build my own A-arms and trailing arms so I'm talking about stuff like engine/transmission suggestions, axles, etc. . .I would like to pick up as much stuff as I can used. . .I'm patient and in no rush to get it done NOW. . .if I have to wait for something I have to wait for something. . .it's not the end of the world.

Thanks for your help and suggestions!!!
 

Captain Air Time

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You've got to narrow it down a bit.
'full size buggy' is a pretty vague statement.

2wd or 4wd?
front, mid, rear engine?
4cyl, blown big block?
what do you have, what do you need, what IS the budget? race part$, or junkyard/aftermarket OEM parts?
goals for power, weight, tire size, wheel travel?

that should make it a little easier for people to answer, I think.
 

atomicjoe23

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Ok. . .here goes at narrowing it down:

2WD
either mid or rear engine. . .that will depend upon what I can get as an affordable engine combination to start out with. . .more
on this subject farther down
I was thinking that as far as something affordable goes and that is readily upgradeable without breaking the bank would be a
Toyota engine/transmission combination. . .probably from a Tacoma. . .there are a lot of them out there so they are easy to find
which should make it more affordable. . .plus I've got a friend who is big into Toyota rock crawler so he can help me get used
to the Toyotas since I'm used to Chevy's, Ford's, and Pontiac's
Right now I have the equipment and design experience necessary to build a buggy. . .so I'm starting from scratch. . .I don't have
any components yet. . .

I figure that I will start out by building a chassis that is not budget. . .one that I can put budget parts on and then upgrade to racing parts in the future. . .so I will be starting out with getting as many parts as possible from the junkyard or used.

-WB of 115-130"
-35"+ tire/wheel combo
-weight is still up in the air. . .I don't really know what I should expect. . .using an aluminum Toyota engine should help keep it
down though. . .I'm thinking that no more than 4000 lbs. should be a reasonable expectation. . .right???
-wheel travel. . .a lot. . .the single seat buggy me and my buddies just made had 17" of front travel and 15" of rear travel. . .so I
would like at least 18" front travel and at least the same in the back. . .we had less travel in the rear on our buggy vs. the
front because of CV joint limitations. . .is this normal for an IRS??? This is the first time I've worked with IRS so I'm not
sure??? I won't skimp on the shocks starting out. . .probably Fox initially and I will be making my own A-arms
-power. . .not sure what a Toyota engine/transmission is capable of. . .so I will have to do some research there to figure that out. . .assuming that a Toyota engine is an acceptable power source for the weight of the vehicle.

The ultimate goal is to have a chassis that I can upgrade to full race components but be able to start out with really budget stuff just so I can have something to play with while I save. . .
Hope that gives you guys enough info to help me out. . .

Thanks!!!
 

Captain Air Time

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sounds like you could go get a $500 ranger, add some leafs and shocks in the back, coilovers and radius arms up front, ditch the body and cage it up. draw it in CAD, delete the stock frame, and you're left with a 20" travel buggy for 2 or 4 with dirt cheap moving parts. Front engine, yes, but hey, you can change that too, or add IRS, or....
 

atomicjoe23

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Hey. . .that doesn't sound like a bad idea. . .thanks for the suggestion!!!

Keep the suggestions coming!
 

Captain Air Time

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Hey. . .that doesn't sound like a bad idea. . .thanks for the suggestion!!!

Keep the suggestions coming!
OK. Being in WA, you probably wouldn't mind having the HVAC etc(even with no roof and doors, heat blasting on your feet makes all the difference come winter) so keeping the firewall and heater stuff is good, with the added bonus of ready mounts for the pedal box, column, etc. Keep the frame narrow up front so you can change up the front suspension as required without too much redesigning. Its easy to space stuff wider, but if its too wide, its chop chop time.
My (long time, ever evolving) plan involves the firewall and windshield from a first gen. Ranger/Bronco II coupled to a full tube chassis and some Early Bronco fiberglass skins to make it all look 'normal'. I never seem to get that far into it before it changes, or I get a new project in the garage, but someday, it will happen!
 

Haycock

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if your planning on running a rear or mid engine setup with irs, how would you use a toyota transmission? one thing to think about for a transaxle is a th400 with a 9" center adapted to it. thats strong and somewhat cheap. if you would rather have a manual transmission you could run a toyota 5spd with a 9" but i believe the toyota 5spd is pretty long so you could look into something shorter or your wheelbase may be a little long. that setup is way cheaper than a mendi or fortin...
 

atomicjoe23

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I wasn't at all sure about the transmission/transaxle for a rear wheel drive vehicle with a rear/mid engine set-up. . .I figured I wouldn't be able to use a normal transmission unless I flipped stuff around backwards and went with a mid engine and even then I wasn't sure if that could be made to be functional. . .and if it could I was wondering about the driveshaft length being too short. . .

. . .thanks for the suggestion. . .I already have a Ford 9" third member laying un-used in the garage.
 

atomicjoe23

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Very well aware of that. . .but there's a full blown racing TT budget and then there's the for recreational purposes budget. . .

. . .case in point. . .

. . .me and 2 of my buddies built a single seat buggy for a competition; we spent less on the entire buggy than what most of the other teams spent on just the shocks and we had about 1/3 of the time to build it (took us less than a month of work days to build) and we have a buggy that looks better and has more suspension travel than any of the other teams. . .testing was done this weekend while I was out of town and the only concern was our speed. . .I've gotta call the guys tonight and see how it went, but if our speed is up to par then we are gonna shame a lot of people that have been doing this longer than we have for a WHOLE lot less (<$6000). . .

. . .so for what I'm looking to do it's gonna be all about a little bit of patience and a whole lot of hunting. . .lotta modification too. . .more affordable parts can be made to work with the right modifications and if you have the equipment and time (labor isn't factoring into my budget for this buggy since I'm gonna do it all myself) you can make things for WAY less than you can buy them!

I would love to have the money to build a several hundred thousand dollar full blown race buggy. . .but right now I don't so I'm gonna make a play buggy that can be upgraded as I can afford. . .plus I don't have the desert driving experience to justify that kind of rig anyway. . .

. . .keep the suggestions coming please!
 

Haycock

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what i have found is that ther is a ton of oem parts that can be used to build a buggy. you just need to keep an open mind and look outside of the box... im not sure if you have seen my thread in show and tell but you might want to check it out cus i was kinda doing the same thing, its called "budget buggy".
 

atomicjoe23

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Anybody know of a retailer or otherwise with a full featured catalog (print or PDF) that I can get to look at components all in one spot instead of clicking back and forth all over the internet trying to find pricing, etc.
 

atomicjoe23

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So I'm thinking that I should be able to use either a Dana 44 or Dana 50 IFS third member and axles from an '80-96 Ford F-150/full-size Bronco for the rear differential. . .I should be able to pick them up failrly cheaply at the junkyard and they should be pretty strong as well. . .there is quite a bit of aftermarket support for them as well. . .

. . .I think I should be able to use the knuckle as well if I use it to mount the trailing arms to. . .that should keep the wheels/tires from flopping from side to side. . .should be really similar in set-up to the IRS buggy that me and my buddies made using a Polaris rear end. . .the rear wheels flopped all over the place until we got the trailing arms installed.

Using a Dana 44/50 IFS thirdmember should make it a lot easier and cheaper for me to run any pretty much any engine/transmission combo that I want. . .the third member will be solidly located to the frame so driveshaft length won't be an issue either. . .

Let me know what you think. . .now I just have to figure out what I'm gonna do for the front uprights. . .I would really like to make my own out of chrome-moly, but I'm not sure what I will do for the spindle. . .I saw ProAm's dual sport uprights, but I don't like their control arm mounting method. . .I want a double sheer mount for the tie rods and lower control arm. . .maybe a uniball for the UCA
 

Haycock

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i wouldnt use a dana44 in the rear if your planning to have over 200HP. im not sure about the dana50 though, i would think you couldnt run more than 300 hp with the 50.
as far as spindles go, make your own and use 4wd dana44 snouts for 35" max tire.
 

atomicjoe23

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OK. . .so you think no to the Dana 44 and only maybe to the Dana 50. . .

. . .what about an IRS Ford 8.8 from a Mustang Cobra. . .I know it's apples to oranges as far as application goes, but those things have taken over 800 HP in drag racing and over 500 in road racing applications. . .since it will be mounted solidly to the chassis and not floating like a live axle I would think that it shouldn't recieve all that much more shock than it would in a road racing application. . .but I could be totally wrong. . .what do you think?

. . .So I've decided mid-engine set-up with the transmission running forward and then using a transfer case that I have laying around to redirect the drive back to the rear end. . .maybe not the most ideal, but it's using what I have and will help keep the budget way down. . .by not having to buy parts for everything and increasing the number engine/transmission combos that I can use without difficulty making it work and excessive expense. . .let me know what everybody thinks about that. . .remember it's a budget buggy so don't be too hard on me just because it's not how you would do it. . .let me know about definite problems that you can foresee and clue me in on your constructive criticism!!!
 

Haycock

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i think the 8.8 r&p would be ok with a stock v6 but im not sure about the stub shafts, do you know what spline they are? 28?31?

what type of transfercase would you be using?
 

Captain Air Time

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F150 front is a reverse spiral 8.8, 28 spline shafts

T-bird 8.8 is 28 spline

Explorer rear 2002+ I think is 31 spline, and a much heftier casting.

as for strength, they ran over 20 years as the rear end under the best selling vehicle in north america. Thats over 5000 pounds and 5.8L V-8s. Having tried continuously for years to damage one with a V6, I am happy to say that you have no need to fear for the rear with a V6 and a light weight buggy. Correct setup, solid spacers, and a bearing-preload cover are more than enough to make it last.
 

atomicjoe23

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Thanks to both of you guys for chiming in on the 8.8. . .

. . .as far as the transfer case goes. . .I don't really know. . .it came in the bed of a '79 F-150 4x4 that we bought at auction for $800. . .it was a steal!!! A running (and strong. . .doesn't leak oil or anything!!!) 4WD F-150 (351M/C6 auto) with a transfer case, one extra axle shaft, a spare torque converter, 2 spare two barrel carbs, a 9" third member (don't know the gears), 4 8-lug cast iron wheels, 4 5-lug 15x10 wheels. . .and I can't remember what else. . .that was over a year ago and the truck is still running and we've towed our quads and sailboat all over the state without any problems!!!

So that's the transfer case that I'm planning on using. . .I pulled it out of the truck and haven't looked at it since. . .totally forgot that I had it. . .I'll rebuild it before I use it to make sure it's up to snuff first. . .I'll update after I look at it to see what it is. . .might be a while though. . .our single seat race buggy has to go to paint on Friday and we're supposed to do some additional testing tomorrow afternoon and I still have to finish the sheetmetal, we have to re-fab part of rear-end to accept 1/2" rod ends (it bent the hell out of the 3/8" rod ends!!!. . .it's a light buggy. . .I think sub-500 lbs.) and still have to fab the chain guards as well. . .

I'll post pic's whenever my account settings get fixed. . .right now it's not letting me post pic's. . .GRRRR!!!
 

atomicjoe23

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OK. . .major change of plans here. . .

. . .this was getting to be too much stuff to try to figure out and hodge podge together for a non-race legal buggy. . .

. . .new plans are to build the buggy for Class 10 competition. . .will be using a Suzuki Hayabusa engine with a Jeffco Reverse Differential. . .I will have to shop around for the Hayabusa engine and I will drop some change on the Jeffco transmission, but it will work, it will have reverse, there won't be any of this trying to figure out how to get the power from the front to the rear reverse rotation gears and oiling issues to deal with either. . .plus the Hayabusa engine is LIGHT and I can run it fuel injected in Class 10. . .plus there are a TON of power parts and big bore kits available for the Hayabusa. . .and as a 2-seater w/fuel injection I can run up to 1750cc in Class 10. . .that's a lot of displacement for a 'Busa engine and it will make a LOT of power (probably get close to 300HP out of it) for that little engine and the power to weight ratio will be better and I will have 6 forward gears instead of four from a transaxle. . .
 
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