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Killer Bee – Rebuilding A Trail Ready Samurai For More

with Bob Norman

The Killer Bee Gets A Much Needed Facelift

 First... a history lesson.

Last year (2000) was a bittersweet fourwheeling year for me and my rig, the Killer Bee. Most know that I spent a ton of time fitting a coil-over shock suspension, Dana 44's, and 35" MTR's under it, just making it to ZookiMelt 2000, but with a completely unproven truck. The suspension still needed work, I had the rear shocks mounted at an angle, thereby having my spring rate reducing itself as the suspension compressed. I attempted to compensate by playing with spring rates.

 

That didn't work to well.  Gettin' jiggy for the photog....

 

After ZM, I cut the rear suspension completely off the truck, pushing the rear shocks and mounts up through into the rear passenger compartment. I put one run on it before heading toward the Dakota Challenge, but ultimately ending up in Moab since the Dakota Challenge got cancelled due to a forest fire in the area. The new variation on the suspension worked extremely well in Moab, having run Upper and Lower Helldorado with it, but it wasn't completely flawless. Plus, I got quite a bit more body rash during my visit.

That brings us to where we are today.

So, after looking at my poor abused friend sitting in the garage, I decided it was time to do a little something to freshen it up. Maybe just some dent repair.... and maybe some better suspension arms.... and maybe less lift.... and maybe a soft top body instead..... and maybe.........

 

I think everybody knows what happened next... It was time for a rebuild...  again.

I knew the shortcomings, the damage was obvious, and there are always items that can be improved, upgraded and added. So on with the list....

Body Replacement. I liked being different with the hardtop. You don't see them on the trail, but without a/c it's a rolling oven. Especially when painted black. The search was on for a soft top Samurai body with minimal rust. The old Bee body was also splitting at the seam behind the rear seat from rust. Rod Reyerson from Rod's Used Samurai Parts set me right up with a good condition soft top body complete.

New Color Scheme. What? How can it be the Bee if it's not black and yellow? A tough decision was made... how about yellow and black instead... yellow is also cooler in the sun.

No Doors. I got tired of trying to see rocks around the stock Zook doors, but didn't want to sacrifice the protection the provided. The decision was made to go to tube doors, possibly the best of both needs that I had.

Roll Cage. No hardtop means I need a little more protection than the thin material of a bikini top and a prayer that the targa bar and stock roll bar will hold. Nothing super fancy, just enough to keep the passengers intact.

No More Body Lift. Sometimes too much lift is too much. The old Bee sat a whopping 6'11.75" tall! Yikes! Going to trim the fenders and add dragster style wheel tubs in the rear to house the meats. The body lift removal is going to cause some big problems, to be discussed in the next segment.

Better Suspension Arms. The original idea was to use implement arms for the suspension, that way if (when) I break, I can pick them up about anywhere. The downside is they get "loose" very quickly, making an ill handling rig. DOM tubing and 3/4" heim joints are on the way, if you don't break, you don't need parts availability, right?

Sway bar. Ever drive a coil sprung vehicle without one? 'Nuff said.

RCI Seats. Stock Zook seats suck. I rode in TD Graham's Mazuki with his RCI's and that was it for me. But they gotta match with groovy yellow seat covers. 

 

 

 

08/11/10 14:50

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