with Jeff Pollock
In the Back to the Basics article (May 04) the goal was to show the build up of a Zook for mild trails and daily driving duties. The basics such as suspension, tires and wheels and gearing were covered along with some slight interior modifications such as Ford Festiva seats, adding a dash with tachometer and swapping in a Sidekick steering wheel so now lets go even further with a few more modifications to enhance the appearance of the Zook which we will call Cosmetic Zookurgery. Why use this term? Well, these enhancements are not essential to making a rig perform better but rather to make it more appealing to the eye so to begin the procedure we contacted Rocky Road Outfitters for the following items to enhance our zooks appearance: Aluminum Diamond Plate Corner Panels, ABS Interior Side Panels and a 2 Lo Shifter Knob.
Most Zooks in the northeastern United States tend to rust just behind the rear wheel wells due to the abundance of heavily salted roads during the winter luckily there is an option for covering those unsightly spots, the Warrior Aluminum Diamond Plate Corner Panels. These panels are lightweight and come in black powder coat or the traditional polished styles. We, of course, had this problem with our Zook so we chose to use the black powder coated corner panels. The kit comes with two panels and 16 rivets. There are no predrilled holes so you will need a drill, rivet gun and a tube of silicone. The installation of the corner panels is pretty straightforward but here are a few tips to ease in the installation. First loosen the rear part of the factory fender flare so the panel will slide in nice and snug. Now position the panel for installation. Starting in the rear firmly hold the panel in place and drill the first hole and install the rivet. There are 8 rivets per side so work your way from the rear and ensure that the 8 rivets will be enough for that side. After the corner panel is installed run a bead of silicone between the corner panel and the body to keep it from becoming a water trap. This operation went smoothly. Once again going under the screwdriver was the rear interior panels. The original ones in this zook had deteriorated so bad that it was hard to tell if they were actually panels or wadded up cardboard. We decided to go with the black ABS rear side panels for our sidewall enhancement. These panels are spectacular! They come predrilled for your zook with fasteners to provide a factory look. The side that faces outward has a textured finish while the inside piece facing the wheel well is smooth. These panels installed so easily except for the very first hole by the factory roll bar since you need to move the factory roll bar to get the fastener into the hole but since the rest of the holes were secure I did not attempt to move the roll bar. The finished install looks clean and if someone didnt know any better would think it is a factory piece. To make a tight seal silicone could be used but for now we did not seal it as we are contemplating Herculining the interior at a later date.
Lastly we removed the old transfer case shifter knob (which had the factory t-case pattern on it) for a new billet aluminum shifter knob with the 2-Lo option etched onto it. Now my wife can see how to get the GRS 2 transfer case with 2-lo option in the correct gear. The shifter knobs slides over the shifter arm and then you just tighten the Allen screw against the existing threads of the shifter arm and it is ready to go!
Rocky Road Outfitters (888) 801-7271www.rockyroadoutfitters.com