Archive for the ‘The Rock Bug’ Category

Rock Bug 2.0 Update for January 12, 2011

January 13th2011


Many mounts & little room makes The Rock Bug a happy rig.

Another day, another step closer to having the Rock Bug race ready for the 2011 King of the Hammers.  Since our last update, we’ve wrapped up new mounts for the orbital valve, oil filter, thermostat, power steering reservoirs, & electric water pump. In addition, the tranny cooler & radiator are now in place, settling perfectly into their new homes (the tranny cooler now lives up front with the radiator in back). There’s still plenty to wrap up before we deliver the Rock Bug to Tracy this coming Monday with the engine skid plate next on the list. We’ll be sure to post another update this weekend as we come to a close for this first stage of work in the Rock Bug 2.0 series.

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Rock Bug 2.0 Update for January 8, 2011

January 9th2011

Time sure flies when your working on The Rock Bug. Since our last post, we received the “Jet Coated” exhaust back from the platers with everything looking perfect. Tracy flew in to Spidertrax HQ this weekend to lend a hand with the installation of the plated exhaust as well as other odds & ends. The rest of our time has been occupied with the fabrication of a new radiator mount & guard which is now coming to a happy end. Next up we’ll be wrapping up with the electric water pump & orbital valve mounts which we’ll be sure to post updates of. Till then, enjoy the rest of your weekend & we’ll see you next time!

Rock Bug 2.0: And So It Begins

January 3rd2011

It feels like only yesterday that we saw a fully disassembled Rock Bug in our shop. When I say yesterday, I mean of course nearly 2 years ago when we set off to build an ultra high strength & ultra light weight rock crawling machine dubbed “The Rock Bug” (see “Say Hello to the Rock Bug” from November 19th, 2008).  So why then is the Rock Bug back in our shop? After a fairly successful run in the Ultra4 Stampede (4th place out of nearly 55 racers), we decided to give the 2011 Ultra4 Tour, an extremely brutal 6 event rock racing competition, a chance this year. That’s where this build comes in, dubbed “Rock Bug 2.0”, we’ll focus on key driveline changes in an effort to make this light weight machine one of the meanest rock racers around.

The most prominent change in this build will be swapping out the ever so tiny Scat V4 for an LS style motor. After the countless hours of tuning/machining/re-turning/re-machinig we put into the Scat, it’s hard to say goodbye to this little engine. Unfortunately, the power necessary to be a top placing rock racer was just not happening with the Scat. Combine this with the fact that the Scat was a ticking time bomb, an LS motor sounds pretty sweet.

The biggest question up front was answered early on; will an LS motor fit in the small framework of the Rock Bug? Yes, as it so happens, it does but with little room to spare. As shown in the video above, the LS is now mounted in place and with surprisingly little chassis modification needed. With the exception of removing a small x-style crossmember & relocating the radiator & orbital steering valve, the LS looks right at home in the bug.

In terms of engine specifics, this LS started out as a 5.3L ’06 Trail Blazer junkyard motor. With the help of an LS3 intake LS2 intake, 90 mm throttle body, Schwanke cam, and the skilled hands of Dave from Powerhouse Motorsports, this all aluminum V8 factory engine will now put out nearly 430 HP & 420 ft-lbs of torque. By comparison, this is nearly 60% more power then our Scat V4. Although we are adding almost 200 pounds of sprung mass to make this all happen, the investment should pay off well for an LS powered rock racer under 3000 lbs.

With the motor in, we were also able to make quick work of the next upgrade on the list, replacing the Stak D300 with an Atlas 3.0. This has been on this list for some time now and since undertaking a complete engine swap, this modification sounds easy. So, with some effort and a little patience the Atlas is now in place and ready for action. Due to the larger size of this transfer case, the driver’s seat will be about 3/4″ higher then before (passenger seat will stay as is). However, we were able to save the existing front cross member so the entire dashboard, along with the rest of the cockpit, will remain the same.

The last item we wrapped up literally yesterday was the ultra compact header. I’m not sure if you’ll find a V8 header this compact elsewhere, but the size constraints of the chassis left no other option. The header was shipped out today for some “Jet Coating”, a high temperature (2500°F) plating process that not only protects the header from corrosion but can also reduce heat under operation by as much as 60%.

So there you have it, the progress of Rock Bug 2.0 so far. We still have plenty to do before the kick off event of the year, The King of the Hammers on February 11th. Next up, we’ll be mounting cooling accessories, radiator included, along with other plumbing odds and ends. Stay tuned to our blog for updates as they happen with our next update due out sometime this weekend. Don’t forget you can subscribe via e-mail here so you can get these updates as soon as they hit the interwebs. In the meantime, I do hope you enjoy the quick video above along with the photos below of the progress to date. See you soon!

Winning W.E.Rock’s Unlimited Class in a Pro-Mod Rig

April 5th2010

When we created the Rock Bug, designing a high performance rear steer axle was a must for driver Tracy Jordan.  We understood Tracy’s position on this one as anyone who can master the art of rear steer is virtually unstoppable in the rocks and Tracy Jordan is without question one of those masters.  Unfortunately, with nearly twice as many W.E.Rock competitors in the more restrictive 2009 Pro-Mod class, which doesn’t allow rear steer, Tracy decided to run a solid rear axle in the Rock Bug in an effort to compete against as many drivers as possible. Although the 2009 competition was a complete success for both Tracy and the Rock Bug, you could tell Tracy was missing his rear steer axle.

Now we’ll fast forward to March 27th, 2010 as W.E.Rock kicked off a brand new rock crawling competition season in Oroville, CA.  Although Tracy would run the Rock Bug’s rear steer axle any chance he could get, word was the number of competitors in each class was inline with last year (around 12 Unlimited and 24 Pro-Mod rigs). So, like last year, the decision was made to run the Rock Bug as a Pro-Mod rig.  Then, literally 1 hour before the start of the competition in Oroville, everything got turned upside down.

As it happened, we discovered the morning of the event both Unlimited & Pro-Mod classes had nearly the same number of competitors (about 12 in each class).  Although the Rock Bug was set up as a Pro-Mod, there was no question that for the rest of the W.E.Rock season Tracy would be running the Unlimited class with the Rock Bug’s rear steer axle.  The question of the day though was what to do about this first event.  Do we run the Rock Bug in Pro-Mod and then Unlimited for the rest of the year eliminating any chance of capturing the season title? Do we attempt to run the Rock Bug as set for Pro-Mod (37” tires and no rear steer) in the Unlimited class, something that has to date never been done before, so that the season title could possibly be captured?  With no easy answer in site and now less then 1 hour before show time, Tracy calls for a coin toss.  Heads we run Pro-Mod, tails we run Unlimited.  I flipped the coin and tails it was.

Now making a very long story short, for the next two days Tracy Jordan battled it out with his Pro-Mod rig in the Unlimited class. This meant he would compete against rigs with larger tires and rear steer axles.  In the end, Tracy would prove once again why he is rained as one of the best rock crawlers in the world as he pulled off what seemed nearly impossible.  In a Pro-Mod rig, Tracy Jordan won Unlimited!

Tracy & the Rock Bug will be back competing in the Unlimited class  May 1-2 in Tucson, AZ and this time with 40” tires and a rear steer axle.  In the meantime, check out the video above of Tracy Jordan running the final obstacle of the competition, The Shootout, a course where only 1 other driver out of 12 was able to complete.  We also have a great collection of photos below from ace photographer Chad Jock showing off some of the many  teams running Spidertrax Spider 9 axles & components.

2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1

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2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1

2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1

2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1

2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1 2010 W.E.Rock Round 1

Crawl Magazine Features The Rock Bug

March 15th2010

http://files.spidertrax.com/images/rockbug_issue21_leader.jpgTracy Jordan & The Rock Bug soaking in some Moab beauty. (Photo: Tim Magee)

It’s always nice to see recognition for one of the funnest projects we ever had the pleasure to work on. Tim Magee wrote a great piece coupled with some of the most amazing photography to date on the Rock Bug in this month’s issue of Crawl Magazine (Issue #21).  If you haven’t got your issue yet go ahead and steal your friends now. It is packed not only with this great article but in-depth coverage of this year’s King of the Hammers competition.

Once again a big thanks to John Herrick, Owner/Publisher of Crawl Magazine, for letting us post a digital copy of The Rock Bug article right here on our blog for free.  In addition, we called up Tim Magee and got a hold of rest of the photos from The Rock Bug photo shoot that didn’t make it into the magazine.  Hope you enjoy the article and photos as much as we did!

http://files.spidertrax.com/images/rockbug_issue21_cover.jpgDownload the full print article “The Rock Bug”, courtesy of Crawl Magazine.


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Photos from The Rock Bug photo shoot that didn’t make it into the magazine.