When I’ve told folks “I was going wheelin’ this weekend” they look at me funny and ask what I mean. Well, I mean off-roading in my truck.

I bought my 4Runner in February of 2012. I bought from a friend’s son who was wanting a car. I had owned one once before and LOVED it! This time, however, I was set on keeping forever and turning it into my zombie escape rig.SAMSUNG

I drove it without doing much to it for a couple months then I started with small modifications. “Plasti-Dip” became my new best friend as I painted all the gold emblems and wheels. After that I started with engine stuff for performance.One day, while in the woods with my boys, I tore one of the fenders off. That’s when I decided to just rip them off altogether. After that I coated the sides where the panels were with Plasti-Dip.20130806_180718

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After removal of the panels and coating it was time to up the game a bit. I figured it was time for bumpers and some gear. I had a local shop, Off-Road Kustoms, design and install the bumpers and winch. I, then, added a roof rack and 42″ light bar for some illumination.

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I had already installed a 3 inch lift consisting of Bilstein shocks and some spacers up front. I ended up added the Total Chaos upper control arms, ToyTec lateral bar and ToyTec lower control arms to the rear for better off-road performance. The Maxxis Big Horn tires really set this thing off!20160109_120106.jpg

Now we’re REALLY ready to hit the trails. I’ve only gotten hung once and it was my wife’s Honda Pilot that pulled me out of the mud hill in our yard. I ended up chopping off the end of the tail pipe so it wouldn’t hit rocks or obstacles as a final modification. I did get rear-ended about a year ago. The car ran up underneath me and bent the rear axle. I had to swap axles with another T4R from the local salvage yard. The snorkel was the icing on the cake. I tell people that they’re really not necessary but they look good. I’ve been in some pretty deep water but don’t feel I’ve really tested it yet.

All-in-all I’ve had a blast building this thing. I love my truck even more since she was brought back from the dead after the accident last year. Hence the name “FrankenYota”. You can check out the full build on my Toyota 4Runner profile, FrankenYota Build Thread.

Now that I’ve got a vehicle that’s capable and up to the task, it’s time to hit the trails. I, personally prefer Forestry Trails or those like them. These types of trails will lead you miles and miles on a scenic route through the woods. One popular one in Arkansas is the Ozark Overland Trail. It is “191 miles long, from Russellville to St. Joe, AR. It consists of Forest Service, power line and county roads, with short stretches of paved highway to connect segments. While it is mostly dirt road, there are sections where it is little more than a roughed out trail through the woods. There are several superb viewpoints along or near the route, and sixteen river crossings–mostly easy, but a couple that are more dramatic”. Another great one is the K-Trail. It runs from Clayton, Oklahoma to Mena, Arkansas. Here is the excerpt from the video link in the previous sentence. “A small group of us decided to run the K-Trail from Clayton, OK to Mena, AR. We spent the first night at Clayton Lake State Park, took a photo op detour to cross the Kiamichi River near there, then headed up to McKinley Rocks for our first night to camp. Some of the group returned to Clayton State Park to pick up gear and trailers that were left behind during what we thought would be some rougher segments of the trip. In fact, their return was the roughest because of the trail, the trailers, and the weather–rain followed by thick fog. They would end up winching out twice, blowing one tire bead, and rolling one of the trailers over. Fortunately it suffered only slight damage–it proved its worth as an off-road capable trailer. The next night we headed to Kiamichi Mountain Fire Tower. Two of our party headed home without pressing all the way. Then, on Monday morning we were greeted by more fog and very fierce winds. We decided to exit the trail and head for Tailihina and home without making it quite all of the way to Mena”.

Locally, we have a few trails but nothing major. Most folks will go to an “off-road park” like Flat Nasty in Jadwin, Mo, Rush Springs in Pineville, Mo, Central Missouri Off-Road Park in Fayette, Mo or the closest to me is Southern Missouri Off Road Ranch (SMORR) in Seymour, Mo. SMORR is a local favorite. I’ve been there plenty of times and try to support the park when I can.These parks are where you will find some of the gnarliest off-road buggies you have ever scene. Built from the ground up and some costing around $50,000, these spawns of hell will push 600 plus horsepower and devour anything in their path. They are very impressive to watch as they rip, snort and grind their way up a rock hill.

This is a fun hobby, can be expensive, to get into but you’ll always be surrounded by good people and, most importantly, it’s safe and makes fantastic memories.

THIS!!! Is “wheelin”.


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