NC4x4

We spoke with Chris Steuber of U-Joint Offroad in the summer of 2010, and then ran into him and his lovely fiance at the Open Ride at The Flats back in Septmeber. Not only did we get to see the monstrous Vanaconda in person, we got the chance to take a ride and see what it could really do. Well, let's just say it is more than just. plain. cool., it is just plain awesome!

Over the past few months, U-Joint Offroad (UJOR) has been busy building 4x4 vans and shipping their DIY kits across the continental US, as well as to Alaska, Canada & Puerto Rico. Chris has been kind enough to share some photos & details of the unique vans they've built recently and promises more to come in a series of posts on his newest build, the Vanaconda 4!

We converted this 06 Sportsmobile 6.0 to 4wd so the owner can take it on trips across the US. He sells & sometimes delivers RV's, and the SMB will be towed behind & driven back to Georgia via the scenic route. This van received the complete UJOR 4" conversion & BFG AT KO tires (285/75/16) on American Racing Wheels.



Next up was an 05 V10 from West Virginia. This van will be used for hauling people, parts runs, and even as a tow rig. It received the UJOR 6" conversion with 35/12.50/17 Mickey Thompson tires.

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At the shop currently is this 99 E350 7.3. It is a really nice van and it's also getting the 6" conversion with 35" tires. This will be a really nice capable rig with front & rear Aluminess bumpers, rear skid system, AMP steps, and a few other goodies!

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Besides the current van builds, Chris explained more about the kits which range from simple bracketry to complete turn-key packages. They are putting together some Dana 60's that will be shipped out for DIY van conversions.

From stage 1 basic units to stage 2 axles with the RSC kit, some van owners will be happy when they see the big crate from UJOR. Full conversion kits including axles have been very popular lately. That's the beauty of the UJOR van conversion, you can do it at your pace, on your budget, with your own hands. There's just not a better way to do it!

As for the Vanaconda 4 project, V4 has arrived at UJOR. Chris has big plans for this mega build.

I found this 02 E350 7.3 at a junkyard. It was destined to be scrapped out and had already given up it's rear axle as well as a few parts under the hood. The dash & frame were in such good shape, I couldn't pass it up! I've been looking for the right project vehicle for some time, and I'm glad that I waited for the perfect rig.

The fun begins with a 6" lift, 37" tires, a custom flat bed and some other secret goodies that will make V4 the ultimate Expedition base vehicle!

We just received the 12" fiberglass cab back, and some flared fenders are on the way. Next week we'll pull the body and send it to paint.

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Please stay tuned for more on the V4 build from U-Joint Offroad!
If you've got the ability and opportunity... and you're NOT doing it... then you're doing it wrong.

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Events...
We're compiling a list of events scheduled for the first half of 2012. Get out your calendars!

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January
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Rock Corps 4x4 Club will be having an open ride on January 14, 2012, at The Flats to raise money for a family in need. Gates will open at 8am and close at 6pm. Fees are $10 per rig, $5 per person, for the day. All proceeds will go to the family.

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The NCRCC 2012 Qualifying Series Event #3 will be at Rhodhiss on Sunday, January 22, 2012. Course Building begins at 8:30am. There will be a Drivers Meeting at 9:15 and the competition starts at 9:30am.

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The 2012 Open Run at Crozet will be Saturday, January 21 & Sunday, January 22, 2012. Search 6000 Bearwood Rd., Crozet, VA 22932 for directions. A non-member pre-registration form can be found on the RCPFA website here.

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February
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The 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers is February 10, 2012, less than five weeks away! Hammer Town officially opens February 3rd, on the lake bed.

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The Gulches Presidents Day Run Weekend will be Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 21, 2012. A preregistration discount form can be found on the Gulches home page.

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March
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The ECORS 2012 schedule has been posted! The season opener will take place at The Flats in Marion, NC, on March 17.

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The 2012 General Tire Mint 400 race will be held March 23 - 25 in Las Vegas, Nevada! The 2012 event will feature a new Casey Folks-Designed 400-Mile Course, a Side-by-Side (2X) Start, new Spectator Areas (including a High-Speed Passing Zone), increased TV coverage, Live Coverage via Race-Dezert.com and more!

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The 4x4cross Season Opener and National Throttle King Qualifier Weekend will kick off on Thursday, March 29, at the Dirty Mo' with DOT Light & Heavy Comp Pulls. The weekend will include the Third Annual Efird Memorial Ride at the Devils' Playground on Saturday, March 31.

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The trails at Uwharrie National Forest open for 2012 at noon on Friday, March 30!

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The First Annual Uwharrie Off-Highway Vehicle Jamboree will celebrate the early opening of the trails at UNF! Hosted by the Eldorado Outpost and the Uwharrie Off-Road Training Center (UORTC), the Jamboree will include a Swap Meet, vendor booths and a Spartan Race (mud run), March 30 - April 1, 2012. The website will be updated soon with a list of vendors.

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April
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The Straight Diesel Season Opener Sled Pull and Mud Race will be April 14, 2012 in Peachland. Rules for this and several other regional venues have been posted in the 4x4Cross forum.

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Rock Corps 4x4 Club will host an Open Invite and Benefit, Down and Dirty For Life, on April 20-22, 2012. The gates will open at 9am on Friday and close at 5pm on Sunday. Admission is $10 per rig, $10 per person, kids 16 and under are free. Camping is free. Fees go to benefit the American Cancer Society.

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May
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The Spring Farm weekend, hosted by the Big Dixe Boggers, is scheduled for May 4-6, 2012.

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The second 2012 ECORS race will take place on May 19, at The Great American Park in Auburn, AL.

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June
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The Farmington Dragway Straight Diesel Pull and Mud Race will be June 9, 2012, in Mocksville, NC.

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The Bottomland4x4 Annual Bog For Charity will be June 16, in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

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News...
For the first time, starting order for King of the Hammers main race will be determined by a qualifying race. More than 70 Last Chance Qualifier contestants will be competing for one of 20 spots remaining... while 90 pre-qualified racers will be competing for their starting order in the 2012 Griffin King of The Hammers. The qualifying races will take place Tuesday and Wednesday, February 7 & 8, on the 4Wheel Parts Qualifying course. Some of the qualifying races will be televised during the Ultra4 “Happy Hour”.

ECORS veterans BJ Allen, Sean Rose will both qualify on Wednesday. It also looks like the rumors are true and Robby Gordon will race KOH!

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Robby Gordon won Stage 9 of Dakar 2012 yesterday but still trailed leader Stephane Peterhansel by 5'58” in the general standings. Co-driver Johnny Campbell said, "RG was matted at 205kph! Omg I was freaking out!!!" Gordon/Campbell are closing the gap in Stage 10 today.
If you've got the ability and opportunity... and you're NOT doing it... then you're doing it wrong.

Events
It's early in the year but we're compiling a list of events scheduled for 2012. Get out your calendars! Heaven forbid someone sign you up to attend a wedding when you could be wheeling! If your club has an event planned and you want folks to know about it, let us know or post it up in the Upcoming Events Forum!


January
Rock Corps 4x4 Club will be having an open ride on January 14, 2012, at The Flats to raise money for a family in need. Gates will open at 8am and close at 6pm. Fees are $10 per rig, $5 per person, for the day. All proceeds will go to the family.

...

There will be an Open Run at Crozet (both existing members and prospective members/nonmembers are eligible to attend) Saturday, January 21 & Sunday, January 22, 2012. Search 6000 Bearwood Rd., Crozet, VA 22932 for directions. A non-member pre-registration form can be found on the RCPFA website here.

Crozet is privately owned land maintained by RCPFA and is NOT open to the public at any other time unless arranged via the RCPFA (Rock Crawlers for the Preservation of Future Access) Board of Directors. All persons attending must either drive their rig or have a seat in another rig, no spectators are allowed at wheeling events.



February
The 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers is February 10, less than five weeks away! Hammer Town officially opens February 3rd, 2012, on the lake bed.

Hammerking Productions has announced the addition of the King of the Motos race, at 11am Thursday, February 9, 2012. The sixty-five mile course will feature a demanding combination of high-speed Baja-style desert racing and ten miles of extreme rock terrain that will rival Erzberg. An invitation-only field of twenty top riders from the enduro, desert racing and trials world will compete for the King of the Motos crown!

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Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 21, 2012, is the Gulches Presidents Day Run Weekend. Always the biggest day of the year, last year's President's Day (Save the Gulches) Run brought over 500 rigs and helped keep the park afloat. Mark your calendar, you don't want to miss the Southeast's biggest kick off event of the year. A preregistration discount program form will soon be up on the Gulches home page.

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There is an off-season workday for clubs that are a part of the Forest Service Partner Program scheduled for February 25, 2012 at Uwharrie National Forest.



March
There is an off-season workday for clubs that are a part of the Forest Service Partner Program scheduled for March 17, 2012 at Uwharrie National Forest. The trails open this year at noon on Friday, March 30!

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The First Annual Uwharrie Off-Highway Vehicle Jamboree will celebrate the early opening of the trails at UNF!



The Eldorado Outpost and the Uwharrie Off-Road Training Center (UORTC), located across Highway 109, will host 25 acres of family-friendly OHV fun, including a Swap Meet, vendor booths and a Spartan Race (mud run), March 30 - April 1, 2012. The website will be updated soon with a list of vendors.



April
Rock Corps 4x4 Club will host an Open Invite and Benefit, Down and Dirty For Life, on April 20-22, 2012. The event will combine everything great about wheeling at The Flats with a fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society. There will be a tent with Cancer Information, event t-shirts and rubber bracelets, vendors and a raffle. One of the raffle items will be a handmade Cancer Awareness quilt. Luminaries will be lit at dusk on Saturday in remembrance and support of anyone who has battled cancer. The gates will open at 9am on Friday and close at 5pm on Sunday. Admission is $10 per rig, $10 per person, kids 16 and under are free. Camping is free.



May
The Spring Farm weekend, hosted by the Big Dixe Boggers, is tentatively scheduled for May 4-6.

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News
Stage 6, Faimbala-Copiapó, of the Dakar 2012 had to be cancelled due to bad weather continuing over the Andes Mountain Range. The Dakar was scheduled to cross over the Andes for the seventh time but, with temperatures in the high teens (-8°C / 17.6°F), unfavorable weather conditions and the need to guarantee the security of the competitors and those following the rally, and the Chilean authorities were forced to close the border at the Paso de San Francisco pass for the night. January may be summer in the southern hemisphere, but the rugged landscape of Argentina and Chile includes mountain passes at over 15,000 feet and hairpin descents.

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The convoy stretched out along the route to its destination, with the last crew driving Toyota Land Cruiser No.392, along the Paso San Francisco pass and on to Copiapó, Chile, the start and finishing point of the 573-km Stage 7. Sunday will be a rest day followed by Stage 8 from Copiapó to Antofagasta. The rally's longest special stage will be used to allow the competitors to get back into the pace of the competition. On the stone-covered tracks which will lead to Antofagasta, the pace will be rather intense, but this will not prevent the drivers from catching sight of some magnificent views.

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If you've got the ability and opportunity... and you're NOT doing it... then you're doing it wrong.

Happy 2012!
Events

Just a quick run-down on big events we know of, so far, for 2012. Get out your calendars! Heaven forbid someone sign you up to attend a wedding when you could be wheeling! If your club has an event planned and you want folks to know about it, let us know or post it up in the Upcoming Events Forum!

January
Rock Corps 4x4 Club will be having an open ride on January 14, 2012, at The Flats to raise money for a family in need. Gates will open at 8am and close at 6pm. Fees are $10 per rig, $5 per person, for the day. All proceeds will go to the family.





February
Friday, February 17 through Monday, February 21, 2012, is the Gulches Presidents Day Run Weekend. Always the biggest day of the year, last year's President's Day (Save the Gulches) Run brought over 500 rigs and helped keep the park afloat. Mark your calendar, you don't want to miss the Southeast's biggest kick off event of the year. A preregistration discount program form will soon be up on the Gulches home page.

aimg.nc4x4.net_wp_2012_01_bdb5.jpg

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There is an off-season workday for clubs that are a part of the Forest Service Partner Program scheduled for February 25, 2012 at Uwharrie National Forest.



March
There is an off-season workday for clubs that are a part of the Forest Service Partner Program scheduled for March 17, 2012 at Uwharrie National Forest. The trails open this year at noon on Friday, March 30!

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The First Annual Uwharrie Off-Highway Vehicle Jamboree will be March 30 - April 1, 2012, at the Eldorado Outpost and the Uwharrie Off-Road Training Center (UORTC) located across the road.

The Outpost and UORTC are celebrating the early opening of the trails by putting on 25 acres of family-friendly OHV fun!

Events are set (so far) to include:
* 4WD Swap Meet
* ATV/Dirt Bike/UTV Dealer/Vendors
* Fullsize 4WD Dealers/Vendors
* ATV & 4WD Club Booths
* Adventure Run - "Sasquatch Scramble" sponsored by Outreach America
* US Forest Service (USDA) - Recruiting Volunteers
* TREAD Lightly! training and information
* Food and Drinks



April
Rock Corps 4x4 Club will host an Open Invite and Benefit, Down and Dirty For Life, on April 20-22, 2012. The event will combine everything great about wheeling at The Flats with a fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society.

aimg.nc4x4.net_wp_2012_01_DSC_5191.jpg

There will be a tent with Cancer Information, event t-shirts and rubber bracelets, vendors and a raffle. One of the raffle items will be a handmade Cancer Awareness quilt. Luminaries will be lit at dusk on Saturday in remembrance and support of anyone who has battled cancer. The gates will open at 9am on Friday and close at 5pm on Sunday. Admission is $10 per rig, $10 per person, kids 16 and under are free. Camping is free.



May
The Spring Farm weekend, hosted by the Big Dixe Boggers, is tentatively scheduled for May 4-6.

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News
Congratulations to the Thomson Reuters-sponsored Polar Expedition Vehicle Team on breaking the Guinness World Record for the fastest Antarctic land crossing! The team made the trip in 1 day, 15 hours and 54 minutes, almost exactly 100 years since the first humans reached the Geographic South Pole.

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Beating the previous record by an impressive 29 hours, arrival at the South Pole was that much sweeter for the team after the early struggles they faced with breakage and weather. After nine hours navigating the "sastrugi fields," wind-blown snow dunes, bypassing a large crevasse field and then pushing through a large section of deep, soft snow, the team stood at the bottom of the earth! Pretty cool (no pun intended), even on 30 hours with no sleep!

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When I bought my truck, a previous owner had already installed a pair of fifth wheel rails in the bed.

This write-up covers the installation of B&W "Turnoverball" part number 1310. It should apply to any 2003 through 2012 Dodge 2500 or 3500, except for MegaCab trucks and 2010-2012 gas engine models.

The first step is to drill a 4" diameter hole in the bed of the truck. There's no room for errors here, so I took careful measurements to locate the centerline of the bed from left to right. Then I measured 47 1/2" from the rear lip of the bed to determine where the hole went from front to back. Short box trucks will put the hitch a bit farther rearward, 45 1/2" from the lip of the bed.


The bed liner in this truck will be replaced,so I cut away a square of bedliner where the hitch hole will go.
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I started by drilling a 1/4" pilot hole, then checking underneath the truck for any hoses or wires that might be damaged by the hole saw.
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The pilot bit on my hole saw arbor was too short to clear the ribs in the truck bed, so I swapped it out for a regular drill bit.
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Slow and steady with the big hole saw. It will try to grab the jagged edges of the bed as it cuts through, so use very light pressure on the drill and let the bit do the work. You can use cutting oil or WD-40 to lubricate the saw's teeth.
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Emory cloth can smooth out any rough edges. Once everything is cleaned up, we spray painted over any bare metal.
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The hitch is comprised of two basic pieces -- the center pin box (top, with turnover ball) and the frame attachment box (bottom). The pin boxes are used on several different models (this particular one is used on most of the post-94 Dodge trucks), but the frame attachment is specific to a particular model.
The hitch is comprised of two basic pieces -- the center pin box (top, with turnover ball) and the frame attachment box (bottom). The pin boxes are used on several different models (this particular one is used on most of the post-94 Dodge trucks), but the frame attachment is specific to a particular model.

The center section is held in place by two crossmembers. This particular kit uses a 1-1/2" angle for the rear crossmember and a 1"x1-1/2" piece of solid stock for the front crossmember.

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You'll need to cut a notch in the pinch weld under the bed to slide the crossmembers into place. We used a jig saw, but a hack saw would work too.
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The rear crossmember is a tight fit. It slides through the slot we cut, then it's time to lift the pin box into place. The front crossmember can be seen on the right side.
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The pin box attaches to the crossmembers with four 1/2" bolts across the front and four 1/2" bolts with nuts across the back. No nuts are needed on the front because B&W just tapped the holes in the solid crossmember. A word of advice here -- if you have a 1/2-13 tap handy, run it through each hole before sliding the crossmember into place. The crossmember had a heavy coat of paint on it that made it tough to get the bolts in their holes. Get all the bolts started in their holes, but leave them loose for now.
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This is the retainer for the parking brake cable. On short bed trucks, you'll need to temporarily remove it while you install the side plates. Leave it alone if you're working with an 8' bed.
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The front of the sideplates are held in place with a u-bolt that sandwiches the frame.
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A single bolt runs vertically through the frame rail to attach the rear of the side plates. Driver's side is shown.
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News and upcoming events from the 4x4 world you may have missed while you were busy with club meetings and trail maintenance!

Events
Congrats to Duane McKay and Jason Hettenbach, the first two winners in the 12 Days of NC4x4! Duane won a weekend pass to Gulches Off Road Vehicle Park and Jason won a selection of bacon, beef jerky and dog treats for a weekend on the trails! Continuing each day until Christmas Eve, we'll pick one name from the entry thread as the day's prize winner! The entry thread will remain open through the giveaway, so enter if you haven't already!

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Ricky B Wilson’s 4x4Cross National Throttle King Crowning Event is this weekend, December 16 and 17, at Twitty's Wagener-Salley Mud Bog! The event will be broadcast Live right here on NC4x4!

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Rock Corps 4x4 Club will be having an open ride on January 14, 2012, to raise money for a family in need. Gates will open at 8am and close at 6pm. Fees are $10 per rig, $5 per person, for the day. All proceeds will go to the family.

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Gulches Winter Discount Saturdays announced for January! February 18th Saturday is Gulches Presidents Day Run, always the biggest day of the year. Last year's President's Day (Save the Gulches Run) brought over 500 rigs and helped keep our park afloat. Mark your calendar you don't want to miss the the Southeast's biggest kick off event of the year. More info to come later.

...

Rock Corps 4x4 Club will host an Open Invite and Benefit, "Down and Dirty For Life," on April 20-22, 2012. The event will combine everything great about wheeling at the Flats with a fundraiser to benefit the American Cancer Society.



There will be a tent with Cancer Information, event t-shirts and rubber bracelets, vendors and a raffle. One of the raffle items will be a handmade Cancer Awareness quilt. Luminaries will be lit at dusk on Saturday in remembrance and support of anyone who has battled cancer. The gates will open at 9am on Friday and close at 5pm on Sunday. Admission is $10 per rig, $10 per person, kids 16 and under are free. Camping is free.

News
RuffStuff Specialties is running a Pre-Christmas free shipping promotion through TOMORROW, Thursday, December 15! "Good on all US orders using USPS and all UPS orders for the contiguous 48. If you are in Canada we will split it with you!"

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Clad your spawn in NC4x4 gear!

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Now in the store, NC4x4 onesies for your littlest wrenching buddies and co-dawgs! Available in navy blue with the white distressed logo or in chocolate brown with the orange logo...

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Win a trip to the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers with Trail-Gear! Ultra4 Racing and Trail-Gear, Inc., a leading manufacturer of high quality off-road products, have announced that one lucky Trail-Gear customer will win travel and hotel accommodations and will join the Trail-Gear Racing Team at the 2012 Griffin King of the Hammers, February 5 through 11, 2012 in Johnson Valley OHV, California. Every customer who places an order from December 1st, 2011, to January 1st, 2012, will be eligible. The drawing will be held and the prize awarded on January 6, 2012.

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Back in August we wrote about the Polar Expedition Vehicle attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the fastest Antarctic land crossing – exactly 100 years since the first humans reached the Geographic South Pole. Today, December 14, is the 100th anniversary of the crossing by the Roald Amundsen expedition team and the Thomson Reuters-sponsored team is on site but experiencing some difficulties. They're prepping for replacement parts to arrive on Friday, after getting "rescued" by a tractor train and a 10+ hour ride back to base camp at Union Glacier. If the weather behaves and all other things fall into place, it looks like the second official attempt will begin this Saturday.

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4 Wheel Parts is having an ARB 4x4 Accessories Sale! Buy any one (1) qualifying* Dana 30, 35 or 44 ARB Air Locking differential and receive one (1) matching ARB Differential Cover absolutely FREE!* This promotion runs Nov 1 - Dec 31, 2011. Available at 4 Wheel Parts at 800-284-9840, www.4wheelparts.com, or at any of the 55 retail store locations. Also available at 4Wheel Drive Hardware at www.4wd.com.

*Promotion is only available for the following ARB Air Locker models: RD100, RD101, RD102, RD103, RD104, RD105, RD109, RD113, RD116, RD117, RD125, RD147 & RD157.

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