How To Build A Mud Truck

by AJ Deysel

Mudding, mud trucking, mud bogging, whatever you want to call it, is as Southern as fried foods. For those partaking in it, it is the most fun in the world, but for everyone else, looks like a chaotic mess, however there is quite a lot of method in the madness, and building an off-roading vehicle to be able to withstand the harsh mud conditions, never-mind even getting it capable. Mud is one of the most destructive forces to a vehicle, from electronics, to linkages, mud damages them all. So how do you go about equipping a mud truck:

Tires

Anyone who lives near a muddy area will know how important it is to equip offroad vehicles and 4×4 trucks with the right tires for the job. When it comes to mud trucks and mudding competitions, however, this need for great offroad tires is much greater!

When it comes to your tires, you need to make sure that your tires have a large gap between the lugs in their tread spacing – this helps them to stop getting clogged up when mudding. You might also want to consider kick-out bars too, especially for tough mudding. Tractor tires are endlessly popular with mud trucks, in particular, the rice-and-cane tires and the tall-and-narrow treads.

Brakes and axles

Mud trucks inevitably put a lot of stress on their axles and brakes, giving them a lot more to deal with than your typical 4×4 or offroad vehicle would ever have to contest with. Although offroad brakes and axles are designed to be robust and survive tough conditions, they were not designed to be regularly plowed through mudding bogs on purpose! Invest in hardy axles and brakes, and make sure that you regularly change your differential gear oil and grease your axles when you can.

Also, you should consider investing in bigger axles which can take more damage and support the tractor tires that are attached to them. In mudding competitions, it’s not uncommon to see Ford F250s and Dodge Rams with up to 4 tons of large axles, helping them to support the vehicle and drive those huge tractor tires.

Suspension and lift

You have to strike a balance in order to get the perfect mud truck. On the one hand, you need a low center of gravity which keeps your mud truck stable and close to the ground, especially when it’s got such monstrous wheels on it. On the other hand, you need a considerable amount of lift so that your mud truck doesn’t get bogged down in the mud too far – an engine flooded with mud isn’t going to last too long.

For these reasons, you need a suspension system which gives you some above-average lift and some decent shocks. Avoid stiff suspension and leaf springs, for instance, as these will give your mud truck a rattle when it hits the mudding bog at high speeds. Instead, look for long-travel springs and nitrogen-charged shocks which can absorb the impact and help keep your mud truck intact.

Higher differential gears

If you expect your mud truck to make it through the toughest of mudding terrains, you need some serious momentum behind the spinning of the wheels. For your standard 4×4 and offroad vehicles, it’s a totally different ball game – traversing rocky terrain generally requires slow wheel movement and careful driving. On the other hand, mudding requires you to spin your wheels very quickly, helping the mud to fly away and create space for your wheels to propel your vehicle once again.

Although your standard Dodge Ram or Ford F250 may have some decent horsepower, it’s probably not enough to get through the tough mud. We suggest installing a set of higher differential gears to tackle this problem, although in manual transmission vehicles, you can get more revs by using lower gears.

Engine size

If you’re going to build mud trucks which can survive the toughest mudding bogs, you need to make sure that your engine size is adequate. A high amount of torques and horsepower is essential, making sure that your wheels get enough spin to make the mud fly away and power through to the tougher terrain.
You’ll often find large V8 engines on mud trucks, helping them to power through the softer mud which can get very sludgy and difficult to move through. Typical offroad engines aren’t designed for this, so be prepared to invest in some very large and powerful engines!

Preventing mud from ruining your mud truck

Mud, especially softer mud, can easily ruin a vehicle’s axles, suspension, and engine if not properly prepared for. Bear in mind that mud is full of water, so you need to waterproof your vehicle’s electronics to prevent them from failing. One of the easiest ways to do this is by sealing them off with silicone so that no watery mud can seep in and fry their circuits.

You need to reduce the chances of your mud truck being affected by watery mud, as it only takes a few ounces of water to totally hydro lock your engine and leave you stranded in the mud. You should consider installing snorkels, routing your engine’s air intake to either inside the driver’s cabin or above the truck itself. If your truck is stuck in mud (and trying to get out) to last thing you need is for your engine’s air supply to be full of even more mud.
Even the toughest of mud trucks can be crippled by mud over time, so make sure that you regularly clean your mud truck and arm it with the axles, wheels, engine, and suspension it needs in order to survive.

Lastly, go enjoy it!!!

Images: Mandy Lee

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