Kelly Sheets' CJ-5

Kelly SheetsI wanted to build a Jeep for the most hard-core of the hard-core trails here in Moab. Since I already have a daily driver, the Jeep would be built with every off-road advantage possible. The on-road driveability took a back seat to performance in a big way. I picked up most of the parts for dirt cheap. It took a little more time that way, but it sure saved me money in the end.

The CJ is basically an Early Bronco in CJ5's clothing. The whole drivetrain is Ford.

The only Jeep parts are the body and the fame. The CJ was started, literally, as a bare frame that a friend had taking up space in a field next to his house. We looked at the frame and wondered if it was really worth it, but slowly but surely, the Jeep began to take shape.

Once the CJ was done, (if there really is such thing), we tested it right on the Dump Bump, Lower Proving Grounds, Pritchett Canyon, and Hell's Revenge. It originally had a buggy leaf that was actually a whole "buggy pack" that sat next to the frame and connected onto the shackle. However, after the buggy pack was discovered to be more of a hindrance than an advantage, we removed the pack and welded the upper shackle mount to the frame.

Kelly SheetsTo get away from the axle wrap problem, two traction bars were fabricated with 3/4" Heim joints at both ends. The CJ climbed WAY better without the added spongy rear suspension.

The RTI score went from 1350 down to just about 1000. After the Heim joints at the traction bars failed, a new traction system was built with a totally different concept, which has been working great ever since.

On our latest trail run to Upper Helldorado, I found out what the Jeep's rolling point was. On the first obstacle, there were usually rocks in the wash bottom that prevented a Jeep from rolling at a really off-camber spot. On this day, we noticed that the rocks were removed by someone else but decided to try it anyway. The drivers side came up a little too high and the Jeep rolled onto its side, suffering a little body damage.

Speaking of the body, it started out "not very straight" at best but now, four months later, it looks like 10 very mad Pro Wrestlers beat the thing to death with chains!

It may not win any car shows but it sure has a lot of character and has proved it can go just about anywhere, including the new Upper Proving Grounds trail; Moab's newest hard-core challenge.

Kelly Sheets
It all started with just a frame...
Kelly Sheets
Building the beast.
Kelly Sheets
Kelly Sheets


Many thanks to Erik Shellenberger at 4Wheel of Moab for his help
building the rig and for providing the photos.

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