"Your dreams and goals have no chance of becoming reality if you never take a step towards achieving them." I think I read once where a reporter had asked Thomas Edison how he felt about failing over 900 times to create the light bulb. Mr. Edison replied in saying that he did not fail over 900 times, he actually discovered over 900 ways that it did not work.
For this second installment, I will cover the composition and characteristics of the XTV Raptor, as well as the physical components, products and construction. (See Part I) In the next and final article, I will take the cameras to the trails and provide you with some awesome action photos of the XTV Raptor in its natural habitat, to include an accurate performance report on the products of our sponsors and the like.
All successful freestanding structures have one major thing in common: a solid foundation. This is where well start. The foundation for the XTV Raptor if based on solid goals that Mike and I want to achieve with this vehicle. We want to take the best qualities of four-wheel drives and rails and combine them to create a purpose-built rig that will travel well beyond our expectations. We will start with the frame.
A long time ago, Mike was instructing me on how to maneuver a rail. They are much different than Jeeps! The problem started with facing the wrong way on the side of a mountain. I wanted to turn around but I didn't have the room to do it. Mike told me to step on the gas, so I did. We were headed down the mountain a little too fast for comfort. He then told me to jerk the left tractor brake, whip the steering wheel hard left and put the pedal to the floor. "Oh my God, were gonna roll I can just feel it!", I yelled. With one quick jerk, the rear of the buggy came flying around and we were doing a 180 on the side of a mountain. I yelled cuss words, Mike laughed insanely, and we were facing the right way! Go figure. I couldnt do that in my Jeep.
I deceded that we'd base the Raptor on a rail platform, because of their very low center of gravity, superb weight distribution, strength and very light weight. The power to weight ratio will be way in the positive.
We chose a Fugitive 2+2 as a guide to give us a starting point. This is a common over-the-counter rail frame that is known for its strength, reliability and low cost. We did not like the thin wall tubing used in the stock buggy frame, so we purchased about 20 sticks of 1.5" .120 wall tubing. Using the Fugitive 2+2 as a platform, we custom-bent the tubing, based on the existing buggy frame to meet the needs of a four-wheel drive vehicle. The end result was a custom-bent frame that exhibited zero physical traits of the rail platform, yet all of the strength and handling characteristics. As you look through the photos, you will notice that some shots look different from others, even from the same angles. This is because Mike and I have cut this frame apart 20 times or more. This was necessary to get the vision that we had in our heads into reality. Build it... Doesn't look right? Cut it off and build it again. Build it... Doesn't perform right? Cut it off and build it again. This may seem quite elementary, but CAD programs and renderings do little to show in real life how a 44-inch tire will travel along its axis without rubbing or scrubbing in a given situation. There are too many variables, especially when you're building the vehicle with such a low center of gravity and a chassis design that excepts all major components at seat height or below. This prototype frame will form the basis from which all further XTV Raptors are constructed.