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Old 7th August 2015, 09:59   #1
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Default Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

Recreational off-road has been there for almost a decade in India and was mostly confined to few cities/clubs for weekend off-road outings. Competitive events happening regularly got more people to take more interest in the sport/hobby and in recent years almost every region across India now has an offroad club. The interest in off-road has increased even further with the introduction of international standard off-road event like the RFC.

For heading out to weekend off-road fun & jungle trails, one could take a normal daily drive 4x4 vehicle like a jeep, Thar, Gypsy, Gurkha; throw in a set of all terrain tyres and do off-road in it without much trouble. However, an off-road vehicle for competitive off-road, is a different ball game all together and requires lots of time, effort and money. A competitive build can easily take few months of time & effort to get done and will need few iterations after building/testing to refine & fine tune it further.

This thread will try to document & discuss the various modifications needed for pure competitive build and examples from competitive builds seen in RFC 2015.

Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-img20150725wa0037.jpg

NOTE: All pics courtesy respective owners. Taken from FB/Whatsapp/Forum.

Last edited by khan_sultan : 10th August 2015 at 08:32.
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Old 7th August 2015, 10:04   #2
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Default re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

The first step in the long journey is to find the base vehicle that one will be building on, is comfortable with, depending on the nature of terrains one will be competing on. In India, most people use a Gypsy or a Jeep as a base vehicle to build their competitive machines on.

The second step involves finding a right workshop that will do the build for you. As off-road is a fairly new sport in India, there aren’t many workshops that can do such builds so one has to be choosy and at times even go to far off cities to get the builds done.

For example, RFC participants from Hyderabad / Goa sent their vehicles to Sarbloh/Chandigarh for complete builds & critical modifications

A competitive off-road vehicle will have the following broad category of modifications:
  1. Structural Modifications: These are modifications that setup your vehicle for competitive off-road, allow your vehicle to take the rigorous stress & strain during the event and also optimize it for the kind of terrain you will be tackling.

  2. Performance Enhancement Modifications: These modifications are primarily to make your vehicle get more power & torque at the desired rpms, ensure traction, climb over obstacles easily in different terrains and not break while doing the obstacles.

A competitive build will have to pass a strict scrutiny prior to the event. For example RFC 2015 had this checklist for scrutiny.
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Old 7th August 2015, 17:18   #3
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Structural Modifications:
  • 6 point roll cage: One of the most important modifications that can save you in the event of an unfortunate roll over or topple. A roll cage needs to be done professionally according to specs and with approved material quality. This is one mod where short cuts or cutting corners will not help. This can set you back by 30-40K INR.

    A good roll cage is what will get you out of such situations smiling and happy:
    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-roll_1.jpg

    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-roll_2.jpg

    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-roll_3.jpg

    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-roll4.jpg

  • SPoA / Coil Overs: Off-road vehicles need to increase the ground clearance and articulation capabilities to perform effectively. This is done mostly by either placing the leaf springs over the axles (SPoA – Spring over Axle) or going for coil overs with offroad spec shocks having long travel. This modification also improves the approach angle of the vehicle. [Cost 75K – 1.5L - 3L+] Trivia: IN RFC 2015, almost all vehicles except, 3 - 4 were running coil overs. . Such modifications necessitates modifications to prop shafts, joints, brake lines etc.

  • Chassis optimization: Competitive off-road tracks will have extreme angles that the vehicle will need to climb/descend. To improve the approach & departure angles of the vehicle one will need remove the rear overhang and ensure that the front part of the chassis has enough strength for mounting the winch safely & securely. At times, the front axle is also moved a bit forward to get a better approach angle.

    These pics should give you an idea of coil overs/SPoA & chassis optimizations needed.

    Abhinav from Hyd had got coils done on his Jeep this year for RFC. Last year he was on Leafs.
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    The Force Gurkhas had Coil over setup. IIRC, last year they were on Leafs.
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    Mumbai team had a proper coil over done kit done. Notice the aggressive chassis optimizations leading to superb angles of approach/departure.
    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-coil3.jpg

    Few of the SPoA vehicles. This used YJ kit for SPoA. Worked nicely but less aggressive angle of approach than coil overs & same for departure angle.
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    THAR with solid axle & SPoA running RCV axles
    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-spoa2.jpg

    See this vehicle with Coil & front axle moved forward. Literally 90 degree approach angle for this jeep
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  • Radiator & fuel tank relocation: The radiator is relocated to the rear of the vehicle to reduce possibilities of damage from mud/water splashing inside the engine bay via the radiator fan. Most of the times, a custom radiator with enhanced cooling capacity is installed for this purpose. The fuel tank is also relocated to a higher level in the vehicle to ensure that it is not damaged by the terrain during the event. These modifications need considerable thought and rework in terms of rerouting fuel & cooling lines, water & fuel pumps etc.

    This should give you an idea of Radiator relocation towards the rear of the vehicle.
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    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-prabhu-radiator.jpg

  • Electrical wiring rerouting & provision for extra battery: Competitive off-road vehicles need to have dual battery and that means one will need to work on complete overhaul and rerouting of the wiring in the vehicle. The wiring needs to be safe, secure and should be able to take the abuse that the terrain & elements will throw during the course of the competition. For example, water crossings, rains, mud & slush, sand, rocks etc. In addition to this, one will also need provision for a “master cut out switch” which can stop the vehicle immediately in case of an emergency

    See the battery below on right just by the side of spare tyre? That's the extra battery for Dual winch setup.
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  • Off-road equipment storage: A competitive off-road vehicle will be carrying lots of equipment & one needs to store this safely and these equipment’s need to be secured (should not move around) in/on the vehicle during competition. At the same time, the equipment’s should be easily removable if the need arises to use them. This calls for creating enough places/ boxes, hooks/attachments in different parts of the vehicle for storage.

    See this vehicle for how the rear part of the vehicle needs to be used for equipment storage. Needs to be secure but easily accessible.
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Last edited by khan_sultan : 10th August 2015 at 08:45.
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Old 7th August 2015, 17:21   #4
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Default re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

Performance Enhancement Modifications:
  • Engine swaps, remaps & tuning: Competitive off-road vehicles will need more powerful engines than normal 4x4 and one can go in for bigger engines or get existing engines retuned for more power & torque. For example, many people put a 1.6 ltr engine in a gypsy & a scorpio engine in a jeep and then fine tune it further.
    RFC 2015, saw people using Baleno in Gypsy's, Scorpio in Jeeps, isuzu in few more jeeps and even a cummins 4bt.

  • Power Steering: A jeep or a Gypsy (if used as base vehicle) will not have a power steering and in competitive situations where sharp turns & angles will be the norm, one has to have power steering else the driver will lose time and also have sore arms. Options are retro-fitting hydraulic power steering of some other vehicle into the 4x4, electric power steering or even tractor non-centering power steering.

    RFC 2015 saw tractor type hydraulic non-centering power steering used in several vehicles.
    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-rcv-axles-tractor-steerring.jpg

    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-psteering.jpg

  • Gearbox & t-case ratios: To crawl over obstacles one needs an optimum gearing and that is achieved by combination of custom gearboxes, crawler gears in t-case etc.
    In RFC 2015, I saw people using crawler ratios from 4.16 to all the way to 6.15 on Gypsy.

  • Diff-Lockers: In most stock 4x4 vehicles, as soon as one or more wheel lift in the air, the vehicle will not move forward and one will get stuck. In competitive situations, you will need a combination of good articulation + having traction on all four wheels -- even if one or more wheel is in the air. To overcome this, competitive vehicles need to use diff-lockers that ensure all 4 wheels have sufficient torque at all times. One has the option of going in for mechanical select-able lockers or Air Lockers. For air lockers, you will need on-board air compressor also.[Cost: 25 – 30 K each for mechanical & 75k+ for air locker].
    RFC 2015: Almost all vehicles, except few, were using the swastikfab provided LAMDA select-able mechanical lockers in both front & back.

  • Strengthened Axles & Diff tubes: Competitive off-road vehicles need stronger axles & diff tubes so that they don’t bend or break as the vehicles jump or climb over obstacles. [Cost: 20 - 50K per axle for Gypsy & 1L + for jeep]. Stock axles & diffs won't last the rigor of competitive offroad and will break like toothpicks if pushed hard. In fact, one of the most broken items in competitive off-road is the axle.
    RFC 2015 saw imported RCV axles being used a lot. Several Jeeps/Force/BODA teams had them. They performed like a charm and are able to take much more beating then stock axles. (even these were broken by few teams -- so you can imagine the amount of stress they take)

    The orange cup you see in the Knuckle is the RCV axle cover.
    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-f-axles.jpg

    RFC 2015 saw the Portal Axles on an Indian vehicle for the first time. It's just a matter of time before they become common place. A big advantage in terms of effective ground clearance in competitive situations over regular diff/axle combination
    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-prabhu.jpg

  • Mud terrain competition Tyres: One of the most important modifications needed is having proper competition spec mud terrain tyres. They can be the difference between one getting stuck or making through the obstacle. One can have all the rest of the modifications done but if you don’t have proper competition tyres, you will just not make it. These can set you back by 12-15k per tyre for 31".
    RFC 2015 saw 33" being the new 31" and even sizes of 35 - 37 were not uncommon.

  • Competition Winches: There will be situations where vehicle power alone will not take you through the obstacle. For that purpose you need winch in your vehicle to pull you through the obstacle. In recreational off-road, using a winch is a sign of defeat and one likes to do the obstacle on their own. However in competitive off-road, winch is a tool you use to go forward -- like any other tool in the vehicle.
    So, forget the cheap Chinese Runawa etc winches -- your regular WARN will also not cut it. Competitive winches are not only designed to pull weight but also pull in/out faster -- having great speeds in both free-spool & load pulling. Most competitive offroad vehicles will have two set of winches – one in front and one in rear. These are further modified to have light weight (yet strong) synthetic ropes instead of steel cables. These winches can cost upwards of 1.75 - 2.5+ Lakh rupees each.
    RFC 2015 saw Comeup blazer winch being used in addition to Warn 8274 competition winch. Comeup seems to have a faster free spool speed compared to WARN but WARN has better load speed. Choose your poison :-)

    Mumbai team with WARN 8274 winch
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    A team with COMEUP Winch
    Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-comeup1.jpg

Last edited by khan_sultan : 10th August 2015 at 08:52.
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Old 7th August 2015, 17:22   #5
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Other Modifications needed include breather pipes for axles to prevent water entering the axles, waterproofing for electrical connections using silicone gel & spray, competition spec seats & seat belts, independent braking system for each rear wheel to lock & turn faster & off-road lights.

Apart from modifications, an off-road vehicle will need recovery gear / proper off-road equipment’s with it and that will include tow ropes, tree trunk protectors, winch dampers, Hi-lift jack, choker chains, snatch blocks, hooks, shovel, gloves, fire extinguishers, helmets, wireless communication equipment between driver & co-driver etc.

After all the modifications, a competitive off-road vehicle will no longer look like a normal 4x4 gyspy or a jeep on which it was based on.

Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-final_1.jpg

Last but not the least, with all these modifications, a competitive build will not be street legal in the strict sense of the world, so trucking it to the track will be the best option. That way you can avoid being harassed by RTO guys. In addition to the RTO/legal angle, it's also the nature of the builds that will stop one from driving these to far off places on the road.

In RFC 2015, we saw almost all the builds being brought to Goa via trucks.

Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification-trucking.jpg

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Old 8th August 2015, 10:00   #6
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Default re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

For easy reference, listing down the places where you can source most of the parts from/get your vehicle modified for competitive off-road:

Roll Cage: A good fabricator in your city. Do take note of specs/quality needed
Coil Over: Buy kit from abroad and install here OR get done from SARBHLOH OR Samrala in Chandigarh (Contact GERRARI Offroaders).
SPoA: YZ kit from swastikfabs for Gypsy or a THAR SPoA Kit. Install in your city
Lockers: LAMDA Selectable mechanical lockers for Gypsy/Jeep from Swastikfab
Hi Strength Axles: High strength RCV Axles for Jeeps, Chromoly axles for Gypsy from SwastikFab
Competition Winch: from WARN dealer/Swastikfab, Pavan Anand for COMEUP winch
4x4 recovery gear/accessories: Your 4x4 accessory shop in your city or Swastikfab for custom needs
Competition Tyres: Your 4x4 tyre dealer / Pavan Anand / Swastikfab

Last edited by khan_sultan : 9th August 2015 at 20:11.
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Old 10th August 2015, 18:33   #7
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Default re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

Great information, thanks for sharing. Moving out of Assembly Line.
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Old 10th August 2015, 19:09   #8
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Default re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

Thanks Khan for sharing details of this purposefully modified Indian monsters.
4x4 in India is graduating from fun drive to serious hobby.
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Old 11th August 2015, 15:25   #9
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Default Re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

Brilliant and need of the day! A nice thread after a while in the 4x4 section. Very systematically put down Khan! Kudos.

I don't have much to add here though if there is a thread on recovery parts and training, i can give my 2 bits.
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Old 11th August 2015, 16:20   #10
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Default Re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

Great read khan bhai, thanks for compiling and putting up here.

Way back When we started offroading in Bangalore in 2004~2005 with likes of Petrol Jeeps, 540s and Gypsies, all stock and the only equipment we had for recovery was steel rope and hooks. No one had heard about winches, tow srap, winch block and all the specialized items listed above. Back then, the only way to get 'more' ground clearance was to have taller tyres (unfortunately they were HT tyres) or insert a leaf or two in the setup.

In last 10 years, we have progressed no doubt. wonder where all this will lead to?

With the launch of THAR and Mahindra suddenly taking an interest in organizing offroad events and competive ones too (previously the jaunts were limited to Great Escape Format where no distinction on 2WD and 4WD. They had to please both customers I guess). Now with the recent Mahindra Challenge and the recently concluded RFC 2015, the scenario has completely changed. As rightly pointed out by you, the vehicle prep leaves no stone unturned on Time, money and resources involved.

In the current age, there 'is' a base vehicle to start building your rig on, time may come where the rig may just be a combo of chassis, transfer case, Simex,snorkel,winch and other recovery equipment (talk about being street legal. Duh ha ha).

Andy

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Old 11th August 2015, 17:05   #11
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Default Re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

Hi khan_sultan,
Thank you for sharing significant and knowledgeable details on offroading.
Me and my buddies generally go for offroading every Sunday morning.
These details were surely help me prepare my vehicle.
As rightly said, 4x4 in India is slowly gathering a lot of interest and gradually evolving from fun related drives to a serious hobby.
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Old 11th August 2015, 17:30   #12
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Default Re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

It was really informative Khan. Thanks for sharing.I now feel that it would take lot of time and effort to put these beauties up and running. Can i ask a doubt here, with such modifications would it be good for a daily drive also? Or is there any part which would not support long drives.
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Old 11th August 2015, 21:26   #13
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Default Re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

I was looking at the RFC threads and was quite amazed at the builds this year. They really looked like a lot of effort had gone in.

After reading this thread, you come to know what all has to be done to make a vehicle competition ready. The planning of what modification goes in, how to select what route to take and then procuring all these parts.

Also, how does one go about actual fitting or modifying? Are there people in India that know what has to be done or skilled to make these builds? Or is it just trial and error?

What I'm trying to say is anyone can buy a 2 lakh audio system. Making that system sound like it's supposed to and installing everything is where the expertise comes in.
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Old 12th August 2015, 11:30   #14
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Default Re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

Quote:
Originally Posted by ram_hyundai View Post
Can i ask a doubt here, with such modifications would it be good for a daily drive also? Or is there any part which would not support long drives.
They are not meant for road drive. With hydraulic steering, there is no feedback to driver and at high speed one wrong flick and you end up in tragic history. Those silverstone create so much noise on tar and vibration that probably after few 100 kms of drive you will continue to feel it for hours (my friend one RFC gypsy from Goa to Poona last year with these tyres and this is how he felt). Then changes in drive train to gain more torque at low speed , offroad specific seats and bare minimum comfort oriented interiors.
hope you got the drift......

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vid6639 View Post
Also, how does one go about actual fitting or modifying? Are there people in India that know what has to be done or skilled to make these builds? Or is it just trial and error?

What I'm trying to say is anyone can buy a 2 lakh audio system. Making that system sound like it's supposed to and installing everything is where the expertise comes in.
You are spot on. For experienced people (mechs) who refer internet, product brochure for parts which are imported its not that difficult, for rest its learning from experience.
But for parts designed/fabricated in house, its most of the times trial and error. People who have designed these parts or did modifications on few vehicles, its easier for them.
Take example of Samrala who has done more than dozens of coil over suspension versus a fabricator who is doing it for the first time.

Regards,
Shubhendra Singh
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Old 12th August 2015, 12:23   #15
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Default Re: Competitive Offroad Vehicle Modification

the COME UP winch equipped on 5 competition vehicles @ RFC'15 had a free spool feature that none of the competitors utilized.
if you give a 120-PSi compressed air input at the free-spool valve, the winch cable spools right out, thus saves you a lot of time and effort.
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