Conversations with Big Rich

Expert in drivelines, Jim Reel, joins us on Episode 49

March 11, 2021 Guest Jim Reel Season 1 Episode 49
Expert in drivelines, Jim Reel, joins us on Episode 49
Conversations with Big Rich
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Conversations with Big Rich
Expert in drivelines, Jim Reel, joins us on Episode 49
Mar 11, 2021 Season 1 Episode 49
Guest Jim Reel

Forty-seven years in any industry makes you an expert, in drivelines, that makes you Jim Reel.  Listen in on Episode 49 as Jim takes Big Rich through the intricacies of drivelines and why we see failures. Hint:  it’s not the driveline.  This is a very informative interview with news you need to hear – including how to measure your replacement driveline. 

3:06 – ruined by age 19  

7:42 – 47 years in the industry

10:36– comfort is becoming a lot more important

13:07– working with trophy trucks for solutions for them

14:35 – “you’ll be out of business in two months”

16:05 – this is what we really do

17:59 – make it worse to make it better

21:26 – it’ll whip 

25:13 – innovations in drivelines

29:08 – let’s talk math and wear points

35:26 – how to measure a driveline

39:11 – Rzeppa ball and cage joints and their impact

41:14 – did you say Carbon Fiber??

51:39 – what’s the future hold?


We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine. 

Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.

Support the Show.

Show Notes Transcript

Forty-seven years in any industry makes you an expert, in drivelines, that makes you Jim Reel.  Listen in on Episode 49 as Jim takes Big Rich through the intricacies of drivelines and why we see failures. Hint:  it’s not the driveline.  This is a very informative interview with news you need to hear – including how to measure your replacement driveline. 

3:06 – ruined by age 19  

7:42 – 47 years in the industry

10:36– comfort is becoming a lot more important

13:07– working with trophy trucks for solutions for them

14:35 – “you’ll be out of business in two months”

16:05 – this is what we really do

17:59 – make it worse to make it better

21:26 – it’ll whip 

25:13 – innovations in drivelines

29:08 – let’s talk math and wear points

35:26 – how to measure a driveline

39:11 – Rzeppa ball and cage joints and their impact

41:14 – did you say Carbon Fiber??

51:39 – what’s the future hold?


We want to thank our sponsors Maxxis Tires and 4Low Magazine. 

Be sure to listen on your favorite podcast app.

Support the Show.


Welcome to the Big Rich show, this podcast will focus on conversations with friends and acquaintances within the four wheel drive industry. Many of the people that I will be interviewing, you may know the name, you may know some of the history, but let's get in depth with these people and find out what truly makes them a four wheel drive enthusiast. So now's the time to sit back, grab a cold one and enjoy our conversation. Whether you're crawling the Red Rocks of MOAB or hauling your toys to the trail Maxxis has the tires, you can trust for performance and durability.



Four wheels or two Maxxis tires are the choice of champions, because they know that whether for work or play for fun or competition Maxxis tires delivers. Choose Maxxis tread victoriously.



Why should you read 4Low magazine, because 4Low magazine is about your lifestyle, the Four-Wheel Drive adventure lifestyle that we all enjoy, rock crawling, trail riding, event coverage, vehicle builds and do it yourself tech all in a beautifully presented package. You won't find 4Low on a newsstand rack.



So subscribe today and have it delivered to you.


[00:01:20.220] - Big Rich Klein

All right. On today's episode of Conversations with Big Rich, we have Jim Reel with JE Reel Drivelines. And Jim is out of Pomona, California, married to his beautiful wife. Cindy we'll talk all about that and Jim's career and what got him to where he's at now. So, Jim, thank you very much for coming on board with us today.


[00:01:41.760] - Jim Reel

Well, thank you very much for having me.


[00:01:45.030] - Big Rich Klein

Let's get right into this and let's talk about where you grew up.


[00:01:50.010] - Jim Reel

Well, I was born in Pomona Hospital. I grew up in Montclair. Moved to Downey area briefly back to Montclair, and just went to high school there, and now I live in Upland of all right in the same area other than. Six months of working in Long Beach for an electrical contractor and about eight months in Chandler, Arizona, for a truck, electric outfit, all been right here in Southern California in the same neighborhood.


[00:02:24.950] - Big Rich Klein

Wow, that's amazing. When you grew up there in that area, I would imagine it's not it's not nearly as crowded, overgrown as Southern California is now.


[00:02:36.140] - Jim Reel

No, absolutely not. Where I live in Upland, this was orange orchards and two blocks up, we unload our motorcycles and ride up in the mountains. Now it's all houses.


[00:02:46.240] - Big Rich Klein

The same kind of story we're talking with with John Currie as well as some others. Yes.



So let's let's talk about those early days of motorcycles and stuff.



Did you when did you start riding or when did you start driving


[00:03:06.500] - Jim Reel

was on a mini bike at about seven years old and six or seven. And, you know, after that and went to a HODAKA 100, Yamaha 250 and then a Yamaha 400 and a three ninety husky. And some people will notice I limp around and hurt a lot. Well, that was all by 19. I pretty much ruined my body motorcycle racing. So it's not a not a good move for me.


[00:03:38.570] - Big Rich Klein

Now I understand in a lot of our listeners will understand as well. So with with riding in that area, it was a lot of desert riding trails, that kind of stuff.


[00:03:49.130] - Jim Reel

Yeah, a lot of desert, you know, because we'd go out by Victorville and, of course, the Lucerne in that area. And then, you know, there was just a lot here in the local mountains and foothills. And then down in Chino, you could go down there past the dairies and that was all wide open into the hills. And now it's all houses.


[00:04:11.750] - Big Rich Klein

Right. Let's let's talk about, like high school. Did you participate in any sports or any clubs or were you a lot like a lot of us where you kind of did your own thing?


[00:04:27.650] - Jim Reel

Pretty much did my own thing, you know, the motorcycles I tried went out for football my freshman year, got on the team and, you know, just decided, you know, three or four practices out of all this ain't for me. I was a car guy or motorcycle guy and basketball football.



None of that's ever interested. Me too much.


[00:04:48.170] - Big Rich Klein

You like sports that require two balls, right? Yep. OK, yeah, that's that's that's a lot of us of that same way. So let's let's talk about school though. Did you did you take any auto classes or shop classes or anything like that.


[00:05:08.960] - Jim Reel

I didn't take any auto shop because I worked for my dad at a diesel truck repair shop from, you know, started sweeping the floors down there when I was young and was learning to do brakes and different things and, you know, rebuild carburetors. And he did, you know, the big gas engine trucks to the like Ryder vans and stuff. Right. So, you know, I was learning all that in seventh and eighth grade and. You know, so I just took mostly metal shop and welding and I took all all of that, I could, you know, two or three hours, you know, get my other classes in and then try to do, you know, two hours of metal shop and things like that that, you know, I could spend more time doing that stuff than which I should have spent more time learning grammar and English stuff where I hurt.



But it wasn't fun.


[00:06:06.320] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, but then you'd end up like a teacher or something. And yeah, my life could have been worse.



Exactly. So then from from in high school, did you continue working for your dad or where did you split off. And you know what happened after high school.


[00:06:27.500] - Jim Reel

After high school, I went to work for a electrical contractor in North Long Beach, you know, supposed to get in the union and have this great electrical job. And then, you know, you found out that only, you know, one hundred a year were hired out of thousands. So I did that six months delivering to, you know, the different job sites and then decided to do something else. So I went back to work for my dad and I went out to Chandler, Arizona, and worked for Nick's Truck Electric to learn how to do starters and alternators for six, seven months, eight months, something like that.



Then came back and worked for my dad and, you know, started doing the alternators, doing the drive lines. I'd done a driveline, you know, a couple of them learning when I was like 15 and, you know, so I just kept doing more. I like to driveline part of the whole lot better than diesel brakes or turning drums or, you know, that stuff. So I just kind of naturally ended up there.


[00:07:36.950] - Big Rich Klein

That's awesome. So you've been you've been in the driveline industry then a a fairly long time.


[00:07:42.940] - Jim Reel

Almost forty seven years. Forty seven years.



Well, not that I was worth of damn at 15, but I get it. So at 15, 47, that puts you at about the same age as me. 62, 63. Is that correct. 63, 63. I'm just I'm two weeks away from that magical date and I'm about two months past it.



OK, so we're real close in age. So I actually have four months, I guess. But yeah.


[00:08:13.260] - Big Rich Klein

How close did you did you marry your childhood sweetheart?


[00:08:19.280] - Jim Reel

Not exactly. The there's a whole group of us, 15, 18 of us that we're all friends and ran around. And Cindy, I was too shy. I was not her type. She dated two of my friends in high school, which were both car guys that I set her up with.



And the her maiden name was Wilson, my first wife, Nancy. Her maiden name was Wilson. Come to find out after Nancy and I divorced and Cindy and I ran into each other ten years after school, we were both getting divorced and she never did like Nancy.



So, you know, that was kind of. Yeah.



And we dated four and a half years, split up for seven through a very long divorce, Cindy just couldn't take no more. And now we've been back together for twenty two or three. Oh excellent. Yeah.



OK, so I'm kind of a long road to get there but we're happy.


[00:09:28.400] - Big Rich Klein

That's excellent. That's excellent. Let's dive into into Off-Road. OK, you know how did, how did your off road passion come about.


[00:09:40.250] - Jim Reel

Just you know from a young age with the mini bikes and motorcycles and you know did the sand rail thing, and the quad thing and we had a 4x back in. You know, like 82 and then, you know, we went to the sand rail thing for a while and then back into the Jeep thing and, you know, just always been I'd rather go out and do a trail or see scenery than go to the river and go up and down the same river all day.



Right. I can understand that. Yeah. Some people love it and it's great. But I don't know, I'd just rather be out in the scenery in a trail.


[00:10:19.620] - Big Rich Klein

I agree. I agree. I love the outdoors and being able to to enjoy it as much as I can and cover as much ground as I can. And in comfort is is ideal, and that's why I got into Four-Wheel Drive.


[00:10:36.840] - Jim Reel

The comfort parts becoming more important. We just bought a new JL, time to get out of the CJ. So do you remember the first time that we met?



Yes, I do. It was the second. Event I did at Phoenix, right when the off road expos were starting and they decided to do one in Phoenix, OK? And so I went out there and did that one. And you gave me a couple of videotapes and some paper told me who you were. And we talked a little bit. I went home and watched the videos, called you up and said, hey, I'd like to get involved. So that was, I think, right after the second Pomona off-road expo. So, I don't know how far back that, you know, what, 18 years or.


[00:11:35.140] - Big Rich Klein

Yeah, it would be like that. Absolutely. And then we met up again and I think at the top of Potato Salad Hill in Moab during Easter Safari. Yeah, we sat there one day and sat and talked for hours.



Yeah. Yeah. Let's talk about your business real close to Jason Bunch's. Yes, with Tri-County Gear, and so you've you guys have probably known each other for quite a while. Long time, yeah.



It's been 25 years. 30 years.



OK. How about some of the other people in the scene down there, any of the magazine guys or.



Yeah, at one time or another, probably all of them, but they've moved around and done different things. You lose track of them and then all of a sudden one will show up Pewe was in probably eight months ago. And one of the guys was God, I can't even remember all the old names now, but I got so many of them. I've just lost track of where they've moved away and changed jobs. But every once in a while they pop up or call and it's good to hear from them.


[00:12:53.990] - Big Rich Klein

Right. I know that you do a lot of stuff for not just the four wheel drive side of off road, but also for like the trophy truck guys and that and those the desert scene.


[00:13:07.580] - Jim Reel

Yeah, we do a lot of a lot of trophy truck, a lot of the we're probably doing more of the Ultra4 cars than anybody else, you know, when we we just enjoy that group of people and what they do. And it's always challenging to develop something better or stronger for them, like Randy Slawson, wants he created Chromaly Tube Now that thicker because he's bending them on the rocks. And so we're working on that, that it makes it about 30 percent more ridged.



So it's it's helping, the trophy truck, guys. We're breaking slips and stubs. And we developed our own system that, you know, they don't break them no more. But unfortunately, it was very expensive. And we found a cheaper part out of Europe now to to do the same job. But, you know, it's been it's been fun finding solutions for these guys and and making the truck work like Justin Lofton broke three at the Mint 400 one year.



He put ours on next year and he hasn't broken a driveline since. So it's just, you know, those are gratifying things and fun to figure out how to make a better part, you know, help these guys finish and do better. That's that's great, I didn't know about that, about Justin Lofton. Let's let's let's talk about JE Reel Driveline. So when did you get it started?



I bought it in 86. You know, from my dad, when they moved up to Idaho, I managed the truck store and all that, and he said he wanted to sell it after four years. I think they moved in 82 and eighty six. I bought it and I told them, here's here's all your brake drums, all your stuff, your Cummins rebuild kits, all I want is driveline. And he said I'd be out of business in two months.



And I said, well that's because you never focused on it. You just did. It is a service and you know. So I started building it up from two thousand dollars a month, roughly was the average to, you know, what it is today. And it's it's been fun. It's been a good experience.



Is that been in that same building that you're at?



Yeah, it's 100 years old and the dust just pours out of the walls.



Yeah, same place.


[00:15:33.990] - Big Rich Klein

Talk about the kind of things that you do there. Enlighten our listeners. I don't want you to give away any trade secrets because there's only I mean, there's a lot of driveline shops, but I consider that there's probably three or four that are truly competitors of yours in our industry. Yeah, I don't want to give any way any trade secrets, but, you know, talk about the process of building a driveline.



For somebody that has no idea like me,


[00:16:05.430] - Jim Reel

OK, well, it's you know, people look at it and they think, well, it's just a stupid piece of pipe, but, you know, the U-joints are become better and better every time they develop a better U- joint. You know, it's better material, better construction and design so they don't break the bottom of the post. And so, you know, it's it's a lot of machine work.



What we do is machining a lot of parts to make fit into smaller tubes and things because of the clearance the guys want in the jeeps and the rock crawling but basically you've got like a jeep driveline, the double cardan joint. Excuse me, are often referred to as a CV. And then it it's a a flange or a yoke and then an H-yoke and then a weld yoke with a stud that hold the gimble in the middle and it gets welded into a tube and then the other end would be the stub shaft with splines and then the slip yoke and the U-joint.



which connects to your axle yoke. You know, then when it's put together, you you press them together, they're about depending on tube size, anywhere from about 3000 to 10000ths press fit. Then again, depending on tube diameter, you true it, you know, dial it in with a dial indicator to get it true. There's a few secrets there. I was taught by some old guys that allow us to, I think, get ours. a lot truer, which helps in the balancing process. And and that would be one of the trade secrets that there's a different way to look at it than just use the dial indicator in a circle.



But and know then you weld it up and then, of course, it's going to warp. So you've got to straighten it out. And the funny thing, people don't understand about it. And when they find out, they go, well, that's really strange. When it is warped, you will heat the pipe side to make it worse. And so let's say you've got to be under 10000 to run up. And after you weld it it warped to thirty thousand, you'll actually take that side up with heat to expand it up to 60, 70 thousand to 80. Then you cool it faster than you heated it with an airgun and water. Or some or have a pump and a hose you spill over on it, but that actually worked back past center until you can dial it in to where 10000ths or under on the tube. Oh, wow. And, yeah, it's, you know, kind of you're actually going to make it worse to go make it better if it's people just can't believe that when they watch it.



But you get it all dialed in and stuff and then you, you know, run it in the balancer and you find out how many grams to put where the strobe and all the number that indicates to. Then you stop it there and you put a balanced weight and you just it it's pretty depending on how much the dial indicator moves in the cradle. When you're spinning, it tells you how much grams of weight to put and then you got to play with it a little here and there.



Occasionally, you know, we have to have one of our machines modified to run 7000 rpm so we can do some of the trophy truck guys because they're, you know, their demand. Most of them, you know, you can balance out, but occasionally you get a guy that just is difficult and you got to run it all the way up to where he's running at motor at seven, eight thousand and make it work. That those kind of numbers are crazy.



Yeah, and it's not fun to stand by that balancer when it's running that fast. It's a little spooky.


[00:20:13.640] - Big Rich Klein

So what what's the most popular material to make the tube out of?



Most most of the tubing for common use is 10-10, 10-20 DOM. And, you know, it's just a mild steel. The DOM tubing is supposed to be a seamless tube and it's not really seamless. There's always a seam, but it's been swedged through much finer and more consistent where a regular seam tube to get, you know, flash welded when it's rolled up has a, you know, pretty erratic area in it.



Right. So most of it is all DOM and it's, you know, just mild steel unless we have need for Chromoly, like in a drag car, you know, we've done some of the chromoly for the trophy trucks and for you know, KOH and stuff.


[00:21:06.920] - Big Rich Klein

OK, so what kind of what kind of speeds? You know, you're saying 7000 rpm for a trophy truck. You're talking about dragsters, drag cars, what kind of RPM's they hit, they're hitting that or higher, aren't they?


[00:21:26.150] - Jim Reel

Yeah, but the thing with the drag car, normally you can, like most shops are balancing at thirty-two/ thirty-five hundred. And that normally works well because the drag car only goes you take off and you say, let's say you hit nine grand, you shift, you're only there hardly long enough to know you got there. Right. And then the motor comes down and then it comes back up and you shift and then the race is over. The problem the problem comes in where the the longer the tube, the bigger the diameter must be so that it doesn't whip like a jumper.



And you know, and I always thought, when I was young, I learned the hard way. I made one too long and it was just for a friend's wife station wagon. She only took the kids to school, one of those old sixty six sixty four Chevy and she went to the grocery store, never goes over 30 miles an hour and it had that little piece with that teardrop bearing. And so I finally make him one because he's not going on the highway and he comes back the next day and it's broken in half.



So it was really true. It'll whip in the middle and it'll break. So I never did that again. And then I had a tow truck or a water truck guy that manufactures them always cheap, wanted to do it cheap, bring one in and wanted to be I think it was eighty four inches on three and a half inch tube. I can't do it. Explained why he went to El Monte. To have it done, said the guy there. I'll do it.



And he told me, you know, I don't need a receipt, I'll just pay you cash. I said I won't do it and it's going to fly out of the truck. Somebody on the freeway is going to get killed or 20 car pile up. Don't want to do it so he leaves and gets it done. And he comes back in two days with this eight foot long driveline. Rollin rolled up on a circle and I asked him, I says, where's the other half?



The slip yoke, oh, it's still on the transmission? It's fine. That stub is 11 inches long with four inches of spline. It had to whip over six inches for it to fall apart and hit the road. Wow. So they really do. So anyways, the longer you go, bigger the tube diameter. But if you add weight to the middle to go to a thicker wall, you now create that weight in the middle that wants to whip. So the problem normally comes in like a trophy truck across the lake bed.



OK, that's three, four or five, six miles and he's at sustained speed. So he gets the vibration cause the tubes actually starting to flex up and down. The drag car only got there long enough that the tube really didn't know was there and he shifts. So that's where the problem, the difference comes in. But the drag cars will balance at a higher speed too just cuz we can. But typically they don't don't need it. It's that sustained time that tube starts moving.



And they will just shred themselves right in the middle and come apart. Hmm. So let's talk about innovations in drive lines over the years. From eighty six or so, eighty four, eighty six,  what was the biggest innovation that you have seen?



Well probably about that time or a little earlier they came out with the glide coat, that blue coating on the splines, OK. And you know, everybody thought that's just stupid, it's plastic and they're going to wear out. And when you lube that, that will actually last two times longer than steel on steel with the same group. Wow. So yeah, because all of us old timers really thought how stupid, you know, and it there. And other than if you get sand and grit in it, it starts tearing it.



It will last twice as long. So that was a really big innovation on longevity. The U joints of like NEAPCO just now came out with their performance series and it's the fourth generation of their upgraded U-joint with other groups that are solid props and they're cold forged instead of hot forged, which makes them stronger. And it just the U joints have come so far because we used to see like an F250 with lube joints and somebody towing, you know, they they'd be worn out in seventy- eighty thousand miles.



And it's people who are lubing them every 3000 miles and, you know, real, real good about it. We're seeing the new OE type joints with the solid cross and the cold forged joint go common 130 40 and we've seen some go two hundred thousand and being worked hard, going all the time.



So it's just a huge, huge improvement in the U joints and the slips and stubs, the rest is kind of the same.


[00:27:03.890] - Big Rich Klein

OK, interesting. The solid bushing instead of a roller bearing. What's the ideal?


[00:27:13.310] - Jim Reel

Well the the bushing idea was tried quite a while back and they found it at highway speeds, it doesn't live. It doesn't work. OK, it works. Good, for like what Jack does and the axle, because if if you got a car going 80 miles an hour, the drive line with out an overdrive is doing about 3200 with normal. Twenty five, three thousand somewhere in there, maybe a little more. An axle with a regular ring and pinion at 80 miles an hour.



It's only going about 600 rpm. Oh, OK. So you can get away with those bushings, like in an axle you're not getting near the friction. Well you're getting more torque load, but you're not getting that high speed friction and heat. And that's yeah, they tried it and thought it would be a simpler way and it didn't work for drivelines. But just because of the r.p.m.. I see.



And so that it's it being solid on solid. Right. OK, Right then let's.



What about the development of I've always hated CV Cardan joints that you were talking about. Right. I lost a couple of transfer cases because of those things. Once they started to vibrate, you know, you only had like a hundred miles and the front of the transfer case would break off. Is is there a route around that? Not really, because the correct. Well, there is with this new, you know, like they're putting in the new JKs and JLs, but the more angle you put on those, when we lift  them, the weaker they get.



So they don't live, the you know, the cardan joint is something you just have to like. I'll tell people they'll they'll ask me, well, gee, we got this know, twenty thousand twenty eight thousand on it and it's worn out. My original before I lifted the jeep and did all that and it had to change drivelines and you know, it got 80000. Well, you were on stock tires, stock gears because you know your babying it because you're paying it off now.



You've turned it into a toy, put big tires, big axle, lower gears and a drive line. A U joint is made to operate at three degrees angle maximum for longevity. OK, in the off Road World when we start lifting them, we're lucky if we get anywhere close to 10, most times closer to, you know, 12, 18 and a double cardan joint that's made to operate at six degrees maximum angle. And there again, the off road world.



When I asked an engineer, how do I explain to people, he had told me that, wife's coming home, she's opening the door. He had told me that let's just make a simple math test. If the cardan joint is to go six degrees, then you're using them at 18 degrees most of the time on a lifted Jeep, he says you're asking to do three times to work. And if our longevity goal with 80 to 100 thousand miles for warranty reason.



You know, these this. If you're asking to do three times to work, then you only got thirty out of it. Don't you think that's fair? And I says, well, the math adds up he says, now, think of this. He says, you're not running a twenty seven inch tire no more, you're running a 40 and it's not twenty eight pounds, it's 90 pounds. He says, then you've put low gear and you've got to gear down and you're pushing it up against the wall and putting all that strain on it and making it climb.



He says instead of just roll down the highway, he says, Don't you think it's fair that you gave up earlier? And I go, I guess you're right. You know, when you stop and look at what we ask him to do and what they were designed to do, the more heat, more friction, the higher angle. So I just tell people if it's a toy and it's no longer designed the way the engineers designed it, it Chrysler, Ford, Chevy, whoever, you've got to consider the fact that you're abusing it just by driving it down the road cuz it's at three times the angle it was ever intended.



So it's a maintenance item, maybe once every two years or three years or twenty thousand miles to be safe and not break on the trail, you need to pull it out and have it built. The other thing is, is, you know, there's a 13, 10 joint was designed to run a sixty four Falcon, six cylinder, three on the tree, just a passenger car on the highway. A 13 50 was designed to run your three quarter ton, your one-ton trucks back in the 70s.



And they had them earlier than that. But that was common. So if you look at what did a C.J. weigh, a five or a seven? You know, what was it, a four thousand pound car? Thirty five hundred. Yeah, OK. I just bought a new JL. Sixty one hundred with the diesel in it. And I believe the gas motors. Four hundred pounds lighter. So you got fifty. Seven hundred. Well, what's the what's a three quarter ton to F250 away from the seven?



About seven thousand, yeah, six thousand seven. So we get these jeeps and then we put the big tires, big wheels, lower gear, bigger axles, the what is it when we build seven, eight thousand pound from the 6000 it started. Yeah. And that's why I tell people you need to run a thirteen fifty. You're running a truck, not a car. No more. You know, it's one of the biggest things I see is people being dissatisfied that they bought a 1310 and it didn't live as long as original, which your Jeep's not original.



No, you're asking a lot more. So I try to convey that to them. And some are happy that they understood it and went the right way. And others are back in six months going, you know, why didn't they last? Well, you got 40 inch tires, it's not going to. You ask too much of it, you know, so. So drive lines one. What I've noticed is that as soon as you Dent them, or you put them across the rock and kind of put a little crease in them, especially especially a crease that that goes down along the drive line instead of like just around it.



Yeah, really creates a. A weak spot. Is that correct? Because in your years, putting those rotational forces against one end and the other end is trying to catch up. Is that why they'll they'll like corkscrew on themselves yet?



Yeah, they in some sometimes it's just. Yeah, you can just put a dent in it. Not even very big, but you just get enough torque and apply enough pressure that the wheel didn't want to move and you keep giving it more and you know, with higher gear or you start to spin with our low gears, we just keep creeping up on it harder and harder, you know, sometimes just even a dent is enough to just make it wad up in the middle.



And I've seen them twist so tight that it's only about two inches long and twist three inch tube down to close before it breaks.



All right. So let's talk about how to properly measure for a drive line to get the right measurements, get the right one made, because I know a lot of people screw this up. Yes. Yes.



OK, the thing the thing to think about is, you know, where does the driveline bolt up, how does the driveline work, the driveline works off of the centerline of the U joint. Everything pivots from the center and that arc will either be shorter or longer. So when you measure, if you want to think about how does it hook up, so measure and let's say you have a yoke at the transfer case, the yoke at the axle, so the center line of the U joint is the edge of the yoke where the U bolt or strap goes on.



OK, so you would measure from edge to edge and the same edges of the two top ones or the two bottom, don't start doing top to bottom. You're creating the length that doesn't exist because you want to be as close to the actual center line as you can. All right. And don't measure people measure down. Well, I measure down to the nut. I measured to the bottom of the cast. Well, different yokes are different height. We don't have that in front of us, but what we do know is where it actually the U joint drops into the yoke saddle, that's where it's going to stop at each end, if that's twenty seven inches, that's what we need to know. And same with a flange, it's the face of the flange, because you're bolting the part to the face, not off the back, not off the field. And I sadly, you get a lot of these goofy measurements. It's got a bolt up here just like your tire. It's going to go on to the flange with the stub. So if you need to measure hey, I need a wheel of five on five, you wouldn't measure from centerline from stud to stud, you don't measure from the inside halfway to the next one, you know.



Right. And I don't know why with driveline people get really these weird measurements that are basically right where it bolts up as close to the center line, as you can stay.



OK, and how do you say you have that twenty seven inch driveline? That's what you measure out, but you want it to be a long travel. How do you how do you create that long travel?



Well, what we would need to know. at ride height, What is it, at full bump - What is it, and at full droop. What is it? Most people have a hard time getting full bump and it's the least critical because normally most of the action is dropping out and coming back to ride, full bump usually is a lot less if you get us those measurements and we know that, OK, you need four inches of travel, but we need at least 2" of spline left inside and we want a half inch of safety at the other end so it doesn't bottom out and crack the transfer case.



So that gives us the dimensions. We have spline bar up to twelve or twenty four inches long that we can cut and make different lengths. But most the common slip yoke has about four to four and a half inches of movement in them in the car set up. Right. It usually handles that very few people need that really long travel any more, they've gotten better at all the geometry on the suspension and making things work properly.



So that's keeping more of a constant arc between dropping out and. Full stuff and full droop. Yeah. OK, tell me something about the drive lines. I haven't asked about. Oh, I see the newest thing, actually, I guess that I think we're going to see improvements and or we have to see improvement. And is this a new joint? Well, it's not new, but the Rzeppa ball and cage type joints that they're starting to use, they're much smoother than a U joint.



But when you get a much angle on them, they're weaker. So something like RCV needs to be built that will. Handle these, like right now, we're working on a Dodge truck that, you know, that just slipped on the spline with a snap ring, it's not even bolted on. And with that Rzeppa type joint, it works fine. It's a 20 20 dodge and it works fine because there's consistent smoothness where with a U joint you get a torque load and unload four times every revolution because of the U joint.



So I think that's going to be where the next biggest improvement comes is. Working on designing something that lets that CV be strong enough to replace the carden joints



OK, so a Rzeppa is more like an RCV joint or a birfield where it has multiple balls that ride in a carriage. Yes..



OK, how about with new materials? I know that that the trophy truck, guys, were trying to go as lightweight as possible and there was some stuff being done with the carbon fiber. Is that working?



That's all experimental stuff we're doing at this time. We did some carbon fiber with Loren Healy. What it did was, he told me, he was wearing out his gears after one race and replacing it. With the carbon fiber, taking the vibration out. He got to four races before wear started showing. So it's a big help, but the bonding came loose because he's got some heat issues too close to the driveline. OK, so we're going to look at that again, but also that carbon fiber's got to be protected a little bit.



So we'll be doing more looking at that, but yeah, he had heat issues that made the bonding come loose. I'm working on some other ideas in carbon fiber to try out with Loren, but they're supposed to be kind of quiet. And it is is a. A secret at this time. So would you rather me not talk about carbon fiber? Oh, no, no. Carbon fiber is fine. If there's just something that's not supposed to be out yet, I'll just you know, we can't go further on it.



OK, that's fine. That's fair enough. The trophy truck, guys, I'm looking at doing some carbon fiber. And the neat thing about the carbon fiber is I'm having the parts made now where I can can do it because there's no parts made in that right size. But they run a three and a half inch tube and they're all somewhere at about thirty nine to forty four inches long and it's sixty two hundred sixty three hundred r.p.m.. They all start having vibration issues because they're overrunning the tube diameter starts whipping.



a two and a half inch well two inch carbon fiber. Then measures because they measure already inner diameter on carbon fiber and outer diameter on steel tube. OK, but with a 155 wall thickness, we come up to just under two and a half or two and 3/8's. So I'm giving them about an inch of clearance. They didn't have. So I'm hoping maybe we can then run a stinger to protect it. But we're looking at doing some Kevlar wraps on it and.



When doing that, the carbon fiber will will take the pelting light on a short course truck, it'll take the little rocks, the pelting all day long, just the service, it'll get little chipped like your paint work. And so when you service the drive line, you just put epoxy over it so it doesn't keep flaking OK, with the trophy truck. It'll take all that pelting, but if they actually hit a rock and crushed the tube and break it.



The thing is, they would still be off changing a steel tube because they could run it. If they hit that hard, they'd ruin both drivelines. oK, so we're looking at it, trying to give them an inch of more clearance and a carbon fiber. And then they can maybe run a stinger under there to claim plane back that inch and protect the driveline, you know, they haven't even approached anybody with it. Right now.



We're just getting all the parts made and then going to start having it tested. So hopefully that will work, but the neat thing about the carbon fiber, where they run out at 60, 200, that two four foot long. OK, then, if you put the end on, it's a good foot, 12, 13, 14 inches longer than the steel tube, it goes to 19000 rpm as its critical speed. Yeah. So I'm hoping that makes a real game changer.



That sounds like it.



Is there more give in carbon fiber for like shock load when guys like hauling ass and all of a sudden traction, no traction, traction, no traction.



The carbon fiber that we're using, we have the choice of four tubes and there's a complete rigid tube like you'd use for a drift car where you just want it broke loose all the time. Then there's a 10 percent tortion, a 20 percent and a 30 percent tortion, so say on a drag car where there's an uneven track and they don't want to pull so hard to the left. They can put on a driveline that will give them 10 percent. If that's not enough, they can put one in, that'll give them 20 percent.



And maybe that keeps the car straight. And for the short course, guys, we want to do some for the those guys because the pros, Pro2, Pro4 their stuff's pretty big and heavy and they can hammer it the Pro Lite, you know, it's all the same stuff, they're all specced the same. And they've tried to lighten all the parts so much to gain an advantage. Some of them are breaking wheels and different things and landing on the nine inch Ford gear.



They're breaking those. Well, if I can give them a 20 percent tortion when they land, they should be keep throttle on and not worry, huh? So, yeah, we're we've got a lot of ideas we're playing with. And then unfortunately, it should all come about a good six months, eight months sooner. But my wife had back-to-back knee replacements and just now went back to work and I have to be off quite a bit for therapy and all the other things so and covid and you know, closed down factories and the whole thing kind of got screwed up this year.



But we're actually the cancan guys there tomorrow morning and Tim and I are going over everything, so we're back and process something cool.



I'm glad to hear that. Let's talk some stories. Do you do you still have the.



Well, there was an old C.J. five like a fifty two. It's actually the title, says Willis', and I think it's fifty two, but it just looks like a C.J. five k.



I thought you had one that had the commando. Yeah. Old man. That's it. The commando. Yeah I had to, I sold one and one is still at Off-Road Evolution. Mel says he's going to get it done for me this year.



Yeah he started on it and then his business, he just took off, his business grew so much and so we just kind of sidelined it. But it's, it's got King coilovers, a LS1 in it, or two something out of whatever came out of a. I forget now the. Escalade, it was like a. 2002 Escalade or something. So but, you know, it's got that the coil over there, you know, cantilevered in the back so you didn't have to chop the bed up and got a three speed stack in it when they first came out.



We got one of those and then the whole thing, you know, he's got the roll cage done, the body all cut. I think he said he's got to do a wiring harness and then he's ready to fire it up. So, yeah, I'm hoping that we finish it this year.



Well, great. That'd be that'd be really cool. So let's now let's talk about stories about going out, wheeling.



What's your favorite place to go and who do you go wheeling with?



Well, the last few years, other than I like Moab and I like I mean, you know, Hurricane, Sand Hollow's been going great last few years. Yeah, that and Rubicon, those would be my favorites at this time. I want to get out and do Dusy Ershim, haven't yet, And every time I set up to do that, something's come up where I can't. But I'm getting more and more. And I think this JL we're going to just set up for overland. Two and a half inch lift, Thirty seven. And, you know, I'm getting more. I just like going and see and find the old GhostTown. You know, if you come across the technical trail like Rubicon, it's capable. But, you know, I'm not sure I got to try and follow some rock buggies anywhere, you know, that kind of kind of slowing down.



But the last couple of years, it's just been I haven't got as much wheeling in, you know, just between Cindi's knee surgery, you know, grand kids, kids, just things happen that a couple of years have been thrown off. And I was in therapy for my hip. And so we're looking forward to getting back out and doing some wheeling, you know, got a couple of local buddies and my son has a Jeep. So we'll go out occasionally.



But, you know, we're looking to get a little more recreation time and venture out and see different places will cool.



So if people want to get hold of you, what's the best way for for somebody to to find you?



Our website is it's really simple. You can get the phone number and everything there. Call us at the shop. You know, the website pretty much has all the information to get a hold of us, and that's Reel. Yes, right. Like a fishing reel. Yeah.



And normally if you do, real, like, we got that whatever they call it, when you buy up your name or one of your domain.



So you got it to the right one. OK, good.



Yeah. So we bought that too. Just because it was like, OK, makes sense you know.



Yes. So what's the future, how many how many more years are you going to be at the lathe or doing the welding, and how is your son posed to take over the business? I think at one time he was, wasn't he?



Well, Scott, everybody thinks he's my son. And I do have a son. They've got OK, but Scott's been with me twenty nine years. Yes. It's for him to take over. My son Scott has worked for me twice. And it's, you know, if I thought he would want it and you know, but he's not interested. Just not my thing. Dad don't want to do it, you know. But he loves going out off roading and all that.



So, you know, I'm probably looking at three to five more years and then I'll probably, you know, help Scott with stay on like two years as an adviser and go do the shows for him so he can organize and get get everything going for himself. You know, I mean, it's established. hell, he runs it now. I haven't I haven't welded  a driveline in probably in the last two years. I just take care of the business part and Scott takes care of the shop and and I'm sometimes I'll stop and wait.



Why don't you do this? Why then I go look at the 12 invoices in the last hour, you know, but they leave him alone. It's better without you. You know, he does a good job, so I can't complain.



Good. Well, excellent. And Cindy's back to work, so that's good to hear.



Yeah. Once she's a little stronger, still got some therapy, but she's able to walk and do well, you know, once she's the. You know, back will start getting out again and, you know, it'll be nice considering the whole year has been kind of strange for all of us.



Oh, wow. Tell me about it. I'm I'm hoping that it looks like everything is starting to get behind us on the curve, finally. Yeah. What did the. Yeah. We heard. Yeah. Yeah.



I like the one the meme that, you know, 20/20 is having a birthday until it turns 21.



Yeah. Yeah. It's all right. Well, Jim, thank you so much for taking the time coming on and interviewing and spending some time with me and our listeners. I learned a lot. Well, thank you. And that's that's what this is all about. And hopefully some of our listeners have learned enough to where they can make the correct measurements. But I'm going to tell everybody, no matter if you think you got it right or not and you've done it 100 times, double check those numbers.



Yeah. With whoever it is that you're having, do your drive lines. And there are some people in this industry that have supported the industry for years. Jim, you're one of them. And I appreciate that. And thank you. You know, there's keep everybody out there, keep supporting those that support the industry. So, again, Jim, thank you very much for coming on board.



Well, thank you for having me. It was good to talk with you.



All right. And we will talk again. Hopefully we see it some shows very soon.



Yeah, we should be there. And it looks like next year will be a better year and we'll all get out again.



So, yeah. OK, great. Thank you. All right. Thank you. Take care. And I'll talk to you later.



OK, bye bye. But. If you enjoy these podcasts, please give us a rating, share some feedback with us via Facebook or Instagram and share our link among your friends who might be like minded. Well, that brings this episode to an end. OK, you enjoyed it. We'll catch you next week with conversations with Big Rich. Thank you very much.