BillaVista Offroad Tech

Welcome to the official home of the world-famous "BillaVista" offroad tech articles. Below you will find an extensive library of technical articles, product reviews, data, specs, how-to's, FAQ's, and more.

 

The Man Behind the Articles.
Who is BillaVista? Check out his bio.
Tutorial.
Tips & Tricks for using the site and getting the most out of it.
Browse by Category.
An alternate listing with the articles grouped by subject such as "Engine", "Axles ", etc.
PDF Index.
Over 5 Gb and 1000 files of data. Everything from manuals to catalogs to charts of technical reference data - whether you seek a Spicer part number or the drill size for a 1/2" fine thread tap - it's in here!
Galleries.
Take a break from all the heavy tech
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Main Tech Article Index
    Atlas Shifter Conversion. How I converted my Atlas 4-speed transfer case from cable shifters to direct-linkage shifters in a project that was quick, easy, and cheap!
 
14-Bolt Disc Brakes V2. A new and more complete look at converting a 14-Bolt to disc brakes, including weld-on and bolt-on brackets, a larger calliper option, and a detailed look at wheel stud and wheel nut options. Air Bump Tech. How they work, what their advantages and disadvantages are, how to disassemble, customize their length / travel, and reassemble, how to mount, and some ideas on determining the length / travel you need.
 
RZ Masks Dust Mask Check out this quick review of a super-cool product from the ATV / Dirt Bike world - perfect also for the buggy crowd and other offroaders looking for a comfortable, effective solution to a face and lungs full of crap after those long days on a dusty trail or a serious session in the shop with the grinder. Pro Armor Harnesses. Take a look at the this offering from Pro Armor - a company well-known in the SxS industry. The combination of comfort, ease-of-use, convenience, quality construction and cool, innovative features make the Pro Armor 2" H-style sewn-together "easy in & out" harness the favourite I have used so far.
 
12VoltGuy Switch Panel. A look at the custom switch panel that anchors the electrical system in my rock buggy. The Alternator Bible. Covers basic and technical descriptions of how they operate, model identification, performance, failure modes and troubleshooting. A must-read for maintaining, upgrading, or designing an automotive 12 Volt DC wiring system.
 
12V DC Basics. The basics - from electrons to ohm's law. Covers the theory required by those looking to diagnose, repair, upgrade, design, or build-from-scratch an automotive 12-volt DC negative-ground wiring system. High Tech Driveshafts. A look at the latest high-tech driveshafts from High Angle Driveline - the "Tight-Clearance Trophy-Truck-Spline"  and "42° Durability CV" Driveshafts.
 
The Offroad Race Radio & Comms Bible. Communications are a force multiplier. The right comms system, (including the right hardware properly installed, the knowledge and ability to use it, and an effective plan for its use), has many beneficial effects on your racing effort. Read all about it here. Engine Oil & Oiling. Everything you ever wanted or needed to know about motor oil and engie oiling systems: oil tech, viscosity, selecting an oil, cooling, filtering, oil accumulator tech, and more - it's all in here.
 
MEFI-4 Fuel Injection Tech. The fouth-generation of GM's Marine Electronic Fuel Injection makes an excellent choice for off-road vehicles. This article explains the basics, the sensors, how to read and clear trouble codes, and includes an excellent daignostic manual. The Cooling Bible. Everything you ever wanted or needed to know about cooling systems: pressure, flow, radiator design, plumbing, surge tanks, thermostats, coolant types, and more - it's all in here.
 
Tube Bending Tech. How to bend tubing using the JMR MB1000 manual tube bender. Includes a brave new attempt at video-tech! Learn about bender operation, what makes a quality bender, how to set up and operate the machine, hot to select dies and CLR's, and much more. Tube Notching Tech. How to notch and cope tubing using the JMR TN1000 tube notcher, including: large angle notches, offset notches, obtuse angles and notching from the "back side". Explore the features that make the JMR TN1000 a complete "notching machine".
 
The LS Primer - Part 2. Covering: Gen III/IV truck motors in detail, GM V8 Development Timeline, Weights and Dimensions, Car vs. Truck Engines, How to Choose a Gen III/IV Motor, FAQ , References, and More. Turn Key Engine Supply LS2. Packed with tech, this article is a thoroughly detailed look at the 510HP Turn Key LS2 that powers The Wolf. Includes a complete revuew plus tech on fuel injection, sensors, MEFI-4, and more.
 
ReadyWelder II Portable Welder. There aren't many products that are equally desirable whether you're a novice in a bone-stock 'wheeler or a hard-core rock racing pro - but the ReadyWelder II is just such a rare beast. It might just be the coolest tool ever - here's why. The LS Primer - Part 1. RPO's, Generations, Vortec, LS(x), Gen III/IV Design Architecture, Active Fuel Management, Variable Valve Timing, and a detailed look at all the "car" motors LS1 through LS9.
 
Pitbull Rockers. I wasn't particularly looking for new tires - I thought I was happy with what I had. So when Mike at Pitbull Tires contacted me to talk about the new 42" Pitbull Rocker I wasn't sure what to expect. Here's what I found. Ballistic Fabrication Coilover Shocks. A llok at the the recently released 16" Ballistic Coilover Racing Shocks. Designed for extreme use in race and recreational settings, Ballistic Shocks are re-valvable, fully rebuildable and highly adjustable.
 
Atlas Input Swap. A detailed look at how to swap the input shaft on an Atlas-4SP transfer case and the many options available for then mating it to the back of a 4wd GM TH400 automatic transmission. Includes discussion on tradeoffs between clocking angle and spline engagement. Twisted Stitch Custom Suspension Seats. Often frustration leads us to do dumb things we later regret - it certainly has with me - more times than I care to admit. Every so often, however, frustration can lead to an unexpectedly awesome result. This article is a story about just such a rare occurrence.
 
Gear Setup Bible. The mother of all gear setup articles - featuring the venerable Dana 60 but packed with info applicable to setting up all ring & pinion gears. Not only the "how" but the "why" of it all. The Plumbing Bible. A detailed look at automotive plumbing. Covers hose assemblies, fittings, safety, installation, chemical compatibility, pressure drop theory, hose sizing, and all the tech info on the most common fittings from AN to NPT. Includes a review of Russell Performance Advanced Fluid Transfer Systems.
 
Ultimate Offroad Auto Shifter. How I started with a stock B&M shifter and modified it to create the ultimate neutral-bumping, reverse-slamming, offroad shifter. Yukon Carrier Bearing Puller. Removing the carrier bearings from a differential is a real bear of a job at the best of times - and without the proper tools it's almost impossible to do without damaging the bearings in the process. This tool makes it easy.
 
Driver Restraint Systems. A detailed look at the technology of driver restraint systems. This article covers the components, functions, options and related technologies surrounding multi-belt driver restraint systems. Installing Driver Restraint Systems. A look at the installation, adjustment, wearing, and maintenance of multi-belt driver restraint systems.
 
The Coilover Bible- Part 1. Covers basic shock and spring tech, examines the types of coilovers and their parts, goes over their use and advantages, coves the concepts of installation ratio, wheel rate, and suspension frequency, and concludes with preliminary spring-rate selection. The Coilover Bible- Part 2. Covers hands-on tech including: installing & removing springs; installing helper coils; teardown, bleeding, and charging; and changing springs with shocks mounted on rig.
 
The Brake Bible. Theory, component selection, system design, troubleshooting, and everything else you need to know about brakes and braking. Includes a review of the Vanco hydroboost braking system. Fuel Cell Tech. Modifying, installing, and plumbing a fuel cell. Includes a detailed look at the F.A.T.S. system designed by Frank Daless to eliminate fuel spill at any angle.
 
Custom Hummer Double Beadlocks. Beadlocks are designed to clamp down on the tire's bead, physically retaining it in place. There are a variety of different methods of accomplishing this but most only lock the outer bead of the tire to the wheel. Not these! Check out how and why custom hummer double beadlocks work. Atlas 4-speed Transfer Case. The Atlas-4SP was designed so that users could have ultra-low gearing for rock crawling, a low gear for trail use, and mid- and high-ranges for sand, mud, and street, all in a single unit. Sweet! That's exactly what I wanted. Includes tech, specs, and a complete installation.
 
Wet Okole Neoprene Seat Covers. A truck is meant to be used: camping, fishing, winter driving, 'wheeling, hauling, and family four wheeling adventures. Add the kids eating and drinking (and spilling) in the back and your interior can easily become a disaster in short order. But not with these! Cognito Motorsprts' GM 8-Lug Pitman and Idler Arm Support Kit. '99-'07 GM trucks, like every production vehicle, have their issues. One of which is the stock steering system. I decided to fix it before it became a problem by installing the Cognito kKit. Here's the why and the how.
 
2007 Chevy Silverado 2500HD. The story of a man and his truck - tech data, reviews and commentary on my new tow rig. Installing an Electronic Brake Controller. Installation of the Tekonsha Prodigy brake controller in a late-model GM truck.
 
ARB Air Locker Tech. What started as a simple review of the new ARB 14-Bolt locker grew into a bible on ARB air lockers, including installation, tips & techniques, and a large FAQ section. ARB Air Supply. Covering pneumatic switches and a fulll review of the ARB CKSA12 Compact Onboard Air Kit. Includes the why's and how's of a "full pneumatic" air locker activation system.
 
Suspension Joint Roundup. The selection of the joint for the suspension link is an important one. In today's multi-link suspension, there can be up to 16 or more joints - all of which are going to have a profound effect on how the suspension performs and the durability of the rig, as well as your budget. For this article I evaluated and reviewed three of the best. 14-Bolt Gear Setup. Detailed, step-by-step instruction for setting up gears in a GM 10.5" Full-Float 14-Bolt rear axle. Also contains theory and tech of interest and use in setting up gears in other axles.
 
Teraflex T-Locker. When I heard that Teraflex had teamed up with Tibus Offroad to design and market market a new type of pneumatic locker, I jumped at the chance to install one in my Dana 60, test and review it. Here's what I found. Suspension Link Construction. Something for anyone working with tube here. How to notch tube with a chop saw, tables and equations for comparing strengths and dimensions of different tubes, and the theory of designing and fabricating suspension links. Also useful for other tubular projects.
 
14 Bolt 1410 Yoke Kit. From High Angle Driveline, a kit to eliminate the achiles heel of the mighty 14 Bolt rear axle. Fox Airshox Report. Covers description, function, installation, tuning and testing of Fox 14" Air Shocks. Includes downloadable spring-force curve calculator.
 
Doubler Basics. Covers the basic theory of transfer case "doublers", advantages and disadvantages, component selection, and the basics of fabricating your own adapter to mate two transfer cases together. The Drill Doctor. Can this small, relatively inexpensive machine do all it claimed, or would it be such a complicated nightmare of setup that I'd never use it? Well, I was thoroughly fed-up with dull and broken drill bits - so I decided to find out.
 
Fastener Tech. Covers all aspects of fastener tech, from nuts & bolts to studs and ashers. Includes what you need to know to select, install, and maintain the proper hardware for the job. Ask BillaVista. BillaVista answers readers' tech questions ranging from field testing winches and solenoids to swapping 14-Bolt axles, to the difference between single and three-phase power to troubleshooting hydraulic steering problems.
 
Speedi-Sleeve Install. How to install a Speedi-Sleeve to repair a wasted seal journal and therefore save an otherwise finished spindle and cure a perpetually leaky rear wheel hub. SM465 Sloppy Shifter Fix. A quick and dirty look at fixing the notorious SM465 sloppy shifter problem. Worth a look for other manual tranny owners too, as the fix will likely work for other models as well.
 
CTM Racing Heavy-Duty U-Joints. Every once in a while along comes a product so "in a class of its own" that it literally defines the genre. Such products set the standard by which all others are judged. CTM U-joints are just such a product - the first and only choice in extreme duty U-joints. Superior "Evolution" Cr-Mo Alloy Axles.Your front axle shafts and U-joints are possibly the weakest part of your drivetrain.So it stands to reason, if you plan to tackle the toughest terrain, you want.....no NEED the toughest axles available and it's what this article is all about - because breaking SUCKS!
 
Crane Dana 60 Alloy Knuckles. Hardcore abuse and the stress of full hydraulic steering  pushing big tires can cause stock steering knuckles to fatigue, crack, and break apart - especially 20-30 year old knuckles. This article is not about searching for the "most economical" or "cheapest", it's about finding the best. Crane Extreme Diff Cover. A look at one of the best diff covers available - cast as a single seamless piece of chrom-moly alloy steel and supplied with Holo Krome® button-head bolts - this Crane cover is one serious offering.
 
Axleshaft Tech. Deceptively simple in appearance, modern axleshaft technology is actually quite technical and complicated. This article explores alloy axles, shaft technology, and splines. The intent is to allow the reader to make their own product evaluations and purchasing decisions from an educated, or at least informed, point of view. OTT Dana 60 High-Clearance Steering Arms. High clearance steering arms move the steering linkage up out of harm's way. These Dana 60 High Clearance Steering Arms OTT produce stand alone at the top of the pile for features and quality - read why here.
 
Performance Off-road Systems Hydraulic Steering System. One of the most sought after modifications for the the hardcore off-roader, nothing says "I am serious about off-road capability" like full hydraulic steering. Nothing says "hardcore" like a hydraulic steering cylinder. Full hydraulic steering says something about that rigs capabilities, and its drivers mind-set. Steel and Materials Strength Bible. This article examines, in some detail, the subject of "Materials Science", focusing on steel and other ferrous metals. The aim is to educate the reader on the composition of steel, it's properties and how to properly interpret them, as well as examine the many different types of steel and their uses.
 
Hydraulic Steering Bible. A look at the technology, terms, equations, and principles involved in building or purchasing a hydraulic steering system. What you need to know to get it right the first time. Hydraulic Steering Calculator. An online Java-powered calculator where you enter the specs of your rig and it calculates the specifications needed for the components of a hydraulic steering system, based on your inputs.
 
Jethro-Bilt 14-Bolt Diff Cover. Once you have upgraded your axle with expesnive gears and lockers, you need a smash-proof, bomb-proof, diff cover that will protect the axle's guts, stand up to abuse in the rocks, and fit right the first time. Check out this option... Yukon 14-Bolt Gears and Install Kit. A Look at Yukon 4.10 gears for the might 14-Bolt, a comparison of Dana 60 vs. 14-Bolt gears, and a look at the contents of a "master" install kint, including the bearing numbers for different series 14-Bolt axles - it's all in here...
 
14 Bolt Bible. Just like the name says...... Basic Hydraulics. A primer on the basic principles of hydraulics as they relate to use in automotive systems such as hydraulic steering or hydro-boost brakes.
 
Dana 60 35-Spline Upgarde. Detailed installation of "Big" (non-neckdown) inner axle shafts, Dana 70 35 spline stub shafts, and Warn 35 spline Drive Flanges in a Chevy Dana 60 front axle. Also detailed instructions on installing U-joints in axle shafts and all those seals on the stub shaft. Polyperformance Drive Flanges. A look at the strongest way to hook your axleshafts to your wheels.
 
HAD 1-Ton 1350 CV Driveshaft. Review of the High Angle Driveline 1350 CV driveshaft. Dana 60 Kingpin Rebuild. Complete specs and pics of a Dana 60 front axle kingpin rebuild. Includes exploded diagrams, part numbers, cool little custom grease-nipple skidplates!
 
14-Bolt Rear Axle Disc Brake Conversion. Detailed look at how to add disc brakes to the GM Corp 14 Bolt rear axle. Procedure can be used for other rear axles too (D60, D70, etc). Includes detailed part numbers. Also contains data on axle shaft R&R and wheel bearing R&R and adjustment. The Driveshaft Bible. Tech article all about driveshafts. From definitions to operating principles, geometry to maintenance, this is a very detailed look at all you need to know about driveshaft tech.
 
Advance Adapters 32-Spline Dana 20 Output. A look at the best way to cure the notorious weak-link in the otherwise quite capable Dana 20 transfer case. Dana 20 Rebuild. Featuring installation of the Teraflex Low-20 gearset in a Jeep Dana 20 transfer case. Details every single step of the teardown; and re-assembly with the Tera Manufacturing Low20 3.15:1 low range kit. Includes calculations and discussion on available gear "ratio stepping".
 
Dana 60 & 61 Front Axles listed by BOM. Detailed listing of specs of the various Ford, Dodge, and GM Dana 60 and Dana 61 front axles, listed by Bill-of-Materials number (BOM). Recovery Bible. Of interest to anyone who owns a winch, pans to own a winch, pulls the cable for a buddy, or even just stands around watching a recovery operation. Sections include force calculation, wire rope, hooks, shackles, rigging, slings, yank straps, and much more. Technical data and fact you NEED to know for safe recovery and cannot find compiled anywhere else.
 
Dana 60 Front Axle Bible. Contains all there is to know about Dana 60 Front Axles. Includes description, identification, dimensions, specifications, pictures, parts interchange, assembly specifications, yokes, gears, lockers, axle shafts, lockouts, U-joints, as well as technical facts, how-to articles, and a huge FAQ. Dana 60 Front Axle Bearings and Seals. Parts interchange listing for the spindle,hub, and wheel bearings and seals in the Dana 60 front axle.
 
Warn 8274 Rebuild. A complete tear-down and rebuild of the venerable Warn 8274. Tons of pictures inside and out. Includes pics of a custom in-cab winch control. Mobile Home Trailer Axles. Read along as BillaVista "scores" a dual axle trailer for $900 then realizes it will take at least another $1500 to make it road worthy and legal. Contains good tech info on mobile home axles.
 
Dragging Junk Home. Humorous article about wasting time and money in a foolish quest for cool 4x4 parts. Read and laugh along - heck, show it to your spouse and proclaim "See hon, I'm not the only complete loony!" Rockstomper DIY Beadlocks. Detailed article depicting the construction and mounting of a DIY weld-on beadlock kit. Lots of pics, and a good primer on how beadlocks work too.
 
Dana 70. All about the big Dana 70 rear axle. Good Dana 70 1.5" vs Dana 60 1.31" axle shaft pics, spindle bore measurement comparisons, and more. Valve Stem Protection. Article about re-locating valve stems for better protection. Cure that notorious weak point once-and-for-all.
 
Dana 44 Buildup. See me find an XJ D44, strip, clean, and paint it, add 4.56 Spicer gears, Detroit Locker, ZJ disc brakes, a custom truss, and slap it in.

Dana 44 Hy-Steer. Focusing on the popular Dana 44 "Hy Steer" High clearance steering system. Covers building a high clearance crossover steering system and shows how to identify "flat top" knuckles, and how to convert Chevy/Jeep D44 5x6.5 outers to Ford D44 5x5.5 bolt pattern.

 
Hybrid Dana 30 / Dana 44 Axle. Detailing a project to graft D44 brake and hubs onto a late-model Dana 30 by using old CJ D30 inner knuckles. In other words - how to get D44 flat-top knuckles, bigger brakes, real manual locking hubs, and 5 x 5.5 wheel hubs on an XJ Dana 30.    
 
Jeep XJ Leaf Spring Conversion. The best, and cheapest, way to rid an XJ of the terrible geometry of a 9-10" lift ......convert to spring-over leaf springs in front! Dana 44 Rear Axle Disc Brake Conversion. Detailing how to convert an XJ Dana 44 rear axle to ZJ disc brakes with integral parking brake.

 

Friends & Colleagues.
A short and exclusive lists of friends and colleagues who have helped make BillaVista Offroad Tech Possible. These are the folks who are the absolute best in the business at what they do.
The Old XJ Tech.
A collection of the first tech articles I ever wrote. Although they pale by comparison today, it's important for us to remember our roots and from where we have come.

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