The Way it SHOULD work with “Influencers”

Heatshield Products is a company I knew I wanted to work with as soon as the idea popped into my head to build a Ford Transit Poptop 4wd. I had worked with other companies before like Sportsmobile West, Extreme Outback and Aluminess, but Heatshield was new to me but not new to lots of racers I knew.

Heatshield logo
Keep the heat and sound away BEFORE it becomes a problem.

In previous builds I had gone a more DIY approach with FatMat, Reflectix and HyTech Sales insulated paint. But on this build I wanted to treat the van more like a race car where the goal is to keep the heat away in the first place.

Now to the influencer part. We I contact Heatshield Products about working with them we chatted and then I got a chance to read through the way they do things, and I like it. Their goal is for me to take the risk (makes sense) and for me to prove myself (again makes sense). That way if I fail, no loss to them, and if I succeed I can get 100% of the cost refunded back to me.

Heatshield Products Buy Back
I take the risk, I do the work, I get my money back.

Now this is just a bit of the entire program, the outline what qualifies, the time frame and the rest of the details. But the core concept is great, if I can really influence then I shouldn’t be worried. And if I can’t afford the product then they should be worried I could do anything I promised in some proposal.

Knowing your Center of Gravity

Center of Gravity Ford Transit
How cool to know the real center of gravity for your rig.

While working my way through the Ford Transit Builders Guide I came across the methods and formulas to figure out the Center of Gravity.

For a road going machine this is less of a concern, but with all the off camber fun we have in the dirt it will be great to know once the build is finished just where that imaginary point is at.

Sure playing on a RTI is fun and looks cool (Ramp Travel Index tells you how much flex your suspension gives), but knowing how if your Center of Gravity is high vs low or front vs back has much more value to the Overlander or VanLife world.

Looks like Martín our resident engineer will have to be involved with all this math, and we will need to borrow 4 wheel scales and a forklift, but in the end should be a good time and great knowledge to share!

Just part of the number crunching we will have to do.

Not “Girl Power” just normal

Female plugging a tire leak
Novice power is amazing, being a female should just be normal.

At a recent novice offroad training event we hosted there were male and female participants. Here at Peg Leg Garage, we treat everyone the same, male vs female, abled vs disabled, and race just doesn’t exist. The only time we label folks is novice, intermediate and expert. And that is more about helping each other than how we treat people.

Since this was a “novice day” we covered the basics of what to take when you first start, tire pressures and repairs, self-recovery items and such. I teach the same regardless of gender, if strength is a concern due to physical size or ability/disablity I will adapt the lesson for those folks.

group off road lesson
Gather around to play with cool toys.

Don’t worry I am getting to the “Girl Power” part. As an amputee, I have always been a bit bothered when someone tells me I am “inspiring”, or holds me up as an example to other disabled folks. Sure it is part of our marketing efforts, and I do look for products and methods that make life easy for the physically disabled as that helps me also, but I am not a fan of “amp life” or “amp power”. To me, it just is normal that a person adapts to their reality in order to do the things that need doing.

amputee moving rocks
1 Leg Lance stacking rocks, no big thing.

So when Alyssa called out on the radio that she was getting a low tire pressure alert I wasn’t excited that a “girl” would get to do something, I was thrilled a “novice” was about to test my teaching. Instead of “girl power” it should just be normal that a female can have the skills, knowledge and drive to thrive. If we want to get past sexism, racism and all the other “isms” then we have to make that thing normal. The phrase “girl power” started in the early 90’s, we are almost 30 years later, we should all accept gender as a non -issue by now.

extreme outback kit used by female to plug a tire leak
The Extreme Outback kit made it a breeze for “A” to plug a leak and get back on the trail.

If we want to celebrate anything we should be happy when a novice succeeds, or when someone overcomes a personal challenge. To me there was no “girl power” here, a female did exactly what I knew she could and would. The power was in her attitude to accept the problem, learn a solution and have faith in herself.

By the way, the Extreme Outback kit did make it super easy for Alyssa, especially since she needed 1 large and 2 small plugs to fix this hole/tear.

Why these wheels?

Choosing a wheel, it should be more than good looks…

Normally I am not a fellow that goes crazy when it comes to wheel choices. I either run a stock looking steel wheel so I can beat it back into shape if some rock attacks me in the back country or stick with the stock aluminum wheels if they are the right size.

blown tires on the burb
Blowouts, pot holes or wayward rocks can all damage a wheel.

However there are times even someone like me who isn’t about looks needs to find the right wheel, and that is usually when your wallet is also going to lighten up buying bigger tires.

In the case of our Transit build, Ford blessed us with a cute little 28 inch tire on a 16 inch wheel of steel. Normally this would be great as a 255/85/16 has been a fantastic size on my last few builds. However with the Quadvan 4wd conversion I also need to change the offset in order to squeeze as much tire in and not rub against the coil spring on the strut. Oh and yeah in the very near future we are going to see what can be done about some custom reservoir shocks with custom rate coil springs.

This mean a bit of research into 5x160mm bolt pattern wheels…..and only a few showed up. While I didn’t have first hand experience with any of them I did know Method from watching how well they held up during all the NORRA Mexican 1000’s I chased for. Almost any wheel will work on the street and most will work for a normally loaded rig on forest roads. But beat on a wheel in Baja or put it on a heavy vehicle and the real test begins.

Method Race Wheels
They really are lighter, stronger…but I am not usually faster.

Now is the point you start thinking, “well of course he likes Method, they are giving him free wheels”. Nope, I am paying for these, yes there is a discount but I would rather pay for something that works in remote areas than run free that leaves me stranded.

method bead grip
wheel design matters

With previous SEMA builds the wheel choice did come down to the best partner deal since all the choices were about the same in performance. However for this van since I can’t more than a 33 inch tire and can’t really go wide I know I will be airing down often and many times way way down. That means a higher risk of rolling off a bead in sand, mud or snow. Sure I know how to re-seat a bead, and with the Extreme Outback compressor and a tank it won’t be hard. But even better is not having to deal with the problem in the first place.

I have seen first hand Method Trail series wheels aired down to 5psi and hold a bead, to me that is worth paying for.

So the winner for our Chase Red Transit will be Method 701 bronze wheels in 17 inch size……and now to figure out tires.

Method 701 bronze
Method Trail 701 so pretty, but more important, so strong