Thanos: Year One

It’s crazy to think that it’s already been a year since the start of the Thanos project. Since last winter, the rig that has evolved from a Sahara model  featuring an open front diff and painted plastic fenders and plastic bumpers, to a rig wrapped in solid armor from EVO, new steering components from Synergy & TeraFlex, a Spartan locker from Yukon, and a Warn Zeon winch that have helped conquer some of the tougher trails and obstacles that places like Hidden Falls, Stillwaters Ranch and Bridgeport have thrown at it.  Of course, with the cost of all that gear, it helps to have a good supplier behind you saving you tons on tax and shipping costs, and knowledgeable dudes that save you from bad decisions, and that’s exactly what my friends at NorthRidge have done to make this build possible so far.  And while I’m proud to say I’ve done much of the mod work myself, I’m sure as shit not a welder or experienced mechanic (yet!), so getting help from dudes that have worked on more off-road rigs than most will ever see in a lifetime has been a serious advantage that I greatly appreciate.

Of course, my own driving experience has increased significantly too. Growing up in Colorado, but without access to hard-core rigs, my off road experience was mostly around wheeling in the snow and mountain trails, so getting to wheel with talented friends I’ve met along the way, and great local mentors like Keith Jones, I’ve grown to have a solid appreciation for rock crawling that I’d never experienced before.

The cost of experience this first year wasn’t too bad at all thankfully. Having been through a couple services on my diffs, my drivetrain has been running flawless. The only casualties of war have mostly been cosmetic (a few plastic wheel caps, license plate holder, a couple bashed stabilizer shocks)  to mild (slightly bent tie-rod, sidewall gash on one of the Kelly TSRs, and a quarter-panel ding). I know this trend can’t last forever… but then again they also told me everyone gets into wrecks on the road but here I am 23 years later still batting 1000. 😉

To recap the year, I sent my brother a bunch of footage from several wheeling trips. As anyone who films this stuff knows, 90% of it is woefully uninteresting and ends up on the cutting room floor, so you can imagine how much was tossed just to get 2 minutes and 45 seconds together. But seriously, he was able to put together this sweet clip in just a few days and I couldn’t be happier:

Did I mention video production is just a hobby for this guy?

So what’s in store for 2015?

Well, I’m getting to the point (at least around these parts) where the only way to do the bigger, nastier stuff is to start looking at running bigger tires, and beefing up the axles to go with it. With an eventual goal of also applying to the JK Experience, this also means beefing up Thanos in other areas, like Safety. I’m excited to announce my first major upgrade for 2015 will be a new Dynatrac ProRock 44 front axle to replace the D30 in the front. Complete with RCV Axle Shafts, an ARB Select-able Locker, and Reid Racing Knuckles, this new front will be the major step forward in being able to run and support 37″ tires safely. From there, I’m looking to upgrade to an EVO Long Arm Suspension, beefier JE Reel driveshafts, an adding a sport cage and more under-carriage protection.

On the video side of things, much of 2014 was spent experimenting with camera angles, many of which sucked, to be frank (I promise, no more shaking box in-cab clips). On this front I have a kick-starter drone coming in soon that claims to feature follow-me modes and way-pointing that I will do my best to get working on the trails for a much better visual experience.

I’m also planning on using TechShop this year to expand my own education in things like metal working, welding and 3d modeling so I can do more of my own work and get into fabrication, so I can finally start adding some of the more custom pieces to the “Thanos” project concept besides a few stickers.

Until then, onward and upwards, but keep all four on the floor….