With more and more companies offering parts and supplies to upgrade your vehicle and get it trail-ready, we thought we’d put together our list of necessary items you should invest in when entering the Off-Road hobby. Some of these can be used at home and on the trail as well!
1. Bandsaw/Sawzall/Angle grinder(cutoff wheel)- Off-Roading means customizing or changing your vehicle so it can withstand the conditions trail-driving puts on the vehicle. This means you need a way to cut metal quickly, and easily. An angle grinder should be one of your first 3 tools you purchase when getting into this hobby, but it doesn’t hurt to have a battery powered reciprocating saw as well for more portable cutting. A band saw is great for making clean, accurate cuts that the other options can’t offer.
2. MIG Welder- If you’re getting into the off-roading hobby I’d say this is also one of the top 3 tools I’d recommend getting in your arsenal (over standard hand tools). A good MIG welder will allow you to fabricate and upgrade your vehicle, but also helps with repairing any damage caused during your last trail run. If you’re getting more serious into the hobby we’d suggest getting a portable generator than can run your welder and electric tools for repair out on the trail! A flux-core welder requires no shielding gas and can help you weld most anywhere where you can get power. A Flux Core Welder requires no shielding gas and can help you weld most anywhere where you can get power.
3. Plasma Cutter- Time is money right? Fabricating and cutting with an angle grinder or a torch can be slow and or messy. A Plasma Cutter can allow you to accurately cut pieces out quickly. The better you dial in your machine the cleaner the cut you will get which means less cleanup time when prepping a part for welding. Make sure you pick a plasma that can handle both thick and thin metal. It really should be able to cut 1/4″ at minimum. The Eastwood Versa-Cut 60 can cut up to 7/8″ thick plate, so it can handle any fab job you throw at it!
4. Tubing Bender- Next to box tubing round tubing is probably the most used type of material you’ll use when fabricating parts on your off-road vehicle. Whether it’s a brush guard, a roll bar, or a winch mount, it needs to be sturdy! Much of the tubing used in this type of fabrication is 1″ to 2″ in diameter and at least a .120″ wall so it isn’t something you can easily bend by hand. A tubing bender will make your life a lot easier and also allows for more accurate bends than using heat and forming it around another object. Whether it’s a manual-type bender or a hydraulic unit, you will thank us once you put it to use!
5. Tubing Notcher- So you’ve bent up your pieces perfectly and they’re cut to length, you’re ready to weld them together right? Wrong, you need to prepare the weld joint so the tubing fits together tightly. The better the fit-up of your tubing, the better it will weld and the stronger it will be. A good tubing notcher will make nice saddle cuts or fish mouth joints that make welding tubing together a breeze. Sure you can do it with a hole saw and a file, but time is money and a tubing notcher pays for itself on the first project!
6. Paint and rust prevention- Off-Roading puts your vehicle right in the thick of less-than-desirable conditions. Rocks, mud, water, sand, etc. all things that speed up the rust and corrosion process. Save your truck and yourself a lot of headaches by apply rust protective paints and chemicals. Rust Encapsulator and Chassis Black is our tried and true combo for the undercarriage of vehicles.
7. Drill/Drill press- Making holes in metal can be a tedious process, but with a drill press it can be a breeze. If shop space is an issue make sure you get a bench top drill press that you can stash under the workbench when not in use. A drill index will also make upsizing holes in thicker steel easier.
8. Metal Stripping- Metal needs to be clean and free of old paint and coatings before you can weld OR paint on it. This means you’ll need an effective way to clean the metal before welding or painting. The best method for paint removal is by Media Blasting, but not everyone has the budget or space to use one. If not try one of our stripping discs on your angle grinder!
9. Powder Coating- Traditional Paint not up to the task on your truck? Powder Coating is about the strongest coating out there and now can be done at home. We suggest at the least powder coating parts that will see excessive abuse like control arms, axles, brush guards, etc. A home powder coating kit can do most any part you can throw at it given you have a way to cure the powder. A small powder oven can handle small parts or a cheap/free electric home oven can be found on craigslist.
10. Sheet Metal Brake- A lot of complex parts for your vehicle can be made with proper planning and a sheet metal brake. Make everything from floor pans to battery boxes with a brake. A small vice-mount brake can handle most small projects but a larger brake may be required if you’re doing larger panels.