Ultimate Adventure Trailside Upgrades by Dave Chapelle

Updated on Feb 28, 2024

This article is the second in a series of two 2023 Ultimate Adventure articles contributed by off-roading industry veteran, automotive enthusiast and journalist Verne Simons.

Getting started:

The Ultimate Adventure is the world’s longest running week long off-road adventure trip, and if you want to know more about it check out this article (RealTruck Sponsors Ultimate Adventure 2023) all about Ultimate Adventure 2023 and some of the events history. This article is all about our buddy and Ultimate Adventure Crony, Dave Chappelle and his truck LuisViTen, a 2008 Ford F-250 Dave built for RealTruck for Ultimate Adventure 2023 and part of his adventure on the trail including some breakage and how he planned for it and upgraded the truck in the dirt.

What Happened to LuisViTen

Ultimate Adventure may be the ultimate test of a vehicle and its driver and while Dave Chappelle is not new to the event, his 2008 Ford F-250, LuisViTen was, in true Dave fashion, completed mere hours before it left to attend the event…on the opposite side of the country. Luckily Dave is one heck of a fabricator, having built a few Ultimate Adventure rigs in the past. Dave is also “the real deal” when it comes to off-road with lots of background modifying trucks starting with a penchant for low riders which developed into Dave starting his own fabrication shop before becoming the co-host of one of our favorite web show, Dirt Every Day. With that knowledge in hand we knew Dave and LuisViTen (the truck’s got a Ford V-10 engine under the hood) would be ready for the event…but as often happens Dave didn’t have the opportunity to install some of the aftermarket parts from RealTruck that he had planned to add to the build, namely Yukon Chromoly Axle Shafts, Spicer greaseable 1550 U-joints, and  Warn Locking hubs for ‘05 and up Ford Super Duties. Dave knew the stock axle shafts, U-joints, and locking hubs were a weak point in the truck’s Dana 60 front axle when a Yukon Zip Locker, locking differential, low gearing, and large Sticky, 40-inch  Black Label Milestar Patagonias are added, so he brought the replacement parts with him in hopes that he wouldn’t need them, and if he did, he had them. A tough few days on the trails and roads of Ultimate Adventure finally took its toll on the stock front axle and passenger side U-joint.

First Things First, Getting off the Trail

The first step in repairing a broken 4x4 on any off-road trail is to get the vehicle to a safe location where repairs can be made. That often also includes moving the rig to somewhere relatively flat and out of the way of other off-road users. The author provided used his big and custom Jeep as a winch point for Dave and LuisViTen to get off the trail and onto a flat-ish access road where repairs could be done.

Getting the Broken Parts Off

Once in a relatively flat spot the truck was parked with parking brake engaged, and a jack roller under the truck, the front wheel, caliper and rotor were removed. Here Dave uses some huge snap ring pliers borrowed from Quigley Driveshaft’s very own Tiger LeBrun. Just about everyone on the trip bands together to help with repairs even if that only means loaning out a helpful tool to those in need.

Having all the Right Tools

Without all the tools needed to perform a repair you’d might as well stay home cause when you break you will be in a world of trouble without tools. Having an extra set of hands…or two is also helpful when bent and broken parts must be battled out of place. Books could be written about what tools to bring on the trail but generally you’ll want a large grouping of hand tools, hammers, pry bars, pics, screw drivers, a good jack, and more. As said Dave has done this before so he knows what to bring and is happy to ask for help with any tools he doesn’t have and or an extra set of hands. Ryan Broom and Chris King help with the repair.

Out with the Old

With the unit bearing out of the way the broken stub shaft and whatever is left of the U-joint must come out followed by the inner axle shaft (which may also be broken). The large axle seal shown here needs to be kept intact and transferred to the new stub shaft before it is installed.

New Vs Old

Here you can see the new Chromoly Yukon axle shaft and Spicer 1550 U-joint that will replace the broken stock axle shaft and U-joint. Chromoly is a special forged steel alloy that is stronger than the forged and hardened stock parts. Also, the stock axle has a 1480 sized axle U-joint so the new U-joint is bigger and stronger as are the ends of the inner and outer (stub) axle shafts. The combination of harder materials and larger parts make this trail repair a definite up-grade. Would the upgrade have been easier in Dave’s Dirt Head Shed? You bet, but time waits for no man…or ¾-ton truck.

In with the New

Installation of the new axle shaft is just the reverse of disassembly but might be a bit easier with clean and new parts. First you must install that large axle seal and make sure to keep dirt out of the axle housing and or other moving and sealed parts. A little grease on the threads of the axle shaft will help save your inner axle seal from cuts too. Then you must make sure to get all the hardware good and tight, so things stay together for the next trail adventure. Then it’s time to gather up all the tools and return them to their respective owners before locking that new Warn hub and getting back on the trail. More Ultimate Adventure awaits…hence the smiles!


Later during the trip, in the relative comfort of camp Dave also swapped the driver’s side stock axle shaft with the matching Yukon, Spicer, and Warn parts. With the new parts in place Dave and LuisViTen made short work of the rest of the Ultimate Adventure without any other mishaps…other than maybe a few small dings and dents earned on some of the hardest trails the Ultimate Adventure has seen in a while.

Photos from Ultimate Adventure:

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