Keeping it real

By the staff of Trucks & Guns Magazine

It is time for a real truck to be featured in the pages of a magazine. None of these mall crawlers or pavement queens or $150,000 richboy rigs will be featured here. We are going to show you what real working trucks should look like, with modifications that have reason and function. This is why we chose Jim Livemits’ rig to feature as one of the first trucks in the pages of Trucks & Guns Magazine. Jim lives just around the corner from one of our editors and when we started talking about trucks to feature, Jim’s truck was the first one our list. Why? Because he uses his truck, and he has built it up to be functional. It is not shiny, chrome plated, or have giant rims on it for no reason. Every modification has a purpose, and that is what we are all about. John’s truck looks simple, because it is, there is not a ton of modifications, but what was done was done right. It may not be what you are used to seeing in the pages of a magazine and that is because we are not your typical magazine. We are for our readers, for those people that use their equipment and those of us that think for ourselves.

THE DODGE

Now, back to Jim’s truck. He built this truck himself, in his garage with the usual tools which most of us own, needing no special skills, minus welding. He wanted a truck that could haul his camper, tools, his Jeep, and recover any of his friends or anyone that is stuck he may come across. A simple leveling kit was added in the front to keep the larger tires from rubbing. The rear suspension was outfitted with an airbag kit to control the weight of the camper and other heavy loads. The beefy front bumper is made by Buck Stop, one of the classic manufacturers of bumpers that will take out anything that gets in Jim’s way. A 12,000 pound Tabor winch was mounted on the bumper to make sure he could get out himself or any vehicle out of a hairy situation. There are PIAA lights for lighting up the night, and N-Fab steps to protect the doors and make it easier to get into the truck. Arguably the best feature on Jim’s truck is the rear bumper that he made himself. It features recovery points, a tow hitch, and on the sides a slot to insert a crane or vise. Bringing even more functionality to the rear bumper, loading heavy items with a crane really saves your back.

Jim is also a military man, serving us for over 22 years. Needless to say he knows his firearms. During our photo session he brought out a few of his weapons that he has also modified for his needs. His AR-15 uses a PSA upper with JK Mustang Raptor lower. The barrel is made by Rainier Arms, 14.5 inch .223 Wylde with 1/8 twist with a Lantac Dragon muzzle brake. It uses a BCM Mod 44 charging handle, with JP low mass bolt and JP silent captured spring. He has also built a second upper for it, so he can have it outfitted for any scenario he may be in. It uses a Radical Firearms 10.5 inch barrel, 300 AAC Blackout with Spikes Tactical fake suppressor with flip-up sights. His mods make these firearms extremely rugged and reliable for almost any foreseeable situation.

12000 pound winch in BuckStop Bumper

The Warn Tabor 12,000 pound winch is worth its weight in gold with how many trucks it has helped recover, and even has recovered a tractor or two.

N-Fab steps provide a little extra rocker panel protection and allows passengers to get in and out with ease.

N-Fab steps provide a little extra rocker panel protection and allows passengers to get in and out with ease.

INTERVIEW

Q: First off tell us about how you got started in the off-road community?

A: Bought my first Jeep in 1994 and have been hitting the trails ever since.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living?

A: I have 22 years in the military but I was a carpenter before I joined. I also dabble in gunsmithing and welding.

Q: Why did you choose this truck for a project? What other 4WDs have you owned?

A: I wanted a good tow and recovery rig for my more extreme wheeling 4X4s I needed something that had the torque and power to get the job done. Chevy didn’t have a solid front axle and Ford was too slow off the line in comparison in 2005 when I bought it. In short I wanted a truck that could last 20 years with hard service. I have owned Fords, Chevys, Toyotas, Jeeps, and Suzuki. This is by far still my favorite.

Q: Where do you like to wheel and what kind of wheeling was this rig built for?

A: Since this is my tow and recovery rig, it is kept to the lighter trails and washouts. I have taken it off-road in Joshua Tree National forest, The Rubicon, snow wheeling, The Hammers, and across country. But I prefer more technical trails with rocks and scenery like in California and Utah.

Q: Are you a masher and basher or slow and careful wheeler?

A: I am a slow wheeler who likes to let the gearing working for me.

Q: Where did you get your inspiration for your modifications?

A: For this rig I chose to stick with the reliability of stock components, beefed up the bumpers and added function over form.

Q: In what condition was your rig when you got it? Was it stock? Wrecked? Some modifications?

A: Bone stock special order to get a 3500 non-dually with a 4X4 shift lever over that push button crap.

Q: Did it evolve over time? If so, what was the first modification you did?

A: First mod was the leveling kit and steps. Wheels and tires came shortly after.

Q: What is the best mod you have done?

A: Front bumper with 12,000lb winch by far, it has rescued many stuck cars and trucks. I have a knack of finding stranded motorists and even pulled a motorcycle straight up a 20 foot cliff.

Q: What was your biggest challenge you had during your build?

A: Money.

Q: Is there anything you would like to do over, or different?

A: No it is exactly what I want.

Q: What was your worst breakage, what broke, how and why, and how did you fix it?

A: The auto trans failed due to the programmer being set too high while towing, thank goodness I got the extended warranty.

Q: Any other unique or creative modifications that you have done to your truck?

A: I made the rear bumper myself and put in lights, tow points, and receivers on each end to use for my crane and vice.

Q: Future plans for the rig?

A: Run it like it is for another 10 years, maybe add a flatbed and headache rack.

The custom rear bumper on this truck is one of the coolest features. It has tow hitch side receivers on both sides that allows Jim to use a crane, vise and other hitch accessories on the side on this truck.

The custom rear bumper on this truck is one of the coolest features. It has tow hitch side receivers on both sides that allows Jim to use a crane, vise and other hitch accessories on the side on this truck.

Airbags control the extra weight when Jim has his camper on the truck and also helps when hauling loads.

Airbags control the extra weight when Jim has his camper on the truck and also helps when hauling loads.

GENERAL

Owner/driver name: Jim

Age: 42

Occupation: Military

Vehicle: 2005 Dodge Ram 3500

Club: Trailbusters

Gears: 411

Gauges: Bully dog and trans temp

Front bumper: Buck stop

Rear bumper: Custom

Sliders: N-Fab

Winch: Tabor 12000LB

Lights: Piaa

Wheels and Tires: Tire brand/size, f/r: BFG A/T 35-1250-17

Shop where work was done: My garage

GUN INFO

Favorite is the AK for reliability and simplicity. Definitely my SHTF Gun

AK: M10-762 by M&M

Romanian

Stock: Kicklite/Hogue pistol grip

Sights: Front: intergraded w/gas block, Rear: RPK style, CNC-machined side-mounted optical sight attachment point

Trigger: Tapco G-2

Muzzle brake: M+M Razr

Weight: 7.3 LBS

Length: 36 in

Rails: UTG quad rail

Mods: Krebs Custom Enhanced Safty Selector

AR

Upper: PSA

Lower: JK Mustang Raptor

Barrel: Rainier Arms 14.5 Ultra match .223 Wylde 1/8 Twist

Muzzle brake: Lantac Dragon

Rail: SLR SOLO 13″ keymod

Charging handle: BCM Mod 44

Bolt: JP low mass BCG-polished

Spring: JP Silent Captured

Stock: Ergo F93 OD Green

Pistol grip: Mako

Weight: 7 lbs 9 ozs

Sights: 45 degree buis back-up sights

Scope: Burris Fullfield II

Extras: YHM Ext. take down pins, KNS anti roll pins, Magpul BAD lever, OD Green Duracoat

Second upper: Radical Firearms 10.5″ 300 AAC Blackout with Spikes Tactical fake suppressor/ with flip-up sights

1911

Kimber TLE II

Hogue

Glock 9×19

Stippled grip

Punisher back plate

The engine is also left mostly stock. An Airaid air intake has been added to help the truck breathe better.

The engine is also left mostly stock. An Airaid air intake has been added to help the truck breathe better.

Jim is currently active in the Air Force, so no surprise he has a few firearms. His favorite is the AK for its reliability and simplicity. It is an M10-762 by M&M Romanian customized to his needs.

The engine is also left mostly stock. An Airaid air intake has been added to help the truck breathe better.

Quad cab for taking the family out camping, 3500 to haul the camper with the Jeep in tow, custom rear bumper that can utilize a crane and middle lift to fit the 35

Quad cab for taking the family out camping, 3500 to haul the camper with the Jeep in tow, custom rear bumper that can utilize a crane and middle lift to fit the 35″ tires. Built to work hard and be put away wet.

Even though the Ram 3500 is one of the biggest trucks on the market Jim is still able to get it down some tight trails with skilled driving and knowing the limits of his truck.

Quad cab for taking the family out camping, 3500 to haul the camper with the Jeep in tow, custom rear bumper that can utilize a crane and middle lift to fit the 35″ tires. Built to work hard and be put away wet.

Even though the Ram 3500 is one of the biggest trucks on the market Jim is still able to get it down some tight trails with skilled driving and knowing the limits of his truck.

PIAA lights nested inside the Buckstop bumper allow Jim to find the rigs he needs to rescue at night.

Even though the Ram 3500 is one of the biggest trucks on the market Jim is still able to get it down some tight trails with skilled driving and knowing the limits of his truck.

Small tool box in the bed of the truck holds recovery gear and other tools, but is small enough to still allow the overhead camper to fit on the truck.

Jim with his M10-762 AK by M&M Romanian with Kicklite stock and Hogue pistol grip. He uses a Tapco G-2 trigger and M+M Razr muzzle brake.

Jim with his M10-762 AK by M&M Romanian with Kicklite stock and Hogue pistol grip. He uses a Tapco G-2 trigger and M+M Razr muzzle brake.