My Montero Sport - Part 7 ... early 2012

Updated February 2, 2012 Time for an update. A good amount has changed on my '97 Montero Sport over the last four years. I do less four wheeling in Colorado and more off road in and around Moab and Green River, Utah. The Rockies of Colorado to Green River and Moab in Utah is a pretty drastic change in terrain. In addition, the terrain I wheel on now is significantly more difficult than it was 10 years ago and I'm out for longer periods which requires carrying a lot more camping gear and supplies.

The fist resonably major change was in the rear leaf springs. I love my old, squishy springs from Alcan Spring and I really miss them when I'm just out for the day, but they weren't up to wheeling in Moab when the gross vehicle weight was peaking at 6700-6800 lbs. So, it was back to Alcan for a heavier set that would still flex well when not loaded down. As anyone who builds anything with a leaf spring knows you're not going to get super flexy and high load capacity in the same springs. Being able to carry a load without snaping and leaving me stuck in the middle of nowhere was more important so that's the route we went. It took breaking two more sets of springs before we found the 'sweet spot' but it was worth it. I can carry two weeks of gear and passengers while wheeing on the slick rock of Moab and never have to think about it.

Lowering the gearing in the transfer case was a modification I've been trying to make almost since I bought my Sport new. 1.92:1 gearing is just stupid. 1.92:1 on a crawler is even stupider. 1.92:1 on a crawler carying the weight my Montero Sport caries in Moab is just suicidal. Back in the day, though, options were very limited. The only real option was Mark's 2.85:1 replacement low range gears for the stock transfer case. I did do that and they worked well for a couple years. The problem is - they're just not deep enough. In an otherwise stock Sport with smaller tires they're great. In my beast they're just too tall.

When one of 4x4 Wire's forum members did a Jeep NP231 swap in his Montero I decided it was time to take the plunge and fix my gearing problem once and for all. This is where Duffy's Box4Rocks kit, a brand new Jeep NP231 transfer case and Terra's Low231 4:1 kit come into play. All of these put togather give my Sport a 10.88:1 ratio in 'low low low'. Yes, that's three low's. This setup gives my Sport three gear ratios. The stock Jeep 2.72:1 in 4-wheel drive 'low'. Terra's 4:1 in 4-wheel drive 'low low' and 10.88:1 in 4-wheel drive 'low low low' with both gear sets engaged.

There really isn't a way to explain to someone who's never driven anything with gearing this low what 10.88:1 is like. Unless you're a heavy equipment operator or have driven or ridden in something with an Atlas or Stak it's going to be a shock. I'm used to driving big farm tractors and I still had to learn to drive my Sport off road all over again.

So, how deep is it? The numbers come out to a crawl ratio of 230:1 at 800 RPM which is idle in my Sport. That's about 6" per second or about 31.5 feet per minute. With the stock 1.92:1 transfer case gears at 1000 RPM (which is impossible, but we'll use that number for arguements sake) the crawl speed is about 45" per second or 222.5 feet per minute; the crawl ratio is - hope you're sitting down - a whopping 40.5:1. With Mark's 2.85:1 Mitsubishi transfer case gears those numbers improve but are in no way compareable to the numbers from the new setup. The crawl ratio improves to 60:1 and the speed drops to 30" per second or 150 feet per minute. Definitely noticeable and certinly usefull but nothing like 230:1.

You can read more about the NP231 transfer case conversion here. It really wasn't that difficult to shoe horn the setup into my Montero Sport, but like all projects where you're effectivly the first to do it there are always issues that crop up. It was definitely worth it, though!

How does my Sport sit now? Well, here's an updated list ...

  • 1997 Mitsubishi Montero Sport LS
  • 3.0L Engine
  • 5 Speed Manual Transmission
  • Factory Off-Road Package
  • ARB Winch Bumper
  • Warn XD9000 Winch
  • Master-Pull Winch Line
  • IPF 900 Series Off-Road Lights
  • All Pro Extreme Rock Guards
  • Front and Rear Dana 44 Solid Axles w/5.38 Gears
  • ARB Locking Differential (Front/Rear)
  • ARB Nodular Iron Differential Covers
  • Spring-Over Rear/Ford Radius Arm Front Conversion
  • Semi-High Steer Cross-Over Steering
  • Rancho RS9000 Shocks
  • Rancho RS5000 Steering Stabilizer
  • Box4Rocks NP231 Transfer Case Conversion with Low231 Kit
  • Yokohama Geolandar M/T+ 35x12.5x15 Tires
  • QuickAir I On-Board Air Compressor
  • 2.5 Gallon Air Tank
  • PowerTank 10 gal (v2.0 regulator)
  • DieHard Platinum P-2 Group 65 AGM Automotive Battery
  • K&N FIPK Air Filter Kit
  • Specter Air Pipe Kit
  • Full, Custom 2.25" Exhaust with Flowmaster Muffler
  • SUV Lights HD Headlight Harness
  • K40 Magnetic Mount CB Antenna
  • Amsoil, Mobile 1, Valvoline Synthetic Lubricants