The details that follow are lengthy, but I wanted to show just how far Bud and his team at BudBuilt went to please a customer. Absolutely top-notch service! If you're only here for the photos, you can skip to the bottom. But if you'd like to hear more about great customer service, please read on.
I've been talking with Bud, on and off, for awhile now about ordering a set of his sliders. You should know (Bud certainly does now) that when it comes to purchasing a product, I'm extremely picky (READ: pain in the @$$). My requirements for sliders were very specific.
Slider Build Requirements
Slider Build Solution
- I wanted a slider designed with a top plate so my wife and daughter wouldn't have to worry about slipping through the rails when stepping into the FJ.
- The top plate needed some sort of anti-skid mechanism to avoid slipping when stepping
- The plating material needed to provide a solid surface for stepping, without adding a lot of additional weight.
- I didn't want to have to constantly repaint the plating just to avoid rusting.
- The plate needed to be secure so as to avoid any potential rattling or vibration
- The slider needed to have a kickout-style design to protect the rear quarter panel on tight trails
Despite my rather extensive requirements, Bud came up with the perfect solution: Aluminum Diamond Plate. The diamond plate pattern serves to strengthen the material somewhat and also provides a rough surface to avoid slipping when stepping. Being aluminum, the plating provides a strong surface for stepping without adding a lot of unnecessary weight. And of course being aluminum, it will not be prone to rusting. Style-wise, Bud already offered both a straight- and a kickout-style slider so we were almost there. The only requirement left was securing the plates in place.
As life would have it, I somehow managed to get sidetracked for several months but I resumed pursuit of these custom sliders a few weeks ago in anticipation of the 2nd Annual Northeastern Run at Rausch Creek.
Picking up where we left off, Bud forwarded me a couple photos of another set of custom sliders that they had built for another equally picky customer (most likely also a PITA
). This customer had asked for something very similar except they had requested steel plating instead of aluminum and only wanted a single step piece, housed in the rear-most section of the sliders. But that wasn't all the customer wanted. They also requested that the plate be recessed so that the top surface was even with the top of the slider tubing. Can you believe this guy? What an insane request! Needless to say, I took one look at the pictures, started drooling, and then placed an immediate phone call to Bud.
Here are the photos that Bud sent over:
Nice huh? Now don't get me wrong. I thought the design was phenomenal and extremely well executed. Bud did a fantastic job of meeting the customer's request, building it exactly as the customer wanted. But, being the PITA customer I am, I decided to take it further. The one drawback I saw with the above design is the large number of shiny bolt heads that seemed to form a constellation. Okay, it's not exactly Cassiopeia, but once the plate was powder-coated, the bolt heads did tend to stick out (cosmetically) a bit more than I liked.
My suggestion to Bud? Would it be possible to weld nuts to the bottom of the aluminum plating, as well as weld brackets to the inner portions of the frame tubing, and then use bolts to mount the plates from underneath? Oh, also, can you do this for all four sections of the sliders. And oh, I really like the recessed look. Can you make all four sections recessed too??
Many other shops would have probably hung up the phone at that point. Not Bud. He seemed to take the idea as a challenge and not only agreed to do the work, but spent countless hours over the next few weeks, working many late nights, in an attempt to build something well beyond the normal specs.
The Final Product
Well, after just a few short weeks, I'm here to tell you that the project was a complete success! I present the final product to you now... a completely seamless, but extremely sturdy design that achieves near perfect form and functionality. These things are truly a work of art. Thanks again to Bud and everyone else at BudBuilt who went so far above and beyond. I simply cannot find the words to express my elation and appreciation. Without a doubt, customer service at its absolute best!!