Industry Insider: Marlin Czajkowski of Marlin Crawler Short Cuts

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Interview by: Harry Wagner- 4/2003

Editor's Note: The following is the next of our new feature focusing on the talented people who run shops specializing in 4x4 components. 4x4Wire's Harry Wagner recently had the opportunity to speak with Marlin Crawler owner and dual transfer case godfather Marlin Czajkowski.

Marlin Czajkowski, owner of Marlin Crawler.

4x4Wire- How did you get involved in four wheeling?

Czajkowski- I grew up backpacking in the Sierras and I encountered a lot of 4x4s in the backcountry. I had a 2WD Datsun pickup at the time, but after I got stuck on my way to Lake Edison I decided that it was time for a four wheel drive.

I had a dune buggy prior to that, but I didn't really like sand and I preferred going slow to going fast.

4x4Wire- How long ago was that?

Czajkowski- I bought my 1980 truck on September 17, 1984, and I still have it.

Photo courtesy of Mike Ross.
Marlin's customers gathered on the Rubicon to pay homage to the godfather of gearing.

4x4Wire- And did you know back then what the truck and the business would eventually become?

Czajkowski- Not really. I have had an interest in trucks and auto mechanics from a young age, but the truck started out normal enough, with a small lift and bigger tires.

4x4Wire- Is that what you studied, mechanics?

Czajkowski- Yes, I have a degree in industrial arts with an emphasis on auto mechanics. I actually went to school to be a teacher, but my wife became the teacher and I worked as a machinist for eight years.

4x4Wire- And when did you open the shop?

Czajkowski- Marlin's Automotive opened in 1985, then Marlin Crawler came about in 1996.

4x4Wire- How many people work for you?

Czajkowski- There are five of us here now, plus myself. Mike, Rocky, Tim, Dave, and Andy, our newest addition. We all turn wrenches, answer the phones, and do sales. We do not have one defined task for each person here. I would like to add one more person to our staff; a manager to oversee operations and increase efficiency.

4x4Wire- What prompted you to make the transition from enthusiast to businessman?

Czajkowski- It was an easy transition to make. I had always had an interest in trucks and auto mechanics. I had heard about the Crawler in Iceland and it intrigued me because I like to go slow. I inquired about it further and the rest is history.

4x4Wire- Where do you see the sport heading?

Photo courtesy of Robert Canon.
Marlin is always lending a helping hand, whether on the phone or on the trail.
Photo courtesy of Robert Canon.
Here is Marlin welding up Robert Canon's axle tube on the Rubicon Trail.

Czajkowski- I'm not really sure, I am out of the loop. I don't get out much, but what I can tell from the magazines it looks like rigs are getting lighter and tires are getting bigger.

4x4Wire- Any new products/ideas you would like to share with us?

Czajkowski- I'd like to develop more Tacoma products when I have the time. Andy Widner recently joined are staff and is an expert fabricator. I would like to use his talents to develop tube bumpers, cages, and roll cages.

Oh, we recently introduced the ToyBox, which adapts a mini truck gear reduction case to a Land Cruiser transfer case.

4x4Wire- What product lines do you carry, or do you just sell your own brand of products?

You can take virtually any line you want at 1047:1.

Czajkowski- I like to devote my time to our own brand of products, so those are what I mainly focus on. There is a lot of competition out there now, but beyond price Marlin Crawler offers unmatched customer service and technical support.

4x4Wire- Tell us about your personal ride.

Czajkowski- The dump truck is a 1980 bobbed longbed with a 22R motor with a 20R head and a non-US L52 5 –speed transmission. It has triple cases, one with stock gears and the other two with 4.7:1 gears. Compound low is 1047:1. The axles have 5.29s and air lockers, the front has Dana 60 outers and a high pinion third member. Other notable equipment include the Premier Power Welder, York air compressor, and 35” Super Swamper SSR tires.

4x4Wire- How often do you get to wheel?

Czajkowski- Never. I had a bad experience where a customer confronted me on the trail because I was out wheeling and his order had not been filled yet. He was right, as long as I have work that needs to be done I cannot take time off to go wheeling. I have been in the shop seven days a week since Christmas.

Have you ever seen so many transfer cases before in your life!
Gearing and wheelbase get Marlin up the Soup Bowl unharmed.

4x4Wire- What organizations/clubs do you belong to

Czajkowski- I am a member of the Bakersfield Trailblazers and I have been a member of Cal4Wheel and the Toyota Land Cruiser Association since 1985, just after I purchased my truck.

4x4Wire- Do you do fabrication and/or installation work in addition to selling products?

Czajkowski-We most definitely do fabrication here. Marlin Crawler is best known for our dual transfer cases but we can do nearly anything that your Toyota Land Cruiser or pickup needs.

Contacts Related Links
  • Marlin Crawler
    1543 North Maple Suite B
    Fresno, CA 93703
    Telephone: (559) 252-7295