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89 pickup to flatbed conversion

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Old 03-24-2017, 08:00 AM
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89 pickup to flatbed conversion

Hey everyone, I've been lurking these boards and many others for some months now. Out of all the forums this seemed to have the most informative ideas and expert Toyota tinkerers. I wanted to share my rebuild and conversion story and also ask for any help and direction.

Basicially, my grandpa had a 1989 toyota pickup DLX 2.4 22RE. He stopped driving in 2010 because of old age so my mother put it on non-op. come 2016 I decided to pull it out from under the fig tree and weeds. It was literally covered in fig EVERYWHERE. The paint job was ruined, there were major dents, cracked grill, rat crap and all sorts of tools in the interior. Luckily my grandpa, like any old man, put seat covers on his truck from day one. Anyways, the only issue was the fuel pump was dead and as soon as we fixed it the engine started right up. I then decided it worthy to convert to a flatbed. I chose a flatbed because I fabricate and install railing and fencing for a living. It is large in size (4' x 8' - 6' x 8') yet not very heavy so I figured the truck could easy maneuver and carry a small jobs worth of railing, all my larger jobs I just use my diesel Isuzu 20' flatbed.

PICTURES ON BOTTOM LINK

These are all the things I fixed on the truck for now engine and suspension wise.
- new spark plugs
- new spark plug cables and rotor
- new air filter
- new oil and oil filter
- new battery cables (+ to starter/fusible link - to fender/engine block) and new battery
- new fuel pump
- new fuel filter
- new shocks (front and rear)
there are no vacuum leaks, the engine runs very smoothly at idle at ~800 RPM.

Thats all I can remember. basically I need help figuring out what to do to increase this trucks ability to carry more weight and safely.

Can I add a new leaf stack? Or is that pointless without beefing up the axles? Can I swap in a dually? Is it WAY to much money and work for minor enhancement?

Smog check weighed my truck at 3750 and max payload on my truck saids 4550. Does that mean I can only carry 800 lbs safely?

I will be making money off this truck so I do NOT mind investing money into it. The engine is in amazing condition and runs very well, 75mph on the highway is effortless. I am willing to even pay someone for their information, knowledge and know how. If you told me exactly what upgrades are giving me the best bang for my buck and how to generally do them I will gladly shoot you a few hundred so long as I can rely on you for any follow up questions. I have an entire welding shop and a myriad of car tools at my disposal and another mechanic who helps me after work if I get stuck anywhere.

Im basically looking for two things
- to increase payload and handling at higher payloads
- all the basic upgrades to this engine before I take it out for work

Thanks so much, if you want specific pics please let me know, I will upload the drum breaks moving and the engine sound soon.

LINK TO PICTURES---->>> http://imgur.com/a/LvwfN

Last edited by eurojoe; 03-26-2017 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:54 AM
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Last edited by eurojoe; 03-26-2017 at 08:16 PM.
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Old 03-24-2017, 09:10 AM
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Good job on the bed man. Looks nice. My biggest concern would be the amount of overhang after the axle but I'm sure you've loaded plenty of trucks to know how to load properly. I had an 86 with a helper spring and firestone airbags. It was a great set up. I hauled a lot of rescue equipment for urban search and rescue as well as my dog box. I would think brakes would be your primary concern. Either an upgrade to a better drum or even a disc conversion.
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Old 03-24-2017, 02:50 PM
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Red face

You might want to look into Super Springs But you need new leaf springs for it all to work correct.

You might want to look at General Springs website

Now I have them on my Tacoma and have had as much as 2000 pounds of cargo Not something I would do all the time but it got the job done.

Most days are 800to 1200 pounds and towing another 2000 pounds

I am still not sure about these brake upgrades !!

You take old worn out brakes and replace it all with new of course it feels so much better.

I just keep the stock brake system maintened
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Old 03-24-2017, 04:18 PM
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Thank you for that advice, I'm looking into he spring systems.

Can I just add these springs to my truck or would it be pointless if the rear axle is left stock?

Also, I notice are those welders in your avatar?
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Old 03-24-2017, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by flg8r22 View Post
Good job on the bed man. Looks nice. My biggest concern would be the amount of overhang after the axle but I'm sure you've loaded plenty of trucks to know how to load properly. I had an 86 with a helper spring and firestone airbags. It was a great set up. I hauled a lot of rescue equipment for urban search and rescue as well as my dog box. I would think brakes would be your primary concern. Either an upgrade to a better drum or even a disc conversion.
Yah I will definitely not be loading anything only past the axle. Everything gets loaded near the headache rack.

Airbags sound real good! Never thought about that.
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:12 PM
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Red face

Yes those are welders !!

My axle is stock now if your into jumping your truck you might want to truss your axle.

Normal driving you should be fine.

Unless something is broken that needs attention
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Old 03-24-2017, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by wyoming9 View Post
Yes those are welders !!

My axle is stock now if your into jumping your truck you might want to truss your axle.

Normal driving you should be fine.

Unless something is broken that needs attention
Would I be able to weld something on my axle to increase payload?
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Old 03-24-2017, 09:54 PM
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What do you guys think about doing a full-floater? Or is that overkill for the truck
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Old 03-25-2017, 12:01 AM
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Could gusset the axle housing. Rock crawlers do that quite often to beef up the hosuing. The 3rd members and extremely strong, but the housing can twist with the double transfercase setup and oversized tires.

For the leaf springs, if you're going to haul heavy loads, add a few leafs to your stack and reclamp it. Factory is around 4 leafs, so 2-3 more would stiffen up the rear end pretty well. My dad's done that with a truck he built ages ago from a 73 chevy pickup frame, ford axles, home built box, and a station wagon front end he converted into a cab. He had 13 leafs in his stacks, dully 1 ton axle and used to haul scrap a lot, so the back was chucked full of engine blocks, and two stuffed cars on the trailer.

Brakes is an interesting topic, I talked and researched a lot for a guy with a 87 1 ton camper. Long story short, his upgrade was to use a T100 brake booster to give more braking assistance. His front calipers are 67mm single piston, but haven't been able to confirm much details about upgrading it to a 4x4 style caliper (if it fits or not). His 67 front caliper is most likely an upgrade for your truck (probably 60mm, so ~10% better brakes in the front). T100 booster was something like 25-30% upgrade over his factory unit. Yours is likely a single diaphragm, so the T100 booster might be a little over kill and it's a very tight fit by his description. With bigger front calipers comes the possibility of needing to upgrade the master cylinder to a slightly larger size if the brake pedal goes too close to the floor. It will make the pedal stiffer/harder to press, but will move more fluid and make the pedal have to move less distance.

For axles, there is a 1 ton dully axle that should basically bolt in your truck from either a 1 ton pickup or 1 ton cab and chasis (camper, uhaul, etc). They are quite uncommon and generally are high prices ($300-500). You might be able to find a land cruiser axle for cheaper and probably much more common, but mounting might take fab work. Research axle widths to find what model of land cruiser would be best for you.

Reg Cab 1986 4x4 pickup has a GVWT 5080 and my 98 T100 4x4 is 6000lbs. Not sure how exactly they come up with those numbers, but it generally seems to revolve around braking ability and rear suspension/axle capacity.
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Old 03-25-2017, 08:55 AM
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So I decided to do the following upgrade and keep it like this for a few months. In the future I might do a full axle upgrade to either the old dually or a free floater but that is down the road if I think it is worth it.

I will start to do the following
- custom leaf spring pack (do you have any resources for matching leaf sizes so I can hunt down the right ones in local wreck yards?)
- air bags or springs. I will definitely do one but which one?
- Rear brakes (either upgrade the drum or install disk brakes)

I have a 1999 4runner in my backyard for parts. Will those disc brakes fit? Any parts worth putting onto my truck?

Thanks so far for the ideas guys, really setting me into a direction.
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Old 03-25-2017, 09:58 AM
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I used the same firestone bags in my 86 as I did in my 04 Chevy. I towed thousands of bank repos with the Chevy and never had an issue with the bags so I put the same one on the 86. I didn't see the need for the compressor on it so I installed the valve
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Old 03-25-2017, 10:21 AM
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Awesome! Airbags are a must than. I will just install valves, I have an air compressor ready to go at home at all times.

Here is some pics and photos.

-The engine---->

-the exhaust system leaking water and stinks like exhaust------->


wrecked 4Runner door tag, any parts worth putting on my truck?
4runner tag, any parts worth putting onto my truck? The GAWR is 3000 vs my trucks 2650
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Old 03-25-2017, 03:41 PM
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4runner would have coil rear axles, might work easier with bags? I don't know a whole lot about air bags, just they level out the vehicle with loads. Semi trucks use them (or did), and large motor homes. If the back end sagged too much with the load, you'd just add more air, kind of like an adjustable spring. I think one of the parts trucks I bought had air bags on the axle, if I come across it I'll have to get some photos of the setup.

The 4runner looks like it might have been a 2wd version? The rear axle is 7.5in which I think is odd for having the v6 (first A in the axle code A03A), 03 is 4.10 gear ratio, and the last A is 2 pinion diff. Nothing special about it, but it's a good spare for your truck and it might lower the gearing in it for better take off power.

Axle code on your truck is F302 which is the "old" style of code. F = 7.5in, 30 = 3.727 gear ratio, and 2 = 2 pinion.

I'm not 100% sure, but I'm thinking the 7.5in housing can accept the 8in 3rd members. You could find a 4.10 8in 3rd member fairly easy since it's very common in the 4x4 pickups atleast. Generally they are 4 pinion for v6. If you can't find one locally, I have a couple extras, just have to validate the interchange and be sure you want the lower gearing (MPG will suffer for empty, might be slightly better while loaded).

Back to the 4runner, from my understanding the front brakes are both the 4x4 style for 2wd and 4x4 models, I couldn't find good info if they can be swapped over or not. Your front brakes do around 60% of the braking or so, so upgrading front brakes is a good first step. Brake booster upgrade would give you a softer pedal (hits the brakes easier). Not sure about rear drum upgrades, I suspect a T100 or Tundra setup would be possible. Personally would stay away from rear rotor on a pickup, but a lot of people like to do the swap for some reason. Wet rotors are no fun with a load.
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Old 03-26-2017, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by atcfixer View Post
........

Very interesting, I had a very busy weekend but I am thoroughly researching all your ideas. I will let you know. Here are more pics of the leafs and of the shocks.

These are my rear shocks---> https://www.summitracing.com/parts/mon-37073st
I added an Add A Leaf from amazon like $20 a piece

(these were upgrades I did about a month or two ago) Should I get new shocks completely? These weren't even that expensive to begin with so I don't mind throwing em away, I will probably just swap them to the front ones (the front ones are the cheapest Monroe shocks at Napa Auto)

Also, is there a refernce chart for which springs fit my truck anywhere? Or should I just measure length, curve depth, and general tolerances? Any specific truck springs to seek out at junk yards?


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Old 03-26-2017, 09:13 PM
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I've seen a chart posted around a couple times. Everyone seems to reference "chevy 63in springs". If you keep your main and the helper directly under it, as long as the width is right you can add leafs from basically anything. You'd just need a longer U bolt for the rear axle if you get the pack too tall. Always stack longest on top, shortest on bottom. My dad's 13 leaf setup was probably 2-3 (or so?) 1/2 ton packs from misc junk trucks he had in the yard at the time. Never had any problems with the leaf spring setup, he had a problem with a broken frame and hitting a huge pine tree at 70 though. Impact was so strong it broke his front axle at the pumpkin and he had a huge pipe bumper setup on it (wish I had photos of it).

I suspect most 1/2 ton domestic trucks would be the right width, fords might be too wide, I think they generally run around 3in and the others are more like 2.5in.

If you're going to be hauling a lot on the truck/hitch, you might want to look into beefing up your frame a bit from the back to just before the front IFS suspension. Boxed frames are strong, but they do flex a bit with large loads. My dad's 82 Toyota pickup handled a lot in the bed (engine blocks and cast iron from memory), so might be a bit of a null point.

Also an update on the brakes stuff, the guy with the camper reported back that the T100 booster is almost too much, brakes are very sensitive and he can lock the front tires up with ease on gravel roads which wasn't possible before. Here's the thread reference which goes into a lot of math/details that I tried to search out (I like learning this stuff). Can't say it's all 100% perfect, but the results suggest I'm atleast close . Currently he only upgraded the brake booster, and has newer pads on the front. He also seems to have air ride too, maybe factory for larger 1 ton campers?

https://www.yotatech.com/forums/f116...lugged-299391/
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Old 03-26-2017, 09:21 PM
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Thanks for the info, im going to start leaf hunting next week. Maybe ill do a total of 5 (so ill add 2 per side) and also will be doing brake upgrades (all new drums and hardware for rear and maybe better discs upfront + a new master cylinder)

would changing my pumpkin to a different ratio (the 3.7 to 4.10) help me take off while loaded easier? I don't understand differential ratios at all.
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Old 03-26-2017, 09:39 PM
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To simplify the gear ratio talk, think of it as a bike-cycle, if you had to turn the peddles 10 times for 1 turn of the rear tire, that's 10:1 ratio, if you had to turn it 50 times per 1 turn of the tires, that's 50:1. The higher number is "lower" geared. In tech type of talk, the effective torque is higher with the lower gearing (higher number), so towing, take off etc will be easier. The down side is, you'll be running higher rpm in your highest gear which almost always results in poorer MPG and some people feeling their engine's going to blow up going 70mph. Converting from 3.7 to 4.10 is a pretty major jump, something like 10%. Exact same effect would be from running a 10% smaller sized tire (say you have 30in tires, 27in would be 10% smaller). This basically translate to 10% higher rpm in each gear. If you normally run 3000 rpm at 70mph, with the new gearing it would be 3300 rpm. This also effects your speedometer, again 10%. What used to be 55mpg will be 50mpg. Using a GPS generally gives you a good idea of what speed your going so you can learn the new points to drive at.

The good news on all of this is the 3rd members are quite easy to change. 4 bolts on each side holds the axles in, the brake lines to deal with (and bleed if you have to disconnect), and the bolts around the 3rd member after draining the fluid. No shimming or special tools really needed assuming the other 3rd member is in good shape. If I remember right, the rear axle takes 75w90 GL5 fluid. For brands I highly recommend red line, but it's expensive. I did a full fluid change on my Tacoma (trans, transfer, and axles) with it, and cold start middle of winter, I got about 2mpg better till axles warmed up, then it got the normal mpg. Shifts were nice and smooth, felt like the trans was always warm, or it was summer type of shifting, but in the middle of winter (down to -15F around here)
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Old 03-26-2017, 09:44 PM
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Yes that totally makes sense! Well i will haul some semi light loads soon and i will let you know how i feel. If i think it needs more oomph on takeoff i might change the gearing.

i have 15" tires 205/65r15 with 15x6 rims 0 offset so thats an upgrade from the stock 14"
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Old 03-26-2017, 10:07 PM
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Those tires sound quite tiny. Based on the online calc site thing I found, it says your tires are 25.5 inches tall. Pretty sure the 4x4's were standard with 28in with an option for 31in. 28in was generally 4.10 gearing, and the 31in could be 4.10 or 4.56 and uncommonly 4.88 (my Tacoma was 4.10). My 2wd truck did have quite small tires too and it just didn't look right. I threw on bigger tires mainly cuz it needed tires and that's all I had around on hand. I did the opposite effect and got higher gearing which boosted my mpg a little. The rear axle in that truck was 3.54 or something like that, so even higher geared than yours, but the 25-30mpg was nice.

I googled for the factory size for a 2wd and 25.5in is factory size. That brings up another point, check to see if the tire is a "P" or "LT" or blank. P or blank is a passenger car tire, LT is for light truck. If you're hauling stuff, you want some good tires with strong side walls. At least a load range C minimum, but D or E would be better. I ran load range E's on my Tacoma, but that was 32in lol. My T100 has load range C's and loading the back up with wood to the height of the cab (i have side racks), the tires squat a bit. I really need atleast D's for the loads I'm hauling. It also has 32in tires from the last owners. Higher the load range, stiffer the side wall and thicker the tire, and higher the tire pressure, so it will ride rougher from the tire change. Larger tires generally can off set the ride a little, but then again that's effecting your gearing again lol. If you're happy with the current gearing, you could swap the 3rd member and put 28in tires on which matches the factory 4x4 size (225 75 R15). Basically you'd be lowering the gear ratio at the axle, then gearing it back up about the same from the tire size increase. Bigger tires also helps off road generally, but for a 2wd I suspect that's not your goal. You might have to check for clearance in the front, but I put atleast 28in tires on the back of my 2wd pickup.

Also to note, with the larger rims, you could run larger calipers assuming something from a 4x4 would fit. Newer model 4runners and such require a 16in rim, so those are probably out of your range.

A little note on my 32in tires, 32in seems to be very popular on the domestic trucks. Most dully trucks run 235 85 R16, and they take 4 tires in the back, so it's a very common size, so in turn the tires are a bit cheaper. My last set was $500 shipped for a more aggressive mud style tire. I think the ones on my T100 are probably common for the front tires on the dully trucks (wider version of the same height), and I've seen them listed pretty cheap too, around $470 for a set of 4 locally and are very aggressive mud tires. Mud tires are generally really expensive, seen plenty of sets that retail $800-1200 for a set of 4, just nuts.
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