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Old 07-29-2007, 05:25 PM   #1
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Newbie Modification Information

After seeing a great many threads on here, I've decided to pitch in a thread that will hopefully help some of you newer guys out when you first start modifying your trucks.

Hopefully it will help you keep from making the same mistakes I did.

First of all, this is a post to try to help guys who want to modify their truck?s off-road performance, not so much for street cool looks. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with looking good, but looking good doesn't equal trail capability.

So, you've bought a 4x4 and you?d like to get some more off-road performance out of it. Awesome. Probably, you are thinking about a lift, right? Please forget about it.

Here is a saying that has been around the net for quite a while: What is cool on the internet or on the street is seldom what is cool on the trail.

The order of importance for different modifications on your truck is as follows.

1. Drivetrain
2. Armor
3. Tires
4. Suspension

Yes, suspension is the least important part of a truck. Why? Because they all accomplish the same thing, which is moving your tires over the terrain. They will get you about as far down the trail as stock. Granted, an otherwise stock truck that has been solid axle swapped with good flex will go farther than a stock IFS truck, but not a ton.

Sooooo, what I?m getting at here is hardware. Hardware makes your truck go. If you are looking to spend some money on a truck, your first consideration should be lockers. Perhaps you can only afford one for the rear, that is fine, get it. Gears are usually recommended when installing lockers, but it isn?t mandatory. If you decide to gear lower in the future, it will cost you an extra 200 for installation that you won?t have to pay if you have them done first off. But that is personal choice. It really depends on what size tire you want to run.

Gears are the next important step, as lower gearing means slower going on the trail. This gives you better control, better torque, and saves clutches. It also involves less ?slamming? up stuff by having to give the truck a lot of skinny pedal. This involves usually two important parts of the vehicle. Differential gearing involves replacing your ring and pinion gears in the differential itself, and is usually a balance of your on road performance with bigger tires. Larger tires will slow a truck down considerably. Regearing the diffs will allow you to keep a more stock feel while running a larger tire. The second step is regearing and/or doubling the transfer case. This provides a much greater ability to crawl or go slow on the trail. For example, a stock drive train (stock transfer case with a reduction of 2.28:1, manual transmission with a 3.95:1 first gear ration, and stock diff gears of 4.1:1) has a crawl ratio of 37:1. With doubled cases and gearing, trucks can get down to 225:1. It is a big difference. Again, benefits are control and less damage by being able to keep the speed down.

Next is armor. Usually, it is recommended that this be done fairly quickly after lockers and gears are installed, as increasing the difficulty of the trails you can drive up will increase the likelihood of body damage. Sliders, bumpers, and underbelly skid plates are all highly recommended. Get what fits your budget, but remember, with all things, you get what you pay for.

Tires are the next thing to look to. There are many threads about brands, sizes, etc. You can choose what you like best. Really, it?s about traction here. What type of wheeling do you see the most? Mud, sand, rocks? I recommend getting the largest size you can get with none, or minor rubbing. Minor rubbing usually occurs on the pinch welds in the fender, and can be easily pounded flat to gain the necessary clearance to eliminate rubbing, and does not affect the cosmetic look of the truck. Tires are the only real way to get ground clearance under your differentials. Lift will leave the axles in the same place as they were. Tires will get your diffs over rocks. In addition, it is important to get a tire that is going to take some abuse. Again, I refer you to the search function on that, so you can make your own decision on brand and genre of tire, as I?m as biased as the rest when it comes to tire choice.

Lastly, look to the suspension.

Here is the deal. If you have put in gearing, lockers, armor, and good tires on a truck, you will be able to drive most of the trails in your area, especially if you?ve ponied up for two lockers. If you have IFS, a suspension lift will get you bigger tires if you really start working your fenders with a sawzall and hammer, and a body lift will get you tires without the need for fender modification, but you?ll still have the crappy flex, and the other issues associated with IFS. Believe it or not, but IFS, especially the early (86-95) IFS, works best stock. No lift, no nothing. In fact, early IFS usually starts to puke steering parts with any sort of lift that changes the steering angles.

In invite you to look up TC, who is a member here. He has a 2nd gen 4runner, and simply has two ARB lockers, and a bunch of armor. No lift, and he runs a 33x1050 tire on it. Minor pinch weld modification and he runs these tires with little or no rubbing. With this set up, he is able to tackle the most difficult trails Colorado has to offer. Check out some of his videos. Now, TC is an AMAZING driver, but even a novice would be able to tackle most trails with the same set up.

If this has all been a jumble of words to you, here are the take home points.

If all you are looking for is to be able to go out and wheel trails with confidence and get up harder obstacles, DO NOT look to your suspension to help you there. Look to the stuff you can?t see.

If you want to look cool driving around town, and aren?t really concerned about getting any farther up the trail than you did before, you just want to look cool while doing it, then look to a lift and monster tires.

Questions are appreciated, post if you have em. Good luck with your builds.
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Old 07-29-2007, 08:52 PM   #2
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Personally, I would do sliders/skids before gears lockers, but AxleIke's thought process is dead on.

Here's what lockers will do for you - no way you make this obstacle with open diffs.
[YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGt2ZwFZKPU[/YOUTUBE]

Last edited by tc; 07-29-2007 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 08-07-2007, 06:10 PM   #3
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Wow. Creepy I read this post now seeing as I was thinking about this just yesterday. Why? Because I simply crunched all the numbers and lift, SAS or IFS brackets, equates to evaporating my money quickly -- lift itself, in some cases bigger rims, gears and installation parts, driveshafts, brake lines, increased wear on everything and likelyhood of busting something , even more crummy fuel mileage, poorer resale value, can't get into some parking complexes (big city dweller, here) and then more engine mods to get back the power loss from all the extra drag. Fergetit.

For my case, factory 31" tires is already a great size for this size of truck, and keeping them, I get factory reliablity, fit, the parts store has my service parts, speedo, ECM/ABS lights work and don't light up (get to keep my factory 4.88 gears that are paid for!), on and on.

Lockers, aggressive 31" mud tires, proper underbelly/chassis/body reinforcement should go pretty far for the terrain here in S. Ontario. Anyone got a 4 cyl. non ADD front axle and hubs for sale? Bonus if you're in Ontario.
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Old 08-16-2007, 07:06 AM   #4
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Man, you really got me thing now. After crunching numbers, I was getting depressed. What would you suggest for an 82 solid axle. The 5.29 gears and lockers aside, how do I cram those 33's in there. If I could get by with that, I could do my power steering upgrade too. Do you think 2" shackles and rebuilt hangers would get me there? Are am I thinking too elaborate again. I like simplicity. Thanks for this write up. You got my head cleared of all the "I need this to go far".
Thanks,
Tim
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Old 08-16-2007, 08:17 AM   #5
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That idea would work for the rear. However, you should get some advice from someone who knows SA trucks better than I for the front. If you start messing with longer shackles, I believe you will mess with caster angle, which can affect your steering and on road handling.

I suggest a PM to 4Crawler on the board here for starters. He is an amazing resource, and should be able to handle all of your questions.

Secondly, unless you plan on going to 35's or bigger someday, 5.29 may be overkill for 33's. Unless you have an Auto tranny, in which case that would be a good bet.
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Old 08-16-2007, 09:07 AM   #6
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That idea would work for the rear. However, you should get some advice from someone who knows SA trucks better than I for the front. If you start messing with longer shackles, I believe you will mess with caster angle, which can affect your steering and on road handling.

I suggest a PM to 4Crawler on the board here for starters. He is an amazing resource, and should be able to handle all of your questions.

Secondly, unless you plan on going to 35's or bigger someday, 5.29 may be overkill for 33's. Unless you have an Auto tranny, in which case that would be a good bet.
Thanks, for the info and help. I would love to go to 35's at some point. However, I think I will go with 4:88's. Due to the much needed powere steering swap, it looks like I will be trailing 31's, then going to 33's due to budget. I drove my 89 with 31's with success. I guess I can tough it out again till I get the 33's. I mainly just want to build a clean/reliable, road/trail worthy rig. It will probably be my sons one day in the future.

Last edited by blu82project; 08-16-2007 at 09:08 AM.
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Old 09-19-2007, 01:10 AM   #7
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Makes sense with the drive train coming first... I just can't stand having open diffs. I would be able to get SOO much further with something as simple as a posi.
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Old 09-19-2007, 01:37 AM   #8
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Thumbs up

this is a excellent thread

Quote:
The order of importance for different modifications on your truck is as follows.

1. Drivetrain
2. Armor
3. Tires
4. Suspension
im going to put that list on a sticky note and put it in my 4runner

Last edited by Knuckles; 09-19-2007 at 01:38 AM.
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Old 09-21-2007, 07:32 AM   #9
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Thanks for this thread! I just picked up my '85 SR5 4Runner and was wondering what the best, most efficient trail mod path is. Here's a good guideline.

I am coming from a nicely built street car that had amazing brakes, so I feel like the braking on the 4Runner sucks! Is this a common mod too?
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Old 09-21-2007, 10:34 AM   #10
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No. Brakes are usually not modified. Many do, but it isn't usually the first mod, or even a common mod.

You can't drive it like a sports car. Slow and steady.
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Old 09-21-2007, 10:51 AM   #11
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Thanks for this thread! I just picked up my '85 SR5 4Runner and was wondering what the best, most efficient trail mod path is. Here's a good guideline.

I am coming from a nicely built street car that had amazing brakes, so I feel like the braking on the 4Runner sucks! Is this a common mod too?
Actually there is a brake mod for the straight axle trucks, although as Ike said, it's probably not the first thing on everyones list. It involves putting on rotors from an FJ ( I think 40 and 60 series are the same part but I wouldn't swear to it) and calipers from an IFS application (86-95) or an FJ 60/62. What you get is vented rotors with larger/beefier calipers that bolt right up. The nice thing with this mod is that you can just wait until your current brakes are finished and swap in different parts. There are write-ups about it around if you want to search it out. There are also rear disc swaps around (search YT member Elvota for a write up) but personally that would be waaaay down the line on my mod list.

Edit: IIRC on the front brake swap you might have to grind or pound a bit on your brake backing plate to get the IFS calipers to fit. It's minimal, but it's not completely bolt on as I wrote above.

Last edited by BLKNBLU; 09-21-2007 at 11:10 AM. Reason: additional info
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Old 10-09-2007, 07:09 PM   #12
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great info, will be looking into lockers instead of lift now!
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:59 PM   #13
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Information for noobs like me.

thank you, AxleIke. Very informative.
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Old 10-10-2007, 11:07 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by BLKNBLU View Post
Actually there is a brake mod for the straight axle trucks, although as Ike said, it's probably not the first thing on everyones list. It involves putting on rotors from an FJ ( I think 40 and 60 series are the same part but I wouldn't swear to it) and calipers from an IFS application (86-95) or an FJ 60/62. What you get is vented rotors with larger/beefier calipers that bolt right up. The nice thing with this mod is that you can just wait until your current brakes are finished and swap in different parts. There are write-ups about it around if you want to search it out. There are also rear disc swaps around (search YT member Elvota for a write up) but personally that would be waaaay down the line on my mod list.

Edit: IIRC on the front brake swap you might have to grind or pound a bit on your brake backing plate to get the IFS calipers to fit. It's minimal, but it's not completely bolt on as I wrote above.
I've already collected a set of v6 calipers, master cylinder and brake booster from a '95 4Runner. I just need to get the rotors and SS brake lines. All the parts I already have were from a cheap donor vehicle. The locker is in the mail too!
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Old 10-21-2007, 08:05 PM   #15
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Good thread. Thanks for the info! Do you think 33s are the minimum to make it the most capable trail rig? I'm in CO too.
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Old 10-21-2007, 08:07 PM   #16
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Good thread. Thanks for the info! Do you think 33s are the minimum to make it the most capable trail rig? I'm in CO too.
No. IMO you don't even need 33's. Just lockers, and stuff.
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Old 10-21-2007, 08:12 PM   #17
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No. IMO you don't even need 33's. Just lockers, and stuff.
I agree, but I have been reading thread after thread after thread where people go back and forth saying the 1/2"-1" of ground clearance under your diffs can make you or break you. I'm ready to buy tires now and I'm trying to decide. I'd hate to get 31's/32's and wish I had 33's.
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Old 10-22-2007, 11:20 AM   #18
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33's are not required for anything. They are the largest tire you can fit without lifting the truck or serious fender modification. 33's will not make a truck capable. As said, that is what lockers and gears do.

33's give you ground clearnace. Make or break? Negatory. Lockers will make or break a trail. 33's vs 32's will not.

I like Performance Offroad Center. http://www.performanceoffroadcenter.com/

I also recomend TRDParts4U. They are a vendor here, and it is always good to support vendors. You will have to contact them through here to get the deals. PORC is not affilated with YT.

Last edited by AxleIke; 10-22-2007 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 10-22-2007, 12:32 PM   #19
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33's make or break? Maybe not.

Really kicking yourself for not doing them when you had to buy tires anyways ... DEFINITELY
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Old 10-22-2007, 03:46 PM   #20
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1 other thing to consider is that 33's are often a "qualifier" or "requirement" for certain trail runs with some groups.

I know, it's silly, but it is what it is...
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