Comment

Budget Build - 1st Generation 4Runner

The 4Runner build started off like any other - buy a junk truck for cheap, find a motor to throw in it and have the cheap truck find of the century. In the case of this one, it transitioned from cheap transportation to a beautiful budget build. Everyones kind of truck. Life for this 4runner was grim when we picked it up. Being named "Dale" by the previous owner was bad enough, but leaving "Dale" sitting without tires AND a broken timing chain was a stake through our hearts. We picked "Dale" up for about ~750.00 and a few hours of our time on a cold spring day. "Dale" needed some help to live. 

"Dale" arrived home on four mis-matched wheels and got a spot behind the FJ40 project we hope to start one day.

"Dale" arrived home on four mis-matched wheels and got a spot behind the FJ40 project we hope to start one day.

The first step in helping "Dale" live was figuring out what to put in place of his broken heart. We had a block but no head and no accessories. We called in some favors and located one a good drive away that was powering a 4runner named "Snoopy". "Snoopy" was a very modified rock buggy and the owner was very sad to pull it all out as it meant "Snoopy" would be gone and the parting out process would officially start. 

The heart of "Snoopy" ready to be transmitted into the body of "Dale". 

The heart of "Snoopy" ready to be transmitted into the body of "Dale". 

"Dale" was getting a heart transplant and while "Dales" heart was out, we decided to give it a total reseal. "Dales" new heart was clean on the inside and mostly clean on the outside. It was ready for the surgery. We mated it to the 5-spd transmission with a Centerforce Stage II clutch. 

We put the 285/75r16 tires on it for temporary rollers. 

We put the 285/75r16 tires on it for temporary rollers. 

300 miles after the install we had an issue with water mixing with the oil and the machine shop diagnosed it as a casting alignment issue where the cylinder casting was off by the factory in the boring causing the cylinder wall to be to thin. Thankfully we bought "Dale" with a donor block and we brought it back from the dead. After a long visit with the machinist, "Dales" block was set under "Snoopys" cylinder head. It was the winning combination.  

"Dale" was no longer "Dale" and we opted to leave it nameless for the time being. At this point it's worth noting that the ownership of the 4Runner was changed - it officially became Will's first vehicle. The 4Runner would stay in Missouri until the 'kinks' had been worked out and the truck was known to be reliable. Will visited frequently to help with little odds and ends. He adapted quickly and learned everything I offered up. We did a few things before it was transported to Will permanetly. 

We addressed some issues quickly and others would take time to pop up. It was 28 years old at the time Will took ownership. One thing we noticed was a loose pinion flange on the rear axle. After inspecting, the rear ring and pinion weren't up for a rebuild. Will opted to upgrade from 4.10:1 to a 4.30:1 gear set I had lurking in the garage and we made it happen. Sometime later, I received a tire budget and made some recommendations. Will decided on the Kenda Klever M/T in the 235/85R16 variety. For the protection of the rear, keeping 'budget' in mind, Will opted for the Trail Gear tube bumper. It was a simple install and Will was able to help install one weekend while they visited. That same weekend we installed a 3rd Generation brake master and booster upgrade. Sliders were installed shortly after and the vehicle was ready for its trip south, to warmer temperatures.

Rear bumpers and tires installed. 

Rear bumpers and tires installed. 

Sliders on and truck on truck - ready for the 3 hour drive to surprise Will!

Sliders on and truck on truck - ready for the 3 hour drive to surprise Will!

Comment

1 Comment

#3rdworldbumper1stworldvehicle

It's not exceptionally well known that the GX470 is a fancier version of the Toyota Prado 120 Series Land Cruiser. Most of the body, frame, drivetrain, etc. will interchange between the two. 

Putting an ARB meant for the Prado on the front of the GX isn't unheard of. It requires some... trimming... to fit properly. What kind of trimming? Well, fender trimming. The ARB instructions aren't terribly difficult to follow and will suffice for the majority of the install. 

Getting to this part was very easy. ARB instructions were on point.

Getting to this part was very easy. ARB instructions were on point.

There are two lines that must be bent. They are highlighted in yellow. 

These two lines - power steering I think - need bent a tad. 

These two lines - power steering I think - need bent a tad. 

Another point the ARB directions leave out is the removal of this bracing. I've highlighted it in orange. 

A few bolts hold this in place. 

A few bolts hold this in place. 

You'll want to remove the fender flares at this point. It is not difficult. Some plastic pry tools make it easier. Don't have any? A soft plastic spatula from the kitchen will suffice. 

Now here is the biggest, most treacherous step of the process. Cutting your fenders! I recommend starting small and moving slowly from there. 

My initial markings for what needed cut.

My initial markings for what needed cut.

First cut wasn't enough. 

First cut wasn't enough. 

Taking a little more.

Taking a little more.

Red Arrow: Keep that tab if at all possible.  Green Arrow: That bracket would benefit in being relocated. With some ingenuity and tweaking, I was able to drill a hole and affix it to the fender further up (near the green circle). 

Red Arrow: Keep that tab if at all possible. 
Green Arrow: That bracket would benefit in being relocated. With some ingenuity and tweaking, I was able to drill a hole and affix it to the fender further up (near the green circle). 

The cut above was enough to fit my bumper. There are a few things beyond cutting I would strong recommend doing (see photo with arrows).

After several 'take a little off here, snip here' sessions the bumper should fit. ARB recommends giving 25MM clearance between the bumper and headlights/fenders. I set it at an inch (25.4MM) and went from there. 

Excuse the mess. The garage hasn't been cleaned since the previous spring challenge. 

Excuse the mess. The garage hasn't been cleaned since the previous spring challenge. 

I spent a good portion of time tweaking the fitment and trimming small portions off the fenders until I felt positive it fit perfectly. Make sure you are 1000% happy with the fitment of the bumper and go through the 'pinning' process listed in the ARB instructions. 

Fender flares on. 

Fender flares on. 

Trimming the fender flares is akin to trimming the fenders. I trimmed the smallest amount possible until the flare would fit snugly on the bumper. I spaced an outline 1/2" from the snug fit. I did this in smaller increments until the fender flares matched the bumper. A little at a time. For this process I used a jigsaw with a fine-tooth blade. 

Passenger Side

Passenger Side

Driver Side

Driver Side

The finished product.

The finished product.

Whats next in the crazy GX build? Winch, I think!

1 Comment

Comment

XPYLXY? OVRLXY? The thoughtful violation of a luxury vehicle.

I was caught by the 'new project' bug. Hard and heavy, with time being the only known cure. Interestingly enough, this little bout of weakness came at the same time as V deciding she wanted some extra seats to haul around some kiddos. Que the search for an 06-09 4Runner, V8 and 3rd row seats. This was the end of April. We looked at over a dozen 4Runners, driving over 12 hours one day to look at three. For giggles we test drove a GX470 (04, KDSS, Nav, etc.) and V didn't think it was worth the extra money. As of the wee hours of May 3rd, we were through looking. With my annual pilgrimage to Overland Expo less than two weeks away I decided I would drop some money into the OCS Taco. It needed rear brakes, strut bushings and a few odd bits. I decided to upgrade some of the rear suspension with different bump stops and larger ubolts. Once the search was suspended I hit 'order' on a few different websites and the money was gone. Items had shipped and I was prepping the garage for a tacofest. On May 4th (May the fourth be with you!?) V sent me a craigslist ad to a GX470 in Kansas City, roughly 7 hours round trip. It was straight up perfect for us. Body was straight, few dings and knicks. Mechanically? 41, YES, FORTY ONE service records. EVERY OIL CHANGE, EVERY TIRE ROTATION, EVERY SINGLE VISIT TO THE DEALERSHIP. It had a radiator under warranty at 71k, an alternator at 109K (Autozone Alternator, Lexus dealer install?) and a variety of other little things. 

Fast forward several hours, some bargaining and a lengthy semi-illegal 3.5 hour drive home in the wee-hours of the morning, some excited giggling as I foot-smash the throttle every chance I can to feel the V8 POWAHHH and you'll have V and I, looking at the impulse buy of the century. 

It's obviously a GX470, which means it is a Lexus. Specifically:

05 Lexus GX470
Non-KDSS
Nav, AHC, etc.
133,XXX on the odo
Metal-tech rear airbag delete kit w/FJC rear coils.
Rear sitting about 3/4" above rear bumpstop. 

 

Its so... unsoiled?

Its so... unsoiled?

The swing-out door is one my favorite bits.

The swing-out door is one my favorite bits.

Initial impression was excellent. Power was fantastic. Ride was smooth until you hit the smallest bump in the road, then it was harsh. There was no uptravel - the truck rode on its bump stops. A slight pull to the right and a vibration above 75 were the only two immediate concerns.

Maybe saying it had 3/4" of clearance is stretching it a little. We soaked EVERYTHING in Seafoam as soon as it was on the lift to help alleviate rust induced issues. 

Maybe saying it had 3/4" of clearance is stretching it a little. We soaked EVERYTHING in Seafoam as soon as it was on the lift to help alleviate rust induced issues. 

Right - we have a new-to-us platform and I'm planning on driving it on a 3 week, 3500 mile road trip tackling Moab and SW Colorado handling some crazy terrain and trying to keep up with a group of guys on 34"+ tires with lockers and armor and winches and months, if not years to build their vehicles to the extent they have. In fact, I helped build over 1/2 of the vehicles in the group. Only 11 days until I wanted to leave to Expo. It's Thursday, two day shipping means it'll arrive Monday. Give me two days to get it all together and it's Wednesday. Align it on Thursday. Build sliders Friday. Install sliders Saturday. Pack Sunday. Leave Monday. Totally doable, right?! I forgot the part where I prep my life for a disappearance of 21 days. 

May 5th - I swing into my go-to tire and alignment shop, RTF Tire, and we pull it up on the lift. A general inspection showed some concerns. Mainly surface rust. Lots of surface rust on the rear axle. We check each corner of the truck and this is what we found:

Rear brake pads are severely worn. 
Front passenger wheel bearing has enough play to warrant replacement.
CV Boots are non-existent (I knew this going into the purchase).
Small weep from transfercase output seal. 
Needs alignment. 

Not bad - Time is short so I call around and find what I can source locally. No luck on a wheel bearing until Monday. Reman CV axles can be had that afternoon. Brake pads were in stock. Scheduled an alignment for the following Wednesday and went to the computer. 

I'm a massive fan of Amazon Prime. I won't lie. I source a MOOG wheel bearing with the "Country of Origin" listed as Japan. It can be delivered Saturday. Sweet. 

At this point I'm very intent on figuring out how I want to go about lifting this truck. The words "Do it once and do it right" stick with me, as a cheap set of spring pucks aren't going to last me very long. Here is what I came up with:

OME Medium Coils at all four corners (#2895, #2885)
KYB Rear shocks (#344358)
Bilstein 5100 Front struts (#24-239370)
KYB Strut Mounts (#SM5640)

I had a few favors to cash in and sourced all of it, including the two day shipping (Fedex for Saturday delivery), for $586.00.

The Bilsteins, rear shocks and Strut Mounts arrived Saturday. The coils were delayed and the Fedex branch they were shipped doesn't deliver on Monday. Ouch.  

I spent the weekend doing a few important things. I removed running boards, fixed the wheel bearing, swapped CV axles, changed plugs and changed the timing belt and water pump using Aisin kit #TKT021.

Not bad for original plugs at 133K.

Not bad for original plugs at 133K.

Okay - The hardest part of the entire process was a single bolt on the AC Compressor. 

Okay - The hardest part of the entire process was a single bolt on the AC Compressor. 

Monday rolled around and the coils were at the Fedex Hub on a locked truck and the driver couldn't be reached to unlock it. He wasn't scheduled to come in until the following morning. They offer to expedite it so I'll have it first thing in the morning. The parts didn't arrive until Tuesday at 4:30PM, around 3 hours later than Fedex typically delivers. 

I hit some snags, mainly rust related, and was unable to meet the Wednesday alignment time. On a brighter note, my tires arrived Wednesday. 

RTF sent me this as a surprise. 275/70R17 BFG K02.

RTF sent me this as a surprise. 275/70R17 BFG K02.

A good snug fit in the back of the Tacoma.

A good snug fit in the back of the Tacoma.

I went with the K02 - Having seen the tires on various vehicles I knew I liked them aestetically. What convinced me was there performance at Hurricane Expo last Fall. For an A/T tire, they kicked the ST Maxx I was running at the time to the curb for mud performance. 

As soon as the coils arrived I tackled the rear suspension and then the front. I was so engrossed in the process I didn't take a single photo. Enjoy the fruits of my labor. 
 

From the garage to the yard. 

From the garage to the yard. 

Up on the alignment machine. RTF is kind enough to allow me to do work myself using their hunter machine. 

Up on the alignment machine. RTF is kind enough to allow me to do work myself using their hunter machine. 

I did end up having to do a BMC for clearance issues. 

I did end up having to do a BMC for clearance issues. 

Step Sliders.

Step Sliders.

Fully packed and ready to roll to Flagstaff for Expo. 

Fully packed and ready to roll to Flagstaff for Expo. 

Somewhere in Texas. 

Somewhere in Texas. 

Oklahoma was rain, Texas was fog and New Mexico was wind. 

Oklahoma was rain, Texas was fog and New Mexico was wind. 

The perfect beginning of the new future for the Lexus. 

The perfect beginning of the new future for the Lexus. 

Comment