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Stealth 4x4 12-25-2010 10:50 PM

Toyzilla in the Stealth Family
So I bought Kevin's (Zanyzonies) old '85 4Runner (Toyzilla) from Brian, and decided even though its pretty much built already, I'd start a thread here and just keep track of what I do to it to make it mine.

I don't know how long it'll take me to get her buttoned up, or how long I'll be able to wait before I take her out for a run... but I should have Zilla "trail ready" in a month or two. I mean, she's a little old and needs some TLC, but is mostly already built as you guys know. Before I take it out and really work it on a hard trail I'd like to order some parts and get some more recovery gear for the rig, work on the winch (replace it if needed), get some new mirrors I can see out of, fix the horn, get a hi-lift jack for it, get a CB and stereo working in it, replace the busted center console so it'll close and stuff will stay in there, etc.

In terms of large items its mostly just the steering (needs a pump at least, and probably a steering box rebuild, Also need to replace the hydro return line, which leaks, or it may just need a whole new PSC setup - it leaks a TON! ), then a few other items like fixing the e-brake (frayed cable that won't release) and wiring up or replacing the aux/rock lights with some LED Tantrums like I put on the D-cab, replacing a cable in the tailgate for the latch so the rear window will go up and down, and then I want to look for some comfortable bucket seats (because the factory ones pretty much suck) and a set of harnesses to replace the worn-out factory belts. It's leaking motor oil too, but it looks like that might just be at the drain plug. Yeah, its just a number of little things that I would like to have working so its both safe and convenient/comfortable for road and trail.

Anyway, here she sits pretty much the way I bought her (all I did at this point is remove some stickers, sand some rust away and spray over the exo with some flat black)...

Stealth 4x4 12-31-2010 11:28 AM

Update: ATF fluid from the hydro assist leaking onto the alternator fried it internally on the way back from MVD Prescott where we were swapping the title and getting the new registration (valid through August of 2015 for just $65)! Add to that the fact that insurance only runs $25 per month - and I have to say, old rigs rock! But still, draining all the juice out of an Optima Yellowtop when the Alt died left me sitting on the side of the road in my "new" rig at the Bumblebee exit in the rain, waiting for a ride which kinda sucked. I've had my two Tacomas for 12 and 8 years respectively and neither has ever left me stranded like this thing did within a few days of buying it. :rolleyes: So now, priority one on this build is to go through the whole thing and fix any little annoying issues like this leaky hydro assist setup and the resulting electrical problem and make this rig reliable again!

I am dealing with the electrical Gremlin in this thing now, trying to figure it all out. Going to pull all the aftermarket wiring to things like rock lights that don't work anyway (wired thru 4 separate switches in the cab!), multiple redundant kill switches hidden all over the truck, etc. When you open the hood aside from all the stickers the first thing you think is, "Damn, what's with all the extra wiring?" The electrical add-ons on this thing leave something to be desired, so I have a bit of work ahead of me sorting it all out. I suck at electical stuff myself, so I might need to recruit some help. But this thing will be ready to go before I take it out again. I hate it when vehicles break down, which is why I love Toyotas. So some TLC is going into Zilla. Its just going to take a little longer than I originally had hoped to get it buttoned up.

Stealth 4x4 01-07-2011 01:28 PM

What Toyzilla Came With...
Here is an (UPDATED) list of some of the extras that came on this '85 4Runner...

Front Lock-rite locker
Rear Detroit Locker
Cryo'd 5.29 gearing, F&R
Chevy 63's in the rear, (wheelbase is ~106-inches)
AllPro 3-inch buggy springs up front
Marlin extended shock hoops on the front
14-inch travel shocks front and rear
Diff armor, F&R
Front axle gussets
Custom 1.5-inch diameter .120 wall exo cage with .240 wall double thickness (.120 wall 1.25 inch dia tube inside .120 wall 1.50 dia tube) at the A-pillar
Custom rock sliders
Custom tube bumpers F&R
Rear swing-out spare tire carrier, jerry can holder and Hi-lift mount
9,000 lb. winch, w/ roller fairlead and cable line
All-Pro Triple-X dual-case cross member with pinion e-brake
Reinforced motor mounts
Trail Gear Hydro assist steering with plumed IFS streering box
Marlin Hi-steer
Marlin Ultimate dual crawler transfer case's with 4.70-1 in rear
220:1 crawl ratio
Twin sticks on rear T-case
Rebuilt motor with new plugs, wires, etc.
37 x 12.5 Creepy Crawlers
American Racing steel 32 bolt 15x10" bead locks.
(with matching brand new full-sized spare Creepy Crawler)
Custom crawler double cardan drive line's from Arizona Driveline's
New clutch & fly wheel & new clutch master cylinder.
'87 rear axle completely rebuilt with new bearings, seals, brake drums & brakes
Front axle re-built -- bearings, seals, bushing, knuckles, inner & outer felts
Bobby Longfield 30 spline axles and super birfields
New from Marlin S-80 Land Cruiser vented rotors & brakes
Land Cruiser master cylinder, new extended braided brake lines F & R, with 2" spacers. (Taco Ray did most of this work)
Safari Snorkle
Black Diamond electric radiator fan.
Rear frame plated
Toy Box Auto all new 2" exaust with cat
New fuel pump & sending unit inside the tank
Chromo Hub Gears and new sleves
Aisin manual locking hubs
1.5-inch wheel adapters up front
2-inch wheel adapters in the rear
Extended diff breather tubes
Spare inner and outer front axle shaft
Spare rear axle shaft
Pair of half doors (unfinished)

I don't know whether the rear axle shafts in it right now are factory, or stronger aftermarket shafts. But yeah, its pretty well built and just needs some maintenance.

Stealth 4x4 01-15-2011 05:30 PM

Updated the list in previous post with details from previous owners (Thanks Brian)!

How is the rig coming along? OK so far... So the new high output 160 amp alternator came in, but the steering box is out of the Runner and sent off being rebuilt now. A bunch of the old aftermarket wiring has been removed at this point (starting to re-do some of it). Replaced the return line on the hydro assist setup which was leaking. Still need to spend some time cleaning her up a little from all the leaking fluid mess where it splashed and dripped all over everything inside the engine bay, hood and underneath, etc. I thought I had a line on a slightly used set of racing seats but that fell through, so I might just buy some cheap new ones. Still looking into it.

Melanie and I are leaving for 19 days of fun in Costa Rica soon, so this'll be on hold until I get back. But its getting done - slowly but surely. Was gonna post up pics with the new wheels and tires (15 x 8 aluminum Outlaw II wheels and a set of BFG MT KM2s in 35 12.5 15) for mixed weekday commuting and weekend wheeling while we are on the job in SoCal this year. I'll try to get some pics up when we get back from vacation.

Stealth 4x4 02-25-2011 10:27 PM

Well, Zilla wants to be a dedicated trailer queen I think. She couldn't handle even a few weeks of life as a daily driver and retaliated on my way home from work today when she suddenly wobbled and shimmied and spit out the rear driveline on the freeway in a hail of sparks and gear oil. When it went, it cracked the housing on the t-cases, adapter, and the ass-end of the transmission. So Zilla is down. For how long, who knows. Still need to evaluate whether I should just cut my losses and sell or part her out or go ahead and rebuild her. Kinda wishing I had just swapped my D-cab instead at the moment, but I'm just sour from seeing Zilla on a flat-bed tow truck before I ever saw her on a real trail... But maybe in a few days I'll feel better about doing a six-million-dollar-man with this beast to rebuild her and will start making plans.

Stealth 4x4 06-12-2011 08:42 PM

Carnage Pics
Here's how Zilla looks sitting in front of the apartment with her new Outlaw II wheels and 35 12.5 KM2s that only have about 500 miles on them.

Well, I finally uploaded some pics. What's wrong in these pictures... Yeah, that's right, PLENTY!

I'm still shopping for parts, so if any of you have some, please shoot me a PM.

Stealth 4x4 06-30-2011 10:31 PM

Today I picked up a set of dual T-cases (21 spline and stock gearing in both). So I'll either get those into Zilla to just get it rolling again and get me back on the trails, or send the cases out to be rebuilt beefier. Still deciding on that. Also picked up a set of 30-spline manual hubs. So the parts collecting to rebuild Zilla has finally begun. :) Stay tuned...

Stealth 4x4 07-26-2011 09:00 PM

Heavy-walled DS at Speeds!
Well, the good news continues... It looks like when the rear drive shaft went it caused even more damage than I originally thought. :mad: Turns out that the guts of both cases are totalled as expected, and of course, it needs a new rear drive shaft, but also the tranny is no good internally as well as the rear of the housing (missing teeth on 5th gear which is the gear it was in when it blew). So I am into a tranny rebuild or replacement scenario for sure. Also the rear third member was damaged and it now needs to be rebuilt with a new ring and pinion, bearing, etc. This AllPro cross member and e-brake setup is pretty messed up, so I am probably going to need a new crossmember, and I will need to rig up a parking brake in it if I want to have one - which probably means going back to the factory setup. So this whole thing has been pretty damn frustrating!

My advice is never, ever, drive a rig with a heavy-walled drive shaft on the hwy at 65mph. Now that I have seen all the damage it can cause if it catches a wobble, I have to say that if you want to run a heavy walled shaft, that means you'd better trailer the thing or else drive like grandma wherever you go. Its just not worth the risk otherwise. :2cents:

Stealth 4x4 07-27-2011 11:58 PM

We are trying to make the Jamboree in Colorado this weekend but its going to be really tight. The tranny is ready to go back into the truck. The dual T-cases I picked up are being rebuilt to run the twin stick setup that is in the Runner now. That rear third member is out and being rebuilt. A new custom length rear drive shaft for the beast should be done Friday. Waiting on parts from AllPro to rebuild the pinion e-brake right now. Plenty still to be done before this thing sees another trail, but with the help I have enlisted I could be wheeling as soon as this weekend if everything falls into place. ::fingers crossed::

Stealth 4x4 07-29-2011 06:09 PM

Zilla lives!
The guys at Yotamasters pulled off a minor miracle and got Zilla back together tonight. She's alive once again. Now its time to go out and wheel and see if she stays that way this time. :cool:

Stealth 4x4 08-09-2011 03:24 PM

Colorado and BV Carnage
So we towed Zilla out here to Colorado for some summer wheeling with friends. Managed to get her through Black Bear Pass, Imogene Pass, Hurricane Pass, Poughkipsie Gulch, 21 Road, Holy Cross, Iron Chest and most of BV Carnage before she disintegrated on me. Tons of fun wheeling up here in CO while it lasted. But Zilla is broken again. I bound her up climbing on the driver's side pivoting through a squeeze about 2/3 of the way through BV Carnage when the front diff blew. Before the night was through the steering box developed a leak and started puking ATF. Some teflon tape and a bit of wrenching seemed to have solved that problem at least enough to get back to the trailer. Then the winch saw too much use trying to get her off the trail in 2wd and developed a short of some kind, then overloaded and blew the main fuse in the box (twice). Then she fried the high output alternator, and eventually ripped one of the rear spring hangers clean off of the frame rail and the other about 90% off (they were booger welded to the thin factory frame rails out near the end with no boxing or reinforcement, so that was probably inevitable).

Time to go on another parts search and do some frame reinforcement/rebuilding.

Stealth 4x4 06-12-2012 01:52 PM

Well, I got a new high pinion third with a Detroit locker ready to go into Zilla if I ever get any free time from work. MrDoug has been doing some welding and fabbing up some slick new spring and shackle hangers for the Chevy 63's in the rear, fabbed a new rear crossmember, and is tracking down some electrical gremlins, etc.

Those rear spring hangers were hanging me up a lot on Carnage Canyon. The more forward mounting position necessary for the longer Chevy 63's puts the hanger closer to the breakover point than it is with shorter factory springs, so the steep angle of the hangers that were on there made great rock anchors! I am stoked to be getting nice ramped hangers that I am more likely to be able to grind over and keep rolling down the trail. So the rebuilding and parts collecting has been under way for a while. I just haven't posted up until now. ;)

She's got a working high output (160 amp) alternator BTW, and the Optima battery is still good... oh and the rear window goes up and down now that it has been properly wired, so I can actually use the swing-out tire carrier, roll down the window, drop the tailgate and get to the tools and spares in the bed without climbing in from the front. That'll be convenient. I've got a new set of Tantrums to install for night run use, and will have to play with the lights front and rear. I might setup some backup lights like I did on the D-cab so I can see behind me. Still looking for a set of seats, mounts and harnesses and might be lifting the seat height a bit for improved visibility.

What else? ...I got the parts I needed to set up the AllPro pinion parking brake. The inside frame rails at the transfer case skid mounting locations have begun to cave in some, so the frame is going to need some plating added in there. That'll be a project in itself. I still need to collect some trail spares like driveshafts, and have the old front third rebuilt as a spare. No idea because I have not torn into it yet, but I wonder if the lock-rite locker is toast along with the R&P in that old front third.

There is some footage of Zilla on Carnage Canyon from last year posted up here...

Anyway, there is still plenty to do and plenty more I haven't listed here. But its happening slowly but surely. Zilla is being revitalized. Stay tuned.

Stealth 4x4 06-21-2012 05:41 PM

This thread is getting a little text heavy, so here are some pics of some recent :welder: on Zilla...

New rear crossmember installed after removing the old shackle hangers and beefing up the ends of the frame where the old hangers tore off while I was wheeling it... :cool:

New 14-inch long ramped spring hangers for the Chevy 63s in the rear... No more spring hanger rock anchors! :D

New ride height with steeper shackle angle. Also the flimsy bent rear wraparound bumper has been cut off to be replaced with something beefier and a bit more tucked up...

And I picked up a new TG High Pinion front third member with 5.29's and a Detroit locker -- built by Jay King at Yotamasters. We'll see if I can break this one.

She's geting there. More to come...

Stealth 4x4 08-12-2012 09:54 AM

Rear Shocks & X-member
More :saw: :welder: work being done by MrDoug...

So Zilla is getting a new rear shock X-member installed and measurements for rear shocks are being taken (going with 12-inch travel Billie 7100 short bodies - exactly the same shock and size as I run on the rear axle of my Double-cab Tacoma)...

Also ordering the axle service kit from Marlin for the front axle... new bearings, seals, etc. So when I finally get up to CO and we install the new HP front third member, the rest will be serviced while we're at it. :D

Stealth 4x4 08-20-2012 11:27 AM

Corbeau Suspension Seats!
So these factory seats in the '85 are still usable, but on long drives/trails they have become so uncomfortable I finally decided they just need to be replaced. I just ordered some new Corbeau suspension seats, brackets and harnesses for added comfort and safety in Zilla! :D Front seats only for now, since its typically just myself, and sometimes the wife and I hitting the trails. :cool:


The driver's seat is all bolted in, but the passenger side bracket does not line up with the bolt holes, even though it was supposed to be a model-specific item that was a bolt-in fit. So we need to cut off a couple tabs, flip them around and weld them on the right way to the seat bracket on the passenger side.

Nice going there, Corbeau.

Stealth 4x4 09-04-2012 08:52 AM

The new 12-inch travel Billstein 7100 short body external reservoir shocks arrived to replace the old worn-out shocks and are now mounted up to the new shock tabs on the axle housing and the new shock crossmember above.

The gas tank is back in the rig now. She's getting there, but there is still lots more to be done, including at least:

-Set up the bumpstops on the rear axle.
-Design and fabricate a rear bumper with bracing and tie it into the exo (made a run to the steel shop and picked up some 2x2-inch quarter-wall square tube for the rear bumper fab).
-Have to cut out the old and install the new front frame crossmember (bought the one by Sky Offroad Design) and plate/box that in where its open on the bottom (why didn't they box that in)?
-The AllPro T-case skid crossmember where it mounts to the frame might need to be re-welded on the passenger side before she sees another trail. I need to get under there and look at the welds more closely.
-The new Pinion E-brake that bolts up to the AllPro crossmember needs to be installed and adjusted.
-There's a bit more wiring to do, but most of it is done. Mr. Doug pulled out the dash and tracked all the wiring, removing unnecessary B.S. wiring from previous hack jobs and rewiring properly where needed on items like that Black Diamond fan, the A/C unit, pretty much all the electrical accessories, lights, etc.
-I've got a set of Tantrum rock lights that need to be installed for night runs.
-Front axle service kit arrived from Marlin, so I need to tear into the front axle and replace seals, bearings, etc.
-Front third member that I blew up on Carnage needs to come out and be replaced with this new High Pinion third.
-A/C needs to be recharged.
-Need to pick up some D-rings to weld on for recovery points on the rear bumper.
-Need to find a good shop to build a set of custom-length heavy-walled driveshafts for trail spares.
-Hydro-assist setup needs to be gone through, yet again. It had been leaking fluid for so long before I bought the rig. Even after having the steering box rebuilt, new hydro lines installed, etc it sprung a leak last time I wheeled it... the whole damned setup might need to be replaced with full hydro. I don't know for sure yet on that.
-Extend tailpipe.
-Whatever else I'm either forgetting about or haven't ran across yet time will tell, but its getting there.

Stealth 4x4 09-07-2012 11:55 AM

Starting in on the front end...

Here you can see the previously fabricated angle iron front crossmember addition and the front spring hangers (welded to the body mounts). That angle iron piece and the spring hangers are going.
After some:saw:
... Out with the old. This is all being replaced with a new front cross member from Sky's Offroad that comes with integrated front spring hangers which is getting welded right to the frame and across the plated factory crossmember. No tearing the front spring hangers off the frame like I did with the rear hangers on this rig the last time I took it out to Carnage!

Oh, and that steering stabilizer is going away as well.

Here's the new crossmember that is going in...

That open bottom edge of the Sky's Offroad crossmember is going to get boxed in with plate as well. Where's the beef!

Stealth 4x4 09-08-2012 07:39 AM

Front Third Member Carnage
No surprise here, but this is a sample of what I found inside the axle housing when I pulled the front diff...

It looks like that Lock-Rite locker might have survived the carnage when the ring and pinion blew up. But have a look at how those teeth blew completely off. Looks like good R&P engagement, just too much for the gears to take. Zilla needs to loose some weight and/or I need to learn to wheel some easier trails! I know what you're thinking... Tons, right?

I took this diff down to ZUK to have it rebuilt for use as a trail spare, since I replaced the front with the HP diff. ZUK got back to me after tearing into the diff, and reports that he did not set up that diff, and it has the cheapest ring gear ever made (the economy Genuine Gear)... So I don't feel so bad about blowing it up on something that did not seem big enough to justify it blowing. I was misled with regards to that diff... probably by mistake. Both Kevin and Brian seem like stand-up guys, and I have no problem giving them the benefit of the doubt. The rear was definitely ZUK's work. But this one was not. It is being rebuilt by ZUK now!

Lots of parts in the front axle, knuckles, etc...

Pulled the studs from the housing to be replaced with new ones.

The Longfields are still looking shiny and new, which is good. No hub gear carnage either...

I went ahead and pulled the engine's oil pan since it was leaking from a clearly overtightened old school cork gasket which was popping out the sides. The bottom end of the engine looked OK to me from what I could see from underneath. I also cleaned up the oil pan inside and out, went over all the gasket surfaces to clean it all up, wiped it down with brake cleaner and slapped on some black RTV/FIPG. Hopefully it stops dripping motor oil onto everything, or at least slows down some.

We picked up some button-head bolts for the front third, and all the grease, fluids, filters, etc. needed to bleed and service everything.

Been taking some time to spray, wipe, scrape, burn, etc. off some of the built up oil, dirt, grease, ATF, oversprayed spray-on undercoat, and just general layer of gunk all over the rig basically from the oil pan down. I pulled that steering stabilizer off. Prepping to weld on the new front crossmember, but after a test fit I see I need to do some more grinding.

Stay tuned. More pics to follow.

Stealth 4x4 09-11-2012 10:58 AM

High Pinion Front Diff
Well, I got all the new button head diff studs installed with red locktite coming through from inside the housing... so no more pulling the studs out when I remove the nuts to drop the third! The new High Pinion third member is now on with a new black RTV "gasket." Check out the beefy HP housing... its about twice as thick at the mating surface as the old third member was.

I had to widen the notches in the axle housing that are there for the ring gear to clear as they were not wide enough for the diff to slide in (the ring gear was hanging up). Just had to open up the notches both top and bottom by about 1/4 inch more to the driver's side with an angle grinder, then clean out all the grinding dust really good and the diff slid right on...

And now I have 2 new optional drain plugs here on the bottom where I used 6mm allen bolts. Just in case I grind over the factory drain plug so much that it won't come out, or in case I ever want to just weld the factory plug on so it can't grind out on the trail like so many have.

This was basically my view for the afternoon while I installed new diff studs. Kinda cramped up under there, and I'm a little stiff this morning. But it sure is nice getting stuff done right!

All bolted back up, sealed, front driveshaft back on, etc.

Oh, I also serviced the knuckle, pounded out the old races and in the new ones, replaced the wheel bearings, trunion bearings, all new seals and gaskets, felts, etc., repacked it all with moly and wheel bearing grease. Had to clean up all the mating surfaces which entailed solvent, gasket scraper, wire wheel, etc to get all the old gunk and gasket material off and get down to clean metal, wipe it down with brake cleaner... you guys know the drill. Got the driver's side done. It takes more time cleaning up all the old parts and mating surfaces than it does to put it all together. Slapped on a new oil filter and got some new motor oil in the beast. Not leaking so far. Still need to go in and do the passenger side knuckle, then it's on to more :saw: and :welder:

Stealth 4x4 09-13-2012 11:15 AM

So Doug and I have become obscenely close with an angle grinder these last few days. :eek: I got the passenger side knuckle rebuilt and filled the front diff with gear oil, got the tie rod and drag link bolted back on. Then we moved on to grinding and prepping the front crossmember to be welded in. Ended up with several contaminated welds despite our best efforts to prep, since the front factory crossmember has been plated and there is a thin layer of grease and gunk in between the plating and the crossmember that gets drawn down into the welds. So weld, grind it out, reweld, grind, etc until we got nice clean welds for the most part - a la MrDoug. :D

We had to remove the radiator to get in and weld the back side of the crossmember, and had to remove an intake hose to pull the radiator out. Enough room to work now...

Boxed in the front crossmember with 1/4 wall plate before mounting it on the Runner.

Measured and made adjustments once, twice, three, four times and then got the crossmember welded in place. Still need to add some square tube supports beneath the winch mount connecting the bumper to both the factory and the aftermarket front crossmembers for support to replace the round tube we cut out. Also welded the front bumper to the frame and crossmember where it was just bolted on before. :cool:

Stealth 4x4 09-13-2012 10:40 PM

Seating for two, and bumper supports
Here's what we did with the Corbeau passenger side seat bracket to modify it so it would bolt up. Just cut off the tabs for the back two bolts and rewelded them on in the right place to line up with the bolt holes.

Got Melanie's seat and harness all bolted in.

And here are the new square tube supports that Doug made to tie in the bumper below the winch mount to both the factory (plated) and the aftermarket crossmembers.

I also received a package from the guy in the brown truck today. Spare TRE's, knuckle studs, driveshaft bolts, cone washers, etc for the trail spares box. So I went through and organized all my spare parts a little. Packed them up into action packers and boxes and found a place in the rig for them to ride. Might move a lot of this stuff over to the tow rig and just keep a select group of items for the trail. Haven't decided yet. I am replacing that bulky roller fairlead with a hawse fairlead from Bulldog that's designed for use with either cable or synthetic winch line. Ordered that today, so it might arrive and go on the rig next week.

Doug fabbed up a sweet new battery tie down for Zilla. I'll try and snap some pics tomorrow. I got the bumpstops installed for the rear axle today - nothing fancy, just redrilled the rectangular tube extensions to lay flat instead of stand up on the long end. That might get reworked at some point, depending on how it all works out on the trails when it starts to get flexy.

So, what's next? I think we're going to get to work fabricating the new rear bumper and figuring out how/where all to tie it in to the frame, to the new rear crossmember, and to the exo cage in the back end.

More to come...


Stealth 4x4 09-14-2012 10:24 PM

More Pics
New battery tie down by Mr. Doug

Just some grinding in the engine bay

Primer coat

With the front suspension bolted up to the new front spring hangers.

Back on her tires

Building a multi-use tie down platform/storage compartment/camping countertop. It's a ridiculously simple idea, but should do the trick. Stay tuned...


Stealth 4x4 09-16-2012 12:25 AM

More Progress - Zilla Drives!
Today Doug went crazy reinstalling the radiator, buttoning back up the parts we had to remove to weld in the front crossmember, bleeding the brakes, clutch, hydro assist, leaving it with all new fluids, attaching the rear driveshaft, measuring, cutting and beginning to fabricate my new rear bumper, etc. 2 x 2-inch quarter wall square tube bumper pieces ready to be tacked together for a test fit...

I made a run to the hardware store for some 3/4-inch hardwood plywood and stainless steel strap hinges and built the new storage unit/tie down platform/camping table. Going to try to talk Mel into some camping before we leave Colorado. :D

When I pulled out the back seat on Zilla and saw the space available I knew I wanted to build some secure storage there. By keyholing the top of the storage unit with the router it makes a nice platform with tie downs for securing additional items on top with ratchet straps. The hooks fit into any of the keyholes allowing me to strap down items for a variety of angles and options.

Here is what it looks like laid out flat (it is hinged on the other side with heavy duty stainless steel strap hinges which are bolted through with nylock nuts instead of just being screwed into the wood). That curve on the top matches up to the hump on the rear floorboard while it is in use as a storage compartment, and to the wheel well's outward curve where it hangs as a table for camping.

Just a pair of compression straps hooked into the platform keyholes at the back of the counter and looped behind and over the cage rail to attach through the keyhole slots near the front. Simple as hell, but it'll do the trick. A legless table. I built a legless countertop setup for the D-cab that we have used camping in that truck a lot. It makes a great place for food prep, place to sit a lantern, camp stove, whatever. So I wanted one for Zilla too.

Here is what it looks like in the Runner as a storage compartment and tie down platform. The factory rear lap belts serve to strap and hold everything secure whether it is tucked away underneath or strapped on top. The belts attach at the factory locations behind the back seat and to the rear bolts in the floor that pass through the front seat bracket. This is the main reason for making it... secure storage. Even if it never gets used for camping as a table, my spare axle shafts, TRE's, boxes of spare nuts and bolts, etc will stay secured beneath the storage box (yes Igor, even if I roll/flop). :cool:

I said it'd be simple... just two boards on a hinge basically. More bumper fab next...

Stealth 4x4 09-17-2012 09:23 AM

More Work To Do...
More Mr. Doug Fab work. Here is how the rear bumper should sit when its all mounted up. Its just sitting in position on bottle jacks here. Still need to fabricate the tube tie-ins to the frame rails on the sides and rear crossmember, tie it in to the down tubes on the exo cage, and weld on recovery points. Also, that jerry can holder is going away.

Outer corner of the rear bumper... 45 degree corners to keep it tucked in and following the body lines. The side shown here is actually the bottom edge of the passenger side outside corner. 2 x 2 -inch 1/4 wall square tube, fish plated on 3 sides, 1/4 wall fish plating all along the outside edge for strong corner joints and good rock grinding potential. That's 1/2-inch thick steel on the corners! Overkill? I seriously doubt I'll ever grind through it no matter how many rock ledges I drop off, grind over and rub across.

Box of parts to set up my AllPro pinion e-brake. Have to hold off on the installation until the transfer case crossmember is all squared away. I installed 6 of those Tantrum rock lights yesterday as well. The last 2 have to wait until the back bumper fabrication and welding is complete, or else we'd fry the wiring.

Plenty of room for strapping down some action packer boxes with recovery gear, spare fluids, etc.

Room for a cooler on the platform :cool: :xbeer3: as shown here, new spare 37x12.5 x 15 Creepy Crawler and the 60-inch HiLift jack in the bed, plus there is still more room both inside the storage compartment I built and on top of the platform. And the payload remains low for a decent low C.O.G. (Zilla could use all the help she can get due to all the tube weight up high in the exo) and the cargo does not block my view, which is important in a rig with such limited visibility out past all the tube work.

After the rear bumper fabrication work, here is the last major frame/structural integrity issue we need to deal with. As you can see, the AllPro transfer case crossmember mounting point on the inside of the factory framerail leaves something to be desired. On the passenger side (shown here) the mount connects to the slim factory frame rail alone without any plating or reinforcement and does not even attach the whole height of the rail to the corners where its strongest, but stops in the middle. :rolleyes: The result is the welds are splitting open and the frame rail is caving in at the mount from all the forces it sees. So we will be cutting all this crap off, plating in the frame rails and fabricating better mounts. Stay tuned for that, it should be a challenge. Those are fuel and brake lines running along the top of the rail.

Here is another angle showing how far in the frame rail has caved in the middle at the mounting point of the T-case crossmember. If you ever make a T-case crossmember mount for your rig... do yourself and your frame rails a favor and make it better than this. ;)

Stay tuned for more :saw: and :welder:

Stealth 4x4 09-19-2012 10:44 AM

More Bumper and Winch Work
We are using .188-wall 2-inch square tube for the back bumper support bracing. Now to make 3 more...

Rear frame plating (1/4-inch plate) for the back bumper tie-ins along the sides of the frame rails. We also drilled a couple holes for rosette welds near the top of the rails. Once th back bumper is all buttoned up and tied into the exo cage, I'll snap some pics showing all these bits in their final position.

Bye bye roller fairlead (sticks out so far I kept bashing it on the rocks and hanging up), hello hawse fairlead from Bulldog Winch Co. for use with steel cable winch line.

Much better. Also had to tear into the winch and pull out the planetary gear set to unstick and free up the free spool function. There was a collar that had gotten rusted shut inside and had some sand in it. The collar slides to disengage the gears, but couldn't slide across all that rust and crud until it was cleaned up, smoothed over and polished up a bit with some wet-dry. Worked on it a little and it came together. That lithium marine grease stuff is messy! Had to get out the old and regrease with new before reassembly. That is some thick, sticky grease. No pics of the inside of the winch, as I was too messy to be grabbing my phone. But now the free spool works! Today I might open up the winch control box and just check that out to make sure it's all good.

Stealth 4x4 09-20-2012 01:19 PM

Build Plan...
I've had a few comments inquiring as to why I am putting so much work into the rig without really increasing its potential significantly (by going to a link suspension setup or tons, for example). Looking over this build thread I see that this rig is turning out to be quite a bit of work without really adding much of what I would consider upgrades to its abilities -- without really building it UP... just rebuilding it to be just as capable but stronger and more reliable than it was...

And I've never really done that before. Pretty much every upgrade I added on my D-cab Taco was a real upgrade one way or another that gave me measurable advantages on the trails. Bigger tires, lower gearing, lockers, armor, skids, lift, more suspension travel, etc. But with the arguable exception of the new high pinion third for the front axle on Zilla (which might be a tad bit stronger and does get the front driveshaft up a little bit higher and away from the trail obstacles), none of the work we are doing really qualifies as an upgrade in that same way as my Tacoma build did.

The 4Runner is being built better, with more attention to detail and to strength, but not really any more capable. What I mean is... the tires and gears are the same, she's still locked front and rear, still has the same exo cage, and even though the Chevy 63-inch springs on the rear and the AllPro buggy springs on the front have been cut off the frame, the frame has been built up with new stronger crossmembers, plating, etc, the rear bumper is beefy as hell, and she is basically built a lot stronger with newly designed spring hangers, etc. Zilla still sits on the same exact leaf springs with basically the same amount of travel and lift, just with new shocks in the rear. Its no gain in wheel travel, just in build quality and toughness.

I had to make a run for more raw materials...

I suppose its worth noting that this rebuild of Zilla is not really geared towards making it into the ultimate biggest crawler of my dreams. Its not getting tons or link suspension, or bigger tires for example. I am not swapping out the 22re for a larger powerplant. The body panels are all staying, so the build is limited in those respects. When I bought it I wanted a mid-level wheeler more capable than my IFS Taco, that I could wheel without breaking CV axles all the time. And Zilla is that rig... she just needs some TLC for me to wheel her safely and reliably is all.

I basically liked the level it was built to when I bought it, but once I got it out and put it through its paces I started finding out how much of it needed to be rebuilt better in order to be reliable for trail use. Disuse by the previous owner who just didn't drive it much, time and a bit of ghetto fabrication all have taken their toll, so those things are being addressed. I was sort of forced to either sell it and start over or tear into it and rebuild if I wanted to wheel at the next level from where I was with the Taco.

Even though the idea was to buy a built rig and go bash it for a few years (before I decide whether I want to build a truggy/buggy and go to links, tons, V8, etc.) I sort of had to rebuild it to make it strong enough to wheel. That's what all this current rebuilding work is about right now. That is why I keep working on it but not really increasing its travel etc. I was tearing leaf spring hangers off the frame and bending in the back bumper just by slow crawling it through the rocks, so obviously that was not going to work for me.

So basically, the intention of this rebuild is to just make Zilla work properly and reliably for the type of build she already was (which is a full-bodied, 22re-powered garage-built crawler on small 37's which measure closer to 35's, and built up Yota mini axles)... to make the rig more solid, reliably functional, and basically make it able to hold together structurally to be usable for the mid-level trails. I don't intend to point this rig at the buggy lines, mash the skinny pedal and let it ping off the rev limiter for 5 minutes until it either goes up or blows up. But on a 3-4 rated trail by the AZ ratings system (6-8 up here in Colorado) I am hoping to rebuild this thing stout enough that the bumpers, springs, etc. all function to their potential and stay attached to the truck by the end of the trail. :rolleyes: If I blow up a drivetrain component here and there, that's fine... I will just have to learn its limits and to wheel within those as best I can - just like I had to with the IFS truck.

I know some of you guys are shooting me comments like, "why put so much work into just setting up the same springs with no gain in wheel travel, when you could just link it." And based on all my experience building that IFS Taco, I totally get where you are coming from. Every time I found a weak link in the Taco, I went for an upgrade that improved it somehow, not just a replacement part of the same quality. But this build is being approached a little differently than that. The idea is to make it hold together and be more reliable but keep it built to the same basic level it is already at. When we finish with this current list of to-do items, my job of learning the rig and learning to wheel it will really begin.

From my IFS D-cab Taco, there are a lot of differences moving to this rig. Lower crawl ratio, bigger tires (Taco is on 33's) much shorter wheelbase, now I have a front diff and driveshaft to worry about whereas in the IFS they all sat up protected by skids, stronger drivetrain, smaller motor, full exo from just bumpers and sliders, that solid front axle behaves a lot differently than IFS, not just because it has more articulation either, the Runner is a lot wider than the Taco, wheeling a 5-speed like Zilla requires a different approach than I used in the automatic Tacoma. The list goes on. But once we get the thing basically strong enough to hold together on the trails, then its my job to learn all these nuances of wheeling a new rig. The ten trails that I've had her on so far were a good start. But I've still got lots to learn about wheeling this thing... Let's go wheelin'! :cool:

That said, I am sure one day I'll want something built bigger and more capable. That seems to be the natural progression of this sport. When that time comes, I'll be able to either hand this one over to the little lady to wheel or sell Zilla to the next guy who is where I am at right now, knowing that Zilla is built like a tank and handing her off in good conscience and then build something else to wheel the bigger lines. :D

Stealth 4x4 09-20-2012 11:37 PM

Rear Bumper is Done!
:D :xozzy: :xbeer3: :xbeer3:

Here is a look at the 1/4-inch frame plating we added to the factory frame rail at the bumper's side support braces.

Another look underneath the back of the Runner at the new fab work. All of the new rear bumper attachments tie in to beefed up framework. The frame rails where the side supports tie in have 1/4 wall rectangular tube slid down inside the rails and welded in, in addition to the 1/4 wall plating added to the outside of the frame rails at the tie in points. The back bumper supports tie into the new 1/4 wall 2x3-inch rectangular tube cross member between the frame rails. And the bumper is also welded to 6 down tubes of the exo cage, 3 at each corner.

On to the next item on the list... I cut off the old 1/4-inch T-case skid crossmember tabs/mounts that were caving in the inside of the frame rail. The two tabs on the left were for running a single case setup, the two on the right were for the current dual T-case setup, which is where the real issue is. I still have some grinding to do before the new frame plating and new mounts can go on. We can start fabricating those peices soon. But here is how it looks tonight.

Oh I also opened up the winch control box and found a wire rubbed through on one side. Fixed that and put it all back together. One of the mounting bolts on the bracket that holds the control box was missing. So I replaced it. So that was all pretty easy. I free spooled out about 50 feet of winch line by hand (nice to be able to do that now) and respooled the wire on the drum. The winch all seems to be functioning properly now.

Stealth 4x4 09-22-2012 11:51 AM

Progress on T-case Crossmember Mount
Got the 1/4-inch inner frame plating cut out with holes for rosette welds. It's about 16 by 5 inches.

Finished grinding off the old welds as shown in the last post, bent the plate to form to the bend along the inside of the frame rail, and got 'er all welded in thanks to MrDoug.

Going to pick up Melanie at the airport pretty soon, so might not get much done today... Next up is to fabricate two new teardrop mount tabs out of more 1/4-inch plate, drill them out for the bolt to pass through, and weld them in place to the new inner frame plating.

Stealth 4x4 09-23-2012 09:52 AM

T-case Crossmember Mount and Recovery Points
1/4-inch mounting tabs for the AllPro dual transfer case skid crossmember are now welded to the newly 1/4-inch plated inner frame rail. No more caving-in the frame! Double low crawling is now possible with confidence that the frame rail is not going to totally collapse on the trail! :D

While I was picking up Mel at the airport, Doug welded on two D-ring recovery points (in-line with two of the bumper support braces to the frame crossmember) on the back bumper. Bumper is now totally complete!

Stealth 4x4 09-23-2012 09:25 PM

AllPro Pinion E-brake Installed
So today I put the new AllPro Triple X Dual T-Case Crossmember pinion E-brake parts on the rig to replace the ones that got blown up when the driveshaft went flying down the highway. It would have been nice if AllPro actually had sent me the 6-inch piece of 3/8ths fine threaded all-thread needed to adjust the brake with the kit. Ace Hardware had what I needed to get it all together... Had to pull the drive shaft and flange off the back of the T-case to get the disk installed. So Doug broke out the shop press and after a little while I got into some RTV black and a torque wrench to button it back up. Nice to have a parking brake again, though.

I also finished installing the last couple of Tantrum rock lights on Zilla, and went over the rig looking for loose bolts, tried out all the electronics, lights, etc. to make sure everything is working properly. Screwed back on some trim pieces, now that all the wire has been strung. Still need to extend the exhaust pipe out to the back of the rig, and I think we're going to weld some .120-wall end caps on these open tube ends that the original builder never capped off.

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