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Well, I've been working on my truck for a couple years. Back in 2007 I found myself with some free time and cash and with the option to invest safely or blow it all on a truck, I chose to blow it all on a truck. In light of the economy since then, this has turned out to be a wise choice.

I had always had the dream of starting something from scratch and taking it to a completed project in a short time. Well, as we all know, there is no such thing as a finished project, so this will be a history tale of what it has taken to get my project to where it is, and then updates as I continue.

To start with, this will look like a solid axle build (I'll gloss over those details) but it's necessary to show where my truck has been. It eventually ends up long travel IFS.
 

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This is how I received my truck. I'll call it a truck because it has become much more than an SUV, but yes, it's a 4runner.

You'll notice some rust on the bumper. Word to the wise, don't buy project vehicles on eBay from the North East. :doh:
 

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Got it home and starting the fun dismantling part. As previously mentioned, but in the North East where they salt the roads. I grew up in Colorado so this possibility never occurred to me. I had inspected it before I took possession, with thoughts of cutting it all of anyways. But now three years later I still find bolts that are seized and they just break off. :mad:



Useless IFS (so I thought). I was young and immature, and took this to be recycled instead of selling or retaining it.



I was going to do both front and rear at the same time. A lot of work. My garage is sparse. I pretty much had no tools when I first started, and bought a lot of tools along the way. That was really part of project, finding the right tools to buy.



Rusty rear axle. Had big plans for it. Got it sand blasted.



All cleaned up and ready to start putting new stuff on. A reminder that I originally put a solid axle on this truck, but eventually switch to long travel IFS.
 

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Another shot of the front end torn apart. My two roommates were very accommodating, especially as I turned the back yard into a salvage yard.




Couple shots of IFS steering box.
 

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Full Floater conversion from Front Range Offroad. Great kit, but I was unprepared for the break issues I ran into. When I started, I thought I knew how brakes work, my knowledge was incomplete.

To start off with, as pictured, I had the front brake rotors and calipers, from '85 I think. These actually worked quite well, until I tried to get my truck registered and there was no emergency hand brake. So, I switched to the alternative calipers for the kit, 1979 supra mechanical e-brake calipers. Now, in retrospect, this doesn't even make sense because the 1979 supra was a fraction of the weight of a 4runner, and do not provide adequate stopping power. Long story short, I put the drums back on to pass inspection, and then eventually added Wilwood calipers for hydraulic and kept the supra calipers for hand brake. I'm currently working up something new and I'll update that later.
 

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This is some of the interior mods I made. This is an Extreme Air air pump. I had on order front and rear ARB air lockers.





That is a modified Gen1 4runner role bar. It's mostly cosmetic as it doesn't tie into the frame, but does provide a sweet place to mount stuff.
 

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My first try at the rear suspension. It was an epic failure. My plan had been to make new beefy control arms, using Johnny Joints, and it would be super strong. Well, it was probably strong, but with 6" of lift I got epic rear steer and the truck was not safe to drive.



So after a little bit of thought and research, I switched to a long arm 3 link and panhard. I didn't want to move the exhaust or fuel tank. It was important for me to retain spare tire mount, original fuel cell, and a quiet truck.

Unfortunately, I've had some carnage. I don't have a picture of it, but I poorly welded the top link bracket to the frame, so it broke off on a trail once. Thankfully on the trail and not the highway. I consider it a casualty of doing so much work, that some details get overlooked.



Pictured is carnage I had last year in Moab. Tried potato salad hill, and the stock panhard bracket ripped off the frame. So, again, my fault for not reinforcing it. You can see below how far my axle kicked out. Punctured a tire, I felt lucky I did no other damage.

 

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Okay, to briefly touch on the SAS. Used the All Pro Hybrid 60. Very big, tough, and heavy axle. And I know in the above picture that the shock is upside down. It was just a mock up. Used the kit's 12" Walker Evans Racing Coilover (got 10" smoothie for the rear).



And this was pretty much what the front looked like finished. Made some minor improvements/changes over the last couple years, nothing worthing writing home about.



I thought it turned out pretty good, even though it was a death trap to drive. It took full concentration to drive over 60 mph. Very white knuckled. Pretty awesome offroad. There wasn't much I couldn't drive over. At very slow speeds that is.



The TRD Supercharger helped with highway driving though.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Which brings me to my truck changing dilemma. Drove amazing offroad at slow speeds, but there is sooo much offroad out there. I didn't want to drive slow. And the highway driving was lame. I use this rule of thumb: I let my gf drive home on I-15 in Las Vegas and she started crying because it handled so badly. So, clearly, after 2 years of tweaking the truck still didn't drive that well. It was time for a change.

Now, I could never bring myself to own a 2wd truck. I'm not saying that it isn't for others, just not for me. So I started thinking about long travel 4wd and the reason people do solid axle swaps. About 6-12 months before Shannon Cambell starts racing his IFS buggy. So I start thinking in that direction, but I don't want to spend a fortune.
 

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So.... this is the rear differential out of 1986-1992 Supra, with modified stubshafts by RCV. It also happens to bolt up to my 4runner driveshaft, also bolts up to 86-95 pickup/4runner CV axles (with original stub shafts), and also happens to carry the exact same 8" ring and pinion as the rear axle in toyota trucks while using larger bearings all around. Picked it up for $250 off eBay with factory LSD, and is 3" narrower (and probably smaller all around) than Currie's 9" IFS housing ($$$). So, since I'm stilling running good ol' 8" in the rear, then it sure is good enough for the front. More to follow.
 

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So, here I am test fitting under the front end. Since I already the oil pan conversion for the solid axle, it actually fits pretty good.



Wish I had a better shot of this. My original intend was to reuse the same coil-overs and shock towers. I wish I hadn't pigeon holed myself into that. At first I'd had a grand idea that I could make a kit that would be swappable. I could use IFS for daily driving light wheelin' and then swap in the solid axle when I wanted to do something serious. (Did I mention this is my only vehicle and daily driver?)

Needless to say this was a stupid idea...
 

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So my big plan for the IFS was to use custom knuckles, a bolt on frame to support the diff and lower a-arms, and to make knew shock towers to support the coil-over and upper a-arm.



I knew it would be easiest to use the 86-95 knuckle. I wanted manual hubs and when I started I wasn't sure how custom I wanted the CV shafts to be. So I started with used knuckles off a '95 4runner, and using a 4" portable band saw cut in a roughly 6" circle around the spindle. It was actually pretty easy, because the stock forging has a 6" indention around it. I left the caliper mounting holes because I was going to use the stock calipers.



Just to increase surface area of weld and overall strength I planned on welding on this tube for support. It's 6" OD DOM. Not cheap, and since min order was 2' and for both knuckles I only needed about 6" total, I have a cannon project in my future. But by taking my time and measuring several times before cutting/welding, they turned out pretty good.
 

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This is how I built the lower a-arms. I layered the outer lower corners with 1" angle bar, but I'm still not convinced of the strength of this design. So I have a version 2 on the way.



And this is the best shot I have of the upper a-arm and tire and knuckle. Also not a great design. But it worked as a prototype setup.
 

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Here is the start of building what I call the differential frame. Since I had a clean frame from the solid axle swap, I needed something anyways. And it all works out to be about a 2" drop over stock. So a little bit like a fabtech lift, but stronger in my opinion. The main strength comes from the 3/8 solid flange, and that is near where the lower a-arm mounts in the front, as well as one of the tie-ins to the truck frame. All of the seams have overlapping gussets in the future.
 

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Here I am mocking up the new front IFS. You can probably see that I haven't completely removed the solid axle hardware. Since this is my daily driver and I a took a week off of work to do this, I wanted to make sure it was going to work before I committed fully to it and passed the point of no return.



This is a good shot of my final knuckle design. And also how the shock tower and upper a-arm worked out.



Here you can see it all mocked up with the stock '95 4runner cv axle. My custom CV axles ended up being about 10" over from stock. Combination of centered diff and 4" over width per side make up that difference. That's a lot more CV angle travel I'm getting.
 

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Lovin it!! I was really interested in your truck before but now..oh man..i love the progression..keep the story comin!!
 

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Putting the finishing touches on it. I had to run out and get new coils. 300 lb coil wasn't going to work anymore. Fortunately, there's a sweet buggy shop in Vegas open on Saturday morning, as I was supposed to drive this thing to work on monday.



Here you can kinda see my sway bar setup. It's a Currie universal sway bar. I shortened the arms to keep the rate reasonable, because the link mounts midway on the a-arm. The cool part is the outer tube is 2" OD .25 wall DOW that goes all the way through, and it is incorporated in the diff frame and bolts to the truck frame.

Also, there is a 5/8 vertical bolt holding on the bump stop can, through the center of the truck frame. The diff frame also ties into the truck frame there. So there is a total of six 5/8 bolts and four 1/2 bolts holding on the diff frame. So it also will make it pretty easy to drop the whole thing off if I needed to.







This is where you can see the new coils. It looks like dual rate, but its really single rate, because at ride height it's sitting on the 500 lb main spring, and only about the last half inch of travel does the main spring unseat. It's a 450 lb tender spring. It's just what I had.



And then role it out of the garage Sunday morning. It took me like a month of tweaking to get the truck driving on the highway the first time. This time I rolled it out of the garage. Drove around the block. Inspected a bunch, then drove it around town for a while. The only issue was my shock tower was interfering with my steering shaft, making the steering feel rough. It was fixed later with a grinder.

The alignment was pretty good. Something that bothers me with long travel kits is excessive camber. In the above picture I have a little bit (can't remember how much), and I eventually adjusted it out to about .5-1*. Not really sure about the caster. I had planned on 3*, to match with stock. I think that's too much. If you think about it, caster really should be measured by how much (distance) the tire contact patch is behind the steering axis where it meets the ground. So, to compensate for larger tires I should be going with a 1-2* caster. Unfortunately, I didn't design enough caster adjustment into it, so one side has 1* and as near as I can measure, the other side has 6*. That can't possibly be correct, but I am using a magnetic degree finder to take these measurements. The important thing is it drives straight down the highway, slight pull to the right.
 
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