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Old 03-17-2011, 07:19 PM   #1
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Bigwapitijohnny's 3rd generation 4runner...

Hi all! I am posting my build here on TacomaWorld because you guys helped me acquire some WetOkole seat covers in the group buy this month. Anyway, enjoy and THANKS FOR THE GROUP BUY!


My ‘journey’ began in March 2008 following the acquisition of my 4runner at the beginning of the year. I was fortunate enough to find various forums with information regarding options for bumpers. After mulling it over, I called Jed Hemming at ARMOROLOGY and talked to him for quite sometime regarding the fabrication process. I was drawn to his work due to his clean lines and his weld beads that resembled a ‘roll of nickels’ :thumbup:. I had seen some of his work on several 4runners and Tacos (Ric, ‘Spindleshanks’, and ‘Crux’), and inquired about fabricating a front bumper.

I realized immediately that he was quite knowledgeable and initially seemed that his prices seemed a ‘tad’ high. However, after pricing other bumpers / options (custom fabrication work in K.C. (BruceTS style), ARB tacoma bumper with modified frame caps, TJM, Shrockworks, Rockware, etc.), Jed’s prices were similar with the others. Also, his bumper would not be sheets of steel that are break formed for strength, rather it would be a box / beam style that used all possible mounting points of the frame, thus resulting in a bumper that was stronger. Also, it would be totally custom, an original, and I would have as much input into the build that I wanted.

I am a maniac about research, and came up with a design that I wanted. It is a hybrid of the ‘Sonoran steel’ style hoops combined with the stinger of ‘Ric’ and ‘Spindleshanks’ rig and here is the ‘photochop’ of my design. THANKS RIC FOR THE TEMPLATE!





I am truly a blessed man who is married to the most awesome woman in the world. After discussing my project with my wife, she remarked “WHY DON’T YOU GO AHEAD AND GET THE REAR BUMPER DONE AS WELL?” Schaaweet! I wanted the rear bumper to house some backup lights, as well as, wield a tab for my Firestik antenna. I was particularly fond of the rear bumper of Albuquerque Jim’s. I love the functional rear lights that were incorporated into his bumper and thought this would be very useful for me out in the field. THANKS JIM FOR THE IDEA!





Anyway, I emailed all of these pictures to Jed, and he said that this would be no problem to do all of this. Side note: Jed does not ship his bumpers :shake:, all of his work is done while the vehicle is in his shop. His rationale is due to the fact that not all Toyota bumpers are mounted exactly the same from the factory :headscratch:, and he has to ‘tweak’ the mounting points every time for a solid custom fit (This discrepancy was true to form, and it took quite sometime for him to get it right on my rig – if I can recall, it took several hours to get this just right). If he would ship, he would have more work than he can think of, however, the quality control would be out the window…I can respect a true craftsman and his convictions about quality.

After weighing my options, I decided to go for it and scheduled a time in July. I was somewhat unsure of how this was going to work, being that I was about 600 miles away. However, he assured me that with pic attachments (email), phone calls and time, this would not be an issue at all. So I dropped my rig off and flew back to KC and watched this thing unfold. By the way, the day that I dropped off the truck, Jed had blocked off the entire day for us to discuss every detail of the project. I don’t think that too many fabricators would take that time to do this. If there are, MORE POWER TO YA! He had a customer (Doug – a.k.a. hhog4dc) drive his 4runner over, so I could visualize the rear bumper and decide on what options I wanted to go with.

On to the pics of the finished product...








As you can see, it is dead on of my 'photochop' design. My expectations were exceeded on every aspect of this project. Here are the specifics of what I did...

Winch with synthetic line: Went with the Warn® 9.5ti (# 67550) and 3/8” winchline – 100 ft (VTL38100+WST-WL) with the safety thimble. I also found a hockey puck, bored it out, and put it on to avoid scratching the fairlead plate (not bad for .99)...








Lights: Yeah, my initial photoshop pic was quite ambitious with the lights. I KNOW. I chose the Lightforce[sup]TM[/sup] Styker 170s (RMDL 170) for my auxiliary lighting due to their toughness, reputation for quality, and the ability to change the light pattern / color by switching lens covers. One ‘drawback’ is that these lights are quite sizeable, this proved to be the most challenging issue that we faced.

Side note: I have to say a quick ‘THANK YOU’ to Dick at www. off-road lights.com for his GREAT customer service :clap:. He has sent Jed different mounting bases, as well as the reflector of the smaller 140 lances (RMDL 140), to see if there was ANY way that we can get the Lightforces to fit. With customer support like that, this issue was solved rather quickly, and we got the 170s to work. He also has HID conversions available for every size at HALF the cost of the HIDs from Lightforce. These will actually DOUBLE the factory candlepower. Currently, I am working on a filter pattern that would attenuate the actual light of the 170 so that I could use these lights within the city limits…we will see how it goes. Anyway, if you need lightforce[sup]TM[/sup] lights, get them from him. Thanks again Dick!





For the backup auxiliary lights, I went with the Optilux built-in work lamps (#HL88708). They are a 37.5 watt halogen bulb with a free-form reflector. The great thing about these is that they fit ‘flush’ inside the bumper. Clean and simple.





Firestik antenna: Got the 4’ Firestik® II ‘FS’ series antenna (FS4-B), Fire-Flex® COAXIAL CABLE ASSEMBLY w/Low-Profile Fire-Ring and Stud (K4-8R18), Heavy duty spring (SS-3H), and Match-MakerTM CB/AM/FM CB Antenna Splitter (AR-1A). I have not had the opportunity to hook this up yet. I am still deciding on what CB to buy…

I found a Military Specification Buna-N Rubber Grommet (9307K36) from McMaster-Carr that the coax would fit into as well as be weather resistant for quite some time (Temperature range is -45° to +250° F). Again I ask, isn't it all about the details?...





I did not like the ‘action’ of the antenna on the spring, it tended to whip around especially in high winds and on the highway. I also did not want to utilize a tennis ball to protect the antenna from slapping the truck; rather, I found that the barrel de-resonator (Small - # 12051), from Sims Vibration Laboratory, fits the Firestik® II perfectly. It is made of NAVCOM material and it does the trick, and looks alot cleaner I think...





In conclusion, I am so grateful that I went with Armorology. This was the BEST option for me, and if I had to do it again, I would WITHOUT any hesitation. Please note, I was not given any 'DEAL' in exchange for this write-up. I just felt compelled to let everyone know what kind of service, and attention to detail you will get at Armorology. The value of my hard earned dollar was far greater than anywhere else that I could find. Jed is a talented fabricator with a discerning eye for what looks best. The amount of time involved, as well as the correspondence, was well worth it. This process is not for everyone. However, if you are a discriminating person who wants only the best for your rig, this is one of your best options. Not only did I find an excellent fabricator, I feel as though I have made a friend as well.


A little more eye candy...











Regards,

BWJ
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:45 PM   #2
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Stubbs sliders...

Back again, and this time it’s the slider project that was completed. Why a ‘project’? Well, the time that was required made it so. Every step was carefully planned and realized with the help of talented professionals. Big props to the pros mentioned in this post, because everyone contributed immensely to this project.

Initially, I wanted to go with the basic slider design without kickouts. I have seen the ones from Trailgear, Stubbs, and 4 Crawler to name a few. From what I read, the length was the most important variable. Then, I ran across some sliders with a kickout. I decided to go with these because it would afford more protection and be used as a step after the lift kit gets installed.



Also, the KOs (kickouts) would match the ‘lines’ started by the stinger bar and hoops on my Armorology bumper and further set it apart from the many 3rd gens out there. The added protection of the KOs was a bonus (Yeah, at this point form did supersede function…but hey, this is my DD…).

So, my initial call went out to Richard Stubbs at Stubbs welding (www.stubbswelding.com) and the project was started. As you know, Richard has many different styles of sliders available. He informed me that the particular model of slider, with the single kick out (SKO), was still available despite not being offered on his web page. He has improved the old style standard kickout with a new heavier duty offering, the HDSKO. After asking me some questions about what type of wheeling I was planning on doing, he recommended either the standard set or his new HDSKOs. I decided to go with the HDSKOs, however, I was really wanting the look of the old style. He said that he could fab up a set of the HDs to look like the ‘old school’ model. He would have to tweak the blueprint a bit, but there was no problem. 1 ½ weeks later, he called and sent an email confirmation (photos attached) saying that the sliders were in the mail. Here they are…look at the form of these babies :bigok:



Step design - The second phase of this project was to incorporate treadplate onto the slider and make them function as a step. Also, this would add a little more protection to the rocker panels and doors from road debris. I have read posts from various others, and really like what they have done to pull this off. Slee offers up some really nice ones, but their current offering for 3rd gen 4runners are not what I was looking for.

















My vision was to place some treadplate on top of the sliders. Welding the plate could not be done due to the use of dissimilar metals. Thus, a mounting system was required. Richard and I discussed various mounting schemes (tabs, rails, etc…) and finally, Richard came up with TIG welding some nuts on top of the slider so that I could bolt the plate directly onto the slider.




The nut size was that of ¼ thread design and the bolts fit like this…




Plating - I did not want to go with the common diamond treadplate. I see that plate everywhere. However, the 5 bar raised is not very common here in the states, and I was hoping to find this stuff somewhere here. This plate is popular in Australia, Europe and Japan. I called many metal suppliers and found out that Alcoa makes this stuff, but only in limited quantities. I was quoted $700.00 for a 4’x8’ sheet at one local metal supplier :screwy:. Needless to say, the step idea was coming to an end. Then I found Scott at Cutsmetal (www.cutsmetal.net). He had access to this plating, and he had it available at an INCREDIBLE price. If you need any kind of plate, you better call him first. Shipping was prompt and the service could not be beat. Here is an example of the 5 bar.




Step template - I was able to mock up some cardboard forms to transfer both the shape of the plate, as well as transfer the bolt locations onto the metal. The transfer for the bolt locations was difficult. I ended up 'painting' the bolt heads, then I placed the cardboard on top. I then traced the form unto the plate and got it cut with a plasma cutter. I finished the edges with a power sander and varying grit paper (40, 80, and 120). The aluminum was .125 gauge in thickness, but it was relatively easy to grind and make smooth. I had to initially knock off the edges with a file, but the aluminum was soft enough that it took no time at all.







Coating - I wanted to go with a coating process that would stand up to the abuse off-roading. Paddlenbike's post really got me reconsidering the use of paint. It is apparent that paint does will not hold up very well, so I went with an Ameraguard coating.




It is similar to that of Rhino and Line-X, but it is more UV resistant. Both Rhino and Line-X are Aromatic Urethanes and will eventually crack, peel and fade despite the addition of UV stabilizers, it is chemically impossible to prevent this. However, the Ameraguard product is an Aliphatic Urethane and is said to be more chemically stable and will not crack, peel and fade under UV conditions as fast. That is how I understood the differences between the three, but time will tell how good this stuff really is. I went to Ameraguard of Lee’s Summit, MO, and Dan was a GREAT guy to work with. He was HALF the price of the Rhino and Line-X dealers around here, and his work truly is exceptional. He definitely went the extra mile for this project. I took off my Bushwacker fender flares and decided to spray this over my wheel wells and rocker panels to go with the flow of the sliders. Here they are back from Dan:










I also used some Permatex® High Temperature Thread Sealant to keep the water out of the sliders.




Slider install – The installation was not a big deal at all. Luckily, my first option crapped out on me (buddy flaked) and I found a small fab shop in Paola, Kansas. The shop is called TechtaFab. Duane is the owner of the shop, and you can tell that wheelin' is more than just a 'hobby' for him. He has a custom built rock buggy that he wheels all over the place, and his shop has all the goodies to get it done. In addition, he is very meticulous, and his attention to detail was exceptional. I bet he is the only guy in Paola that has a hydraulic lift in his own shop :clap:. I will be going to him to install my Sonoran steel 1.2 lift kit soon. Anyway, onto the final pics.













[center]





Regards,

BWJ
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:47 PM   #3
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Sonoran Steel system 1.2...

Well I am back again with some new pics of the rig. I have waited until my tires wore out, then I pulled the trigger. I decided to go with Sonoran Steel's system #1.2 lift; due to the meticulous R&D, as well as Steve's patience throughout this whole process. He was gracious enough to answer my questions repeatedly throughout the past 1 1/2 years regarding wheelin' and getting my rig to perform optimally in the field. BIG PROPS OUT TO STEVE!

Anyway, here is where I left the 'obsessive progression'. Sliders got welded to the frame, and took the fender flares off and sprayed Ameraguard in their place...


I took my rig back to the shop in Paola, Kansas (TechtaFab). Duane started the process at 8:00 am, and I was on my way to the tire shop by 12:15 am. BIG THANKS GOES OUT TO DUANE! Fortunately, my rig 'wintered' in NM with my parents for the first 10 years of it's life, and the dismantling process was not as bad as I had anticipated. I sprayed PBblaster on all of the visible bolts, all except the rear shock nuts...Here are a couple of shots of the install...


I paid Steve to assemble the front struts for me. He offers this for a VERY nominal fee. It was well worth it to do this...


Duane modding my front skid plate...


All in all, the directions were very well laid out, and easy to follow. Again, PAY STEVE TO ASSEMBLE THE STRUTS! This was a Huge time saver...Did I mention that Duane's shop has all of the goodies to do any job you need? Seriously, if you are needing ANY work done, Duane will get it done and get it done right...

I did not want to go with an M/T tire due to this being my daily driver. In addition, I did not want to increase my tire size due to mileage/power concerns. Since my rig is armored, I figure the rake will even out quickly as the rear cruiser coils settle. The tires I decided on was the 32" Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revos. I chose these over the Firestone Destination ATs, BF Goodrich All terrain T/A KOs, and the Nitto Terra Grapplers. This was a tough choice, but I got a sweetheart deal for these at the local Firestone dealer that I could not refuse. Anyway, onto the pics...



CV angle looking good...

As a comparison to my wife's 2004 Sequoia...


~ BEFORE ~


~ AFTER ~

I also got my grille and rear 'wing' coated with the Ameraguard coating...


Next 'mod' will be an expedition style rear cabinet drawer system...YIKES!

Regards,

BWJ
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:48 PM   #4
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Baja Rack...

All,

Big props to Baja Rack for making a rack specifically for the 3rd generation 4runner! I have been looking for a rack that would not be so high up from the vehicle roof line and it has taken me over 2 years to find a rack that would fit the bill. I was not looking for a rack that spanned the entire length of the roof since I am going to get an expedition trailer built soon. Also, big props to Jacque at TRDParts4U for sending me pics and having this rack in stock. I ordered it, it shipped the next day, and it was on my rig two days later...


Anyway, I got a chance to visit with John at Baja Rack, and was informed of 4 offerings for the rig currently (Note: their web page has not been updated yet...call for specifics). The Mule, Mega Mule, and two just for the 3rd generation. Both 'Mule' racks fit onto the factory cross bars and set higher that the 3rd gen racks.

Here are a couple of photos of Jacque's rig with the mule...



The 3rd generation specific racks come in two different configurations. A full rack complete with 6 inch rails and the other one, for roof top tents, comes without rails. Both are 60" long x 41" wide.

Here is the 3rd generation expedition rack with the RTT (Thanks John for the pic)...


I went with the full rack as the trailer will get the RTT eventually. These new racks will retro fit into the factory rails and will sit considerably lower.

When my rack arrived, my initial impression is that it is light. I was able to hoist this unto the roof by myself due to it weighing under 25 pounds. The finish is durable, and looks good right out of the box. Comes with instructions, all of the mounting hardware, and a cargo net. It shipped as one piece...


The rack bolts to feet that slide into the rails as such. Not seen is the foot that is in the rail itself...


The accessories that I went with were the following: Hi lift jack mount and the axe / shovel mount...shovel will get here in two days...



There is a hole drilled in the mounting bolt that will allow a small padlock to lock the wingnut down. I found some steel spacers to prevent the wingnuts from loosening too much and slow the thieves down. Hopefully, they will see the effort needed to kipe (s.p.?) my goods and move on...


These accessories are pretty reasonable when compared to the other rack systems available. Kudos to Baja Rack for giving us value for our hard earned buck...

Enjoy! and THANKS AGAIN TO Baja Rack and TRDParts4U :wings:

Regards,

BWJ
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:48 PM   #5
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Awesome!
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:49 PM   #6
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Kirkham's Auto canopy...

I have used this canopy quite a few times, and it has been quite good. They were closing out the blue color ones, and I got it for $60 bucks (poles, stakes, storage bag included). Not as elegant as a Hanibal, Eezi awn or ARB...But I figure I'll use this for awhile.



The attachment points are pretty weak, so I decided to improve this with some old straps that I had laying around. They are rated to hold 200 lbs, so I figured they would work. I've got 4 of these straps that will cinch the support bar of the canopy to my Baja Rack...







Next, I bought some additional attachment points that Springbar sells. These are called 'Tie guys'. The two grommets fit over the the tent pole and offer an additional attachment point...Pretty good idea if you ask me.







Again, I had some spare ratcheting straps that were perfect when used with the tie guys...Sorry for the poser driveway pics. I'll get some good camping pics as soon as my trailer is done...







My quest to store this thing was answered one day walking through Cabelas...I got a Flambeau Bazuka rod case that this canopy will fit into while attached to my Baja Rack.









The build continues...

Regards,



BWJ
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:50 PM   #7
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Nice build!
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:50 PM   #8
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Nice clean build you have! This site is going to make me spend money....
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