CattyWampus 4Runner Build Log - With Pan America Dreams

Discussion in '4Runner Builds' started by Cattywampus, Sep 10, 2020.

  1. Sep 10, 2020 at 10:09 AM
    #1
    Cattywampus

    Cattywampus [OP] Splitter of CV Boots

    Joined:
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    First Name:
    Mark
    Colorado
    Vehicle:
    '03 Tacoma DC TRD OR
    Purpose of Thread: Document my 4Runner's progression, projects, testing, and Pan America Plans.

    Ultimate Goal: Travel. The 4Runner is destined to do the Pan America Highway. It's been a dream of mine (and now my girlfriend's too) to do some sort of epic trip. The beauty of traveling overland is it allows so much more freedom to meander around country, not have to depend on lodging, and reach places that you typically can't on your standard international vacation.

    Thread Navigation:
    1. Initial Search
    2. Initial Repairs/Restoration
    3. Modification Plans

    As of 10 September 2020, as purchased:
    20200907_090029 (1).jpg

    Specs (as of Sept 2020)
    '01 4WD SR5 in Gold and Tan Interior. All stock except for an included roof rack.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
    roguegs, Michaelo and Roody like this.
  2. Sep 10, 2020 at 10:10 AM
    #2
    Cattywampus

    Cattywampus [OP] Splitter of CV Boots

    Joined:
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    Messages:
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    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Mark
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    Vehicle:
    '03 Tacoma DC TRD OR
    INITIAL SEARCH:

    We considered a few different potential vehicles for the trip. However, most were quickly ruled out for various reasons:
    • Tanya (My 1st gen Ext Cab Tacoma - LINK) - Too high profile, I'm too attached to it, Would like rear seats for picking up friends.
    • 1st Gen 4-Door Tacoma - A good choice, but it seemed silly to have two Tacomas... for now. I do want one eventually to add to the fleet. The price for a similar milage and condition also seemed to be about double when compared to a 4runner.
    • 3rd Gen 4Runner - Selected
    • Nissan 4Door Frontier/Nissan Xterra - No experience with the platform. Plus I'm already tooled for Tacoma/4Runner.
    • Subaru Forrester/Outback - Dependability questionable and not as good off road without some modifications. Would be a good choice if we didn't think we'd end up too far off the road.
    We settled on the choice of a 3rd gen 4Runner for our base vehicle. Why? We let me explain:
    1. Dependability: I don't have to explain to many on this forum, that a 4Runner is a rugged and time-proven dependable vehicle. With proper maintenance, it will last a good long time. During our search we encountered 4Runners with over 400k miles on the original powertrain, and asking price of over $3000, incredible.
    2. Parts Availability: In the US alone, I can find an abundance of new and used parts and they are relatively cheap. Same is true overseas, as Toyota's are prevalent everywhere. Aftermarket support is also excellent. The 3rd gen is not so old that it's hard to find parts and new enough to have major repair documented on the internet.
    3. Experience: I have owned and worked on a 1st gen Tacoma (LINK) since 2007. The commonality between the two vehicles is a selling point for me. I already know how to replace and repair many of the systems on the 4Runner because of my Tacoma experience.
    4. Size: The 3rd Gen 4Runner is a great size. Big enough for two people, small enough to fit down narrow roads, trails, and streets. Easy enough to park in a city street. A decently short wheel base and relatively high ground clearance make it an excellent off roader, even stock.
    5. Because I like it: IMO its a great looking vehicle. It doesn't attract too much attention and also doesn't look "angry" like alot of modern SUVs and trucks being sold today. To me, it is iconic, but I could be bias. After all, this is on a dedicated Toyota enthusiast site.
    The Search:
    We were looking for a mostly stock 4WD 4Runner and to stay under $5000 for the initial vehicle purchase. The lower the miles the better, but I will trade miles for a well maintained vehicle. I liked the idea of having the Multimode (4WD/AWD) system as AWD would be nice for snow and rain on pavement. This left us with 99-00 Limited and 01-02 Models.

    Having lived in northern salt belt states most my life, I am all too familiar with the issues that come from rust. It was really difficult to find a good 4Runner north of Maryland with a frame in decent shape. In fact the first 4Runner we saw had 140k miles, been in a minor front collision, and had some ABS module problems. It had a few flaky rust sections in the rear I noticed, but everything else looked solid. We offered $1750 from the asking price of $3000. What a deal! ...Or so we thought. After getting it back into the garage, we went to work on some much needed rust treatment. Using a wire wheel on an angle grinder, I started knocking off the rust on the frame rails and all was going well. Until the wire wheel busted through the frame. Uh oh. I tried a different section, same result. The whole bottom section of the frame rail was rotted away, but gave the appearance of being solid. We had been fooled. What we thought was a decent rig ended up needing either a new frame or days worth of body removal, cutting, patching, grinding, fabricating in order to restore. I didn't have the space to do such a repair. What a let down :(

    After a day or two of sulking, we started our search again. This time, we vowed not to be tricked again. Every inch of the frame will be inspected for signs of rust. After seeing vehicles in North Carolina, Tennessee, Southern Ohio, Georgia, we settled on this one. It had a few trouble spots on the frame near the muffler but nothing that couldn't be fixed or require major repair work. The Carfax showed it had been well maintained, and spent most of it's years in Kentucky before being bought and moved to Ohio. The price was reasonable and under budget. So reasonable that while we were looking at it, two random people came looking to buy it while we were seeing it and test driving it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
  3. Sep 10, 2020 at 10:11 AM
    #3
    Cattywampus

    Cattywampus [OP] Splitter of CV Boots

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Member:
    #235284
    Messages:
    306
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Mark
    Colorado
    Vehicle:
    '03 Tacoma DC TRD OR
    INITIAL REPAIRS/RESTORATION
    • Front Suspension Rebuild - Replacing all bushings, Upper and Lower Ball Joints, and anything discovered to be bad along the way.
    • Rear End Rebuild - Replacing all bushings, Upper and Lower Ball Joints, and anything discovered to be bad along the way.
    • Rust Repairs:
      • Passenger Frame Rail near Muffler
      • Rear Upper Shock Mounts
      • Rear Brake Backing Plate
    • Frame Corrosion Treatment and Prevention
    • Body Repairs - Rust on Driver side rocker panel, driver side wheel well, & rear hatch
    • Fluid and Filter Changes
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
  4. Sep 10, 2020 at 10:11 AM
    #4
    Cattywampus

    Cattywampus [OP] Splitter of CV Boots

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2017
    Member:
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    Messages:
    306
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Mark
    Colorado
    Vehicle:
    '03 Tacoma DC TRD OR
    MODIFICATION PLANS - as of Dec 2020

    Build Philosophy and Considerations:
    We need a principle and constraints to guide the vehicle build. Considering the endless modifications that could be done, we have to narrow down to the stuff that actually matters for our purpose. When it is all said and done, the vehicle needs the following:

    1. Dependability - We need it to perform and not leave us stranded in some real off the grid location, especially when you're outside the US and services may be limited.
    2. On Road Manners - The main highway is mostly paved. Cities we venture into will be paved. Considering the shear amount of driving involved, the truck needs to handle high speed travel over roads well, and be comfortable enough.
    3. Low Profile - Considering the countries we'll be in, we need to maintain a low profile. We don't want our vehicle to attract unwanted attention or scream "outsiders" to any who may observe us. (ie no crazy lifts, giant tires, badass bumpers, armor, winches, jerry cans everywhere, etc).
    4. Decent Off Road Performance - We expect to do a fair bit of off roading (froading) in all sorts of terrain, as the places we'll end up may not have nice paved roads. Although we will be froading, it is not the primary goal of the trip.
    5. Parts Availability - If we break down, we need to be able to find parts and repair the vehicle in a timely manner.
    6. Cheap-ish - I could easily spend tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle with the best of the best overlanding gear, suspension setups, etc. However, like most we are on a budget. We'd rather save our money for extra travel time and experiences rather than sick vehicle modifications. I have my 1st Gen Tacoma for that ;)
    With all that considered, below is our plan.

    Modification/Upgrade Items:

    • Front Suspension: Re-built Icon Coilovers Up Front ~
    • Rear Suspension: OME 906 Spring/ Bilstein 5100
    • Slightly Taller Tires - BFG A/T KO2's (265/75/R16)
    • E-Locker 3rd Member Swap
    • Andy's Mod (Bagel Mod) - Kills VSC
    • Fog Light Add
    • Running Board Delete - Complete
    • Rear E-Locking 3rd Member Swap
    • Fuel Pump Hidden Kill Switch
    • Fog Light Add
    • LED Bulbs Upgrade
    • Rear Storage Drawers
    • Strongarm Heavy Duty Gas Strut
    • Rear Hatch Awning
    • Auxiliary/Dual Battery Setup
    • Food Storage
    • Fog Light Add
    • Fuel Storage
    • Water Storage
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
  5. Oct 5, 2020 at 9:29 AM
    #5
    Cattywampus

    Cattywampus [OP] Splitter of CV Boots

    Joined:
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    Member:
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    Messages:
    306
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    Mark
    Colorado
    Vehicle:
    '03 Tacoma DC TRD OR
    ** Work in Progress, Will be updated as work continues **

    Front Suspension Rebuild:

    After buying the 4Runner, we noted that most of the suspension components besides the coil and struts appeared to be the originals. At almost 20 years and 190k, it's time to retire the wear components:


    Front Suspen.jpg
    Old suspension components as removed, Note: LBJ's not pcitured.


    Lower Ball Joint - Replaced with OEM LBJ - The LBJs appeared to be original. The originals have been known to fail at less than optimal times. They were replaced with brand new ones.

    LBJ.jpg


    Upper Ball Joint - Replaced with OEM UBJ - Using a autoparts store rented ball joint press, the Upper ball joints came out easy enough. I had to cut off the threads of the joint so the deep socket could reach the base of the joint to press on it. Easy enough with a cutoff wheel.

    UBJ Press.jpg

    Upper Control Arm Bushings and Arms - These were a bear to get out, as most had rust welded themselves in place. I tried all manner of getting them out, even purchasing a Universal Press & Pull Sleeve Kit (see link below), which did not work very well. To be fair, the kit worked, but the drive screws included were not rated for the force that was needed. I ended up galling up the threads pretty good. I also deformed one of the bushing holes when the socket skewed using the universal kit :facepalm:.

    No matter, I found a 12 ton harbor freight press on Facebook Marketplace for $100. Even already assembled! Now the kit can be used as a press sleeve kit. I'd been holding off on buying a press for a long time. Now that I have one, I don't know how I have done without.

    The Upper Control Arms I damaged needed to be replaced. $40 for a set of new looking UCAs from Arizona with new looking UCA bolts. No rust treatment needed. The bushings in the new arms slid right out. I'm jealous of all those no salt states.

    UCA Compare.jpg
    New (left) Vs Old UCAs, Bushings

    UCA Press In.jpg
    Pressing in new bushings

    20201003_165922.jpg
    Bushings pressed in with light coat of antiseize. Approx 2mm gap left between the bushing shoulder and the cup.

    Lower Control Arm Bushings - The LCA surprisingly came off without have to cut any of the camber sleeves. I consider that a huge win. The bushings however were were rust welded in the LCA. I tired the bottle jack method, but was extremely cautious. I have done the bottle jack method before on my Tacoma, although it ended up bending one of the LCAs. I would only recommend that method if you live in a non-rust state. But, now I have a press. I used the method described in Timmy the Toolman's videos (linked below). The bushings came out without damage, although seemed to take all off the 12 tons to get them out. When they finally popped out, it sounded like a gunshot. My girlfriend ran down stairs to see it I was okay :rofl: The rust was removed, treated, and a fresh coat of paint applied to the LCAs.

    20200925_164028.jpg
    Pressing out old bushings.

    20201004_192842.jpg
    Originals LCA bushings

    20201004_110409.jpg
    New Bushings, Lower Control arms treated and painted.

    20201004_112749.jpg
    New Bushings pressed in, never forget that light coat of antiseize on the bushing sleeve.

    Sway Bar Links and Sway Bushings: Bushings and links looked a bit tired. Needed to cut one of the nuts out.
    Sway Link.jpg
    Link nut had to be surgically removed... with a cutoff wheel.

    Sway Bar Replacement -
    When I was at the local Pick-n-Pull (LKQ in my area) picking up a set of factory fog lamp assemblies, I scored a sway bar in much better condition than my original

    Sway bush.jpg
    Sway bar bushing... slightly worn out.

    New Sway Bar .jpg
    "New" (bottom) vs. Old


    Helpful Tools:

    Helpful Resources:
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
  6. Oct 9, 2020 at 9:40 AM
    #6
    Cattywampus

    Cattywampus [OP] Splitter of CV Boots

    Joined:
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    Vehicle:
    '03 Tacoma DC TRD OR
    With all of the front suspension out, I decided to change out the steering rack bushings. When pulling off the "wrap around" bushing, I discovered corrosion pitting had occurred all the way around the steering rack tube. Although no leaks were present, I was not sure how much wall thickness remained between the inside of the tube and a potential leak. I bought a replacement OEM rack from a salvage yard out west. More on that later.

    For now, I impromptu decided to replace the transmission filter with all the components removed and a clear shot at the transmission pan. It arguable whether this is necessary, but at 190k I figured it might be a good idea. It also might give me an idea of the overall health of the transmission. The replacement is straight forward and Timmy the Toolman has a great in depth video detailed every step. With the oil pan removed, nothing abnormal was noted with the fluid or filter. The sediment on the filter seemed normal, no excessive buildup.

    Obligatory shot of old and new filter plus the cleaned oil pan:

    20201008_191006.jpg



    Helpful Resource:
    https://youtu.be/tuGazNhuEtM

    ***Note: I didn't need the special oil pan gasket separator that Tim mentions in his video. I used a stiff paint scraper and was careful not to insert to in too far.
     
  7. Dec 2, 2020 at 9:42 AM
    #7
    Cattywampus

    Cattywampus [OP] Splitter of CV Boots

    Joined:
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    Vehicle:
    '03 Tacoma DC TRD OR
    Icon 2.5" IPF Coilover Rebuild (P/N 58615):

    I had an old crusty set of Icon 2.5" IFP (internal floating piston) coilovers that lived on my Tacoma for almost 10 years. I neglected maintenance on them for various reason. I bought a set of fox coilovers for the truck as part of a black Friday deal and planned to rebuild coilovers eventually. Well eventually turned into almost a year and then the 4Runner came along. Since the coilover fits both a 1st gen Tacoma and a 3rd gen 4Runner, I finally had the motivation to get to that rebuild. I won't go into too much detail of the how to, as there is a great writeup which I'll link below:

    20201003_160842.jpg
    My adjustment nut (aka preload collar) were well seized in place and I couldn't get them to budge. I needed to compress the spring in order to slip off the bottom mount. The auto parts store will rent out spring compressors, but in my experience they are worthless for taking off the spring. The "hooks" don't fit between the spring and the shock body, so it gets sketchy pretty quick. I paid a shop with a proper stand spring compressor to remove the spring for me (~$40).

    20201005_175424.jpg
    Mounted in vice, disassembly is pretty straightforward from here.

    20201005_181313.jpg
    Gross looking ~10yr/80,000mi shock oil and seals.



    20201018_174946.jpg
    With the spring off, the preload adjustment nut could be cut off. Luckily the shock body threads were intact.

    20201021_181739.jpg
    Disassembled parts (top mount not shown) with Icon Rebuild Kit 252010. During removal the top mount bolts stripped out the aluminum threads. I was tempted to fill in the holes and re-tap, but considering the hole depth, I bought replacements.


    20201024_184252.jpg
    Carnage from the rebuild. I also replaced both upper and lower eyelet bearings, I didn't take any pics. I used Icon parts for replacements, but found that most of the COM-10T bearings and spiral lock retaining rings could be found on McMaster-Carr. The lower and upper bearings were very difficult to remove considering the rust and debris that formed over time.

    New Springs.jpg
    New-ish Icon springs (P/N 158504) bought on TW (Thanks @Globemaster :thumbsup:).

    20201024_133805.jpg
    Rebuilt, ready for new spring to go on. I'm experimenting with some UHMW washers (the black and white rings in the photo) to go between the preload adjustment nut and coil to make preload adjustments easier. Both the old upper & lower bearings had significant play in them from the debris that got in them over time. I'm testing a dust seal for the upper and lower mounts to hopefully protect them and extend there life. More on the in a future post.

    Icons Installed.jpg
    Reassembled, Recharged and Installed. I took the coilovers to a motorcycle repair shop who charged the coilover with nitrogen to 250psi (~$25). Note: Old top mounts reinstalled just to do some adjustments. At the time the photo was taken, I was awaiting the new mounts to arrive.

    Helpful Resources:

    Parts List Used:
    (QTY 1) 252010 - Icon 2.5″ IFP Coilover / Shock Basic Rebuild Kit
    (QTY 1) 611067 - Icon Coilover Lower Mount Replacement Bearing Kit (Only 1 kit needed if only doing both lower mount bearings. Includes new lower bearing spacers)
    (QTY 2) 255110 - FK COM10T Bearing F1 Fit
    (QTY 2) 255120 - Spirolox Wht-118-S02 COM10 302SS
    (1 Gallon) 254100G - Icon Performance Shock Oil (I used about half)
    (QTY 2) 257501 - 2.5 Adjuster Nut 3.0 ID Coil (Needed since mine were seized and needed to be cut off)
    (QTY 2) 157012 - 96-04 Toyota CO Mount RevC (Replaced only b/c I stripped some threads)
    (QTY 2) 158504 - Icon 13" X 650 lb Coil Spring for 2.5" Coilovers (Mine were pretty nasty with rust and replaced).
     
  8. Dec 2, 2020 at 1:05 PM
    #8
    Cattywampus

    Cattywampus [OP] Splitter of CV Boots

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    Wheel Bearing Replacement

    I fall victim to the "While I have it apart, I might as well…" mentality. It seems at times I set out to do one job, which turns into a couple of different jobs. What should have taken a day, takes all weekend. I'm sure everyone on this forum could relate. While undergoing the front suspension rebuild, The knuckles were completely out, therefore while I have it apart, I might as well replace both front wheel bearings and both knuckle seals. I mean, I now have a press, so I might as well put it to good use.

    I was worried that the 12 ton press wouldn't be able to get the hub and bearing out. But to my relief and surprise, it had no problem, but did feel like I was using about 80% of it's pressing capacity based on the amount of pressure I needed to put on the handle. I have no way to back that up, so your results may vary. I didn't take many pictures of the job. I used Timmy's videos again to guide my work. This is the second time I have done the job, and it is much less intimidating the second time around.

    Knuckles.jpg
    Before

    20201010_152829.jpg
    Pressing out old wheel bearing

    20201017_140953.jpg
    Old vs New Parts - Knuckle, hub, and dust shield (not pictured) cleaned up and refinished prior to reassembly


    With the original wheel bearings out, I was surprised how good they felt even after 190k+ miles. None of the service records indicated that the front wheel bearings were ever replaced so I assume they were the originals. Did the job need to be done? Well yes, eventually. Did it need to be done when I did it. Who knows? Could have been 1000 or 100000 miles away from failure. But better replaced now than in central America.

    Parts List:
    I bought a kit off eBay that included everything you need to do two front wheel bearings:

    • (QTY 2) #HCDU5496-6LFT - Koyo Wheel Bearing (Koyo is the supplier for the Toyota Part. If you want OEM, the P/N is 90369-54002)
    • (QTY 2) #90316-69001 - Inner Seal
    • (QTY 2) #90521-99114 - Wheel Bearing Snap Ring
    • (QTY 2) #90312-95001 - Outer Seal

    Helpful Resources:
    Timmy's Manual Hub Videos -
    https://youtu.be/TZ2sOfVrnhU
    https://youtu.be/1TpOYj0sUpA
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2020
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  9. Aug 30, 2021 at 7:21 AM
    #9
    JoeyWales

    JoeyWales Well-Known Member

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    Subbed!
     
  10. Oct 14, 2022 at 1:57 PM
    #10
    yotadude520

    yotadude520 Well-Known Member

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    The Dirty T
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    1986 Toyota Land Cruiser
    OME Lift - FJ62 Axles - 33x10.50 BFGs
    Any updates on this build?
     
  11. Apr 8, 2023 at 2:13 PM
    #11
    COMAtized99

    COMAtized99 Well-Known Member

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    The Bed is stock...ish

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