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eimkeith's '03 Taco

Discussion in '1st Gen. Builds (1995-2004)' started by eimkeith, May 15, 2019.

  1. May 15, 2019 at 11:34 AM
    #1
    eimkeith

    eimkeith [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Member:
    #206925
    Messages:
    104
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    J Keith
    Vehicle:
    '96 4Runner, '03 Taco
    Hi there. I bought my 2003 Tacoma at the end of last year to serve as a daily driver while I'm finishing my 3rd gen 4Runner build (which keeps getting delayed because I make some products for 3rd gens and the half-assembled 4Runner is super convenient when I need to measure or fit something...)

    My ultimate goal when I was looking for a Tacoma was to have a solid platform on which to build a weekend crawler after the 4Runner is back in service; I knew I wanted either an extra cab or double cab, a 5spd, 3.4, and as little rust as possible. I also knew that I'd be bobbing the bed and cutting the fender openings for larger tires, so I was pretty flexible about body condition.

    I ended up buying a well-priced, 2003 TRD package extra cab with a factory replacement frame, nice interior, and an appropriate amount of body damage. Pretty much perfect for what I was after, except it's an automatic - which is correctable. ;)

    The truck was bone stock - including original Toyota-branded Bilsteins (!!). I threw on a set of 4Runner wheels with better tires immediately after purchase, and made it the daily driver. At some point, the remaining front marker light fell out on the interstate, but other than that, no real surprises besides it needing an alignment (more on this in post#4).

    Here it is right after I got it,
    [​IMG]

    and here it is later at Uwharrie months later - still completely stock aside from the wheels:

    [​IMG]
    (thanks Devon for that photo)

    After I took it to Uwharrie, it kind of sunk in that it'd be quicker to prep the Taco for weekend wheeling than the 4Runner, so my "plan" to build the Taco after the 4Runner was sort of corrupted.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
    Reh5108 likes this.
  2. May 15, 2019 at 11:58 AM
    #2
    eimkeith

    eimkeith [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Member:
    #206925
    Messages:
    104
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    J Keith
    Vehicle:
    '96 4Runner, '03 Taco
    So the first orders of business are raising the fuel tank, and making sliders. But let me back up a minute.

    After I bought the Taco, I found a rolled '96 3.4/5spd on Craigslist and I bought it (for $600, then sold the rear axle for $200, so I'm into it for $400 now) as a parts donor for a 5spd conversion. I wasn't aware at the time that I need a 2003 ECU specifically to even consider this conversion, but I think I got a lot of what I'll need, so it's still a sound purchase. Plus, the frame is straight, so it has become the product development platform for the Tacoma stuff - this is how that donor truck looks today:

    [​IMG]
    (the 1st gen in the background is for my wife; it will get the 3.4 out of the donor Taco at some point.)

    So I've started on the fuel tank lift, using the '03 for general measurements, and the '96 for fitment. Right off it's clear that raising the tank 2" is beneficial:

    [​IMG]
    (2" is the most I'm comfortable lifting the tank without a body lift, due to the clearance of the hard fuel lines coming out of the tank under the bed floor)

    On the 3rd Gen 4Runner I've had to relocate the tank to gain clearance, using an F150 aux tank in the spare tire location (I have a neat bracket/crossmember kit for that.) On the Tacomas, however, the fuel tank crossmember is bolted into the frame, and there is enough overhead clearance to raise it 2"

    [​IMG]

    Here the crossmember has been unbolted and removed, and I'm mocking up the upper lift bracket (in blue) on one end (it will locate back down on the original holes for alignment before welding)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I've drawn up 6 components to lift the tank: the upper lift bracket shown above (one on each side of the top of the crossmember to attach to the top of the frame), a left and right lower lift bracket which will double as a weld-in frame reinforcement (also self-locating on the original frame holes), a front lift bracket, and a tank strap tab to shorten the factory strap:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    (BTW, the blue stuff is 3D printed to check fitment.)

    Aside from these 6 parts, I'll need to fold over a pinch weld at the back of the cab,
    clearance a section of bed support above the tank by 30mm, and relocate the 2003 evap stuff that is located above the rear of the tank (it's probably going in the spare tire area when I bob the bed)

    [​IMG]

    I'll make a short run of these lift brackets in case anyone else wants to lift their tank as well. I'm intending to keep the factory skid, but I don't see any reason that this wouldn't work with aftermarket skids as well?
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
  3. May 15, 2019 at 12:09 PM
    #3
    eimkeith

    eimkeith [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Member:
    #206925
    Messages:
    104
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    J Keith
    Vehicle:
    '96 4Runner, '03 Taco
    Regarding sliders: As I'm already working on sliders for the 3rd gen 4Runner, I thought they'd easily adapt to the Taco frame, and that's correct. More on that later; I'm still modeling baseplates for the legs at the moment. :)
     
  4. May 15, 2019 at 12:20 PM
    #4
    eimkeith

    eimkeith [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Member:
    #206925
    Messages:
    104
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    J Keith
    Vehicle:
    '96 4Runner, '03 Taco
    So, remember the alignment concern from the original post? I've been looking at the rear wheel centering in the wheel well on both sides of the truck since I bought it, and the left side clearly has the wheel further rearward than the right. Also, my friend Devon has confirmed that my truck crabs to the right; so I was pretty sure the axle wasn't perpendicular to the frame, and today I confirmed that.

    Here's the driver's side:

    [​IMG]

    and here's the passenger:

    [​IMG]
    (you see it too, right?)

    Well, the machine confirmed the issue (not that I needed the machine to confirm that)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Clearly the rear axle is angled such that the thrust angle is off to the right, yeah? I suspected a bad leaf spring, poorly installed axle (not on centering pin, maybe?), or possibly even mis-matched springs...

    But it turns out that the passenger side leaf spring mount is welded on almost 7mm further back on the frame than the driver's side mount. On the Toyota factory replacement frame!

    o_O

    Has anyone else seen this, or am I just particularly lucky?
     
  5. May 15, 2019 at 12:33 PM
    #5
    eimkeith

    eimkeith [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Member:
    #206925
    Messages:
    104
    Gender:
    Male
    First Name:
    J Keith
    Vehicle:
    '96 4Runner, '03 Taco
    Ok, so I have to cut off & reposition the passenger leaf spring mounts. So be it. On to more exciting things.

    My goal was to run 35s without much lift, so I spent an afternoon verifying that this was doable.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    good enough to move forward!

    I'd previously picked up this modified FJ80 rear axle from a TW member (4.56, locked) and I've recently gotten this 'lovingly, lightly-used' front LT kit from SRQ, so those are the broad strokes of my suspension strategy for the moment. I'm thinking 16" Methods (trying to get those off of another member, actually) :)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I'm not crazy about leaf springs, but I'm thinking either stock with an AAL and overload spring deletion, or Deavers? I'm also looking into extended shackles with the upper eye relocated into the middle of the frame rail to keep the ride height low (need to do more research there.) Shocks will be outboarded.

    If you guys have advice/recommendations here, I'm glad to hear it.
     

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