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Meet The Northwest Punisher... My Gen 2.5 Project

Discussion in 'New Members' started by CatmanUSN, Jan 23, 2021.

  1. Jan 23, 2021 at 7:59 PM

    CatmanUSN [OP] Active Member

    Dec 5, 2020
    First Name:
    2012 MGM Tacoma TRD Sport DCLB
    NorthWest Punisher... 32s, 265-70R17 Mazama Open Range on Fuel Shok Gun Metal Gray, full RCI Aluminum Skids, RCI Fuel Skid, N-Fab Rockers, Hooke Road Recovery Rear Bumper, SSO Hybrid Front w/Bull Bar, Warn VR Evo 10-S, 3 inch lift- Bilstein 5100 all around, Toytec Springs, AAL, SPC UCAs, Pedal Commander, Line-X Bushwackers, ARE Z-Series in OTR... ARB Front and Back Lockers, ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor, Auxbeam Control Pod...
    Hello all, CatmanUSN here, retired Navy Gunner, been lurking for a while soaking up the goodness of a great forum, learning from all the wisdom located here in TW!

    I live in the Pacific North West, by the Olympic Mountains, In Mason County, with lots of off-road nirvana up here in Washington State! My MGM 2012 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport DCLB is my new daily driver/project vehicle.

    I went to the dealership back in November, looking for the Legendary FJ Cruiser, never drove one before. Went with my best buddy Ken, to test drive 3 or 4 FJ Cruisers on various lots in Tacoma Washington (lol). My experience felt cramped (I am 6'5") kind of cavernous, the back seat was dang near impossible. I was trading in my daily driver- Nissan 370GT (Infiniti G37x AWD) and I sold my cherry Calypso Green 1995 Ford Bronco to Ken Block's Hoonicorn Project Manager Justin. My driveway was full of vehicles, my beloved said we needed to shrink it down. Alas, I was in need of something to replace my hunting rig and daily driver.

    I am not a Jeep Wrangler Guy- leaks too much (lol), full size trucks are OK, if I was going to do that it would have to be the Ford Raptor... Just could not see putting the miles and beating that up... I had a 1988.5 Suzuki Samurai, with the 2.0 upgrade and lots of extra's, it was perfect for the NorthWest, just not much of a daily driver. Love the Jeep Cherokee (XJ), hard to find not beat to hell. I am not a rock-crawling guy, more of a hunter, trail explorer, want to camp more.

    Back to the Taco story, so Ken and I drove various FJ’s both manual and automatic, did not feel it for almost $30K investment in a older 2007-2012 vehicle with almost 200K miles. It was end of the day, and Ken said… Have you ever looked at Tacoma’s? His last trck before the Ford Raptor he now owns was a 2nd Gen taco, he loved it. A local one owner 2012 Tacoma TRD Sport was just traded in with 99K miles. Immaculate. A blank canvas never off-roaded sweet Taco. I drove it and fell in love with how it drove like Butter, handled almost as good as my trophy car (My 2016 GTR). I like the 2nd Gen grille/front end better than the 3rd Gen front end grille, I liked the Bulletproof 4.0L Engine and Transmission. Toyota usually does not mess with stuff that works, so I decided 2nd Gen was the way I wanted to go, not downing the 3rd Gen- Just like the 2nd Gen more. I went in and said tell me the price, lets get this deal done. $23K later, I am driving home.

    So here is the Beginning of my Northwest Punisher Build (Note- I am a Punisher Comic fan, not some fanatic, Frank Castle was in the Military like myself, but the true Punisher- SOC Chris Kyle, American Sniper, Navy Seal, is a Hero. God bless his soul):


    2012 Tacoma Sport DCLB Blank Canvas

    I started doing my homework here, reading reviews, ratings on various products, here are the products chosen, links and website pics, the finished rig is at the bottom:

    I wanted to start with suspension, lift to eliminate the raked front end and level the truck.

    I got online went to Offroad Alliance, talked to the owners Tyson and Thom (Really cool they answer the phone!)

    I decided as a daily driver weekend off-roader, 3-inch lift was sufficient. Went with a Bilstein 5100s lift with Toytec Springs and the Add-A-Leaf (AAL) to get me level and at 3 inches.


    Upper Control Arms
    With this lift my research lead me to Specialty Products Company (SPC) Upper Control Arms or Total Chaos Upper Control Arms, I went with the SPC 25470 UPCs over the Total Chaos due to squeaking complaints of the urethane ball joints, I bet the Total Chaos last longer though.


    Next off to Les Schwab Belfair Washington, where my guys Tyler and Dan got me aligned in one hour. We then started to look at Rims, I was in the market for some sweet Fuel Skok Rims, torn between Matte-Black and Gun-Metal Gray. He was trying to sell me some Fuel Shok Bronze Rims he had in stock, he even mounted the tires and bronze rims to show them off. I said let’s go with Gun Metal Gray… Gray and Black are the theme colors for Northwest Punisher.

    Said No to these…

    Tires & Rims
    Then the big decision… 32’s or 33’s. I am a BF Goodrich Guy, very partial to All Terrain KO2’s, like I had on my Bronco, a little noisy- but stout. My Les Schwab Guy, Tyler said Gunner…Try my tires and if you do not like them at 30 Days, I will change them out for your BFG’s same price guaranteed. Les Schwab may be spendy, but the service and individual attention is always a Bonus. I went with their BFG equivalent Mazama (Made by Sumitomo Tires) Open Range 32’s. They were quieter that the BFG, a little stickier. Took the Punisher up the high Trail of Mt. Ellinor, snow and mud abundant, Punisher handled like a champ. The road driving was quiet, the off-road was perfect. I realized I needed Lockers, the TRD Sport does not have that, so back to home work!

    upload_2021-1-23_19-46-5.jpgupload_2021-1-23_19-46-15.jpgupload_2021-1-23_19-46-23.jpgSaid Yes to this

    For lockers, I started to look at the ARB offerings, Yukon Offerings, Eaton Offerings… I settled on ARB Front and Rear Air Lockers. Then the big decision… Gears or no Gears. Stock 3.73, with the 32’s and weight no issues, I considered 3.91 and 4.10. I called and talked to Northridge 4x4, talked to some folks, they were booked up for 3 months, yeesh that is busy! I called a local Silverdale 4x4 place to see who was good at Gears? The owner said there is only one place he would go to get his lockers or gears done, John at Rears and Gears, Port Orchard Washington. John’s business is the largest Yukon dealer on the West Coast, moves more product than anyone else. He worked me into his schedule before Christmas. What a joy it was to work with John (the owner) and Bryan his right hand guy. John and I discussed the pros and cons of gearing to 3.91 or 4.10, with the powerband and how the truck drives, we stuck with 3.73, he went with an ARB Compressor, Front Locker and Rear Locker, connected to my Auxbeam (S-pod Knockoff) controller. John went above and beyond, he also put in new Yukon bearings and new axle seals with the driver side Clamshell bearing. He installed the ARB CKMA12 Compressor, ARB Front Locker RD121 and ARB Rear Locker RD129 in two days.


    Truck Topper/Canopy
    Here was the BIG purchase, I first went to my Local Leer dealer, I wanted Matte Black or Line-X/Rhino tough paint. They said NO, can’t do that. I spoke to 3 (ARE/Leer/SnugTop) different regional dealers, the best overall shopping experience was with LINE-X of Olympia and Extreme Auto Spa & Detail. The most attentive, polite staff! TJ the sales manager was AWESOME! He walked me through the offerings, we went back and forth on the price, he gave me a super military discount (The owner is a retired Army Ranger, they take care of military and first responders). The Office Manager Michelle takes care of the customer! We settled on the A.R.E. Z-Series Topper, it had the single handle rear door tied to my electric door locks. We went with OTR (Over The Rail) Line-X matte black color, sleek side window, fold-down slider window up front and Yakima track system for the crown jewel to come later.


    Bushwacker Fender Flares
    Some folks like the same color flares, I was trying to make a Line-X Monster, picked the right Bushwackers off of Amazon, had TJ and the Pro’s of LINE-X of Olympia and Extreme Auto Spa & Detail … spray them with Line-X to match the bumpers, rock rails, and ARE Canopy. TJ had the bolts and washers powder coated for $30 installed for a great price! We did not like the front edge of the Bushwacker’s that cover side of bumper, so we Line-Xed the OEM plates to match. These look great, I wish they stuck out one more inch, they cover the wider tires by ½ inch.


    Rock Rails
    Went with the clean N-Fab Rock Rails and removable steps, good price, tough and easy to bolt on and off. Had these Line-X ed by LINE-X of Olympia and Extreme Auto Spa & Detail … Again- Thanks TJ and Olympia team!


    Front Bumper
    With the big Black Friday discounts, I decided on the Universal Southern Style Offroad (SSO) Hybrid Slimline bumper with bull bar, integrated Heise 20” Light Bar, with careful consideration went with the all of these options after talking with Lee Laurant the General Manager and he coached me into a great solution. Thanks SSO, the 7-week wait was worth it. I decided to Line-X the bumper which I will show later as it all comes together. The Bumper accommodated my Warn VR EVO 10-S (10K) winch with Power Interrupt Kit. I also had to buy the Heise 1 Lamp DT Wiring harness Kit for the Bumper Light Bar. I also bought the WARRIOR Products 2360 Hawse License Plate Mount to cover the winch.


    Rear Bumper
    I wanted a simple center plate mounted plate bumper. Not many options for a 2nd Gen Tacoma that would go with the look I wanted. I went with the Hooke Road Bumper, figured I would have LINE-X of Olympia and Extreme Auto Spa & Detail line-x the bumper to help with potential corrosion. Thanks TJ and Olympia Team (James, Michelle, Wren, all the Pros!)


    Skid Plates
    This was tough one, I wanted to maintain light and nimble stance, went with RCI Offroad Skid plates front to back with an awesome Black Friday sale, Engine, Transmission, T-Case, and Fuel Tank all raw aluminum, figured paint would just scratch off. Had to switch out Gas tank straps for the TRD Offroad style with bolts. 3 weeks wait, not bad RCI!


    New Front Grille
    I bought the Built NKO 2nd Gen Grill, with 4 amber lights. My Grille already looked amazing, but this makes it pop Classic Rig. Great Job Built NKO, worth the 2 month wait.


    Light Mods/Electronics
    Morimoto Profile Performance Amber Halo Kit the kit has changed, but these were installed before I bought the truck.

    Fog Lights
    Morimoto Type T XB LED Projector Fog Light was a nice addition


    S-Pod Knockoff, went with the 8-gang Switch Panel Auxbeam on Amazon… Easy Install Clean and I like where I turned a useless spot into a secure location for my vital loads!


    Best buy for all Tacoma’s… Get the Pedal Commander PC38, got it off Amazon, it fixes the throttle squishiness, no more lag. Instant response. Put it in Sport+ and you will burn down the tires and highway. Impressive upgrade.


    Echo Auto on the stock stereo, I struggle with going aftermarket stereo, I like the clean and simple, as this truck is refined but keep the stock look. This and my Smartphone make the rig current, IMO. Suggestions are welcome on aftermarket stereo, I am real picky.


    Overhead Truck/Topper Roof Racks

    This was a hard choice… Lots of products out there. I liked Prinsu, but the line up was not exactly flat in all the images I saw on line, the aluminum seemed a little thin. But I like Prinsu, not downing the product, I wanted something a little tougher. Could never get anyone on the phone to discuss some of my concerns. I looked hard at Cali-Raised, love the LED Bar Wind Deflector, the customer support was awesome, they answered the phone every time. I was about to buy the Cali-Raised, they even offered to make a prototype Cali-Raised Topper Roof Rack, caveat road trip to Orange County. That is a really cool company. Worthy of praise and buying gear there. I was not a fan of their gorgeous Front Roof Rack paired with Prinsu Topper Roof Rack. I looked at Black Rhino and Yakima Lock n Load systems, talked to the best knowledgeable sales folks around. I looked to Sherpa Equipment, said I would give them a call. Talked to Will and Hayden two of the owners who drive Toyota’s. I have also read Alex’s (The other owner) posts all over TW. Every call, and every missed call was returned… That is customer service. I went with ordering the Sherpa Equipment Grand Teton with 40 inch ExtremeLED Single Row Stealth Light Bar and Crow’s Nest Topper Rack combo. Will and Hayden walked me through the fabrication process Pro’s and Cons of all the rack systems out there, they did not talk down the competitor at all. The thicker side plates, the clean attachment points to the rubber seal areas sold me. It was a flat, seamless transition from Cab to Topper, like the load on rails vice the side plates that I think will be more structurally strong on ¼ inch thick side plates of higher quality aluminum. The Light Bar integration seemed sweet, as there will be wind noise from all roof racks, the handholds looked great to mount the side Baja Designs Rock Lights behind the side plate. All that said, I called Hayden one last time to ask about the use of hex bolt heads or button head (Cleaner) bolts on the outside, that is how they do it now. I saw posts saying that was a detractor, that is no longer the case, Hayden assured me. So, 6 more weeks for the Crown Jewel of the Punisher. I am looking at a good light Roof Top Tent (RTT), so advice is welcome! Hayden said the CVT, Tepui’s bolt right up. Last but not least, Sherpa offers a fantastic Military discount, that also sealed the deal for me. Below is what the system looks like:

    Not my Truck, lol

    Here are the Finished Truck Pictures with all the products applied to my Northwest Punisher Rig, let me know your thoughts:
    Punisher Side View- Line-X Everything…

    SSO Hybrid Slimline, With Heise Light, Warn EVO, Line-Xed, clean

    Side Chin, Morimoto Headlights, Fog Lights…

    Hooke Road Plate Bumper, Line-Xed with Flood Lights

    Morimoto’s, SSO, Built NKO Ambers

    Parking Lights, Morimoto’s and Built NKO Amber’s

    Auxbeam (S-Pod Knockoff) in the Dash Tray Space, works well! I could not fit anything in there.

    N-Fab Slide Rails, Line-Xed

    ARE Z-Series OTR Line-X Topper, Bushwackers

    Mazama Open Range All-Terrain on Fuel Shok’s

    RCI Offroad Skids, Front to back with Fuel Tank

    SSO Hybrid in Bright Light, with Warrior Product License Plate Hawse- Line-xed!

    New Additions to the NW Punisher.

    Tailgate Mod
    Installed from the Cali Raised Site, Mountain Hatch tailgate today. Came with just 4 longer bolts, think I got them right. I may just change it all out with new hardware, who knows? Like the look, we will see if it holds up.

    Posted pics below.

    Here is my rig in new member section, lots of mods, some reviews:

    Then fixed properly with the tailgate trim over the insert:

    Gotblika was right on, put new cap with large OEM T-30 heads, worked like a Champ. Thanks Gotblika! See better pics.

    RokBlokz Mudflaps
    Did not like the Bushwacker Version of Mud Flaps (Ugly and they do not make them for Tacoma), the Weathertech Mudflaps will not work with Bushwackers Fender Flares... Down to two real choices, RokBlokz Mud Flaps and Plasticolor Off Road Mud Guards. I wrote RokBlokz, they responded quickly, got me dialed in for the right size for my Gen 2.5 with 32 inch All-Terrain tires and Bushwacker fender flares. The said go with the RokBlokz Mud Flaps for 2005-2015 Toyota Tacoma-Set of 4-Regular size, NOT oversize. I spent the money, three days later the Mud Flaps are in hand. They looked plain (What I wanted), tough, adjustable, stiff (good), and had what you need to attach, well sort of.

    The issue with doing front and back mud flaps with Bushwhacker Fender Flares... Custom and adjustment. The Kit works with modifications:
    (Note: You really need a ratchet screwdriver to install without removing wheels. That is also probably why RokBloks went with shorter screws...)

    Front Flaps: The outside screws, spacers and washers work OK, could be longer, grabs 4 threads. The inside screw will not work with provided screw and spacer. I had to cannibalize an old pack of TV hanging hardware to find two more medium spacers. I think they should all be longer screws, black button head would be better, I plan on getting to the hardware store to correct later.

    Rear Flaps: The inside long screw is not long enough for the long spacer prescribed, grabs only 2 threads, so I used the medium and small spacer with the long screw to make it work. Grabs 4 threads, I think it should be a longer screw, black button head would be better, again, I plan on getting to the hardware store to correct later.

    The Mud Flaps did well in mud and extreme rain last night's install, here are some picks:
    Front Well Before, see the spot where you need the spacers :

    See the Rear Before, not the inside screw hole, that requires a spacer to keep it flat across,
    I used the small and medium to make a spacer, long screw was not really long enough:

    Finished Front pics:

    Now the Rear Pics...

    Sherpa Equipment Grand Teton Roof Rack & Crows Nest Roof Rack

    Grand Teton for the Cab:

    Crows Nest for the Topper:

    Excellent Products, easy to install, look fabulous.

    Added Sherpa Side Lights and Extreme LED 40" Light Bar:

    Kenwood Stereo System with NAVI, Sirius XM, Rockford Fosgate 8 inch Sub...

    Kenwood DNR-476S

    iDatalink Maestro ADS-MRR

    Front Right and Left Wheel Well Crawling Cameras -
    NATIKA IP69K Waterproof Cameras Wide Angle

    Alpine Back-Up Camera to augment Tacoma built in Mirror Cam...

    SiriusXM SXV300V1 Satellite Radio

    Rockford Fosgate P300-8P Punch 8"

    Rear Topper Equipment Storage Box, Handmade
    Wood and Carpet Home Depot (Less than $200)

    Looked at Decked System hard, was too heavy and too tall for sleeping in the Topper Area decided to build a Carpet Box for Storage, under 75lbs.

    Firestone Ride-Rite System to eliminate Tacoma Rear-End Sag

    Ride-Rite Kit For Tacoma
    Firestone W217602407 Ride-Rite Kit for Toyota Tacoma 4WD, Black

    Ride-Right Compressor System
    Firestone WR17602168 Air-Rite Dual Air Command II Accessory Kit

    This allows me to air up both sides independently... And Bonus air up my tires or your tires!

    Roof Top Tent... Desert Armor UL (UltraLight) with Cold Weather Package


    Was Torn between Warrior XL and UL, went with UL for footprint and 60+ lbs lighter.

    Last edited: Oct 22, 2022
  2. Jan 23, 2021 at 8:08 PM
    Black DOG Lila

    Black DOG Lila Well-Known Member

    Jun 14, 2019
    2003 Tacoma SR5 2.7 5 speed 4WD
    Stock. EZ pass.Dump pass.Inspection sticker.Convict printed lic.plates.FG cap.
    Welcome to TacomaWorld
  3. Jan 23, 2021 at 8:09 PM

    buckhuntin-tacoma Shed hunter

    Dec 10, 2017
    First Name:
    Quincy IL
    2014 Spruce Mica Tacoma DCLB
    4 inch lift - complete blackout, n-fab step bars, Black Horse bull bar, 20 inch light bar, anytime fog lights, added led day running lights, Fuel wheels and Falken Wildpeak tires ,custom fit seat covers, Gatorback mud gaurds
  4. Jan 23, 2021 at 8:10 PM
    Fargo Taco

    Fargo Taco Well-Known Member

    Mar 14, 2020
    First Name:
    Not Drew but still Drew
    2019 TRD Pro
    Lomax tonneau cover, N-Fab Podium steps, bed mat, the dreaded Raptor Lights
    That is one hell of a first post. Great looking rig and welcome to TW, Jim! :cheers:
  5. Jan 23, 2021 at 8:53 PM

    Bigdaddy4760 Well traveled Older Than Dirt

    Aug 6, 2017
    First Name:
    Poolville Texas
    2017 Tacoma DCLB TRD OR, 2004 DCSB
    Welcome to TW
    :hattip: :cheers:
    CatmanUSN[OP], crackils and Hobbs like this.
  6. Jan 23, 2021 at 9:14 PM
    Lost In The Woods

    Lost In The Woods 4 out of the 5 voices in my head say go for it!

    Jul 11, 2016
    First Name:
    Buckley, WA
    21 Gladiator Rubicon Diesel
    An unusually high amount of pinstriping.
    Greeting from the other mountain range across the sound and welcome to TW!:cheers:
    CatmanUSN[OP], crackils and Hobbs like this.
  7. Jan 23, 2021 at 9:32 PM

    CatmanUSN [OP] Active Member

    Dec 5, 2020
    First Name:
    2012 MGM Tacoma TRD Sport DCLB
    NorthWest Punisher... 32s, 265-70R17 Mazama Open Range on Fuel Shok Gun Metal Gray, full RCI Aluminum Skids, RCI Fuel Skid, N-Fab Rockers, Hooke Road Recovery Rear Bumper, SSO Hybrid Front w/Bull Bar, Warn VR Evo 10-S, 3 inch lift- Bilstein 5100 all around, Toytec Springs, AAL, SPC UCAs, Pedal Commander, Line-X Bushwackers, ARE Z-Series in OTR... ARB Front and Back Lockers, ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor, Auxbeam Control Pod...
    Thanks everyone, really feel welcome. TW is pretty dynamic, lots of great ideas, great Tacoma owners!
    crackils and Hobbs like this.
  8. Jan 24, 2021 at 2:56 PM

    Hobbs Anti-Lander from way back…

    Mar 20, 2016
    Rock Bangen', Desert Tamin', Gold Findin' Machine!
    Welcome to The Forum! :thumbsup:
    CatmanUSN[OP] and crackils like this.
  9. Jan 26, 2021 at 5:06 AM

    boogie3478 Well-Known Member

    Oct 12, 2014
    14 TRD Off-Road V6
    All the mods
    Welcome to TW! Be careful with those rock rails offroad.

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