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Old 10-05-2019, 07:32 PM #1
watersna watersna is offline
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Watersna Captain's Log ('99 LTD build/maint/trips thread))





Spoiler alert: The vehicle itself isn’t my main hobby. I just got it to support my main hobby, so this isn’t going to be a sexy build for those interested in armor and big tires. Mostly a place to ask dumb questions that don’t deserve their own thread. I do like tinkering and have some little mods done/planned that I haven't seen around much so if you are into such things, take a peek.

About me: Prior to this vehicle, I hadn’t done so much as change my own oil. I did take Auto Shop in 10th grade and I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and fixing things. Prior to the 4Runner, I owned a 2000 Civic (stolen) and a 2006 Focus. Chose the 4-runner after taking the Focus into a whole bunch of places that a Focus was never built to go to. Enter 4Runner.

About the truck: Bought it in early 2018 with 216K miles, by now it’s up to 236K. It’s a 1999 Limited with the multimode shifter. V6, No rear locker. Lived in Cali so the frame is in great shape rust-wise. The goal was never to take it too far out of stock. I just wanted an off-road capable vehicle that could take me all the places I wanted to go for my photography, and also get it into shape as a sleeper so I can easily stay mobile on trips and be able to get out of camp before sunrise without having to take the time to break down tents, etc.

Issues and to-do:

-4WD: The truck had the dreaded blinking 4WD signal when I got it. Perhaps unwisely, I looked a little online and gambled on the problem being a $40 switch. Turns out I was half right. Two of the switches were bad but there was also a bad wire in the TC actuator harness which caused intermittent loss of connection and made the issue very difficult to track down. Eventually I was able to trace it, pop open the actuator and resolder the wires to all the timing contacts. Problem solved? The blinking light is gone, but the truck still usually doesn’t like going into MM/AWD on the fly. I usually have to stop and pop it into reverse for it to lock in. I can hear one pop down below when I press the shifter button (I’m assuming that’s the TC) but then usually have to wait until shifting into R for the second pop (ADD?). Current prescription is getting the system some good exercise before I go digging around the ADD.

Fuel Gauge: This seems to be a known issue. At some point in the last year or so, the fuel gauge went haywire and now reads either completely full (usually when the tank is mostly empty) or way below E (when it’s full). Checked the my VIN against the TSB on this matter and it looks like I’m in for both the dash unit and the fuel send unit. To my understanding, this must be done by Toyota (for odo reasons) and costs about $400. I pulled the Low Fuel bulb because it wasn’t doing any good and I got tired of it blinking at me and now I just go off the odometer.

Ignition lock: the keyway on the ignition sticks a fair amount of the time, and won't let me start the car. Feels like it steering-locked but it's not. So far I've been able to reliably fix it by shoving in the key for my dad's old Highlander, wiggling it, the using my own key again to start.

Sun roof leaks sometimes. Will probably fix with caulk

Trans cooler: I’d like to get this bad boy milkshake-proofed sooner than later

Tundra Brakes: The stock ones are warped and it turns into a massage chair every time I have to brake from speed. I’m thinking the 199s.

Drawers/rear platform: coming soon

In-Dash navigation/receiver. Would like to have GPS available in spots without cell coverage. My cassette adapter is also starting to fail and it seems silly to be buying another in 2019/2020.

Minutia/cosmetics:
-Center mirror was very loose. I jammed a piece of zip tie in there and now it holds it’s position.
-Dash Drive indicator out: Replaced. Is it dimmer than all the other lights for everyone else?
-Climate control: Backlight bulbs were fried and it’s gone haywire. Replaced the bulbs but still need to get it running reliably. I've heard that going over the joints with a soldering iron can help?
-Driver seat Lumbar support motor is dead. Apparently you can’t buy these anymore?
-Driver seat control knobs: The controls are bare pegs at the moment. My OCD is taking hold.
-Multiple cleanings: Smelled like dog and cigs when I got it. The first carpet cleaner I tried smelled worse than dog and cigs. I borrowed an upholstery mini-steamvac from my parents and vacuumed all carpets and the headliner with it. Smells neutral now. Rug also showed signs of cigs and dog. Multiple cleanings have mostly but not entirely remedied this. Old stains are mostly gone now though.
-Clock was dead. I tried the tooth surgery fix a few times but it would always last for a day or two and then fade away again. I think the issue was somewhere other than the plug contacts, because pressure on the screen (and not the contacts) seemed to change its behavior. Ended up buying a replacement on ebay.

Mini-Mods: (more info forthcoming)
Plasti-dipped badges: wanted to fit in with the cool kids.
Pass-thru Power bank and integrated console USB ports.
High-contrast TC shifter

Last edited by watersna; 10-05-2019 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 10-05-2019, 08:02 PM #2
watersna watersna is offline
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High-Contrast TC shifter

***MiniMod***

Took a few minutes today to do this:



Is it necessary? No.
Is it useful? Probably not.
Does it look cool? Maybe.
Did it cost less than $2.00? Hell yeah.

Procedure:

-Clean w/toothbrush and solvent
-Dab on nail polish, make sure it gets into all cracks
-Wipe up excess
-clean with acetone and Q-tip
-repeat as necessary

works best if you move Q-tip perpendicular to any nearby lines so it doesn't remove polish from inside the troughs
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Old 05-18-2020, 02:25 PM #3
watersna watersna is offline
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Some updates:

First, I'm copying this over from a post I made on yotatech a while back. I had the blinking 4wd lights and could not figure out what the issue was because it wasn't one of the common fixes. Here's what ended up fixing it:



This ended up being my solution to the blinking 4WD light problem. Wanted to post a little write-up about it because I haven't seen any other posts with this particular version of the issue, and the shop was saying I was looking at a potential $2k bill to have the transfer case pulled. This fix cost me about $11 all together (for a tube of epoxy and a trailer wire harness that I harvested the wires from) and a morning's work. I wanted to make this easy to understand even for someone without much car knowledge. This will require basic soldering and a willingness to break your car in order to try to fix it. This is definitely a MacGyver fix and not a by-the-book one so try it at your own peril.

4WD blinking light issue: Mine is a 99 LTD Multi-Mode with the button on the shift lever. After driving for about 10 minutes from a cold start, the 4WD light would start blinking and would be unable to shift into or out of 4WD. After a while, it would stop but would start and stop again erratically, sometimes in response to vibration like driving over potholes, etc. For what it's worth I also had a bad 4WD switch which confused the issue even more. Those switches would be the first thing to check if you are having the blinking light issue. See this thread for more info.

Background on Toyota 4wd systems:
YouTube
YouTube
The Automatic Disconnecting Differential system: Off-Road.com
http://www.4x4wire.com/toyota/tech/add/

How the actuator works:
Then the actuator receives power, a motor turns a worm gear, which is engaged with the timing gear. This timing gear has several traces on it, which line up with contacts mounted on a plate screwed to the inside of the barrel. These operate as position switches for the shaft. The timing gear is attached to a pinion gear which interfaces with a rack gear on the shaft. The shaft holds the yoke, which moves the transfer case gears into place, shifting the car into 4WD/AWD (if applicable). The vacuum tube into the barrel doesn't appear to be necessary for the functioning of the actuator and my guess is that it's there to pull out any moisture in the system.

My problem: one of the wires connecting to the 4 timing contacts was bad, giving only intermittent connection. Complicating the issue is that these wires are potted in place with some kind of rubberized compound that seems to be injected into the casing.

Solution: By opening up the barrel of the actuator, I was able to find the bad wire by connecting a multimeter in Cont mode to the contacts in the transfer case actuator electrical connector and then to the contacts inside the barrel while manipulating the wiring harness. I ended up clipping all the wires, un-potting them, and then replacing them with new wires and desoldering the barrel cap wires to the rest of the harness.

Step by step:
  1. Disconnect the battery
  2. Remove the vacuum line connected to the barrel cap. If it’s old and crusty, snip off the ratty part, but no more than you have to so it is still long enough to connect.
  3. Using a 10mm socket, remove the three bolts holding the barrel cap onto the actuator. Using a slot-head screwdriver and a few light taps from a mallet, remove the barrel cap (there is an o-ring in there, so I found it’s easiest to tap with the mallet until there is a gap you can fit the screwdriver in and then moving between the three bolt holes, slowly wedge it out of the barrel.)
  4. Snip the wires of the harness that connect into the barrel cap (this is the point of no return in this operation)
  5. With the barrel cap removed, unscrew the two screws holding the plastic contact mount plate into the barrel cap. The mount plate will not separate from the barrel cap because of the potting.
  6. Un-pot the contacts. I ended up just pulling on the contact plate until the rubber potting material tore away from the wires enough to release the plate and then used a pair of pliers (any roughly cylindrical-shaped object of the right circumference should do) to push the potting through from the outside of the barrel cap, pushing on the rubber around where the wires entered the barrel cap. This eventually popped out a big chunk of the potting relatively cleanly, and I went back in with a knife and some pliers to clean it up a bit.
  7. Solder new wires to the contacts and run them through the hole in the barrel cap. To line them up properly, I threaded them though the chunk of potting I had just pushed out of that hole and then butted it up against the barrel cap.
  8. Re-pot the new wires. If you can think of a good rubberized material to use here, go for it. I just used 5 minute epoxy from kit with a mixer tip that I picked up for a few bucks at Home Depot. The chunk of old potting served as a decent dam to hold the epoxy and leave a clean-looking exit for the wires. You might also try taping over the hole with electrical tape and pricking a hole for each wire.
  9. Cut the wires to length (I left them a little longer than the original wire harness for ease of installation. Added maybe an inch and a half or so.) Add heat-shrink to the cables and reattach the barrel cap to the actuator.
  10. Strip and resolder new cases to old wiring harness.
  11. Put heat-shrink in place an shrink. Wrap your new wiring harness in electrical tape. Make sure everything is plugged back in, including vacuum hose.
  12. Reconnect the battery
  13. Test drive

Pictures:
The first two I stole from an ebay listing of an actuator similar but not identical to mine. The third is a picture I took of the barrel cap before trimming the wires and reinstallation


note that one of the 4wd sensors is missing in this image

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Old 05-18-2020, 03:36 PM #4
watersna watersna is offline
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Sleeping Platform/Storage drawers

Spent the early part of the shelter-in-place order working on a drawer system and sleeping platform:


Here's the storage portion with the seat backs up in place:


I went for the three-part design because 28 inches is about the max length for sliders before they start to get significantly more expensive. So it has two 28x16 inch drawers plus a ~36x10 inch compartment, which holds some of the longer tools (axe, shovel):


Shovel and axe get attached to the compartment lid, which allows room at the bottom for some flat tools (socket set, tire repair, battery jumper), and a saw fits in along the side. Angle iron gives it a reliable stop and also keps it from warping, which was an issue early on when the plywood still had some moisture in it.

The drawers hold a mix of tools, camping stuff, emergency supplies and then just useful car things (reusable shopping bags, for instance). The phone books are there for fire starting:




With the rear seatbacks folded down, I can pop in the extension for the sleeping platform, which slots into a little catch made of bar stock:


This holds it quite well, and there's very little play in any direction.

The extension is sized to fit with or without the seat bottoms removed, though it's definitely more comfortable with them out. With the seat bottoms out, a 75" x 39" folding mattress fits in perfectly. I prefer this over an inflatable mattress because there's no squeaks or groans when you move and you don't have to worry about holes or it deflating in the night. It's bulky to pack but i figure if I'm sleeping in the car, I'm packing light anyway. This is mostly a way to stay mobile during solo photo outings.

Here's the platform with mattress and sleeping bag (in actual use, pillow goes by the tailgate because there's not much support under the end by the front seats)




Having tried it out for a night, I'd say it's the most comfortable thing I've ever slept on outside of a permanent building (which isn't saying much, I've always just used those 1/2" foam pads when camping). With the rear window cracked about 1/2", I was plenty warm and there was zero condensation inside the vehicle the following morning, with overnight temps in the low 40s (~6000 ft elevation).

A few thoughts:
  • It's about 6" tall, which is the perfect height for me. Stores everything I want to store while still leaving plenty of cargo space. I can also sit upright on it just fine. I don't think I'd want it any taller.
  • I really like being able to store all my stuff while still looking relatively stock inside, and not having boxes floating around. If someone walks by when it's parked, they see a carpeted floor and not boxes of camping gear or tools mounted on the walls, which I imagine has to look less enticing to thieves.
  • I realize that the storage compartment design means that some tools are less accessible with cargo in the trunk. But like I said, I usually travel pretty light if I'm going far off the beaten path, and it's not much more inaccessible than the stock jack/lug wrench location or the rear side storage compartment.
  • if you're going to build one of these, make sure you add something to keep the drawers from self-opening if you park on a hill and open the tailgate. I used ball detentes that are made for closet doors. They aren't quite as strong as I'd hoped, but I've had no problems with them yet. Just something to be aware of.
  • Carpetting isn't a good color match, but it was one of 2 colors that I found cheap in 6x8 rolls at my local home depot. The other color was a brown and if I was doing it again, I might have leaned that direction.
  • I stole the idea for strapping pulls from someone else I saw somewhere, but I really like the design. Effectively zero clearance and very easy to install. I also bought several straps on amazon that were garbage for actually holding things with, so it worked great to cut them up and use them for this instead.
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Old 05-18-2020, 04:46 PM #5
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spartacus is just really nice spartacus is just really nice spartacus is just really nice spartacus is just really nice
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Good functional storage and sleeping platform. The truck all stock is plenty capable of taking you almost any where.
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Old 05-18-2020, 05:43 PM #6
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I like the French cleats for the sleeping add on. Was considering doing that too but was thinking there might be a reason of no one else is doing it. Might just go for it now since youíre happy with it
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Old 05-18-2020, 11:28 PM #7
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I think we need some more pictures of your platform, especially how the front section attached and slides out of the way. It looks great. I want to build one soon and am gathering inspiration ideas from thoughtful T4R designers like yourself.
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Old 05-21-2020, 10:02 AM #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JZiggy View Post
I think we need some more pictures of your platform, especially how the front section attached and slides out of the way. It looks great. I want to build one soon and am gathering inspiration ideas from thoughtful T4R designers like yourself.
The extension is pretty simple: just a piece of plywood (~27x39" if memory serves, I'm not looking at it at the moment now) with a support on one side and a piece of angle stock screwed to the other:



On the forward side of the storage portion, I mounted two pieces of bar stock, one wider than the other so that it makes a lip:



The piece of angle stock drops into the gap between the lip and the 2x6 on the storage side and a screw head on either side keeps it from moving laterally. When not in use, the whole extension lifts out and is pretty easy to store in the garage.

I tested a few heights for the support and found that the wide side of a 2x4 fits just about perfectly for the height of the platform. Might be a fraction of an inch high but if I want to I can plane it down without dismantling it. since my box is built of 2x6, seems like a good starting point is 2 inches less than the height of your box for the support.
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