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Old 02-18-2023, 01:58 AM #1
midcoma midcoma is offline
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Midcoma's Build - The Phoenix

Thread In Progress...

Specs:

Front:
Total Chaos Lower Control Arm Cam Tab Gussets (#59960)
Total Chaos Upper Coil Bucket Tower Gussets (#59650)
Total Chaos Spindle Gussets (# 59697)
333 Fabrications Alignment Cam Eliminator Plates
Durobumps Front Primary Bump Stops
Whiteline Performance Bushings Front Control Arm Lower Inner Bushing (#W53377A)
Icon Vehicle Dynamics 2.5" Coilovers (#58610)
OEM Manual Hubs
OEM Upper Control Arms with Heim Joints
eimkeith STR (Strut Tower Reinforcement)
eimkeith LCAR (Lower Control Arm Reinforcement)
Spidertrax Off-Road Toyota 1.25 Thick Wheel Spacers Black (#WHS007K)
Front Sway Bar Delete

Rear:
eimkeith PCK (Panhard Correction Kit)
eimkeith LLS (Lower Link Mount Skid/Reinforcement)
eimkeith ULR (Upper Link Mount Reinforcement)
OPT Off Road Rear Adjustable Control Arms, Full Kit
Durobumps 5.25in Rear Bump Stops
Bilstein 5100 Rear Shocks: 4th/5th Gen 4Runner
Overland Custom Designs Heim Joint Sway bar Links
Whiteline Performance Bushings Rear Panhard Rod Bushing (W83374)
Whiteline Performance Bushings Bush Kit Sway Bar Mount 17mm (W23487)
Land Cruiser 8 Wrap Springs (Purple-Green-White)
Spidertrax Off-Road Toyota 1.25 Thick Wheel Spacers Black (#WHS007K)
Rear Axle:
RuffStuff Toyota Pickup Rear back Truss 86-95
RuffStuff 3.0 Axle Mount 10 Degree Link Bracket Pair
RuffStuff Oil Fill Plug
Shaved Differential Housing

Gas Tank:
Eimkeith FTK (Fuel Tank Relocation Mount Kit)
Team_Jake Fuel Sending Unit Kit
Dorman Fuel Tank Strap (#578-026)
Spectra Fuel Tank and Pump Assembly (#F1G1FA)

Brakes:
ABS Delete
Dorman Brake Master Cylinder (#M39636)
Front:
Calipers: Power Stop S2712
Pads: EBC Brakes DP41657R Yellowstuff
Rotors: Power Stop JBR935XPR
Rear:
Midcoma Rear Disc Conversion Kit
Wilwood Proportioning Valve (#26010922)
Calipers: Power Stop S4824A
Pads: EBC Brakes DP41156/2R Yellowstuff
Rotors: Power Stop JBR971XPR

Wheels/Tires:
Sequoia Wheels Gloss Black Powder Coat
Nitto Trail Grapplers 295/70R17

Drivetrain:
1.5 Engine/Transmission Lift
Flat Belly Transmission Crossmember
eimkeith Transfer Case Clocking Ring Prototype
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Old 02-18-2023, 02:45 AM #2
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Background Info

I like to call this the Phoenix build for two reasons.
1. This was built for my nephew, Phoenix, for his first car.
2. I bought this 4Runner as a parts vehicle with no intention of building it. So it's on it's second life after being destined for scraps.

I bought this 1999 4Runner on 01APR20 for $1,000. Right at the start of COVID-19. My plan was to use it as a parts car to support my '99 Tacoma and '00 4Runner. I thought I would use the doors to make half doors for the 4Runner. Planned to take the cruise control, front end (fenders, hood, headlights, grill), and maybe the 5VZ engine and put them in my Tacoma. Couldn't pass it up for the price and compatibility with the cars I already had. It's also an SR5 with no flares, so no extra holes in the body!

I picked it up, cleaned it, and set it under a portable car canopy on the side yard of the house. Didn't really have any clear intentions for it at this point or any sort of timeline.

Two weeks later my daughter was born (2nd child) and at the end of May I started the long travel install on my '00 4Runner. So parts car priority was pretty low.

Fast forward about 1.5 years and the car is still sitting on the side yard. I never posted it anywhere as a parts car, so I only sold a few random parts during that time. Didn't want to part it until I knew I removed everything that I wanted.

Around this time we were also starting the search for my nephew's first car. As most of us are aware, the used car market was absolutely insane at this point. Casually and then more dedicated searching for around four months or so hadn't resulted in anything.

I also received orders to Japan, so I needed to figure out what to do with this paper weight of a car I had sitting on the side of the house. It had too many good things to scrap, but was taken apart enough that it couldn't be easily moved.

About four months before leaving the country, we made the decision to solve both problems by rebuilding the parts car for my nephew. It was supposed to be a budget build (). The thought was that I could put it back together, replacing all the common problems (valve cover gasket leak, lower ball joints, timing belt, etc.), and have a decent and reliable car for less than what the current market value was. I just had to complete it in a relatively short time period while also trying to figure out how to move to Japan.
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Old 02-18-2023, 03:08 AM #3
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How Things Started

Here's a couple great pictures of the computer screen from the Craigslist add.






A few better pictures provided by the seller.














And this is how it looked after I got it home and cleaned up.

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Old 02-18-2023, 03:35 AM #4
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Donor Frame

I like to think of this build as "cookie cutter with a twist."
It really looks like any other basic 4Runner build with the standard bolt on lift and aftermarket parts. The closer you look, the more you start to notice and realize that this isn't quite your every day 4Runner.

At the heart of that is the frame. The frame that came on this car wasn't the worst I've seen, but it wasn't something I would want to put any effort into modifying. I was extremely fortunate during this process to have a great friend help me out with some parts I needed to get this build going. The largest of these being a very nice condition frame from a 2WD 4Runner. It had been in a minor front end collision, but the frame damage was pretty minimal. The front bumper mounts and body mounts took some damage, but I decided I could use the ones off the more rusted frame to repair it.

This was the beginning of the frame's journey as I prepped to tow it home. I used some of my spare parts from old builds and parts planned for this build to make it a roller.




Here it is at the house after getting the engine removed.




It was a little dirty from sitting for a few years, but overall in great shape. It sat with a body on it so it was mostly protected.






This is how everything turned out after a few rounds with Simple Green, a hose, and a scrub brush. I also flushed the inside of the frame for probably a total of 2 hours during this cleaning process. If you look close enough you can see the damage to the body/bumper mounts in front.








Got it pushed into the garage and ready for the build to start. This was my first build starting with a bare frame, so I was pretty excited to take full advantage of the unlimited access I had for modifications.


Last edited by midcoma; 02-18-2023 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 02-18-2023, 03:40 AM #5
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looks awesome so far, excited to see how it turns out


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Old 02-18-2023, 09:55 AM #6
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This is going to be sweet. It's already sweet. Good stuff dude. Definitely look forward to seeing more updates on this thing.

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Old 02-18-2023, 10:58 AM #7
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Great job.. I wish I had a few more frames to rebuild..

I love the name of the build and the story....awesome...

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7 3rd gens listed in the build thread (2 are parts mobiles)
Build Thread: https://www.toyota-4runner.org/3rd-g...os-builds.html
Brillo's Bucket Fluid Ex changer: https://www.toyota-4runner.org/3rd-g...ml#post3358086
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Old 02-18-2023, 10:58 AM #8
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Axle Shenanigans Part 1

I've always wanted to build a Toyota axle. I know there's probably more bang for the buck buying a fabricated housing, but it's just been a bucket list item. I figured this was a good opportunity to scratch that itch.

Here's what I started with. The axle that came on this car was a little rusty, so I used the axle that came off my '00 4Runner when I replaced it with a Diamond.




Cut off a few random bits that I wouldn't be needing anymore.




Then came the wonderful process of media blasting. This sucked, but I'm glad I did it. It took way longer than expected with the shitty tools that I used. I used a cheap siphon style blast gun that drew media from a 5 gallon bucket. The media was actually good stuff that came from a local media blaster store. I did enough research to realize I didn't want to be breathing in any potential byproducts of cheap media. Crushed glass is the type I used and it worked pretty well. It went everywhere though. I used a one piece, hooded, painting suit and tried a bunch of different types of eye protection. Chemical goggles, dive goggles, swim goggles, etc. The media always found a way in. I could only blast until the point that they fogged up enough to be useless, or were etched to the point of no longer being able to see clearly. I also thought the glass would just kind of wash away with the weather, but it didn't. So this whole area remained covered in blast media.

Definitely created a good starting point for modifications though.






I used a laser level to trace the center of the housing, then started to lay out the center section of the truss. Getting this piece positioned correctly was essential for making sure the ends aligned properly.




I offset the center line the width of the truss so I knew where each edge had to end up.






Then I changed out the lower link mounts before adding the outer ends of the truss. I used RuffStuff 3.0" Axle mount 10 Degree Link Brackets. I cut a small section out of the middle and welded them back together to make them the correct width for stock links. I laid out some lines parallel to the outer edges of the factory bracket and a line on the tube below the bolt holes to aid alignment once the bracket was removed. After a little fitting for the correct angle, the new brackets were ready for install.






Then came the outer ends of the truss. This took a lot of patience, guess and check, and cardstock paper. Overall I was very happy with how it turned out.











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Old 02-18-2023, 11:28 AM #9
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Axle Shenanigans Part 2

After the long, slow process of welding the truss, it was time to gain some clearance under the differential. This was my second time shaving a Toyota housing, so I knew what I was getting into but it's still a big commitment.

Here's the initial cut line.




And after the cut.




I used cardboard to make an initial template, keeping about 1/4" off the ring gear. Then transferred the shape to 3/8" plate for cutting. The seams were cut about 1/2 way through the plate, then bent to keep the piece as complete as possible in hopes of creating less possible leak points.






I've always hated putting oil in these things, so I added a Ruffstuff Oil Fill Plug on the top of the housing right over the ring gear. Should make for an easy fill and nice ring gear inspection port. I used a hole saw to make a slightly undersized hole, then used an adjustable wrench to slowly bend the edges of the hole outward until the fill plug fit. Flaring it out like this allowed the fill plug to be on top of the ring gear without concern of interference. It was welded inside and out to hopefully ensure a leak free install.




Unfortunately I must not have taken pictures during the install, but I installed eimkeith ULR (Upper Link Mount Reinforcement) plates and the axle side of the eimkeith PCK (Panhard Correction Kit) during this time. No need for replacing the upper link mounts with Keith's plates.

A few other random things were done before one last sandblasting. A few holes drilled/tapped for brake line mounts, nuts welded into the center of the coil buckets for the future install of a bump cone spacers, a few gaps welded/plated to ensure no water would get into the truss. This is the final product before it was sent out to be electroplated. I didn't want all this work ruined by the rust can plague this housing, so I had it plated with what the shop called "Zinc High Corrosion." Apparently it's rated to withstand about 100 more hours of salt spray testing than zinc yellow-chromate.







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Old 02-18-2023, 12:17 PM #10
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Budget Adjustable UCAs?

I had another idea for modifying a stock part, so decided to give it a try without any real idea of it would work or not other than "it looks close."

I knew I would be using the 333 Fabrications Alignment Cam Eliminator Plates, and I intended to run them with the front pushed all the way towards the vehicle center and the rear towards the vehicle outside. This pushes the lower ball joint as far forward as possible with the stock parts, creating as much distance as possible to the firewall. This would remove all my alignment options (except toe) unless I used an adjustable UCA. With the idea of trying to stay on budget and also have a little fun, I decided to see if I could fit heim joints on the stock UCA.

I started by making a jig on a piece of C-channel. I welded two tabs to the C-channel to hold the inner portion of the UCA. These tabs were used for both the driver and passenger side. Then I removed the center post from a pair of old upper ball joints. I installed the post on the UCAs, then bolted the UCAs to the tabs (one at a time) to position the ball joint stud. Once in place, I welded the ball joint stud to the C-channel. This kept it at the proper distance and angle. Here's the visual to hopefully help all that make sense.






The RuffStuff 3/4" Rod End kits were luckily about the perfect width to align with the arms of the UCA. I assembled the rod ends with 1/2" of exposed threads and started mocking everything up to determine how much to cut off the UCA. With no real idea of how much adjustment would be necessary I decided on the 1/2" of exposed thread at stock length.




The ends were cut and notched and everything ended up fitting great.








This is the location of the initial welds while the UCAs were in the jig.




Once everything was welded in place, a reinforcing strip was installed for added assurance. I cut a strip of 1/8" steel, drilled a large hole in the center to fit over the threaded insert, a couple holes towards the ends for rosette welds, and rounded the ends. The strip was put on over the threaded insert and welded in place. The ends were then bent down to wrap around the UCA.




The rosette welds lined up with the butt joint between the UCA and threaded insert.




I used C-clamps to pull everything tight around the UCA contour and welded it fully. I cleaned up most of it with a flap disc to smooth everything back out after welding.

Knowing that there was a very high likelihood of the stock UCA interfering with larger tires on a set of factory Toyota wheels with large backspacing, I decided to trim as much off the end of the UCA as possible and plate over the hole. This picture shows about how much material was removed.




This is the final product before they went to electroplating with the axle housing.




Unfortunately the material removed off the end wasn't quite enough and I ended up still needing to run wheel spacers.

Overall I was very happy with how these turned out.

Here they are after electroplating, some paint for color (which didn't stick very well to the plated surface), and assembly.




And a shot of the final test fit.


Last edited by midcoma; 02-18-2023 at 12:22 PM.
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Old 02-18-2023, 12:28 PM #11
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Lower Control Arm Mods

The LCAs got some attention during this process as well. A quick sandblasting and a straight forward install of the eimkeith LCAR (Lower Control Arm Reinforcement). They were also electroplated with the other parts. Some paint was added for color and a fresh set of Whiteline bushings were installed to finish them.



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Old 02-18-2023, 12:30 PM #12
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Wow, really enjoying the level of detail in your work. Thanks for contributing so much knowledge and passion to the community!
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Old 02-18-2023, 01:10 PM #13
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Not Your Average Body Lift

The next good idea fairy came when I was deciding on a body lift. I wanted it to be 1.25". This meant a higher price and a longer lead time than something off the shelf. With my short timeline and mind towards a budget, I didn't really like that option. Looking at the bare frame, I came up with the idea of just lifting the factory body mounts. Sounded easy enough, and if you look at the mounts you'll notice that most of them are below the top of the frame anyway. The tricky part was figuring out how to make sure they stay in exactly the right spot. Here's what I came up with.

I had two frames.
The set of body mounts from the good frame would be sacrificed to keep the frame in good shape. I cut the mounts off with a plasma cutter and cleaned up what was left on the frame with a cutoff wheel. This allowed me to leave the factory weld on the frame, providing a guide for where the mount needed to go. It also made sure I didn't make any holes in the good frame. This is an example of what it looked like. You can clearly see how the mounts were hacked.




And the mounting location after cleaning it up.




For the bad frame, I cut the frame with the plasma cutter to keep the body mounts in good shape. Some careful cutting and a little bit of clean up left me with a full set of good body mounts. Remember the front end damage to the good frame? This also fixed that because I used the good bumper/body mounts from the original frame. As far as the original frame having more rust, once the parts were cut off they were small enough to throw in the blast cabinet and get perfectly cleaned up. Here's how the original frame looked after having a mount cut off.




Some mounts ended up having lines cut completely through the frame, but the mounts were left exactly as I needed.

This was the process for lifting and attaching the mounts. The body mount was aligned in the channel left from the original mounts. A piece of 1.25" angle was placed on top of the frame to get the correct lift height. The mount was then welded to the frame at the new height.






To fix the overhang at the top, little sections were cut out and the mount was bent back down to touch the frame. Everything was then welded back together.








The front and rear body mounts were done slightly different. They were aligned the same way, but the mount sat higher on the frame initially. For these, the piece of angle iron was left in place and welded to the frame/body mount to ensure sufficient contact and support.

The front bumper mount plates were lifted the same exact way. This was done to ensure the bumper would fit properly without the need of any additional brackets. It also allows for the use of an aftermarket bumper in the future without being limited by the few options available for use with body lifts.
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Old 02-18-2023, 01:59 PM #14
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Drivetrain Lift

The next major modification to the frame was the drivetrain lift. I've been doing this for a while. The first time was on my Tacoma when it was IFS to get a perfectly flat belly. It was very nice to wheel with all that smooth clearance. Here's a great shot of what that looked like back in 2010.




I was pretty much hooked after that and have been doing it ever since. This 4Runner is actually using some of those parts that were originally on the truck in that picture.

This time I went with a 1.5" drivetrain lift. That's enough to get everything above the frame with a clocked transfer case. The body lift was only 1.25" because it still fits with only a little less clearance between the body and drivetrain.

To get the engine lift figured out, I used more parts from the original frame. I cut the motor mount plates off the original frame and bolted them to the mounts on the new frame. Then I welded a strip of flat bar between them to get the spacing locked in.




I laid a straight edge across the top and marked the location on both shock towers. Then I measured up 1.5" from that line and made new marks. I measured the distance between these new marks and cut a piece of angle iron to that length. Then I welded the flat bar with engine mount plates to the angle iron, making sure it was centered.

Here's the test fit. You can see how the angles make it tricky to just lift it 1.5"






Once I knew everything fit well I cut the factory motor mounts out and tacked the relocation jig in place.




I cut some new motor mount plates out of a sheet of flat plate and used more cardstock to make a piece of square tube for mock up. Once I was happy with the shape of the square tube, I transferred it to a piece of metal and cut accordingly. The new mounts were then bolted to the alignment jig and welded in place.




The transmission lift was taken care of by the original crossmember I used in the Tacoma. It's a design inspired by the original BudBuilt flat belly crossmember. This one has been through a couple revisions, most recently the notch in the front to clear the automatic transmission oil pan. If you remember from earlier, the frame being used is from a 2WD, so the crossmember had to be changed anyway. I just cut it out with a plasma and smoothed out the frame. I mounted an engine and transmission to verify the position for the new crossmember. The crossmember was bolted to the transmission and the frame location was marked.




Three holes were drilled in each side of the frame for mounting the crossmember. The holes were sleeved to prevent the frame from collapsing when the bolts are tightened. The final position looks like this.




The rear crossmember in that picture is for a BudBuilt skid plate. It mounts to the frame with three rivet nuts that I installed in each side. It's another leftover piece from the Tacoma. It doesn't support much weight and mostly takes upward impacts. The frame brackets on the ends are L shaped and extend under the frame, so most of the force gets taken by the bottom of the frame and not the bolts holding it in place. Here's a shot of the rivet nuts.




Unfortunately this rear crossmember had interference issues with the exhaust that I didn't have time to correct. So it will be on hold until I make it back to the US. Luckily it's only purpose is to hold the skid plate.

Last edited by midcoma; 02-18-2023 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 02-18-2023, 02:28 PM #15
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Other Frame Mods

To help reinforce the front suspension components, I installed eimkeith's STR (Strut Tower Reinforcement), Total Chaos' Upper Coil Bucket Tower Gussets, and Total Chaos' Lower Control Arm Tab Gussets. Having the body off the frame made this a much more enjoyable task. It was easy to get everything fit up and had full access for welding. It was nice to be able to weld the back side of the Coil bucket Tower Gussets and no torch interference with the wheel well for the STR.

For the STR, I like to get the plates aligned with a set of 14mm (I think) bolts. I just have a set of sacrificial bolts that I use to bolt it in place while welding. After the welding, I used the additional holes to drill the Tacoma pattern in the strut tower. This allows for more shock mounting options in the future if you have a pair of shocks with bypasses that you need to get hoses in a certain position. Here was the initial install before cleaning it up and drilling the extra holes.




Here's the full strut tower after mods.










For the rear, I installed the eimkeith LLS (Lower Link Mount Skid/Reinforcement). Again, this was a very nice install with a bare frame. Easy piece of mind for all those broken lower link mount pictures we see.



I don't seem to have any in progress pictures, but I also installed the eimkeith FTK (Fuel Tank Relocation Mount Kit). I took the opportunity to remove all the factory gas tank mounts and brackets while the body was off. Left a very clean looking frame.

Here's a picture of most of what was removed from the frame. Alignment cam plates, front sway bar mount, gas tank brackets, and rear crossmember/spare tire carrier. Not pictured are both of the stock middle crossmembers and stock motor mounts.

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