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Old 02-27-2019, 07:32 PM #1
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Baja Runner Long Travel Build

Finally got around to doing a build thread for my 4Runner. Iíve owned it about a year now itís come a long way. But first a little background about how it came to be mine. If you donít like stories feel free to skip. But I think itís cool.

Iíve grown up off-road racing, primarily in the SCORE series in Mexico and BITD races. I worked for a trophy truck team for a few years prepping and chasing racetrucks which has now grown into me driving and navigating regularly to this day. Fast forward a few years and Iím now a master technician for BMW and Iíve been wanting and looking to build a prerunner for myself to have fun with. Naturally I was looking at a truck, primarily a raptor, to start with as a good base. I was walking into work one day in early March 2018 and noticed a black 4Runner freshly traded in the night before. After some quick glances I realized it had a total chaos +2 race kit on it, along with a set of wheels and tires and rear kings. Needless to say I bought the 4Runner that morning.



So hereís my base I started with. 2016 trail premium with KDSS. 47,000 miles when I bought it. Total chaos plus 2 race kit that the previous Owner had powdercoated black with a single king coilover, rear king extended travel shocks, and raceline wheels with bfg 31inch k02ís. Less than a week into ownership I threw in some squadron pro fog light replacements,a Xenon Depot HID headlight kit, a TRD skid plate, and a rugged radios 60 Watt VHF radio so I can communicate with the team, and took it to Mexico with me where it preran the San Felipe 250, which is known as one of the rougher sections of Baja. I was extremely impressed at how well it worked but knew there was some stuff that needed to be done to make it better.


My biggest gripe with it after San Felipe was how ďheavyĒ the rear end felt and how quickly it blew through its travel and slammed on the bump stops. After getting it back and on my rack at work and really taking a look at it I realized there was zero gusseting anywhere in the truck. At the same time I was also talking with my good friend Hudson Hall, who has a 4Runner anybody would envy, about the weak points of these vehicles and what needs to be done. Hudson got me in contact with Pat Hanson, lead troublemaker at Total Chaos Fabrication. Who got me all set up with my first round of upgrades. To beef up the front end I went with their cam tab gussets, spindle gussets, and their upper control arm/ coil bucket gusset kit for the Tacomaís that would be massaged to fit the 4Runner. Out back I went with their rear link kit as well as their hydraulic bump stop kit with a set of king ďshortyĒ air bumps and a toytec 2 inch spring to replace the stock ones. While I am great at assembly and prep, welding is not my strong suit. So I sent the truck over to My good buddy Steve Sherrod at SS Built in Orange, California to have all the components installed. Steve really knocked it out of the park and everything turned out great

Hudsonís truck pictured below. Itís getting to the point where weíre basically fraternal twins now build wise.

With all of the gusseting now and a good prep by myself I felt safe to truly ďpush itĒ and thatís exactly what I did the next few weeks just to see what its capable of on a few local trails and deserts. The rear air bumps helped significantly in the rough and I could drive a lot harder into g-outs and bigger holes and not feel it. For my next round of upgrades I wanted to ditch the factory steps for some sliders, get a clean front bumper to get some more protection and mount some more light out front, and get the truck ceramic coated to help with scratching and swirling especially with it being black. After some research I went ahead and ordered/installed (AFTER A WAIT LET ME TELL YA) a c4 lo pro bumper with no bull bar for a cleaner look paired with Baja designs s8 bar. RSG angled sliders with top plates, and had the truck corrected and coated by wicked auto detailing in Tustin California.

Itís now about may/juneish and thereís not a whole lot of racing going on in the summer. After more local trail cruising during the summer with a few trips to big bear and meeting some rad people (Hi Bijan and Brian) it was time to focus on the next round of upgrades before the Baja 1000 and other races I had coming. I finally decided to pull the trigger on getting some bypasses for the front end. Naturally I went with total chaos again, getting their secondary shock hoops and TC specíed 3 tube bypasses. I also had the front coilovers rebuilt and valved to what I though would be a better spec for my application while I was at it. I again enlisted Steve at SS built for the shock hoop install, and he killed it per usual.

After the install and multiple trips to some rough stuff to get the tubes/ preload/ spring rate adjusted to my liking I had the front end pretty dialed. The truck was a whole new animal. Even driving on the street was huge improvement as I donít have a front sway bar. And the extra dampening from the second shock really helped with handling.

The 4Runner is not my Daily, but I do spend a lot of time in it and it gets driven a couple days a week to work. One thing I immediately noticed is how terrible the oem sound system is. I am by no means an Audio buff but knew something had to be done, especially being in the car for hours on those long drives and pre runs. I got in touch with Daniel at OEM Audio Plus and after going to their location and hearing a demo in one of their vehicles I knew their system is what I was looking for. I went ahead got one of their reference 500q systems with a dedicated sub amp. I installed it myself in about an hour, extremely easy plug and play system which is what led me to them. This may be my favorite mod Iíve done to the truck as the sound quality is just that much better. It makes it a much more enjoyable drive.
I also needed a place to mount my iPad which I use as my GPS using the LeaNav app. I also needed a charger that was capable of running an iPad. Expedition essentials T4RPAM system with a blue sea rapid charger checked all the boxes. I had a RAM mount, arm, and ball on for about 2 days and was extremely unimpressed. It was so vibratey when driving you could not see the screen. I ditched that mount and installed a 67 designs diamond mount with their carbon fiber arm and a Hondo Garage Big squeeze mount. This set up is rock solid and my iPad does not move an inch through the roughest of terrain.

The last item on my list before the 1000 was a quality roof rack and awning. Lucky for me Hudson (that white 4Runner from earlier) happened to be heading up to Montana so Go Fast Campers could use his truck to fit their first RTT and build 4Runner specific mounts, so he had a prinsu 7/8 rack for me. I took that off his hands and ditched the hardware for 12 point stainless fasteners for that bling factor. As far as awnings go I was having a hard time. They were all to heavy for my liking, and the bag that most of them zip up into was a poor design in my opinion. I stumbled upon James Baroud out of Australia who make an ultralight awning that is bagless which checked all my boxes. After installing these two items the 4Runner was ready for the 1000 and other winter races/snow trips.


The Baja 1000 Prerun went off without a hitch. The 4Runner performed flawlessly and I had zero issues the entire time. This continued onto many more trips through the winter to Lucerne, big bear, Arizona, ocotillo Wells, etc. all going without fault and me not having to touch a single thing on the truck

Weíre now in current time nearly 11 months of ownership and the Odometer now reading 60 thousand miles. There were still 2 things that needed addressing. After jumping in friends raptors and working on bmws everyday, going back into the 4Runner you notice the sheer amount of roadnoise it has compared to other vehicles. I also was still getting terrible shock fade out back. Once they got hot, which was really quick Iíd have to pull off and let them cool down or just slow my pace up to a crawl otherwise the truck would turn into a bucking bronco.

To address the roadnoise I sound deadened all the doors/rear hatch/ and driver and passenger footwells. This has quieted the car down significantly. I plan on finishing the rear floor area and pulling the dash and doing the firewall in the near future.

As far as the rear shocks go thereís not a whole lot on the market that would help without moving shock mounts and due to the links hitting the gas tank thereís not a whole lot you can do as far as gaining and uptravel as well without getting too drastic, which I did not want to do. There are some guys that have had king build them a 3.0 shock with finned resis and compression adjusters (cough cough Hudsonís again) that bolts into the factory mounts. I talked with Kellan at Envy Motorsports and actually got a set of those on order after hearing positive feedback about them. But before I took delivery Kellan reached out and we are now going a different route. I canít elaborate on what we are doing just yet but will post an update once theyíre in which should be in the next few weeks here.

So thatís my story of 11 months of ownership of the long travel 4Runner. Itís been an awesome vehicle so far. Future plans are a GFC RTT (see rendering below by @SoCal expeditions on Instagram) goose gear seat delete and rear plate with a dometic fridge, and some more lighting up front. I also have a RCI full aluminum powder coated skid package in my garage waiting to be installed. Sorry if this was a little long. Feel free to ask any and all questions and Iíll do my best to answer. Thanks for the read.



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Last edited by JJRus237; 03-08-2019 at 07:46 PM.
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Old 02-27-2019, 07:40 PM #2
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Great story! Thanks for sharing all the mods.

What I’m interested in knowing more about is the extra gussetting; basically it’ll be great if you can share the details of what was put where and why and how does it help.
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Old 02-27-2019, 07:46 PM #3
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Awesome build - thats how we would do it personally! See you at the races
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Old 02-27-2019, 11:16 PM #4
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Quote:
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Great story! Thanks for sharing all the mods.

What Iím interested in knowing more about is the extra gussetting; basically itíll be great if you can share the details of what was put where and why and how does it help.


Sure thing.

The lower control arm cam tab gussets are literally what they mean. The make the cam tabs significantly thicker. The factory ones are weak and fold over easy throwing out your alignment tab. Iíve seen people do this with factory lower arms and oem king replacements but with a setup like mine with 2 shocks and much more movement the forces are greater and itís needed even more.

Spindle gussets just gusset the uprights to keep them from bending or damage during hard impacts.

The upper control arm/coil bucket gussets reduce the flex in the coil bucket and make the upper control arms all double shear and much stronger.

I also have total chaos link skids to protect and strengthen the lower link pockets out back as well i forgot to mention.


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Old 02-28-2019, 01:35 AM #5
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awesome build
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Old 02-28-2019, 03:26 AM #6
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Hi Jake
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Old 02-28-2019, 10:46 AM #7
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Very nice! My buddy has been bugging me to get gussets because of my propensity to push it hard in the desert. Great write up, I look forward to the updates. Maybe I'll see you out on the trails!
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Old 02-28-2019, 11:21 AM #8
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Proper build for sure.
Thanks for the detailed write up.
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Old 02-28-2019, 11:28 AM #9
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Hi Jake


Yoooo I got friends here!


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Old 02-28-2019, 12:17 PM #10
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Great build!!
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Old 02-28-2019, 02:12 PM #11
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Quite a story to follow the build and gave me a ton of insight to consider when upgrading beyond the prototypical front coilovers and rear shocks. Looking forward to the upcoming changes!


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Old 02-28-2019, 03:31 PM #12
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Quite a story to follow the build and gave me a ton of insight to consider when upgrading beyond the prototypical front coilovers and rear shocks. Looking forward to the upcoming changes!


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Thanks. I tried providing details on the stuff that make mine a bit different than the usual ď3 inch lift and what tire can I fitĒ builds. Sounds like I did alright haha.


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Old 02-28-2019, 11:17 PM #13
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Got some time after work to install the RCI skid package today. I chose to to keep my TRD front plate because I like how the sides come up high to hide my KDSS front sway bar stuff thatís all disconnected and hanging there. Fitment was spot on. Zero issues.





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Old 03-01-2019, 12:13 AM #14
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Looks great


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Old 03-01-2019, 09:51 AM #15
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Thanks. I tried providing details on the stuff that make mine a bit different than the usual ď3 inch lift and what tire can I fitĒ builds. Sounds like I did alright haha.


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My favorite part about the +2 TC kit is how "sleeper" it is. you're gaining real travel without requiring glass fenders, or having a ridiculous track width. Seems like the perfect balance for a DD but still wanna go do truck stuff
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