Ownership Verified: So I went to go buy a commuter box...

Spectre

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It's basically been raining constantly since my last post to this thread, so I hadn't gotten anything done. A recent incident on the highway made it very clear I needed to do something about the bad front strut situation and perhaps install the guard. Der Stig kindly lent me his garage as a place to work out of the rain and I headed over.
Prior to my arrival, Der Stig and Nabster had used the former's garage to attach some accessories to the latter's new Mustang and they were heading out as I was heading in. Unloaded the struts, other parts and the grille guard from the back and set to work.







It took me a while to get the first strut done because I didn't realize I needed to disconnect the antiroll bar and I was missing a sufficient prybar to lever down the suspension arms to get a strut in or out. Once those were taken care of, the work sped up. First one took about 90 minutes, the second one took about 20 with the right tools and the bar disconnected.





What I removed from the truck was some very shot Monroe Reflex Quickstruts that were less than 40,000 miles old but were clearly lunched. The shocks were leaking, the rubber had perished in multiple places, the bushings were shot... The last I already knew about, the other two I had expected. Side note: Local acquaintance of the Dallas FG group insisted up and down that the rubber and other bits would be fine and that I should only buy shocks and springs. Good thing I ignored him because having all new parts that were assembled into complete strut units ahead of time and replaced all the pieces sped this up immensely and meant that I didn't care about the "surprise" screwed up parts.











Quickstruts are QuickGarbage. Cheap and easy to install, look good on paper, fall apart fast.

Anyway, after the last front strut was in place, Der Stig and Nabster helped me put the Manik guard on. Went on easily with minimal fuss and we were easily able to remove the "shadow mask" horizontal bars 'protecting' the headlights - which were recently made illegal here due to idiots actually using them to mount materials to block their headlights. I didn't like the look of that type anyway, so it was no loss to me.








I think it looks better with the grille guard in place; with the help of Nabster and Der Stig we got the bar on pretty quickly and called it a night after that. Next on the agenda is installing the polyurethane antiroll bar bushings I have for it as well as installing my KC HIDs intended for the Bronco.

About the only thing I don't like about the front suspensions work and the new parts is that since the front end is fixed, the rear end's deficiencies are definitely showing themselves and they'll force me to fix them in the next week or so. :p

In another area, I moved over the entire electronic guidance and warfare suite from the defunct Bronco. I have a Garmin Nuvi GPS, Valentine 1 radar detector and a G1W dashcam. I don't have the hardwire kits for them in yet so there's cords everywhere as opposed to them being hidden as they should be. The V1 is in the dead space above and to the left of the mirror, the G1W is concealed from the driver behind the right side of the mirror and the Garmin is tucked down and to the left as a "minimap" - it has live traffic and can he quite useful.





 
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Spectre

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Out of curiosity why a standalone gps and not just phone?
Because I have two of the things I got for free and I can run them all the time to get traffic info without counting against my data allowance and because they can pair up via Bluetooth with an optional system to become a backup camera system.
 
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Spectre

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I didn't get a chance to get to the antirollbar bushings today, but I'll get some time tomorrow evening. I did, however, get the salvaged KC Hilites HID aux lights installed.


My chosen wiring kit will be picked up from Summit tomorrow and I'll be wiring to a rather inexpensive factory add-on switch that Toyota still sells - it fits even some current Toyota models.
 
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Spectre

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Daylight pictures:







Those light covers are kind of neat, but it's annoying to have to pull them off or put them back on before and after using them. Summit Racing had the best price on the optional clear acrylic covers from KC for these lights ($17!) so I added them to my next order and put them on in the parking lot when I went to pick them up.






It seems Hella's got a new lower priced, no frills line called ValueFit. I decided to give their wiring harness a try for hooking up the lights as the original harness that came with them was a bit trashed. We'll see how it goes.

 
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Spectre

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Got the missing rear mud guard/splash shield replaced. The fender flare above it has a couple of broken clips I'll be replacing soon to fix the alignment. Of course it started raining just as I was finishing up... :p





I found a local set of great condition original floor mats last week for cheeeeep and fitted them today. Also stuck a cheap seat cover on to contain the seat foam until I can find a replacement seat or save for the actual Toyota seat covers and foam (which are still in production).

 

Spectre

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IMG_5191

I found that the front tires that came with the truck were not quite so good as I had thought, so I went looking around for replacement tires; I already had found a screaming deal on basically new takeoff Michelin LTX AT2 for the back - I'd known those weren't in the greatest shape at the time. What I found was interesting.

I initially started pricing out a pair of LTX AT2s to complete the set - only to find that it was actually cheaper and faster to go buy 17" takeoff wheels and tires for the truck than it was to get a pair of 16" LTX AT2s, which are now special order only. LTX AT2s in 17" were also substantially cheaper than the 16s in some (but not all) local stores. Out of curiosity, I went and checked - the guys with the base 15" wheels are screwed if they want the AT2 because they aren't made in 265/75R15. The 16s are (as mentioned) special order and are not stocked in any chain tire store in my area that I could see.

Just looking at Tire Rack:

265/65R17 - $222.93, immediate shipment
265/70R16 - $218.60, special order and probably clearing stock
265/75R15 - $NA - not available at all

One of the highest rated, best regarded, most popular AT tires on the market today and it's not available for love or money in 15". Even the 16" is special order. Ouch.

Therefore as of a couple days ago I now have a set of 17" wheels and tires for the 4Runner. These are off the 4th generation 4Runners and contemporary Tacoma pickups - I think that among other uses they were shipped as an optional wheel for the TRD package Tacomas. Anyway, they are 17x7.5 and they cost me about what one Michelin LTX AT2 would.

I went to go fit them yesterday only to find out that sometime between when I did the front struts last weekend and now, the key to the wheel locks went missing. I'd meant to remove that particular bit of idiot security theater earlier but hadn't bought any replacement lug nuts. Since now I didn't have a choice if I wanted to fit my new acquisitions, I went to the nearest junkyard with a dead 4Runner and picked up four matching lug nuts for $4. I also visited a mechanic friend and borrowed the kit he uses in his line of work to remove wheel locks in just this situation.


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This is a more reliable and repeatable method than the classic thief move of just hammering a socket of the appropriate size over the wheel lock, but basically it's the same idea. Hammer on a tool that has an interference fit with the wheel lock and then twist it right off.


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Worked a treat, got all four off. Some damage to the tool, but that's normal and apparently the Snap On guy will replace it for free.


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Got the wheels on, but the slight offset difference between the 3rd and 4th gen trucks' wheels plus the overall 4th gen wheel width difference is such that clearance with the front upper control arms is very close - too close for comfort. This is reportedly not unusual, apparently some 3rd gens will have no clearance problems, some will have close clearance (like mine) and some people will just have the tire rubbing against the UCA (bad). I have some small highly regarded spacers coming that will solve this problem. Here's what it looks like with the wheels on, though.


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The rear is really sagging compared to the recently overhauled front but that will be taken care of next weekend. I have new Bilstein shocks and Moog springs waiting to be installed along with all the Energy Suspension bushings for the antiroll bars.
 
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Spectre

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This weekend, Der Stig once again donated the use of his garage due to the ongoing deluge and I set to work replacing the remaining springs and shocks. A few days previously, Der Stig and Nabster had installed quite a large array of LED lighting units in the garage - lit it up like the proverbial battlefield. Probably the best lit home vehicle workspace I've seen in recent memory.


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Still have to light up the underside of the vehicle, so I brought a cheap but surprisingly good Utilitech single LED worklight. This is another piece of gear I bought for the Bronco project now being put to much better use.

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At least jacking up the rear wheels of a solid rear axle RWD vehicle is usually half the work of an IRS car.

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Here's someone else's good overview of what's needed to do this job - it's relatively easy to do except the upper bolts for the shocks are very hard to get to and almost impossible to do unless you have a flex head ratcheting box end wrench.


Looked to have the original springs and aftermarket replacement made-in-China Monroe shocks. Ew.

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Yes, both rear shocks were leaking.

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Here's the reason mentioned i[/IMG]n the video as to why the shocks are annoying - they go into a recessed frame flange that is only accessible for a small arc on each side above the flange. The access area is between those two empty bolt holes towards the top of the picture. Really irritating.

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Replacement Bilstein. I didn't use the included shock bushings as they are known to be problematic. I fitted Energy Suspension polyurethane shock bushings instead, as did the guy in the video a few lines up. I did use the graphite-impregnated black poly bushings and a lot of ES' Formula 5 Prelube to eliminate squeaks.

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Original spring on left versus Moog stock length spring on right. I'm thinking that there was a bit of sag. 17" wheel for scale.

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New springs and shocks on. One of the lower shock mount bolts and holesstripped out, so I had to run home, get my rethreading kit and come back

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Some of the anti-roll bar bushings were trashed:

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Some of the front endlink bushings had been squished down to 1/10th their original height. I think the truck may have been overdue for antiroll bar bushings.

I definitely got some help with this from the other Dallas FG members - Nabster, CrazyJeeper and Der Stig all helped at various times during the install - on the jack, handing me tools, sanity-checking the work, etc., etc.

And post install:

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Next items on the list are to replace the bent antenna mast and wire up the KC HID lights. Following that, installing the hardwire kit for my V1 and hardwiring power for the dash cam.
 
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CraigB

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What's with the sag that these older body-on-frame SUVs exhibit? The Explorers, Land Cruisers, etc. all seem to do it.
 

Spectre

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CraigB;n3553743 said:
What's with the sag that these older body-on-frame SUVs exhibit? The Explorers, Land Cruisers, etc. all seem to do it.
Are you talking about suspension sag or body sag? Suspension sag is just a function of suspension cycles causing the coil springs to wear and sag. Leaf springs do this too but it's more gradual and takes longer. Also, the weight balance of the typical body on frame coil sprung SUV combined with the solid rear axle suspension design lends itself to the rear end springs cycling more while the market demands won't allow a heavier duty spring due to ride quality concerns.
 
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CraigB

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Weak coils, lots of miles, got it.
 

Der Stig

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After driving it last night, I can confirm it's totally transformed. It actually handles now!

I still struggle to pick out any rattles, squeaks, etc. These trucks are so well built and still hold up well today.

Having said that, it could use a bit more poke and the brakes are barely adequate. But I think brakes are next on the list for upgrades anyway (rightfully so).
 

Spectre

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With Der Stig's help, I replaced the bent/broken power antenna mast with a Japanese OEM one. It only takes about five minutes but it takes two people - one to trip the antenna motor drive and the other to pull up on the released antenna mast/insert the new one. My OCD is much relieved but not seeing that thing out the windshield.

I also installed the Hella ValueFit relay harness along with a surprisingly cheap Toyota OEM aux light switch ($10 at the dealer, drops right into the blanked slots in the dash like the factory switch it is) to get the KC HID auxiliary lights working.


IMG_5943

It works just great. There was some adapting of the switch terminal ends to get it to fit the Toyota switch instead of the lit rocker switch it came with but that was pretty trivial. Nabster and I had examined the Hella ValueFit harness a few days prior while we were helping/heckling Der Stig on his Honda 919 suspension swap and we agreed that it appeared to be surprisingly high quality and generously designed (in terms of cable lengths) for the price and considering it appeared to be something contract made for Hella. Hella appears to have made sure their contract maker didn't embarrass them or soil the Hella name.

Running wires through the firewall has always been quite annoying - you either try to run stuff through existing firewall grommets, you drill holes and use aftermarket grommets but then have to seal the unused big center holes with silicone and hope they don't leak. Well, Daystar has a new take on this called the Daystar Firewall Boot. I'll let Stacey David explain it.


Also, this:



These things are really cheap, under $10. They are waterproof and can be trimmed to hold up to a 1" wire/pipe/hose bundle. You simply trim to the appropriate step, run your wires through and ziptie the end around the wire bundle.


IMG_5941

I don't plan much more by way of upgrades that need to run through the firewall, but I'd like to add additional powertrain monitoring gauges (and need to run wires for that) plus install my lifetime-prepaid SiriusXM radio in the thing (so I'd have to run the antenna out of the cabin).
 
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Spectre

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It's looking pretty good:

IMG_6018

City code enforcement decided to demand that my motorcycle be parked in a space instead of a 'dead area' next to the Bronco - a fenced in corner of the lot that could not fit a car and could not be used for anything else. Their demand was that the bike be parked between two existing painted lines. Welp, since I was being forced to move the Bronco anyway (and was going to be doing so to get it ready for sale) I decided to fulfill the exact letter of their request and still obey all other regulations in the most annoying way possible. Which means that the 4Runner now has its own permanent parking spot in a lot that has no assigned spaces. :D


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In other news, I have been advised of an LED headlight upgrade that is specifically designed to work in 9003/H4 type housings correctly, without glare or any weird pattern/cutoff changes. I was given an Amazon coupon code for it and it's supposed to get here Tuesday. Others have reported that while not as good as a high power HID projector conversion, it pretty much does what it promises and it's a huge upgrade over stock.
 
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Spectre

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The LED conversion kit arrived; while it looks good and works very well on low beam, high beam is a bit pathetic. Definitely better than halogens on low beam and still have the exact same pattern as before so no unsafe glare for oncoming traffic. I'm going to keep it but I wouldn't recommend it to others as a full solution.


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Fortunately, I've got those KC HID spread beams on the front that I was going to use in cases where I *needed* high beams for rural night driving so I don't need the LED high beams to work all that well.


IMG_5924

Still going to save up for a projector conversion but that can be put off a while.
 
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Spectre

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Since I needed to replace the stock undersized rotors and the upgrade was about the same price as the stock parts, I'm putting on this platform's 'cheap Big Brake Kit' - the front brakes from a late first-gen Toyota Tundra.

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CraigB

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Nice! Do they feel better than the stockers?
 

Spectre

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Haven’t finished installing it yet, ran into some unwanted surprises that slowed everything down. Should also mention that in addition to the PowerStop Tundra brake kit I am also installing StopTech braided stainless steel brake lines which adds time and work to completion.
 

EyeMWing

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Interesting nugget up there about Snap-On replacing damaged bolt extractors. Every other tool vendor in the known universe explicitly excludes those.

Might be worth the buy, since I've been through way too damn many $70 sets of those things already.
 
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