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Old 03-05-2012, 04:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Another '97 Montero Sport SAS

Figured I might as well put something up on my new build. This is my second. I built the first SAS'd Montero Sport in 2001 with High Country 4x4 here in Denver.



It was built with a '75 Ford Bronco radius arm suspension, spring-over rear and Dana 44s front and rear with 5.38s. It's my daily driver (80+ miles a day), goes to Moab several times a year, and spends the rest wheeling in the mountains west of Denver. After 400,000 miles it's still chugging along. Other than a cracked frame rail and modification of the upper track bar bracket I've never had issues with the build. Actually, it drives better and handles better than my 2003 Sport Limited.

Anyway, my original Sport is getting a little long in the tooth. Time to retire it from major long distance wheeling trips. I also want to build something that's more Moab friendly. The radius arm suspension works awesome - until I get into a nose corner down situation. Then it sucks pond water. Not enough droop in the front to keep the axle from trying to pull the body over. Bad news with a 5500+ lb top-heavy vehicle.

So, I bought the sister to my original '97 last fall with the intentions of turning it into a more serious crawler that'll still get to Moab under its own power. 1997 Montero Sport LS, 3.0L, 5-speed. Other than cheesy aftermarket car alarm and stereo and factory cloth interior it's identical to my old Sport.



It's taken four months to go through everything and get it ready for the swap. All the maintenance has been taken care of, installed a factory keyless alarm and stereo head. I HATE cloth so eventually it'll get a new leather interior.

It's kind of a shame, in a way. It's almost too nice to chop up now!

Here it is with the new All Pro DOM rock sliders installed last week. They're expensive but they're worth it!




So, the 'PLAN' ...

35x12.5x15 Geolandar M/Ts
Dynatrac ProRock60 w/5.38 & ARB; Exploder disks
Dynatrac JK ProRock44 (1/2" tubes) w5.38 & ARB; GM 1/2 ton disks
NP231J conversion w/ Duffy's Box4Rocks @ 2.72 and Tera Low231 4:1 for 10.88:1
"Factory" P/S (no hydro)
3-Link front w/coil-overs
Alcan leaf springs rear
Probably going to have to go to headers and a dry-sump to get the front the way I want it. We'll see....
We'll see how badly this thing wants to just flip over on it's roof, but probably sway bars are in the picture


Not the most exciting build. Anyway, I'm REALLY hoping to have it done by Moab Easter Jeep next year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

After two weeks on Pirate4x4 and a dozen other boards pouring over posts from the last 10 years, a week and a half with the 3-link calculator and a tape measure this is what I've got so far. Besides a blistering headache.:z:

I made a couple minor changes to Dan's 3-link calculator to include some things I need and got tired of recalculating, area for notes and a bunch of help notes for the cells - information scavenged from all over.

The geometry is very close to where I want it I think. The location of the upper link and the Panhard bar mounts are still not finalized. CG is still an estimate, but it should be close. Yes, the weight is correct. I wish it wasn't.

This won't be a daily driver, this is a Moab build so the geometry is tailored to perform well in that terrain. Lots of shelves, ultra stable on steep accents and descents, improve off camber behavior, and much more articulation in the front to (hopefully) eliminate the corner nose down drag the body over problem I have now with my existing Sport. It sill needs to get there under its own power, though, so it needs to be reasonably stable at 70 on the highway.

The only existing placement issue I have now is the upper link and the exhaust and the Panhard/drag link and oil pan. It looks like custom headers will be necessary, 'cause the stock down pipe is where the link should be.

I want to push the Panhard up to help control body roll and improve off camber performance but if I remember correctly it's where it is now on my existing sport because the link will hit the bottom of the oil pan if its positioned higher.

I'm a noob when it comes to 3 and 4 link suspensions on the front so I'd greatly appreciate any information or opinions.

Any info on headers or dry sump systems for the 6G72 would be very handy!!!







Edward
www.4x4extremesports.com
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Last edited by ES_97Sport; 03-13-2012 at 11:41 AM. Reason: Updated calculator info
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Old 03-12-2012, 10:43 PM   #2 (permalink)
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It looks like you know what you are doing. I think we will see more sport build ups over the next few years. They are a much better platform than the 4runner and Xterra when it comes to building an offroad rig, in my opinion. I just wish we had more aftermarket support for them.
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Old 03-13-2012, 12:37 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by 4D55 Performance Inc View Post
It looks like you know what you are doing. I think we will see more sport build ups over the next few years. They are a much better platform than the 4runner and Xterra when it comes to building an offroad rig, in my opinion. I just wish we had more aftermarket support for them.
I hope so, or this is going to be an awful big door stop.

I wish I could agree with you but I think this build will probably be the last one we'll see for quite a few more years. There weren't very many made and the total lack of off the shelf parts really discourages people from doing anything with either the Montero or Sport. Exhausting what you can do with off the shelf parts is usually the jumping off point to a SAS. If people can't even get that far then they're unlikely to take a big plunge like a axle conversion.

It's been 11 years since I did the first Sport SAS and there are still only two others. Danny's silver Sport and one more that still isn't finished.

I actually tried to start building parts for the Sport back in the beginning of the 2000's at the height of the SUV craze and got almost no interest. Certainly not anywhere near enough to support even a one man business. Mitsu dumping the Sport in the US in 2005 and turning the Montero into a minivan pretty much sealed the fate of that idea.

Depends on what you're building. The Sport makes an excellent light/medium 'wheeling vehicle. Extremely well built and dependable. Everything is sealed and watertight including the cab. Even in stock form you can submerge a Sport up to the windows and it'll keep on going. Add a radius arm SAS and a t-case conversion and it's an excellent expedition vehicle and you can 'wheel trails like PS/Golden Spike and Elephant Hill blindfolded.

The xTerra is a 4200 lb vehicle on a 1-3" shorter wheel base. It's just as (if not more) top heavy when it's lifted so it's not much different than a Sport there. It has less bulk cargo capacity and it's not sealed quite as well or as well sound insulated as a Sport. The guys that I know that have SAS'd xTerras pretty much have the same issues 'wheeling as I do. I don't know how they are in the durability category since I've never heard of anyone putting 400k+ miles on a SAS'd xTerra. Pretty much falls into the same category as a Sport as far as I can tell, though.

The 4-Runner is a totally different animal. The '90s weighs less than both the xTerra and the Sport. Which IMHO makes them kind of noisy on the inside and less durable in the long run so I wouldn't build an expedition vehicle out of one. But a similarly set up 4-Runner will beat the crap out of a Sport 'wheeling 'cause they're not as top heavy.

My original '97 in 'drive around town' mode - which is just misc. recovery gear, tool bag, myself and a full tank of gas - weighs in at just a bit under 5600 lbs. The mid-90's 4-Runners are coming in at 1000 lbs less than that. My brother drives a '94 and he still can't believe the difference in sheet metal quality.

So, if you're planning on building a hard core crawler I'd strongly recommend NOT using a Sport. Unless the plan is to gut it and chop the top. That's seems to me to kind of defeat the purpose of buying a Sport, IMO.

Edward
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Old 03-13-2012, 11:01 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's interesting that you say they are not very common. Just in my little neighborhood of 20 homes there are 6 Montero Sports and 2 full size Monteros. When I was shopping craigs list from coast to coast it seemed like there were 20 sports for sale for every full size Montero. I don't really for see a lot of SAS swaps in the future because the trend is moving more toward expedition style rigs. I just see mild yet very functional builds. As for the Fullsize being a minivan, I could not disagree more. Not only has the Gen III won Dakar multiple times before the race became all about buggys, it also changed the way other manufactures built the high end rigs. Rigs like the Patrol, Land Cruiser, Grand Cherokee have all strayed from their straight axle ways because the Montero proved that a IFS/IRS rig can be very offroad competent. The suspensions on the Gen III are so beefy. Recently I have been thinking about building one up with 35" tires.

I want to build something like this.

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Old 03-14-2012, 03:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Actually, I think it was the military's HMMWV that proved 4 wheel independent suspension has the capabilities needed to go anywhere.
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Old 03-14-2012, 04:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by 4D55 Performance Inc View Post
It's interesting that you say they are not very common. Just in my little neighborhood of 20 homes there are 6 Montero Sports and 2 full size Monteros. When I was shopping craigs list from coast to coast it seemed like there were 20 sports for sale for every full size Montero.
NOW I know who's hording all the Mitsubishis! It's splotchy. I don't know why, but you see pockets here and there. As for craigs list, the last time I looked it was the exact opposite. It fluctuates seasonally. Again, I have no idea why.

If you look at production numbers for the Big Three, Toyota, Nissan and Izuzu you'll see that relatively production numbers for the Montero and Montero Sport are low. Which does make them 'uncommon'.

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I don't really for see a lot of SAS swaps in the future because the trend is moving more toward expedition style rigs. I just see mild yet very functional builds.
I don't think there's a 'trend'. I think 'expedition style' vehicles have been what most people build since the 1960-70s. A streetable good, solid, dependable camping and mild wheeling rig. The wheeling part is just a tool to get you where you want to go - I don't mean building it specifically to wheel. In Denver, Suburbans, 4-Runners, Exploders, Broncos, Wagoners, pickups and Blazers built to spend a week or two camping and off road have been common place since I was a kid. Vehicles built specifically to 'wheel are actually relatively new (within the last 15 years).

I think we have very different definitions of 'mild yet very functional' and 'expedition style vehicle'.

As manufactures move to IFS front and rear, what most people (re)figure out is that IFS isn't very durable and it's expensive to maintain compared to solid axles and it also can't carry the weight of solid axles. The basic foundation of an expedition vehicle is durability, cheap/easy maintenance and repair and being able to carry the gear you need for an extended stay/travel off road. (an extended stay is not the weekend and gravel roads don't count as 'off road', BTW) The vehicle pictured looks nice but it isn't any of that.

It looks like it'd be fun to go run fire roads in and do some mild 'wheeling but it isn't anything approaching an 'expedition vehicle'. Frankly, IMHO that thing is a giant repair bill waiting to happen.

Unless we're all willing to lower the bar for 'mild but very capable', I think that as older solid axle vehicles become less available, you'll see more SAS conversions. Not just on the front, but on the rear as well. I know from the experiences of not only myself but others that have tried to push IFS that there's a limit beyond which IFS is just too expensive and too unreliable continue using. Seriously, I'm not going to restrict myself to driving fire roads just because my next vehicle will only do fire roads and if I can't afford the maintenance I'll make it so I can. I'll rip the front and back out, stick Dana's under it and continue doing what I do.

I think 4-Runners are a good example of SASs not becoming less prevalent. When the IFS Runners started to age is when the owners started realizing that IFS was not the total awesomeness for all applications. SASs came out and now everyone you talk to has a SAS as their top wish list item. They certainly haven't become LESS prevalent. In fact, its the exact opposite.

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Originally Posted by 4D55 Performance Inc View Post
As for the Fullsize being a minivan, I could not disagree more. Not only has the Gen III won Dakar multiple times before the race became all about buggys, it also changed the way other manufactures built the high end rigs. Rigs like the Patrol, Land Cruiser, Grand Cherokee have all strayed from their straight axle ways because the Montero proved that a IFS/IRS rig can be very offroad competent. The suspensions on the Gen III are so beefy. Recently I have been thinking about building one up with 35" tires.
...
I think the last time that Mitsu forced other manufactures to change anything was in World War II - and that was the Zero.

ALL manufactures produce IFS/IRS vehicles because that's what the public wants. Specifically, that's what women want. THAT IS THE ONLY REASON. Its not cheaper. Its not better. Most don't want their trucks to ride like trucks. It's like lowering the 4-Runner. Women demanded it and women got it. It has nothing to do with what works best or sucks pond water or what their 'competitors' are running in the Dakar. And, it CERTAINLY doesn't have anything to do with 'off road performance'.

'Beefy' is in the eye of the beholder. Slap some 35"s on and take it to Moab for a couple years and then tell my how 'beefy' it is. I own three Sports, maintain a fourth and my x got the fifth. I bought the first two 12 years ago and have both. I know that of which I speak.

Edward
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Last edited by ES_97Sport; 03-15-2012 at 02:56 PM.
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Old 03-14-2012, 08:22 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree that solid axles are the best for holding up and for the articulation needed to get over obstacles that an independent suspension vehicle will have issues with, but I will bet you a paycheck that the repair bill will be much less than the cost of a SAS. Just out of curiosity, what do you suppose would be the weak spot for an IFS equipped vehicle? What of that carrier would be the weak link in your opinion?

Keep in mind I am prior service Army and have driven the pure T shat out of many a HMMWV. I have also driven the shat out of my IFS montero following properly modified rubicons on every outing with zero problems up front. Although I do know better than to attempt certain things with it as I do not want to roll over. Hence the reason I said that a SAS would be better for those obstacles I tend to avoid. (far and few that I do)....

I am kindly asking so I can carry the spares with me.
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Old 03-15-2012, 02:54 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Dang! I loose. I thought someone would bring up the two crawlers competing this year first.

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I agree that solid axles are the best for holding up and for the articulation needed to get over obstacles that an independent suspension vehicle will have issues with,
Yes, better for carrying loads or pickups would be IRS - like the Big Three were threatening to make them 10-12 years ago. But, I disagree - a well designed and built IRS/IFS articulates better than solid axles. I've seen IRS/IFS vehicles with 40"+ travel that can keep the contact patch of ALL four tires flat on the contact surfaces. That's physically impossible with a solid axle vehicle.

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...but I will bet you a paycheck that the repair bill will be much less than the cost of a SAS. Just out of curiosity, what do you suppose would be the weak spot for an IFS equipped vehicle? What of that carrier would be the weak link in your opinion?
Repair BILLS. Not bill. You will never stop fixing an IFS suspension. Components wear out faster and there are more of them in an IFS/IRS - and in the case of Mitsubishi the parts are more expensive than what you can replace them with. You need to think in the long term. If you'll only own the vehicle for 2-3 years then a SAS is a serious waste of money. If it's 10+ years, that's a different story. It's like spending $1,000 on a tool you'll use once when you could spend $500 on a tool that will do the same job once, but only once.

An example (one I actually have some experience with): If you take two Montero Sports and put a SAS under one and 35"s under both and leave the other IFS. In about 2 years of moderate wheeling and DDing it'll be time to replace the tie-rods, ball joints, control arm bushings, etc. It'll also be time to rebuild the half shafts. Assume your time to do it yourself is free. Parts cost is about $700-800 + between $250-500 each for the half shafts. This is JUST general maintenance costs - not taking into account if you break something. On my SAS, I've replaced both drag link ends three times, the tie-rod ends once, track bar Heim joint twice, one ball joint and one u-joint and the track bar bushing four times in 11 years and 400k miles for almost exactly $600. Total for IFS - about $3500 in 10 years.

If you do the work yourself, a factory D44, Ford Bronco radius arm SAS can be done for less than $3500. No lockers, front and rear D44s, disk brakes all the way around, stock Ford springs front, Alcan rear, RS9000s, GM 3/4 ton tie rod ends and 1.25x.25 cromo for the steering. Everything except the Heim joint and axle shafts will be available at any Napa, AutoZone, etc. even in Moab. Your ROI ends up being about 10 years or a tad less. If its an automatic and you're thrifty you could toss in Duffy's B4R and a NP231 t-case conversion for 7.3:1 gearing and still come in at about $3500.

Depends on the vehicle but usually its the steering components that go first, then the ball joints, then the half shafts. My original tire/rim combo is much lighter than what you normally see (Geolandar M/Ts with the stock aluminum rims) but the tires are a lot stickier than most M/Ts. I ended up blowing a half shaft first. My buddy had to replace his entire steering and then the half shafts shortly thereafter at almost exactly the 2 year mark. We wheeled side by side and put on almost exactly the same millage for two years and both were DD'ers.

I've only know one person (or have heard) having carrier issues in a Mitsu. Ever. The thing is, most carriers - either solid or IFS/IRS - will stand up to a LOT more abuse than people believe - especially if they're not spooled (or equiv). Mitsu traditionally runs very 'low' gearing from the factory in their carriers - 4.63, 4.90, 5.13, 5.29 - and that actually takes the stress off the ring and pinion and puts it on the shafts. In IFS/IRS setups with big tires all the stress is focused on the half-shaft assembly. Hence, why the CVs go south before the carrier.

A friend that runs one of the fab/parts shops up north spent years in the early 2000s engineering and testing what I think was the very first TO 'long arm' IFS conversion. He used a beat, bobbed 4-cyl Toy pickup w/ dual t-cases and tons of gearing in the diffs. If I remember correctly he started out with 36s and steadily moved up to 40-44s. I can't remember if it was a Toy or D44 carrier but he never had problems with that. He did manage to trash some of the biggest CV joints I've ever seen, though. He finally gave up because no matter how beafy he made everything it wasn't reliable enough for competition. The articulation was absolutely insane, though!

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Originally Posted by scrubber3 View Post
Keep in mind I am prior service Army and have driven the pure T shat out of many a HMMWV. I have also driven the shat out of my IFS montero following properly modified rubicons on every outing with zero problems up front. Although I do know better than to attempt certain things with it as I do not want to roll over. Hence the reason I said that a SAS would be better for those obstacles I tend to avoid. (far and few that I do)....

I am kindly asking so I can carry the spares with me.
I understand. A SAS will help with some things. It will also make some things worse. If you think a Montero or Sport is top heavy now, ....

Anything requiring massive ground clearance stops even being considered an 'obstacle'. 20-23" doesn't sound like much, but it's a lot in practice. Especially when you have a flat belly.

Properly set up, your turning radius will decrease significantly. The turning circle on my current Sport is less than two regular traffic lanes.

Front articulation improves considerably.

That's all goodness.

The badness ...

If you don't set up the spring rates correctly off camber stuff in general can get hairy. Flat off camber isn't 'too bad' nor is up hill off camber. Nose down off camber is a serious issue. A good amount of droop needs to be built into the front or the axle will try to drag the body over. That's the major problem this build is supposed to address and why the 3-link and not another radius arm build.

On long trips I'd carry a top and bottom ball joint and a spare for each unique end. Keep a close eye on the pitman arm. I never needed a spare but I also ran a stabilizer which sucks up some of shock to that part. Left and right half-shafts. I blew the drive side one on the top of Mt. Antero in Colorado. Had to drive 14 miles back down in 2-wheel drive. Dang near dumped it off the edge of the trail half way down. If you lose a half-shaft, you are seriously screwed without a locking front diff. 2-wheel drive will be all you'll have. If you're running SuperWinch hubs, make sure you keep spare C clips. And, all the tools to install this stuff.

For short day trips I didn't carry spare ends, but I checked everything over very closely before I left. Half-shafts go everywhere no matter how long the trips is.

I only carry a heim joint, u-joints, outer shafts, spare locking hub, complete set of wheel bearings and seals, tie-rod ends (tools, grease and gear oil) in my SAS'd Sport. Not very exciting.

Edward
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Old 03-15-2012, 11:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Well done. And yes, I do every single bit of my own wrenching and have for years as well as been a tech after ETSing. I have a nice build thread on the portal. Less than 4000 invested and this includes everything including 5 brand new KM2s, AC system, all maintenance, rear locker, blah blah blah. If I'd have payed someone I'd be north of 9000.
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Old 03-16-2012, 09:20 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well done. And yes, I do every single bit of my own wrenching and have for years as well as been a tech after ETSing. I have a nice build thread on the portal. Less than 4000 invested and this includes everything including 5 brand new KM2s, AC system, all maintenance, rear locker, blah blah blah. If I'd have payed someone I'd be north of 9000.
Nice! Yep, labor can get expensive really fast. I used to do all my own, too. Now all my wrenching time it taken up running my company so I have to rely on others. Kinda takes some of the fun out of it.

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Old 03-16-2012, 10:31 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Updated screen shots from Dan's 3-link calculator for the front axle ...





Edward
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:50 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I'll be watching your build thread, 3 link seems pretty awesome for the front. once i get some more parts gathered i'd like to talk 3 link with you some day if you have time.

I'm prepping for my 3rd and 4th SAS right now, the 3rd is just a Leaf setup on a Gen 1 (the kind of thing i can do over a weekend) this will be my second Gen 1 leaf SAS and the build will be on 4x4wire. The fourth will be radius arms and mog axles on my '99.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:17 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'll be watching your build thread, 3 link seems pretty awesome for the front. once i get some more parts gathered i'd like to talk 3 link with you some day if you have time.

I'm prepping for my 3rd and 4th SAS right now, the 3rd is just a Leaf setup on a Gen 1 (the kind of thing i can do over a weekend) this will be my second Gen 1 leaf SAS and the build will be on 4x4wire. The fourth will be radius arms and mog axles on my '99.
Always willing to talk shop.

Cool! I'll have to keep an eye on that one.

Is the '99 a Montero or Montero Sport? Are you planning on wheeling it pretty heavily? What type of radius arm setup?

Edward
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Old 04-14-2012, 10:26 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Don't want to hijack your thread but i plan to make custom radius arms much like the stock ones but larger, and the truck is wheeled reasonably hard out on the rocks. I don't get out of control though because it's my DD, that's about to change though because of fuel prices. I'm building a '88 Montero turbo diesel for my 8 mile commute and that means taking it to the next level with the '99 (it's a blister fender). Here's a link to my thread in the Mercedes forum, I figured i'd start there with my research. http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showt...1#post14254504


On a side note, I altered your 3 link calculations to suit my truck and portal axle. I then submitted yours but with 39.5 tires and then the altered version to my shop's engineer to have a look through. I'm hoping to gain a better understanding of the suspension and the changes caused by having portals. At that point i'll re draw but using the 4 link calc to mimic radius arms and see how that goes. Thanks by the way
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Old 04-18-2012, 10:50 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneakyninja View Post
Don't want to hijack your thread but i plan to make custom radius arms much like the stock ones but larger, and the truck is wheeled reasonably hard out on the rocks. I don't get out of control though because it's my DD, that's about to change though because of fuel prices. I'm building a '88 Montero turbo diesel for my 8 mile commute and that means taking it to the next level with the '99 (it's a blister fender). Here's a link to my thread in the Mercedes forum, I figured i'd start there with my research. http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/showt...1#post14254504
No worries. Not like much of interest is going on right now.

Nice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sneakyninja View Post
On a side note, I altered your 3 link calculations to suit my truck and portal axle. I then submitted yours but with 39.5 tires and then the altered version to my shop's engineer to have a look through. I'm hoping to gain a better understanding of the suspension and the changes caused by having portals. At that point i'll re draw but using the 4 link calc to mimic radius arms and see how that goes. Thanks by the way
Doesn't bother me. I should point out that it's not quite correct. I finally got around to running the 4-link calculator last night to get the pinion angle correct. My output is about 50" behind the front axle center line and I'm using a CV at the t-case output on the front DS, not u-joints.

I'll get the new diagrams up later this afternoon. They're not hugely different. Clearance and pinion angle adjustments mostly.

Don't know if you've seen this. It's all the stuff I've managed to scrape off Pirate in the last 2 months. Might be helpfull.

http://www.4x4wire.com/forums/showfl...page=1&fpart=3

Edward
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'97 Montero Sport LS, SAS, ARBs w/5.38, 35" M/Ts, B4R/TerraLow231
'03 Montero Sport Limited 3.5 AWD
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