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Old 12-14-2016, 12:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Midcoma's 4WU 3link w/ Diamonds

After a lot of planning, the time has finally come to put a solid axle under my truck.

Here's how the truck sat at the beginning of the build.





Stats before the swap:

4.88 differential gears with front/rear ARBs
Dual cases with a 2.28 front case and 4.7 Lefty
Icon coilovers
Deaver 11 leaf, leaf pack paired with Bilstein short body remote reservoir shocks
Bud Built front skid
Flat belly with custom aluminum/UHMW skid plate
CBI front/rear bumpers and sliders


Parts being used for the swap:

Front Axle:
Diamond housing
9.5” Land Cruiser diff
5.29 gears w/ ARB locker
RCV axle shafts
67” WMS-WMS
Tacoma brake kit
Keyed steering arms – flat
25mm bearings
Aisin manual hubs

Rear Axle:
Diamond housing
9.5” Land Cruiser diff
5.29 gears w/ ARB locker
66” WMS-WMS
Full-Float
“Drotor” brake kit – current model 4Runner rear disc brakes
FROR drive flanges
30 spline 4340 axle shafts

Front Suspension:
4 Wheel Underground 3 link
14” Radflo remote reservoir coilovers
2” Radflo air bump stops


The drivetrain will mostly be staying the same. Same set up, just replacing the Lefty with a right-hand drop case. The original dual case set-up, front diff, rear axle, and coilovers will be installed in my 00 4Runner after I complete this build.

Here's the drivetrain specs:

3RZ 2.7L 4cyl engine w/ 272K miles
W59 5 speed manual transmission
Crawl box w/ 2.28 gears
Inchworm Gear Clockable Dual Transfer Case Adapter
Right-hand drop transfer case w/ 4.7 gears


Yes, the axles will be wide. I chose 67" front because I think the long term goal for my 4Runner is a long travel front and triangulated 4 link rear. It seems like most long travel kits have an overall width of 67", so this will keep both vehicles the same width.

Here's some early pictures of the axle width.







A little background of the truck.

When I bought this truck I never even considered using it for off-roading. Once I found out they were great for it, it was all down hill. I don't like doing things twice, so I wanted to lift it right the first time. I went with Icon coilovers and a Deaver leaf pack and was happy with my decision. I geared it to 4.88 and added ARBs, which was great for the 33s and ok for the eventual jump to 35s. I added a Lefty, which helped a lot, then I added a crawl box and enjoyed the selection of gears I had to choose from. I thought I would never bob the bed, then I did. It's just been a journey down the rabbit hole. But it's been amazing and the truck has done very well. I've wanted to swap a solid axle for a while. At first I wanted to do a custom 3 link. Then I realized how much time, effort and money it would take to design my own. I looked into All-Pro, and it seemed ok, but didn't really do it for me. I almost settled on just using a Trail Gear leaf kit because of how complete they are, but I knew it would have a high frame height and it wouldn't perform as well as links. Ultimately I'm glad I decided to go with 4WU. I'm confident that with this link system and axle choice my front end will finally be complete.

Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Front Range Off-Road / Diamond Axle

Working with Brian E., owner of FROR/Diamond, and Cadence has been awesome. I always wanted to get Diamonds but didn't know if I could afford it. I'm glad that I decided to go with them.

Initially I had a couple conversations with Brian. I had to try a few times to get him on the phone, but once I managed to get a hold of him our conversations were consistently an hour or more. I told him in general what I was looking for and he answered all the questions I had as well as making suggestions along the way. I don't know how he manages to accomplish anything with the amount of time he is willing to spend helping customers, but it is greatly appreciated. I want these axles to be the last ones I need for this truck, and I think they'll do that just fine. Between Brian and @00regcab I decided on the axle widths and the 9.5" differential instead of the 8". The differential is massive and should be plenty strong for my light foot. I placed my order with Brian, and then I dealt mostly with Cadence for the rest of the process.

Cadence has been great. Any time I called with questions he was able to get me the info I needed. He kept me up to date on the status of my axles, processed payments, added additional parts to the order that I realized I needed along the way, etc. Unfortunately, Cadence was given a rare opportunity to excel, and he, along with Brian, easily met my expectations of a company with their reputation.

My axles had a rough start to their life. When they were complete, even Brian was showing them off to people. Here's a picture of them all loaded up and ready for pick-up.



Then they started their long journey from Colorado to North Carolina, and unfortunately weren't treated very well. This is how I received them.





I thought it was a bit unusual how they arrived, and I noticed a bend in the tie rod, so I called cadence to check on a few things. Cadence confirmed my suspicion that the tie rod was definitely not supposed to be bent. Once I confirmed that, I started a more through overview. Here's a few of the issues I found.

Bent tie rod.





Bent tie rod and broken rotor.





Gouge in the opposite rotor.



Drive flange cap.



There were a few other issues such as a broken brake bleed nipple and dings on the steering arms, but I think those pictures clearly show that the package was mishandled.

My options were to sign for the package, or not accept it all together. Having waited for the custom build, I decided to sign for the package, but only after the driver called in the concerns, got a resolution number, and annotated the discrepancies on the shipping form.

So I had plenty of conversations with Cadence following this unfortunate issue. He provided me with the pictures of how it left the shop, and it clearly didn't even arrive on the same pallet. He's been working with the company for a resolution and it is a very slow process. This is where Cadence and Brian really had an opportunity to shine. They had to order some parts and wait for them to arrive, but they sent me replacements for the damaged items as soon as possible at their expense. I now have everything I need to continue my build while the shipping company drags their feet on a resolution. I appreciate Brain taking care of his customers and ensuring I have what I need.

Here's the timeline for my order:

17JUN16 - Order placed.
04AUG16 - Down payment processed.
06SEP16 - Paid in full.
03OCT16 - Axles shipped.
07OCT16 - Axles delivered.
16NOV16 - Most of the replacement parts for the damaged items arrived.
17NOV16 - Replacement tie rod arrived.
08DEC16 - Insurance inspector came to the house to observe and document the damaged items.

Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:19 PM   #3 (permalink)
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4 Wheel Underground

Working with Brain O., owner of 4 Wheel Underground (4WU), has been great. The customer service I've received has been top notch. While I was still in the planning stages of my build, I had an opportunity to travel to California for a friend's wedding. I decided to try and contact Brain to see if I could check out his kit while I was in the area. He was more than willing and allowed me to come by and spend 2-3 hours going over the kit, answering any questions I had and checking out the brackets. That initial meeting pretty much solidified which kit I would be using. The brackets are definitely sturdy, the welds are amazing and the customer service is amazing. Before I even placed an order he would respond to questions, provide tips, and help with any concerns I brought to him. I'm sure I bugged the hell out him on multiple occasions, but he never seemed annoyed. I was working across 3 time zones, so I was mindful of that and patient. Sometimes I didn't get a response right away, but everyone is busy and he would always get around to answering.

At King of the Hammers I had the opportunity to talk to the owner of Radflo. He also had great things to say about Brian and informed me that all of the tuning/valving on the coilovers purchased through 4WU was done by Brian himself. It's nice to know that the time was put into development and the parts are tuned specifically for our vehicles.

Now, I've seen some people call him arrogant and things of that nature, but that's ok with me. I want to buy a product that the designer thinks is the best out there, especially when the product backs up the claim and he can tell you exactly why he did things a certain way. And his welding puts mine to shame.

Here's the timeline for my kit. Brian knew that I wasn't in a hurry, and he was in the process of moving when he was working on my kit. If my kit wasn't the last one shipped before his move it was very close.

23FEB16 - Order placed.
12MAR16 - Payment processed.
10May16 - Springs arrived.
27May16 - Cobra towers/limit straps arrived. The brackets weren't delivered because I wasn't home to sign for them.
31MAY16 - Brackets arrived.
01JUN16 - Coilovers/air bumps arrived.
02SEP16 - Rod ends arrived. He had an issue with his supplier and had to source them elsewhere.

Customer service following the order and receipt of all the parts has continued to be outstanding. Brian answered multiple questions and provided tips throughout my build to ensure the kit gets installed properly.

The kit is very easy to install. Brackets are top quality and fit great. Some trimming may be required depending on axle width and type. I wasn't really expecting that but it makes sense. Differential size and location and axle width will vary per build and Brian can't possibly build brackets to each individual combination. Here's an example of my bracket that had to be trimmed.





Just remember to tack everything until you know it's perfect. For example, I ended up removing the frame side panhard bracket and moving it up .25" to get my steering angles perfect. Cycle everything in every possibly way and make sure everything clears before final welding.

Once installed, the kit is non-binding and will only be limited by the coilovers. I'm pushing the limits of the compression travel, but the bracket limits came at the same time as my engine/frame limits.

The cobra towers come in one size. A lot of careful planning went into the trimming to make them fit perfectly. Measure multiple times because it's a pain to put material back after it's cut off. luckily I got it right the first time. I removed 2.5" from the bottom of the towers for a 14" coilover and mounted them as high as possible with a 1" body lift.

One other point of interest is the upper link. It has a 1.25" rod end at the frame side and a 7/8" rod end at the axle side. The smaller rod end at the axle side helps prevent interference with the frame, engine, engine mount, etc. I didn't think much of it until I tried to make the upper link and realized the threaded tube adapters were different sizes. It was an easy fix once I put some thought into it. The main link tube is 2"x.25" wall. I took a 6" section of 1.5"x.25" wall tube and ground the outside just enough to fit in the larger tube. I drilled holes in the larger tube for rosette welds and inserted 5" of the smaller tube. The rosette welds were made and the full circumference of the tube was welded at the end. Then the threaded tube adapter was welded to the end of the smaller tube. Here's a picture when everything was tacked.


Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:25 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Video

I started filming from the beginning and hope to make a time-lapse video of the entire process. I thought this would be something different and a decent way to show how much time and work goes into the process. Maybe it will help people who are planning their own swap.

Currently this video is 20 individual days worth of work. Some days were 8 hours, some only 2. Overall it's about 136 hours and 10 minutes compressed into 32 minutes. There's no audio, so it can get a bit boring, but that also means you can play it at work. You can also pick your own music if that will make it more entertaining.

I keep finding reasons not to install the coilovers and set it down. At this point I need to mount the wheels and tires so I can clearance the fenders. Then I think I'll be ready to finally mount the coilovers.


Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:31 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:19 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Ride Height

These are pictures with the suspension set at the expected ride height. I expect the frame height to be 23" w/ 35s. Originally I was hoping for 20-21", but I quickly realized that wasn't happening once I set the axle under the truck. With the 4WU kit, any ride height lower than 23" on 35s will put the lower links at a negative angle without major bracket modifications.

This is with the angle finder on the bump pad at ride height. About 4°.



This is with the angle finder on the lower link at ride height. You can see that they are almost parallel with the ground.



Here's a couple of the driver's side.





And the passenger's side.





Front.



This is the steering to full passenger at ride height.





Running flat steering arms with the 9.5" diff required notching of the panhard bracket. The diff is too large to run the tie rod under the steering arms.

Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:20 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Full Bump

These pictures are at full bump. With the frame at a 23" ride height, I should get about 4.5" of compression travel at full bump on 14" coilovers. If I decide I want more compression travel, I'll raise the ride height.

Driver's side.







Passenger's side.







Full bump oil pan clearance. The engine is lifted about 1.75-2". The panhard is straight. About .25" clearance with the oil pan.



Steering at full driver.




Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:35 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Full Bump Continued

Steering at full passenger.





Lower link clearance on frame side bracket.



Upper link location at full bump.





The instructions said the frame side panhard bracket should fit inside the lower link bracket at full bump. I think this is as close as it gets.


Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Coilover Towers

I wish I could have found more pictures of the location of 4WU coilover towers, so here's a few of mine. Brian said to get it as far under the master cylinder as possible.

Driver side.





Here's a few pictures of how I re-routed brake lines and fuel lines to clear the tower.









Passenger side.





This is how I modified my A/C lines on the passenger side. I disconnected the thinner line and moved it to the opposite side of the thicker line, then bent and reconnected it.




Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Frame Modifications

Here's some pictures of the required frame notching and gussets for reinforcement. Frame is plated with the standard 3/16" frame plates on the outside. All additional gussets are also 3/16" plate.

Passenger side.









Driver side clearance for tie rod.



Plated on the inside up to the motor mount.



The top of the frame was also plated up to the coilover tower. After a suggestion for more gussets, I added these. I had to wait till after the steering shaft was made to ensure I had clearance.


Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:21 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Steering Box Mount / Frame Brackets / Tie Rod Clearance

This is the location of my steering box and the extra reinforcing/clearancing required.



I welded flange nuts to the back side because I don't want to have to use multiple tools to install the steering box.



Clearance required in the core support for the box.



Clearance required for the pitman arm nut since I'm using a flat pitman arm.





These are the frame side link brackets.

Driver side.



I welded the parking brake cable bracket back on, hopefully it will be in a good spot.



Passenger side.





Here's a couple pictures better showing the clearance cut in the axle side panhard bracket for the tie rod.




Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:32 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Sorry to see the shipper fucked up your axles so bad! That's BS! they were obviously dropped and mistreated.

I can say from my personal experience with Brian@FROR and a different kind of shipping fubar in my case, that he's great to work with and will do whatever he can to make it right. Can't say enough good about him and his shop.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:40 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Nice pile of parts. Looks like your off to a good start
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:42 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Steering Shaft

One of the areas I had the most difficulty finding information was the steering shaft. I’ll use this post to go into detail about how I made mine work.

Parts used:

Stock Tacoma steering shaft
Earlier Truck/4Runner steering shaft without rag joint
Woodward U-joint Part # UA108100, .688"-34/36 spline to 3/4" weld
¾-¾ rod end
¾” round bar


Starting with the stock Tacoma steering shaft, I disassembled this section.



To get this



At first I tried pressing the joints out of the circular center sections, but ended up just cutting the center section off. That left me with this.



Then I cut the ball tipped ends off to get the standard “U” shape.

After pressing the joint out of the longer section I was left with this.



I put that in the press and used a 3/8” extension to press out the splined shaft.



And was left with this.



Then I reassembled the joint as a single U-joint without the center section. Disregard the splined shaft in this picture.



This is where my application got tricky. Apparently, the male splined section from the earlier steering shaft should fit directly into the female splined section of the Tacoma parts. Mine didn’t. The earlier shaft had a splined section of 17.5mm x 36. This was too large for the female section of the Tacoma shaft. I needed to bend my shaft around the coilover tower anyway, so I started looking for other options. I found the Woodward U-joint and decided to try it with a few other changed to the overall plan.

I took the ¾” round bar to a local machine shop and paid $20 to have them turn the last 2” of it down to fit inside the female spline section of the Tacoma steering shaft. It was well worth the money to ensure it was even and true. Then I drilled 4 holes in the Tacoma section for rosette welds, leaving me with this.



Then I welded it and cleaned it up.



I wanted to leave the female splined section of the Tacoma shaft intact because the outside diameter properly fits in the firewall seal. The ¾” round bar is too small for the seal.

Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:42 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Steering Shaft Continued

The early steering shaft had to be significantly shortened to fit my application. This is how it started.



I cut the tube at the weld and pressed out the remaining tube section, leaving this.



I cut out a section of the tapered tube so that when reinstalled, the taper would be at the edge of the larger splined tube.





After test fitting, this was still too long. So I removed a section of the tapered tube. A section of the DD rod had to be removed as well to allow max insertion without interfering with the splined section of the U-joint.





The male splines of the early shaft fit the female splines of the Woodward U-joint. It was a tight fit that took a mallet to achieve full insertion. I attribute this to trying to match old, worn splines with freshly cut splines in the U-joint. The splined end of the Woodward U-joint also had set screws. I drilled a few shallow holes in the splined section of the early shaft to allow more positive engagement of the set screws.



More test fitting was done, and the ¾” round bar was cut to the required length. The Woodward U-joint is made to be welded to the ¾” bar or tubing. I couldn’t do that because I need to add a rod end to my steering setup to stabilize additional U-joint. Since one end of the round bar was welded to the Tacoma U-joint, the other end had to be removable to allow the bar to inserted into the rod end. I took the parts to work and used the drill press to drill a hole through the U-joint and the round bar. The hole is 5/16”, and the back side of the U-joint is threaded 5/16-18. At a 90° offset, I drilled 2 holes and threaded them ¼-28. The bar was dimpled at these holes for positive engagement of set-screws. The addition of the set-screws really made the assembly solid.




Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:42 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Steering Shaft Continued

Here’s a shot of all the individually modified parts prior to assembly.



Here’s a picture of the complete assembly with a couple closer shots of individual sections.








Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 12:43 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Steering Shaft Installed

For installation of the shaft, the rod end had to be loosely installed in the coilover tower. Then the ¾” round bar had to be slid through the firewall seal and inserted into the rod end. Once that was aligned, it took a bit of effort to get the splined at the footwell to mate up. I already had the Woodward U-joint installed on the splined section of the early shaft. Next it was connected to the ¾ bar with the 5/16 grade 8 bolt and a grade 8 nylock nut for extra insurance, followed by the 2 set-screws. Then with a nut on the end of the rod end splines, the rod end had to be pushed through the coilover tower towards the engine to allow enough play to get the end of the shaft onto the steering box splines. After the shaft was installed on the steering box splines and tightened, the nuts on the rod end were tightened to secure the assembly.

Here’s some installed pictures.











This is the location of the rod end.



I used a FROR firewall plate to seal the firewall. I had to enlarge the holes slightly to get all of them to line up, but nothing major. Notice that I installed the firewall seal backwards. After converting the Tacoma shaft to a single U-joint, the joint is so far forward that it would be inside the seal. Flipping the seal allowed everything to fit.

Last edited by midcoma; 12-14-2016 at 12:54 PM.
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Old 12-14-2016, 02:54 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Clean work! What kind of paint are you using? Looks like it lays on really nice.
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Old 12-14-2016, 03:55 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Krylon Fusion. It is pretty nice paint. It's easy to paint with, goes on light but the best part is that it dries to the touch in 15min. I always use a base coat of Rustoleum Self Etching Primer too.
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Old 12-14-2016, 04:48 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Krylon Fusion. It is pretty nice paint. It's easy to paint with, goes on light but the best part is that it dries to the touch in 15min. I always use a base coat of Rustoleum Self Etching Primer too.
Thought that stuff was for plastic. I may need to try that.
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Old 12-14-2016, 08:46 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Holy crap, almost 2" engine lift. Why not just notch the oil pan? Nice work.
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Old 12-15-2016, 07:09 AM   #21 (permalink)
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I can appreciate the low angle lower links and improved ground clearance. Seems it puts a lot more stress on the link connections though, and would require more vertical separation to control the axle rotation.
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Old 12-15-2016, 09:56 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Tacoma_Kyle View Post
Holy crap, almost 2" engine lift. Why not just notch the oil pan? Nice work.
The engine has been lifted for years. I wanted a flat belly, so I installed a 1" body lift and lifted the drivetrain about 2". Still had to remove a bit from the cab floor to clear the Lefty. When I cut the IFS off I just made new motor mounts that kept the engine where it was. I just got lucky and ended up with enough clearance to not have to notch the oil pan.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Twmdodge99 View Post
I can appreciate the low angle lower links and improved ground clearance. Seems it puts a lot more stress on the link connections though, and would require more vertical separation to control the axle rotation.
Low angle lower links are a design feature of 4WU. Putting them at pretty much 0 is my choice. I want the lower ride height and theoretically it will have better road manners. I still plan for this truck to be a daily driver.
Vertical separation is 8". If going by the common recommendation of 25% tire height that's close to the 8.75" recommended for my 35s. As far as stress on the brackets, all I can say is that the brackets seem pretty stout. Maybe Brian can chime in about his design. @Taco-Runner
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Old 12-15-2016, 06:45 PM   #23 (permalink)
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The engine has been lifted for years. I wanted a flat belly, so I installed a 1" body lift and lifted the drivetrain about 2". Still had to remove a bit from the cab floor to clear the Lefty. When I cut the IFS off I just made new motor mounts that kept the engine where it was. I just got lucky and ended up with enough clearance to not have to notch the oil pan.




Low angle lower links are a design feature of 4WU. Putting them at pretty much 0 is my choice. I want the lower ride height and theoretically it will have better road manners. I still plan for this truck to be a daily driver.
Vertical separation is 8". If going by the common recommendation of 25% tire height that's close to the 8.75" recommended for my 35s. As far as stress on the brackets, all I can say is that the brackets seem pretty stout. Maybe Brian can chime in about his design. @Taco-Runner
I meant the links being considerably above center line of the axle. A lot more rotational force rather then them being at or below cl. Other wise looks like a clean build, and I know 4WU is good stuff just haven't seen it like this before.
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Old 12-16-2016, 04:12 AM   #24 (permalink)
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As long as there's enough separation between the upper and lower it shouldn't t matter where on the housing the links are mounted. If you think about a portal axle application All links would be mounted above axle center line as well.
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surftaco is offline   Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 12-16-2016, 06:49 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by surftaco View Post
As long as there's enough separation between the upper and lower it shouldn't t matter where on the housing the links are mounted. If you think about a portal axle application All links would be mounted above axle center line as well.
True. Carry on
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