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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I decided to post up a build thread of my 07 Toyota Tundra. I have only seen a few Tundras that have anything more than bolt on stuff so follow along as I show the evolution of a stock Tundra through 3 phases. It may just make you want to modify your's....

The only two pictures I have of the stock Tundra. Out on it's first offroad trip where I smoked the rear shocks. More on this later.


And with a load of wood. Stock these trucks aren't much to look at IMO. Ordered the truck just the way I wanted without all the other fancy crap they load into trucks now. Drove the truck around the corner from the dealer and swapped on a set of BFG AT/KO's that were a 1/2" bigger than stock.


Phase 1

I think I managed to leave the truck stock for a month or two and then decided it needed real skid plates. I built one to replace the pathetic stock sheet metal one in the front under the bumper, then a big one to cover the engine, transmission, and most of the transfer case and last, I made one to replace the retarded plastic one under the gas tank. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of that part of the build.

The stock bumpers lasted another few months and then I backed up and pushed the rear mud flap against a stump and the rear quarter panel bent. What a POS! So that got hacked off for a much better departure angle and I started to build new bumpers.

The front bumper



Pictures of the skid plates after removing the stock bumper


Shortly after or about the same time I worked over the bumpers, I discovered KORE and decided to try their modified FOX coilovers for the Tundra in the front. As I mentioned above, I smoked the rear shocks on the first real offroad trip.

Here is a picture of those toothpicks.


To get the rear leveled out with the front and to try and get some more travel out of the back I stripped down the stock leaf packs and rebuilt them from a mix of some old Downey pre-runner springs I had laying around with the primary leaves from the Tundra. This new combo with a new set of custom extended shackles got the rear to 12" of travel (KORE claims 12" of travel out of the front).
Tire at Droop


Tire at Bump

 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Phase 1 continued

I could have just settled for some of the bolt in Fox shocks and limited the travel my new springs offered, but after doing some careful measuring, I figured out I could stuff some 12" travel Fox 2.0 two tube bypass shocks by cutting off the stock shock mounts and fabricating some new ones just under the bed. Here are the pictures:
Shock at droop


Shock at bump


A great shot of those tiny factory shocks compared to the Fox 2.0 shocks. 2.0's aren't even big but compared to the stock ones they look huge


View of the tight shock mount to the bed

Installing the Kore Fox shocks out front was super easy. The only "hard" part was grinding the shock pocket on the a-arm for the extra droop

Everything was great and I did another long offroad trip that was a ton of fun but did thrash the forward facing shock. The front tires on all trucks throw up quite a bit of sand and rock which hit all kinds of things under the truck. In this case the shock shaft took a beating and then tore up the seals and caused the shock to leak.


About this time Ford came out with the Raptor and I knew immediately why they had to build those shock guards on the front of the shocks. I had to make up something on my own to accomplish the same thing. At this time I was also really wishing I had known that 1 year after I bought my truck, I could have bought one from the factory with basically what I had now. But then a couple years after test driving them, seeing their still lame skid plates and later when the news came out about all the bent frames I was glad I didn't. They are still the best thing coming from the factory by a long shot.

Rebuilt shock with a shaft, seals, bushings and a home made shock guard


I decided to pull the shell for DD (it was killing my gas mileage) and build a headache rack with a tool box to carry around recovery gear and only use the shell when I go on trips. I also built some tubing carriers to allow easy hauling of full lengths home without cutting them into worthless sizes to fit in the bed.


Here is the Tundra at the end of Phase 1. Everything worked really well but the valving in the Kore shocks was too soft for my liking. It would blow through the travel too easy. At the start of Phase 2, I took them apart and measured the valving because I was curious and looked it up on the Fox shock chart. It is one of the standard setups on the chart, nothing exotic but to their credit it wasn't the standard 40/60 valving that many shocks come with if you don't special order them. I put a fresh load of oil in, rebuilt them and sold them. I will say they did have a very custom spring on those coilovers that was a real pain to get back on there because of the length and amount of preload on it.

 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Phase 2 Starts (Front Suspension)

We had a hail storm in 09 that created the opportunity to upgrade the suspension. I already had a couple dents in the bed anyway and to me it seemed like a total waste to spend 5k on cosmetics when I could spend it making the truck run better. I had always considered running the Total Chaos long travel kit for the Tundra but never did it up to this point because of the $$$ and lack of any springs from Deaver or National. I had a set of Chaos long travel arms on a Gen 1 4Runner that worked great so I was pretty set on those. I have never liked the box plate arms because they can open up like a tuna can if hit hard. Welding on 4130 is another issue but unfortunately everyone makes their arms out of 4130 (including Total Chaos). If they would post weld heat treat it would be great, but to the best of my knowledge they don't. They just weld it up and sell it.

I had called Deaver at one point about a custom set of spring under springs but they said they would need my truck for a week or something. I live in NM and the truck was my DD so there was no way this was going to happen. At the same time that we had the hail storm I found a build thread a guy put up about his Tundra being customized by SMP (later featured in Offroad) and it had a set of Deaver springs on it! I called Deaver back and they said they would build me a set just like his but wouldn't promise they would work. I pulled the trigger on it and figured I could make them work.

While they made my springs I started on the front suspension. I had a bad experience with Sway-a-Way shocks in the past and didn't want to use those even though that is one of the brands Chaos recommended for the kit. I have had the Icon shocks (actually the former company) on my Taco and those were great but I already had lots of other Fox stuff including a pair of 16" Fox 2.5 two tube bypass shocks that I wanted to use on the truck so I decided to build the shock towers myself and use Fox shocks on the front. I worked with Kartek to make sure I got the Fox shocks with the short eyes to keep them short enough to fit well. They are actually the ones they sell for the Taco Total Chaos kits.

Roughly at bump (No shocks or shock tower yet)


Rougly at droop, also visible in this picture is 1/2 of the famous Air Injection System (AIP) on any vehicle with the Toyota 5.7L engine. Thanks to the guys on Tundra Solutions for coming up with a fix for the flawed Toyota engineering that Toyota still hasn't really fixed. My opinion of Toyota has gone way down because of this.


After a bunch of cycling, binding checks and clearance checks, the welded in shock towers for Fox shocks (2.5x8" travel remote reservoir). In the pictures below the limit straps are in the location Total Chaos recommended but I ended up mounted the limit straps behind the bypass shock because the limit strap were getting into the bypass shock and I was afraid they might get pinched at full bump. With it strapped behind the bypass shock, this wasn't an issue.



Tire clearance check (for example). Tires are 315/70R17 (34.5" OD). At the end of Phase 1 I found a set of 17" wheels that actually clear the calipers on the huge brakes these trucks have. No way 37's would fit on this truck and still have full travel.


The finished shock tower brace across the engine
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Phase 2 Continued (Rear suspension)

As soon as the Deaver springs made it home, they got stripped down to the primary 2 leaves for suspension cycling to determine the appropriate shackle length, bump location without causing the spring to go negative (can be done but shortens spring life) and finally the droop location.
Bump with a nice flat spring



Droop


The factory rear brake line location would cause the brake lines to hit the bed at bump and get into the drive shaft with the long stainless braided lines. This meant I needed to relocate the brake lines to keep them out of the bed and out of the drive shaft. In this picture you can also see the extensive sand blasting from the front tires. I end up painting most of the rear suspension every fall before the winter to keep the rust down.


Bed removed to replace stamped steel tire carrier with tubing structure to stiffen the rear of the frame and make a strong towing location.

Here is the bed back on and cut open for shock towers/bed cage


Checking shock to tire clearance
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Phase 2 Continued (Rear suspension II)

Checking drive shaft angles, clearances and plunge/extension. I got really lucky with the springs. What I didn't see in the build forum for the SMP Tundra was the custom drive shaft. I had a stock drive shaft. At full droop with the center pins centered under the axle the drive shaft would not mount up to the flange because it couldn't compress enough so I had to redo the spring plates and pads to offset the axle 1/2" rearward so the drive shaft wouldn't bottom out. I also had to make sure the drive shaft didn't overextend at bump. Turned out ok and I could keep the stock drive shaft.



Articulation clearance check


Nearly finished bed cage with framework to seal up fender wells and all my weights to mock up offroad/camping gear in the back for a driving test.


Its subtle, but I pulled the bedsides 1.5” to clear the tires and match the flared fenders out front.


With the new long travel suspension there is no way the exhaust would fit over the top of the axle so I cut it off, removed the stock monster muffler and replumbed the exhaust from the cat back to keep everything high and tight with a Flowmaster 50 series muffler for good full throttle sound but not the loud all the time 40 series (pic is clearly not from the initial install)
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Finishing Phase 2

First time all back together with the camper shell! It was down for a good 3 months while I built the front and rear suspension. The DD for work was a bicycle! That is committed or I am crazy or both!


The old bumper would not line up with the new flared fenders so I made a new front bumper with more desert style


I also revised the front skid plate with the revision 2 build and dropped from 1/4" to 1/8" for the upper skid plate to keep weight down.


First time out to the old mine and a nice flex shot

From the back


The ARE camper shell could not handle the washboard stuff and all the screws were backing out. It was also moving around on the bed until I drilled the rails and bolted it down. Clamps only work on the street. So I took it off and sold it. I cannot say I recommend these for anything that sees the dirt. Back to the tent! In its place I built a substantial headache rack to replace the camper and provide a ton of tie down points. The cab portion should look familiar, I cut off the toolbox mounts and recycled it with the bed rails


I added Scepter gas and water can mounts to the sides of the bed cage for extended offroad trips.


Poser shot of the front at something close to full droop


I had to take this picture, the front bumper is exactly on the approach angle to the front tires, pure luck!


Rear tire strapped down to the aircraft style rails (I lover these things)
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Phase 2 Finished

The completed Stage 2 build with some awesome flex and travel





Even though it’s a-arms, it flexes pretty good


Amazingly, I did not have to back off the valving in the coilovers, even with the bypass shocks. In fact, I ended up revalving those 2x to improve bottomlng resistance on the front. In addition to the revalve, I had to re-spring the front once for the same reason. It was cool with a lower ride height but it blew through the travel too fast. I started with 700 lb/in springs and ended up with the highest rate Eibach sells, the 800 lb/in springs. Those work just right on the front of this truck. So it works out to 14" of wheel travel to 8" of shock travel. With the duals up front and the single 16" in the back with 16" of wheel travel, everything is pretty balanced. I like bypass shocks so much, I never plan on building a truck without them on all 4 corners! The adjust-ability, smooth bottoming and total control with bypass shocks makes them much better than a coilover and hydraulic bumpstop alone. I will give up HP any day to spend the money on good shocks. A 600 hp monster motor with crap suspension and shocks is worthless for high speed offroad but a 150 hp wheezer with a good suspension can still carry momentum and rip through the desert! 1/2-1600 is proof of that!
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Phase 3 Starts!

After getting really sick of messing around with the spare tire in the bed, trying to use my truck (as a truck) with a bed cage and not having the up travel that I really wanted when loaded down with camping gear, I decided to get rid of the headache rack, bedcage and pickup bed and replace it with a flatbed.

Despite what anyone thinks about the look of flatbeds, they are way more functional than pickup beds. With a flatbed I could always have the spare tire, with the tire underneath the flatbed (35's are too big to fit between the leaf springs on a Tundra because of the angled leaf spring mounts. My Scepter cans did not really like being horizontal, they were getting torn up but with the flatbed I could utilize all the dead space in front of the wheel well for them in a vertical storage location. The tires were still rubbing at full bump on the back of what was left of the stock fender wells, with the flatbed I would gain more tire clearance. With a stock bed, bed cage, and headache rack in the back, the rear of the truck was too heavy and when I added offroad/camping gear I lost much of the up travel gained by running spring under (I had about 5" of up travel after the springs broke in when the bed was full), with the flatbed, the bed would become the "bed cage" and lightweight aluminum decking would replace all the heavy steel of the pickup bed resulting in much less weight than the old setup.
Back under the knife and back to the bicycle for the DD!



Here we go again, bump picture


Droop


Articulation


To keep the deck of the flatbed at a reasonable height I needed to mount the shocks below the axle, which means the top mount has to go leaving either the front or back of the axle. I had already learned my lesson with the issues of mounting the shocks in front of the axle so to the back they went. This puts the weight of the shocks farther back for better weight distribution and the shock mount is ramped so if the mount does hit a rock it will slide up it (front mount would not do this), but it does limit the travel a bit compared to the front mount option because of the way the leaves move as the suspension compresses.


Another downside with the rear mount setup is that when the axle articulates, the caliper will contact the shock in a very bad way as can be visualized in this picture with the lack of distance between the backing plate and shock. So, I tried an experiment and it worked. I pulled the rear axles, measured them carefully and discovered the left and right could be swapped.


Initially I thought the e-brake would work in the swapped position but rapidly discovered that the drum brake style e-brakes self tighten in reverse, or in my case, now in forward. Whoops, why didn’t I remember this about drum brakes before I did all this fab work. Because the truck has an automatic transmission with park, I pushed this aside as a minor issue, pulled the shoes, hardware and lines out and left it. It is still like this today.

Tire still clears the bed at full articulation, much better clearance than working with a pickup bed.
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Phase 3 Continues

Its running again but looking a little bare!


Less bare with the Scepter can mounts and front “fenders”



Why have worthless bed sides when side boards can be made that can be bolted together for a ramp, used as bridging/sand ladders, and even a table for the camp stove when on trips. One more thing to leave at home and save space!




I thought of all kinds of materials to use as filler on the side boards with my favorite being dimple died sheet (I have the Mittler Bros dimple dies) but time constraints favored wood (A trip was approaching) so those won and I have always liked the look of wood on a truck

I wasn't sure about what to do over the top of the wheelwell at first but then I decided to make a "flare" out of steel in the spirit of glass fenders and it really made the bed look better.


The nearly finished flatbed
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Phase 3 Mostly Finished (Its never finished)

I now have a truly functional bed that stiffened up the rear of the frame as good as the bed cage, can haul, play, and be a real one of a kind! Love it or hate it (Wife isn’t really fond of it but did say it looked better than any other flatbeds she has seen)

Here is an example of an impromptu wood run I made and the truck drove flawless with the load which was a healthy ½ cord of wood or more (A cord is 4’x4’x8’ for those not in the wood burning/house heating hobby). I normally haul wood in my trailer because it can haul a full cord+, but I couldn't haul anything large or of an unusual size with Phase 2.




Again, here’s why I put 2” receiver mounts everywhere, they are just plain handy as a spot to mount almost anything to carry, haul, or support stuff. These simple racks are how I haul tubing home without chopping the tubing down to worthless lengths.


And this is where the truck sits now, mostly finished and ready to go have fun or work. I still need to "finish" the below bed storage area in front of the spare tire but have lost motivation as I am working on the replacement truck (C3!) that is shorter, stouter, locked, and is going to run 37-40" tires. The Tundra can't run anything that big and be reliable out in the middle of the Southern Utah desert. I do have to say, I have owned this truck longer than any truck I have ever owned (I have owned a lot of trucks). Every truck gets a little closer to being the perfect offroader, DD, work truck etc. At least I keep telling myself that. Hopefully you find inspiration and insight to go build or use your truck!
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Oustandin build!

How is the normal street drivin behavior? Also, how was that ride with that load of wood with so much shackle movement? :p

Pyro
Other than a little more body roll, it handles better on the street now than stock or Phase 1. I really like it, long travel isn't stiff if set up properly or else the light chop (wash board, etc) would bounce the truck right off the road (dirt).

I drove 1 hr through the mountains with that load of wood, left, right, up, down, and all around without any feelings of instability. It was riding about 1" into the bump stops and the bypass shocks were off the "bypass" or very close so I effectively had a much higher spring rate and dampening rate with the load. It was better than when I hauled the load of wood with the stock suspension because the truck didn't have enough damping from the shocks. With the overloads, there was enough spring. If there is a downside, it would be the rake of the truck, but this would only be a real issue at night. I wouldn't have been able to see well without getting out the little socket and adjusting the headlights.
 

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Cool build!!
About this time Ford came out with the Raptor and I knew immediately why they had to build those shock guards on the front of the shocks. I had to make up something on my own to accomplish the same thing
Rebuilt shock with a shaft, seals, bushings and a home made shock guard
What did you use to make the shock guards? I looks like a piece of black plastic pipe sliced in half.

You mention bent frames on the Raptor, that was a handful of guys who thought they had a trophy truck. Most folks drive reasonably and put a lot of off-road miles on them with no issues.
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Cool build!!

What did you use to make the shock guards? I looks like a piece of black plastic pipe sliced in half.

You mention bent frames on the Raptor, that was a handful of guys who thought they had a trophy truck. Most folks drive reasonably and put a lot of off-road miles on them with no issues.
ABS pipe from Home Depot, so you are correct. I would say it is more than a handful when magazines start making articles about it and companies sell beef up kits, still are the best factory truck out there. Most guys I see that have them never even take them in the dirt!
 

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The black abs is a clever idea. You mentioned that 35's are the largest you can run, even with the glass fenders. Was the limiting factor the pinch seam inside the wheel well or something else?
I would say it is more than a handful when magazines start making articles about it and companies sell beef up kits, still are the best factory truck out there.
All due to one VERY squeaky wheel who was denied a warranty claim and wanted to push as much bad press on Ford as he could. As far as beef-up kits, it is easy to make money off of fear...

Neither here nor there, back to talking about YOUR truck... :)
 

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Fab Junky
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498 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
The black abs is a clever idea. You mentioned that 35's are the largest you can run, even with the glass fenders. Was the limiting factor the pinch seam inside the wheel well or something else?
I did have to heat the ABS with a heat gun to widen it out a bit but it was a near perfect fit to the shock eye and 2.0 body. If I wanted to do the same on a 2.5, I would have to make a spacer on the shock eye and use a larger diameter pipe. Could drill and tap them to drop the hose clamp for better looks but the hose clamp worked very well and was fast.

On the tires, no to the seam, the entire upper portion of the fender starts to contact the tire at full bump. I could have actually had a few more inches of travel if the fenders were cut out but I wasn't willing to go that far with this truck. The heims and CV's both had more to go. The 35's are also really 34.5". If I tried to run 37's I would have had to limit up travel to prevent serious tire rub at bump.

BTW I sold this truck a few months ago to fund the C3 build. Getting the engine axles and radiator back tomorrow:D
 
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