Mapping Crew - California
I have been a southern California native my entire life. Growing up we spent a lot of time in the Eastern High Sierras, the Calico Canyons and the San Bernadino Mountains. When I got my first car, my free time revolved around it. A few years later I got my first off-road truck. Now I was able spend time doing all the things I loved.
Over the years I have had a variety of different off-road vehicles. Some were stock, while others were highly modified. With my son recently getting his own 1st generation Toyota 4Runner, we have been spending more time working on his truck and hitting the trails.
Whether exploring, hiking, hunting or camping, being outdoors with my family is how I want to spend my down time. Life is too short to spend it on the couch. Go out there and find your next adventure.
(Updated photo coming soon) For years I would hit the trails in my 4WD, 3/4 ton, diesel. On every trip I found myself having to decide when it was better to turn around, for fear that my vehicle was going to run out of talent. Years ago, I was out in the Calico mountains. We came to a canyon (Odessa Canyon) that seemed to dead end and we started to hike up it. As we were hiking out we heard engine noises. To our surprise we saw a group of Jeeps slowly crawling up the canyon. I was blown away. From that point forward I was on a mission to build a rock crawler. After buying our son a 85 Toyota 4Runner, the truck I wanted, we decided that there was no reason that I shouldn't start building my own.
After talking with the guys at Yotamasters, we came up with a game plan. First things first was to install a Trail Gear solid axle swap kit. We used 4" leafs springs in the front and 5" leaf springs in the rear. Stock steering linkage was replaced with Trail Gear's high steer crossover steering kit. The front axle was out of an 85 4Runner, and the stock rear axle with a V6 pinion housing was used. Both axles were upgraded to 5.29 gears, ARB lockers and Marlin Crawler's differential armor. The front axle was tied to the transfer case via Trail Gears heavy duty driveline spline kit. Dual 2.88 / 4.7 cases have helped the 22RE get up large rocks without burning up the clutch. Rock Defense front and rear bumpers were next. Trail Gear's TG8000 winch and Hella HID were mounted to the front bumper. All Pro rock sliders were added to protect the rocker panels. 35" BFG's on steel wheels finish out the build. We also installed a new engine with a built crawler head from Engnbldr.com. Helping it breath we added a Rock Ripper air intake, Flowmaster high flow cat and a Flowmaster Series 50 muffler.
Moving forward there is a laundry list of upgrades. For now I am going to take this thing out and drive it.
Having always wanting a 1st generation 4Runner for myself, when our son turned 16 there was no doubt I knew what to get him. They're inexpensive, easy to work on, cheap on insurance and just cool. The problem was, they are hard to come by. After six months of patiently looking, we found this truck.
Before he could hit the road in his truck, he and some good friends swapped the engine out for a fresh rebuild. We then freshened up the front axle using a complete Marlin Crawler rebuild kit. Next we installed a 3" / 3.5" Pro Comp lift kit. Trail Gear 6" shackles were used in the rear to help level out the truck from the weight of the rear top. The truck sits on 31" mud tire on some later model alloy wheels.
Before buying my 86 4Runner I offered to buy him something newer with AC. He declined. I think he has the bug. Mission accomplished.
My 05 Chevy 4WD Diesel was my primary off-road vehicle for a lot of years. It was primarily used for towing our trailer and overland adventures. I swapped out the stock tire for a over sized all terrain tire. Goodyear air bags in the rear along with an on board compressor help eliminate the sag under load. To help keep the engine running efficiently, I installed a K&N air intake, AFE Turbo Intake Manifold and used a DuraMileage EZTuner. These upgrade allowed us to save fuel and run cooler under a load. Most folks would not consider this as their off-road vehicle, but we have put 130k plus miles of family adventures on it.