Suspension rework
Truck's 20th birthday present

I failed to jump through Utah’s legal hoops to get Little Red registered for the road in 2014. I took the opportunity to overhaul the suspension.

But then one thing led to another, and this turned into one of the larger rebuilds. Probably $2500 but more time than expected.


Utah changes lift laws like I change underware. Whatever. Pick your saying.

When I first did the axle swap, the frame height was measured from the lowest point on the frame. Now, it is measured from under the driver’s seat. You legislative bastards, with nothing better to do than fiddle with wording.


The legal blocks me, but the technical is what bothers me:

  • The electric locker has never worked as it should. It did not reliably lock, and at times would engage on the road. I later discovered the cap was installed at the wrong orientation so my homemade circuit had no hope of working, but too late, the honeymoon was over.
  • Front axle shaft angle is not ideal. I turned the axle housing for the low pinion, but too far for the high pinion.
  • Front axle needs a rebuild, after 10 years.
  • Rear axle has leaking seals.
  • Transmission is leaking.
  • Leaking brake lines.
  • Snowball of maintenance items.
  • Rust.

The truck has hit its 20th birthday, and 10+ birthday for the axle swap. Time for a refresh.

Work List

Everything implies sandblast and paint, if needed. Paint this time is simple: Rustoleum self-etching primer, and Rustoleum black. I would prefer to do a proper frame-off with good paint, but I don’t have the time. Last time around, the Rustoleum lasted almost 10 years.

  • Driveline
    • Front axle
      • Clearanced the front IFS driveshaft for steeper angles. This one has been a nightmare; RockAuto sent me a misboxed MOOG 614 twice, and the bore for the seal was slightly collapsed due to the shop that originally built this shaft. Alternative is a high angle front driveshaft, such as from Marlin Crawler but I saved mine.
      • New 4.88 “Circle K” gears front and rear. (Originally 4.56 from the factory.) Set up by Zuk. The previous reverse-cut e-locker gears are stronger, but in reality this is strong enough for my purposes. A high pinion reverse-cut (but not e-locker) would be ideal for me but that would require a new axle housing. Not going to happen currently, due to my 16 degree axle turn.
      • New trunnion bearings. Shimmed to a breakpoint of 11 lbs (stock 7-13, Roger Brown says some large tire guys go as high as 15).
      • New 30-spline Longfields in front from Trail Gear. Orginal birfields (from the original 1985 axle) had fractures starting in the cage. Pictures TODO. Original Longfields have been bought and are now sold by Trail Gear.
      • New front spindles and bushings from Trail Gear (needed due to spun bearings… oops. I remember repacking the front hubs for some reason a few years ago and going too quickly with the torque procedure. Don’t!)
      • Trail Gear “Trail-Safe” knucle ball wiper seals. The seal is a trick to install (easy once you know how – lube it, over the top trunnion race first, then pry down over the lower with a scraper or something wide and flexible enough to not cut it) but so far seems to work better than the factory felt and rubber wiper.
    • Rear axle
      • New 4.88 “Circle K” gears set up by Zuk.
      • Rear axle seals and bearings (marlin crawler)
      • Considered “full float” setup but that’s just too much work for now.
    • Transmission
      • Output shaft seal (Timkin)
      • New transmission shifter seat (marlin crawler). White, for R150F.
      • 4.70 transfer case from Marlin Crawler has a machined aluminum seat, and so does not need the blue replacement seat.
    • Clutch
      • Clutch hose (via rockauto)
  • Suspension
    • All new Bilstein 5100 shocks (same as for the original SAS):
      • front: 12” travel, 30” total
      • rear: 10” travel, 27” total
    • Removed bottom leaf front & back to get more legal, fucking Utah.
    • Rear bump stops, 4.5”, by Daystar (marlin crawler). I’ve kept the bed raised higher than the cab for years (looks odd) so the rear tires can’t catch the fenders. Proper solution is bigger bump stops.
  • Steering
    • 4 new tie rod ends from Trail Gear (stupid me should have used a puller but I was explaining a pickle fork to my boys).
  • Brakes
    • Front brake pads and hardware (Power Stop 17410 Z17 EVOLUTION PLUS).
    • Front brakes line connections were frozen. Cut and re-flared (flaring tool Lislie part #31310).
    • New front and rear steel-braided lines from All-Pro. New front hard caliper lines (marlin crawler). Would actually prefer non-SS lines (stainless steel lines are stronger but can capture dirt and accelerate wear of the rubber) but stock lines are too short.
    • My original parking brake cables were pinched, fraying, and rusting. Replaced with Raybestos (front Raybestos part #BC96756, rear Raybestos part #BC94794 92.25”). Both Raybestos replacements are cheap garbage. On the rear cable, the rubber boot tore while I was adjusting the cable length (the boot has much less extension than OEM). The front cable binds through the turns due to the body lift (OEM was fine), and the boot entering the cab is very thin and will not conform and seal to the body. Raybestos brands these as “Professional Grade” which I would expect to be at least OEM quality but I would call these “Barely-Keep-It-Limping-Along Grade”. Raybestos for the fail, this time.
    • New brake bleeder caps. (Toyota, via Marlin Crawler)
  • Ignition
    • Fuel pump tank seal. Denso 9540005
    • Fuel pump strainer. Denso
    • Rebuilt fuel injectors. The original fuel injectors had broken pintle caps, and the original seals were hardened and cracked. I was dumping gas off the back of the block! (Remember seeing that car on fire on the side of the freeway? This is how that happens.) I could replace with rebuilt OEM for $XXX, but rebuilt Bosch were $140, and had a better spray pattern. Good reviews on YotaTech. I bought a set via eBay and am happy. Spitfire
  • Body
    • Antenna (Toyota 86309-32011 – slightly longer than original) and base (Toyota 86300-89124) (broken due to hitting the garage door for too many years)
    • Lights
      • Matched set of headlights (Wagner #H6054BL BrightLight Xenon, via rockauto)
    • Grill clips (Toyota 90467-12040). Collision with a deer years ago probably strained things, but these are also plastic and brittle. All new now. Remember in the future that these are easy to get out with a flathead screwdriver.
    • Drivers seat belt receiver (Toyota 73240-351790-B0). Simply too many years.
    • Carwell T32 / CP90 (due to some rust around the drain holes of the bottom pinch weld of cab, due to missing plug in rear of cab, so salt water could enter). This is very thin, and drains out over time.
    • Some rust behind the front fenders at the welds between the cab and subframe, due to the wreck in ‘95 or so. Soaked in Evapo-Rust (paper towels held on with magnets, and a drip system). Evapo-rust really is like magic; perhaps only better is an elecrolysis bath. Available at Harbor Freight.
    • etc (interior plastic clips, square plastic clips for fender slash guards, …)
Updated May 31, 2016