Builds La Honda GX470 Build Thread (1 Viewer)

Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
I started looking into GX470s right out of college in 2015. I had moved to the bay area from Colorado for a job and was lusting for how easy adventuring once was. At the time I drove a Audi a4 station wagon that I inherited from my mom that never really fit right. It was a great car but probably saw more time on dirt roads then it should have and I always felt limited in where I could go.

I made my way back to live in the mountains in Colorado after a few years with a California girl in tow. She came with a jeep Grand Cherokee. We drove that WK with the minivan engine all over the west. It barely would go the speed limit in the mountains, burned oil like mad and would light up like a christmas tree on occasion but it never left us stranded or stuck. I still dreamed about a GX and would spend hours scrolling through GXOR and build threads without even owning the car. Something about luxury, dependability, and off road capability just seemed so right. In 2019 things finally aligned and I got a GX470. I purchased docwyte's 2008 blue whale. I was really grateful to have the resources available in GXOR to learn what to look for.

A few shots within the first few months of ownership
gx.png

IMG_6382.PNG


With about a year of ownership I have no complaints and its exactly what I was looking for. I've driven the truck three time from Colorado to Ontario with no issues at all. We have renamed the GX La Honda after a iconic road in the South bay area where the GX dream all began. Most of the work up till now has just been preventative maintenance. Fluid changes really- rear diff, transfer case, brakes, power steering, engine oil. The car came in pretty good shape with a new radiator, alternator, front CVs and front dif fluid. At some point the car was in a hail storm and got a new hood and roof. The paint job wasn't as good as factory and within a week of owning the car a pretty big chip came off the hood. My repair job isn't that great given the size but atleast its protected now.

mods before purchase:
tacoma windshield sprayers
gas strut for the rear door
265/70/17 KO2s C load
TRD PRO suspension off a 2015 4runner

The Planned Build


The current plan for this build is a truck we can use to explore Canada but still feel good about driving as a DD. Come fall I do a lot of hunting so having something that works for those trips as well is needed. We are a one car family so it cant get too extreme. This is my first 4x4 and want to try and do as much of the service and modifications myself so I can learn how to fix things in the event they break while in the middle of nowhere. As a grad student I hope to figure out what I need out of a truck without breaking the bank and then when I'm a few years out of grad school I can invest in a newer rust free 460 that I can build right and keep for a long time. This might change depending how she fairs with a few Ontario winters... In Krown we trust.

The plans for the truck are a follows:

Front end:
front bumper cut
SSO Hidden Winch mount with recovery points
Smittybuilt 10k
Diode dynamics fog lights wired into factory switches and some side shooters mounted next to them for auxiliary lighting off road.
Black hood vinyl to cut the glare and cover some hood imperfections
plastidip the chrome hood- done
snorkel
new rad rubber fender liners- stuck in customs currently...

E-locker: If the car holds up, a rear axle swap to an 8.2 with an aftermarket E-locker is the plan.

Roof: I added 4 80/20 bars to the factory rails. It holds our little Tepui Ayer just fine. Instead of using the provided mounting hardwear I am using 4 L backets that bolt to the T slot and the tent. Way easier to install and given the tent only weighs 90ish lbs I think its plenty strong. A rear extension of 80/20 is on the list to add traction boards to the roof. We will also be adding an awning eventually. Currently the plan is a rhino rack batwing. I dont think we will ever get a full roof rack. Perhaps even ditch the rack entirely if a trailer ever comes along.

interior mods: I've got a non-nav model. Right now we just have a bluetooth aux connection (Tunefly) that fills our needs. I've never had a car with a screen in it. An alixepress android head unit is the plan for infotainment eventually. LED interior lights too. The front driver seat leather needs to be replaced. It came with a small hole. We hired a guy to repair the leather and he used some harsh cleaners and plastics to repair it. Honestly 2 weeks after it looks way worse then it did when we bought it. I repaired it again using some needle and thread. It works for now. Not very luxury though.

Armour

Sliders
: White Knuckle. I want bolt on but putting a large plate next to the frame like many designs have seems like a recipe for disaster on heavily salted roads. I like the mounting of the White Knuckle, the price and people say they are plenty strong. Factory running boards were removed and puddle lights were replaced.

Skids: GX470 specific ASFIR skids. Shock and lower mount point skids will be in the cards as well. A recent trip did some work on the factory skids. This is next up after suspension.

Rear end: I want to keep the rear end light. At first a full plate bumper seemed like the bees knees but I think its really beyond what I need. In my mind the Mountain pass tube bumper and Becky would fit the bill perfectly. We usually have a bike rack on most of the summer so that adds weight already.

Suspension: The goal for the truck has always been a 2" lift. I was really into rear long travel for a bit but I dont think we need it. I dont think I can afford to get that rowdy with significant disposable income to fix broken parts. When I got the truck it had Bilstein TRD shocks off a 2015 4 runner and retained the factory bags. I dont know anything different but I thought this set up worked well. It towed really well and I liked the auto leveling feature. It never felt harsh really. It did fine offroad until it didn't. Both rear airbags came out doing one manoeuver over rocks and we had to drive out 10 miles on bumpstops. Canadian shield is way rockier than I thought- think moab mixed with bog. It was an adventure to say the least. We found a really helpful supplier out of Quebec and I am making the switch to Dobinson slowly. I'lll figure out the front end including UCAs when the funds allow. The suspension fiasco will be in another post.

IMG_1658 2.jpg


Storage: My girlfriend always wanted drawers in the back. Kinda obsessed with Marie Kondo type deal. We have a dog that is worth almost as much as the Lexus so he rides in a Ruff Tuff kennel in the back. I ended up building a platform out of 80/20 and birch plywood to fill the other side and allows me to sleep in the back. Its perfect because a lot of areas around here allow you to park overnight to claim your spot in line for blinds to bird hunt public land. This way I dont have to deal with a RTT at 5am when its time to get out in the field. The plan is to get a custom drawer box made and coat the top in rhino liner. This is a work in progress. So far I really like it. We will eventually add a rear folding table to round out the rear.

IMG_1550.jpg


Tires:
Currently on 265/70/17 KO2s. The next set planned is 255/80/17 if the KO2s ever wear out. Its honestly impressive how well they last. I don't see larger than 33s in my future.

I hope to document these mods as I go and some of the mods I've done to help others in the future and get help from the group. The GXOR FB page is great and full of information but searching that information can suck. I found this especially true trying to figure out shock and spring information most recently. Hopefully this thread can help others as they research their own builds.
 
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
254
Location
Oregon
Great ride (and write up)
Congrats...
I can vouch for the Diode Dynamics set-up...
A forum member (“Ambiguous”) has a Line on them from the company. I got mine from him, no drama at all and good pricing.
Love that blue...
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
The brackets on top are Core Trax 1000. Its an awesome system that allows you to attach anchor points where you need them to tie down. The structure of the frame is 80/20 from T-nutz. The drawers system will be somewhere in between Goose gear and Landshark when I'm done.
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
Platform/ soon to be drawer system
Covid started and I was in need of a project to stay preoccupied. In a typical year we are camping most weekends which just wasnt possible with all the shutdowns. Drawers are something that have made a lot of sense to me to include in a build. We run a kennel in the back so I was pretty limited to custom options. Having a platform to sleep on was also starting to make a lot of sense for some of my hunting options locally. I wanted somethign that was light, looked good, and I could put together without a bunch of different tools. There were some posts about adaptations of Landshark original KISS drawer designs to the GX470 that made a lot of sense. I also really liked Goose Gear builds aesthetically but felt they could incorporate some of the KISS design elements to be simpler. So I took design elements of each and planned my own. The frame is built out of 80/20 which is great because its strong, light, and easy to put together with simple tools. Its a bit more than plywood drawer designs but I think its worth it. These plans could easily be modified to cover the entire width of a GX if need be. The only power tools I needed were a drill and jig saw.

My original plan was to build a drawer on the right and split cubbies ( forward and back) on the left side under the kennel for things that could be easily accessible for the dog and then longer term storage in the rear that would not be visible. After measuring the kennel this was knixed. A switch to a smaller kennel recently that actually fits in the back may make this a possibility again. The total width of the GX470 between wheel wells in ~41.5". The exterior dimensions of what I made currently are 37" deep, 11.5" tall and 21.5" wide. The depth is pretty perfect for a reclined seat and I like the height a lot for a sleeping platform. I dont need an extra chunk of wood to make it comfortable to sleep on.

plan.png



The frame of the platform is entirely 80/20. I sourced the 80/20 from T-nutz. They will cut it to spec and machine it for you as well. Super fast and great service. I highly recommend them. This adds a bit of cost but also saved me cost in tools. One problem people run into is the stiffness of the base board against the floor. Using 1x2 runners and a 1x3 and 1x1 cross beams the base is incredibly stiff negating the need for a 3/4" plywood base keeping the weight down. I ran three 1x1 vertical supports down each side. Honestly this is probably overkill. Many 80/20 drawers dont use three, but it allowed me to run two compartments on the side against the wheel well. The front uses corner pieces which are expensive AF but look damn good. The two top ones had to have two little nubs sanded down for the drawer later. A lot of designs use some sort of L bracket to hold the vertical supports to the runners. I got the ends of the vertical supports machined and used the end connectors instead. This requires drilling through 80/20 runners but if you decide to have the side visible you don't have to notch the corner of panels making it look really clean. Its plenty strong, but is more permanent compared to a moveable L bracket. The middle vertical supports are not in the same spot. The left is dead center while the right is more forward to provide a spot to mount a wing support given the wheel well geometry. For the rear I used end plates on the bottom to maximize the depth of the drawer I could make and they provide a solid backstop so I can latch the drawer closed and things will be really snug.

60884722560__B84A2762-6384-4B17-8537-588D8B8B26F0.JPG

IMG_1701.jpg

Anchoring the platform that only goes halfway across provided its own set of challenges. On the right side I used the slotted L brackets to have some flexibility in mounting into the factory anchor points. the 1x2" runner also provide the perfect amount of width between the wheel well and the factory anchor points. M6x1 bolts fit these. I also anchored the frame to the third row seat mount. I bought a plate from T-nutz that has 8 connection points to the t-slot then drilled a hole on the other side to fit the M10-1.25 bolt that threads in to the seat mount. The 80/20 really allowed me to move everything so I could get the platform aligned how I wanted in the front and use these three anchor points. I feel pretty good about the set up not going anywhere.

IMG_1702.jpg
IMG_1703.jpg
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
The top of the platform uses 1/2" birch plywood. I got cheap stuff and the top vaneer sucks. I am going to coat this in raptor liner to hold up over time. I don't feel there is any reason to go thicker. It gives a bit but holds 200lbs no problem. Along the sides I ran the CORE Trax 1000. These are 36" long and provide flexible and easily removable anchor points that are super strong. People use these to hold motorcycles in place in the back of strucks so Im not too worried about them holding a cooler or water jug in place. They also keep the surface flat enough for sleeping. I have some straps off a set of tree stand climbing sticks that pair really well with these. The trax required a bit shorter 1/4-20 7/8" bolts than was provided with the kit. These just went into t-slot anchors in the 80/20 frame.
IMG_1705.jpg

IMG_1706.jpg

I made a wing for the right side to provide two cubbies for recovery gear and the like. I used a ton of cardboard to get a good fit for each piece (supports and top) before using leftover plywood and a jigsaw. This is way easier then trying to make the supports out of 80/20. The supports are attached to the frame with L brackets and hardware that came with the Core trax kit. I also used some L brackets to support it in the front as the front face is more aesthetic than supportive. The 1" 80/20 fits 1/4" plywood sheets perfectly in the T-slot. So just cut two rectangles to fill the frame and added some silicone to keep it from rattling about. The top of the wing just sits in place on top of furniture pads. I had an old reflective puppy dog collar that makes a great handle to pull the wing top off.

IMG_1704.jpg


IMG_1699.jpg
IMG_1700.jpg



The next step is to get an actual drawer box. I want something that is really strong and looks good. Without a router or table saw I don't think I can build that so I am going to get one custom made from a kitchen cabinet maker. In the States there are so many online suppliers for these getting a dovetailed drawer box made is easy for less than 100 bucks. Im still trying to find a supplier but should be pretty straight forward once I do.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
I ordered some Rad Rubber engine splash gaurds while I was visiting family in Colorado Springs back in June. Ordering things across the canadian border is a bit annoying and its something I've needed for a while. Every time I'd look at my passenger side wheel my alternator was just staring back at me and I'd get the feeling it had been facing some unneeded abuse. Rad Rubber's cutter ended up being down while I was visiting so they didn't end up getting delivered over the three weeks I was stateside. I emailed them and Eddie was really great and shipped them to me up in Canada for no extra charge. July 4th they hit customs and there they sat for all of July... I finially got them last week and figured they should make it on before I venture back into the land of beaver ponds and swamps. They seem like a really solid product and were a quick install this evening.

IMG_1751.jpg


Untitled.jpg
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
Feel free to skip the following digression on the rear suspension swap and move down Actual Wrenching and Details for just that...

So I finally wrapped up the rear suspension on the truck after approximately 2 months. Early August we took a long weekend and went to this area called Ardbeg. If you are anywhere remotely close to Toronto its definitely worth the trip. Beautiful lakes and some solid 4 wheel driving roads. A nice mix of rock and mud. Felt like moab met the east coast. The first day we took things pretty easy and just explored cautiously, turning around when we got to this rock garden where I though my factor skids would take some abuse. We camped at Black Lake and had a gorgeous point to ourselves.

IMG_1635.jpg


The second day I decided to take the South road out. I had read about it online and thought the GX would be completely capable of doing it. worst case we could turn around and go out the way we came. The trail was rocky but the GX was not skipping a beat. We didn't even loose traction for the first half. There ended up being quite a few puddles. After wading through the first three or four that were only shin deep and hard bottomed I got complacent and decided to skip one that looked straightforward. Halfway through the front of the truck was up to the headlights on the driver side, we had stalled out and it felt like were tipping further to the driver side. I tried to go forward a few times but couldnt. I threw it in reverse and gave it the beans and managed to backtrack. Back on solid ground my girlfriend and I were grateful the GX had gotten us out of that pickle. The door seals had done their job and the interior was bone dry. We learned our lesson and will check puddles religiously from now on. Water drained from the door panels where they drilled to add krown and we gathered ourselves before continuing on. Back in the driveway I found out I did some serious work on the front skid in that puddle and it appears a solid boulder was blocking our path. We still flinch a bit going through normal road puddles even after two months. Anyways this is not about puddles its about suspensions...

About an hour later we got to some rockier sections. My girlfriend was out spotting for me as I worked over a rocky step. As the rear end worked it way up we heard two loud pops. I was very worried my rear dif. had just exploded. I thought for sure we were SOL. As I got under the truck it bacame obvious the airbags unseated themselves. Still sh*tty but not as sh*tty. The driver side had popped on something on the axle while the passenger side was still inflated but off its mount. I pulled the driver side and we kept driving. as I had no idea how to reseat the passenger airbag. Soon after we got to another rocky ledge. I think in attempting this I cut my abs line which killed ATRAC. We must have spent 45 minutes getting over that that one feature. Something that when functioning properly the GX probably would have done in one or two attempts. With no airbags the body of the car was below the rear diff. We would hit rocks that I never would have questioned earlier in the day. As we bounced along the remained 15-20km of trail things were tense. Luckly there were no obstacles that the low riding GX couldn't handle. She took some abuse on the gas tank skids and we managed to bend a lower control arm mount at some point. Late in the afternoon we made it to pavement covered in mud, mosquito bites, and pretty defeated. We bounced along the 3 hr drive home feeling grateful to be out.
IMG_1658 3.jpg


The next week as our backs recovered I went to work figuring out a solution for the rear. At first I figured I would do a simple spring swap. While I was at it I figured I should get some lift and not have to redo it later. Given the 4runner TRD PRO suspension the truck came with I searched 4runner forums pretty aggressively to figure out if people were lifting their trucks with stock suspension components. Many people do just that. Toytec makes a kit for the Bilstein TRD pro suspension which includes a spacer for the front and their Superflex springs in the rear. No one complained about the rear failing so I figured the simplest solution was to just buy some coils that added ~2" lift and a spring conversion kit. I settled on the Icon 52700 as it seemed like an ideal spring rate and amount of lift (207lbs and ~1.75-2.0") and pretty easy to get in Ontario. Being in Canada the conversion kit is not super straight forward to find. I ended up stumbling across the Icon conversion kit on the canadian 4wparts website. Not having to deal with duty and having the lowest prices this seemed like the best solution. I ordered the Icon conversion kit and the Icon 52700 springs later that week.

This experience was really my first dive into dealing with off road parts supplier customer service. Given COVID I was willing to give a little slack. Many companies were pretty slow to respond or didn't respond at all when I was looking for parts. By the time many called me back I had already ordered parts. I called 4Wheelparts the next week after ordering to get an estimate on delivery considering the GX was pretty limited driving wise and it was our only car. I didn't get an estimate and was told to call back. After two weeks of no one answering my phone calls or emails I got fed up. I reached back out to PJF 4x4 out of Quebec because they had mentioned they had parts in stock. Jonathan over there is great to work with and they carry Dobinson and Toytec ( probably more). I Initially wanted Dobinson coils but again hadn't really had great luck with the customer service side of things with people I had reached out to. I ended up ordering the c59-675V with gs59-705 twin tube comfort shocks. The shocks were an unexpected expense but they insisted I would need to switch them out for a 2" lift.... Im still a bit skeptical considering the extended length of the new dobinson and the trd pro bilsteins is the same. I figured I'd sell the pulled shocks and be done with the trd kit. Two weeks later I had them in my hand while I still waited to hear back from 4wheelparts about canceling my order.

While the spring fiasco was going down I also ordered new bumpstops from Wheeler. Things were pretty straightforward at first. I paid my 80 bucks in shipping, and duty (ouch) and expected them to arrive before everything else. Somehow the package went missing despite working from home at the delivery time. I ordered another set from Wheeler while the missing package claim went through. A month and half after my initial order I finally got those as well. Overall Wheeler has been great through this process and their bumpstops are solid.

Enough of my ramblings and onto what people care about.....

Actual Wrenching and Details:

Parts off:

Destroyed stock airbags
Bilstein Trd Pro Shocks off a 2015 4runner
factory air compressor
rear sway bar

TRD kit and stock airbags note: These shocks are longer than stock I believe. If you plan to run this kit I would strongly encourage you to add some cotter pins to the bottom of your stock airbags. There are some posts about this on GXOR and its a simple solution to avoid the airbag popping out on the trail. With that simple fix you could potentially avoid a lot of headache.

The parts I added:
Dobinson C59-675V
Dobinson GS59-705 twin tube nitrogen charged comfort shocks
Metal Tech Conversion kit lower mount only
Moog K160061 upper isolator
Firestone Ride-Rite 4107 air bags
Some fresh paint on the shock mounts and spring mounts
IMG_1767.jpg


This was my foray into real wrenching and seems like a good starting point. Nothing like wrenching in front of your apartment. I picked up a new floor jack, some 6 ton jack stands, a few wrenches and a torque wrench to do the job. Adding rear shocks, coils, and a new abs cable is really straight forward. I'm not an expert so I'm not going to post the details of how to do it. I will share some things I found helpful. I really struggled to get the spring in at first. The 675V are around 19" tall. A lot of this struggle came from the truck riding on the destroyed bumpstops. There just wasn't enough room to articulate the axle using a 18" floor jack to lift the truck. I ended up adding 4x4 wood blocks under the bumpstops to lift the body of the car before jacking it up again. Kinda sketchy but did the trick. This gave me a few extra inches of height I needed to raise the frame of the car and get more axle articulation. I disconnected the panhard bar and used the bottle jack between the bumpstops and the axle as well. With the brake line supports undone and the ABS line not reattached yet I had no worry at all about messing anything up. I was able to just slide the springs in. No sketchy spring compressor needed.

Installing the spring conversion kit. Do not install it first with bigger coils. They are pretty tall. Slide it in with the coil. I super glued the washer and nut together which made it easier to hold under the mount. Easy enough to wrench through the coils. I didn't realize these conversion kits were steel. It makes the hockey puck conversion kits seem even more sketchy now despite being oh so tempting a month ago.

I decided I would put in Firestone airbags just in case I need to tow or get loaded down on weekend trips. I went with the 4107s because they are taller than the 4135 and work well for a 2" lift. They should leave an inch or so for flexing along the trail. Also, save yourself some money and just buy the moog upper isolators. No reason to buy 200 dollar spring isolators just to cut off most of them. This is why I went with just the lower Metal Tech conversion kit. I used the puck that was included with the airbag to cover the bolt on top of the lower spring mount. I need to go back and really seal this up with silicone so salt water just doesnt sit on top of the bolt. The fill tube for the airbag is pretty stiff and the upper spring mount is pretty sharp. I added some electrical wire loom for the whole tube length. Honestly I dont know if this will last. The stock bags have a metal piece that shoots the cable out at a 90 degree angle vs straight up with the Firestone. Im going to drill into the rear bumper and mount them right beside the trailer hitch for easy fill ups.

The abs cable upper connection is kind of a pain to get to up on top of the frame rail. Not really sure why these aren't designed to be more straightforward to disconnect with one hand. Some finaglingwith two hands and some profanities got it disconnected. Also my upper ABS cable support had some serious rust which made undoing the nut impossible. I ended up leaving the old one attached and just mounting the new one on the top of the old bolt with a new nut. Not pretty but functional.

The bumpstops are so easy to switch over. I'd do this no matter what suspension you are on. Looking at the stock one vs the new ones its very clear comfort will be improved. Riding on bumpstop and the stock design wasnt super ideal for the mounts. Why it wasnt a solid backed plate from the factory is beyond me. They definitely bent in on the sides. Tightening the new bump stops on got them mostly back to a flat surface and how I imagine they came from the factory.
IMG_1766.jpg

Switching shocks is really easy if you don't have rust... One of the lower shock bushings was seized onto the axle mount. I tried pb blaster, a hammer, pry bar, my little butane torch and an extractor. No dice. As a geologist the solutions to your problems is always a bigger hammer but applying some real force just on jack stands isnt that easy given the lack of height. Using the extractor I ended up messing up the threads for the bolt so I had to tap the bolt hole. UGH. I swear all the Youtube videos I watched made this look so easy.... After everything else was done with the conversion I ended up taking it to a local shop instead of throwing more money at possible solutions. rolling around on two different shocks wasnt as bad as I imagined it would be. Less than an hour of labour and the new shock was on. Sounds like I just needed a bigger torch. Maybe a bigger hammer...So much for selling those shocks to recoup some funds.

Now that its all done I'm pretty happy with the ride. It does pretty well with sucking up bumps on dirt roads. The articulation with springs feels way different than it did with the airbags. The small bump compliance is improved but the GX is a bit more body lean. This could be because I took off the sway bar. I fell like there is a bit of lateral movement which is weird. The springs take weight really suprsingly well too. Loaded up for a weekend of camping I didn't notice any real squat. I think the 675v is a great coil for the GX. I'm glad I wont need the airbags to handle this. Now that the rear is a bit lifted another inch in the front would be nice to even out the rake. Maybe one day we will get another government stimulus check that I can put toward it. For now the bike rack with the kuat swing out is helping to even it out for daily driving. The expense of this one failure on the trail is really making me question if this is a hobby I should get into.
61911393996__6621C0C7-2927-479E-89EE-D3659E30A344.jpg
 
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
254
Location
Oregon
Feel free to skip the following digression on the rear suspension swap and move down Actual Wrenching and Details for just that...

So I finally wrapped up the rear suspension on the truck after approximately 2 months. Early August we took a long weekend and went to this area called Ardbeg. If you are anywhere remotely close to Toronto its definitely worth the trip. Beautiful lakes and some solid 4 wheel driving roads. A nice mix of rock and mud. Felt like moab met the east coast. The first day we took things pretty easy and just explored cautiously, turning around when we got to this rock garden where I though my factor skids would take some abuse. We camped at Black Lake and had a gorgeous point to ourselves.

View attachment 2420769

The second day I decided to take the South road out. I had read about it online and thought the GX would be completely capable of doing it. worst case we could turn around and go out the way we came. The trail was rocky but the GX was not skipping a beat. We didn't even loose traction for the first half. There ended up being quite a few puddles. After wading through the first three or four that were only shin deep and hard bottomed I got complacent and decided to skip one that looked straightforward. Halfway through the front of the truck was up to the headlights on the driver side, we had stalled out and it felt like were tipping further to the driver side. I tried to go forward a few times but couldnt. I threw it in reverse and gave it the beans and managed to backtrack. Back on solid ground my girlfriend and I were grateful the GX had gotten us out of that pickle. The door seals had done their job and the interior was bone dry. We learned our lesson and will check puddles religiously from now on. Water drained from the door panels where they drilled to add krown and we gathered ourselves before continuing on. Back in the driveway I found out I did some serious work on the front skid in that puddle and it appears a solid boulder was blocking our path. We still flinch a bit going through normal road puddles even after two months. Anyways this is not about puddles its about suspensions...

About an hour later we got to some rockier sections. My girlfriend was out spotting for me as I worked over a rocky step. As the rear end worked it way up we heard two loud pops. I was very worried my rear dif. had just exploded. I thought for sure we were SOL. As I got under the truck it bacame obvious the airbags unseated themselves. Still sh*tty but not as sh*tty. The driver side had popped on something on the axle while the passenger side was still inflated but off its mount. I pulled the driver side and we kept driving. as I had no idea how to reseat the passenger airbag. Soon after we got to another rocky ledge. I think in attempting this I cut my abs line which killed ATRAC. We must have spent 45 minutes getting over that that one feature. Something that when functioning properly the GX probably would have done in one or two attempts. With no airbags the body of the car was below the rear diff. We would hit rocks that I never would have questioned earlier in the day. As we bounced along the remained 15-20km of trail things were tense. Luckly there were no obstacles that the low riding GX couldn't handle. She took some abuse on the gas tank skids and we managed to bend a lower control arm mount at some point. Late in the afternoon we made it to pavement covered in mud, mosquito bites, and pretty defeated. We bounced along the 3 hr drive home feeling grateful to be out.
View attachment 2420756

The next week as our backs recovered I went to work figuring out a solution for the rear. At first I figured I would do a simple spring swap. While I was at it I figured I should get some lift and not have to redo it later. Given the 4runner TRD PRO suspension the truck came with I searched 4runner forums pretty aggressively to figure out if people were lifting their trucks with stock suspension components. Many people do just that. Toytec makes a kit for the Bilstein TRD pro suspension which includes a spacer for the front and their Superflex springs in the rear. No one complained about the rear failing so I figured the simplest solution was to just buy some coils that added ~2" lift and a spring conversion kit. I settled on the Icon 52700 as it seemed like an ideal spring rate and amount of lift (207lbs and ~1.75-2.0") and pretty easy to get in Ontario. Being in Canada the conversion kit is not super straight forward to find. I ended up stumbling across the Icon conversion kit on the canadian 4wparts website. Not having to deal with duty and having the lowest prices this seemed like the best solution. I ordered the Icon conversion kit and the Icon 52700 springs later that week.

This experience was really my first dive into dealing with off road parts supplier customer service. Given COVID I was willing to give a little slack. Many companies were pretty slow to respond or didn't respond at all when I was looking for parts. By the time many called me back I had already ordered parts. I called 4Wheelparts the next week after ordering to get an estimate on delivery considering the GX was pretty limited driving wise and it was our only car. I didn't get an estimate and was told to call back. After two weeks of no one answering my phone calls or emails I got fed up. I reached back out to PJF 4x4 out of Quebec because they had mentioned they had parts in stock. Jonathan over there is great to work with and they carry Dobinson and Toytec ( probably more). I Initially wanted Dobinson coils but again hadn't really had great luck with the customer service side of things with people I had reached out to. I ended up ordering the c59-675V with gs59-705 twin tube comfort shocks. The shocks were an unexpected expense but they insisted I would need to switch them out for a 2" lift.... Im still a bit skeptical considering the extended length of the new dobinson and the trd pro bilsteins is the same. I figured I'd sell the pulled shocks and be done with the trd kit. Two weeks later I had them in my hand while I still waited to hear back from 4wheelparts about canceling my order.

While the spring fiasco was going down I also ordered new bumpstops from Wheeler. Things were pretty straightforward at first. I paid my 80 bucks in shipping, and duty (ouch) and expected them to arrive before everything else. Somehow the package went missing despite working from home at the delivery time. I ordered another set from Wheeler while the missing package claim went through. A month and half after my initial order I finally got those as well. Overall Wheeler has been great through this process and their bumpstops are solid.

Enough of my ramblings and onto what people care about.....

Actual Wrenching and Details:

Parts off:

Destroyed stock airbags
Bilstein Trd Pro Shocks off a 2015 4runner
factory air compressor
rear sway bar

TRD kit and stock airbags note: These shocks are longer than stock I believe. If you plan to run this kit I would strongly encourage you to add some cotter pins to the bottom of your stock airbags. There are some posts about this on GXOR and its a simple solution to avoid the airbag popping out on the trail. With that simple fix you could potentially avoid a lot of headache.

The parts I added:
Dobinson C59-675V
Dobinson GS59-705 twin tube nitrogen charged comfort shocks
Metal Tech Conversion kit lower mount only
Moog K160061 upper isolator
Firestone Ride-Rite 4107 air bags
Some fresh paint on the shock mounts and spring mounts
View attachment 2420759

This was my foray into real wrenching and seems like a good starting point. Nothing like wrenching in front of your apartment. I picked up a new floor jack, some 6 ton jack stands, a few wrenches and a torque wrench to do the job. Adding rear shocks, coils, and a new abs cable is really straight forward. I'm not an expert so I'm not going to post the details of how to do it. I will share some things I found helpful. I really struggled to get the spring in at first. The 675V are around 19" tall. A lot of this struggle came from the truck riding on the destroyed bumpstops. There just wasn't enough room to articulate the axle using a 18" floor jack to lift the truck. I ended up adding 4x4 wood blocks under the bumpstops to lift the body of the car before jacking it up again. Kinda sketchy but did the trick. This gave me a few extra inches of height I needed to raise the frame of the car and get more axle articulation. I disconnected the panhard bar and used the bottle jack between the bumpstops and the axle as well. With the brake line supports undone and the ABS line not reattached yet I had no worry at all about messing anything up. I was able to just slide the springs in. No sketchy spring compressor needed.

Installing the spring conversion kit. Do not install it first with bigger coils. They are pretty tall. Slide it in with the coil. I super glued the washer and nut together which made it easier to hold under the mount. Easy enough to wrench through the coils. I didn't realize these conversion kits were steel. It makes the hockey puck conversion kits seem even more sketchy now despite being oh so tempting a month ago.

I decided I would put in Firestone airbags just in case I need to tow or get loaded down on weekend trips. I went with the 4107s because they are taller than the 4135 and work well for a 2" lift. They should leave an inch or so for flexing along the trail. Also, save yourself some money and just buy the moog upper isolators. No reason to buy 200 dollar spring isolators just to cut off most of them. This is why I went with just the lower Metal Tech conversion kit. I used the puck that was included with the airbag to cover the bolt on top of the lower spring mount. I need to go back and really seal this up with silicone so salt water just doesnt sit on top of the bolt. The fill tube for the airbag is pretty stiff and the upper spring mount is pretty sharp. I added some electrical wire loom for the whole tube length. Honestly I dont know if this will last. The stock bags have a metal piece that shoots the cable out at a 90 degree angle vs straight up with the Firestone. Im going to drill into the rear bumper and mount them right beside the trailer hitch for easy fill ups.

The abs cable upper connection is kind of a pain to get to up on top of the frame rail. Not really sure why these aren't designed to be more straightforward to disconnect with one hand. Some finaglingwith two hands and some profanities got it disconnected. Also my upper ABS cable support had some serious rust which made undoing the nut impossible. I ended up leaving the old one attached and just mounting the new one on the top of the old bolt with a new nut. Not pretty but functional.

The bumpstops are so easy to switch over. I'd do this no matter what suspension you are on. Looking at the stock one vs the new ones its very clear comfort will be improved. Riding on bumpstop and the stock design wasnt super ideal for the mounts. Why it wasnt a solid backed plate from the factory is beyond me. They definitely bent in on the sides. Tightening the new bump stops on got them mostly back to a flat surface and how I imagine they came from the factory.
View attachment 2420758
Switching shocks is really easy if you don't have rust... One of the lower shock bushings was seized onto the axle mount. I tried pb blaster, a hammer, pry bar, my little butane torch and an extractor. No dice. As a geologist the solutions to your problems is always a bigger hammer but applying some real force just on jack stands isnt that easy given the lack of height. Using the extractor I ended up messing up the threads for the bolt so I had to tap the bolt hole. UGH. I swear all the Youtube videos I watched made this look so easy.... After everything else was done with the conversion I ended up taking it to a local shop instead of throwing more money at possible solutions. rolling around on two different shocks wasnt as bad as I imagined it would be. Less than an hour of labour and the new shock was on. Sounds like I just needed a bigger torch. Maybe a bigger hammer...So much for selling those shocks to recoup some funds.

Now that its all done I'm pretty happy with the ride. It does pretty well with sucking up bumps on dirt roads. The articulation with springs feels way different than it did with the airbags. The small bump compliance is improved but the GX is a bit more body lean. This could be because I took off the sway bar. I fell like there is a bit of lateral movement which is weird. The springs take weight really suprsingly well too. Loaded up for a weekend of camping I didn't notice any real squat. I think the 675v is a great coil for the GX. I'm glad I wont need the airbags to handle this. Now that the rear is a bit lifted another inch in the front would be nice to even out the rake. Maybe one day we will get another government stimulus check that I can put toward it. For now the bike rack with the kuat swing out is helping to even it out for daily driving. The expense of this one failure on the trail is really making me question if this is a hobby I should get into.
View attachment 2420764

Nice story and write-up.
Now get back to that trail and tackle those obstacles!
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
Nice story and write-up.
Now get back to that trail and tackle those obstacles!
Thanks! We did a shake down run last weekend before I got the bumpstops installed. Although the trail was mild it was a nice way to get back out and regain some confidence. My girlfriend refuses to go back to the trail that did us in for the rest of the year. Maybe next year.
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
Replacement Keys: Hunting and school has been taking up most of my fall. Hunting the morning before an incoming storm I lost my GX key in the marsh. Losing the key made that morning go from pretty miserable to downright extreme. After sitting in the rain and wind for five hours with few ducks ( it was too miserable for them to fly...) my dog and I were forced to wait it out while my girlfriend came to our rescue. I'd classify the weather that came through in the ensuing hours pretty close a hurricane at times while being 40 degrees out. I made an attempt to find the key along a mile of trail where I though I lost it but the way things were going I should have known that fate wasn't going to make it that easy.

Out of this turn of events I have been forced to go down the rabbit hole of getting a key replacement. A quick search led me to 1010keys. If you go down this path of wanting to be cheap know that you have to pay the cost of dealing with a total prick. I set up my Ebay account to ship to my parents in Colorado and waited patently. The plan was to get two new remote keys and one remoteless to attach to the truck hidden to avoid any future bad situations. A key arrived and my parents forwarded it along. When It arrived here in Canada I was suprised to find a flip key shell with no remote. I emailed the guy telling him he sent me the wrong key and his replies were far from useful claiming I needed to look at some paperwork then send him copies of the paperwork. In the end he didn't send me the paperwork that explained the keys I exected were on backorder and this flip key was a freebee. The next surprise came when I got the two remote keys. They only came with one remote... As I looked through the order It became clear this was my mistake as I chose the wrong option. Be careful and look at the fine print as well as the pictures in detail. Honestly this has been a mixed experience. Seems like most of the negative things about working on the GX have come from dealing with suppliers. I still saved a ton of money by going this route but Its unclear if the ongoing frustration is worth it... I'll be a bit happier if the second key ever arrives.

In terms of programming the key up I followed some other threads here. programming a 2008 for the immobilizer the putting the key in 5 times then opening the door 6 times method worked for me. The remote programmed with the key door and ignition routine. The first couple times didn't work for me but after follwing the youtube videos exactly I got it to work. I mistook turning the key to on to be starting the truck which is not the same thing. After realizing that the remote programmed pretty easily. I didn't have to reprogram the remote on my original master key.
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
Wrapping up the drawers: All fall finishing the drawer project has been on my mind. I have been using the platform all season and just shoving a mess of camping gear under it. I coated the top in Kiwi Grip paint because I knew it needed a durable surface before I carried a bunch of muddy duck decoys on it over the next few months. The coating is pretty good but chips pretty eaily in the edge. Should be easy to fix back up and I really like that its non toxic unlike most bedliners. Overlall the platform so functional and I am so glad I built it. I can sleep really comfortably in the back and carry a bunch of stuff in different ways while keeping things organized.

To build the drawer box I found an Overlander that builds drawers but unfortunately he got out of the business and many of the drawer box makers around me are wholesalers. I decided I might as well give it a go with pocket screws and ply cut at the hardware store. Not as pretty as dovetails but I think it will serve me well for the life of the truck. I wasn't going to buy another saw so the jig saw would have to do for any cuts I needed to make. I drew up plans and got to work. The space for the drawer box measures 19.5" x 37"x 10".

Originally I was going to go with 3/4" birch because people on other forums suggest pock screws are a PITA with 1/2". One of our Lowes has a pretty legit wood shop so I felt better about getting them to cut the wood to spec. The problem is they didn't have the wood I needed. After going to 4 other shops I ended up a Canadian Home and Hardware that sold birch ply and would cut it. It comes in 5' x5' sheets and the surface vaneer is so much thicker than what you can get at Lowes or Home depot. I would highly recommend searching it out if you build drawers. I ended up going with the 15mm thick stuff. After redoing my initial measurements for the cuts to account for switching the thickness I got them to cut 2 strips to 9.75" with their table saw. I then had them switch to 18" ( make this 18 1/4" if you decide to make it) and cut another strip off the sheet. If they can make these cuts straight you wont have too much trouble getting a drawer box to actually come together. Next take the two 9.75" strip and cut them together at 37" and a second cut 18" ( again 18 1/4"past that. This will make each of the two side sets come out pretty equal. I got them to cut the drawer bottom from the 18" (18 1/4") strip and tried to measure it properly there. At this point I think they were pretty done with my requests and it didnt come out great. It was a bit too long. If I were to do it over I would have just cut this myself. I got a bit of blow out on some of the my pieces with the saw they used but really it wasn't horrible and I could hide pretty much all of it. Not bad for 5 bucks in cuts.

Being my first foray into pocket screws I experimented with some scrap wood first. I found the 5/8" setting and 1" round head screws worked really well. The screws are hidden behind the drawer front and back. I didn't really want to put a drawer front on and waste any more space. I put together the four sides and then cut the drawer bottom down to fit. Between the pocket screws and wood glue I think the drawer box is going to plenty strong for what I need. I coated the wood in teak oil to give it some water resistance.

How the drawer slides in the frame has been on my mind since I began this project. I picked up a sheet (12" by 12") of 1/8" UHMW. I cut 1" strip with a box cutter and used a larger drill bit to drop the screw heads below the surface. I attached them to the bottom of the drawer with recessed screws. Originally my plan was to attach some angled aluminum to keep the drawer running straight. After sliding it into the 80/20 frame to test it out that is all I'm going to do. Its really simple as is and works awesome without catching on the side or anything.

The drawer bottom piece cut leaves a perfect scrap piece to make a table top that slides right into the box. I picked up some side trim to make a track for the table top to slide on. Cut the scrap ply down to 18" so I can push it back out of the way to access things in the front of the drawer. Coated it in butcher block conditioner so we can use it for lunches on the road and feel pretty good about it. It was a really easy addition that really adds functionality to the rear end.

Overall the drawer is not perfect but It is incredibly functional and I am happy. Most of the pieces I'm not happy with were my cuts and I plan to go back and reshape the handles to be a bit more uniform. If required, I will attach a latch keep the drawer from opening but I think the back door will will do most of the time. A locking mechanism would be pretty easy to install in the back. That may be an addition down the line. I'm happy to post more pictures if someone wants to try there own.

IMG_2101.jpg


IMG_2102.jpg


IMG_2103.jpg
 
Joined
Jul 24, 2020
Messages
19
Location
Waterloo, Ontario
The timing of the second round of stimulus checks and boxing day sales made buying some skids way too tempting. While we were kept awake all new year night by some rowdy campers in our provincial park campground I stumbled upon RA Motorsports out of Edmonton AB. As I figured out the out the door cost of shipping skids to Ontario I must have entered my phone number in the checkout. The next day I got a text from the shop asking if they could be helpful in any way. Matt at RA Motorsports was incredibly helpful getting me some pics of the difference between the "MOAB" and "overland" versions of their 1/4" aluminum skids. These guys are doing things right in terms of designing products that make sense and providing great customer service at a reasonable cost. I had read a few threads that talked about aluminum front skids making contact with the front dif so getting a front skid with extra bracing seemed like a great idea. Plus they protect the bolts well and LCA adjustment tabs. Two weeks later my front skid arrived. After asking for advice on GXOR I settled on overly greased bolts, a liberal coating of fluid film and some nylon washers to mitigate galvanic corrosion over the rest of winter. I mounted it up today with no headaches. I look forward to finishing off the set in the coming months.
IMG_2180.jpeg
IMG_2187.jpeg
IMG_2189.jpeg
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom