Builds Marshmallow's build thread

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Should have bought a Jeep
Apr 10, 2013
San Jose, CA
OK, disclaimer:

I am doing this for the sake of documenting my trip down fiscal irresponsibility lane for those that have asked. I don't really have forensic evidence of everything I've done, so this is the chronological photo journal for anyone who's interested and I'll annotate it to the best of my recollection. I also will have to come back and add stuff over time since i'm not doing this all in one shot. Let's start!

Pic of where we are today:

And where we started:

OK, so this is my first 4x4. This was also the first 80 I went to look at. Bought it in late March 2013. It was sort of a pile in a lot of minor ways. Dents, missing carpet, heater and AC didn't work, taillight was broken, leaking oil everywhere, no smog from the kid who was selling it (sketchy!), wheels were awful looking, no antenna, running boards falling off, etc etc etc. Stereo wasn't even hooked up right. But it had 180K on it, lockers, and was $3400. So, you know, whatever. Actually the OE sized BFG ATs were in decent condition.

Most of the stuff was easy to fix. The AC needed a new condenser, the heater controls just had the molex connector unplugged from the previous owner attempting to install a stereo. The antenna... who cares. bumper... who cares. dents... who cares. Taillight was $75 so that sucked a little but overall it was fine. Oil leaks are no big deal to me as long as you keep it full (for a while) so I left that alone.



Stupid CDL switch - this was my first mod.
OK, so let's see if this thing sorta works. Took a trip to Frank Raines OHV and it was horribly boring and the low oil light kept coming on, so that was a waste of a drive. But it got there just fine and the lockers all worked and whatever.

So then, ok, don't really know what I'm doing but I decided I'd just service the ac myself because uh, why not? Bought a new condensor and dryer, set of manifold gauges, a vacuum pump, and some r134a on amazon (no "core" charge - pro tip for californians). Got it working even though it smells like weed and santa cruz.

Alright, then it's time to do that @RavenTai temp gauge mod thing. I'm still not sure if I did it right since it sometimes sits highish, sometimes lowish, but the OBD2 scangauge seems to report pretty steady temps. I don't really rely on it these days anyways since I trust electronics more.
OK slider time. Still haven't done any wheeling but I don't want to do any body damage to this beautiful machine. So there goes $800. Welding and build quality was top notch, though. No regrets. These things are BEAT now, so uhh yeah. White Knuckle for the win.

Pretty cute

OK well, I need to stuff a CB in this thing so I need to truncate this radio shack thing so I don't have a dumb RG-58 connector sticking off the back. (or so I thought. CBs suck. This is now gone):

And the antenna it rode in on:
OK, well, this is pretty much the pinnacle of this thread. The head gasket. And all the other "while you're in there" things. Why? Because I don't really know what I'm doing but I downloaded the FSM and this stupid forum made me paranoid that I'd be out with my friends and/or family, wheeling, and suddenly my engine would explode and white smoke would engulf the entire vehicle. So I stupidly did a head gasket swap as "preventative maintenance" which I wouldn't recommend to anyone. Live and learn. Now I get to worry that I did it wrong.

Aaaaand it's back together. Screw all of you with your super-clean engines. I keep my 1FZ in filthy shape to let it know its place in the world.
OK, so, I've done a lot of mechanical work to it. Better make sure it's not going to die in a fire. And fine, I should actually drive it. So here's basically the 2nd time it's been offroad.

Aaaaand that's enough. Let's rip off the radius arms. Those things are garbage, don't flex, and I don't care what people say, they suck. Good design for brodozers in their f250s maybe, but unless you like having all of your front axle articulation come from bushing compliance, they belong in the trash. Sorry to all the people on this forum that love their radius arms. Anyway, we start by putting on taller springs and longer shocks on the oem suspension in a super unsafe way:


Next, we basically run a semi-parallel 5-link in the same fashion as the rear geometry. Why? Because in my mind, it was possible and it had the same "on-paper" characteristics as the radius arms once lifted.

Which is exactly the problem - the radius arms, once lifted, have a horrible roll axis. But it's something that few people suffer with because the amount of roll that the vehicle experiences with the ridiculously stiff front end is moot. Once you let that system free, it was driveable but challenging. I'm not going to spend a bunch of time on this except that I abandoned this setup. I was hoping I could make something that used a lot of OEM mounting points, and I mostly did (even retaining the front sway bar) so that was a huge win, but the geometry was awful. So this may be a good system for an unlifted or barely-lifted cruiser that wants more flex, but not for 5" lift springs. Anyway, I kept it for a while. No, I don't have pics of the build process.

Oh, I also got 345/75R16 KM2s on the oem wheels at this time:


Eh, I should get bumpers. Bought a China "10,500 lb" winch that continues to serve me well today. I like Warn but I couldn't justify the price. So anyway, I started on this abomination that continues to be an abomination (I've modified it several times). Should have just bought a decent front bumper but there wasn't many at the time. Luke's (4x4 labs) would be my choice now. Screw building your own.

OK, so I guess it's time for surf 'n turf at Pismo. Surely people will marvel at the engineering there! Spoiler alert: nobody cared and the 80 crew was a bit too cool for school. Little bit like land rover owners.


OK, well, I'm back. Pismo was nice. Go to Jockos. Then I started on the rear bumper, which *did* have a kit option (luke's rear setup).

Installation method:
OK, let's make a transfer case skid. What is this? I don't know, but @Phildoh has it now. It does take a good amount of abuse so it's better than the stock leaf guard:

Installed. Also notice my intentionally-bent lower links - they were sleeved and bent for clearance to correct the pinion angle. Other than the geometry of the rear also sucking, these worked really well for keeping out of the rocks.
Alright, perfect. Now, the smart thing to do would be to gain experience wheeling progressively harder trails. Instead, I decided to toodle on down to Johnson Valley.

Starting with Cougar Buttes which was so terrible I started playing Candy Crush or something on my phone and drove into a ditch. Yes, you can see the road to the left. I really just sort of spaced out and drove into a ditch.

So then I went to the "actual" hammers and ran sledgehammer because it was easy to find and I didn't have a map and didn't know what I was doing. My brother-in-law and I started at around 11am and reached the mailbox (because I was trying to avoid body damage) at around 3am the following morning:




Then I slept in the cruiser and woke up at 6am and finished the trail. What a great way to spend a vacation!
Alright. So uh, the biggest problem I think I saw with the first hammers trip was a lack of bass. So I ripped out this disaster of an attempt to create an enclosure for a 8" sub in the factory location:

And replaced it with this:

2nd hammers trip didn't start so great. After feeling a bit overwhelmed by Sledgehammer, we started with the "easiest" hammers trail (tackhammer) which somehow I got high-centered on:

Then lower big johnson was fine:

Then upper big johnson was significantly harder (no pics, but a lot steeper and more rock stacking).

Then coming down boulderdash was tricky and tight and super sketchy:

Then this happened, which IMO is because of wheel spacers and/or scrub radius - the downhill + obstacle + fatness of land cruiser = forcing the steering box one way. The drag link yielded its happy way up into the engine. You can see more of the 5-link here.

Fortunately, a little "SLEEve" offroad action got 'er working again:

Then the next day we hit clawhammer, which is a great trail.

OK, so, uhh, let's fix the rear roll axis since it's a problem and the roll center sucks and I'm sick of having a panhard in the rear. Note - there's an entire thread on this (double triangulated blah blah) so you can steal the numbers and geometry there if you'd like. The tl;dr is that it works great and I'm still using this geometry even on my dana 70 since it's really a great system.

OK, here's a thing I can weld onto the frame and then a crossmember that I can bolt to that:


And here's a truss thingamajig that I can bolt where the old uppers used to go. Enjoy, @richardlillard1

OK uhh there it is. Water heater muffler had to go but otherwise not a huge deal:


Me paying some "salt of the earth" muffler guy to weld on some new tubes. He got the job done but it's pretty bad / restrictive / horribly-hot-and-melts-my-carpet-where-he-ran-it-and-offgasses-a-bunch-of-VOCs-and-gave-me-a-headache-for-a-while.

But now we're talking. The front was a big improvement but this was great too. More stable, safer, feels predictable, etc:


So then I did some more maintenance like the oil pump cover and crank pulley seal and added this power steering cooler:

magic tool for holding crank pulley:

Then I went to the Rubicon and didn't take any pics for some reason? Not sure where those are.
OK, well, need to have something new when I get back to the hammers, so I first hacked up the bumper for clearance. It looked worse and I hated it the whole time. Still do since I basically still have it.

And then I 3-linked the front in a few long days. Almost no pics because it was just grinding and welding for hours upon hours in the driveway, but the end result was a 3-link that put the lowers in the position where my previous 4-link "uppers" had gone (above axle centerline), roughly where the stock lowers were on the frame, and then added an upper tower and link mount to the side of the frame. Geometry was similar to the 4 wheel underground setup, probably even a lower instant center "z" due to the height of the lowers. Worked really well but that axle link tower was atrocious and ended up breaking off (those pics later) on the Dusy.


Super clearance! And stock tierod, drag link, and track bar. This geometry worked great. Would recommend. Very neutral and understeery, lots of ground clearance, and due to the low instant center, it never had that annoying wheel recession/unloading you get when you try to climb obstacles. The wheels just drove right over since the suspension wasn't fighting the drivetrain. This may be a little esoteric for some, but basically it's sorta similar to why leaf-sprung guys like shackle reversals in the front - the wheel wants to move back when climbing rather than forward.

Also, I decided to ditch the weenie tie rod and drag links and run the GM "1-ton" TREs.

Shakedown run to make sure I wasn't destroying anything:
Let's go to the hammers again! Why? Because nothing says relaxation like hurting yourself, stacking rocks, and damaging things you own in the name of driving over a boulder just to look at more boulders. Don't forget the flora (poverty Joshua trees) and fauna (dirt bees? little clear scorpions? For some reason there are NO BIRDS at the hammers, which is great.). Note that i cut the front and rear fenders at some point and didn't document it. But I left the pink bondo on there for a while. Great.

OK, I forget the order we ran trails in, but Sunbonnet (including hells gate and devils slide) was rough on marshmallow. More damage was suffered this day/night than ever before (including previous owner). Here's the driver rear door:




It was like 2am when we hit aftershock (why? because nothing says smart like finishing a trail at midnight and starting another one. I don't even drink, folks.) At around 6am, the famous obstacle at the end, depreciation knob, took my passenger fender and front passenger door and, uh, depreciated it a bit. View from the drivers seat just prior.

36 hours later, we decided to get vengeance on sledgehammer for being so intimidating the first time. Mild fails were felt but success was met after about a 4-hour total trail time (about 400% faster than the first time around)



So F**king awesome. I'm glad I'm not the only one that doesn't steam-clean and repaint every bolt when I remove stuff.

I would be interested in more shots of that front 3-link - it looks super clean. I know you don't have that setup anymore but if you have anything in the archives that'd be awesome. Looks like that "lowers" are on the inside of the frame rails? Or maybe that picture is deceiving.
Finally a build thread, about time man! Looking great.
Could you also throw up a couple photos of the less than ideal but tucked up high exhaust re-route?
Simply Awesome. Thanks for posting.
I really dig your writing style.
I'm still laughing...
The front 3link with lowers on top of the axle looks very interesting. I would like to compare that set up to the one you have now. I'm not excited to put my tie rod in front of my axle so I'm very intrested in that 3link characteristics.
I imagine this as being narrated by Clint Eastwood in a very "get off my lawn" tone.

10/10 would read again.
Simply Awesome. Thanks for posting.
I really dig your writing style.
I'm still laughing...
The front 3link with lowers on top of the axle looks very interesting. I would like to compare that set up to the one you have now. I'm not excited to put my tie rod in front of my axle so I'm very intrested in that 3link characteristics.
Yeah I dont like y link steering. Works but has its downsides. A lot of people consider crossover steering an upgrade and the factory setup works fine and protects the tie rod... ill post more tonight.

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