Questions: 3sd Tcase & DB conv.

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Apr 23, 2003
Windsor, VT USA
The FJ55 I'm picking up on Sunday has a 3 spd tcase behind a Cruiser 4 speed transmission (behind a ChevV8).

Jason told me that this is good because it's stronger or something. Can anyone expand on that? I'm not having much luck searching MUD as it gets lost in the 3 spd transmission discussions.

Also, what is the best route to take to start collecting parts for the front disk brake conversion? I'd like to just suck it up and go NEW where possible. Loaded calipers and new rotors aren't a problem, axle rebuild kit no problem, but what about the other "stuff."

Thoughts on something like this?:

I've read 10 different topics on this but can't seem to find a complete, concise parts list written for a newbie.

Any help would be appreciated.

The 3-spd t-case came behind the 3-spd tranny. It has a slightly better low range than the 4-spd case, but isn't stronger. It's actually a little more brittle than a 4-spd case. Make sure to run a t-case saver behind a V8.

The easiest thing to do for a good disc brake conversion is to find a Minitruck solid axle front end for the knuckle swap. I think Kurt at Cruiser Outfitters can provide you with a parts list for it.

Congrats on the new pig.
Dave as far as I know the 3spd is the weakest of the LC transmissions. I when I bought my cruiser it had a 305 mated to a 3spd. My plan is to go with the SM465 with factory 3spd t-case and eventually to an orion. Downside to the SM465 is that it will shift like a dump truck but it has better gearing and is a lot stronger.

Easiest way to go disk brake is to find a complete axle from an solid axle mini or FJ60/62 then when you swap over the knuckles and use new brake parts, bearings and seals. I bougth an entire axle for $100 and plan on selling the extra parts (housing, diff and inner axles) when finished.

You could also find a 76 up FJ40 and swap over the entire axle but it would be a good idea to rebuild the knuckles anyway.
It has a 4spd transmission, but a "3spd Transfer case"

the tcase info comes from Jason, the current owner doesn't' know enough about these trucks to know for sure. I suspect when I go through the stack of receipts (totaling over $10k) it will be in there somewhere.
Dave not being a stick shift guy for awhile I couldn't remeber what exactly was the benifit of the 3spd t-case the lower gearing in it helps with getting back to stock ratio's with the 33" tires it has on it. in essencne it is a cheaper way to regear rather than get new ring and pinions front and rear.

Again Dave I didn't climb under the truck intath his drive way was full of mud. when I got home Ingrid thought I had gone 4 wheeling from all the mud just on my truck from his long driveway.

you will have fun going thruogh the folder of recipts I am sure there will be surprises on things the previous previous wner spent money on both good and bad hopefuly more good though.


I wasn't trying to give you crap at all, I'm indebted to you for going and checking it out for me. :) I just wanted these guys to know I was working with 2nd hand info and a little clueless on the details. Not your fault at all.

I suppose I could do a tcase saver (cheap) and maybe down the road swap on a later split case with marlin low rears in it. :) :)
no offense taken Dave I just could not remeber what the benifit of using the 3spd case was/is and to tell you the truth I don't know if he used 3spd gears in a 4sspd case (if that is possible I don't know.)

Dave you are going to have fun with this truck just figuring out what you got :)

just remeber to bring dog cookies or you will get eaten be his dogs. I still remeber the signs
Boils down to low range gearing only. 4sp T-case is 2:1 while the 3sp T-case is 2.3:1. High range is 1:1 for both. 3sp T-case gears will go into a 4sp T-case casting with spacers (I don't know the exact specs but it's been done). The 3sp T-case casting is weaker than the 4sp T-case casting. Both are "weak" behind a V8 if you have a heavy foot. 3sp t-case is considered "louder" than a 4sp t-case but in an already loud vehicle I find that almost laughable to worry about.

For a disk brake front axle conversion the best parts come from minitruck axles, '79 and newer 40/45 axles or FJ60/62 axles. Best in that it's got the largest stock birfield and the largest steering arm studs and stud spacing (large bolt pattern knuckles). Using 60/62 parts gets you larger tierod ends but means some other swapping around to get connected to the truck. If you go hi-steer after a future SOA then there are more hi-steer arms available for the large bolt pattern knuckle.

Easiest conversion is a complete axle from a 40/45 '76 or newer ('79 and newer yields the larger birfields and knuckles). Only issue comes from needing to swap diffs to match gear ratios front to rear. But if you're gonna redo the knuckles pulling a diff at that point isn't too big a deal. '76 - early '79 axles had a smaller bolt pattern knuckle, a SLIGHTLY smaller diameter birfield with a longer splined section poking into the locking hub. Some say weaker but I say only if you beat on it with big tires. I ran stock '77 stuff in my VJ40 around New England for 30K miles and only broke one birfield. Others can break a steel ball in a rubber room; only you can be the judge of what you need there.

As for a "complete parts list" for a disk brake swap - there isn't one. This is because there are so many ways to go about doing the conversion. It depends on what you have (money, parts, skills), what you can get (money, parts, skills; your's and your helpers) and what you're gonna do with the truck now and in the future.

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Hey Kurt,
Is your avatar a picture of you? (pretty ugly)
Hey Kurt, thanks for the link, I was getting nervous, never heard of a "4 spd" transfer case... Thought people were counting neutral as a gear or I just totally missed out on a whole extra gear..... That makes much more sense.

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