Trail Beater '85 4Runner on 38s

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Sep 10, 2013
Denham Springs, LA
Hey guys, just wanted to introduce myself and my pile...

Name's Woody and I'm down here in Louisiana. I've been wheeling for ten years or so. Samurais, Broncos, an Explorer, and of course a few Jeeps. I was gathering parts to build a Bronco on tons and 42s when it dawned on me that I never have free time so a huge build like that was going to be painfully drawn out. Needing a dedicated trail rig to take the edge off my constantly-breaking 2012 Wrangler, I traded the tons for the 4Runner, which I picked up Sunday.

It has all kinds of good stuff, but here are the basics:

1985 4Runner
Stock case (included a spare to double up)
Stock axles with 5.29s
Longfields in front
Lock-Right in front
Spool in rear
63" Chevy springs out back
Siped 38x12.50-15 TSLs

It's pre-abused and begging for more. My 9yo son has been shaking from withdrawals and is begging for the chance for us to take it out. I'm definitely ready to find the next weak link!

The clutch is new, but isn't disengaging until the pedal is almost on the floor. I have a new master and slave arriving today. I checked pedal specs per FSM yesterday and everything looks good, so I'm hoping the new hydraulics will resolve the issue. The existing ones look about 28 years old...

Nice! put that second case in and you'll be all set!
Congrates on the new wheeling rig :clap:! ....(Humm I knew a Woody with a Samurai in LA4x4) Hope to see you on the trails with it soon. Not much public wheeling in this area except Sicily Island . Get some repairs done and lets go wheeling!
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Congrates on the new wheeling rig :clap:! ....(Humm I knew a Woody with a Samurai in LA4x4) Hope to see you on the trails with it soon. Not much public wheeling in this area except Sicily Island . Get some repairs done and lets go wheeling!
Were you known as Black Sami? I'm the same Woody from back in the day.

I've been running Catahoula Recreation a good bit over the last two years, but my 2012 Wrangler has been taking too much damage. Went through four sets of rear axle shafts, bending flanges on every run. Finally upgraded to chromoly and they lasted all of three hours before the passenger side bent. Only reason I stopped at three hours was snapping the left U-joint in the D30 on the top ledge of Baby Steps. The only way to stop bending the flanges would be a full-float axle, so I was building tons for it. Then I was going to put them in a Bronco. Then I was offered this Runner for the one tons.

Since the yota is already ready already I jumped at it and look forward to building this one. The master cylinder arrived last night and the slave should be here today. I'm hoping to get them swapped in before the Catahoula clean-up this weekend, but if not I'll survive a weekend of looking like I've never wheeled a stick before.

Lining up the parts for the doubler conversion but it may be the end of the year before I can get it done and send out my driveshafts to be modified.

I'll be back at Catahoula the last weekend of this month if you and your people would care to join us.
Took it out yesterday morning for a brief shakedown run... and I was eight kinds of pissed off. Simply getting to the first trail head was unbearable, as it was nearly impossible to steer and pretty much any steering input would kill the motor unless I was revving up above 2,000 RPM.

Made it through the first trail, dying roughly every 5-10 seconds at best. Half the time, it'd die as soon as I cranked it. In one particular spot with some very large rocks, overhanging trees, etc it was killing on me before I could even crank it and lean into the throttle just to try to clear out the cylinders (felt like it wasn't burning all the fuel properly).

Let me clarify that if this wasn't a trail-only rig, I'd have been ten times more cautious...

So it died about 15 times just trying to get through one spot about 15' long. I finally got pissed off to the point I spun the motor up to about 3,500 RPM and friggin dumped the clutch. Would I recommend that? No. Would I have done it in a more sane frame of mind? No. Would I have done it with anyone else even remotely within reach? Absolutely not.

But I did it... and it barreled through like a gorilla in a china shop... and it survived, which was fairly impressive for me. Once I arrived at the top, however, I found that the battery light, the light below it, and the check engine light were on. Hopped out and looked under the hood... no belt on the alternator. Well, son of a bitch! I was only able to wheel for twenty minutes and that twenty minutes SUCKED!

Decided the truck was still running, so I'd drive it on back to the trailer before it killed the battery. Wouldn't you know... it idled smoothly (albeit obviously weak on voltage)... I could steer it with one hand... and it didn't die once the whole way to and onto the trailer!

So I'm picking up a 12SI alternator this week and will get with Trail-Gear about their bracket kit. We're looking to set up an account with them, but that may take a little time and I need this thing running again within two weeks for the next wheeling trip.

A couple other things I've decided it needs:

Cupholders (my 2012 Wrangler had me spoiled on this)
Door removal
Parking brake (rear disc conversion so no hand brake but I won't always have a good tree nearby)

All in, I was cursing the PO, but in all fairness, he was cursing the PO of his rig because while I was cursing him for fighting the yota on the trails, he was on his way to the parts store looking for a brake caliper to replace one that had seized on his new rig. Plus, he DID tell me the truck was making a funky sound under the hood on the last run and he couldn't figure out what was wrong, but I told him I'd figure it out and we'll work out the repair costs between us once it's resolved.

I just pulled it off the trailer to charge the battery and start the alternator work tomorrow and it fired right up, idled great, and I steered it into the driveway with one hand, despite the rear spool and front locker (I did have it in 4x2). I'm looking forward to getting this little hiccup out of the way so I can start wheeling on this thing again.
Lose the doors and get a set of tube doors from trail gear or 4xInnovations.

Sent from another Galaxy
With everything going on, I won't be able to get the GM alternator brackets in and installed in time to make the next run a week from tomorrow, so I went ahead with a stock replacement 60a alternator for now.

Upon pulling the old alternator I found the original PS return lines to be very hard and cracking, so I picked up a small PS oil cooler to replace the original finless cooler and replaced all the return lines. In THAT process I discovered the pressure hose is crumbling apart and is actually sweeling pretty heavily right next to the hard line going into the gearbox, so I have a new one on order. When I replace that I'll most likely modify the pressure valve on the pump to get a little more flow out of it to help turn these 38s.

While I had everything apart I went ahead and pulled the radiator just to inspect it and found probably 60% of the fins were blocked up with mud. The fan shroud had roughly 3/4" of dried mud stuffed between it and the radiator and the crank pulley was almost smooth across the front from all the swamp muck that hardened to it. It was definitely dropped off into something extremely nasty, which makes great sense as to why the alternator failed like it did. I spent about half an hour with a pressure nozzle on the garden hose blasting off all the nasty crap all over the engine bay and couldn't believe how much was built up on EVERYTHING. It would appear that, to countless previous owners, "trail-only" doubles for "never bother cleaning anything ever ever never ever" so I have an uphill battle for getting all the build-up under control.

Next minor task will be a new valve cover gasket and grommets, but that'll most likely wait until after the next trail ride. I do hope to set up a hand throttle in the next week so I can have a little more control when things get rocky.

All in, I'm still enjoying the prospect of what this rig can become and I'm looking forward to getting things up to par so I can enjoy wheeling it more consistently with less repairs and catch-up maintenance between runs!
Okay, an update...

Replaced all the power steering hoses and added a small oil cooler.
Pulled the pressure valve while I had the hose off and found that everything inside was gummed up and sticking together. Opened it up and a black tar-like substance came oozing out. I cleaned everything, drilled out the main port to 3/16" (barely larger than stock) and put it all back together.
Found the PS idler pulley bearing was seized, so I replaced the bearing while I had the belt off.
Flushed the PS as well as possible.
Installed the new stock replacement alternator.
Installed an Optima yellow top I had on hand.
Flushed the cooling system and refilled with fresh coolant.

Motor was still stumbling like crazy, blowing smoke with a hard rev, and idling at 400 RPM. We adjusted the idle and timing... the timing is still pretty heavily advanced for my liking, but no detonation, so I'm gonna let it ride like it is. When I rotated the distributor to where it was at the factory-recommended 5*, it was stumbling worse and backfiring, so it'll have to deal with the 12-15* it has now. I'll look deeper into it later, but it's been running with a lot more advance for the last few years so I'm guessing it'll be fine a while longer.

It finally occurred to me to inspect the air filter and it was NASTY. It's an aftermarket open element set-up and was primarily black, which I'd assumed was the color of the element. I hit it with some cleaner and it came out to a light grey color. That finally cleaned up the rest of the stumbling I was getting during a neutral rev of the motor and I'm thinking it's safe to say we're in good shape for lots of abuse, now!!

While going through the motor I found that literally every vacuum port had been capped off or plugged, except for the brake booster and fuel pressure regulator. Knowing how many systems on EFI motors are controlled by the vacuum system, I'll start working my way through and reconnecting what I can, just to be sure it's running as well as possible.

The igniter and coil also look to be 28yo, so they'll be getting replaced before long. I want to maintain as hot of a spark as possible so I'm not leaving any potential power on the table!

Hopefully my next update will have some action pics from this weekend!!

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