WILLIE'S ROCK CRAWLER

Where this project starts. Click for larger image (32kb)
The evolution of a 1994 4Runner into a Rock Crawler
Truck not finished yet. Getting Close. Click for larger image (43kb)
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SEPERATOR LINE
STAGE 1 - need more clearance

Added a 4" lift to rear and stock IFS(independent front suspension) and upgraded to 33" tires. The lift kit made the 4Runner look nice for a street machine but none of the lift kit was used on the final Crawler. (sometimes referred to as a 'Rock Runner'). A roof rack was added to carry more supplies.

Spring 2000
Willie lying down on the job - click for larger image (71kb) I had to get my mug in some place - click for larger image (93kb) Lift completed - click for larger image (84kb)

Stock 1994 Toyota 4Runner
V6 engine - click for larger image (63kb) Original front view - click for larger image (77kb) Original side view - click for larger image (75kb)

Click for more about Super-lift kit
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STAGE 2 - need more traction

Changed IFS to solid front axle from 1983 pickup and used special leaf springs, mounts and shocks. Installed cross-over steering system. Moved up to 35" tires. Added a locking rear differential. Which was later put in the front axle because they are to unpredictable and scary on the highway. Then went to have some fun in the mountains.

Click for more about crossover steering - Click for more on locking differentials
Fall 2000
To wet to stop now. Click for larger image (48kb) Just playing in the mud - click for larger image (35kb) Found some more mud - click for larger image (100kb)
We use to go around these - click for larger image (40kb) A friend having some fun too - click for larger image (84kb) A friend playing in the mud - click for larger image (88kb)

See more Pictures of Mud and Rocks - See Pictures of Misadventure
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ANIMATED FLOOR JACK NOW FOR THE BIG JOB ANIMATED COMPRESSOR
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STAGE 3 - time to lose some weight

Decided the 4Runner's weight was to much for crawling rocks. It was also top heavy which would cause it to roll easily. SOLUTION: Change to a pickup body and lose several hundred pounds. Starting weight was 4415 lbs. Warning: Do not try this at home NICE BIG SET OF TEETH unless you take dozens of high resolution pictures showing every part before removal. There are hundreds of different parts under the dash and hood. It would be impossible to remember everything.

The body was removed by inviting 6 friends over to help with the promise of lots of beer. TALL COOL ONE Be sure to get the work done first. Even with the doors, tailgate, and interior removed it was almost too much to lift. Would have been easier to rent a crane.
Maybe not this big. No larger image.
December 2001
Sure a lot of stuff under here - click for larger image (95kb) And I do mean a lot - click for larger image (88kb) After the dashboard was out - Click for larger image (81kb)
Damn, here's some more stuff - click for larger image (92kb) Hey, there's more over here too - click for larger image (85kb) Just before lift-off. Hope everything's disconnected - Click for larger image (89kb)
Outside for a cleanup - click for larger image (116kb) Removing old exhaust system. This is the best time to install headers. Click for larger image (93kb) Getting ready for trip to Denver to trade for pickup body - click for larger image (82kb)
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STAGE 4 - start putting it back together

Sure glad we took all those pictures.PICTURE OF A CAMERA All the dash and engine parts bolted up to the pickup cab with very few problems. But did spend a lot of time looking at the pictures. Once together, the engine was started to make sure everything inside the cab was working. It took about 2 weeks to remove 4Runner body and mount the pickup cab working evenings and weekends.

January - February 2002
Friend Eric was a good helper. Just hope he remembers where it all goes - Click for larger image (67kb) Getting ready to mount cab - click for larger image (82kb) Cab now mounted - click for larger image (87kb)
Starting to put heater and dash board back together - click for larger image (196kb) Dash and steering back together - click for larger image (223kb) Starting to build roll cage - click for larger image (113kb)
Engine together and running. Working on rail doors. - click for larger image (142kb) Six Point roll cage completed - click for larger image (79kb) Cab and roll cage painted - click for larger image (82kb)
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STAGE 5 - need more articulation and a new fuel cell

The front suspension was as good as it would ever be using leaf springs. But the rear would gain more articulation with a 4-Link system. The links were made by welding nuts into the end of steel tubing and using hiem joints and a second nut for locking. The stock fuel tank was removed to make room for the new suspension and exhaust system. The exhaust was changed from a single 2" to a dual 2 1/2" with headers. The rear of the frame was shortened about 6 inches and reinforced for a hitch/winch receiver. The wheelbase was not changed.

Click for example of great articulation

March - May 2002
Rear axle removed. All brackets will be removed except spring perch. Click for larger image (97kb) Welding upper left front mount - click for larger image (70kb) Finishing some welding - click for larger image (80kb)
Last minute check before painting - click for larger image (83kb) A different view - click for larger image (79kb) Painted and ready to go - click for larger image (81kb)

The old fuel tank and the new fuel cell
This is the old fuel tank that was removed - Click for larger image (101kb) Frame shortened and working on new Fuel Cell mounts - Click for larger image (78kb)
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STAGE 6 - the work continues

Nerf bars were finished which will provide some body protection. The front bumper and flat bed were almost complete. The body was fitted with fiberglass fenders. The rear fenders were shortened about 12 inches.

June-July 2002
Finishing work on nerf bars - click for larger image (67kb) Welding now done on bumper - click for larger image (82kb) Beginning to fit fiberglass fenders - click for larger image (50kb)
Starting design for tail lights - click for larger image (74kb) Right side view - click for larger image (70kb) Sure will look better with doors - click for larger image (90kb)
ANIMATED HOIST This is what I want for Christmas (or even a pit in the garage floor would be nice)
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STAGE 7 - starting to come together

The only body parts used from the 4Runner were the plastic grill & headlight assembly and the hood. The grill was painted white instead of the stock black color. Wanted the front of the truck to retain the 4Runner look. Connecting the fuel system was done after all welding was completed for safety reasons. The original 4Runner had amber turn lights, so the wiring had to be changed from a 3 wire to a 2 wire circuit so a single red stop/turn light could be used.

1st week of August 2002
Front bumper painted and attached. Makes the 2000 Tacoma behind it look like a Match Box toy. Click for a larger image (79kb) Think Willie's new daughter Austyn got tired supervising. She'll probably want to drive it when she gets bit older. Click for larger image. (132kb) New windshield and brush gaurd installed. Doors and RR Fender painted and bolted on. Click for a larger image (97kb)
Hood getting ready for paint. The only metal body part used from original 4Runner. Click for a larger image (74kb) Getting last 3 fenders ready for painting. Click for a larger image (58kb) Begining to look like a truck. Click for a larger image (97kb)

2nd week of August 2002
Fuel pump, filter and lines installed the first time. Click for larger image (79kb) Details of fuel routing the first time. Click for special effects image. (65kb) Visors from the 'Put-In-Vise-and-Bend-It-Company' are installed. Click for larger image (56kb)
Tail light frames finished and attached. Click for larger image (76kb) New door and window seals installed. Click for larger image (81kb) Hood is still being painted and waiting for door locks to be rekeyed at a lock shop. Click for larger image (97kb)
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STAGE 8 - major problems arise

1st - Learned that the fuel pump and filter connections had to be at or below the outlet on the fuel tank to work properly. Since the fuel tank was mounted in the only place it would fit except on the bed, which we did not want, the pump and filter had to be lowered. This also forced a complete rebuild of the rear skid plate that was designed only to protect the fuel tank. Now it also had to protect the pump and filter.

2nd - The battery was not being charged. The battery and alternator were checked and found to be good. But we weren't getting 14+ volts across the battery when the engine was running. We had a large voltage drop from somewhere. After 4 days of checking and testing, the 50 cent fuse (the first thing we checked and it looked good) was replaced and the charging system worked fine. Don't even ask because we don't know.

3rd - Rear drive shaft had a worn out u-joint. Since Toyota was one of the trucks that make their drive shafts with non-replaceable u-joints, the shaft had to be replaced. Guess they like selling them. Instead of buying a new one for $800 or a used one from a salvage yard for $160 (which might go bad at anytime) we had one made at a local machine shop that has replaceable u-joints. We felt this was the best way to go since 4x4's are hard on u-joints, especially when the drive shaft angles are larger than factory specs. And also a lot cheaper than a new one.

4th - Windshield wiper blades don't park in the same place each time. Still working on this problem.

Spring holders were made and attached. New rear Bilstein shocks, Hella off-road driving lights and safety harnesses were installed.

Then it was time for the ramp test to check clearances. Everything was fine and ready for the alignment shop.

3rd - 4th week of August 2002
View of fuel pump and filter after they had to be moved down. Click for larger image (74kb) Another view of fuel pump and filter. (73kb) Willie giving it a ramp test. Click for larger image (71kb)
Rear view of ramp test.Still waiting for tail lights. Click for larger image (86kb) Shows the problem of having to redesign a skid plate that will protect filter. Click for larger image. (87kb) Left rear wheel just beginning to come off the ground. Click for larger image (69kb)
Front view of ramp test. Click for larger image (88kb) Good shot of overhead steering and the new lights. Click for larger image (93kb) Still haven't had time to paint the hood. Click for larger image (70kb)
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STAGE 9 - the almost finished product
animated truck

The total weight went from 4415 lbs to 3200 lbs. A loss of 1215 lbs. Truck is not finished but couldn't miss hunting season. The little things would just have to wait.

Fall 2002
Just a little goofing off. Truck not done but couldn't miss hunting season. Click for larger image (93kb) November club run to Centennial. Click for larger image (68kb) December club run to Bald Mt. Click for larger image (50kb)
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STAGE 10 - more FUN

A few more pictures of the best part of the project. Driving it. Also built a tandum axle trailer to haul the truck back and forth to the mountains. It rides pretty rough and it saves wear on the expensive tires.

Spring 2004
 April club run to Muddy Creek. Click for larger image (36kb) April club run to Muddy Creek - Stuck Bad. Click for larger image (49kb) April club run to Muddy Creek. Click for larger image (45kb)

SEPERATOR LINE
Some fun computer stuff created by Willie
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Wonder which style would look best?
Animated 4Runner - click for larger image (182kb)

A little rendering magic (compare to pictures in stage 2)
You can even get your gas cap painted in the mountains - click for larger image (40kb) What happen? Sure seems lighter back there - click for larger image (117kb)
Just can't believe everything you see these days

Different Paint Schemes
Light Zebra Design - click for larger image (26kb) Camo Design - click for larger image (52kb) Dark Zebra Design - click for larger image (25kb)

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END OF STORY FOR NOW
(will be updating as the evolution continues)


Copyrightę 2002 - William Fowler