I am a big fan of planning. Type A, OCD, whatever you want to call me... it's boring but it's part of my life. Having built several trucks now from scratch I am beginning to admit that the process of building is one of my favourite parts of this hobby. Even going back as a child, I was obsessed with Lego and creating my own "sets" from scratch. I was good at it building Lego... if there was such a thing? It makes me realize there is more to building trucks than the monetary evacuation and simply pursueing the perceived cool factor. I truly enjoy the project management aspect of it: having a vision, researching, purchasing/coordinating parts, assembly, usage, evaluation, and the final tweaking stages that follow.
With the 4Runner now on lockdown in my garage, I have began to tinker as time allows. The truck must be ready for a mild shake-down by late spring so there isn't a real fire under my ass to get it going but the mod-bug is definitely burning within me (take that as you may...lol). All I know for sure is that I smile inside every time I see the City of Calgary gravel truck dumping copious amounts of it's salty payload all over the city streets, knowing that my minty 4Runner is safe inside the garage. (Re-read that again... still doesn't sound right) The vision in my head started churning months prior to picking this rig up. The research for parts that would turn this project into that vision has followed ever since. Shortly after #Doug (my awesome old 04' Tundra) left the driveway, the great American Thanksgiving brought about a few good sales - arguably the best time of year to buy truck parts. A few clicks later and my credit card was on fire but several of the essential build components were inbound for my US mailbox:
- SCS Ray 10 wheels w/OMF beadlock conversion
- Odyssey Battery (31M-PC2150)
- 2x Baja Designs Squadron Sport (Wide-Cornering - full post around my lighting setup later)
- ComeUp 9.5RS winch
- Icon 2.5" Ext. Travel Coilovers with Resi's
- Icon 2.0 Rear shocks
- Metal Tech rear LT coils (on backorder)
- Metal Tech offset adj. rear lower control arms
- Metal Tech adj. rear upper control arms
- Metal Tech bump stop spacers
- Metal Tech RAS delete kit
- Crown Ext. front & rear stainless brake lines
- Wheelers Superbumps
- Total Chaos front UCA's
- Pelfreybilt Aluminum front bumper
- PrinSu Design full length roof rack
- @MStudt rear sway bar discos/links
With only 43K on the clock and the truck having new brakes (all around), new Tokico suspension installed in place of the OEM XREAS system, a new cabin filter, and a fresh oil change there isn't much left to do. However I am an advocate of maintenance before modification, so "baselining" the truck with some minor items was essential for years of worry-free operation to come. I promptly ordered a AFE Pro Dry S air filter to replace the factory filter in favour of more airflow and a non-oily re-useable filter as well as performing the "hydrocarbon filter removal" mod. This should allow the truck to breath a little easier while still retaining the well designed factory airbox.
Next up was one of my personal "must-do" maintenance items: Steering flush with Redline synthetic fluid (ATF). I have been a fan of this ever since my LX450 whined and screamed on the red rocks of Moab. During the trip I performed a flush with Redline fluid on the steering system and the feel and sound of the steering system greatly improved. I had to follow suit in anticipation of larger tires to come on #RickRunner. Some new hood struts were added to stop #RickRunner from trying to take my head off. The last thing installed was the RuTech AIP Bypass Kit to stay ahead of the costly intake pump failure which is common on the 05-09 V8 4Runners and GX's.
Finally, I did a quick cleanup of the undercarriage and body. This thing is clean (possibly clean enough to "eat off of" as they say...) but a little extra paint and rust-check primer on the rust-prone weld areas of the frame should keep my OCD at bay for a couple years. Top it off with a cut and polish for some added paint protection.
With the ultimate goal of keeping RickRunner a comfy highway cruiser as well as capable, a stereo and a few other interior touches were necessary. First up was the Kenwood DoubleDin Bluetooth headunit wired into the factory JBL synthesis 9 speaker stereo. I wanted to also have the steering wheel functionality retained for those long drives where reaching for the "next track" button could provide to be difficult. Wiring it up was a bit of a PITA between all the modules required to make everything work in harmony, but a necessary mod that I am really looking forward to using. It even sounds half-decent with the factory JBL speakers and I am happy to not see the need for an additional amplifier at this time and will rock the OEM subwoofer until it dies.
One thing I have always disliked about the 4th Gen Limited trim was the fake-marble dash finishes. It's like Toyota was tired of the fake-wood grain finish so they thought a dark marble topcoat on some plastic was the trick to capturing the hearts and souls of the NA market. Maybe in 2005 it was cool or maybe it wasn't. Either way, carbon fibre ads horsepower and I think it looks great when used sparingly. I had some 3M carbon fibre wrap laying around and put it to good use. The cool thing about this stuff is that its not a printed carbon fibre look, it's actual textured fibres that are woven together - so it actually has some texture and looks and feels more authentic.
The final touch was the installation of the BlueSea dual USB outlet in the dash, strategically placed right below the RAM mount that I also fastened to the dash bezel, which will grab onto my tablet for GPS and service manual duties. Throw some WeatherTech mats in for good measure!
On a side note: Chase and I just picked up a new piece of camera equipment; a Lumahawk LED light that has it's own Lithium Ion battery pack, adjustable power output, and adjustable color temperature for work on our photo/video shoots. With the pile of shiny new 4x4 parts growing, it was a good opportunity to test the gear with some product shots. Chase through together a cool edit of the absolutely gorgeous SCS/OMF Ray 10 beadlock wheels with a couple of the clips we captured during the shoot.
NOTE: To do it justice, make sure to listen with headphones or some proper speakers; cell phone speakers don't pick up all the finer audio details that we try so hard to design into our edits ;)