Multi-purpose Taco build

BogusBlake

2006 Expedition Trophy Champion
So I bought my '04 Tacoma Double Cab 4wd a little over two years ago to replace my '85 Xtra Cab for daily driving duties. The '85 has since turned into my rock buggy and I've managed to keep my welder away from the Taco. However, this truck serves many roles for me and the stock configuration falls a little short in a few of those, it's time for some modification!

This truck needs to be a trail capable camping and tow rig that I commute to work in.

First, a few requirements:
-The Taco is my daily driver as well as my tool for exploring some very remote areas, so reliability is paramount.
-The Taco is not my main wheeler, but it's no stranger to 3.5-4 rated terrain, so armor and well performing suspension will be needed.
-I use the Taco to tow my buggy. I don't want a bigger truck, but I do need more power and better brakes.
-My wife and I are still young and kind of like sleeping in a tent on the ground and our camping gear is already fairly modular and packs into the truck well, so I don't have the need for fancy gizmoes like roof top tents or drawer systems.

Unfortunately, this build will be SLOW- the Taco isn't my main wheeler and nice parts for new trucks are expensive.
 

BogusBlake

2006 Expedition Trophy Champion
Very soon after I bought the truck, I put on a Yakima Q-tower rack system. I like the roof rack because I can carry mountain bikes with the bed full of camping gear. The bike trays hold the bikes securely enough for some moderate wheeling, but the height of the rig with them up there is a hinderance when dealing with overhanging trees and brush.

The rack has a 400 lb dynamic capacity; I find it very useful to transport uncut (20ft) sticks of steel.

I have a habit (and luckily the wife buys into it) that when something breaks or wears out, I take the opportunity to upgrade it. The factory battery took a crap last summer so I put in an Optima red top. I went with the red top because, for now, it only has starting duties. I run a red/yellow dual battery setup on my buggy and when I get a winch for the Taco or start accumulating power drawing accesories, Ill probably go that route. That's a long time away though, so I might want something different by then...

I've only seen my ATF temp light once and I never want to see it again. The truck flat tows the buggy OK, but it's slow on hills and I can feel the tranny slipping every once in a while. I added a TRD transmission cooler in September and I swear I can actually feel a difference, especially when accelerating after being in city traffic.

Just for a little more help with towing, I swapped out the stock fan clutch for a factory Heavy Duty unit. It kicks on sooner which is also nice for summer wheeling with the AC on!

Putting parts on costs money but the Gray Wire locker mod is free so I did that. Racecar doughnuts in 2wd are fun and all, but I did it mainly for those times when I don't need to drop it into low range but do need the extra traction. I also disconnected the piezo beeper because it's just plain annoying.
 
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BogusBlake

2006 Expedition Trophy Champion
A few of the groups I wheel with have a lot of mildly built or near stock vehicles in them so I like to take the Taco instead of the buggy on those trips. I also like to get to camping spots that are "off the beaten path". Since the rocks in AZ like to bite, I built some rock sliders. The sliders extend outside the body but not quite to the sidewall of the tires which will keep me from getting wedged. When I upgrade tires, this will be even more pronounced.
 
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BogusBlake

2006 Expedition Trophy Champion
For towing, I really do need more power and torque from the engine, especially for mountain grades. Fortunately, there's an easy solution to this- a TRD supercharger, headers, and cat-back exhaust system. I believe the performance gain from these parts will offset the slight degredation of reliability and fuel consumption. I don't have any of these parts yet, but I'm saving my pennies!

If there's one place the Taco fall flat, especially when towing, is the braking department. I make it a point to avoid towing my buggy in traffic and on busy roads. There's a TRD Big brake kit for '05 and up, but those of us with '04s are out of luck... or are we?

Astute Toyota fans might notice that the front suspension of the Tacomas and Tundras are VERY similar. The Tundra is a bigger truck and meant to tow (and stop). The spindles are the same and the control arms are the same, but the brake rotors and calipers are WAY bigger (larger diameter and thicker) on the Tundra. Luckilly, Tundras came with the same 16" wheels as the Tacos (they have a 17" option, but the 16's still fit on those).

I did some research and it looks like Tundra rotors and calipers will bolt right up to my Taco spindles. Ill have to modify the brake backing plate to clear the larger caliper, but that's no big deal. I scored a set of calipers from an '05 4wd Tundra (wrecked with 7K on the od. Ouch!) for 65 bucks. Ill pick up some rotors sometime soon and bolt everything up. Stay tuned, more on this later...
 

Nullifier

Expedition Leader
sounds like you have a nice rig coming along! the brake plans you have sound interesting. I'll be following that mod closly! Good luck witht ht project hope all works outlike you plan!
 

edgear

aventurero, Overland Certified OC0012
BogusBlake said:
So I bought my '04 Tacoma Double Cab 4wd a little over two years ago to replace my '85 Xtra Cab for daily driving duties.
So as Blake's wife once said -- he's a bad influence on me!! I used to own a Tacoma PreRunner, but after hanging out w/ Blake too much, and trying to follow him down trails that my 2WD w/ rear lockers just couldn't handle, I traded it in for a 4WD double-cab. This may or may not have also been inspired by his purchase of the same truck just two weeks prior.

But we've definitely wheeled them for all they're worth! It's funny the looks you get when you're on a difficult trail driving a shiny, stock vehicle. Attached are some photos from the day I bought mine (I drove it straight from the lot to go offroading), and from some other trails around Southern AZ (pre-mod days).

It's been awesome having him as a technical advisor/consultant, as well as a fabricator of custom modifications. Since he's had a few years now to "practice" on my truck, it will be awesome to see what he does to his! I'm proud to have a set of his prototype rock-sliders & lower rear shock-mounts. Definitely quality work, and he fabricated them "spur-of-the-moment" without the assistance of ProE.
 
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Desertdude

Expedition Leader
the dynamic duo! :clapsmile

Blake what are your thoughts on better brakes? I know there is a thread floating around here somewhere with opinions

When I was able to upgrade the suspension it made such a big difference in on-road driving
 
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kcowyo

ExPo Original
BogusBlake said:
For towing, I really do need more power and torque from the engine, especially for mountain grades. Fortunately, there's an easy solution to this- a TRD supercharger, headers, and cat-back exhaust system. I believe the performance gain from these parts will offset the slight degredation of reliability and fuel consumption. I don't have any of these parts yet, but I'm saving my pennies!
Yup, easy solution, but no, not cheap. However a SC is no more expensive than regearing two diffs, which many people (with larger then stock tires) do to regain 5th gear and regain MPG. You may actually find your mileage improves with a SC due to using required 91 octane and acquired throttle discipline. I did.

A high dollar exhaust system of a Magnaflow Hi-Flo cat and muffler, with a stock 2.5" pipe ("back-pressure" being key to the SC's performance) did little to compliment the SC from what I can tell. Other than adding a drone throughout the RPM band, that gets old after about the 4th day. I think a header may be a more effective compliment than a new exhaust set up.

I'll be interested in your braking solution. Sounds like you're on to something with the Tundra rotors and calipers. Additional speed & torque is great, but stopping when you need to is usually a little more important!
 

Ursidae69

Expedition Leader
Looks good Blake, when it's time for a brake job I plan to upgrade to the Tundra brakes as well. Nice welding on the sliders. :clapsmile
 

Scott Brady

Founder
BogusBlake said:
The factory battery took a crap last summer so I put in an Optima red top.
Good choice. The Red Tops seem to last so much longer from my experience. The Optima Blue and Yellow tops just cant take the draw downs (and the Red isnt used for that anyways)


BogusBlake said:
I've only seen my ATF temp light once and I never want to see it again. The truck flat tows the buggy OK, but it's slow on hills and I can feel the tranny slipping every once in a while. I added a TRD transmission cooler in September and I swear I can actually feel a difference, especially when accelerating after being in city traffic.
Very nice find Blake. What was the price?

BogusBlake said:
Just for a little more help with towing, I swapped out the stock fan clutch for a factory Heavy Duty unit. It kicks on sooner which is also nice for summer wheeling with the AC on!
Man, I need that too... Did you keep the part number of that unit? I am going to swap out all hoses and belts and the clutch fan for the arctic trip.

On, and those sliders are incredible :luxhello:
 

p1michaud

Expedition Leader
Nice Truck

BogusBlake said:
So I bought my '04 Tacoma Double Cab 4wd a little over two years ago to replace my '85 Xtra Cab for daily driving duties.
Very nice truck you have there. I'd also be interested the part number for the heavy duty fan clutch. I like the functional improvements you made. The DC Tacomas are a very nice platform for build up as can be seen with the various Tacos on this board.
Cheers :beer:,
P
 

BogusBlake

2006 Expedition Trophy Champion
The Toyota part number for the HD fan clutch (they call it a "Coupling Assy") is 08921-04950

The TRD tranny cooler was just under 3 bills; a little bling, I know, but it was designed to work with this tranny in this truck, and it fit perfectly in the spot it was designed to go...

On the Supercharger- Ill definately do the headers to smooth out the lower end of the powerband, but if the rest of the exhaust will just drone, Ill leave that off . I can't stand exhaust noise. Ill regear for sure when I upgrade tires. I'm not a heavy right foot kind of guy, so (potentially) more gas miliage is just another reason to get that thing, right?:hehe:
(I'd like to restate that this won't be happening for a while)
 
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Mlachica

TheRAMadaINN on Instagram
BogusBlake said:
Just for a little more help with towing, I swapped out the stock fan clutch for a factory Heavy Duty unit. It kicks on sooner which is also nice for summer wheeling with the AC on!
Wow, that's freakin cool!

Glad you started a thread, I'll be watching with great anticipation. :lurk:
 

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BogusBlake

2006 Expedition Trophy Champion
I ordered some Brembo front brake rotors from tirerack.com and they came in the other day. Attached are pictures of the Tacoma brake caliper and rotor (on the left) compared with the Tundra parts. The Tundra caliper is way bigger, the rotor is around an inch larger in diameter, and much thicker.

I took off the Taco caliper and rotor from the driver's side, and put on the Tundra rotor. I dollied out the backing plate to clear the rotor, but later realized I could have just bent it a little with my hands. I mocked up the caliper and marked the corners of the backing plate that interfered (you can kind of see the sharpie marks in the picture). I cut them off with tin snips. The rotor just sits around the hub and is captured by the caliper. I mounted the wheel to check for clearance. There's plenty of room in the wheel for the caliper and I had no rubbing anywhere. I took the wheel off and torqued the caliper bolts and started swaping the brake line.

Here's where the only snag was- the Taco uses a banjo bolt to secure the brake line to the caliper while the Tundra uses a flared fitting. The threads in the hole are the same though, so I checked to see if the banjo fitting would seat on the face of the caliper hole. The hole has a nice machined surface to seal the banjo fitting, but the bolt bottomed out on the flare before the fitting had seated. I took the bolt out and milled .125" off the end. This could have been done carefully with a saw or cutoff wheel, but I wanted to use my new toy! This let the banjo fitting seat on the caliper and it sealed right up.

I repeated the process on the passenger side then did a quick "gravity blead" and took a careful test drive down my street. I can feel the brakes are stronger, but they are still soft because still need to blead them for real (just waiting for the wife to get back and help me!):D

I did one side carefully, just to make sure it would all fit right, then knocked out the other side. The swap was really easy, only took me about 2 hours, including dealing with an unforseen issue. Ill report back later about the improvement I can feel.

I kept the stock Tundra pads in there because I didn't want to drop money on TRD pads until I was sure everything worked. Ill pick those up next time I'm at the stealership.
 
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