The Possum Catcher

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    The Possum Catcher

    In honor of the new, non maple syrup fueled, PBB, I am going to finally scribble down a build thread about my samurai. This thing is an ugly piece of dumpster trash and stone age tech by today’s standards, but there is more to it. If anything, this is an example of a really fun rig built on a shoestring budget that will guide the owner straight to the chiropractor of his or her dreams.

    Like any build, there have been many phases of this misadventure. I’m going through old pictures and trying to learn how to use a forum, so things will be out of order and confusing.

    Phase one was original purchase in July 3 of 2011 (I think). I was in college in middle TN and found these things in Shelbyville. Shown on the big (borrowed) gooseneck trailer are two samurais that I purchased from an estate for $1200. The tin top had no title and didn’t run, the black one (and soon to be Possum Catcher) drove onto the trailer and had a title. Win.

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    So I took this thing back to the shop and put fresh gas in it. Plugs, wires, whatever. I found out that it had a spool rear, lock right front, and some sort of tcase gears. Win. Over the next little bit I threw some parts at it. Wheel bearings, high steer, crap like that. Drove it for a few months and blew the engine up because I ran it out of oil. I'm fawkin smooth like that.

    We had this trip planned for Windrock that spring break. Well naturally, why go back in with a 1.3L? I hit up Pirate and found a 1.6 16v from Crazybluerider. This thing had been in like two buggies since it came out of the donor. He sent it to me and we had the junt operational in about 3 days. I remember finishing on Sunday, we hit the road for a 4 hour cruise to Windrock that Friday morning. Some real UA stuff.

    Taken somewhere near Dayton TN enroute.

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    I'll try to dig up pictures. I never take enough.

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    Last edited by DirtRoads; 05-19-2020, 02:04 PM.

    Awesome sticker
    Jack of all trades, master of fuck all.


      So we went from 1.6 16v, tcase gears, lockers and evolved a bit from there. Phases were basically stock springs RUF, then clapped out junkyard YJ springs. I built all of the attaching stuff with Low Range shock mounts and cheap white body shocks. Chromoly axle shafts got in there at some point.

      I subscribed to the theory that the thing will hold up to a beating with a 32" tire, so I never tried to push it. For the most part, it did. I'd break about one big drivetrain part per year. Axle shafts and spools mostly. Not bad considering the abuse and late nights IMO.

      Unbeknownst to me, bud light gives a man night vision. That night vision named my samurai. While cruising through the parking lot at the Adventure Offroad Park, my passenger attained this vision. He gives no warning before jumping out of the vehicle and sprinting into the shadows. I hear nothing but hissing laughter when he comes back into view holding the following:

      Let it be written.

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      Suzukis multiply, my buddy bought this Sidekick and ran it for a while. It did pretty well on 31's with a rear locker. Ended up with a turbo and a few blown engines.

      Ford, for people who are into those things, was a 1992 F350 IDI ZF5 that I put a factory 1994 turbo on, 3" downpipe, cowl induction, a lot of fuel, 35's, and a ton of other work. It did great when it worked, but it was always a maintenance nightmare. I built a sleep platform in the back which was awesome with the 8' bed. She wasn't a looker but it got the job done for quite a while. Ended up with a stuck lifter so I sold it, I didn't want to get that far into the engine. Upgraded to a life changing 2016 power wagon

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      Random pic from Hot Springs. YJ springs, 6.5:1 tcase gears, 32's, spool rear, spartan front. Ran it like this forever and it did great.

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      Last edited by DirtRoads; 05-20-2020, 07:53 PM.


        Originally posted by No way View Post
        Awesome sticker
        Why thank you. I am staying true to my roots with the current phase of the build. Give me a month or two to get this thing caught up, aight

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          Found some other pictures. Going to dump some photos because I can do what I want. There's techish coming but that can wait.

          Another picture of the day I got it. What a pile.

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          Picking up the 1.6.

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          Probably the weekend we got the 1.6 in. We had no idea what we were doing but it ran great. Learned a lot. Needs a rebuild now but it still runs.

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          From the picnic table at Windrock. Trans was slipping bad and we couldn't figure out why. It was dark and we were newbs, we took the trans out and did a full inspection. Remember, I drove this POS from Murfreesboro through Dayton to WR. Found out we installed the clutch disc backwards. Flipped it around and it was fine for years.

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          Attached Files
          Last edited by DirtRoads; 05-20-2020, 08:27 PM.


            Basically everything needed to install YJ springs. Built it out of free plate drops from the metal yard with plans found online.

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            Thinking I'm king shit with YJ springs

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            At one point I was sent to Utah for work. Twist my fawking arm. Wheeled Sand Hollow, Moab, and Three Peaks. Didn't get NEAR enough time out there but it was great while it lasted.

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              Broke one of many birfields on Hell's Revenge. Changing it in the Motel 6 parking lot. Luckily found a spare locally.

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              Three peaks outside of Cedar City. I could leave the airport and be here in about 15 minutes. Crazy coming from Memphis TN.

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              Sand Hollow before it was cool

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              Moab, probably on Hell's Revenge. I didn't take enough pictures. Click image for larger version
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                So nothing had really changed on this thing since like 2012. Wife got into grad school, funding went elsewhere, life happens. With my new covid work schedule, I have been able to jump on the project that I have spent the last year gathering parts for.

                April 15, 2020

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                Sometime later April 15, 2020

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                Cool picture that I never want to take again

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                Last edited by DirtRoads; 05-20-2020, 08:51 PM.


                  So here is the plan in progress, semi modeled after this build:
                  I started this whole project with a 35" tire in mind, 35's with the 6.5:1 case and 4.10s in the differential worked out almost exactly the same as the same tcase gears with my stock sami diffs and 32's. The plan was to be as low as practical without sacrificing all of my sheetmetal and keeping my factory fuel tank in the factory location. Unfortunately, I was able to find a complete steal on a set of brand new Firestone 37" m/ $1050 out the door mounted for a set of 4 with my "essential worker" discount. So now we probably won't have enough gearing, but everything was already assembled enough to try it and see.

                  Additionally, I got a bit greedy with the stretch and can no longer make the factory tank fit. That was important to me because we do multi day camping trips out of this POS a few times each year. Enter Summit Racing's finest cheap 10gal fuel cell. Luckily it is actually smaller than I expected and won't be a major hinderance.

                  Here are some of the specs:


                  Toy 8", rebuilt everything
                  Detroit rear, detroit front
                  RCV front shafts
                  85 disc brakes rear
                  Marlin armor
                  Roughly 6" stretch per axle
                  Stock 4.10s. Probably going to regret that.

                  FJ80 steering box
                  Sidekick pump, TC pump later, maybe hydro assist
                  ARP studs
                  Barnes 4wd heims
                  Factory 85 steering arms

                  YJ SUA with 4" lift springs
                  Ruffstuff SUA perches, u bolts, and spring plates
                  Ruffstuff spring hangers, shackle hangers
                  Bilstein 5100 shocks

                  Driveshafts from Tom Woods:
                  Single ujoint style front and rear
                  1310 joints for toy flanges, 1310 joints for sami flanges. No adapters or spacers needed
                  $240 per shaft. Can't justify a junkyard shaft for that.

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                  I'm up for some feedback. I'll get some detailed shots of some of the work over the next few days. Unfortunately, the budget is getting super tight and I am at the point of just needing it to roll under it's own power. It won't be perfect and there is plenty that could be done to tidy it up, but I'm hoping it works somewhat and holds up to what I want to do. The honest truth is that I don't want to go out follow rock bouncers around, I want to be able to hit the trails I'm hitting now without getting the complete dogshit beat out of me and changing parts after every ride. I think this might do it.
                  Last edited by DirtRoads; 05-20-2020, 09:09 PM.


                    Here's about what I'm looking at post fender trim. The entire front end of this thing needs to be reworked. The tube looks horrible (and blocks the headlight) and the winch sticks out way too far. Unfortunately I don't have time to work on that so I just made it happen with what I have. It will all be redone at the next phase. I started this entire thing in my old garage after we moved out. One of my very good friends bought the place and moved in a few days ago, I'm trying my hardest to get it wrapped up and out of his way.

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                    I'm fairly happy with the fender cut. It retains enough of the arch to look decent but still gives it a lot of clearance and structure. Keeping the inner fenders is also pretty important. I wheel in the southeast, it gets muddy AF.

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                    Last edited by DirtRoads; 05-20-2020, 09:16 PM.


                      Nice build man!

                      I think the fender trim turned out looking good!


                        Sweet rig!


                          Originally posted by Brecklin View Post
                          Nice build man!

                          I think the fender trim turned out looking good!
                          Thanks! Still have a lot more of the actual "build" to show, I haven't gotten there yet. It should actually be rolling out of the garage in a week or two. Stoke is high


                            Schweet. I miss my zuk.


                              Originally posted by Squamch View Post
                              Schweet. I miss my zuk.
                              I’ve been out of town since last Friday celebrating wife’s birthday. I’m ready to get home and get back to work