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90 Tintop


Jul 6, 2020
Member Number
Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
I have always thought about getting a samurai for hunting/fishing rig and some mild to moderate 4x4 use, nothing crazy, but well see..

About a year ago I caught wind buddy was trying to sell this tintop. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards with my wedding a couple weeks away. After five more months of driving by his place and seeing it sit as pictured below we struck a deal last November and i trailered it home.

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at the time of purchase:
6.5 t case gears
SPOA with worn out stock shocks and spring bushings
tracker power steering, with high steer
stock gears and open diffs
31" ATs with good tread on super skinny ford mags that rubbed the leaf springs bad
electric fan
warn 3500lb winch
some sort of chrysler seats
some other odds and ends...

The stock efi 1.3 barely ran and only on 3 cylinders. valves were way to tight and the fuel pump was not producing adequate pressure. decent enough compression (155 across the board)

After setting the lash, replacing the pump and filter as well as the plugs/wires cap and rotor, it ran as good as a somewhat worn out 1.3 runs i guess. consumes oil, ticks and is pretty under powered but will be fine for the time being.

the stock alternator wasnt charging some i found a sidekick unit from the wrecker and spun down the front housing and the rear of the pulley to line it up.

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Also addressed a cam seal leak due to a rock hard seal, replacing the oil soaked timing belt and noisy bearing at the same time.

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here it is about at the stock shocks limits

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Plated it and started daily driving it in January. So awesome! but the suspension needed some attention. worn out stock springs, smashed out bushings leaking stock shocks needed to be addressed at some point. but surprisingly enough it drove ok, so it got driven.

picked up some cheap 15x8s with 3.5" backspacing which eliminated the leaf spring rub. and definitely felt more stable on and off road.

Tows the utility trailer ok. good enough anyway. which also makes it double as my pickup for small loads.

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I collected some YJ leafs, and researched how to proceed. I was going to do RUF/YJ rear but didnt want to lift it any further. Still in the planning stage of which way to proceed, another friend had another samurai he was tired of looking at taking up space in his yard. It had been beat on pretty good and needed quite a bit work. He also claimed he had "some YJ backets". So I went to check it out.


I was interested in it for spare parts. Specifically the early trans, tcase and shafts. has and aluminum front 3rd which hopefully means tracker gears but he didnt know. To my surprise, the YJ brackets turned out to be a full Rocky Road JP EATER kit. That made my suspension choice easy.

A couple weeks ago I got started. Didnt take many pictures but got the leafs swapped in roughly a day.

With the cross over steering and drop pitman arm on the tracker box the tierod at the box was 4" below the drag link when the LF wheel was lifted. reinstalled stock steering and used a stock tracker pitman arm.

found some dodge truck bumpstops. got them in and measured for shocks.



After taking measurement I used rear cavalier shocks in the front and Nissan hardbody 2wd rear shocks in the rear. Good enough for now.
Rear driveshaft was kinda dicked from failed ujoints in the past and was borderine too short after moving the springs back under the axle. So I shortened up a toyota front driveshaft from the wrecker and enlarged the tcase and diff flanges. the front will get the same treatment when needs ujoints or gets bent.

the camera makes this look out of phase... but its not.


I factored in space for driveshaft spacers, but managed to hog out the ends of the driveshaft too clear the pinion and the tcase output shaft(ground a bit off). from full hang to compressed the driveshaft cycles maybe 3/16 of an inch. Welds arent the greatest, but it will be fine until they arent...


Bumped up on this log in my back yard pretty easily.. Its 2"s lower than stock SPOA now that its SPUA on stock worn yj leafs. ride has greatly improved. clearanced the weld seams with a hammer. Front Tires just rub on the tops of the fender arch at full articulation. Rears are miles away from the body. i forgot to cut the limiting tabs on the rear shackle hanger, might get a bit more down travel.. but im pretty happy with how it turned out so far...


Wanting to test drive it after a day off working on it and replacing some fencing. so around dusk i backed out of the driveway to head up the street... heard this scraping,clicking, then banging noise that quickly got worse... got out to find 5 feet of chicken wire out the back. Deciding to reverse back to the driveway was a bad idea and only made things worse... Back in the driveway shit way bound up too tight to get into my shop. so at 10pm on a weeknight, 45 minutes with an angle grinder, snips and a prybar later it was off.... could only laugh it was so dumb...

Dont run over chickenwire... 30 FEET OF CHICKENWIRE!!

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Drives pretty good, some minor bump steer, but nothing more than a small wiggle in the steering wheel. No driveshaft vibes. Rides way better now, obviously. the front shackles are out a ways, but for my current intended purpose i think theyll be fine.

Filled in some holes in the part trucks 2x6 rear bumper and got it mounted for now. plan is to weld in receiver tube in for a removable winch plate, and a tow point of some sort. also might pie cut the bumper outside of the frame rails and pull the ends back.


Interior space is going to be an issue for camping(wife and 2 small dogs) I picked up a free camper rack and cut it down to fit and made a mount for the spare tire.

That's it so far. I have been back at work in camp for 6 days of my 28 day rotation. Plan on getting out into the bush and put some miles on during my 28 days home.

future plans:

Tcase reinforcement
rear bumper with receiver
a motor swap when the 1.3 dies: TDI/Toyota trans, 1.6 16V to samurai or tracker 2wd, 98-01 swift 1.3 16v SOHC (G13BB) which bolts into samurai trans.
lights YJ rear seat and other odds and ends.

I ran over an old fire pit where some asshole had been burning tires. Took a couple hours with wire snips and a leatherman to get it off the DS. I feel your pain/
Good looking tin-top man. I loved the YJ swap on mine and really want to find another one here some day.
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