What's new

Land Cruiser de-evolution

I Lean

May 19, 2020
Member Number
Magna, UT
I decided to take care of some lingering issues with my Land Cruiser UZJ100, by making it less complex and refined—in the form of a solid front axle.

A little back story: a couple years back we acquired a ’93 80 series Land Cruiser, and fell in love with most aspects of it. The failings of that truck are the lack of power, and associated terrible fuel mileage. So I started looking at wrecked vehicles to be a drivetrain donor to do a V8 swap. While I searched, I realized how much work that swap would be (and the type of work I do not enjoy)…but I also came across a 2002 100 series, which already comes with a V8.
It wouldn’t be as powerful as the GM V8’s I was originally looking at, but still a nice improvement over the I6.

So…I got the 100 for a good deal, I thought. The repairs (naturally) cost more than I was hoping, so my “good deal” at first wasn’t so good in the end, but still OK. I replaced the spindle, upper and lower control arms, fender, hood, headlight, bumper, valence, and had the A-pillar fixed along with the new paint and windshield. The frame was also straightened…as much as it could be.
The body shop that was doing the work couldn’t get it quite straight, and bent their frame rack trying.

So…with the frame not-quite-straight, my alignment was always just a bit off. There was some negative camber on the passenger-front, the caster was near zero and the wheelbase was shorter on that side. Some of that could have been remedied with some adjustable upper arms, but overall my wife and I were just not happy with how well it drove. I can fix it!

Here’s the “before”. 30mm rear spring spacer, torsion bars cranked to match, 18” 200 series wheels.



You can spy my beloved 80 in the background here. 

I started collecting parts a couple months before beginning any surgery on the Cruiser. I started with a couple of Super Duty Dana 60’s.
Ruined the first one.


Ruined the second one.


Clean brackets off both long sides. (the short side knuckles went to a friend who is building an axle)


Cut to length, and bored the end out a bit on both sides.


Took the unit bearings apart to access the ABS tone ring hidden between the bearings. Ford uses a 60 tooth ring, Toyota uses 48 teeth. You can see the original on the right half, in this pic. I don’t have any pics of the new one, but trust me…it’s in there. I still don’t know if it will work as I hope it will, but we’ll find out once it drives again.

I welded closed some of the original stud holes, and had the flange machined with the new 5x150 bolt pattern using the original studs—since they are the same 14x1.5 as the Land Cruiser studs. Here is is with the wheel pilot machined to 110mm, but before the stud holes were machined.

Since then the outside diameter has been reduced, and the brake rotor pilot also reduced…both to fit some 14” Tundra rotors. With some custom brackets, the original 100 series calipers fit.

Rusty/crusty high pinion Dana 44 center section—I left 3” of axle tube sticking out each side. This is the only picture I have of this part. The D60 tubes that were machined earlier, will press onto the stubs of axle tube.


Pile of goodies from @cruiseroutfit Cruiser Outfitters; 4.88 gears, install kit, and pinion flange for my 100’s rear axle, and D50 4.89’s and 35 spline ARB for the front. Not shown is the Jantz Engineering kit to make the D50 gears fit inside the D44 housing.

Along with lots of grinding inside the housing, the carrier needs to be machined also—I took .045” off the face of the ring gear flange. It was a little scary putting a brand-new ARB in the lathe, so I took my time and made sure I didn’t mess it up.
I also had to drill the ring gear bolt holes to 7/16”.

With the axle mostly worked out, it’s time to get going on the truck itself. Remove all suspension parts.

Remove all suspension and steering rack brackets, and buckle down for lots of grinding.

After it’s all smoothed out, plate the frame for both strength and beauty.

Axle housing under the frame, located with custom-length flexible control links.

Also got some frame-side radius arm mounts started. These will need a bit more work and gusseting before they’re done.

After that I was able to get the caster set and the axle tubes welded solid. I made the radius arms also.

Welded up and bushings installed.[/URL]

The axle-side radius arm brackets are built to allow caster changes. Rather than using a cam bolt and a slotted hole, I did it this way—just a rectangular “washer” to keep it located between the tabs. I made 2 sizes for now—one with the hole centered, and one with the hole 1/8” offset as pictured. Each 1/8” change is approximately 1 degree of caster change, so these 2 will allow 3 positions of caster (by turning the pictured ones upside down)—and if I need to adjust further, I can make new washers with the holes wherever I need.

You can see in this pic why I put that bend on the frame end of the arms, to clear the frame on full compression.

Sorry for the dark pic…but you can see the axle welded up, as well as the axle-side coil spring mounts on the knuckles.

And that brings us to where it sits now. Next step is to finalize the axle’s location for wheelbase, and get the spring and shock mounts on. The upper spring bucket is just sitting there for now, until I can get back to it in a few days. I’m using factory 80 series upper coil guides and bumpstops.

More to come later…..
Today I finished up the frame-side radius arm mounts.

Installed the knuckles, unit bearings, and tie rod. I'm going to do the drag-link-attached-to-tie-rod "inverted T" steering...which I don't like as much as other options, but it is simple, works decently well, and keeps everything out of the frame.

Made some spacers to go between the axle and frame, and set the thing down on its wheels to measure the wheelbase more accurately. The height shown is about 1.5" higher in front than it was in the "before" pics. Actual ride height will probably end up a tiny bit taller. Wheelbase in the pic is 113.5", which is 1.25" longer than factory. (in my case, I measured 112.625 on the driver side, and 111.875 on the passenger) I think I'll pull the axle back .5"...so that should be about .75" forward from factory. Anyone have any input on that dimension? I can still change it easily, since I haven't welded the upper coil mounts on yet.

And lastly, here's a pic showing the pinion/driveshaft angle. This is the factory front shaft, which is a bit short. I have a CV shaft that will be going on there eventually.

Only one pic from today...but I shortened the radius arms 1/2", put the upper coil buckets in place, mounted the steering box (welded sleeves in the frame), reamed the tapered hole in the pitman arm, and made the drag link.

Good news: I was worried about the oil filter, but the drag link will go under it no problem.

Good news #2: Drag link tube is 38.5". I win!

Good news #3: I do NOT have to relocate the passenger side engine mount to clear the pumpkin...which also means I do not need to make a new oil pan.

The last few days I've been able to get the panhard bracketry figured out and made, as well as the bar itself.

Frame side. This will get more welding and gusseting after the steering box comes off again.

Axle side was a bit trickier. I was able to get the panhard straight, but the bracket had to stick out pretty far forward, as well as above the axle tube. (and still leave room to get a wrench in behind, to tighten the nut)

For the track bar, I used 80 series bushings, machined tube to press them in, and some 7/8-14 B7 allthread.

Same thing on the other end, but not adjustable.

Angles match pretty well between the drag link and track bar. This is approximately ride height.

Full Left steering lock, the tie rod comes close to the bracket.

Full compression, panhard comes close to the frame. Less than 1/4" of clearance...but the bumpstop would be metal-to-metal, as if the rubber were completely removed.

Full compression on the steering box side, at full lock. This is where I was initially worried about the oil filter--turns out it's a non-issue.

Full compression, panhard gets close to the oil filter tubing, the oil pan, the passenger side frame...everything is tight. But fits!

I made some axle-side shock mounts that turned out pretty nice...but these will go in the scrap bin.
I had to made new ones that drop down 1" to clear the radius arm bolt.

The new ones installed. Upper shock mounts will wait until I'm done with the steering stuff.

Steering shaft is cute. Combined parts of the 80 intermediate shaft with parts from the 100, and a little chunk of 1" tube.

Installed. I need to add a bearing to the firewall....it's on order.

And resting on it's own suspension for the first time. Using stock 80 coils. It's a bit lower than my target, which is fine--lift springs are easy to source.
The front end is only about 3/4" taller than when I drove it in.

While I was waiting for the firewall bearing to arrive, I put together the upper shock mounts. I also modified the splined coupler from the 100, turning part of it down to 3/4" OD. That smaller section will act as a bushing inside the firewall bearing which is 3/4" ID.

The bearing installed at the firewall. There is very little room here...no way I could have gotten it in there if the shock mount were in place. (at least, not without removing other components)

But with that installed, I felt OK about installing the shock mounts.

I just need to decide where to mount the brake line tabs, and the frame will be ready for paint.
Some time-consuming work done today, but it's the kind that isn't very picture-worthy. I got the brake line brackets welded on up front, and cleaned up/painted everything.

Took the rear axle apart and installed 4.88's and all new bearings.

Productive day! I started by finishing up the rear axle...OME 860 springs, Tough Dog shocks, and I made the rear panhard bar adjustable.

Then moved to the front axle. Installed the 35 spline ARB and 4.89 gears for the final time, and routed the air line in the corner of the diff cover.

And buttoned it up with the Blue Torch Fab diff cover and a Lube Locker gasket.

Mounted the steering box. For the high pressure line, I had Hose and Rubber Supply braze on JIC fittings, then a pretty-standard hydraulic hose can connect the 100 pump and the 80 box. (you can see one of the fittings on top of the box in this pic)

Swung the housing underneath again, and started connecting things.

Pretty much done! Just waiting on front springs, and to connect the new soft brake hoses to the hard lines. (I didn't connect them to allow the axle to droop farther and make installing the springs easier) Soft lines are supposed to be for a 2001 Corolla.

Capped off the end of the hub with these AWESOME drive flanges from Summit Machine. Just the caps for now, since I have no axleshafts yet.

While I'm waiting for my springs to arrive, I took today to take care of some of the time-consuming, but necessary items.

Plumbed the power steering, and added in this cooler from an Expedition. (there is no cooler from the factory, just the hard lines to the steering rack) Had to build a little bracket to hold it in front of the aux fan.

Installed my steering intermediate shaft, which had mysteriously turned itself pink.

Plumbed the ARB and diff breather.

Changed the plastic heater T's to stainless ones, with upgraded clamps.

Trimmed and reinstalled the inner fender shields. I don't have the rear one for the passenger side, maybe I'll try to find one of those.

It's out and about. 35/12.50 18's and new wheels will be here this afternoon, but I'll leave the 200 wheels/tires on until after it gets aligned tomorrow morning. It's sitting a little higher in the front than I was hoping, since it's basically level right now--I was shooting for a little bit of rake like "normal" for 100's. I'm not sure if the OME 851 springs will settle any, or not...I'd love for them to sag 1/2" or something. Hub-to-fender measures right about 24" F&R. The rear is OME 860 + a 30mm spacer. Those springs are used, so I'll be surprised if they sag.

I had this thing aligned, and got the bad news that my caster measurements didn't match side-to-side.
Apparently I missed matching them up when I assembled the axle, by 0.4 degrees. That would have been great if my passenger side were the one with more caster...but naturally it was the driver's side. So, I now have a caster-correcting bushing in the upper ball joint on that side. No big deal, but a little disappointing.

I bought a pair of used 35x12.50-18 BFG AT KO2's, so that made my decision easy for what tire I want to run.
I bought two matching new ones and had them all mounted on the 18x9 +25 MB Wheels I purchased a couple months ago. Here's what it looks like with them on it:

There is some tire rubbing at times that I'll need to address. I suspect it's hitting the bottom corner of the front bumper, so that will be easy to trim. They also rub the plastic inner fender where it goes over the pinch seam--but there seems to be a lot of room behind the plastic, so I might try to heat/shape the plastic for more clearance. Failing that, it will also be an easy spot to trim.

Turning, at full lock the tire blocks just touch the radius arm. Not very hard, they aren't crammed into it or anything--so I'll leave that one alone for now, rather than limit the steering. It does make me glad I inboarded the radius arm mount though.
I forgot the best part! With the rain today, I was able to (easily) lock up the front tires...and get the ABS to activate.
That wouldn't normally be any big deal, but that confirms my custom tone rings/Ford ABS sensor/Toyota wire hybrid conglomeration works as it should
I have no ABS warning lights either.

And, these big front brakes are pretty ridiculous. They work REALLY well.
Getting back to work on this--I sent both of the long-side inner axleshafts to Dutchman Axles to have them shortened and re-splined. The top one is how I received them, the bottom one is after I cut down the O.D. of the shaft to better fit through the oil seal I'm using. A side benefit of this is having a slightly more "flexible" axleshaft; it will act a bit more like a torsion bar, which can improve the durability of the shaft, as well as things like the ring and pinion gear. The shaft can absorb some of the shock that could otherwise damage other parts. (it can also absorb shocks that could twist/break splines too)

That said, I'm an idiot for not just having the D44 center machined to accept standard D60 axle seals while it was all apart. Oops. I tried to think of everything I wanted, and that one slipped my mind.

And here are both shafts machined, and assembled with the original outer stub shafts, with new Spicer U-joints. The long side didn't get cut down its full length, just 8" or so on each end. The middle section I turned down some, but it still remains larger than the ends. That's for two reasons--for one, that more or less gives me the same length of "small" shaft as the short side, and saves me time machining. (the hardened steel takes FOREVER to machine)

Installed shafts!

Since this will still be full-time 4WD, I needed a drive slug to fit the D60 wheel bearing. Nobody makes a 30 spline drive slug, and I'm not feeling the need to upgrade to 35 spline stubs, so I made my own. I gutted one of the sets of Ford hubs, welded the sliding gear to the inner splines, then placed them into the aluminum outer splined piece, bedded with JB Weld. The teeth are fully engaged, so the epoxy just has to keep the inner steel parts from coming out of the outer aluminum part--it doesn't need to take any driving force.

On my initial test-drive, my VSC light came on and started beeping at me on a sweeping turn. I couldn't make it do it again, and it never happened on any other parts of my drive. What does that mean to me? There are no ABS lights or anything, and I've been assuming I would see something like that if a sensor isn't working or whatever...any experiences with that kind of behavior? Since I've been driving with the CDL locked until now, my VSC has been off--this is a new problem for me.
Driving it in 4WD wasn't as wonderful as I was hoping. Despite the center differential relieving drivetrain bind, the front axle U-joints are pretty noticeable, especially accelerating around a corner. That could be cured by using axleshafts with a CV joint in it--RCV or similar. Those are a BUNCH of money...and combine that with the little driveline vibration I have, made the next choice easy. The driveline vibration is because I totally nailed the pinion angle when assembling the axle. It's perfectly wrong for both a standard U-joint shaft, as well as wrong for a double cardan driveshaft.

So, part-time 4WD here we come! @cruiseroutfit had the kit in stock for me, which I picked up yesterday at the BBQ. Here it is after I pressed the bearing onto it:

Installation is pretty simple--basically, take the back half the transfer case apart to access the center diff. Replace the rear half of the differential with this spool. Reassemble. This pic is as far as it gets disassembled...ready to start putting it back together.

Here it is with the spool bolted on, ready to put the case parts back:

All buttoned up. I'll give it overnight for the silicone to cure before filling with oil and getting it back on the road.

Now, the former Center Diff Lock button on the dash will engage front-wheel-drive instead. Hubs are easy on this axle--for now I have the stock Ford locking hubs on it, but they're pretty ugly so I'll replace them soon.
Since it has actual functioning 4WD now, I should probably make the ARB actually lock and stuff.

This looks like a nice spot to place the compressor.

Little bracket that bolts into 3 existing holes in the fender.

What you can't see easily, is that the 3 mounting points are not only 3 different heights, they're also 3 different angles.
I'm not sure if that's original, or still a leftover from the wreck.

Either way, it all works in the end. Compressor is mounted and partially wired...ran out of time to complete the in-dash wiring, that will have to come next time.

No pretty pics of the inside of my dashboard, but the compressor and locker are now fully functional.
I put both switches where the factory locker switch blank was.

I was OK living with the occasional VSC beeping at me--but today it applied a front brake while going around a freeway cloverleaf. That's it--you only get one chance to try to throw me off the road. I grounded the wire going into the ECU as detailed in Scott Howe's thread on Mud...not worried about adding a switch or anything.

This is sorta satisfying right now, but I might have to pull the bulb out of the cluster eventually. Maybe it'll burn out first--that would be nicely convenient.

Since my caster adjustment was maxed out, I decided to modify the radius arms. I cut a wedge out with a bandsaw, stuck them in the press to bend the bottom plate, welded them back together and added a fishplate on top. That added about 4 degrees of caster.

Previously, I hadlowered the front ride height about 5/8", which would have given me approximately 1 degree of caster--moving from 3.5* to 4.5*, which completely took care of the little bit of twitchy steering it had on the highway. With this change to the radius arms, I added another degree, so I should be pretty close to 5.5* now, AND the adjustment is right in the middle of its range, so i can now add or subtract caster easily. I can also bring the front ride height back up if I care to, without compromising road manners.

In this pic, the caster angle is the same as before, when the bolt hole was all the way at the top of the slot.

The added caster made it even more rock-solid on the highway, although it does seem to want to pull right or left due to road crown a little bit more than it did before. Not necessarily in a bad way, just a change.

I originally planned on adding a swaybar to the front, but haven't taken the time to figure out how to fit one. I have nearly 4000 miles of living with it as is now, and I don't feel any need to add one. I think the natural radius arm binding, combined with the wider spring/shock spacing on the axle makes it nice and stable even without the swaybar.
Minor update: I replaced the Ford hubs with these. I like that they are much lower-profile than the old ones...I don't really like how shiny they are. Unfortunately, I can't find any hubs that are black.

I also removed the bulb from the dash cluster, that used to be the VSC idiot light. It was surprisingly easy to get the cluster out, and the bulbs are labeled right on the back.
New wheels! There wasn't a single thing wrong with my black wheels, other than I can't find a 5th matching one. But, Method has a closeout special going on that I couldn't pass up.


After: (but I hadn't put the center caps on the rear yet)

The black MB wheels (which will be for sale) are 18x9, +25 offset. The Methods are also 18x9, but +18 offset--so they'll poke out 7mm more, no big deal. That will probably be enough to eliminate the rubbing on the radius arms, but will also make the rubbing at the back of the fender liner a bit worse.
Taking inspiration from Delta Vehicle Systems awesome panhard lift bracket for the 80 series, I made this:

I didn't go to the extra effort to make it bolt on, I just left a little extra material on the "tail" that I'll cut to fit and weld in place.

But, when I went to install it, I discovered the 100 uses smaller hardware than the 80. 14mm vs 16mm. Ooops.

A little redesign, make new parts, trim and weld:

Add paint:

Go get another new bolt, and done.

I'm excited to see if it makes any noticeable difference. The 80 guys rave about how it helps their handling, so we'll see. My short test-drive didn't feel any different, but I also didn't really have any complaints about how it drove before. There are a couple specific bumps on the highway that I'm thinking might feel different.
I added a steering stabilizer...there are a couple specific bumps I hit regularly that shake the wheel a little bit. Kinda like the beginnings of a wobble, but it doesn't persist. Still, adding a shock to dampen the oscillations can't hurt.

I made a clamp-on bracket for the tie rod, and cannibalized an 80 series frame-side mount for the axle end...just cut it shorter and welded it on.

These fell off:

And this is what it looks like without them. I realize now, looking at the pic, that I forgot to remove the frame weight/dampener on the passenger side. I'll yank it off later, once I get going on the sliders.

Finished the sliders up--made them a couple weeks ago, got them powdercoated, then finally installed today. I neglected to take any pics before install...but this is what they look like. 1.75" tube and 14ga steel with dimpled holes. I resisted the temptation to make them fancier with a kickout or something at the back, and just went with simple and easy.

Much lower profile than the running boards were, just a higher step for those who want a step.

They're just welded to the frame. It's always hard for me to get decent pictures under the rig, so you'll have to use your imagination.
The frame plates wrap under the frame, with the exception of the rearmost one--since it's right over the lower control arm mount.

A couple weeks ago I took advantage of a local guy changing his mind about his rear bumper, and picked this one up: one of Dissent Offroad's new "no cut" rear bumpers. After getting it coated and hassling a little with the install, here we are! Still need to pick up some lug nuts for the spare. (3 are included, but will not fit my Method wheels) I also haven't taken the time to wire up the reverse lights, license plate light, or trailer plug.

It has a flip-up table on the back of the tire carrier, which I think will come in handy for camping.

I do have the second swing-out arm, but I'll leave it off until I come up with a design I like for a basket for a couple jerry cans. Normally I'd just do something pretty simple, but since this bumper has the aluminum tire carrier stuff and it's pretty fancy, I might try to match the styling a bit.
One of my favorite additions to my 80 is the extra fuel tank--I really enjoy not carrying fuel cans.
I constantly missed having that functionality on my 100, even just for around-town driving. So, I duplicated the setup I did under my other truck.

It's a fuel tank for an '87-'95 (ish) S-10 Blazer. The pump/sender assembly changed a bit over the years, so I picked one from a 1990 because it has simple barb fittings instead of weird threaded things.

I used the mounting brackets for the same truck, GM part number 15684333, and the rubbery isolators 88983035.

A fuel gauge/switch unit from Apexus, and some fittings from Filler Neck Supply are the bulk of the rest. A 2" to 1.5" stainless reducer, a chunk of 1 3/8" hose to connect the Toyota filler neck back together, a 5/8" to 1/2" reducer, and a 45 degree angled 2" filler hose. (this was replaced by a 90 degree one later, the 45 wasn't going to work nearly as well) There are also a couple strips of galvanized 16ga steel, which I used to make tank straps. (18ga would be great also, the 16 is a little bit hard to bend by hand) Not pictured: a length of 5/8" fuel hose, (maybe a foot?) three feet of 1/2" fuel line, and a couple feet of 3/8" fuel line.

All pictured:

Here's how I did the straps--just welded a 1/4" bolt onto the end of the 16ga strip, drilled holes in the ends of the GM brackets, and bolted down with the rubber strips between all the metal-to-metal areas. I also dented the corner of the tank slightly, to leave more room for the Toyota filler tube. That may or may not be necessary, but it made me feel better.


I won't be using the return line, nor the evap line--so I just looped them together as shown here. The large filler vent tube is 5/8", and that's what the 5/8-1/2" adapter is for. (the Toyota vent line is 1/2")



For mounting, I bolted the front end of the GM brackets right to the crossmember over the rear axle. I machined a nut to fit into a hole, like this:


That was on the driver's side. On the passenger side, since the crossmember doesn't sit level I had to extend the bolt point .9". A piece of tubing, a washer, and a nut welded to the washer make this:

Welded in position.

For the rear of the tank, I just welded a chunk of angle between the framerails, with holes for bolts/nuts.

Painted and installed.

It does hang down below the framerails, but not anywhere near as far as the factory exhaust resonator. I centered the tank, and it has about 1/2" between the resonator and tank, maybe even a bit less. I'm sorta planning on replacing the resonator with a piece of tube, which I'll definitely do if I think it gets too hot or anything.

I didn't take too many pictures of how I built the filler tube--but it comes out easily enough after cutting it.
There is just one bracket bolted to the body, behind the plastic inner fender piece.

I marked where I wanted the "Tee" to go, and drilled holes in the filler tube. I left some material on the bottom side of the hole--the idea there is to bias fuel flow toward the stock tank when filling, and thus prevent fuel recirculating back to the aux tank when I'm pumping out of it. I also notched the stainless piece to fit the Toy filler tube.

I used a piece of 3/8" brake line, and a piece of the 1/2" filler tube I cut away, to make the rest of the connections. The main filler tube sealed up perfectly, but uou can see I had some problems getting the smaller ones to seal after welding...I ended up chasing pinholes, and each time I welded one up I created two more. But I eventually prevailed, and coated the inside with fuel tank repair epoxy to kill any miniscule remaining leaks.

All installed, minus the 2", 90 degree rubber filler hose. The spot I cut the tube is now hidden under the rubber coupler. The factory fuel vent is now connected to the "fill" of the aux tank, and the aux fuel vent is connected to the original vent going up to the filler neck itself. The 3/8" fuel line just runs from the pump outlet, into the filler tube heading to the factory tank.

The fuel gauge/switch got mounted to the center console. LED lights show the fuel level, and the button turns on/off the fuel pump.

No pics, but there is a relay living in the jack compartment to energize the fuel pump.

First fill--I had somewhere between 1/2 and 1/4 tank to begin with.

And the comforting view of extra range.

I got a box containing a minor project. Hopefully it can take care of the little bit of freeway wander I still have. (nothing drastic, but it does exist--and I'd like for it to be gone)

It's installed and I drove it to work today. I like the improvement.

Nothing much to see, but I took a pic anyway. Still need to make it to a car wash to clean off some of the ATF that spilled during the R&R process...

Top Back Refresh