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The Possum Catcher


May 19, 2020
Member Number
Memphis 10
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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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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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.


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.


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


Thinking I'm king shit with YJ springs




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.


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


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


Sand Hollow before it was cool :flipoff2:


Moab, probably on Hell's Revenge. I didn't take enough pictures.
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




Cool picture that I never want to take again

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So here is the plan in progress, semi modeled after this build: https://www.pirate4x4.com/threads/zu...stock.2690042/
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/ts...like $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.
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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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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
A few more pictures. Way back when, I installed a tracker steering box with a Trail Tough mount kit on the frame rail somewhere in this vicinity. That box was fairly tiny and slap wore out so I went ahead and decided to go with something else. FJ80 ended up being the contestant because of the forward throw pitman arm and because it mounts outboard of the frame rail. $100 from a salvage yard.

Because I already had 2 different boxes mounted on this frame, it was full of holes and looked like complete garbage. I grafted in some 2x4 .250 wall and added some quick plates so that I don't have to get back into this section of frame for a while. The .250 is just what I had laying around, I almost considered just tapping holes for the mount bolts :laughing::laughing:

I am not a pro welder and don't claim to be. Fawk the haters, it's just a zook :flipoff2:

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Steering shaft was pretty easy. I was able retain the 80 series U joint, cut off some stuff, and make a new flange that mounts to the Suzuki shaft. Quick and easy, although it's not installed here. More pictures later

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I found this and just thought I'd share. Quick way to make sure your spring hangers are where you want them. Measure, tack, clamp, weld. Easy money, wish I had figured this one out on the rear 🤣

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Another pic of the frame cut. You can see that notch in the old section, I cut that to clear the pitman arm with the other box. I don't know much now but I really didn't know much then :flipoff2:. It always made me nervous, I'm glad it's gone.

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YJ springs are longer than stock. Usually people run adapter plates on the spring hanger side to relocate the mount and allow for stock shackle hanger use. Well the Sami shackle hanger bushings are tiny and garbage, adapter plates are dumb, and I am stretching the WB a little. So front shackle hangers had to be moved forward. I was hoping to land in the middle of this tube, but the Yota perches are wider. Chop chop chop, new crossmember time.

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More 2x4 .250 wall, because that's what I had. I have since cut the bottom out and turned it into a c-channel to get rid of *some* weight, but it's still overkill. Whatever, had to get it done.

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I did end up putting some vertical bracing up to that winch plate, I was a little weirded out by the stress landing right in the center of that tube with nothing to back it up. The honest truth is that this entire front end needs to be reworked for a hundred reasons. I just don't have time to do it right now and, while it is hideous, it'll be fine for a while.

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Nice job cleaning up that steering box area. Glad I am not the only one who has a notch there. HAHA Maybe I will fix mine next year.
Nice job cleaning up that steering box area. Glad I am not the only one who has a notch there. HAHA Maybe I will fix mine next year.

Yeah my work is SUPER clean :rolleyes: haha. Splicing in that frame section and adding the plating took like two hours, just FYI if you have your box off for any reason. It was WAY easier than I had it made up in my head.

This whole project has been like that, the things I expected to be difficult were easy and the easy things became difficult. Go figure :laughing:

Today I am waiting on two brake lines for the front and a -6 adapter for my power steering pressure line. Once that stuff is in (assuming it fits), she's ready for an ops check. It has been some trial and error to find the right -6 adapters, hopefully this round gets it right.
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I had a hard time finding -6AN adapters for an FJ80 steering box. I finally got them installed and did a test run, everything seems to be working without spewing all over the floor.

High pressure:
Trail gear 9/16"-18 JIC (-6) to M16-1.5 Adapter for IFS Steering Box
SKU: 130511-1-KIT

Low pressure
PSC Steering AN Adapter Fitting for Toyota 6AN to 17MM X 1.50 Inverted Flare - SF07

Build the rest of the system with whatever parts you need from Summit Racing, including this handy banjo to -6AN fitting to adapt to the pressure side of a Sidekick power steering pump. I don't think it will last long term, but it actually feels decent right now and a TC pump conversion would be simple if everything else is -6AN. Keep in mind, I haven't had it on the trail yet.

Vibrant Performance 11525 Fitting, Adapter, Banjo, 16mm x 1 1/2 in. to -6 AN Male
It drives. It drives quite well. It doesn’t vibrate with the single u joint shaft. It runs 65 with ease. I need to cut more sheet metal

Im pleased.



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The only pictures from the shakedown run yesterday. If 2020 were a wheeling trip, this would have been it. All of the new things worked perfectly, many of the old things did not. My fuel pump died on the way there but we were able to find and install a replacement. My engine stalled, flooded and wouldn’t crank up for an hour or two after towing it out of the woods and pull starting it with no fuel to clear the engine out. I destroyed a power steering belt for no reason. My buddy Brian flipped another guy ‘s rzr on flat ground while trying to make a u-turn. Kyle’s fuel pump died in his samurai on the way back, I towed him the remaining 5 or 10 miles home. When I got back, I found a huge oil leak from the front of the engine.

Sometimes it be like that. I’m stoked and impressed on the build, the suspension and drivetrain exceeded expectations while the supporting equipment allowed it. Clearly we just need more practice 🤘🏽

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Tomorrow we're sawing fawk it, let's go to the river. The low budget wanabee Blake Wilkey setup below:

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The engine:

Remember this is a 1.6 16 valve that I installed in a hurry years ago with a harness that had been chopped by someone else, presumably also in a hurry. He advised me to get a different harness when I purchased the lot from him, but I didn't. So I have a flooding issue in a BAD way. It has been running super rich for a long time, but now it is not wanting to crank up when hot because the engine loads up with so much fuel.

The plan of attack is to begin to legitimize the engine install. Sound's dumb, but that's my plan. I am starting with a fresh cap/rotor/plugs/wires and an oxygen sensor. I am following FixKIck as much as possible, but it is not super easy without having any OBD connector to actually get hard data. https://fixkick.com/flooding

O2 sensor has never been connected, so a fresh one and actually hooking the fawker up may change things quite a bit. I also have a coolant temperature sensor on the way. My theory is that the engine doesn't know that it is hot and is trying to start and run with the cold start enrichment fuel parameters. No clue if that is the case, but it is $30.

These are a few simple things I'm going to try before pulling the engine out and doing it all over again. If that ends up being necessary, it's going to have to wait until winter.
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I would imagine that the coolant temp sensor is going to make a huge difference for you. Most cars wont run if they have a temp sensor giving false readings. I dont know what it would default to if you dont have one hooked up.
I would imagine that the coolant temp sensor is going to make a huge difference for you. Most cars wont run if they have a temp sensor giving false readings. I dont know what it would default to if you dont have one hooked up.

SO come to find out, as of yesterday afternoon, I might have fixed this particular issue. I repaired a broken wire that was going to my coolant temperature sensor. Go figure.

I need a new harness. I actually have one in a box that is slated for install at my convenience but it needs to be trimmed down for the Samurai installation. Personally, I have no interest in even attempting to do it the 'right' way, I'm sending that shit to Myron. He is slammed lately and I don't feel like spending the money, but this winter the engine is probably coming out for rings and seals, and I'll get the electrical dialed in at that point. Fixing that wire and adding a fresh oxygen sensor made a noticeble difference
I left town on Friday and hauled this thing out to Middle TN. We got a quick night ride in Friday night and a solid day on Saturday. The group was 1 samurai with toyotas and 35's and a Rzr turbo s with all sorts of wizbang goodies on it. The good news is that nothing got ignorant and broke like my previous shakedown run The engine acted perfectly the entire weekend aside from hemorrhaging oil the entire time.

We weren't running anything super difficult, but did get into some rocks and steep climbs occasionally. The stability felt awesome with the extra width and length. What is weird is that it still feels as maneuverable as it did beforehand even though it is so much larger.

The not so great news is that I think my gearing is too high. I'm not that surprised but I am not thrilled about it. It wasn't a problem until I got it into some rocks. I'm going to get it onto some more familiar trails and see how it does, but diff gears are probably in my future. Additionally, my power steering pump is hating life. I am not sure how I am going to attack this one but my gut says I am going to be looking at hydro assist sooner than later. It's useable, but it had intermittent periods of asshole behavior.

Overall, it's just working the kinks out. No surprise here 🤣

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Went wheeling. Two photos were taken 🤣

Hawk Pride in Tuscumbia Alabama for a day trip. One of my favorite parks because it is close and has a ton of trails for a build of this stature, mostly good rocky creek bed style trails. There aren't very many incredibly steep high consequence trails like you might find at Hot Springs or AOP. If you go over here, it will most likely be a flop instead of 3-4 rolls.

We had 3 rzrs, a JK, a Twisted Customs buggy with an LS and rear steer, and me. A diverse crowd for sure. Everything worked great on the Samurai. I drove it all the way through Brokefoot without any trouble at all. A milestone after breaking a lot of parts on that trail and never being able to get through it.

Turn off the news and go wheeling.

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My power steering pressure line exploded on the way to the brewery yesterday. It shot a big fireball out when I turned the wheel at a stop light trying to figure out what the smoke was coming from:laughing::laughing: Apparently the summit -6AN stuff is garbage that can't handle that kind of pressure. Probably going to try something like this after I get home and measure it

My power steering pressure line exploded on the way to the brewery yesterday. It shot a big fireball out when I turned the wheel at a stop light trying to figure out what the smoke was coming from:laughing::laughing:

Damn man, glad it didnt turn out worse for you!
A little photo dump to update this non build thread:


Shown here is a pretty sizable oil leak. Ever since this axle swap, my engine has decided that it want’s some attention too and has been a nonstop pain in the butt. My forward crankshaft seal decided to self destruct, likely as a result of the power steering belt randomly self destructing on that first wheeling trip so long ago. That one that was cut short by a coolant temp wire and a no start condition :shaking:

Unfortunately, I took no photos of the crankshaft seal replacement. It’s pretty straightforward. What was different for me was a worn crankshaft key way that caused the lower timing pulley to grenade its reluctor ring and also the forward face of the oil pump. Because money is overrated. I gave petroworks a shot for the first time and was very impressed by their shipping times. Will use again.

So back on the road early this summer:


I pretty much DDed this thing all summer. I got in another couple of wheeling tripS back in September at Hawk Pride, it’s close and fun. The only problems were fender clearance and gearing. Reusing the stock 4.10s probably wasn’t the best move. I think that I really need to go to a 4.88 but fawk if that isn’t a lot of work :laughing:. I think a 5.29 would be too low considering the street driving that I do, additionally I’m not really trying to hit stupid buggy lines.

I think in a perfect world I would go with a 2.3 and a 4speed automatic with 4.88 gears. The auto would take some stress off of the drivetrain from shock loading and also make up for the difference between 4.88 and 5.29 IMO. Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree, but it sounds good on paper.

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Funny how this picture makes it look not much smaller than my buddy’s JK on 40’s. Hint: It’s still way smaller. That thing doesn’t fit anywhere 🤣

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Ever wheeled in the southeast after a big rain? Easy hills become hard hills pretty quickly. A kinked fuel line had me with only partial power as I found out later. Slid into the trees, time to pull cable

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