2012-04-24

Jane: The Lift!

The LIFT

As discussed previously, our Tacoma (Jane) is quite capable offroad, but the stock ride-height is a significant hindrance. With that in mind I purchased a lift-kit quite some time ago, but hadn't gotten around to installing it... well, I finally did.

So, I've now completed install of 3" lift on the back and 2" on the front. I've yet to test it out on trail. I did the install myself with a bit of help from Jess.

P1000989 I installed an All-Pro rear lift-kit. The packs are 7-leaf so better than new stock... and WAY better than old completely blown springs ;-). The dampers are Bilstein.

P1000994 I forget what the front is. Donahoe's aren't available anymore, but it's an isomorphic substitute. I seem to recall they're also Bilstein. Adjustable ride-height from 0" to 3" lift over stock. These have been installed for some time, I just cranked them up after installing the new leafs. Initially I cranked them up WAY too high, it turned out moving the ring 3/4" up was enough to get 2" of lift. I discovered this by 1/4" increment adjustments, consisting of jack truck, remove wheels, adjust, mount wheels, lower truck, look measure. It was mildly frustrating :D. After doing this I took it in for a professional alignment. It was slightly off before so it tracks better than it has since we've owned it.

The truck handles WAY better even on-road now. It used to be the rear-end would skip if you cornered hard, causing sudden overstear any time you hit a bump, not it stays glued to the road. I intentionally lifted the back more than the front. There are three reasons for this.

First: The 2002 Tacoma is an independent double-wishbone spring-over system on the front. The stock equipment has ~3" of down-travel or "droop" on the front suspension. This means that if you lift the truck 3", you're at the limit of the original equipment, and have no droop left. This leaves the truck with crappy ride-quality, the wheels leave the ground at the drop of a hat and skip easily, and on top of that it's at the limit of what the alignment equipment and CV joints can handle.

Second: Visually I really hate "saggy butts" on cars, and so does Jess. It looks like you blew your rear springs and didn't bother to do anything about it. I wanted the front to ride at least level with the back even if we load up the back with gear for a trip, for example.

third: It turns out 2.5" lift-kits for the rear were twice the cost :P. So, now I can't wait to get her out on the trails again! Our oversized tires aren't hitting the frame now with the lift installed, so the turning radius is back to stock. With that plus the lift the rear is 3.5" higher, and the front ~2.5". This means the breakover angle is much much better, so finally I won't bottom out going over bumps. It should also help the entrance and exit angles as well, thus helping prevent the situation where we were stuck on the front bumper.

Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smalladventures/sets/72157629811378533/

Jane: More offroading

So, a friend of mine was coming into town. We've been chatting for some time about offroading in general, talking about how to build out our rigs etc. He's got a samurai he's been working on. I've got Jane, the Tacoma I share with Jess.

Well, I figured while he was out here I had to get him out on some trails in Jane for a bit of fun. So, we grabbed another friend of ours, and the 3 of us trucked off to Hollister with way more food than we needed, and some spare gas for the truck as well. Here's some of what resulted:

Truck Porn!

469161_847014778479_4807803_36857323_1244730708_o 469161_847014788459_646138168_o

My friend was driving at the time, and I was directing. He had the truck looking a bit precarious, I was worried he would roll it so I yelled to get off the brake. I hadn't told him which direction to go yet though, I needed him to spin the wheel left but hadn't said so. Well... he didn't and she rolled down into the position above. Ooops!

As luck would have it, that bumper is much tougher than it looks (yay Tacomas!) We had enough traction and I backed her up just a foot or so, spun the wheel left and she rolled right out.

That was probably the most exciting moment. We were having too much fun to get shots of the best parts, like getting lost on black trails for a while, driving through a giant puddle and throwing some water in through the window, or bottoming out going over some concrete pipes. But, here's a few shots we did get.

477664_847016544939_4807803_36857370_1289042739_o On the top of the hill! (The trail up was a black)

477664_847016529969_4807803_36857367_2077743394_o Stopping for a snack.

469161_847014798439_4807803_36857326_2109141821_o Yup, my shuffle technique is terrible.

At this point the truck was running 265/75 R16 tires, but is otherwise stock. I replaced the transmission fluid just before this trip, and I did the plugs a bit before that.

How'd she do!

The I4 is... interesting sometimes. When you're on a hill and trying to get her over a rock, it's really hard to get enough torque, even in low range, and not get her moving too fast. I got some practice with my heal-toe technique, and I'm practicing a lot in normal driving via trying to learn to double-clutch. In the end the i4 is *enough*, I just have to be a better driver to use it.

Although Jane *could* do blacks and was surprisingly able on all of the trails, we nearly high-centered her several times, I was playing some interesting games at one point sliding down a hill slightly crooked trying to keep her out of the ruts. We were also running the tires overinflated to maximize clearance, but this hurt traction a lot. It worked, but she needs a lift.

Most of these pictures are courtesy of Orie. Who notable doesn't show up in any :P. Here's the rest Pictures: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smalladventures/sets/72157629811341461/