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Readers Questions & Comments - 4x Forum

Christian Lee | Writer
Posted December 25, 2006

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4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility MAGAZINE
Attn: Christian Lee
2400 E. Katella Ave., 7th Floor
Anaheim, CA 92806


Keep Toying With Sami
Q: Thank you very much for covering the Toyota-to-Sami axle swap ("Toying With Sami" - Nov. '06). I own an '87 Suzuki Samurai that I use for going off-road and I just recently bought an '81 Toyota truck to use for the axle swap. I am wondering if you could help me out with some answers to a few questions.

First, how do I determine the ring-and-pinion ratio of the Toyota axles? What material was used to extend the frame of the Sami in the front and the rear? I saw the front extension in the mag, but how was the rear done? Do you have dimensions of the actual tubing you used? What do I do about driveshafts?

Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated. This is a do-it-yourself project that is on a budget.
Brian Williams
via e-mail

A: Brian, the axles in your '81 Toyota pickup used 3.90 ring-and-pinion stock, but you can also count the teeth on each and divide the ring-gear tooth count by the pinion-gear tooth count to get the gear ratio.

To lengthen the Samurai's frame, we used 0.25-inch-wall, 2x4-inch square steel. The front frame was extended 6 inches. The rear section was cut at the center of the rear bumpstops, and 15-1/2 inches of material was added to create a 101-inch wheelbase. Sheetmetal from a second Samurai tub was used to stretch the body panels.

We were able to use the stock rear driveshaft and simply had it lengthened at a local driveline shop. The Sami driveshaft bolts up to the Toyota axle flange, but it isn't a perfect fit and requires frequent bolt tightening. The front driveshaft is susceptible to binding due to the high angle created by the spring-over-axle suspension and shackle reversal. Custom driveshafts will be the eventual remedy to the front binding issue and will also greatly improve overall durability and performance. You can look forward to seeing a project wrapup article about the RocZuk in an upcoming issue. Thanks for reading.

New York City 4x4 Shops?
Q: Would you guys happen to know of any great 4x4 shops in or around New York City?
Danny Bright
via e-mail

A: Danny, while I'm sure there are a number of competent 4x4 shops in New York City, I don't have firsthand experience with any of them. One somewhat local shop I've visited is OK Auto 4WD & Tire [(908) 454-6973,] in Stewartsville, New Jersey. The shop is located about 65 miles from NYC and also has a large showroom with many new parts on display. Known simply as OK4WD to many, the shop is a well-run operation and can provide 4x4 maintenance, parts installation, fabrication, and other services.

Another somewhat local option is 4X Heaven [(800) 800-1679,] in upstate New York. 4X Heaven specializes in transfer case rebuild and repair but also offers general repair and installation and sells parts and accessories.

This is also a good question for other 4 Wheel Drive & Sport Utility Magazine readers. Go to and log on to the message board. Once there, you can post questions for other 4WD&SU readers or even offer a few answers for those in need. Contacting a local 4x4 club is also a good way to find a reputable 4WD shop in your area.

Lift Size Recommendation
Q: I have recently become a subscriber to 4WD&SU. I was wondering if you might be able to help me find some kind of guide as to what-size tires I can run with different modifications (such as 31s with a 2-inch lift or 33s with a 4-inch, etc.). I have a '98 ZJ with the 5.2L V-8. I am trying to keep it as mild as possible (maybe even stock). I'm really just looking for a little more cushion for the trails. Thanks for any help.Matt Steelevia e-mail

A: Matt, it kind of sounds like you're simply after a new set of shocks and replacement stock-height springs. You can also add new suspension bushings to the mix to further liven up the factory setup. Many companies offer basic performance shock and spring systems to accommodate stock-height tires. If you'd also like to increase tire size, you can look to a few of the available suspension lifts.

Concerning lift size and corresponding tire size, this is often difficult to discern because each suspension manufacturer establishes its own lift-size measurements. One company's 2-inch kit might be referred to as a 3- to 3.5-inch kit by another manufacturer, even though both may create the same degree of clearance and include similar components. In general, however, you can often count on a 2- to 3-inch lift clearing 31s, 3- to 4-inch lift for 33s, and 4 inches and up for tires 35 inches and larger.

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