Four-wheel drives have a long, deserved reputation for being go-anywhere, do-anything vehicles. Whether you want to rule the rocks of Moab, conquer the Rubicon, climb the steepest hills, or plow through mud, four-wheel drive will take you over it or through it.
Over the past several years, the off-road enthusiast world has been taken by storm with the Trophy Truck-inspired prerunner. Watching a truck dance at high speeds over rough terrain makes you want to do the same in yours. For the most part, four-wheel-drive vehicles have been limited to slower forms of off-road activities such as expeditions, trailruns, and rockcrawling. To feed the hunger for eating up high-speed obstacles, such as those encountered in the desert, off-road fabrication shops have been busy designing suspensions that allow you to press the accelerator instead of the brake when the pavement ends.
Here at OFF-ROAD, we keep you informed of the best technology available in the world of dirt and sand. Over the past couple of years, the desert race scene has had a large impact on the influence of suspension design. So with that in mind, it was decided that our project truck's intended use as a traditional four-wheel drive should be improved, but we would not stop there. We wanted our vehicle to be an effective weapon in high-speed off-road obstacles as well.
The venerable Toyota 4x4 would serve as our platform for the new suspension. To accomplish this, we contacted the guys at Total Chaos Fabrication in Corona, California. The folks at Total Chaos have been in operation for more than eight years and have a lot of experience and knowledge of what works best when the terrain turns rough. We called them about our '89 Toyota 4x4 and discussed our goals. They recommended going with what they call the Caddy kit. The kit uses 4130 chrome-moly upper and lower A-arms that are extended 3-1/4 inches and allow as much as 13 inches of wheel travel with the front differential removed.
For those opting to retain 4WD as we did, this suspension system is designed to use T100 axleshafts and is limited to 12 inches of wheel travel. Extensive testing and customer feedback have helped the company redesign its standard kit to offer the most innovative 4x4 Toyota IFS suspension system available.
Minimal welding is required, since the kit is marketed as a true bolt-on system. The lower control arms come ready to install single 2.5 or dual 2.0 shocks. The kit comes powdercoated, which includes braided brake lines, and is complete with all mounting hardware.
A very trick Heim joint steering upgrade is also available, which we opted to install on our vehicle. Fiberglass fenders are definitely recommended, and the purchase of T100 axleshafts is required if you choose to retain the use of your 4WD.
Over the next couple of pages, we will feature a highlight of the installation at Donahoe Racing. As you will witness, the Total Chaos kit is well thought out, well built, and sweet eye candy for your friends to drool over.
This is the Toyota before the Total Chaos kit install.
The Total Chaos kit comes with upper and lower arms, new bushings, and brake line extensions.
Also included are Sway-A-Way torsion bars designed for this application.
Tie rods equipped with Heim joints are also included in the kit. A center truss is also used to give the front differential extra support.
Ten-inch Fox shocks will be installed in the front and rear: a 2.5 with remote reservoirs in the front, and a 2.0 in the rear.
With the wheels off and the truck in the air, the torsion bar adjustment bolts were removed, and the bars were pulled out from the upper control arm cup.
Next, the sway bar was removed from the frame, followed by the sway links shown here.
The old shocks were then unbolted and removed from the mounts.
After the ball joints were unbolted from the upper control arm, the two were separated.
Once the axle was released from the hub and the lower ball joint from the lower control arm, the whole assembly was pulled off the axle.
Once the stock suspension was removed, the upper shock mount was cut off.
Before the arms were installed, the bushings were greased up and pushed into place. The crush sleeves followed these.
Once the crossbar was in place, the stock torsion bar mounting cups were bolted up to the arms.
The new lower control arms were pushed into the factory mounts and secured with the original camber/caster bolts.
Here is a comparison between the old axle (bottom) and the new T100 axle (top). The T100 is 3 inches longer than the original axle. This is needed in order to keep the four-wheel drive while using the new, longer arms.
The new axles lined up perfectly with differential studs and attached with factory nuts.
The hub assembly was slid onto the axleshafts. The lower ball joint was then lined up to the lower control arm mount.
The upper arms were then installed in the factory location, followed by the upper ball joint to the upper control arm.
Since the new kit provides 12 inches of wheel travel, brake line extensions were installed to help compensate.
To help reinforce the idler arm, an idler arm gusset was slipped over the factory arm and bolted in place.
After the factory tie rods were removed, the new, Heim-equipped, tie rods were bolted to the steering arm and the centerlink.
After the wheelwell was cut to fit the included shock hoops, the ends of the hoops were welded to the frame.
The new torsion bars were slipped into the upper control arm mount and loosely attached to the frame at the other end. The final adjustments on the torsion bars were performed once the truck was on the ground.
The center truss was installed in between the framerails and welded into place.
The shocks were put into place once the hoop and the shock tabs were in place.
Fiberglass fenders from Hannemann's were next on the list.
The stock fender was removed, and the new fender was lined up and set in place.
Once in place, the fender was drilled to line up with the factory holes.
The new fiberglass mounted up nicely and gave the truck a new, aggressive look.
Here is a final of the new suspension. The reservoir was mounted to the rear shock hoop support securely with hose clamps, giving the whole frontend a clean new look.
In the rear, the U-bolts were removed from the rear axle and the leaf spring.
Once the bolts were removed, the leaf eyes were pulled out of the frame mount and the spring was removed. To help match the front, the rear leaf springs were altered by Deaver Springs to provide 3 inches of lift and more wheel travel.
The old shocks were unbolted and removed from the mounts.
To accommodate the new shocks, a rear upper shock mount needed to be made. To do this, 4130 chrome-moly tubing was cut to fit in between the rails of the frame.
The mount was welded between the framerails and made tight to the bed to allow the spare to remain in its original position.
Once the springs came back from Deaver, they were reinstalled in the factory mounts. The new upper shock mount worked perfect with the new Fox shocks.
New 33-inch Pro Comp Mud Terrains were mounted onto 15x8-inch Ultra wheels.
Total Chaos also offers its kit with a dual shock option for the front. Instead of using one 2.5 Fox shock, this uses two 2.0 shocks.
Baja Racing Products
1040 S. Main St.
Fallbrook, CA 92028
Deaver Spring Mfg. Co.
902 E. Second St.
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Donahoe Racing Ent.
2841 E. White Star Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92806
Kar Tek Off Road
2871 Ragle Wy.
Corona, CA 92879
Total Chaos Fabrication
159 North Maple St., Ste. J
Corona, CA 92880
6300 Valley View Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90620