Toyota Tacomas are starting to become more common on the hard-core rockcrawling trails found throughout the U.S. As these trucks become older and more affordable, owners become more curious about testing the trucks' potential, and the aftermarket has been quick to fill their needs. While Tacomas such as the Yellow Jacket featured in the June '04 issue of Off-Road may still be at the extreme end of the spectrum, don't be surprised to see more solid axles and big tires on Tacomas in the future.
While the newer Toyotas offer an improvement in power, foreign pickups have never been famous for their stump-pulling torque. However, the pickups' wheelbase, ground clearance, and dependability combine to offer a wonderful platform from which to create a trail-savvy machine. Early Toyota pickups require little more than lockers, a lift kit, and dual transfer cases to tackle all but the hardest of trails. While lifts and lockers have been available for later-model Tacomas ('95.5-'04), dual transfer cases are only now starting to become available on the market.
Not familiar with the principle behind dual transfer cases? Let us help. While Jeeps suffer from a short rear driveshaft due to their wheelbase, Toyota pickups can add drivetrain components with relatively few headaches. To compensate for the lack of torque mentioned above, Toyotas rely on gear reduction. This is accomplished by mating the geardriven portion of a transfer case between the transmission and existing transfer case. One case can be shifted into Low range for moderate terrain, or both transfer cases can be shifted into Low to provide the maximum torque and control over severe terrain. Stalling the engine and frying the clutch becomes a thing of the past.
This technology is now available for Tacomas with the advent of Inchworm Rock Walkin' Gear's new Tacoma adapters. We were so curious about these new adapters that we went to Inchworm's shop in Shingle Springs, California, to witness the installation of the first production units. The word "adapters" is plural because Inchworm developed new adapter plates for both the Tacoma transmission and the Tacoma transfer case. Between these two adapters, standard adapter parts from earlier geardriven Toyota transfer cases can be used. This is significant for a number of reasons including increased reliability, gearing options, and lower manufacturing costs (savings which are passed on to the consumer). The transmission adapter offers clocking in 15-degree increments, while the transfer case adapter offers clocking in 10-degree increments for nearly infinite mounting options. Whether you want a flat undercarriage or improved driveline angles, there is a mounting option that will work for your application. And like all Inchworm adapters, these new parts are constructed of billet aluminum.
If you've been paying close attention, you have likely already realized that the application for these new adapters is not limited to just Tacomas. In addition to the obvious application on '96-'04 4Runners, which share the Tacoma's drivetrain, there are also several other potential applications. Want to put a high-pinion Dana 60 from a Ford in the front of your early Toyota? Since these axles only came with a driver-side drop, you can use a new Inchworm adapter to mate a Tacoma case in place of the rear case in your existing dual transfer case setup. Want to swap a 700-R4 transmission into your Tacoma? No one makes an adapter to mate this transmission to the Tacoma transfer case, but now with a combination of parts from Advance Adapters and Inchworm you can accomplish this task.