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Suzuki Samurai Driveline Buildup - Project RocZuk Wrapup

Posted in How To on January 10, 2007
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Project RocZuk hits the trail.

The Project RocZuk Samurai was part of quite a few articles throughout 2006 and the beginning of 2007, and through the course of the buildup we've addressed a number of improvements that can be applied to Suzuki Samurais and other vehicles. The project started out as just a few improvements to a stock rig but soon spiraled into a full-on build once the axles were pulled and the Samurai was put on jackstands.

Desiring something that stands out from your everyday Samurai, RocZuk owner and builder Tristan Clark took a variety of steps to ensure that his Sami would have a look all its own. The front frame section was stretched 6 inches and the rear 15 inches to achieve a 101-inch wheelbase. All extensions were done using 2x4-inch by 0.250-inch-wall square tube. The rear frame was cut in the center of the rear bumpstop mount since that area was the straightest.

For greater axle strength, Toyota 8-inch axles were installed and mated to a leaf-spring suspension using stock Jeep YJ springs. The springs offer a 2-inch width and are also longer than Samurai leaf springs. They were hung on a custom front shackle reversal and use custom hangers and 5-inch shackles in the rear. Front and rear track bars were also utilized.

The front uses a set of King 10-inch reservoir shocks, and a set of Bilstein 12-inch-travel shocks are installed in the rear. The 8-inch axles were set up with 5.29 Yukon gears and Detroit Lockers using Yukon install kits. The axles also received an All-Pro Off-Road rear disc-brake conversion and All-Pro Off-Road chrome-moly axleshafts. Front and rear line locks were also installed. For extreme low transfer-case gearing, we installed a set of Calmini's ultralow 6.5:1 DL Rockcrawler gears.

Proving that you don't need a million dollars to build a kick-ass 4x4, the majority of the work on the RocZuk Samurai was completed in a driveway under a tarp using basic handtools, an air compressor, and a welder. Also, most of the suspension components were acquired through parts trades, as well as the axlehousings and tires and other miscellaneous parts.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow

Almost any lifted Samurai has issues with the front driveshaft because of the angle at which it's forced to operate. The increased suspension travel creates U-joint bind. Also, since we'd installed Toyota axles, we required custom driveshafts with a Toyota flange on the axle and a Sami flange on the T-case. The Sami driveshaft flange fits on the Toyota axle flange but it's only bolt-centric and requires the bolts to be tightened more frequently. The Tom Wood's custom driveshaft uses a Toyota flange on the axle side and a Samurai flange on the transfer-case side.

A conventional two-joint driveshaft was used up front. In order to fit this setup, it requires a Suzuki front output flange from an '88.5-and-newer Suzuki transfer case. With this flange, the bolt holes are in the correct location, and all that is required for fitment is to enlarge the pilot about 1 mm. OE-style Toyota parts are used throughout the driveshaft, and it is designed to flex to 40-42 degrees. Also, the narrow diameter of the slip-yoke neck will help to eliminate clearance issues with the crossmember when this end is installed toward the transfer case. Because of the steep angles we figure on experiencing, a slight amount of vibration at higher speeds is expected.

For the rear of the RocZuk, Tom Wood's recommended use of a CV (double-Cardan) driveshaft to achieve the best driveability. Though the new driveshaft was a good fit to the rear axle as it was, we'll ultimately end up rotating the rear housing upward a bit to better maintain proper CV operation. We may be able to achieve this through the use of shims under the spring packs but will more likely torch off the spring pads and relocate them.

With the increased degree of suspension travel achieved through the longer leaf springs, we required driveshafts with enough built-in slip stroke so that they could get longer and shorter as the suspension cycles. The Tom Wood's driveshafts offer a massive amount of slip stroke for extended travel. The rear uses a CV driveshaft and an adapter at the transfer-case flange. The shafts were created using 2 1/2-inch-diameter, 0.120-wall tube. The adapter is machined from T6 aircraft-grade aluminum billet.


Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
All-Pro Off-Road
Hemet, CA 92543
Yukon Gear & Axle
Everett, WA 98204
Tom Wood's Custom Drive Shafts
Eaton/Detroit Locker
Firestone, CO 80520
Randy's Ring & Pinion
Everett, WA 98204
Trail Tough Products

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