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1994 Toyota Land Cruiser - Project 80

Posted in How To on August 1, 2007
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Contributors: Tare WaunchChristo Slee
Photographers: Christo Slee

In part one we discussed the scope of the project and the installation of the Hanna Quality rock sliders. Part two highlighted the installation of the ARB air snorkel, ARB front bumper, Warn M12000 winch, and 4x4 Labs rear bumper.

Part three brings us back to Slee Off-Road for some more wrenching. Slee Off-Road is well known for its staff's expertise in modifying 80- and 100-series Land Cruisers. This month, the boys installed a Slee 6-inch suspension lift, CV Unlimited Birfields and inner axles, ARB Air Lockers front and rear, and 4.88 Sierra Gear gears from West Coast Differentials.

Front and rear third members removed from the vehicle sit next to ARB Air Lockers, 4.88 Sierra Gear gears, and Sierra Gear master installation kits.

The Slee Off-Road 6-inch kit consists of: front and rear coil springs, Old Man Emu shocks, a steering damper, front control arms with urethane bushings, a double-Cardan front driveshaft, front and rear sway-bar drop brackets, 2-inch front and rear bumpstop drop blocks, stainless steel extended brake lines, front and rear Panhard bars, adjustable upper rear coil arms, diff breather extensions, and an emergency-brake-cable drop bracket. We decided on this lift because it will clear 35-inch BFGoodrich A-T tires with no additional modifications, but what we really want is to run 37-inch tires on Project 80. This will be accomplished by modifying the wheelwells to accept the larger tires. The 80-series Land Cruiser wheelwells fit a 35-inch tire perfectly. Unfortunately, to squeeze a 37-inch tire in there, we'll need to cut into the wheelwells or install longer bumpstops. Our ultimate goal for Project 80 is for it to be a dual-purpose vehicle: We want to do high-speed expedition-type wheeling in addition to slow-speed rockcrawling. With this dual-purpose objective in mind, lowering the bumpstops any farther would seriously decrease suspension uptravel. This is why we will cut away at the wheelwells rather than lower the bumpstops. This modification will be covered in a future issue.

The backlash of the installed ring-and-pinion was checked.

Since we eventually want to run 37-inch tires, we need to address the axles. The stock axles are able to handle tire sizes up to 35 inches without any problems - depending, of course, on your driving style. If you use your head and stay off the skinny pedal, your axles will survive just fine with 35s. Since we plan on running 37s, we contacted CV Unlimited about its Newfield 4340 chrome-moly Birfields and its 4340 chrome-moly inner axleshafts. CV Unlimited does a couple of things to increase the strength of these components. The internal parts are redesigned, and the cage is made using a patented dome design. The comp-onents are cryogenically stabilized, through-hardened, and heat-treated using a proprietary formula designed for rockcrawling. These parts are also backed by CV Unlimited's lifetime warranty.

PhotosView Slideshow
Out on the trail, we could not be happier with the results from the lift, lockers, axles, and gears. In the next installment, we'll discuss what trails Project 80 has tackled and how the modifications we chose have helped us.

If you're in the market for an 80-series Land Cruiser, you might be able to locate one with factory lockers. We were not so fortunate, but in our case it was a blessing in disguise. There is one potential design flaw on the 80-series Land Cruisers with factory lockers: the rear locker. If you are able to snap the rear axle with the rear locker engaged, you run the risk of twisting the rear axle splines. By doing this, you are effectively locking the rear axle into the carrier. In order to replace the broken axle, you have to first remove the third member. With the splines twisted and the rear axle locked into place, there is no way to pull the third member to fix the problem. Although this is an uncommon occurrence, it could be a disaster on the trail. Luckily, the ARB rear Air Locker doesn't have this problem. The ARB Air Locker doesn't operate at all like the factory unit.

Slee Off-Road has a really cool trick up its sleeve when it comes to installing ARB Air Lockers on 80-series Land Cruisers: Slee's technicians are able to wire the ARB Air Lockers to work with the factory locker controls. Such wiring makes for a very clean install that uses the OEM locker switches and OEM indicator lights on the dash. The only nonfactory addition to the dashboard is another switch that's installed to operate the ARB air compressor. This switch is installed above the factory locker's rotary dial.

Here is the complete rear-suspension setup showing Slee's adjustable Panhard bar, 6-inch-lift coil springs, and bumpstop drops.

Lastly, we wanted to address gearing. We contacted West Coast Differentials for a set of its 4.88 Sierra Gear gears. Here we had to compromise. Ideally, we should have selected the 5.29 gears - they would have been a better match for the 37-inch tires we will eventually install. However, since this vehicle is still a daily driver, it needs to be street-friendly. Most 4x4s spend the vast majority of their lives on pavement. We believe one needs to be realistic when building a vehicle and take things like highway driveability into consideration when selecting components. Running around on 37-inch tires all the time isn't necessary and puts excessive wear and tear on driveline components. Project 80 will run around town on 35-inch BFGoodrich A-T tires but will hit the trail on 37s. Hopefully, the aftermarket will step up and produce some lower gears for the transfer case. Until then, we'll be a little tall on the gearing when we hit the trails.

Special thanks to the crew at Slee Off-Road for burning the midnight oil and getting Project 80 up and running.

PhotosView Slideshow
PhotosView Slideshow


West Coast Differentials
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
Renton, WA 98057
Slee Off-Road
CV Unlimited

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