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June 2010 Nuts & Bolts

Fred Williams
| Brand Manager, Petersen’s 4Wheel & Off Road
Posted June 1, 2010

Your Tech Questions & A Three Month General Tires Giveaway!

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This month we return to the regular Nuts & Bolts format, and it's time to round up your tech questions. To entice you to send in those questions, we are giving away a set of General tires for the "Nuts, I'm Confused" letter of the month for the next three months!

So send in your emails to nuts@ and letters to:
4-Wheel & Off-Road
Nuts & Bolts
831 S. Douglas St.
El Segundo, CA 90245

We'll pick the lucky readers with the best tech questions and reward them with new rubber!

Power Toy
I'm 16 and live in South Carolina. I have always loved going mud riding or to mud runs, so I recently decide to build my own mud truck from the ground up. I just bought an '83 Toyota pickup with no engine, transmission, or transfer case to use as my project truck. I was thinking about swapping a Chevy 350 into it with an automatic transmission for the horsepower and torque. I was also going to gear it and lift it to sit on 34s or 35s. Could you tell me what the best transmission, transfer case, and gears would be to run? Do you think the swap will be worth the time and money in the long run, or is there a better way to build my Toyota?
Eric W.
South Carolina

I see nothing wrong with the direction you are going with your little mud truck. A V-8 engine in a small lightweight Toyota truck should be perfect for mud racing/romping. The Toyota frames are pretty strong, and the engine swap you are looking at has been done before by many Toyota owners. In fact, a shop in Oregon specializes in these swaps and can supply parts: Gold Coast 4x4, 541.543.7693,

As for the transmission and transfer case, I think a TH350 and a Jeep Dana 300 would make a simple, lightweight, and strong setup. Maybe upgrade the 300 to a lower gearset and stronger output shafts if possible. The stock axles will be seeing more power and torque from the V-8 than they were designed for, but I would run them until they break; then you can upgrade to aftermarket chromoly shafts and Birfields joints or swap in bigger axles from a larger truck.

For gearing I would run 4.88s or 5.29s with a spool in the back and some type of locker up front for strength and simplicity. There are adapters to go from the GM automatics to the Toyota transfer cases also if you want to go that route.

The V-8 is a tight fit in the '83 and earlier Toyota trucks so you may need to modify the firewall. The 4.3L V-6 engine from Chevrolet is also a great option and less likely to break axle parts, and it can fit in the engine bay as well. Swapping in a later-model fuel-injected Toyota four-cylinder isn't a bad idea, but when it comes to mud, wheelspin and power are your friend and that means more motor.

Another issue to consider is cooling, but a dedicated mud truck could be plumbed to use a bed-mounted radiator if need be, and this will both protect it and help cooling when mixed with a set of electric fans.

I am looking at a new project truck. It is a military truck that isn't currently running, but I'm confused about something. The previous owner told me it uses a 24V system and needs two batteries. I realize most trucks are 12V, but how do I set up this 24V deal? And what if I want to put a radio or winch in it? How do I hook them up?
Randolf R.

You need to install two 12V batteries in series. This will add up to 24V. To wire the batteries in series, run a jumper wire from the positive terminal of one battery to the negative terminal of the other. Now the negative terminal of the first battery is your vehicle's ground, and the positive terminal of your other battery supplies the 24V for the military engine and the 24V accessories.

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