Custom Fabrication You Can Do Yourself
Toyota produced its last solid-axle mini-truck more than 20 years ago. Since that time, shops and individuals have been retrofitting solid front axles under IFS trucks and 4Runners for greater articulation and durability on the trail. For years, few leaf spring and crossover steering conversions have varied from the standard formula. With all the advancements in four-wheeling technology, from three-speed transfer cases to rockcrawling-specific tires, it only makes sense that the solid-axle swap would evolve as well.
Off Road Solutions (ORS) has raised the bar with its coilover solid-axle swap (CSAS) kit. The folks at ORS have dialed in the spring rates, shock valving, and suspension geometry to take the guesswork out of your front suspension by testing various configurations for several years on their own vehicles. The kits are available for '86-'95 pickups and 4Runners as well as '96-'07 Tacomas and 4Runners.
We recently paid a visit to Off Road Solutions' shop, where they were performing a CSAS on an '00 Tacoma. The truck owner chose to run 2.5x1.25-inch Johnny Joints in the 2-inch, 0.250-wall DOM control arms, but suspension links with FK rod ends and 2.25-inch, 0.375-wall DOM tubing are also available. The control arms are arranged in a three-link configuration, with one upper link to limit axlewrap and a Panhard bar to control lateral movement. The lower links are 39 inches long. To put this in perspective, most Wrangler long-arm suspensions use lower links that are 28 inches long and the factory TJ lower control arms are a mere 15 inches long. The links are set up to minimize caster and pinion-angle changes as the suspension cycles.
The system is designed to work with 2-inch body, 14-inch-travel remote-reservoir shocks. The conversion shown uses Fox shocks fitted with Eibach 275-pound over 200-pound springs. The shocks mount to fully gusseted hoops made from 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall tubing on the top and 1/4-inch boxed and gusseted mounts on the axle. This customer chose to use a Diamond axlehousing, which is easier to weld brackets to than a cast Dana centersection.
Off Road Solutions has done an excellent job of tailoring this kit for the end user. Such details as bumpstop placement, steering clearance, and brake-line routing have been addressed with this conversion. A mind-boggling array of options is available, from the full-meal-deal kit complete with coilovers and all links and hardware, to a basic kit that comes with everything but the coils and shocks, to a link kit that leaves the fabrication of shock hoops up to the customer. The laser-cut mounting brackets are also available separate from the CSAS kit for those who want to do their own fabrication work. All kits are available with either FK rod ends or Johnny Joints for even more options. Regardless of the kit chosen, the CSAS provides trail prowess and durability that was previously available only through custom fabrication. This off-the-shelf suspension kit is available at a fraction of the price of custom fab work too.
So how does it work? In technical rockcrawling the approach angle and articulation are superior to any leaf-sprung suspension, and axlewrap is nonexistent. High-speed terrain is also much more fun, with the remote-reservoir coilovers soaking up all but the largest bumps and remaining free of fade for miles. Many question the streetability of long-travel coilovers, but freeway driving with this kit is comparable to stock. Any changes seem more related to ride height than the dramatic change in suspension design. Rear leaf springs complement the coilovers nicely on the pavement and provide stability when combined with the proper coil-spring rate. The only downside we can see to the Off Road Solutions CSAS is that your Toyota will think it is a buggy after the kit is installed. Don't blame us if the sheetmetal suffers and your doors won't open.