IFS-equipped vehicles offer excellent handling and ride quality for high-speed desert romping and everyday street driving. However, independent front suspension systems lack the crucial range of motion necessary to ensure ample traction on the trail. For this reason, most rockcrawlers prefer the older-style, solid-axle setup. Without low-hanging bracketry and limited articulation, a solid front axle simply works better when the road gives way to boulders. This is why several companies offer kits to convert the factory IFS to the stronger solid-axle arrangement. One such kit we discovered recently was this new one from the experts over at Marlin Crawler. Designed for '86-'95 Toyota pickups and 4Runners, Marlin's kit provides most of the parts and pieces required for those looking for more articulation, and a stronger front drivetrain. The kit provides 5 full inches of lift and weighs in heavily on the mechanical difficulty scale. We recommend a high-tech know-how and a decent assortment of tools to complete this installation. That's why we enlisted the expertise of Toby Lavender, owner and operator of Triple-X Traction in Seaside, California. You may remember Toby from Top Truck Challenge 2002, where he successfully piloted his flexible flatfender to a Fourth-Place finish. Toby and his crew have completed dozens of clean solid-axle swaps since he started the business five years ago. It's important to understand several technical aspects of a solid-axle conversion before breaking out the torch. So follow along as we highlight the conversion process and showcase some very unique components that will make any IFS truck ready to rock. This is the solid-axle swap kit from Marlin Crawler. We liked the kit because it features larger, stronger U-bolts, U.S.-sourced leaf springs, Bilstein shocks, a heavy-duty tie rod and drag link, and a pair of solid billet steering arms. Also included in this photo are locking hubs, dust covers, spindles and a steering knuckle that we sourced from a dismantler called Yota Yard in Denver, Colorado.This is the solid-axle swap kit from Marlin Crawler. We liked the kit because it features 1. The first step of the conversion process required that all the stock front axle and suspension components were removed.1. The first step of the conversion process required that all the stock front axle and sus 2. Out came the torch during step two. Cutting off all the unneeded IFS bracketry took a bit of time to complete. It helped to have the vehicle on a lift at eye level for better visibility. Once the cutting was finished, Toby smoothed out all the rough edges with a grinder.2. Out came the torch during step two. Cutting off all the unneeded IFS bracketry took a b 3.Once all the finish grinding was complete, Toby began work on mounting the front spring hanger. Using a jack, Toby positioned the hanger under the frame with the leading edge of the hanger flush with the front of the crossmember. Then he centered the hanger, and tack-welded it in place.3.Once all the finish grinding was complete, Toby began work on mounting the front spring 4.To mount the rear of the front springs, marks were made on the frame using special jigs provided in the kit. Toby used a plasma torch to cut round holes in each side of the frame. Once the frame tubes were properly aligned, Toby welded them to the frame.4.To mount the rear of the front springs, marks were made on the frame using special jigs 5.With the front springs in place, Toby began work on the new front-axle assembly. To make things simple, we decided to start from scratch with a completely new fabricated housing from Front Range Off Road. Front Range builds these housings to spec and each features 3.5-inch O.D. DOM tubes with a 0.375-inch wall thickness. Additionally, they have a centersection that is formed from 1/4-inch-thick plate, which comes pre-drilled and tapped for whatever third member you specify. This axlehousing combines the strength of a Dana 60 with the great looks of a master fabricator's hard labor. These housings will fit any gear ratio, any locker, four-cylinder, V-6, or high-pinion third members. We ordered our housing to be 3 inches wider than stock so that we wouldn't have to run the wheel spacers provided with Marlin's kit. As a result, the tie rod and drag link provided with Marlin's kit, as well as the axleshafts, all had to be custom built for our axle.5.With the front springs in place, Toby began work on the new front-axle assembly. To make 1 | 2 | » | View Full Article Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!