I am 17 and just got my first ride, a ’92 Toyota Land Cruiser. The previous owner said it came from the factory with solid axles front and rear, and it does very well off-road. I would like to make some other modifications to it but I don’t know what to add. It has brand new mildly aggressive 33-inch tires on it, but other than that it is stock. Do you have any suggestions as to what might be good things to do to it? I’d like to keep it a daily driver, but a good weekend rig also. Thanks for any ideas.
Those are pretty classic vehicles and yes it came with solid axles. One of the best things you can do to any off-road vehicle is to install locking differentials. I would go for the rear first and then as money is available install one up front also. They will make a world of difference in where you can go and do it a lot easier.
Toyota actually offered electric-locking differentials starting in 1972 as an option. There are several options you have available that range in strength. One of which is the Powertrax Lock-Right locker (www.powertrax.com). This unit costs about $325. This fits right inside the original differential case assembly so there is no ring-and-pinion adjustment required which makes it an easy installation. The downfall is that Lock-Rights are noisy, they sometimes cause tire skidding in turns, the crosspin puts a lot of load on the stock case, and under hard usage the locker can crack the case. Another option is called a Powertrax No-Slip differential. It is a bit different in design and offers smoother operation but still uses the factory differential case. It costs about $450. A third option is an ARB Air Locker (www.arbusa.com); it’s quite strong and utilizes a new differential case. The downfall is that it does require minor ring-and-pinion setup (backlash setting). Plus, being that it is a pneumatically-operated differential, you need an air line, a solenoid valve, an activation switch, bulkhead fittings, and an air compressor, all of which are included in a kit from ARB. Besides being almost unbreakable it operates like a conventional open differential when unlocked which makes it great for regular street use. Comparatively, the cost is high at around $1,200.
Other options include Eaton (www.eatonperformance.com), which offers a full-time Detroit Locker and TJM (www.tjmusa.com), which has its air-operated selectable Pro Locker. Like the ARB, both will require resetting the backlash which is not all that difficult on this particular Toyota axle.
With winter here I am freezing in my soft-top early CJ-5. Part of the problem is that I don’t have a heater. Can you make some recommendations as to a heater for it?
Los Angeles, CA
Early CJ-5 heaters were not all that great and most new CJ-5s were ordered without that option. I know because I used to also feel like I was freezing to death when driving mine in the winter. Over the years I have tried numerous different heaters in various Jeeps that I have built. Of the last three that I have used the first one was from Heater Craft (www.heatercraft.com). This small box, which measured about 6½ inches high, 9½ inches wide, and 9½ inches deep, puts out a questionable 28,000 BTUs and 263 cfm of airflow. It has two round adjustable vents on its face. It did a pretty good job of keeping the Jeep warm. The company makes a larger 40,000 BTU unit but I didn’t have room for it. The next Jeep had a Mojave Heater from Flex-a-lite (www.flex-a-lite.com) which was about the same physical size but was only rated at 12,000 BTUs and 128 cfm. While the rated heat output was only half of the Heater Craft unit in reality it seemed about the same.
In my latest Jeep I decided to go all out and make sure I was toasty warm in even the coldest of Montana winters. The best one I have ran across after lots of research was from Danhard (www.danhard.com), a company that deals primary in the auxiliary market for custom installations such as fire trucks, ambulances, and the military. Danhard has a lot of options to search through and I finally settled for the model 1412 without defroster tubes. Yes, a windshield defroster would have been nice but just doesn’t work out in a modified flatfender Jeep. The 1412 has four vents with a multitude of adjustments; it is 5¼ inches high, 16 inches wide and 9¼ inches deep. I think someone made a mistake when they rated it at 25,000 BTUs and 250 cfm. On its low setting this heater will absolutely have you plenty warm even on the coldest days.
Also consider using insulation on the inside of the top. Off Road Heros (www.offroadheros.com) offers an insulation kit for YJs, TJs, and some CJs. I am sure it will make a difference.
Another way though is to invest in some seat heaters. I have them in my MasterCraft seats (www.mastercraftsafety.com) in both of my Jeeps and can’t say enough about how great they are on cold days. To be honest with you I would not be without them. FW
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