Finishing up the Coilover Conversion on Our 1981 Toyota Trekker

    Import Upgrades: Part 3

    John CappaPhotographer, Writer

    We attacked the axles of our ’81 Toyota Trekker in Part One of “Import Upgrades” (Mar. ’15) and went to work on the rear suspension in Part Two (Apr. ’15). Our truck started with many of the common popular aftermarket Toyota solid-axle improvements, and we were able to retain many of these components during the buildup of our all-terrain-eating Toyota. In this installment, we’ll focus on how the Mayhem Metal Works three-link front suspension comes together.

    The heart of the Mayhem Metal Works link suspension kit for Toyota 4x4s is the crossmember/skidplate assembly. This structure is easily positioned under the truck frame and welded into place. It has all of the link mounts built in, providing you with a great starting point when fabricating a custom link suspension at home. The kit utilizes a double-triangulated four-link in the rear, and a three-link with a track bar up front. The Mayhem Metal Works suspension kit is designed for doing a solid-axle swap on later-model IFS Toyota trucks. We had to make a few tweaks for it to work with our vintage solid-axle Trekker. A pre-’86 version of the kit should be available by the time you read this.

    The Mayhem Metal Works kit suspends the front axle with a three-link and a track bar. The lower links are made from rock-resistant 2-inch, 0.247-wall DOM tubing. The single upper link is made from 1.75-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing. The kit includes the axle mounting brackets and all Grade 8 hardware.

    The link mounts come fully gusseted and welded to the Mayhem Metal Works skidplate assembly. The front lower links are capped with giant 1 1⁄4-inch RuffStuff Specialties rod ends, misalignment spacers, and weld bungs. The single upper link comes with 7⁄8-inch RuffStuff Specialties rod ends and the related hardware.

    The track bar features 3⁄4-inch RuffStuff rod ends threaded into 11⁄8-inch, 0.230-wall DOM tubing. The track bar bracket is designed to fit the factory Toyota axlehousing, but it can be modified to fit other stamped-steel housings. This bracket also locates the upper suspension link.

    After removing the leaf springs, we started by mocking up the front suspension. We set the wheelbase at 105 inches, making sure that our crossover steering components would have plenty of room.

    We needed to trim the track bar mount just a bit to fit our Trail-Gear front axlehousing. When assembling a custom suspension, it’s always a good idea to fully cycle the axle assembly and check for interferences prior to permanently welding everything up.

    The suspension kit is designed for an IFS truck. The solid axle frame is a little different. We found we needed to modify our engine oil pan for clearance at full compression. This will allow us to keep the ride height of the truck as low as possible. If you’re running bigger tires and not aggressively trimming the fenders, this mod may not be needed on your solid-axle Toy.

    We reused our aftermarket crossover steering box and some of our steering components, but we added a double-shear mount to the pitman arm. This safely allows the use of rod ends with misalignment spacers and helps keep our truck steering straight.

    We originally hoped to fit 16-inch-travel shocks up front, but they just wouldn’t fit without poking them through the hood and moving other components. We settled on some 14-inch-travel, 21⁄2-inch-diameter King coilover shocks and coils we ordered from Off Road Evolution. They are mounted on custom hoops we made from 1.5-inch, 0.120-wall DOM tubing. We plan to add hydraulic bumpstops and limiting straps once we find the space to fit them.

    The Mayhem Metal Works skidplate assembly provides a smooth, snag-free belly. Each of the suspension links is solidly mounted up and out of harm’s way. The center portion of the skidplate is easily removed for access to the drivetrain without disassembling the suspension.

    We dumped the extra-heavy, non-compliant military tires and wheels to make our Toyota more multi-purpose. In their place, we bolted up some much lighter weight 37x12.50R17 Mickey Thompson Deegan 38 tires mounted on Mickey Thompson 17x9 Classic Baja Lock aluminum simulated beadlock wheels. When we pull the truck back into the garage, we’ll rehang the factory Trekker fiberglass fenders to make our pickup look less like a buggy.

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