1984 4Runner (TurtleTruck)
 A chronology of the buildup of TurtleTruck.  Separated into major phases, in descending order.
Phase 3
The Ultimate Off Road Exploration Vehicle
  • Goodyear MT/R Tires 35" x 12.5" on 15" x 8" Steel Wheels, 2.5" Backspace
  • All Pro Off Road Extreme Lift Kit
    • HySteer crossover steering 
    • 4" lift front and 5" lift rear long travel springs 
    • front U-Bolt Flip and rear Spring Perch
    • Bilstein 5100 shocks
    • Front Shock Hoops
    • Johnny Joint rear shackle mounts 
    • front and rear 1.5" greasable shackles 
  • Wilderness Rack from Garvin Industries
  • Front Range Off Road A/C to Onboard Air kit 
  • Longfield Super Birfields and Treated Front Inner Axles from Bobby Long
  • K&N air filter 
  • Cobra 29 CB Radio


Phase 2
More and More Capable
  • Rebuilt Motor @ 204,000 miles.
    • I decided to keep the 22R motor.  Since installing the Marlin Crawler stalling has not been a problem.  As long as I don't stall the motor, the carburator has done fine at high angles.
    • I did a few upgrades to improve performance and reliability.
      • TRD 50 State Smog Legal cam.  Great improvement in low end torque, moved the power band down about 1000 RPM, right where it is needed for Off Road and for getting up to speed or up a grade on the highway.
      • 20R double roller timing chain.  I will never have to worry about my timing chain... bombproof.
  • 2 1/4" CatBack exhaust with Flowmaster muffler.
    • Necessary after smashing my exhaust almost flat on Sledgehammer.  Better performance and great sound.
  • Limiting strap on motor.
    • 3/32" steel cable installed between the shock tower and the power steering mount to limit motor rotation due to torque.  With my crawl ratio I wanted to protect my motor mounts.
  • Custom rear spring pack
    • Downey rear springs, 2" lift, bottom 2 leaves from the stock spring pack (recommended to be used by Downey with their springs), and the overload leaf from the Northwest Off Road springs (see below).  Articulation is good, I ramped 757 R.T.I.  A little better flex than the Northwest Off Road springs.  The ride on and off road is also a little softer than the NWOR springs.  The Downey springs are infamous for sagging... time will tell.  The Downey springs reverse arced so much that I was afraid that they would be ruined, so I put the NWOR overload leaves on.  This allowed a little reverse arc, but not too much. 
  • Front Detroit Softlocker
    • EXCELLENT!  After doing Rubicon, Dusy-Ershim and several other "Most Difficult" trails I am very happy with the full locker up front.  If the minor problems mentioned below don't bother you (they don't bother me at all) I highly recommend it.  From a driveability standpoint the full locker in front is takes some getting used to.  My turning radius in 4x4 went up slightly, but the biggest annoyance comes when going above 10 to 15 mph on moderate to easy terrain.  Steering now takes much more effort, and the truck wants to straighten out.  At speeds under 10 mph, normal for harder terrain, steering is no problem, only slightly more effort required.  Occasionally steering will seem to lock, but a slight move forward or backward will free things up.   AND, with the Marlin Crawler all I have to do is slip into 4x2 low range and steering returns to normal.  So far the trade off of performance verses driveability is well worth it!  I went with a full locker over an ARB for simplicity and reliability.  These points are all my personal preference, and experience... yours may vary.  I have an ongoing banter with my ARB buddies...  either system has advantages and disadvantages.
  • Ultimate Rock SliderZ heavy duty nerf bars from 4Crawler
    • Awesome, affordable, nerfs from Roger Brown.  I put these on just before doing the Rubicon, and have since used them on Dusy-Ershim and many other "Black Diamond" rock trails.  I have slid the entire length of the SliderZ on BIG rocks, used the SliderZ as a pivot point in tight spots, and slipped off of obstacles and come down on them with the full weight of the truck... all with no damage to the SliderZ other than small scratches and most importantly, NO DAMAGE TO MY TRUCK!   These great nerfs have also saved me from flopping on my side and doing MAJOR body damage at least twice.
  • All Pro Off-Road High Clearance cross member 
    • An inch and a half more ground clearance, and a skid plate for BOTH transfer cases.
  • All Pro Off-Road front winch bumper
  • Warn HS9500i winch
  • Marlink Heavy Duty Tie Rod from Marlin Crawler
  • Heavy Duty Clutch from Marlin Crawler
  • Turbo (Heavy Duty) R151 transmission (23 spline) from 86-87 4 Cylinder Turbo Truck.
  • "Ultimate Marlin Crawler" 2nd transfer case setup.  The "Ultimate" is a dual transfer case installation with the stock 2.28 ratio low range in one transfer case and Marlin's 4.70 gear in the 2nd transfer case.  I now have 20 4X4 forward gears, 4 4X4 reverse gears, 10 4X2 forward gears, and 2 4X2 reverse gears for a total of 36 possible gear combinations! Finding the perfect gear for climbing or descending most any obstacle is no problem now.  No more stalls... no more slipping the clutch because I can't 'crawl' up that rock... no more brakes on downhill sections.  My lowest crawl ratio is now 244 to 1. 
    • The stock 2.28 gears are in the front transfer case (actually just the gear reduction half of the transfer case, mated to the transfer case with Marlin's adapter) and the 4.70 gears are in the rear transfer case.  This gives me the option to engage only the front lever and have a 4x2 low range.  This option comes in very handy!
        Crawl Ratio Table
        Transmission Gear Ratio x Ring & Pinion Ratio x Transfer Case Ratio x 2nd Transfer Case Ratio (if engaged)

        Ring & Pinion = 5.29

        Trans Ratio
        Trans Gear
        2x4 High
        4x4 High
        2x4 Low
        4x4 2.28
        4x4 4.70
        4x4 Dual
  • The Heavy Duty clutch, R151 "Turbo" Transmission, and the "Ultimate Marlin Crawler" were all purchased from, and installed by Marlin Crawler.  It was a hassle to get my truck from Los Angeles to Fresno (4 hours) but it was worth it to have the work done by none other than Marlin himself...  Marlin and his crew did a great job, and managed to get everything finished in time for me to make a run to Los Coyotes just before it was to be closed to Off-Roading.
  • What has all this cost?  I am afraid to add it up!  Better to ask "how capable is your truck now?".
      • AWESOME... worth every penny!

Phase 1
Starting to Shape Up!
  • BFG Mud Terrain Tires, 33" x 12.5" on 15" x 8" Chrome Steel Rims (4.5" backspace)
  • Removed the front anti-sway bar
    • This GREATLY improved the articulation in the front.  The front Rancho springs are not as bad as I originally thought.
    • I don't really miss the anti-sway bar on the highway at all, there is only a slight increase in body roll.
  • Northwest Off Road Heavy Duty rear springs, 2" lift.  These springs lasted me about a year.  I removed the overload leaves looking for a little more reverse arc, but it didn't make any difference. 
      • These springs broke the load leaf on the passenger side.  This was probably my fault (too much high speed dirt road action without the overload leaves in place).
      • Ride off and on road was greatly improved over the stock springs with add-a-leaf.
      • The truck is level with these springs and the existing 2" longer shackles.
    • Extended length Stainless Steel brake lines from Northwest Off Road
      • With the improved articulation after removing the front anti-sway bar, the stock brake lines were stretched like rubber bands.
    • 5.29 Ring and Pinion (Superior)
      • With 33's this gives me an overall gear ratio 1 step lower than stock.  Nice now (better crawl ratio), and will allow up to 36" tires in the future (if I decide to go that big).
    • Front Detroit Trutrac
      • My logic was that I didn't want to stress the Birfields with a full locker. The Trutrac let me down (needed a strap, or had to try an easier line) too many times.   The Trutrac was great in mixed, moderate terrain... but when the going gets really tough, it may, or may not lock up (even with playing with the brake to induce lock up).
    • Rear Detroit Softlocker
      • EXCELLENT!  I don't even need 4 wheel drive until the trail gets very rough.
    • The Ring and Pinion gears, the Lockers and Limited slip were purchased from Drivetrain Direct.  The price INSTALLED was less than the price from Northwest Off Road for the same parts in a "ready to install yourself" 3rd member!
    • Removed front Mud Flaps
      • They were going to get ripped off anyway, and with the new tires they sounded like playing cards in bicycle spokes when the front tires stuffed into the wheel wheels and rubbed into them.
      • Rear mud flaps are now gone also... thanks to "Mud Flap Rock" on Aftershock!
      • With my current tires and wheels, the tires just 'barely' extend past the fenders.  I will leave all the mud flaps off for now... I haven't been pulled over... YET...
    • Modified the front wheel wells
      • The tires rub if turned at full compression (tires stuffed into the wheel wells), tearing the plastic liner and cutting the tires on the fender sheet metal.
        • This was worst on the driver's side.  That is where the damage occurred to the tire.
      • I trimmed the plastic liner to remove the destroyed portions and hammered the offending sheet metal ridge to a rounded off shape.
        • The tires still rub a little, but are no longer getting cut.  I still need to do something about the rubbing... perhaps bump stops.  Moving the axle forward would solve it, but create other issues with steering / drive shaft / front valance.
    • Extended Differential Breathers
      • Toyota part number 90404-51319 (actually a manifold fitting) works great and is supposed to have a larger area to attach the hose to (compared to Nissan part number 38323-C6010).  These fittings were about $6 each.  I used vacuum hose, hose clamps and tie wraps to relocate the stock breather.  Most instructions advise you to use a small fuel filter, but the stock breather relocates well and costs nothing!  The front breather is now high under the hood, and the rear breather is at the bottom of the rear floor board area (I will relocate it higher later).

Phase 0
The way I found it!
  •  I am the 3rd Owner 
      • I purchased the vehicle from Joe Borja  in February 2000, with 185K miles on it.
        • Bald, cracked 30" x 9.5" missmatched tires on stock spoke wheels.
        • The motor, a 22R, burned some oil, but ran ok  The motor lasted me until 204,000 miles before I had it rebuilt.
      • Joe Borja purchased the vehicle from the first owner with 16K miles on it and took EXCELLENT care of it.
      • The 4X4CMFT personalized license plate was from the first owner.  It was true in 1984, but with the luxury SUV's of today it is more of a joke.  I think that it adds character to the vehicle.
        • Some people don't get the 4X4CMFT, others get it right away...  If you don't get it, I am not going to tell you!
          • Those "Wild and Crazy Salt Lake City Boys" that I met in Moab said CMFT stands for 'Crazy M F Toyota', I had to laugh and tell them "no, that's not it, but I suppose it could be an alternate translation".  By the end of the day, Rob in his 85 bobbed Toyota Pickup actually earned the 'Crazy M F Toyota' title as he took on amazing alternate obstacles in Pritchett Canyon.
    •  Joe Borja's Modifications to the Vehicle
        • Smitty Built Nerf Bars and front and rear bumpers
        • Custom modifications to the front bumper to use the factory valence.
        • 3.5" Rancho lift
          • Ranch springs in the front (fairly good articulation in the front since I removed the front anti-sway bar.
          • Add-a-leaf in the rear with 2" longer shackles (VERY stiff, almost no articulation and a punishing ride off road).
        • Converted front parking lights to Turn Signal/Parking Lights.
        • Numerous other subtle modifications
        • A lot of TLC... Thanks Joe!

     updated 12/17/03
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