Hodakaguy's Overland Tacoma Builds - On to new adventures.


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Tacoma3G O.G.
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Looks like a great site! Over the next couple days I will transfer over my build thread here. Looking forward to learning and sharing info.......

With our Unimog sold we set our sights on new adventures.

After two big projects I'm ready to do less building and more using. My mind set is changing for now, I want to do as much camping and traveling as possible while my son is at the right age. This build will be more bolting stuff on than fabricating.

Selecting a Vehicle: We wanted a newer reliable vehicle that will haul the whole family and be capable off road at the same time. We also want another Four Wheel Camper to carry on the back for family trips as we really liked our past FWC.

We've always been a big fan of the Toyota Tacoma so my father and I set out to look at Tacoma's. We both liked the TRD Off Road quad cab model in the Quicksand color so now we own matching rigs :)

Not as cool as the Unimog but these will be practical for our intended use.

Planned upgrades:

OME BP-51 bypass shocks - Good suspension makes a HUGE difference.
Dakar rear spring packs
Firestone air bags with Daystar Cradles
Onboard air
Dual Battery Setup
Canopy with roof rack
ARB Fridge
SSO Hybrid bumper with 30" LED

The Trucks



Instagram at: Hodakaguy_Tom

On the test drive with my truck there was a noticeable vibration that felt like a tire out of balance, the roads around the dealer were in pretty poor cond and I eventually chocked it up to the road. Once on the highway heading home it became apparent that there is a tire balance issue at 54-60mph then again around 70. We were in a hurry to get on the road for home so we wouldn't be getting back super late so I figured I would deal with it at my local dealer once home.

Once we arrived home I scheduled an appointment for a tire balance at my local dealer. The service manager took a ride with me and said he had a hard time feeling the vibration, I let him drive next and he then said he could feel it. They re-balanced the tires and said the problem was gone....Nope. On the drive home it still had the vibration issue just slightly better.

The next morning my father came over so I swapped wheels and tires from his truck to mine.


My fathers canopy had came in so we took a test drive over to get the canopy installed on his truck. Once on the road the vibration was completely gone on my truck and my father said his truck now had the vibration. We will stop at the dealer again after the canopy install.

Leer canopy installed on my fathers truck. When doing off road trips we will use the canopy's to carry gear and support a roof top tent.


We stopped at the local Toyota dealer again on the way home and told them about swapping wheels/tires and the problem going with it. They said they just put a lift kit on a brand new 18 TRD OR and they would just take my 4 wheels and tires and swap me out with a complete new set. After an hr or so I had a fresh set of wheels/tires and they were driving nice and smooth. Great customer service this time around!

First mod is to get rid of the ugly looking chrome grill. We changed my father's grill out when he first got his truck and I ordered my grill shortly after. The Toyota Pro grill is $400 which is way steep for a piece of plastic, luckily there are exact knock offs from China on Ebay for $140. I was leery of ordering one at first but after reading a lot of reviews we took the chance. Our grills both came packaged extremely well and the units were in excellent cond, I've held the OEM pro grill and can't tell any difference between the two.

The ugly looking chrome cheese grater grill


The Pro Grill came packed very well



Side by side



And installed. Simple mod but it really changes the overall look of the truck



One of the first camping/overland components showed up.....ARB fridges. REI was having a close out sale on some ARB refrigerators and allowed the use of a 25% off coupon coupled with the sale. ARB also had a rebate going on where you could get a limited edition map print cover for the units free if you purchased the units in December. We ended up each snagging a unit. The ARB fridge is a true compressor refrigerator/freezer. They will keep stuff frozen on 90 plus degree days and take very little power to run. We will use them in the back of the trucks on desert trips and I will fab a mount to utilize one of the units in the Four Wheel Camper as well.

Fridges waiting to keep something cold.


Ok...Lets get this build rolling!

Parts have started to arrive and it's time to get the trucks ready for upcoming adventures this spring. Oh yeah!!

Picked up a large box of parts today from FedEx. I was planning on unloading the pallet and loosely placing it all in the truck but the pallet actually fit in the bed! Sweet!


LOTS of parts.....and LOT of work ahead.


Upper Control Arms. Decided to give the Delta Joints a try in hopes of a little longer life compared to a Uniball Joint....Time will tell.


Well with 1200 miles on the truck it's time to get a little Invasive!! lol.



Up on 5 Ton Jack Stands.


With the wheels/tires removed we stacked them under the middle of the frame on each side, this will be a backup safety just in case anything was to bump the truck off the stands.



Stock rear suspension....with the mighty TRD OFF ROAD Shocks.


Just a little bit of Difference between the OEM unit and the OME BP-51 Rear. I've read a lot of good on the BP-51's, can't wait to try them out! Initial quality looks amazing!


Time to pull the Differentials. We will be re-gearing both trucks with Nitro 4.88 Gearing. The stock gearing on these trucks is insanely high, even with stock tires the trans hunts between 5th and 6th constantly with any bit of elevation change on the Highway. With the overly Tall overdrive and 285/75-R16 tires the 4.88's should make the truck a lot more fun to drive :)

Draining the Oil on the Rear Diff......Ahhhhh the aroma of gear oil :)


Remove the guard and connectors for the rear locker.



Placing paint marks to index the drive line so it goes back on in the same orientation.


Disconnect the Drive line from the 3rd member.


Pull the bolts on the E-brake cable to give some slack to slide the axles out.


Sliding the axle out. Remove the 4 bolts holding the axle onto the housing, also remove the brake line connection (You can skip this step by removing the anchor points for the brake line along the axle and get enough slack, this will keep you from having to bleed the brakes but I'm installing longer SS brake lines so it won't matter in my case). Also disconnect the ABS sensor connectors.

Side note....I got in a hurry here and didn't clean off the flange areas before pulling the axle. It was cleaned after this picture and I pre-cleaned the other side before pulling to ensure no dirt falls on the axle/seals. A small plastic cap was installed to keep brake fluid from dripping out.


3rd member removed from the truck.


At this point I slid the axles back into place and bolted everything back up to keep everything clean until the new gears are ready to be re-installed.


Axle sealed up and waiting.


Stock 3rd member out of the truck.




Nitro 4.88 gearing with REM Polishing.


That's it for today.....Lots more to come.

More Progress.....

This morning I decided to check compatibility with my spring compressor on the front shocks, The BP-51 Units are internal bypass shocks so the body is wider than most limiting use of most spring compressors.

I purchased this unit about 5 years ago and it has been awesome on all my projects, so much easier and safer than a cheap spring compressor. It has different size cups to match your spring diameter and you compress by turning the single bolt head at the bottom.




Now to check compatibility with the Shock. With any aluminum body shock you should relieve tension on the spring before making adjustments to the collar, otherwise damage can occur to the aluminum threads.



And success! Not a lot of clearance but the spring cups do clear the body!



Now to get the front diff out of the truck.

Drained the front diff oil and removed the brake calipers, hub assemblies, sway bar connections, tie rod connections, axles etc. on each side.


Placing index marks on the front drive line connection.


Electrical connectors disconnected and 10mm bolt removed on the upper passenger side that holds the wiring.


Drivers side has a hidden bolt up on top that holds a bracket that needs to be removed, hard to see in this picture. You can also see the drivers side needle bearing that always fails once lifted, this will be replaced with the ECGS bushing while the diff is out.


Front Diff lowered out of the truck.





Big difference between the OEM and OME :)


More to come....

Got a little more work done tonight...slow but sure :)

Next up remove the factory upper control arm. The UCA bolt is a pain in the butt to remove. The metal lip of the fender interferes with the bolt and keeps it from being able to be removed, a little careful bending with some channel locks and there is just enough clearance for removal. It's still a super tight fit but it does come out.


The red arrow shows the area that gets bent back a bit for clearance. You can bend it back flat when finished or leave it alone so it's ready for next time, it's really not noticable.


The UCA Bolt passes next to the battery tray and under/through this wiring bundle (Red Arrow). You need to make sure it's not snagging on the wiring as you use a drift to push the bolt out.


Factory UCA next to the Icon replacement.


Greasing up the bushing for the Icon UCA. Everything gets a good coat of grease (Bel-Ray Waterproof) except where the bolt slides through, I cleaned that area out before install.


All greased up and ready for install. They will get hit again with a grease gun right before final torque on the bolt.


Looking better already :). Still need to install the brackets for the remote reservoir.



Wheels showed up today. We are going with the "Cast Iron Black" AX201 Wheels in 16"x8", Zero Offset. Should look awesome with the Quicksand!


More to come.......

Was able to get a little done on the truck after work tonight, not a lot of progress...but progress non the less.

Time to get the remote reservoir mounted up. The brackets that support the Res also acts as a sway bar drop bracket, everything is very well made and thought out.

This mud cover needs to be removed to install the bracket for the reservoir.


The bracket will go between the sway bar mount and the frame.


Res brackets.



LOCTITE 243 Used on the threads, I like 243 vs 242 since the 243 is oil resistant and isn't as picky on having ultra clean threads like the 242.


Bracket in Place.



Reservoir mounted in place



I re-installed the mud shields over the reservoir to help keep the engine bay clean.


Next up remove the passenger side UCA. The bolt on this side interferes with the sheet metal as well.


A little slight bending and the bolt slides right out. There is a lot more clearance on this side for the bolt to pass through, this side went a lot quicker.



UCA geased up and installed.


And the passenger side reservoir bracket installed and torqued.


That's all for tonight, more to come soon.....

Tonight's after work Update..........

Passenger side front shock assembly removed.


OME Shock and Res installed, Mud cover re-installed.



Moving to the back. Drivers side rear leaf spring removed.


OEM and OME Dakar springs side by side. Have to do some touch up painting on the new springs since shipping wasn't kind to the paint. New OME bushings installed in the springs.


Aligning the holes to re-install the bolts into the springs. Giant crescent wrench makes the task easy :)


Dakar springs installed.


Next up....Firestone Air Bags and Daystar Cradles.


More to come soon....

Today's Progress.

Started back on the drivers side rear. Here I'm installing the new bracket for the lower shock mount. A new hole is required here as part of the mount.



Shock installed, I love the integrated rock shields for the shaft on the shock....all shocks should come with this feature! I put a dab with a yellow paint pen on each bolt that has been torqued to final specs. Some bolts will need to wait until the truck is setting on the tires again before receiving final torque.



Rear shock installed...minus the res mount.


The upper assembly for the Firestone air bags. The instructions show the big silver through bolt turned around the other way but it extends to far that way and will interfere with the reservoir mount, if your running both airbags and OME shocks the bolt needs to be oriented in this direction.


Reservoir mount installed




Getting ready to have the tires mounted on the new wheels, we removed my fathers front wheel to verify clearance on the calipers before diving in and having the tires installed. Calipers cleared so mounting is a go!


Tires mounted up. The wheels are AX201 16"x8" Zero Off Set, Tires are BFG KO2 285/75-R16. Here the tire is just leaned up against the hub to get a sneak peak on how it's going to look, the tires won't stick out this much once mounted properly. I really like the look against the Quicksand.



RCI Sliders showed up today, these babies are very solid and quality looks very good as well. Can't wait to get them painted and on the truck.



Got the passenger side rear spring installed and the upper portion of the air bags loose fit. That's enough for today.


Not a lot of time to work on the truck today, I did manage to finish up the passenger side rear suspension early this morning.

Passenger side all buttoned up except for the lower air bag mounts/cradles.


The lower air bag mount is suppose to rest on the axle on the outer edge but with the thicker Dakar spring pack it hangs in the air 3/4" off the axle (bracket is sitting on backwards for picture). I will modify the lower brackets to get proper contact back before mounting.


Going to place the sliders up onto the truck for a sneak peak....




Well at this point my super squirrel powers took over and I jumped off the slider project and used the rest of my limited time to whip up a power brake bleeder. I'll use this bleeder when I install the new brake lines and re-install the calipers. These bleeders work really slick, way better than a vacuum bleeder and lets you easily bleed the system by yourself. The tank adds a bit of air pressure to the reservoir and when you open the bleeder it pushes the fluid out without having to pump the brakes, just need to check the fluid level in the reservoir often so you don't run low and push air into the system again. You can buy purpose built units but they are around $50 for the cheapest ones, I already had an extra small weed sprayer so I just needed a spare brake reservoir cap. My spare cap came in today so it's time to get it ready for the upcoming brake work.

New brake reservoir cap and brass fitting that will connect the cap to the weed sprayer.


Hole drilled in the new cap.



The brass fitting was threaded into the plastic cap with two part epoxy to ensure a tight seal. Cap is now ready to use.


Ready to bleed some brakes! (I'll add a small pressure gauge on the tank body to monitor air pressure)


More to come....

Up early this morning to get the Raptor liner sprayed on the sliders....but quickly got derailed when I realized I didn't have the 2K bare metal primer that I thought I had. Oh well...on to something else today.

Time to modify the lower mount for the air bags. The OEM mount is designed to rest on the axle on one side, it has a notch cut into the bracket to clear the curvature of the axle. When fitting properly the mount rests on the axle with two sharp points....probably not a lot of pressure here but I still don't like it. With the addition of the Dakar springs (This spring pack is thicker) it left the mounts support leg dangling in the air by 3/4" so modifications will have to be made to get it back to original design.

Firestone lower air bag mount sitting on the Dakar spring pack, this support leg is suppose to be resting on the axle (the mount is turned around in this picture for reference).


Starting to fabricate the new mounting leg, this piece of pipe will become the saddle at the bottom of the support. Here using a wrap around to mark a cut line. I like the idea of a saddle with any pressure being spread out instead of being focused on a sharp point.




Checking fit, I tweaked the curve a bit for an exact fit. Still needing a little tweak in this picture.


Laying out the new longer support leg.


Parts laid out, edges beveled and ready for welding.


Attaching the support base. Side Note....I absolutely love MagSwitches! These are super strong magnets that you can turn on and off with a switch on top. They are soooooo handy for holding parts when fabricating.


I started fabricating parts for the passenger side while my father commenced tig welding the mounts back together.





Testing fit


Mount primed/painted, Daystar cradle installed and everything bolted into place.


Alignment looks way off when the springs are at full droop, but it comes back into alignment as the springs are compressed.



More to come....

Welcome to T3G!! I was wondering when you'd be in the house. I think everyone can agree you've got two of the best DIY builds out there. Really clean work.
Received the differentials back from the gear shop. Can't wait to go for a drive and try out the new gearing!

The old cast carrier removed from the front diff. I ended up having an ARB air locker installed in the front diff while it was apart, no difference in labor at this point so now's the time if your gonna do it.


Air fitting installed in the front diff for the ARB locker.


This is the drivers side needle bearing in the OEM front carrier that ends up causing vibrations in lifted Tacoma's, If lifting a Tacoma it's wise to change out this bearing with a ECGS Bushing which will fix most vibration issues in the front drive line. The ARB locker carrier doesn't use this needle bearing so no need to change anything if installing this unit. I had already ordered the ECGS bushing and had it on hand then changed my mind on installing the locker.....guess I'll have a ECGS bushing up for sale soon :)


The same area on the drivers side of the ARB Carrier.


Shiny new REM Polished 4:88 Nitro gears installed in the rear diff.


Gasket surface cleaned on the diff housing, getting ready to install the new gasket.


Rear Diff re-installed and torqued, locker connectors fitted and guard installed.


Axles torqued to specs and brake cables re-attached.


Installed the modified passenger side lower air bag mount/cradle.



Received new lug nuts in the mail. The new aluminum wheels need taper style lug nuts (can't use the factory nuts), I stopped by a local tire store and they gave me a Gorilla spline drive lug nut to try out on the wheel at home. With the new wheel in place I wasn't happy with the amount of threads that was protruding from the wheel and engaging the lug nut, time for some searching. I ended up ordering the same lug nuts in extended reach that add another 1/4" of engagement with the threads....much better.

New Gorilla spline drive ET lug nuts


The standard lug next to the ET version. Much improved thread engagement.


Testing fit in the wheel. Plenty of space left to allow the wheel to fully seat. There is also slight clearance between the lug nut and wheel to allow proper centering.


More to come.......

Still chipping away....Today's Progress.

Installed and torqued the rear drive line in place.


Installed the drop spacers on the center carrier bracket.


Here's the OEM brake lines at full extension, pretty tight but could probably live with it. I'm installing extended braided steel lines in their place.


The new extended braided line next to the factory line


New brake lines installed, not near as tight at full extension.


Getting ready to install the fill lines for the air bags. I'll be routing the air fittings out the two upper rear license plate bolts, this will allow for easy filling of the bags and having them separate will allow both side to side adjustment for load leveling as well as up/down adjustment. The metal edge just above the holes for the plate (Red Arrows) needs to be slightly bent upwards to allow clearance for the brass fill fittings.


Hole enlarged and Air fitting installed


Both air fittings installed, they also secure the plate to the truck.


Air lines installed. I secured the tubing out of the way on the factory wiring harness.



On the passenger side the tubing is fairly close to the exhaust as it comes out of the air bag. There should be plenty of air space to keep the tubing cool but I added a piece of heat reflective tape to that section of tubing as an extra measure.




Rear wheels installed and torqued. Still sitting on the jack stands, I'm liking the look of these wheels.



Getting the front diff ready to re-install. Here the supports have been re-attached and torqued.


Running the air tubing for the front locker, here just loosely getting it into position.


Getting ready to re-install the diff. Applied painters tape to the open ends to keep out dirt and nasties during the install process.



Shot of my ugly mug re-attaching the vent lines and bracket, it's one of those areas that you can easily see but is very difficult to get to.


Front diff installed.


Front drive line re-installed and torqued.


Air locker tubing installed and securely routed up into the engine bay. Excess tubing placed in the rear corner of the engine bay for now.



More to come.....

Up early to start back on the truck.

Snagged a cheap HF weed sprayer to use as a pressure bleeder (nice and clean inside unlike my old one) and added a pressure gauge to the tank. This will turn out to be a waste of time....more on that later :)



Next up started assembly of the drivers side front end. Axle cleaned, greased and installed back in the Diff.


Drivers side back together and new braided brake hose installed.



Passenger side diff seal cleaned and ready for grease.


Using a large brass drift to seat the axles back into the front diff.


Passenger side back together again.


Axle nuts torqued and keepers installed.


Bleeding the brakes. Here I'm setting up the pressure bleeder and getting ready to start the bleeding process. Right after this picture was taken I read in the Toyota shop manual that you use the trucks built in pump to bleed the brakes and this air bleeder is completely unnecessary, probably should have read that before building this unit LOL. Bleeding brakes is super simple, Fill the reservoir, power on the ignition and pump the brakes 20 times, allowing the pump motor to shut down on each stroke. Repeat this process 4 times total then with the ignition on bleed the brakes like you would normally do, I had my father press the pedal while I did the bleeding. The power pump moves a lot of fluid and the bleeding process was done in no time.


Next up fill the Diffs. I had this oil left from my Unimog project, it will work perfect for the initial short flush period.


Front and back diffs topped off.



One mile stone down. Lots of work to go still.


And out in the wild again. Crappy pics here as I was in a hurry and the lighting wasn't the best.




Took it on a real quick test drive and everything seems to be functioning just the way it should be, no weird codes etc. Only did a short drive but I think I'm going to like these gears!

Lot's more work to go.....More to come soon.....

With my truck now mobile it's time for an alignment so I can start getting some miles on the new parts. I've had good luck in the past with the local Les Schwab tire center so I made an appointment and arrived early in the am to get the alignment completed.

Even with the REM Polished gears I will be following a break in period to ensure the gears are properly broken in. I left the house and drove for 25 minutes keeping it at or under 40 mph. When I stopped at the tire shop for alignment I used a IR gun to check the temp of the rear axle and 3rd member, nice and cool :) From this point I will drive it easy for several hundred more miles.


I asked for 3 Deg Caster if possible, came out at 2.5 Deg. Not perfect specs but it's driving really well now.


Out in the Wild.....


I'm really liking the looks of these Wheels.


With my truck out of the shop it's time to start in on my fathers truck.

Up on stands and ready for Round Two.....Ding Ding.


Drained both axles, my fathers truck has 5500 miles on it at this point and the oil in both the front and rear had a dark grey color to it. When installing new gears they recommend a 500 mile oil change on the front diff and rear axle to flush any metal particles ect during the break in period. If keeping stock gearing it would be a good idea to change oils in the front and rear within the first 5k miles, most will just drive their new cars without ever doing a oil change on the axles.


Pulling the front end apart, I was smarter this time and left the axles attached to the spindle.....a lot less work and speeds up the process. Second time around is always faster, should have thought about this when I did mine.


Stock suspension components removed.


Front Diff out of the truck.


Supports removed and the diff is ready for re-gearing. All wrapped up and ready to transport.



Removing the drivers side Upper Control Arm bolt was a bit tighter on my fathers truck than on mine, a little trimming on the bolt face allowed the bolt to be removed without cutting the bolt in two. A small air grinder with a skinny wheel made quick work of the trimming process. Once the sheet metal was tweaked back a drift pushed the bolt right out.



Looking Bare. New UCA's installed on both sides.




Getting the tires installed on the wheels...



Lots more to come......

Our Husky X-act fit Contour floor liners arrived this weekend :). The stock Toyota all weather mats leave a lot to be desired and the passenger side mat constantly creeps forward since it doesn't have a anchor. The Husky mats come with a anchor for the passenger side, has an excellent fit and a heaps more coverage than the stock mats. The quality of the Husky units is top notch! Lot's of pics since I was having a hard time finding good pics when I was looking at them.

Pics of the Husky mats next to the OEM units.




Anchor for passenger side, screws into carpet/under matting. The floor mat snaps onto this anchor.





Mats installed.








Next up start installation of a dual battery system in my truck, I'll be piecing together the setup using different brand components. For the passenger side Battery I purchased an Off Grid Engineering aluminum mount, the battery in this location will be a NorthStar Group 35 740 CCA Batt and will be the starting battery for the truck.

The mount....machined aluminum goodness :)


The mount/battery will be placed in the open space on the passenger side, The TRD Off Road models have this space open since the ABS controller is integral with the master cylinder and located on the drivers side.


These three studs will be part of the mount setup.


Mount Installed........Well....Kinda



Should have been a quick and easy install but the mount does not line up with the rear most stud on the fender well, the hole for the stud (Blue Arrow) is about 2" away from the rear stud (Red Arrow). Maybe this battery mount is for a different year Tacoma? I'll make some calls on Monday, for now this project is on hold.


Picked up my fathers Wheels/Tires from the tire shop, all balanced and ready to go.


Managed to install both front shocks, reservoirs and upper air bag/mounts on my fathers truck this afternoon.



Almost twins...:)


More to come....