MODIFICATION: Solo Motorsports Mid-Travel Kit, SPC Cams, ICON ET Coilovers, Limit Straps
Improve the IFS system and make it more resistant to key suspension and steering failure.
If you hang around the various first gen Sequoia/Tundra/Tacoma and 3rd gen 4Runner forums long enough, you find that the IFS-related components can be pretty scary when the fail. Notice I say "when."
Basically, maintenance is required for components like the lower ball joint, upper ball joint, inner and outer tierods. One cannot afford to ignore these key components.
If any one of the above components fail, you completely lose steering and suspension control. Imagine losing your front suspension or steering while driving 65mph on a highway.
Because this is a single failure prone system, adding some redundancy and strength will go a long ways towards improving reliability.
Having addressed the drivetrain, transmission, steering, differentials and transfer case, the front suspension needed some love.
Solo Motorsports (SM) custom fabricated spindles
SM lower uniball joint conversion
SM double shear heim steering conversion
SPC alignment cams PN:25445
OEM lower control arms
Pyrotect 6" limit straps with clevis hardware
Icon Extended Travel coilover suspension w/ 700lb springs
There's an abundance of YouTube video for replacing the spindles, removing the lower control arms, removing the lower ball joint, etc. I won't go into the details here since there's a lot to cover. I will, however, add my notes and observations on how my installation differed from the what you will find on the net.
Before tearing into the system, preparation is key. Last thing you want is to be dead in the water because of an oops. Because I run a fairly "tucked" wheel spec, I needed to check clearances between the tire and spindle. If I needed spacers, I wanted to know beforehand so I can have it in-hand, in advance.
To do that, I laid my spare face down, placed a rotor in the wheel, and then set the spindle to mock up an installation.
All clear. Time to get to work.
Here is my order of operation after vehicle is on jack stands and front wheels removed:
Pop off axle nut cover, remove axle nut
Remove brake caliper from spindle and all associated hardware and lines
Disconnect ABS sensor (there's a connector at the frame)
Unbolt (qty. 4) lower ball joint from spindle
Unbolt upper ball joint
Remove spindle with ABS sensor still installed
Unbolt outer tierod from lower ball joint
Remove inner + out tierod assembly together
Remove alignment cams
Remove lower control arm
Considering I'm tearing down the whole front suspension, I opted to install new alignment cams and new lower control arms. The new lower control arms were a must because 1) my bushings are shot and 2) the control arm lower ball joint mount needed to be modified to accept the uniball, which I explain in detail later.
First, the SPC alignment cams. OEM vs. SPC.
The SPC cams uses a delrin sleeve, as opposed to a metal one. Metal sleeves cause a lot of headaches when it seizes due to age, wear, and tear. Sometimes, they had to be cut out. Luckily for me, mine popped right out. Because I was replacing the inner and outer tierods with SM units, I did not have to move the steering rack out of the way to slide out the OEM cams or install the SPC cams. Without the tierods installed, there is no reason to move the steering rack.
After the removal of the OEM cam, I found the the sleeve length was not the "right" length. Both sleeves are the same length, while the cam kit had a long and short cam bolt.
Front sleeve is short:
Rear sleeve was too long so I cut it to fit.
I still installed it. Hopefully, it does not pose a problem in the long run.
Since the install, I have been dealing with some white-knuckle squirrelly steering, tracking, and stability issues. The car was not driveable above 40mph.
After a painful process of elimination, I traced it to the SPC alignment cams.
SPC vs OEM Cam Bolt Diameter:
The SPC cams are thinner by 1/4" compared to OEM.
While the included Delrin sleeve makes up that difference inside the control arm bushing, the difference in diameter results in added play in the control arm under load where it mounts to the frame. This added play causes the control arm to shift while on the road and results in my suspension losing its alignment settings.
Fresh wear marks on the cam side and in the bushing side corroborated my theory.
Re-installing the OEM cams resolved the unstable steering issues completely.
MODIFICATION: Solo Motorsports Mid-Travel Kit, SPC Cams, ICON ET Coilovers, Limit Straps (continued)
Next up, is the Solo Motorsports (SM) mid-travel kit. It's a pretty beefy piece of hardware.
Integrated upper control arm slug upgraded to 5/8" hardware (a step up from 1/2")
Lower uniball conversion
Double shear heim steering (inner and outer), also uses 1/2" & 5/8" diameter bolts
Uses OEM 4WD hubs
SM 1/2" vs. OEM 3/8" joint-knuckle mating bolts diameter
SM ball joint 5/8" bolt with a sleeve that tapers up to 3/4" vs. OEM 1/2" bolt diameter
SM (with uniball attached) vs. OEM
Inner/Outer Tierod vs. Hiem Steering Rod
Modified lower control arm:
The control arm is OEM with bushings already pre-installed. It may not be obvious, but this control arm is modified. The lower ball joint hole was bored out to accept the lower uniball sleeve and hardware. I had SM bore it for me. It is a high tolerance 5/8"-3/4" taper fit perpendicular to the mount surface. Considering the critical nature of this mount, it would be wise to get it done professionally. It's not a job that should be done by hand. The goal here is reliability, not cost.
Lower uniball joint with tapered sleeve mounted using 12-point fasteners:
The SM lower uniball joint housing has a double shear heim joint steering mount compared the the OEM ball joint housing single shear mount.
Similarly, the inner heim joint is also double shear:
Because it's a heim joint, the bellows are no longer required. I'm considering finding an accordion boot that might fit to keep dirt and debris out of the rack and pinion. The inner heim joint bracket bolts in place. No modification is needed to mate it to the steering rack. I did add some green loctite, as advised, to ensure it doesn't come loose.
While I was in there, I took the liberty of installing limit straps. Because I no longer use a sway bar, the shock was the limiting component for downtravel. Can't have that. I set the length with a 1/4" before the shock fully extends. I followed a similar procedure to locate an appropriate mount for the strap as described for the rear straps. I used the, now empty, swaybar link mount as the lower mounting point.
All buttoned up:
Wheel and tire clearance:
I threw my rebuilt ICONs in place of the Kings simply because of the extra travel. Plus, it has been re-valved for 700lb springs set with 1" of preload.
With the addition of the lower uniballs, the limiting component is actually the upper uniball cup. It hits the spindle.
Theoretically, I can get another 1-2" of wheel downtravel if the shock was longer by an 1 inch and another 1-2" of uptravel if I shorten the bumpstops and trim the fender, which I may explore one day.
500 mile trip report regarding the Solo motorsports MT spindle and lower uniball conversion kit.
200 miles without a swaybar, 300 miles with.
A front swaybar is a must for this kit. Without it, you will experience some squirrelly tracking at speeds 60mph+. The added unsprung mass of the solo kit changes the dynamics of the suspension. Not to mention the double shear heim steering coupled with MTs will grab onto just about any road imperfections. The front swaybar will keep driveabilty predictable on-road.
The issue is most prominent on a crown or when into a turning maneuver. The uneven weight distribution would cause an unpredictable cycle between oversteer and understeer at highway speeds.
As I said, the car turns like a race car but rolls like a pig in mud.
Debating on whether or not to hit the road this weekend or buckle down and keep going thru my to do list. Only a few more weeks til summit...
Nothing to it, assuming you've already removed your OEM reservoir. Picked up the universal reservoir from Amazon.
Remove OEM pump
Remove the float switch
Drill 1" diameter hole on bottom of the universal reservoir
Install one of OEM pumps from the OEM reservoir
Install float switch
Pull OEM tubing and wiring into the engine bay from wheel well (there's enough slack)
Cut, bend, shape a bracket
Drill and mount bracket
Mount the universal reservoir
Re-connect tubing and wiring
1" diamter hole for the float switch
OEM pump and switch mounted on universal reservoir
Reservoir mounted on custom bracket
No re-wiring was necessary. Once I broke loose the wiring and tubing from their mounts/tie-downs, there is plenty of length for both to be able to pull them back from wheel well and into the engine bay to reach the new reservoir.
A single 5-gallon can doesn't do much for a pig like the Sequoia. For upcoming Death Valley trips, the more range the better.
Looking at the layout of my can holder swingout, I knew I could fit 3 cans for a whopping 15-gallons of extra fuel range.
However, I did not want to permanently add length to an already long vehicle, so after some trial and error, I settled on a "half-can" holder. It may look flimsy, but to help support the weight of the jerry cans, each can has a dedicated support gusset under the tray made of 12ga steel. I tested the supported weight by filling each can with water, which is heavier than gas.
The securing mechanism uses a round bar, welded dog-bone assembly that relies on nuts and threaded rods to clamp down the jerry cans in place.
Enhance situational awareness in front of vehicle.
Having a wide field of view camera in the rear really helps out a lot when trying maneuver tight spaces. Whether it's on a trail or a parking lot, having a camera out back was super convenient. Considering I had an open AV input spot on my headunit, I thought having a camera up front would also be great thing to install.
Considering that I still had to route the CB antenna cable from the front bumper, I figured this would be the best time to stamp out this nuisance mod and route them altogether.
Camera mounted on my bumper.
I routed all necessary camera wiring along the front end, through the passenger side fender well using the penetration for the washer reservoir, into the engine bay, then into the cabin thru the passenger side rubber grommet, along with the CB antenna cable.
Power for the camera was taken from the old front amp wiring harness (I wanted to keep everything together).
Positive was spliced into the gray wire.
Negative was spliced into the brown w/ silver band wire.
Testing with a multi-meter, the camera will power up on ignition and shut off on ACC off.
My vision for camera is to help me navigate a trail making sure I follow a good line, situational awareness for obstructions and obstacles, better awareness during winching activities, and squeezing into tight parking spots.
The WaterPORT is great to have. Not only for trips, but it's great washing off the beach days, and cooling off after hikes and runs, as well. But it's not very convinient being on the roof and having to break it down when I'm not using it. I never liked keeping it up there all the time because it added unnecessary height. I wanted a permanent solution that wasn't so obtrusive.
DURATION: 1 hour
Large QuickFist clamps x2
Misc nuts and bolts
I used to carry my waterport on the roof rack and it was held in place using the large QuickFist clamps.
Since I don't carry a spare anymore under the car, it looked like a great spot to mount the WaterPORT. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I opted to keep using the QF clamps. I kept the install simple, accessible, removable, and portable.
I used the existing crossmember that held the spare to mount the clamps to. I removed the lifting mechanism (held in place using 4 12mm bolts), drill 6 holes, mount the QF clamps, mount the WaterPORT. Thankfully, it doesn't hang too low nor does it impact my departure angle...I think.
It's an ideal spot for 30lbs of gear to keep the vehicle CG low.
And I'm all about keep it low.
The fill/output port is easily accessible under the car. The shrader valve has plenty clearance from the muffler. If needed, I can just undo the clamps and remove the WaterPORT.
I do need to find a capping solution for the fill/output port to help keep debris and the elements out of it.