Modern Farm Truck

So this actually is a farm truck. Not a rock crawler.

The truck came to me from Alaska with a totally rusted bed and a sick motor with instructions to build a solid axle flatbed truck with minimal lift, comfy seats and not much else.

The stock carbureted motor had serious leak down in two of the cylinders so the head was pulled. The bottom end was then checked to reveal copper engine bearings. A simple "ring and bearing" job was performed with new gaskets and hoses everywhere and a valve job with new guides. We traded the stock carb in for a Weber DGV from LC Engineering and while we were at it we threw in a heavy flywheel and HD clutch. Trying to save money where ever we could, I opted for hoses from Napa instead of OEM Toyota hoses. Let me just say that I wish Napa would hire guys who knew what they were doing. After standing at the parts counter for 45 minutes while the new guy searched for my hoses, I finally started helping by searching online on my Android phone. In 3 minutes I found 3 of the hoses he was struggling with.

The main event came in the form of a whole frame swap. As stated, the customer wanted a solid axle but with minimal lift. You Toyota guys may know that the IFS frame and the solid axle frame a vastly different. The IFS frame actually dips down before it makes a measly turn back up leaving about 3 inches of elevation gain from the flat portion under the middle of the truck. The solid axle frame has a lot more room for up travel. It just happened that I had a solid axle frame sitting un-used behind the shop. It took me a while to convince the customer that this was the right move. My sales pitch was that the whole frame swap could be done in about the same time as a solid axle swap and the net result would be far better suspension up travel.

For axles, we used a front axle out of an '84 Toyota and the stock IFS rear axle. The decision was made to install 4.56 gears and a rear locker. I found a used electric locker in Reno so I had my buddy Harry pick it up for me. With plans to use Tacoma brakes on the front axle, I stole the hubs off the IFS suspension and cut them down in the lathe to accept the new rotors. The extra brackets were cut off the front axle, everything was acid washed and painted. I don't cut corners on the paint anymore as I have discovered that with a little effort, the paint can last quite a long time. I actually use primer on my parts now...who does that???

Plans to use this truck as a spray rig for his farm, Ray told me that a flat bed was going to be needed along with a custom front and rear bumper capable of holding spray tips. I figured I'd work in a JDM style headache rack into the design for a retro look. We initially looked into an extruded aluminum tray top from, but Ray informed me that the fertilizer used in the spray rig would eat that up in no time flat.

I'll let the pics tell the story now. We're only half done with the truck so stay tuned for more.

...and of course, I'm having trouble with my Photobucket account now...
Here's how the truck came to me.

Just kidding.

The cab was removed...

...and set aside.

The solid axle frame was cleaned and brought in and set on the stands. Frame plating, shock towers, IFS steering box, etc would all have to be fabbed up.

I make my own frame plating now. I do this so I can incorporate the steering box mount and also to get a more precise fit on the frame.

The stock shock towers would probably have worked, with longer shocks, but I figured at $12 each, let's just install a set of the good old Ford shock towers.

One part of this project I was really excited about was the leaf springs. I have nevr built a truck this mild before so I searched for some leaf springs and came up with Old Man Emu. I know, right? They are the highest quality, with sleeves pressed into the leaf eyes for the bushings to ride on, the clamps are rubber lined and they come equipped with cool stickers. Oh, they are only about $90 each.

Axle all cleaned up and partially assembled. Ready to bolt it all in.

I only painted the front half of the frame, because I don't yet know where or how the bed will fasten to the frame, but at least I could get it rolling and free up some room in the shop.

I almost forgot. My friend gave me this magnetic drill press which I have been dying to buy. I finally got to use it to drill the steering box mounting holes in the frame. What a breeze. I am getting really spoiled.

I didn't get any pics of the motor while it was apart, but this one shows a brand new everything state of mind.

Complete with Weber DGV and new heavy flywheel from LC Engineering.

Add HD clutch, also from LC Engineering.

Install in chassis and roll under cab for fitment.



New member
I see a lot of builds on these older Toyota trucks where the first thing done is to junk the IFS and put on a solid axle. Obviously the customer here wanted the solid axle, so you're going to put a solid axle on. But I've got to know, is the independent front suspension THAT bad? Where does it lack? Travel? Durability? Geometry? How bad is it compared to, say, a modern Tacoma's IFS setup?
That's a really tough question to answer. There are many reasons that IFS is limited, not just in performance, but in durability and parts availability.

For one, articulation with IFS is almost non existent. At least not without spending thousands of dollars to develop something that works. The camber and toe changes wile flexing out an IFS is hard to control leaving you with strange handling on and off road. You need to have really long control arms to alleviate any of that and there simply is not enough room to do so.

The strength of the solid axle is vastly superior also. Think about all the moving parts in an IFS and it will be easy to see why. Spindles, uprights, balljoints, inner cV's outer CV's tie rod ends, etc. They all move in multiple directions with forces applied at extreme angles, at which point the force multiplies exponentially. Balljoints or kingpins, tie rod ends, CV's (or U-joints) only move in limited directions on a solid axle thereby allowing them to live longer under less stress.

Parts availability on an IFS is limited to control arms and a few other bits. What about the balljoints and axle shafts and tie rod ends? Not a lot of parts out there.

Plus, the dynamics of a solid axle are much easier to control. You can design a solid axle suspension to work well in a multitude of conditions much more easily than IFS.

All that said, I try to think about what the vehicle is being used for whenever I design a suspension system or swap in a solid axle. I try to apply modern thinking to make my builds above par. This truck here is old school and will only be used in fields, with an occasional hillclimb or ditch crossing, mostly at low speeds, so an IFS would have worked fine here, but it probably would not have held up as well over time.

I will say that most of what you find when you google "SAS" or solid axle swap is not what I'm after. A lot of that work is not up to my standards.
It was in really good condition.

Obviously here in CA we don't get a lot of rain or snow so this donor had little rust on it. Surface rust only. I did spend a few hours cleaning it and modifying it and then acid washing it to prep for paint. It must have say outside in the sun for many years because the acid wash took off the factory paint like it was dry erase.

The cab was pretty good with the exception of the driver's footwell. I pushed my finger through it. 8 hours later it was all fixed with a new panel welded in, seam sealed, primed, painted and chip guard applied. I'll post up pics of that later.


Glad to see another build!

What brand paint did you use on the frame? Looks like it has a bit more sheen than chassis black?


Very beginner question, but are titanium or cobalt bits worth a damn when drilling through a frame? Very excited to see more of your work btw.
Love it; dirtball simple but sexy......
Exactly that. The beauty lies in it's simplicity. Less is more.

Glad to see another build!

What brand paint did you use on the frame? Looks like it has a bit more sheen than chassis black?
Thanks Brian. I wasn't sure this one was "thread worthy" but I figured the basic nature of this truck would appeal to some of you guys.

I use SEM self etching primer and then cover it with Dupli Color engine enamel in flat black. The primer not only helps the paint stick, but it also adds depth to the final finish. The engine enamel has a high ceramic content making it impervious to chemicals.

Wow. You are basically building it.
Just like on the assembly line!