By Brian Letendre
An update, long overdue.
I am still in the tear down stages and getting ready to clean the frame before starting the assembly. After lowering the chassis down and putting it on jack stands, it's time to pull the engine, transmission, and transfer case off of the frame. With the help from some friends, we got the engine pulled, separated the transmission and got it mounted on a stand so I can do some additional cleaning and work.

I shipped off the EGR intake and valve cover for powder coating to Specialty Powder Coating in Zephyrhills, FL. It's amazing how a person, whom I met once, many years before starting her business and known mostly online through UCORA, has earned my trust and respect in the powder coating business. Bonnie is a person of great trust and I have my greatest confidence in her work. Keeping my vow to support those who have supported UCORA over the years, Specialty Powder Coating was tasked with the care of the crown of my engine build. If you have any powder coating needs, I higly recommend Bonnie at Specialty Powder Coating to handle your project.

I begun cleaning and getting the exhaust manifold ready to paint. I was given an aftermarket exhaust which I am not sure of what brand it is, but as long as I can get some minor repairs completed on it, will look great in this motor. As usual, with the wind blowing here in AZ, I have to keep the engine covered and seal the motor from dirt getting into it.

I managed to came across a great deal on Craigslist for a used Toyota transfer case. It's a gear driven, top shift with 4.7 gears already installed and has the dual transfer case adapter. Such a great value and a good deal. Now I can use the original t-case with the new on so I can have a dual t-case setup. I am starting to understand how to do this, but I may be in way over my head. Anyone want to build a dual case setup? Just need to order a couple more parts and then the drive train will be complete. It's expensive, but it's always nice to be moving forward.

With a project like this, it's important to make a plan, they may just be baby steps though. I decided that I needed to hang the chassis out of the way so I can have easy access to the frame in order to get it all cleaned up. I want to spend a little money, okay, it will have to be a lot of money to get the drive train finished. I have found a transmission shop to make sure it is good to go and have located all the parts I need. Sometimes these projects just need luck, a wealth of blessings from labor help, time, funds, and motivation. I did receive a few parts from the guys over at Low Range Off Road!

I have also received parts for the transmition and t-case as well, so I'll just leave you with a few pictures as a tease, but I am getting excited to get the transmission and double transfer case together, that is, as soon as I find instructions for the adapter. I did get the transmission loaded into the back of the truck and took it to the shop. They will be giving it a compete once-over and removing all the built in gear reduction transfer case junk and installing the inchworm transfer case adapter. The next step will be to reassemble the motor and prepare the frame for the complete setup. I'm moving the chassis and frame into my other garage so I can work on the transfer case rebuild.

So while I wait for the shops to finish up, I spent some time with a friend getting the rest of the frame brackets off. I decided to leave the shock towers on to give me an idea of placement, but I am pretty sure they will need to be removed later. Same went for the rear and center cross members. I have replacements for those, but want to ensure I keep the frame square. It always feels good to get some work in, I just wish I didn't have to roll the chasis out of the garage every time I want to work on it. If only I could leave my tools plugged in and be ready to work when I want.

While surfing for parts online, I managed to purchase some used Raceline beadlocks for The Spike. They quickly came in the mail and I am quite excited about this purchase. Here's a sneak peek of one of them, Ill show the full set after I have them sent out for powder coating.

Getting back to my list of baby steps, decided it was time for me to have easy access to the chasis. Since I like to "deal shop", I have a lot of parts for stages I am not to yet laying under the frame blocking it from rolling it out. Finally, an easy task to complete. After cleaning up the garage floor, it was time to continue cleaning the frame. I grabbed the sawsall and a 9" metal blade and got to work removing all the small brackets from the top off and the 2 rear body mounts. I also took out the brace that defined the back of the 4 Runner cab section leaving just the 3 cross braces. The rest needed to come out with a grinder in order to take out the welds. I sometimes think of just taking it to a shop to get it all completed, but after nearly three hours of hard grinding, the frame preparations are done.

Next, I need to get the frame and Chassis in my other garage so I can begin to build the transfer case. I am excited to finally start the building phase.

More to come!