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Discussion Starter #201
I'm currently debating between the SPC arms and the TC's... knowing where you got the TC's for a screaming deal would almost certainly tip the balance that direction! Truck's coming along great man. Thanks for taking the time to share.
It's good to know people. ::wink::
 

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Discussion Starter #203 (Edited)
Custom Front Coilovers - Suspension Upgrade, part 3 (01.16.16)

(UPDATE 04.14.17: Custom reservoir mounts made, see #455)

So here we go - the last component to my suspension upgrade: front shocks. After the usual research over all the available front shock options, I decided to go with full coilovers. I looked at Fox first (because I’m a mountain biker), then kind of liked the SAWs (only because they were red, heh!), but it seemed like the most popular choice for the Frontier was the RadFlo 2.0’s. I started the research and for the most part it seemed like Frontier owners with the RadFlos were happy with their choice. There were some issues with some people (clunking, leaking, squeaking) but I figured these might have been isolated incidents. Everyone I talked to suggested I call PRG to get more information about the RadFlos. I just laughed.

…And then I went to the Off-Road Expo in Pomona, and guess what? I saw the King shocks. There’s really no way to describe how pretty these things are in person. Great - now I was stuck between spending a little less for RadFlo 2.0s and (possibly) dealing with any issues that come with the RadFlos, or spending a little more for the Kings (?) that look awesome and are supposedly the cream of the crop.

So it turns out that my cousin’s FJ has King shocks and I’ve ridden in his FJ a few times, and it’s pretty nice… but that’s an FJ - not a truck. However, when my brother got in a group buy for King shocks for his Tacoma - I paid good attention to the process. I even helped him install his coilovers because I wanted to learn more about them. He ordered the larger 2.5” size on all four corners, and after the install and alignment I took a ride. I was expecting a stiff ride but I was wrong; just like in the FJ, my brother’s Tacoma was super smooth, with no harshness over railroad tracks or expansion joints in the road, no weird noises (something I kept seeing more about RadFlos), nothing bad at all. It felt stock but not in a “mushy way” stock, if that makes sense! Then I recalled that anytime I read something “bad” about King shocks in the forums, it was always the “why spend this much money when you can get RadFlos/SAWs for less?” argument. It was never about the actual performance of the King shocks.

Right - that said, I made my decision to go all-in and I order the Kings. I had them made with custom specs, so it took almost 2 months before my coilovers were ready for pickup, but I can't complain because I got a really good (as in less than regular 2.0 non-res RadFlos) hookup on the price :)

Some comparison photos of the new King Shocks next to the OEM Nissan shocks:


OEM shock on the left, custom King coilover shocks on the right.


Side by side photo showing the extended length of the Kings.


Optional compression adjuster for dialing in the ride.


Bolted right in, 2.5” shock diameter is larger than the OEM shocks.


Close up of the fittings and the upper mount.

With the coilovers in place, I turned my attention to the external reservoirs. King includes specific mounting brackets that are attached to the chassis using the tow hook bolts. However, they position the reservoirs towards the forward part of the front fender, just behind the fender liners. This means they’re hidden.. but I don’t want them hidden! I’m going to have some custom brackets tabbed up to mount the reservoirs somewhere higher up (maybe next to the UCA brackets) but that’s for a later time.


Included bracket for the external reservoirs bolted to the chassis.


Reservoirs clamped in place in the wheel well area.


Closer photo of the 2.5" external reservoirs.


OEM fender liners barely cleared the hoses, just barely.

The overall installation was straightforward; even if these shocks were a lot heavier than stock, due to the larger specs. I had no issues whatsoever installing them in the OEM positions once I disconnected the UCA ball joint (had practice when installing my brother’s Kings, too). Also fortunate for me - unlike the rear end, the front lower shock bolts came out easily, as did the six upper nuts holding the OEM shocks to the coil buckets. I had the stock shocks out and the King shocks in in about an hour - by myself, with no air tools.

With everything bolted up, my truck was finally lifted! With the initial “out-of-the-box” setting the front end gained 2.4” of lift, which was good, but still lower than the 3.02" of lift I had in the rear, giving my truck a noticeable rake. No problem - I dialed down the spring perches until I had the front fenders up to 37.625”. This translated into a 3.45” front lift, or a 5/8” rake. Much better!

After getting the truck aligned, I spent the next week getting used to the feel of the coilovers and playing with the compression adjusters. The ride comfort with the whole suspension upgrade (compression adjusters set to lowest) is about the same as the stock shocks - very comfortable, it’s not mushy and definitely not bouncy. At 10-clicks the suspension feels more firm, most evident under hard braking as the nose does not dive down like with the stock shocks. During the first week I kept the stereo off and the windows closed, listening for any little sign of extra noise, but there was nothing. The suspension wasn’t noisy at all. But everything I said so far was on pavement; to get a complete evaluation, I would have to take my truck to the dirt to see if the Kings were all show and no go, or if they were legit. I had my chance two weekends after I installed the suspension upgrade, where i took this photo:


20-psi? Check. Deep river crossing? Check. Suspension upgrade? Good to go!

…but I’ll get to that adventure in the next post
:😉:
 

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Look forward to your review of suspension setup after you've tested it a bit. That tire/wheel/lift looks great! Yeah, you got me with the girls,girls,girls. Keira is a looker tho!
 

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Discussion Starter #207 (Edited)
Return to Azusa OHV (01.30.16)

Two weeks after I installed the suspension, my cousin and I were talking about where we should go off-roading next, but I actually wanted to go back to Azusa Canyon OHV so that I could compare what I remember there (on the OEM suspension and tires) with my current upgraded setup. My brother (also returning with his new suspension and setup) was in, and our buddy Ben. The weather was overcast, and this was after a couple days of heavy rain in SoCal. The only things I did to get ready for the trip was to bring along a tire deflator, and I temporarily removed the OEM side step rails.


Somehow this became the usual 4x4x crew.

This was the first time I aired down, since now I had that ability with the BF Goodrich KO2's. My cousin routinely airs down his KO2's to 20-psi when going off-road and since I had the same Load E tires, I also went down to 20-psi and we hit the trails. At first it felt weird - the best way I can describe it was that it felt like standing on a waterbed. The truck felt like it had a little “float” to it, but after I got used to how the steering felt it turned out to be pretty good after all. It was definitely a different feel compared to the first time on stock tires.

With the stock tires I felt and heard everything I ran over, but with the KO2’s aired down I could just cruise at 10-15mph across the rocky flat areas (almost like a washboard surface) and I barely felt a thing. Side note - the rain a few days prior washed out a lot of the surface dirt, so a lot of the rocks were sticking out from the ground more now than they were the last time I was here. The tires felt great - I don’t think I lost traction anywhere (even on a couple relatively long dirt hill climbs). The more I use the KO2 the more I’m impressed with their capabilities.


First time airing down on the 10-ply BFGs.


KO2’s performed well, even better at 20-psi.


Oh you know, just taking a break.

After driving around for a bit over sand, gravel, rocks, streams, more rocks, even more rocks, shallow mud, etc. I also realized that I wasn’t even thinking about the suspension! The whole day I was just having fun driving through the trails, streams, over stuff, down stuff, crossing stuff, etc. The King/Bilstein combo kept the ride relatively smooth no matter what terrain I was on. I liked how there was less body sway with the new suspension - funny thing was, I could tell simply by how there was less things moving around inside the truck (things in the center console, in the glove box, etc.) With the suspension and the tires I was keeping up with my cousin’s built FJ, whereas before if I went too fast on the stock suspension it felt like the truck was going to fall apart LOL


Took this photo while they were playing around near the lake.


Driving through one of the numerous trails at Azusa OHV.

Later on we headed to the more technical areas to get the suspension flexing. It was a mix of rutted paths that snaked along the valley edge near the mountains, some with deep tire channels and some with rocky streams and close brush running the entire route. The Kings/Bilsteins handled the constant terrain change easily; I never felt like I was being tossed around in the cab like before, and even my keys weren't bouncing around and making noise like before. The articulation and the added lift made it easier to navigate the terrain. During a rest break our buddy Ben suggested I park in an angled spot nearby to take photos of my suspension flexing. Note: I still had the stock swaybar installed in the photos below:


Testing the flex of my new suspension setup.


Left-rear tucked, pretty King shocks and Total Chaos UCAs peeking out from the front.


Right-rear extended, but not maxed out yet.


Not bad, still had the OEM front sway bar on though!

If you’ve been to Azusa OHV you know that there’s a river crossing right as you enter the gate, and it’s the only way in and out of the OHV area. When we arrived the first thing we had to do was help a Toyota 4Runner get out of the river, as he didn’t make it and halfway through his engine went dead (not good!). Good thing Ben had recovery gear, and he yanked the Toyota out of the river.

Then another Fj buddy of theirs came through and we noticed that it was a little… more… deeper than before. Turns out that the rains that came through turned the entry and exit portions of the river crossing into semi-deep mud, and we were told how a lot of different rigs didn’t make it across. So we sat there for awhile because we weren’t sure if we wanted to try it. We even watched a few others go across first, and there was a line along the left side that you could drive across where only part of your vehicle would dip into the mud hole underneath the river surface.

Obviously we made it across the first time (or I wouldn’t have the pics above) but when it was time to go we had to cross one more time. The FJ’s made it across, but the hole looked like it got deeper. Then it was my turn (photos taken by Ben):


There’s a deep mud hole there.


Still made it, whew!

…so I made it through, even if my left front tire slid into the underwater mud hole a little bit. However I was surprised later when I saw the photos above and realized how high the water went up (good thing it didn’t get into the intake box!)


End of the day, airing the tires back up.

From this adventure I learned more about what my truck could do - which was a lot more now, thanks to the new suspension, the added height, and the KO2 tires. Makes me want to go off-road more, and I’m pretty sure I will.

All in all it was a really fun day.
::grin::


Pressure washers > river gunk.
 

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Discussion Starter #210
Looks like the new suspension is working out perfectly. I need to stop reading your build report. It makes me want to spend so much money lol
Don't even blame me for everything you just ordered on Amazon. Just kidding
::grin::

Looks like you'll need skid plates and sliders next?
Yeap... sure looks that way.

Funny - we have similar taste in armor... I've had the HeftyFab skids, White Knuckle sliders, and Shrock rear bumper on the wish list even before I bought the truck (LOL) but I always used the "you don't need it yet" reason. I might be at that point where I can't use that excuse anymore.
>:D
 

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Sooo.... when are you installing a snorkel?>:D

Seriously though, your Frontier looks awesome among your group of Toyotas. Truck has come a long way in such a short time.

Question about your front suspension. At 3.45” of lift, how much down travel do you have left before the suspension tops out? Also, what limits the down travel? I'm guessing it's the shocks? Just curious if you have any binding in your lower ball joints at full droop.
 

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Discussion Starter #213

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Discussion Starter #214
Sooo.... when are you installing a snorkel?>:D

Seriously though, your Frontier looks awesome among your group of Toyotas. Truck has come a long way in such a short time.

Question about your front suspension. At 3.45” of lift, how much down travel do you have left before the suspension tops out? Also, what limits the down travel? I'm guessing it's the shocks? Just curious if you have any binding in your lower ball joints at full droop.
I don't know any exact travel numbers off hand; what I do know is that currently the down travel stops when the Total Chaos bump stops touch the coil bucket, there's no binding in the ball joints, and the lower spring seat still clears the front drive axle at full extension.

But since you asked you got me wondering now too. I'm actually going to lift (jack) the truck up either today or tomorrow to do some stuff (not suspension related), so I'll make a note of how much down travel I get before the tire lifts off the ground. Since I'm there I'll also take the bump stop out just to see what happens (it looks like I can get another 1/2" of room) but I'm not sure how added UCA movement calculates out to at the wheel (I know coilover-to-wheel ratio is 1:2).

I'll get back to you on this one
::smile::
 

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Funny - we have similar taste in armor... I've had the HeftyFab skids, White Knuckle sliders, and Shrock rear bumper on the wish list even before I bought the truck (LOL) but I always used the "you don't need it yet" reason. I might be at that point where I can't use that excuse anymore.
>:D
The skids definitely helped during my last snow run, as they helped the truck slide forward on all that snow between the deep tire tracks. The sliders haven't come into play yet, which means that I need to go find some rocks.

Next on my list is a winch-bumper, as I'd like to be as self-reliant as I can be out there.

Your truck's looking great, and I'm really enjoying reading your thread!
 

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Discussion Starter #216 (Edited)
The skids definitely helped during my last snow run, as they helped the truck slide forward on all that snow between the deep tire tracks. The sliders haven't come into play yet, which means that I need to go find some rocks.

Next on my list is a winch-bumper, as I'd like to be as self-reliant as I can be out there.

Your truck's looking great, and I'm really enjoying reading your thread!
Thank you sir.

You know - I would probably consider a winch if there was a "hidden" way to do it without a bunch of hacking, but the one-piece bumper doesn't allow for it. I really like how U.S. Off-Road does it.

Speaking of, I think part of why I'm hesitant about getting full skids (and throw the winch in there too for discussion's sake) is because that's a lot of weight to be driving around with the 95% of the time I'm daily driving when don't need them. Sliders would replace the side step rails and still serve as a step during daily driving duty, but skids just sit there most of the time. I'm considering getting the aluminum radiator skid since it's about 1/2 the weight of the steel version... but the other skids, I'm not so sure yet.
 

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Having a full set of skids on, and sporting 480-lb. OME springs, I don't feel that the extra weight has made too dramatic of a ride/handling difference over STOCK (450-lb. springs), probably due to the fact that the plates are distributed to some extent over the length of the truck. With aluminum skids, I don't think that you'd feel them at all. I haven't done an MPG comparison, but I think that the difference (if any) will be minimal, with/without the skids.

A winch bumper's an entirely different story - it's 100+ lbs. hanging over the front end. I lucked out here because I have a multi-mount Warn winch that mounts to a hitch receiver (I'll be integrating one onto my future front bumper), which saves me from having to lug around a heavy winch when I need it only 0.1% of the time. Basically, my bumper will be there to provide a hitch receiver, proper recovery points, and platform for auxiliary lights.
 

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Discussion Starter #218
Having a full set of skids on, and sporting 480-lb. OME springs, I don't feel that the extra weight has made too dramatic of a ride/handling difference over STOCK (450-lb. springs), probably due to the fact that the plates are distributed to some extent over the length of the truck. With aluminum skids, I don't think that you'd feel them at all. I haven't done an MPG comparison, but I think that the difference (if any) will be minimal, with/without the skids.

A winch bumper's an entirely different story - it's 100+ lbs. hanging over the front end. I lucked out here because I have a multi-mount Warn winch that mounts to a hitch receiver (I'll be integrating one onto my future front bumper), which saves me from having to lug around a heavy winch when I need it only 0.1% of the time. Basically, my bumper will be there to provide a hitch receiver, proper recovery points, and platform for auxiliary lights.
Interesting... yeah, I didn't think the full skids would affect handling much as - like you said, they're distributed along the length of the chassis, not to mention the extra weight is down low.

To be honest if it weren't for me waiting on the release of this new DSP I want for my audio system, I'd probably move skids up on the list of "stuff I want to buy" LOL
 

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I think for the most part, if you're not going nuts, the most important skids to get are the engine and transmission plates. The transfer case is actually pretty thick, although I'd hate to land on it overly hard. But I'm in a lot of granite, and I've yet to have any real issues. Hell, for the most part I haven't needed my skidplates that much. Just once when I was being an idiot in deep water. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #220
I think for the most part, if you're not going nuts, the most important skids to get are the engine and transmission plates. The transfer case is actually pretty thick, although I'd hate to land on it overly hard. But I'm in a lot of granite, and I've yet to have any real issues. Hell, for the most part I haven't needed my skidplates that much. Just once when I was being an idiot in deep water. :)
Not the fuel tank skid? I was thinking going with the radiator skid first, fuel tank skid second. I figure if I'm going to hit something low, the radiator skid would hit it first and I'd stop to check the obstacle... and I'm not to comfortable knowing that the plastic fuel tank is just there hanging with zero protection.
 
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