Did we mention how much we like going to junkyards, recycling centers, auto salvage establishments, and the like? Nothing is more fun than spending a day hunting for treasures. Every gearhead we know wants to go into a junkyard and find an awesome part for next to nothing, and we hate to say it, but there are fewer and fewer yards out there that don't know the value of a front Dana 60, an NP205 and Dana 300 transfer case, or an aluminum LS1 V-8 for that matter. But have no fear; just because these golden ticket parts are scarce, doesn't mean there is nothing left to build a cheap fun 4x4 out of. In fact, we have a new rule; look at any car or truck in the yard and you should be able to find something that you could put on a project, be it the mirrors, seatbelts, or e-brake handle. We spent a weekend cruising through some yards and found an armload of stuff with possibilities, and that's half the secret to building a budget trail rig-looking for ways to make unwanted parts work. Of course it can lead to some compromises and, if you're not careful, added expense. However, if you use some ingenuity and have some mechanical or fabrication skills and the time to use them, then oddball parts can be junkyard treasures that when assembled form a unique, one-of-a-kind trail rig. More and more recycling centers are closing their doors to public parts pulling due to liability and environmental concerns. Don't be surprised if the guy at the gate asks what you need and then goes looking for it himself. Try explaining that you are building a hot-rod 4x4 and you need to make some measurements of parts like transmissions, engines, and axles. Just respect the yard boss, try not to break valuable surrounding parts as you remove what you want, and hopefully they'll be fine with you looking around time and again.More and more recycling centers are closing their doors to public parts pulling due to lia The tools you take to a salvage yard are very similar to those you take on the trail, but bringing too much stuff is a headache since you don't have a truck to haul it around in. We've found that a minimal cache of gear can get nearly any part off an abandoned vehicle. Here's what we like to bring: A backpack or little red wagon to haul stuff, a tape measure and notepad to record sizes in case you are not sure if it will fit, a camera to record odd parts you have never seen before (though some yards don't allow cameras), and a small sack of handtools. If you know that you'll need some serious power, look into the Milwaukee 28-volt cordless impact; it's super burly and great for tearing vehicles apart fast.The tools you take to a salvage yard are very similar to those you take on the trail, but If you have a 4x4 project try to find similar trucks in the yard that might have accessories on it ready to go. If we had a Jeep Cherokee we would be taking home this heavy-duty rear bumper. It's amazing how many vehicles are around with good bumpers, tow hitches, nerf bars, and rollcages that just need to be cleaned up and repainted.If you have a 4x4 project try to find similar trucks in the yard that might have accessori Upon entering the yard you will find vehicles completely disassembled and others that look like they could have driven there. Check out the complete trucks if you are looking for a new project. Oftentimes the problems could be minor such as this Toyota 4Runner that ran but didn't pass smog so the owner dumped it. Some yards will sell the vehicles complete, but others can get more money from parting them out and won't let them go.Upon entering the yard you will find vehicles completely disassembled and others that look When it comes to axles, there are desired axles and then there are junk axles. Jeep guys have always wanted Scout Dana 44s, and nowadays Dana 60s are super hot, but these are not the only options out there. If you are willing to change rims, you may find the rear axle of an Isuzu Rodeo or Honda Passport attractive. These Dana 44s come with disc brakes and 30-spline shafts and can run standard Dana 44 gears and lockers. Some things to know: They use a six-lug bolt pattern and some have a unique 4.30 gear ratio, but if you match it with a front Dana 44 from a Jeep Wagoneer, all you need is a gear change and you're ready to swap them under your Wrangler.When it comes to axles, there are desired axles and then there are junk axles. Jeep guys h We've learned that original Toyota driveshafts are super strong, and some components of the constant velocity joints are as big as 1-ton truck CVs. If you are going to get a shaft built you may want to find a good used Toy shaft to have modified to your desired lengths. Be sure to check that there is a flange available for your transfer case first. One more thing: Get the bolts that hold the shaft on, they are unique shouldered bolts that are pricey from the dealer.We've learned that original Toyota driveshafts are super strong, and some components of th Now we're getting crazy, but deal with it. This is a Jaguar rearend. It's independent and it uses a Dana 44 with internal disc brakes. We're sure some ingenious wheeler out there could make a fully independent mini-truck that could soak up the dunes while still using standard Dana 44 gears and lockers. Build it and let us know how it works, but remember, hot-rod guys like these too, so they may not be real cheap.Now we're getting crazy, but deal with it. This is a Jaguar rearend. It's independent and We looked at this clean Mitsubishi and quickly visualized its little body and frame packed with an early '80s 1-ton drivetrain. Many folks are building mini-trucks like Toyotas and Chevy S-10s with fullsize truck drivetrains, so why not start with something different and unique, since all the important stuff will be tossed for big beefy parts? Hmm, we can even imagine it on 2 1/2-ton Rockwells, 44s, and a big-block.We looked at this clean Mitsubishi and quickly visualized its little body and frame packed You can find all sorts of old worn-out vehicles at the yard, lifted trucks included. If you decided to bring home the suspension under a derelict four-by, be sure and check it for broken parts like springs. Get info on all the parts-even if they are worn out like shocks-just in case you need replacements. This Ford had front springs from one company, rear springs from another, and shocks from a third, and we only found that out since some springs still had the stickers on them. Also don't forget steering parts like drop pitman arms and aftermarket drag links.You can find all sorts of old worn-out vehicles at the yard, lifted trucks included. If yo When it comes to interior stuff and seats, the junkyard can be a crap shoot. Some cars will have perfect seats hiding under seat covers put on by cautious previous owners, others will have junk under horrible flower seat covers that have rotted from open windows in the rain. At the very least you may find some change when you pull the seat covers, run 'em through the wash a few times, and save yourself the $50-$100 for new ones.When it comes to interior stuff and seats, the junkyard can be a crap shoot. Some cars wil Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-80s have pretty brawny axles, and some are full-floating rears with factory locking differentials. These can be an upgrade over stock FJ-40 axles since they are a bit wider, but their full-floater design is a bonus over the earlier C-clip style axle, and they're already set up for a flexible coil-spring suspension conversion. Remember that the diff is offset to the passenger side, so although it won't work on most Toyota mini-trucks, if you're not a purist you could swap a set of these under an older Jeep or Land Rover as an upgrade.Toyota Land Cruiser FJ-80s have pretty brawny axles, and some are full-floating rears with All the veteran junkyard guys we know have a secret for when they find a part but don't have the money to take it home that day...specifically, hiding it in another vehicle till you can get back to buy it. We found these aluminum rims hiding in an old work van, which goes to show that you should take a glance in every vehicle, 'cause you never know where the treasures lie.All the veteran junkyard guys we know have a secret for when they find a part but don't ha In the engine category there are many gems at the junkyard. Accessory drive brackets are valuable especially if you are starting with a crate engine or new long-block. Plus everything from starters to alternators, distributors, and power-steering pumps have a core charge if you're looking at rebuilt units, and those core units are plentiful at junkyards. Just research what the core charge is and don't pay more than half that for the junkyard version. Also find out what is needed to qualify a core, as some shops can be strict on damaged units.In the engine category there are many gems at the junkyard. Accessory drive brackets are v If there is one Holy Grail at the junkyard it's a front Dana 60, but for every 10,000 Dana 60s out there, there is one Dana 61, and that redheaded stepchild is more a sippy cup than Holy Grail. The front Dana 61 was available in some '89-'91 Dodge diesel trucks, and was specially made to run 3.07 gears with a standard Dana 60 4.10 carrier. In order to run lower gears you'll need to either get the rare Dana 61 tall carrier found in some rear Dana 61s or the soon-to-be-released Dana 61 Detroit Locker (both are available through Randy's Ring & Pinion)...If there is one Holy Grail at the junkyard it's a front Dana 60, but for every 10,000 Dana ...To identify the front 61 (middle) note that it will have Dodge shock mounts like the bottom housing (top is a GM), and rather than having a 60F on the front webbing it will have a 61F cast in the rear of the housing to the lower right of the pinion. However, look out for the Dana 70 in the rear of these trucks running 3.07 gears as they are really unique and cannot fit any other gearsets, so steer clear....To identify the front 61 (middle) note that it will have Dodge shock mounts like the bo When going to crossover steering in a solid-axle Chevy or Toyota truck you'll want a different steering box. If it's a Chevy look for the same era two-wheel-drive version, and for Toyota the best bet is a steering box from an IFS truck of the same make.When going to crossover steering in a solid-axle Chevy or Toyota truck you'll want a diffe Here is a 3/4-, 1-ton rear axle that most folks regard as junk. These Eaton rearends (though obsolete since '72) used to be found under Chevy and GMC trucks. What we like is that you can pull the center differential out, remove the rear cover, spin the housing around, and drop it in on the opposite side, and you'll have a big full-floating offset rear axle, great for you Land Cruiser, Rover, and early Jeep guys with offset transfer cases. Plus many of these came with Detroit Lockers and 4.11, 4.57, 5.14, and some rare 3.90 gears. Replacement parts are getting harder to find, but most yards sees these as obsolete so they go cheap.Here is a 3/4-, 1-ton rear axle that most folks regard as junk. These Eaton rearends (thou SOURCES Detroit Locker Madison Heights MI 800-328-3850 www.detroitlocker.com Milwaukee Tool www.milwaukeetool.com Randy's Ring & Pinion Everett WA 8-66/-631-0196 ringpinion.com Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!