Q I was flipping through the Apr. ’11 issue and was wondering if you could give me info on the grilleguard on the red Ranger in the Ranger buyer’s guide. I have a Ranger and love it and am slowly putting mods into it and haven’t been able to find much for grilleguards or bull bars.
A That is Feature Editor Ali Mansour’s Danger Ranger. You can read all about it on our website, 4wheeloffroad.com. The winch bar is the Trans4mer from Warn (www.warn.com).
NUTS, I'M CONFUSED
QI drive a ’94 Toyota pickup and was considering doing a solid-axleswap on it. I’m notsurewhat would be a better way to go: leaf springs or three-link with coilovers? I saw in the UA 2010 story Nov. ’10 that Jeff Putnik’s ’98 Tacoma had a three-link setup and it seemed toperformvery well for him on the trails and still be driven on-road as well. What setup do you think is better?
A Removing IFS components and swapping to a solid front axle is so common these days that it’s amazing how just a decade ago it was considered difficult and two decades ago it was groundbreaking. In fact, I have heard of guys swapping from IFS to a solid axle over a weekend!
The most common solid axle swaps (SAS) are Toyotas and Chevys, and for good reason. Both trucks come with dependable and common powertrains and have great aftermarket support.
Recently we have seen a boom in the IFS realm, with heavy-duty half-shafts and a multitude of IFS center sections being developed by aftermarket axle suppliers, but they are still in the development stage. We are willing to hint that a heavy-duty IFS may find its way under an upcoming project vehicle we’re developing, but that’s for a future issue.
As for you, I think the question you have to address is cost. A leaf-sprung solid axle swap such as those made by Sky Manufacturing and sold through Poly Performance can run you about $1,300 and you’ll still need to address the axle, steering, shocks, and driveshafts. Poly Performance also offers a universal three-link front suspension that will work on a Toyota solid axle swap for about $1,150, but you’ll also need your coilover shocks, coil springs, or air shocks to support the truck along with steering, a front axle, and driveshafts.
Of course you could build the brackets yourself and the links, scavenge some junkyard springs and shocks, and come in under budget if you’re handy and thrifty, but since I like your letter you’ll be receiving a Poly Performance gift certificate for writing this month’s Nuts, I’m Confused. The gift certificate can be redeemed at Poly’s online store (poly performance.com) for all sorts of parts for Toyota, buggy, and Jeep as well as everything you need to modify your 4x4 into an off-road monster. Or you can call and speak to Poly’s knowledgeable sale staff at 805.783.2060. They also have a wide assortment of tabs, brackets, and such to build the custom 4x4 of your dreams.
Now the real question you asked is which is better. Properly tuned, fabricated, and dialed in, a coilover front suspension with links will be better. However, I have the Sky kit with Poly Performance shocks and leaf springs on my ’86 Toyota with 1-ton Dana axles, and it works pretty darn well if you ask me. But I built it as a rockcrawler so it isn’t very good at going fast.
The neat part of building a coilover/linked suspension is you can make it work both as a rockcrawler and a go-fast vehicle. Plus, whereas leaf springs need to have a mount out in front of the axle, coilovers don’t, and that improves the approach angle. Leaf springs require a bit more finesse to work double duty like that, but it’s not impossible. I’d never say leaf springs are dead. They work great on a budget, but coilovers look cool, work well, and can offer greater adjustability and fine tuning.
Confused? Email your questions about trucks, 4x4s, and off-roading tech using Nuts, I’m confused as the subject and include a picture (if it’s applicable). Digital photos must measure no less than 1600 x 1200 pixels (or two megapixels) and be saved as a TIFF, an EPS, or a maximum-quality JPEG file. Also, I’ll be checking the forums on our website (www.4wheeloffroad.com), and if I see a question that I think more of you might want to have answered, I’ll print that as well. Otherwise drop it old-school style with the envelope addressed to the address below. Letters published in this magazine reflect the opinions of the writers, and we reserve the right to edit letters for clarity, brevity, or other purposes. Write to: Nuts & Bolts, 4-Wheel & Off-Road, 831 S. Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245 fax to: 310.531.9368 Email to: firstname.lastname@example.org