A toy for the trails

The Off-Runner was a project that just kind of happened. It started with me buying 1990 4Runner from a friend as a parts truck. I have a 1991 4Runner as my daily driver and needed some parts. For $600 the price was right so I bought it up. I started to take the truck apart so I could store and use the parts. After doing some thinking I realized the truck would be of better use if I kept it running. This way I could use it to test out suspected bad parts. And if I needed a part I could confirm it works before removing it.

I decided to turn it in to a toy I could drive on the quad trails with. I cut off most of the body to lighten and open it up. I also removed the sub-standard rear ABS system because it was a waste of weight. Plus, this truck wouldn't need it for off-roading. Then I relocated the gas tank to the back seat area to gain a little ground clearance. I built a plywood box to cover the fuel tank and to give me some storage bins. I also built a new dash board out of some 1/16" sheet steel. I kept some of the factory stuff like the gauges, clock, and hazard switch and then added some of my own switches and an MP3 player deck. The speakers for the deck were mounted under the dash facing down out of the elements.

For the locker I wanted to keep it on the cheap like the rest of the project so I went with a Lincoln locker. I had never welded a differential before so to make sure I got a strong weld I had my friend weld it with his 200A Miller tig welder. For some reason this didn't hold up for very long as you can see in the picture (above center pic). For my second try I got a couple of old wrenches and warmed up my 120VAC flux-core welder. An hour later I had a home made mini spool locker that's taken a lot of abuse and still holding up. For the roll cage I wanted the people in the truck to be safe so I decided to build it out of some 2", .120" wall, DOM tubing. The steel almost cost as much as the truck but at least it should hold up in a roll over. I don't own a bender so I went to my friends place and borrowed his. At the same time I got his help and the use of his Miller tig to do most of the welding. It made nicer welds then my Mastercraft flux-core. After this I made a bumper for the front. It's made out of 1" and 2" square tubing with the center hoop out of 2" DOM. I liked how it turned out.

I drove it on the trails like this for a while until one day the exhaust got caught on a large rock and was ripped off. The drive back was kind of noisy so I decided to fab up an exhaust that was less prone to getting hit. I bought some pipe and a 90° bend and started building. Once I was happy with what I had, I topped it off with a tractor exhaust flap. I had lost some of the headlight hardware somewhere along my travels so I replaced them both with four free halogen lights. Then I finally got around to installing some mud flaps/fenders. I wanted to have fenders that would keep the mud off me and the truck but also not get bent up if I got too close to a tree. I ended up using a rubber sheet material that's made from recycled tires. I opted for the half inch thick stuff because it would hold its shape but also flex when needed. I added signal and brake lights for added safety and because the wires were already there.

With everything working well it was time to make it look nice. I painted it yellow with black racing stripes. The racing stripes were pin striped with silver. This was no professional job. The black and silver were done with a rattle can and the yellow was applied with a brush. It was far from good, but good from far, which is all I wanted. I have a number of things I would still like to do like manual hubs and maybe a twin stick. It was a fun toy to play around with but due to legal issues, it's parked for the time being.