Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: socialist lib heaven mASS
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Re: Basic Questions
Hey! How are ya?
Mistakes? trying to work on a rusty truck. Its really difficult and if its that rusty its already on the way out. Then again, if you have a rusty rig it doesnt matter as much when you bash it on stuff on the trail.
This is all opinion, of course, but I tried to do a gradual buildup, spending money in the right places first instead of just going immediately for "big tires and lift". I'm still working on it and dont have nearly the amount of mods as most people in here, it seems.
One of the biggest things to deal with on a samurai is the underpowered motor. You can do all kinds of things to make the little 1.3 poot out a little more power, but the general consensus is that you can do just as well by swapping in a 1.6 motor from a tracker or sidekick. the 8V verison shares a lot with the 1.3 from the samurai but the 16V version (which makes more high end power) is a little more alien. Both swaps are relatively easy, though. there are kits fomr most of te major vendors to help with the swap.
This is not to say that the first mod should be more power, since I personally think gearing is more important than power unless you are doing hillclimbs and mudbogs. Gearing is just that much more important with a sami because of the wimpy motor.
The first thing I spent money on with my truck was protection. I wanted skid plates on everything since it wasnt jacked to the sky with 35" tires I knew I was going to be dragging the underside a lot. After that, I got a simple 2" shcakle reverse lift and 30" tires. It wheeled ok like that, but getting some transfer case gearing to compensate for the 30" tires was an amazing improvement. I was able to upgrade from 4.16s to 4.89s in the transfer case real soon after that and that was even better. After that i got a minispool for othe rear, which help out more than I thought it would. Cheap, too ($99). At that point I wanted something better for suspension, so I swapped in YJ leaf springs all around. Kind of a big change since the springs are 1/2" wider, but they work a lot better! I still only have about 2.5" of lift from that,though. At that point I started building up around the edges with bumpers and a winch, am trying to get a locked front axle in as we speak, etc.
Seems like a common "mistake" is to go cheapo on the steering correction after a lift. Most people who have a "z-link" dont care for it and wish they had steering that properly corrects for the lift, such as 'knuckle over' or 'ott'. They are more expensive, but eliminate bumpsteer, which a z link doesnt do. It depends on how high you're going. sometimes a drop pitman arm can do it for you, too.
Speaking of lift, the best, cheapest, simplest way to gain some offroadd performance is the good old SPOA. for less than $100 in parts you can get the axle up over the leafs and get 4.5-6.5" of lift. It beats up the stock spings and you might want to consider a solution to control spring wrap. A popular modification along these line sis move the rear sami sprinngs to the front and swap in cj springs in the rear. Longer springs, a couple inches of lift simpler and cheaper to insatll than YJs. that setup of SPOA with rears up front (RUF) and CJs in the rear seems to be the best budget setup for suspension. leaving you some extra cash to deal with steering correction the right way. That gives enough lift for 33" tires but remember the gearing to offset it. Ive seen a stock geared samurai with 33s wheeling, it wasnt very pretty. It ws experience and a subtle lack of sanity that got that truck through.
one of the most impressive buildups I have seen was a sami on 30s with lockers both ends and a 4.16 transfer case, sitting on 2" s/r. The thing was amazing in what it could go over. If you did a SPOA conversion on that truck it would been more amazing, yet.
This only scratches the surface of the possibilities, but maybe gives you some ideas. Biggest mistake in my opinion is to ignore gearing as an early mod in a buildup. Its an expensive mod for sure, but one of the most important for a low powered vehicle.