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Trail Ready Tundra: Part One

We Adjust the Altitude with BDS, Fox & Fuel

Oct 1, 2019

We don't get to do a lot of Toyota tech around here. It's not because we don't want to. We love Toyotas—just look at this month's cover truck. The main reason is there's simply less Toyotas that are being modified than the Big Three, and less of them out there in the first place. But all that is changing rapidly. Sales of Tacomas and Tundras have skyrocketed in recent years, and the aftermarket has followed suit with a ton of offerings to modify your Toyota truck. Possibly stemming from the ludicrous amount of JK and JL Jeeps being built for overlanding (or mall crawling), that trend has spread into the truck market like wild fire, with Toyota being the truck of choice more times than not.

Recently we were talking with Thomas Hale of Fuel Off-Road Wheels, who had picked up a gently used 2014 Tundra Platinum. Original plans were modest—levelling kit, 20s and 33s (Fuel, naturally), and even a TRD Pro grille to toughen up the look. That configuration served Thomas well for a while, but in his line of work, he sees some of the baddest trucks on four wheels every day, whether for show or for the trails, so it was only a matter of time until he was looking to go bigger and badder with the Tundra. We decided to get involved with the build, and pretty soon, we had a whole plan of attack to make the truck look and function better for camping, the trails, and everyday driving.

Photo 2/41   |   Not bad for a BEFORE photo; this Tundra only needed a few tricks to raise the cool factor. But it's about to get a lot cooler.

Our first call, and the subject of this first installment, was a BDS Suspension for their 3-inch coilover system, which includes not only their custom tubular upper control arms, but also a set of Fox 2.5 factory-series remote-reservoir coilovers. This setup gives the Tundras plenty of room to fit 35-inch tires as well as a healthy dose of attitude. For this installment, we added in Fuel's new Gripper XT tires to show off that aggressive new tread pattern. The size we chose was 35x12.50R20. We're using the Fuel Sledge that was already on the truck, but in a future installment, we will introduce a brand-new Fuel wheel in a custom color. We showed up bright and early to Performance Plus in Long Beach, California, and knocked out the install in about half a day. Even though we have a long way to go, we were impressed with the stance of the Tundra as well as the road manners this lifted-on-35s truck still has. Come back next month, we've got a lot more to do on this Tundra.

Photo 3/41   |   The 33-inch Fuel Gripper MTs on the 20-inch Fuel Sledge wheels looked pretty good, too. But the kit we're about to install will allow for 35s.
Photo 4/41   |   The BDS Suspension 3-inch coilover system features the Fox 2.5 coilover feature a honed seamless alloy body, 7/8-inch hardened steel carbon shaft, Eibach coil springs, and black anodized machined 6061-T6 billet aluminum mounts. Also supplied are a pair of BDS performance series upper control arms, which improve suspension travel and while providing superior strength and styling to the factory arms. These arms are built from 1.5-inch OD heavy wall tubing, fully welded with integrated support gussets. BDS supplies a set of heavy-duty shackles for the rear, which provide 1inch of lift to level the stance, and a pair of specially tuned Fox 2.0 performance series shocks.
Photo 5/41   |   Once we were up on the lift at Performance Plus in Long Beach, we were ready to tear down our stock Tundra front end.
Photo 6/41   |   The first step is to support the front differential with a jackstand, then remove the two mount bolts. We then let the jack down slightly.
Photo 7/41   |   The supplied drop-down spacers were added in before being snugged back up to the frame.
Photo 8/41   |   Next, the sway bar endlink was removed from the lower control arm.
Photo 9/41   |   Followed by the caliper, which was hung off to the side.
Photo 10/41   |   Then, we disassembled the hub so the axle could slide inward.
Photo 11/41   |   Simultaneously, we were removing the tie rod end.
Photo 12/41   |   Now the upper ball joint nut was removed.
Photo 13/41   |   Finally, the spindle is separated from the factory upper control arm and is allowed to hang out of the way.
Photo 14/41   |   Now we were clear to remove the lower strut mounting bolt.
Photo 15/41   |   The upper strut mounting bolts were removed next.
Photo 16/41   |   We removed upper control arm from the mounts.
Photo 17/41   |   Finally, we removed the factory strut from the Tundra. Our front disassembly was complete.
Photo 18/41   |   Within seconds, The Performance Plus crew was ready to rebuild. The Fox 2.5 coilover was plugged into place.
Photo 19/41   |   The top is snugged down to the factory tower.
Photo 20/41   |   Then, the lower mount is secured with the new Grade 8 hardware that was supplied.
Photo 21/41   |   Next, the BDS tubular upper control arm was set into place and bolted down.
Photo 22/41   |   The tie-rod end was reattached next.
Photo 23/41   |   Now we were ready to bolt the factory spindle up to the BDS upper control arm.
Photo 24/41   |   We dropped the mounting bolts out of the sway bar mount temporarily, slid the reservoir mount into place, and tightened them back up.
Photo 25/41   |   The Fox adjustable reservoir sets in the cradle and is mounted up solid with a set of clamps.
Photo 26/41   |   A clamp is provided to secure the abs line to the upper control arm.
Photo 27/41   |   The axle was reattached to the hub and the dust cover was tapped back into place.
Photo 28/41   |   Then the caliper was bolted back up to the spindle.
Photo 29/41   |   We went back over every bolt with the torque wrench to finalize the front end.
Photo 30/41   |   After locking down the lower strut mount, we waited until the Tundra was on the ground before we snugged down the sway bar endlink.
Photo 31/41   |   We double-checked all our bolts one last time before we turned our attention to the rear of the truck.
Photo 32/41   |   The 1-inch lift in the rear was pretty straightforward. First, we removed the shackle bolts from the frame and leaf spring.
Photo 33/41   |   Then, with the rear axle supported, we removed the factory shackle completely.
Photo 34/41   |   We installed the BDS shackle in place of the factory unit using the supplied grade 8 hardware.
Photo 35/41   |   The center spacer and second bracket were added in and the bolts were snugged down.
Photo 36/41   |   Our performance Plus crew made quick work of the factory lower shock mounts.
Photo 37/41   |   The uppers soon followed suit.
Photo 38/41   |   The Fox 2.0s went right in place of the stockers and was snugged down.
Photo 39/41   |   Finally the lower mounts were buzzed down. Completing the simple but effective transformation in the rear.
Photo 40/41   |   The BDS Suspension 3-inch coilover lift provides everything you need to upgrade your suspension for the trails, fit 35-inch tires, and look good doing it.
Photo 41/41   |   Speaking of 35s, Performance Plus mounted Fuel's new XT Gripper on the existing 20-inch Fuel Sledge wheels, but we have big plans ahead for this Tundra. Stay tuned!

Sources

BDS Suspension
517.279.2135
http://www.bds-suspension.com
Fuel Off-Road
800-493-7891
http://www.fueloffroad.com
Performance Plus Tires
http://www.performanceplustire.com

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