Building of the White Rhino
UZJ100 - Solid Axle Swap - Paul Sims




As seen in Overland Journal - See Article (8mb PDF File)

In the summer of 2009 we were contacted by Paul Sims from Texas regarding the possibility of converting his UZJ100 from IFS to a solid axle. Paul was planning to attend the 2010 Alaska Cruiser Trek and wanted to have a capable vehicle for the trip. He already owned the 2000 Land Cruiser but was not confident with the strength and durability of the indipendent suspension on this type of expedition.

After sorting out the details, Paul drove his truck up from Texas and dropped it off. He provided his time frame and left the project in our hands. However trusting from a customer point of view, he was familiar with the already completed BlueBerry truck providing a rough roadmap to this build.

We discussed the options and settled on building a truck that was to run 35" tires, using a hybrid front axle utilizing a True Hi9 center section with a mix of FZJ80 and FZJ105 Land Cruiser parts to retain field servicability.


Diamond housing custom made for True-Hi9 differential and FZJ80 knuckles

True-Hi9 Differential

Parts were ordered and while we waited for the custom housing and third member to be delivered, we set about pulling the engine.


2UZ-FE Motor

With the engine out of the way, we had better access to the frame rails and related bracketry which required modification. We needed to complete some maintenance on the engine, so having it on the engine stand made for easy access. The extra time spent removing the engine allowed more room and time saved on frame re-inforcements, welding of the new bracketry and completing suspension mounts.



Pile of parts removed


Starting the removal of the IFS

IFS removed and frame ready for fabrication

After the motor was pulled, we started removing the original suspension parts and peices. We had a pallets worth of parts that can be sold at the next swap meet. After the IFS bracketry was removed the frame was cleaned and plated for strength

The goal was to use a majority of oe Toyota parts to ensure replacement availability with minumum custom machining. The combination worked well as we were able to retain the 5 lug wheel stud pattern of the UZJ100 but use stock Toyota driveline and brake components. The only custom part on in the axle is the housing and the inner axle shafts. For piece of mind, two sets of axle shafts were made so Paul has spares if ever needed.

We retained the 100 series brake system in addition to integrating the ABS sensors from the 80 series knuckles into the 100 series electronics.

We began the mock up of the suspension location. We used a set of Slee 6" lift control arms and Toyota OE mounts to secure the arms to the frame. Axle location was determined and everything was mocked up using as many factory parts and mounts as possible.


Determining axle location

Test fitting control arm mounts

Once the axle was located the control arm brackets were fitted and welded. Panhard rod mounts were fabricated, and the steering was mocked up and installed once clearances were checked.


Spring buckets and shock mounts installed


Panhard rod bracket with cross bracing for added strength


Steering box installed


Completed Suspension setup

The steering utilized a FZJ80 steering box with an upgraded power steering pump. Steering linkages were made from DOM material tapped for stock FZJ80 rod ends attaching to factory steering arms and knuckles.


View of axle from the back

Completed truck

During the whole process steering and suspension clearances were checked by cycling the suspension.





Checking suspension clearances

Included in the build was replacing existing bumpers, installing skid plates, simpifying exsisting wiring and completing mantenance.

Paul collected the vehicle and drove it to Texas for a shakedown run where no problems were reported. After Paul received the truck, he did some additional installations and readied the truck for the Alaska Trek. He has since finished the trip.




River crossings in Alaska

Here is his comments on it.

"As for how the Land Cruiser handled, it performed better than my wildest expectations. There was nothing I felt that my cruiser could not handle. In fact the only limiting factor for the rig was my nerves. The only 2 problems that I had was during the first day, the ARB air locker air hose ripped, and it took 5 mins to repair.  The other was a little more major. One of the deep water crossings caused the alternator to fail, and for next 1 and 1/2  days we had to swap batteries ( several of us had dual battery rigs) until I was able to take out the alternator, and repair it. If you know anything about the IFS 100 Land Cruiser, trying to do any repair on the alternator requires draining and pulling the radiator and it's just a nightmare in the field.  With the SAS i didn't have to do any of that which was require before the SAS, alternator was pulled with out touching the radiator.  There is so much more room in the engine bay, that working on this rig is a joy. 

If you are going looking for a true expedition vehicle that will take the abuse and deliver you in comfort and style, the SAS 100 is the way to go. It may not be cheap, but there is not anyplace I would not take it. "

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