Little camping trips

Camping trip!!!

We took a little test run down to the local lake for some camping the other day. I’m glad to say that the 4runner is running well and all the modifications were well recieved. I’m also happy to say that we have the camping gig down good now, the four of us have gotten into a good rut with gear and technique. It’s nice when that happens. Hopefully we can continue right on through and not lose track of it, I’m already planning trips for the winter. Maybe a Baja Road Trip is finally going to happen! Maybe…

4.88 axle gears and a Detroit Locker

The junk yard axle with 4.88 gears ready to go into the front of the 4runner
The junk yard axle with 4.88 gears ready to go into the front of the 4runner

Over the last week I managed to swap the gears over in my 4runner. Originally equipped from the factory with 235/75 r15 tires and 4.10 gears, I’ve found the rig to be very over geared now running 31″ tires and even worse with my 33″ trail tires.

Luckily Toyota offered lower gears in axles down to 4.88 over the span of these axles which would be 79-95 for the rear and 86-95 for the front. I believe that some newer 4runners have similar equipment, but I’m not positive on that. Since most front axles see little if any use on daily driven vehicles I decided that I would source a junkyard front housing with 4.88’s to swap in and easily found one online for $150. Switching this out was fairly straight forward and took about 5 hours or so. At some point I may want a front traction device, but for now I think it’ll be fine. When I do go that route I’ll have to decide if I want an ARB (probably not), a limited slip (likely if I keep the IFS), or swap to a solid axle with an e-locker.

On the left is the stock 4.10 geared open differential, and on the right is a 4.88 geared Detroit Locked differential
On the left is the stock 4.10 geared open differential, and on the right is a 4.88 geared Detroit Locked differential

The rear axle has a third member that drops out and is fairly easy to switch out. I decided not to take chances on a twenty plus year old ring and pinion for the rear, so I hade Tyler at Geared Up drivetrain install Sierra Gear 4.88’s
along with a full Detroit Locker in my third member for me. It is completely possible that I could have found a stronger 4 pinion V6 style 3rd member at a junkyard for considerably cheaper, but I wanted a locking differential and that means I would have had to take it all apart anyways. If you don’t need a locker, I would recommend going this route. For a bit of extra money though, I have a locker and the knowledge that I won’t have to worry about the axle for years to come. While I had the axle apart I replaced the seals and bearings as well. The rear end is good to go.

Now that I’ve regained 5th gear I am really happy with the results. I should get a chance to test the offroad prowess here in a week or two, but for now I’m really happy with the work I’ve done here. It’s even got me thinking that I might be able to tow a little camping trailer, which I never would have thought of before. Stay tuned for that.

USCG Licensing and Engineering

Well, I managed to make it past the first set of hurdles yesterday. I passed the exams to qualify for Assistant Engineer Limited and Designated Duty Engineer Any Horsepower! Now that I’m in transition from unlicensed to licensed, I have a few thoughts on the process and I thought I would share.

The biggest thing I would like to say about this stuff is that the US Coast Guard is a great bunch of people. I’ve found them to be nothing but helpful the whole way. I’ve heard rumors that it wasn’t this way in the past, but for whatever reason it’s easy now. When I started this process I had visions and flashbacks of my last few dealings with the DMV, but this was absolutely nothing like that at all. If you have sea time and are thinking about licensing or endorsements in any way, give them a call. It’s too easy for you not to, and it’s very worthwhile.

Another point I would like to share is that there are study guides out there, and anyone with relevant sea time can pass these tests with some studying. Look at hawsepipe.net and marineradcancement.com to get started. There is also a new online study website called uscgq.com, and while it’s not perfect it is free and easy to use.

As for engineering books, there are a few out there, but I can personally recommend the “Reed’s” series of books and all of Niger Calder’s books.

There are several things going on now to eliminate “Hawsepiper’s”, so if you are one of us and thinking about taking the step, now is the time. If anyone finds this randomly and has any questions to ask about this please feel free to contact me either by leaving a comment below or via email at clay@atlastrekker.com.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Written by Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953