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Old 11-22-2008, 11:28 PM   #1
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Building a durable budget Samurai.

Here is the down-low on budget crawler for 33's.

Most importantly, do not buy from Rocky Road Oufitters...

Don't try to avoid it... You will either need 79-85 Yota axles, or get a set of Trail Toughs' Double Tough berfields for $239. They require REAR 26 spline differencial SIDE GEARS, but that won't be hard to obtain after this nessesary list.
You will blow berfields locked or not on 33's.

To me, durable would not be a ratcheting (lunchbox) locker in the REAR. They need precise setup and a straight housing for them to work RIGHT. You've heard the stories about lockers popping and shifting and it's the lockers' fault. WRONG. They either had a bent housing or it wasn't setup properly. Instead of welding those precious 26 spline rear side gears, instead buy a Mini Spool and save those side gears for the front with Double Toughs.

Unlike the rear, I recommend running a locker so you can turn while it's not under power. BUT! You WILL blow through stock berfields like they were made out of pretzel sticks. Get the Double toughs and be happy you don't have to change them every time you wheel hard.

Next up is gearing options for 33's. Because a new clutch every other month can get annoying and expensive.

For axle gears, look locally or on this forum for Sidekick/Tracker 4.62:1 or 5.12:1 diff gears. I advise you get the front AND rear, because the rear is a lot stronger and front's are getting a little hard to find to keep replacing them every time you hop the rear. The front gears do fit in the back, but again. Durability... I've seen the sidekick rearends hold up to 37's with lots of power, and I've blown a couple with only 31's. Setup is very important to their durability. There are many discusions on the best way to set them up, but as long as you pre-load the carrier bearings and give them .004-.006 backlash, they last longer off-road.

To make the rear diff fit in your Samurai, you will need Trail Tough's Hybrid rear axle for $225 with a $75 core, or for more strength, their Heavy Duty rear housing.

Suspension is the most important part of your rig, and shocks are the most important part of your suspension. Read up and study Trail Tough's articals on shock placement. Their suspension setups are hard to beat for trails and rock crawling. I've built Sammy's on 33's and a SPOA setup, but YJ's are soooooo nice.
You can either build a kit or buy it from Trail Tough, but like I said, Brent has been doing this for a very long time, and has taken 1st in National rock crawling competitions many times. They know their stuff at Trail Tough.

6.5:1 T-case gears are always a good option. If you do upgrade the t-case gears, EVEN 4:1s!, you will need to support the T-case with either a Mighty Kong or make your own bucket. This is a must with lower gears.

Update: T-case cradle by ZuksOffRoad.com
Undoubtably the toughest t-case cradle in history, the mad fabricator, Myron, with help from Jackson, have developed the ZOR Snatch. Read up on it here!

Added info (Personal opinion):
T-case MOUNTS!!

DO NOT replace these mounts with anything but stock rubber replacements.
These $20 rubbers are your drivetrains' "fuse." It's cheaper and much easier to replace these than repairing a torn chassis mount.
These mounts are ment to stretch 6-7". "Unbreakable" mounts won't stretch and you can end up splitting a T-case.
UPDATE ON THIS! My dad has been breaking these rubber mounts every weekend and he was getting a little upset about it, so I went to Brent to try out the "Unbreakable mounts" and he said they don't sell them anymore because the hinge-style mounts like to rip the frame mounts off, so now Trail Tough is only selling stock replacements and the solid, straight-through mounts. After 3 weekends of hard wheeling (85% 35" TSL SX's, 6.5 t-case, and 5.12's in the STOCK axles (with TTDT's in the front)), and a 5 day trip to play on the Rubicon, the mounts, T-case, and frame mounts were in perfect condition. So in revision, the solid mounts are acceptable ONLY WITH A CRADLE-TYPE MOUNT! They tend to rip the passenger side 4bolt mount off the case without the full cradle.

Steering 33's+ is pretty hard, so you will need to get power steering. BUY THE KIT! You can't make it cheaper, and you will need every piece Trail Tough includes in the kit. Get the steering components from a local Junkyard for $100, or buy one from the Classifieds here.
Update: 5-4-10
Where I live, it's really hard to find a whole Sidekick P/S system for less than $350, and we've been blowing P/S pumps frequently, so to compromise, we used the Sidekick steering box and a GM Saginaw P/S pump. We used the kit from Urban Rock Crawler and now if we have pump failure, it's only $40-60 to replace. And it turns quite a bit better!

A Cage is a good idea. Calmini makes a good starter cage. I think the front half is $169 and you need to weld it to your stock bar, or get the whole thing for $374, and I'm sure you you can find one cheaper (it's getting harder to make them any cheaper ;))

... I think I pretty much covered the Cheap stuff ;)

If you want to have the most fun with the least money, get yourself a set of 29" Walmart specials, lock the front and rear diff, and put 2" lift shackles under it and beat the hell outta it!

But whatever you do, Damn it! Have FUN!

Last edited by Bass Man; 10-11-2012 at 08:50 PM. Reason: Grammar and updates.
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Old 11-23-2008, 02:10 AM   #2
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Good info. One slight addition though. 79-85 yota axles instead of just to 84.
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Old 11-23-2008, 02:38 AM   #3
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Oh cool, thanks!
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Old 11-23-2008, 06:41 PM   #4
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Good info. One slight addition though. 79-85 yota axles instead of just to 84.
Yes. Think 4Runner.
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Old 11-23-2008, 09:14 PM   #5
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Yes. Think 4Runner.
I was gonna say, I forgot about the 4Runner.
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Old 11-26-2008, 09:40 PM   #6
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Bump... Spent an hour on this thing.
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:28 AM   #7
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...

Last edited by Bass Man; 10-11-2012 at 08:51 PM.
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Old 12-08-2008, 01:34 PM   #8
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Good info. I think some people are luckier than others in respect to running 33's on stock axles. RP-Zuki seems to have pretty good luck and he wheels his rig pretty hard. He is going to Toy axles soon, but has yet to even break a stock axle. He might have birfield rings, but that's about it.

I agree with the t-case mounts. Though, I would like to see the Rock4x stock style Heavy Duty mounts in action. They would still stretch much more than solid mounts, but aren't supposed to break very easily.

Oh, and I like the idea of being low, stable, and having a ton of traction.
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:11 PM   #9
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How about some sort of Hi-Steer or crossover steering?
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:42 PM   #10
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Good post BassMan - dare I say sticky / FAQ worthy?

I've been guilty of saying, "Oh yeah, you can build a Suzuki up cheap!". But sometimes I forget to mention - cheap is relative compared to something like a newer Jeep, CJ, RangeRover, etc. 4-Wheeling is still an expensive sport - even with a Yota or Zook.

BassMan hit the true complexity of 33" build. It's easy to dump thousands just into the lift, wheels & tires alone. That's not including trail spares, armor, gearing, etc... IMHO, after buying a Samurai, builds should look like something like this:

Stock: $250 in tuneup & misc bits
* ALL fluids changed
* Spark plugs, wires, filters, etc
* Teflon or Copper t-case bushing
* Probably a new battery & other misc bits

Mild (29/30" tire) DD wheeler: $800 - $1300
* Tuneup costs = $250
* Tires = $500
* Cut & hammer if needed to clear tire during full stuff (I never bothered) = free, or Mild Lift (Calmini shackle reversal, spring, shackle or body lift) = $100 - $300.
* Rear lockrite locker = $250

Big (31/32" tire) DD wheeler: $3000 - $5000
* Tuneup costs = $250
* Five (remember the spare) 15" Offset steel wheels & M/T tires = $1500
* SPOA lift (3-4.5") = $1500
* T-case gearing = $600
* Front & rear lockers = $400
* OTT stearing = $500
* Power steering = $500
* Armor = $300

Extreme wheeler: $5500+
* See the 33/35" tire size parts list BassMan was talking about above

Please note: Yes, there are cheaper ways of doing some of these things, especially if you're able to fabricate some bits at home & have access to a . But, it could just as easily cost more. The above costs STILL don't include trail tools, self recovery equipment, swing away tire carrier, trail spares etc. And, I don't want to hear, "XYZ part only costs $100 from bla bla bla vendor / ebay / whatever". The costs I listed are from reputable vendors, include shipping, specialty tools, additional parts not included in kit, core or tax, which can easily add 10-25% more to the true cost. I'm speaking from experience here.

BassMan and his dad represent what I love about Suzukis - build 'em cheap, reliable, and beat the piss out of 'em.
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:59 PM   #11
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Tell it like it is! Samis rock. Spend $5k on the build up or put $5k into just your heep axles, LOL!

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Old 12-08-2008, 08:22 PM   #12
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Tell it like it is! Samis rock. Spend $5k on the build up or put $5k into just your heep axles, LOL!

MY
HAHA!! THAT is what I always say!!

We wheel (once usually) with Jeeps.
They buy a Jeep for $5k, then spend $5k on upgrading axles (remember, most "Budget" Jeeps have D35's which are as strong as Sammy axles, but moving 1k lbs more)
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:34 PM   #13
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Good post BassMan - dare I say sticky / FAQ worthy?
I'm not an IBZK member, so no one pays attention to effort. But thanks for the comment.

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I've been guilty of saying, "Oh yeah, you can build a Suzuki up cheap!"
Only if you buy a Sidekick or keep a Samurai under 30's.
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BassMan hit the true complexity of 33" build. It's easy to dump thousands just into the lift, wheels & tires alone. That's not including trail spares, armor, gearing, etc...
My dad has spent $3 to gain a dollar with this Samurai. That means he has put about $9k into the Sammy, where if at the begining, he could have only spent around $4k...
This post is to help people do the right setup FIRST, and not spend thousands trying to build up to this point.

The setup above has survived the Rubicon (pre-Jamboree paving) with only a shock breaking, and I went up and down Cadillac Hill 3-4 times last year with quite a bit of weight. It's not enough to tow a 4dr Sidekick up Cadillac, but if you want to spend another $5k, it's pretty much indestructable (exept carburetor problems).
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Old 12-08-2008, 09:16 PM   #14
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The setup above has survived the Rubicon (pre-Jamboree paving) with only a shock breaking, and I went up and down Cadillac Hill 3-4 times last year with quite a bit of weight.


I still owe guys for that

Still not sure what front axles I want to go with yet, but I think I'm going with FJ-80 TRE and DOM hi-top steering. Dual t-cases, custom drive shafts, super beefy u-joints, IFS power steering, TC pump... I'm sure I'm missing something...
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Old 12-09-2008, 12:33 AM   #15
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You might want to rethink a beefcake U-joint. If you have really tough axles, the U-joint will be the weak link of the 2. It's easier to carry a couple extra joints than an R&P. If somethings gonna break, let it be cheap and easy to fix.

Are you gonna have your dream setup done by next Rubicon trip?
Are you building the red one or the white one?
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Old 12-09-2008, 10:37 AM   #16
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it's a natural progression, most people build what they want at the time then after some wheeling and looking they decide they want more. I think the key to cheap is how much aftermarket stuff you take back off to upgrade to the new you. Example you spend all the money on upgraded axles only to go with yoda's a year or two later, this is when the money starts adding up. Now if your taking stock parts off to upgrade, say ditching the stock springs for YJ's your money ahead unless next year you switch to coils. Mine was built cheap and has stayed cheap for the most part because I'm still replacing stock stuff for upgraded stuff. And I hope my ending point stays the same in my head because I hate doing things over and over and the budget goes out the window.
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:20 AM   #17
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And I hope my ending point stays the same in my head because I hate doing things over and over and the budget goes out the window.
How true!!!
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:34 PM   #18
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My little turd was only supposed to be a fun daily driver, now it is totally impractical and has lot's of dents!

What have you people got me into?!?!
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Old 12-09-2008, 11:42 PM   #19
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My little turd was only supposed to be a fun daily driver, now it is totally impractical and has lot's of dents!

What have you people got me into?!?!

thats what I'm talking about, mine was just supposed to a light weight little 4X4 to tow behind my RedNeck RV and get me to the lake to go fishing
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:18 AM   #20
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This is one of the cheapest rigs I've ever built, my second Zuk. List of parts were welded rear, lockrite front, 513's, 4 to 1 t-case, on 33's, tractor paint, seat covers, spring over, 2 inch body lift, harbor freight winch, ford shock towers, rancho shocks, and a small upgrade to the cage. I built the bumpers, rear upper shock mounts, and sliders at Shrockworks when it was still in Jim's garage at his house...

I had a blast building and wheeling this little turd. All of the parts were second hand, minus the fabbed stuff. Total of $1300 bucks, including purchasing the truck. May it rest in peace!

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Old 12-10-2008, 11:32 AM   #21
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Nice rig Hank, what happened to it?
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:40 AM   #22
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It died at a deer lease. I sold it to the guy who killed it. I heard that he flipped it into a ravine and was going to leave it there but the landowner made him recover it, it was in Huntsville for a while, smashed all to $hit. Motor was bad, t-case and tires were gone, winch was salvaged. That's the last I saw of it....

Makes me want to do another budget build. I doubt I could beat 1300 bucks nowdays. Hell I'd pay twice that to have that rig now for my wife to drive...
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:39 PM   #23
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I know I'm poking the hornets nest. I think it is cheaper and more reliable to do lower ring and pinion while you have the axles torn down to install lockers, spools and beefed up axles. I understand if you build everything a step at a time to do tcase gears as one of the steps however.
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Old 12-10-2008, 08:53 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3under3 View Post
I know I'm poking the hornets nest. I think it is cheaper and more reliable to do lower ring and pinion while you have the axles torn down to install lockers, spools and beefed up axles. I understand if you build everything a step at a time to do tcase gears as one of the steps however.
ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch these must be killer hornets!

I am not a fan of doing axle gears, you do realize that you can eventually get down to less tha 1.3 of teeth engaged on the axles, right?

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Old 12-10-2008, 09:05 PM   #25
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I think the most fun rig would be:

Nice stock Samurai - $1000 ($2000 is a deal over here)
2" lift shackles - $200
Add-a-leaf F/R - Free if you know someone who did YJ's
31" LTB's - $440+shipping
6.5:1 T-case - $500 Shipped
Weld the rear, put a locker in front ($200 locker)
Full exhaust - Cheap would be a used header ($100), turbo/Magnaflow/Flowmaster Muffler ($30-$75), and have a shop weld it all together ($75)

Looks like $3700 is the cheapest I can get to have a blast.

Now, my Sidekick, on the other hand:
Bought for $950 with 2" lift, and a winch.
What I've added so far:
Wheels and Tires - $60 for wheels, $700 for tires.
Diff Gears - $200
Welded the rear. Gonna try to lock the front ($300 for locker, maybe.)
Added my Header from my Samurai ($175 a while ago), added a Flowmaster (free off my Honda), and had a shop put it all together for $75.
Added a Belly skid plate - $80 - It's a must for me, cuz I gotta jump those damn tank traps.
Gonna need to add Power steering (Hoping for a Christmas gift, but $200 would be nice)
Then I will want T-case gears eventually ($600-$800 in the future)

Sooo $3340 would give me a helluva fun rig! I can't believe I have already put $1200 into it since spending my life savings (bonds) on getting the rig, so, so far, I have a $1200 DD trail rig that kicks a lot of Toyota ass (and I have proof)

Update on this, too.
My sidekick has seen a LOT of changes. Click on the "Krooked II" banner in my sig for details.

Last edited by Bass Man; 07-24-2009 at 12:14 AM.
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