Bilstein 4600


I installed a set of Bilstein 4600s this past weekend. With Amazon back ordered, I ended up finding the fronts locally at Four Wheel parts. The old shocks looked to be original, Toyota marked KYBs in back and Tokicos in front. Odd that they were different manufacturers, but both were stamped with Toyota part numbers.

Old vs New

It’s possible the previous owner had them replaced at a dealer, but given the condition they were in I’ll believe they’re 20 years old. The Bilsteins went in smoothly, though as warned in an Amazon review the mounting ears for the front shock had to be bent out slightly to fit the shock. The ride is much better already, though the real payoff will be when the camper goes back on. Carrying that much weight on blown shocks was more than a little unsettling.

Shiny new parts

Aisin Hubs


I have 4wd again! As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Automatic Axle Disconnect (ADD) on the T100 was randomly disengaging while in 4wd. The ADD works by using solid hubs to connect the wheels to the front axles. The passenger side axle is permanently fixed to the differential, but the driver’s side goes through a vacuum actuated disconnect before it reaches it. Since the front diff is open, with even one side disconnected the front driveshaft is prevented from spinning. It’s reasonably robust, but the downside is if any part of the vacuum actuator system fails you’re stuck without 4wd. You also can’t use an auto-locker in the front since the passenger side is always turning. I decided to do away with the ADD system entirely by fixing the disconnect in the on position. This is relatively easily accomplished by removing the disconnect from the diff, sliding it left, and holding the arm in place with a hose clamp.

Left is on

Hose clamp in place

That leaves the front axles permanently locked to the front diff. To prevent the front axles and driveshaft from spinning while in 2wd I ordered rebuilt manual locking hubs from Wabfab last June. It took until November for the hubs to arrive, though at least the quality of the rebuild was decent. They’re from an older Toyota pickup and bolt on in place of the solid hubs.

Before and After

Before and After

I’ve had to use the 4wd several times since and it’s worked flawlessly. Locking the hubs in a snow storm is less than fun, but it’s been worth it for the peace of mind in knowing it will actually engage.

Meet the new rig, a Toyota T100


This update was a long time coming. I bought the T100 as a project last February, but it’s only now reached a point where it can be used off-pavement. To start from the beginning, the truck is a 1996 Toyota T100 extended cab. I bought it cheap with a bad headgasket and only 142k miles. For a Toyota pickup in Colorado, mileage that low is unheard of. Also I’m a sucker for column shift automatics and bench seats.

In addition to the headgasket, the truck arrived with more than a handful of problems. Along with the bent bumper, bald tires, non-existent brakes, and flaky electrics, the interior was absolutely filthy from an entire lifetime without having seen a vacuum. It was a claimed one owner vehicle, but it would have been nice if that owner had shown any appreciation for maintenance.

From the Craigslist Ad

The bumper was first up to get fixed. Can’t put long hours into fixing a truck if it’s too ugly to look at. Then came the headgasket.

Sad and leaky gaskets

Based on the dried crud covering the engine bay, the prior owner didn’t let something as trivial as a blown radiator stop him from driving the truck. The heads were thoroughly warped and the head gasket had been blown long enough ago that the leak between the coolant channel and cylinder was starting to corrode the block. Everything was salvageable though and I got it back together after about a month’s worth of weekends. I’d like to think it would have been faster if I had had luxuries such as a roof or electricity.

All cleaned up

It wasn’t on the road long before I found my next project, a beat up 1981 FWC camper. More on that in a later post.

Rollins Pass East


I have some parts waiting to go on the Jeep, but lately I’ve just been enjoying it. Last weekend I headed out with John to check out Rollins Pass in Gilpin. We car camped on Saturday and then set out for what supposed to be an easy drive to a hiking trail head. Turns out that a late May snow storm left the last section of the road impassable. We ended up driving through a few snow drifts to get as far up the trail as possible.


The snow pack was still entirely covering the road above Yankee Doodle lake. We might have tried it anyway, but the the steep dropoff into the lake convinced to go the rest of the way on foot. We ended up hiking to the old Needles Eye tunnel at the top of the pass.



The way back turned into a more entertaining drive. The sun had softened the snow and each drift now included a truck buried to its axles in snow. I got to use the snatch strap for the first time and yanked a TJ out of the first drift. John got his turn on the second drift and snatched out a Yukon. I didn’t take any pictures of the recovery, but the video below includes some footage of us getting through the drifts. With a bit of momentum we both made it through fine.