“Oldman Tan” 1st Gen Sequoia

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ZanSTI

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Member I

233
Middle Tennessee
First Name
Dan
Last Name
Roberts
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19713

Well, for the past 2-3 years I’d been wanting to get back out and do some off-roading and camping. Owned a TJ wrangler before but seeing how it wasn’t the most friendly daily I parted ways with it. Started looking into a Disco 2 due to having solid axles like I wanted, but decided against the “most reliably unreliable car made to go off-road” after longing for one for nearly a year. After more study finally settled on a 1st gen sequoia due to price, looks, because it isn’t as popular your land cruisers or 4Runners but would still make for a good daily.

Been about 6 months since purchase and have been slowly studying and working on a daily driven overland build Sequoia.

Started off getting the car safe by changing out fluids, replacing the valve cover gasket, tune-up and also replacing the brown radiator before it busted on me.
Upgraded to later style sequoia front brakes and calipers along with new brake lines as well as Bilstein 5100s and a 1” rear level kit. Currently sits at 2” front and 1” rear lift more or less which is about all it really needs. Threw on some 285/75 16 BFG AT2s on the stock wheels (yes it rubs and I have aftermarket wheels with lower offsets to remedy soon enough).
To get the wife to come along and be happy on longer trips, I decided on a RTT setup. After browsing I decided on a 23 Zero Walkabout Bundaberg (queen size) RTT with their new LST (light suppression technology) and a Off-Road Custom roof rack along with slim LED bars front and rear, and 4 3” work lights for the sides of the rack.

I’ll be changing up my modification list as it is currently growing in preparation for our next trip out to Colorado.




We decided to test the truck out at Uwharrie National Parks UTV trails and camp ground to see how it would perform on basic suspension upgrades and decent tires. Outside of some small traction issues due to non-locking diffs, and hitting a tree or two avoiding rocks puncturing the sidewall the trip was a great success and let me know where to take the truck next.





Since then I’ve added Brute force fab front and rear bumpers with a single swing arm, and have been deciding where to next take the suspension to get better articulation and a better ride with the added weight of the bumpers, 3 Plano boxes, the eventual drawer system and water system and a few more goodies later on down the line. Rock sliders are sitting in the garage waiting to get welded on and have been refinishing a set of old SSR Auswuch wheels that are period correct for the vehicle. 16x8 -1 in the original anodized finish. Can’t wait to get these on and finish up the last bit of wiring for the new off-road fog lights going onto the new front bumper.



 

ZanSTI

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Member I

233
Middle Tennessee
First Name
Dan
Last Name
Roberts
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19713

First snag I ran into was the issue with earlier Sequoias having weak lower ball joints. Couple that with the fact that the SSRs don’t clear my upgraded front brake calipers and I’ve had to stretch out mounting up the new wheels until I swap over to the 04+ spindles, control arms, and lower ball joints.

On to our next trip, the wife and I decided to spend a week camping and exploring Cape Lookout NPS.

With the added weight of the bumpers I decided to swap out the factory rear springs for Dobinson’s C59-345 coils so we wouldn’t be heavily raked or have clearance issues when loaded down with gear. The plan for this build isn’t to be terribly lifted, but with spring options typically carrying over from the LC80 and 100 series I was having trouble picking a coil that had a linear rate for better comfort and flex, and get the 2-2.5” lift I desired. In the end I settled on the Dobinson’s and kept my 1” spacer in the rear. For the trip I still ran the Bilstein 5100’s, meaning they were out of their “proper” range, but would work perfectly considering the lack of heavy off-road terrain on the island.

In truth I was hoping to have updated all my suspension before this event, but with the COVID outbreak I preferred to hold back on some of the more pricey upgrades in case of layoffs etc... We had a 1500 mile round trip to the island, and even with all the additional weight (I'm still running stock front springs) the 5100s performed up to task very well. Is there room for improvement? Easily, and I will admit that the current body sway can be a bit discouraging but isn't uncontrolled even at highway speeds. Fully loaded down (didn't weigh the truck) but minus fuel in the Jerry cans we averaged about 15.6 MPGs running between 65-75 MPH. Not terrible considering the weight.

Anyway, on to the trip. After the ferry ride we were greeted by the park rangers, given our driving tags, and told to deflate tires. Having purchased deflators I was ready for this (19lbs was the sweet spot for us). Then it was off to the beach to find a spot. All I can say is, simply amazing. The island is around 50 miles tip to tip and almost the entirety of the Atlantic beaches is drivable and able to be camped on. The truck also performed superbly on the sand, despite not having the planned on lockers equipped just yet. We found our first camp site at the southern tip of the island and setup. Ocean breeze was great, and the 23Zero tent along with the new annex were a perfect addition. The weather couldn't have been nicer...for the first 2 days. Late in the evening of our second night the winds picked up to a constant 19-25 MPH and made sleeping difficult with the rattling of the tent. We moved location for the next two nights hoping to shelter near the dunes only to have the loose sand attempt to bury our camp. No rain, but the constant winds ended up making the later part of our trip less than dreamy.

Overall, I would highly suggest the islands as a great place to visit and for camping/fishing. I would suggest noise canceling headphones and a heavy duty tent to keep the noises down however.

On to the pictures.








And here we are today. Although the suspension held up well on the trip and highway drive, it has become extremely unsettling on the roads since with a lot of undampened side to side swaying. It’s become quite unsettling to drive and with that in mind it’s time to do what I hope is my last suspension upgrades.

The new list will be as follows:
Updating to the 04+ spindles, new wheel bearings, new lower control arms, new ball joints, ARP extended wheel studs and Total Chaos gussets.
Fox 2.5 0-3” externally adjustable struts (650lb springs)
Camburg Upper Control Arms
Dobinson‘s MMR 3-way rear shocks (made for the FJ80, I’ve got the 6” lift option for more articulation out back)
and Apocindustries rear upper and lower trailing arms.
Oh, and I’ll finally fit those nice SSR wheels to the truck.

The Dobinson MMR shocks are a recent release, so I’ll be one of the first to try them out on a sequoia (the rear shocks are a direct fit). Once everything has arrived and put together I’ll do a few updates on the ride quality etc... Till then it’s a waiting game and while I work on the dimensions of the new storage box for the rear hatch. Trying to incorporate a Dometic 30L drawer fridge for longer trips as was pointed out to us on the island trip with poor performance from our coolers.
 

d1backwoods

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Pineywoods of Texas
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Bradley
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Hardy
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This is lovely amazing! Being an old Japanese wheel nerd and fellow Sequoia owner this is great.

I like the minimal suspension mods you've done to get a base level of what is needed. Look forward to progress definitely
 
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ZanSTI

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Middle Tennessee
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Dan
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Roberts
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19713

So recently went on our 11 day trip out to the San Juan mountains. After 5-6 trips we’ve finally (my wife and I) got things to a point where we aren’t over or under loaded down and can reach everything without much effort. This isn’t to be lazy mind you, but on these longer trips the least stress you can put on yourself the better you’ll be overall.

To lead; this is a 1,500 mile one way drive for us and even at that distance it was well worth the trip (avg 15.5-17 MPGs this trip). The trail we ran (used Gaia GPS) started in Silverton, to Telluride, Ouray, Lake City, and then back to Silverton. We did have a small snafu on our 3rd (twisted my knee from a small fall from the back bumper) and 4th day (punctured sidewall on a trail) that forced us to cut out a day earlier than planned but this has been our best and most memorable trip by far.

It’s also nailed down some last changes to the rig before we hit Moab next Spring that really work with our style of overlanding; 35” MTs, the wheels finally getting finished, getting the front suspension redone (Fox has been on a massive back order), fixing the rear trailing arms (poor company design) and swapping out to a hard top rtt so I don’t injure my knee anymore (I have two ACL surgeries). Keep in mind there is nothing wrong with a soft top RTT and it sleeps better than a hard top due to space easily, but with the setup having my standing in precarious areas of the truck and my knee situation we both decided it was better to go with a quicker setup to prevent more...oops on a trip.

And now for the pretty stuff.


Should have more updates and photos soon, but I’d definitely suggest this trip.
 

NiteSky

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Shoreline, Washington 98155, United States
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Tim
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McCabe
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I love your setup! Those older Sequoias are awesome and super underrated. How are you liking the Brute Force bumpers? I'm looking at them as well but wondering how they've worked for someone who's actually run one. Are you thinking of getting sliders from them? Also what rear bumper is that? I didn't see a 1st gen rear option on their site but it looks amazing. Was that a custom build or do they offer one not listed on their site?
 
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ZanSTI

Rank I
Member

Member I

233
Middle Tennessee
First Name
Dan
Last Name
Roberts
Member #

19713

I love your setup! Those older Sequoias are awesome and super underrated. How are you liking the Brute Force bumpers? I'm looking at them as well but wondering how they've worked for someone who's actually run one. Are you thinking of getting sliders from them? Also what rear bumper is that? I didn't see a 1st gen rear option on their site but it looks amazing. Was that a custom build or do they offer one not listed on their site?
The brute force bumpers are quite nice and have been very useful. I also have the sliders but didn’t have them installed until a few months ago. He sells the rear bumper as well in a few configurations if you can get a hold of him.

in the middle of fitting the new suspension on the truck as well as the new 315/75 tires before we get the re-gear. Having fun cutting up the firewall for sure.
 

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EffinNewGuy

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Greenville, SC
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I love this build. I wish I could have found a 4WD 1st gen Sequoia when I was looking over the summer. After going back and forth a few times with a pre-owned 4Runner and a GX 460, ended up with a new 4Runner. But there is something about that 4.7L....
 
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NiteSky

Rank III
Member
OB1

Traveler III

845
Shoreline, Washington 98155, United States
First Name
Tim
Last Name
McCabe
Member #

27709

I love your setup! Those older Sequoias are awesome and super underrated. How are you liking the Brute Force bumpers? I'm looking at them as well but wondering how they've worked for someone who's actually run one. Are you thinking of getting sliders from them? Also what rear bumper is that? I didn't see a 1st gen rear option on their site but it looks amazing. Was that a custom build or do they offer one not listed on their site?
The brute force bumpers are quite nice and have been very useful. I also have the sliders but didn’t have them installed until a few months ago. He sells the rear bumper as well in a few configurations if you can get a hold of him.

in the middle of fitting the new suspension on the truck as well as the new 315/75 tires before we get the re-gear. Having fun cutting up the firewall for sure.
That’s really good to know! I’m probably going with them for my ‘03 Tundra. I’d heard from others that he can be tough to get ahold of. How do you like the sliders? The pricing on those is pretty cheap compared to others I’ve looked at but aesthetically they look really nice. Are they as solid as they look?

The wheels look great. Would love to see more pics as you update!
 

ZanSTI

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Middle Tennessee
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Dan
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Roberts
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19713

Finally getting around to updating this. Been planning for our trip to Moab and the Grand Canyon coming up these coming weeks and wanted to post the updates.











Traded out the soft top 23Zero for a CVT/Busch Alpha tent which is absolutely amazing and also grabbed the CVT 99” awning with built in LED lights. Also finished the front end upgrade; 04+ spindles, new bearings, tie rod ends, Camburg UCAs, Durobump bump stops, and the Fox struts also finally made an appearance. Still need to modify the firewall for full stuff but I’ve had bigger fish to fry. Purchased some trailing arms about a year back that were absolute trash quality. Finally got around to fixing them via some Johnny Joints. The lower joint for perfect but I had to modify the the upper a tad to fit the smaller diameter upper mounting tab on the diff.

While I was at it I decided to go ahead and be prepared and bought a new starter from Toyota. 9 hours later and the job was done. Had a ton of oil built up and just sitting in the manifold so I’ll also be adding two small oil catches to the pvc system soon to keep things cleaner.

The last bit of the puzzle before we head to Moab is the regear to 4.88 along with an ARB rear locker. The truck has been an absolute dog on the stock gearing and 35” tires so I knew this was a must before any long trip and just to keep me sane in daily stop and go traffic. Will be going into the shop next week for that to be installed so in the meantime just finishing up some small little pieces for comfort and water supply. Hopefully ill update a bit more of the build this time around.
 
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