KZTacoma Build – Phase 3 Installed by Fat Bob’s Garage

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Fat Bobs logoPhase 1 and 2 of this build took my trusty 2005 Tacoma from mostly stock to a very capable trail rig. Shortly after, it became apparent that I needed body armor in a bad way. The factory bumpers and the side steps were just not cutting it. First time out and I had nearly destroyed the rear bumper. And the front push bar, well…. I won’t even go there. So I began searching for bumpers and sliders. I looked at several different sets and styles before I landed on All-Pro Off Road’s website. There was something about their bumpers and sliders that really stood out to me. So I called them up. I was thrilled when Jon, the owner, took immediate interest in the KZTacoma. Shortly after, their Apex line of bumpers and sliders were shipped and on their way to Fat Bob’s Garage. All-Pro’s Expedition Series, dubbed apex for short, were developed to be strong, high clearance with greatly improved approach and departure angles as well as ground clearance.

With the bumper upgrade, I knew it was time to also install one of the most importantBrian with winch & Flatlink things any off road vehicle should have. That’s right, a winch!  So we called our friends at ComeUp, who we met and interviewed at SEMA,  and they sent us their new Seal Gen2 9.5s, s stands for the synthetic rope that comes pre-installed on the winch.  And instead of using the conventional  clasp type winch hook, our good friends at Factor 55 sent us their Flat Link E, in KrawlZone orange, to attach to the winch rope for closed system winching.

It was Friday morning when I arrived again at Fat Bob’s Garage in Layton Utah for phase 3 of the KrawlZone Tacoma. I was so happy with Josh (the Wizard) and his work on phase 2 of the KZTacoma that I knew I had to have his expertise again for this install. He gladly accepted! (I think he’s starting to like being in front of the camera)!

We knew the All-Pro bumpers would arrive bare metal, so the first thing we had to do was send them off to powder coat. I chose the flat, smooth finish. It would go great with the look and style we are going for on this build. Meanwhile, Josh began removing the factory bumpers and the side steps. We had just finished up removing the factory parts when the driver returned with the finished bumpers and sliders, I was quite pleased at how well they had turned out. Josh and I began unloading the bumpers from the truck and that was when I realized just how beefy these things really were.

File Mar 03, 9 05 50 AMWe began with the install of the rear bumper. What’s awesome about this bumper is the way the tow hitch is designed up inside the bumper, not hanging below, which provides much more clearance. I also opted for the All-Pro bumper extensions that add more departure protection and side protection at the back fenders. The extensions, reinforcement brackets and tow hitch were bolted in and with the help of another shop tech, the bumper was lifted into place. A nice snug fit. This bumper gave me around 6 inches of better departure angle, and it looks awesome!  I love the super heavy duty tow mounts on this thing!BKR_7771_01.MP4.08_48_51_02.Still001

Next we moved to the sliders. Getting them up in place was a two person and one old fashioned car lift job. The sliders fit nicely but the hardest time we had was drilling through the bottom of the double plated frame. With one drill down and nearly half a dozen drill bits later we managed to get all the holes drilled for the slider. After installing all the included bolts, we set up the other side. Josh opted to cut the holes with his torch, which proved to be a lot easier and much faster than trying to drill them all.

File Mar 03, 9 07 17 AMWith the sliders bolted in place we moved to the front of the truck to install the winch and front bumper. This is an enclosed winch style bumper so the new winch from ComeUp had to be installed in the bumper before the bumper was installed on the truck. Unboxing the new Seal Gen2 9.5s from ComeUp was a pleasure. I mean this thing is awesome!  Rated at 9,500 lb pulling capacity. Four equally positioned pin holes for easy 90 degree clocking. And the patented mechanical brake outside the drum expedites heat dispersion. The greater the load on the rope, the greater the amount of braking generated by the mechanism. And it came with the winch rope pre-installed. We had to clock the T handle 90 degrees toward the front, which took just a minute, so that the T handle could be accessed through the hole in the front of the bumper. The bumper came with a bracket to mount the solenoid inside next to the winch, but I opted to mount it on the outside.  We flattened the u shaped bracket on the solenoid, drilled two holes in the top of the bumper and mounted the unit in the center under the hoop.  Perfect fit and it looks awesome!

With the winch installed in the bumper, it took three guys to BKR_7835_01.MP4.09_14_16_12.Still001get this thing set up in place and the bolts started. Once we had the bumper in place, we ran into a small issue. This truck has a 6” BDS lift installed (check out phase 2 of this build). When installing this lift kit, the sway bar is offset. BDS supplies two sway bar relocation brackets that move the sway bar forward about an inch or so. The All-Pro bumpers lower mounts attach to the factory sway bar bolt holes. Which is a great design until the BDS offset bracket no longer fits because of the angle of the bumper mount.  Not a big deal, we just had to trim 3/4 of an inch or so off the front of the relocation bracket and it bolted back up nicely.

File Mar 03, 9 02 59 AMFinishing up the front installation we bolted on the nice looking ComeUp fairlead and the KrawlZone orange, Factor 55 Flat Link E. The FlatLink E provides a means to eliminate the conventional winch hook and replace it with a safer and more secure screw pin shackle resulting in a closed system winching operation.  The large pear shaped shackle mounting hole allows for attachment to either the pin or bow end of common screw pin shackles, as well as common OEM recovery points.

I got to say, I am really happy with the way this install has come together. I can now go wheel knowing I have the armor I need to handle the rocks and the confidence of knowing I can pull myself or someone else out of a pinch. Thank you All-Pro Off Road, ComeUp Winch and Factor 55 for taking the KZTacoma to the next level. And a very big thanks to Bill, Josh (the Wizard), the other Josh and all the guys at Fat Bob’s Garage. You guys do amazing work. And if anyone is in the Salt Lake City area, drop on by Fat Bob’s and see what is going on. Also check out their website and facebook pages to see some of their builds.

I also want to mention that just prior to this phase I took the KZTacoma down to LasBKR_7736_01.MP4.08_35_45_17.Still003 Vegas where our good friends at Wild Boar Off Road installed their 2Way Air Delivery System.  The 2Way Air Delivery System allows you to air up or air down all 4 tires at the same time to the same pressure by simply connecting the whips from the schraders to the valve stems on the tires and opening the valve. The next phase of this particular install will add dual 400c Viair compressors.  Thanks Wild Boar Off Road.


Tacoma sponsors up to phase 3_w2way

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Be sure to check out our 2016 premiere episode of the Winter 4×4 Jamboree!



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