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Odyssey 4x4

The 1990 Toyota Odyssey V6 4x4 that we call The Comvee (warning: long post with photos)

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As some may have seen on the general discussion forum, I purchased the 1990 (the same year that I was born!!!) Toyota Odyssey Leisure 4x4 v6 that recently popped up in my home state of Florida.  I've been on the hunt for a new project for well over a year.  My last rig was a 1987 Toyota Escaper which I built and documented on this forum years ago.  I missed it the minute I sold it but it gave me the experience to know what I wanted/ needed next, 4WD and more power!  I considered everything from doing a full custom built camper on a Ford F-350 7.3 chassis, to a Stewart and Stevenson M1078 LMTV, to a simple sprinter van (2wd) and I just kept waiting out because none of them really checked all of the boxes for me.  

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I hunted craigslist/ Ebay like a hawk daily for any deals that pop up.  We all know that the really great ones sell pretty much instantly.  Come last Wednesday, I saw the Toyota Odyssey 4x4 in my home state.  I couldn't believe it.  I inspected every single photo for every possibly detail I could get about the vehicle.  I google searched for every speck and bite of info about the Odyssey that I could find.  Being 6'2", interior height is always my initial concern.  I was relieved to see that the Odyssey was one of the tallest interior height Toyota campers made, just like my Escaper, weird!!!  I called the dealer pretty much instantly and felt the situation out.  From what I could see the truck was pretty decent, or at least a start to something with great potential.  I was guaranteed a clean running truck reliable and ready to drive, that was the majority of my concern so that I could get it home safely.  

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The dealer assured me it would make the 200 mile drive home as that was basically my only concern since I knew I'd be rebuilding basically every aspect of this thing.  The pics looked decent, the mileage was low, I took the bite.  I threw a deposit down on it and had to wait out an entire week before I could get the time off from school to go pick it up.  

I drove to Ft. Lauderdale on Friday evening with plans of getting the rig Saturday morning and beginning the journey home with my dad and my girlfriend in the chase vehicle full of tools, batteries, fuel and whatever else we could possible think of for side of the road repairs.   I had insurance paid and legal, I purchased a AAA premier RV membership that included (coincidentally) a 200 miles tow (the dealer was 196 miles from my house), and we left eager for Saturday.  

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(I took this photo within the first 5 minute of me seeing the truck)

I prepared myself for the worst (a standard precaution when inspecting vehicles considerable for purchase) and I set everything up prepared to deal with a flat tire or a full on engine failure on the route home.  Once in person viewing the truck I began my typical visual tear down.  Crawling underneath the rig like an animal inspecting every component and mechanism I could get my eyes on.  There is minor surface rust throughout the vehicle, although nothing bad enough to deter me away.  We drove it around a very busy city with what seemed like police sirens flying by at 90 mph every 5 seconds, not the best place to be test driving a 1990 motorhome.  The truck actually ran great, no signs of concern.  Temps were low, all gauges worked, shifts were healthy, suspension and steering were tight, I was surprised.  The interior of the camper was original but "modified" by previous tenants which included an outdoors man, rats, and a multitude of unidentified insect species.

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(look at how happy she is!)

With the paperwork complete we checked over the systems and began the 5 hours journey home.  The only issues encountered were a single stall out at a gas station after 2 hours of driving, and a leaking gas filler hose that only allowed 3/4 of a tank worth of fuel.  Thankfully we made it home without having to utilize my 200 mile AAA tow, a fire extinguisher, or a single tool from the chase vehicle.  

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The plans for the truck consist of a full interior scrap considering the current smelly carpets, faux wood, and rat poop under every cabinet.  The engine runs great so I'm going to plan on just tuning it up and driving it around and getting to know it.  I believe the stall issue may have been a result of a vapor lock, that will tell in time.  

For now the priorities are having the vehicle be good and reliable for daily driving.  As of today (day 2) I have already fixed the fuel filler hose with a $25 NAPA hose, yes that's right a 1' foot length of rubber hose that could have been a NY Strip steak dinner for me.  I've checked all fluids, new windshield wipers, and tomorrow it will get new headlights in as the currents are full of water and put out NO light, I mean a dangerous amount of light.  I installed some new exterior door locks (fuel cap door, battery compartment, propane door, etc.) for good smooth use as the old ones were oxidized and STUCK.  

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My next plan of action consists of the beginning of the interior demolition.  We will be stripping it down and doing a full build retaining most of the original interior layout design.  I need to make a decision on a set of tires for it as the currents are mismatched and slightly dry rotted, I'll likely go with the BF All Terrains as they have always treated me well.  I will also be stripping the braking system apart and rebuilding as I hear brakes are pretty important.  

I am unsure if I could keep my entire build inside of this post?  I think that makes the most sense.  My girlfriend and I will likely also be starting a youtube channel/ instagram and our own website to document our build and travels.  Once done with the build we will be heading Northwest to Alaska (leaving from Florida) and traveling for some time.    

I have been waiting for this build for a long time and I am beyond excited and prepared to build one hell of a Comvee (Wild Thornberries reference!).  

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Edited by Odyssey 4x4

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Congrats, very nice!  Same layout as our odyssey; we really enjoy the panoramic rear Windows and also redid our interior. The extra inside height is nice. Looks like the 4wd version is a foot shorter than our 2wd, making it 21 ft?  Hope your generator is good; had to replace the voltage reg. and the carb. on our 2.8 onan, runs great now.

 

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Awesome. Sounds like your going to be busy for a while.

Just remember its not a Rubicon Jeep. Do you remember the 4x4 Sunrader that these folks upgraded?  http://www.boundfornowhere.com/blog/build-out-week-1-2

6 months of work, then 3 weeks on the road with this result...http://www.boundfornowhere.com/blog/2018/sunrader-4x4-for-sale

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I am really glad it ended up in the hands of someone I know will treat it right. Some women love their soap operas. Me? I'll take a truck build any day. So exciting

Linda S

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11 hours ago, WME said:

Awesome. Sounds like your going to be busy for a while.

Just remember its not a Rubicon Jeep. Do you remember the 4x4 Sunrader that these folks upgraded?  http://www.boundfornowhere.com/blog/build-out-week-1-2

6 months of work, then 3 weeks on the road with this result...http://www.boundfornowhere.com/blog/2018/sunrader-4x4-for-sale

The 4x4 was so that we could confidently navigate sand/mud and back mountain logging roads.  There are currently no plans to run the baja in it or climb the lions back in Moab!   I did follow their beautiful Sunrader build and it was a shame to see them sell it so quickly.  I saw when they lost a wheel after having a shop do an axle build for them.  I smell something fishy from the shop that did the work, or someone forgot to torque some lug nuts!  

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7 hours ago, linda s said:

I am really glad it ended up in the hands of someone I know will treat it right. Some women love their soap operas. Me? I'll take a truck build any day. So exciting

Linda S

Thanks, Linda!  I assure you I am as excited as can be.  Never thought I'd get my hands on this type of rig.  

By the way, the fuel tank and filler cap location appear factory on the rear of the truck!  It's a bizarre setup and the tank is too tiny,  I'm confused as to why they didn't put something bigger considering there is room for a tank nearly twice as big as what's there.  Perhaps someone switched them out at some point?  

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Edited by Odyssey 4x4

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It is strange about the fuel tank. Sure doesn't look like there was ever a fuel filler on the usual side. Some years Land Cruiser's had a rear tank and they were pretty big. 22 or 24 gallons? Might be a good replacement.

Linda S

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47 minutes ago, linda s said:

It is strange about the fuel tank. Sure doesn't look like there was ever a fuel filler on the usual side. Some years Land Cruiser's had a rear tank and they were pretty big. 22 or 24 gallons? Might be a good replacement.

Linda S

Agreed, The rear locking RV fuel door cover is definitely factory on the rear of the truck.  Makes it kinda awkward having to pull so far forward at the pump!  When this Florida weather clears up a bit I will get some better pics of everything!  

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15 hours ago, odysseybernard said:

Congrats, very nice!  Same layout as our odyssey; we really enjoy the panoramic rear Windows and also redid our interior. The extra inside height is nice. Looks like the 4wd version is a foot shorter than our 2wd, making it 21 ft?  Hope your generator is good; had to replace the voltage reg. and the carb. on our 2.8 onan, runs great now.

 

I was sitting in the truck last night at the rear booth table sipping a beer and fantasizing about the views I'm going to see out of those fabulous rear windows!  

I was told the generator was running but the coach battery was 'coincidentally' missing when I got there to look at the truck.  The inside hour meter reads something like 130 hours and the Onan itself is MUCH cleaner than the 2800 on my Escaper so I'm hoping it's decent.  I haven't attempted to get it running yet but I'm going to just pull the entire genny out of the truck so I can go over it completely on a work bench.  I still have a spare carb laying around from my last one that I paid way more than I want to admit from the Onan dealer. 

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Mine had 245 hours. It would only run if you held the start button down constantly and surged. No ac output.  The new carb fixed the surging but it needed a voltage regulator, rotor, brushes, etc.

VERY expensive to have an electrical shop fix it, but works great now and I run it every 2 weeks.  I reinstalled it myself which was not too bad.  I made the mistake of buying without running it first, as the coach battery was dead. The previous owner said it worked "great".

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10 hours ago, Odyssey 4x4 said:

Thanks, Linda!  I assure you I am as excited as can be.  Never thought I'd get my hands on this type of rig.  

By the way, the fuel tank and filler cap location appear factory on the rear of the truck!  It's a bizarre setup and the tank is too tiny,  I'm confused as to why they didn't put something bigger considering there is room for a tank nearly twice as big as what's there.  Perhaps someone switched them out at some point?  

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On my odyssey newport the side door is between two upholstered chairs that can slide forward when the table is set up on the legs that drop into pockets in the floor. My gas filler neck is behind the seat that right behind the front passenger seat. I see in your side picture your door is right up front so the location of your gas filler neck was probably a design issue.

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Time for an update!  Check out the video here!

I didn't get many photos of the interior before we ripped it out, we were eager to get to work!  We stripped the entire interior of the truck out to start checking out what water damage repair would be needed so that we could begin the interior rebuild.  I have started a YouTube channel under the name OddCouple4x4, be sure to check it out for video footage of our build along the way as well as more info that I couldn't fit in here without writing a novel.  

I was pleased to see the roof in pretty dang good condition considering I had prepared myself for the worst!  

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The worst of the water damage is on the back where the water is coming in through the brake lights and a few other spots as well as the front cab.  We will be rebuilding both as well as whatever needs to be addressed in the walls once we see what shape they're in.  

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This is the worst section of damage.  Someone decided to cut the main support piece and shove some foam in there leaving no structural support for the front end.  

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This is where the sag can be seen from outside of the vehicle.  

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The roof is in 'okay' shape but we will be laying a new rubber roof as well as eliminating a few things (refrigerator vent, septic vent, rear hatch will be made 14x14).  

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I also went ahead and ordered some tune up stuff for the truck.  New plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, etc etc to get her top notch.  That's about it for this one, thanks! 

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Edited by Odyssey 4x4
pic edit

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More work has been cranked out on the Toyota.  The floor is completely out of it.  It was about two days of work to get it to this stage!  

Check out video #2 here if you'd like to watch along!

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With all of the flooring out of the truck there was no longer anything holding the camper "shell" up since the walls were screwed to the floor from the outside of the camper.  We fixed this by adding multiple 2X4s inside the rig and using an engine hoist to lift the entire camper body to its proper level.  The 2x4s sat atop the frame at the proper floor level and the camper shell was screwed from the exterior into the wood to hold the entire shell in it's proper place to stop sagging. 

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You are now able to see the entire naked truck chassis!  Now having all of this wonderful room exposed to make frame work really easy we can get plenty of work done.  The frame/components are being cleaned up rust via wire wheel.  A rust converter will then be applied and then the frame painted for future rust protection.  We will run new fuel and brake lines since they run right along the top of the frame and are very easy to get to at this time (you can see them on the right side frame rail in the following photo).  

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I'll also be replacing the leaf spring u bolts due to rust, I have a set of Bilstein shocks ready to go in, I will be replacing the driveshaft U-joints and driveshaft support bearing.  I will also be researching possible fuel tank swaps to up my capacity with all of that open room.  I am going to pull the entire rear axle out of the truck for cleaning and rebuild (eaton truetrac locker anyone?)

Also another exciting update, the walls of the camper are all done with metal framing, no woodwork to have to redesign!  This will make re doing the walls extra easy.  

Thanks for the read.  

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I think the reason the fuel tank looked odd is the factory (which most of us have) the tank runs N/S not E/W. Which begs the question what else would fit there?

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That is the question, there is room for a tank in the same orientation nearly twice the width.  

I haven’t changed tanks before so I need to do more research regarding sending units and fuel gauge calibration.  

At this point it’s either finding a tank out of something else and making my own mounts, or getting a custom fuel cell made to size (I have friends in the race car NHRA business).   

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Thanks, Linda.  I'll give it some more research!  The distance from that tank would be excellent!  

We got some more work done today.  Rear shocks and sway bar have been removed.  De rusting continued.  You can see the before and after here...

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Once the metal is all clean it will have the converter applied and then paint or some type of rust preventative coating applied.  

We then started the tedious job of removing the interior paneling that was glued down.  It was nice to find the wall is an entire metal frame with no wood and no ROT!  I began cleaning the metal frame with the wire wheel to get the old adhesive off ready for new panels to be put in.  

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Everything is looking to be in great condition!  While starting the truck to move it we found 2 fuel leaks in the fuel line along the top of the frame where it had pin holes from rust.  Good thing we planned on running new lines regardless!  Imagine having to find out about those leaks the hard way.  

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We well be welding in a few new parts of the wall frame where we are eliminating doors and boxes (such as refrigerator lower vent door).  We are also going to go with an entire metal frame for the flooring and eliminate the need of the wood sub frame.  It will be much stronger, and last much longer.  

That was it for today, it doesn't seem like much but it was an easy 5 hours of work with 3 people working!  

 

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The new floor subframe construction has begun!  The old framing was very questionable.  It appeared as though the RV company used scrap metal, as many pieces had parts of them removed that had nothing to do with this camper and actually really weekend a lot of the structural integrity of the frame.  All new framing has been laid and welded with a new much stronger design including the main rails down each side of the truck, all without much weight being added.  The previous design had no metal framing along the lengths of the walls and this is where most of the softness in the floor began.  Also the original step design was very poorly designed and bent straight in the middle when any weight was applied.  

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(before)

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(after)

The new floor sub framing design makes it so no wooden subframe is needed (nothing to rot).  

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An update on the build!  The floor framing is near complete other than some finishing welding.  This floor is MUCH stronger than the original.  We got the walls and roof off of the rig as well.  We will be doing most of the wall rebuild off of the rig to make things a bit easier.  We are also considering mounting a new fresh water tank in between frame rails for a bigger capacity /better balanced water tank.  

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Now THIS is an odd sight!  

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What a mess!  Plenty of fun though.

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Well at this point, I gotta tell ya. The Odyssey has left the building. Your going to have to come up with something new to call it. 

Linda S

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We've been calling it the sasquatch... 

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Well at this point, I think its safe to say your committed to a rebuild OR maybe you should just be committed?

Edited by WME

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5 minutes ago, WME said:

Well at this point, I it safe to say your committed to a rebuild OR maybe you should just be committed?

Oh the rebuild was planned from the start!  I'll have the "newest" toyota out there lol 

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When you get the 4x4 done, borrow a Sunrader and design DIY floor reinforce kit for all the saggy floor Raders out there. The one you have on the 4x4 is way cool.

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11 hours ago, WME said:

When you get the 4x4 done, borrow a Sunrader and design DIY floor reinforce kit for all the saggy floor Raders out there. The one you have on the 4x4 is way cool.

Right!  The floor on this was made of a bunch of junk scrap metal with weird chunks taken out of it making me think they used metals from junk yards and left over from other builds.  Some of the L channel had part of the L removed taking away all structural strength of the metal but they still used it in the camper leading to multiple soft spots.  The remainder of the floor was wooden strips begging to rot.  This new floor didn't add much weight and is super strong.  We even are adding extra pieces under the bathroom and entrance step for ultimate strength.  Any weight gained from the new floor was lost taking out the massive refrigerator!  

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My pops got the fiberglass shell fairing off today for repair.  Here is a pic of it standing alone for anyone that was interested what it looked like! 

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All of the existing screw holes will be patched as well as the crack shown.

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After patching the fiberglass it will be repainted and ready to put back onto the truck.  Does anyone know if this is a universal gasket type that I can find somewhere?  Or is it something molded specific to this shape?  It's only glued onto the shell.

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1 hour ago, WME said:

We are curious as to how people are installing the garage door seals.  We bought one but it does not look anything like the seal on our Sunrader.  Can someone elaborate?

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Agreed, I'm curious if there is an actual place to source this exact seal made for this purpose, or do you have to go with the "good enough" option?  

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If your talking about the seal between the top of the cab roof and the coach body, I found a rubber seal designed to be used on the tailgate of a f/s pickup. Adhesive backed on one side and easily contoured to shape. It’s been working fine for over 3 years. 

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Thanks Fred, sounds good.  I’ll find what looks to be the best option and after fairing installation I’ll seal internally with some caulk.  

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The work continues!  The subfloor welding is COMPLETE and stronger than ever.  We hung the rear of the truck off of an engine hoist and unbolted the entire rear drive assembly at the leaf spring perches.  We were then able to roll the entire rear end out from under the truck.  The remainder of the frame can now be cleaned, rust converter applied, and paint/seal!  

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The rear end will have the wheels and springs removed and then be put onto a bench where I will rebuild the entire rear end on a bench.  Brakes, seals, clean, paint etc.  

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Once the frame is painted and the rear end rebuilt, assembly will begin!  I've got a case of 3M undercoating spray ready for the entire frame to keep it protected.  New fuel lines and brake lines are also being ran.  We found multiple pinhole leaks in the fuel line and a nice sized bubble in the brake line, scary stuff!  Once everything underneath is plugged up and ready we will be adding a few more things (air tank, etc).  The subfloor was designed in such a way for foam board to be installed underneath the floor and fit straight into the floor from underneath.  That will then be foamed over for a super insulated floor.  

I saw a Ford f250 being taken apart in a yard on the side of the road and stopped to check out the fuel tank in it.  The guy said it's mine for $50 bucks!  The tank looks to be almost the exact dimensions of the tank already in the truck but twice as long which is perfect considering the free space that was under the truck with the super tiny OEM fuel tank.  We will have to find a way to adapt the Toyota fuel pump assembly into the ford tank.  I haven't checked the specs on the Ford tank but looking at it I imagine it is at least twice the size of the current tank.  I know this might be a bit overkill on weight but if there is anywhere to go overboard on this rig I want it to be fuel capacity for long cruising times considering the stock tank was a mere 17 gallon I believe.  

I soon have to order the filon and then the walls will be nearing time to go back onto the rig!  After walls a new roof will be put on and the truck will be dried in!  

 

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If my eyes are seeing correctly it looks like your in the market for some new tires.?

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10 hours ago, WME said:

If my eyes are seeing correctly it looks like your in the market for some new tires.?

You know it.  I haven’t decided on what kind yet!  

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Rear axle stripped to naked housing.  Deep cleaning, sanded, rust converter applied and finally new paint.  

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New bearings, seals, ujoints, and complete new brake system ready to install once parts arrive.  

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Everything looked to be in good shape.  One wheel seal leaked and the entire interior of drum was coated with a very thick film of hardened grease.  I’d be surprised if that wheel had any stopping power whatsoever!  

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