Project: Re-Gear

A quick trip to our local truck stop with CAT scales resulted in the stunning reality that the Evil FJ weighs 5680 Lbs, full of gas. A considerable change from the stock 4100 Lbs.
Add to that a set of 35″ tires and steel wheels with reinforcement rings, and you get a fat bitch, with less-than-desireable performance and fuel economy.

With 2017’s schedule containing some long road trips with wheeling to Texas and Tennessee, I thought the time was right to re-gear before the season starts. Through a friend of mine in Naples, I was put in touch with another Naples based guy, very reputable in the Landcruiser world. I contacted Mike, and he gave me the price option to just do the gears, or do the R&R of the differentials as well. The thought of my truck sitting on jack stands in my driveway (it hasn’t fit into my garage in quite some time now) for at least a week didn’t give me a good feeling, so I decided to purchase the gears and required parts and have Mike tackle the whole job.

After lots of reading and asking folks who had traveled down this road before, I decided to go with Nitro Gear 4.56. Quite a jump from the 3.73 gears it came with. I figured 4.88 would be too much for me running only 35″ tires and not living in the mountains.
I also purchased East Coast Gear Supply’s solid bushing and needle bearing bushing to upgrade the front differential.

Evil FJ on the lift at Mike’s shop.

East Coast Gear Supply shipped fast, and my truck and parts were left with Mike on Thursday evening. Mike did a phenomenal job for me, keeping me updated daily with pictures explaining the progress and any issues.
Mike checks wear patterns and overall fitment on the differentials before he disassembles them, and found the rear pinion preload was at 1-2 in.lbs, instead of the required 7-18 in.lbs. Backlash was also high, resulting in too much play between ring and pinion. Not good.
Mike finished up on Friday the following week, and my break in is in full swing.
Fortunately my daily drive is about 40 miles each way between work and home, so I should have no issue getting the gears broken in by the end of the week.

I’m still only 161 miles into the 500 miles break in progress, which requires me to drive in 4H when able, and varying speeds up to about 50-55 MPH, in trips of up to 50 miles, with good cool down times in between. Not fun, but critical for proper break in.
I’m glad I did the upgrade so far, between the improved gear ratio, and the fact my rear was out of spec, I think I avoided a broken diff on a trail somewhere.

Nitro Gear sticker installed – it’s official now!!

11 thoughts on “Project: Re-Gear

  1. I delight in, cause I found exactly what I used to be having a look for. You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye


    1. The gears and install supplies cost right around $795, the full installation cost me $1,000.00.
      It can be done cheaper by getting exchange differentials from East Coast Gear Supply, but I wasn’t interested in having my truck on jack stands in my driveway for 2 weeks.


      1. How much performance have you gained? Regearing is what’s keeping me on the fence about getting bigger tires. What’s the biggest tire you’d put on an FJ without regearing?


      2. The truck has gained back a lot of “Get up and go” that it slowly lost from all the heavy kit added as well as the big tires and wheels. It doesn’t feel as sluggish as it did before. Now… I ran 35″ tires with stock gears for quite some time, and it was perfectly doable. Regearing is better, but stock gears is fine. At least down here in flat ole’ Florida it is. Your experience may vary in the mountains.


      3. do you think it would be worth doing the re-gear and locker at the same time? or not worth the risk of blowing your diff on trail? I think I want a locker, not sure I really need it, but was wondering if gears and bigger tires could go further than stock and a locker.


      4. Yes, if you’re considering doing both, a regear and a locker, the best way would be to do both at the same time.
        Otherwise, a lot of work will have to be repeated. A lot.
        If you wheel using your brain, there’s no real risk in running a front locker. Use it as just another tool in the toolbox, not something to use all the time.
        Engage when needed, disengage when done.


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