Trip Report – PPWV2023 (Prologue & Recap)

Well, it’s Friday, and although I’m still catching up after being away from the office, it’s time to sit down and share this year’s WV excursion with you guys.

You may already know that I’m a big fan of the WV mountains; before I got into the offroad scene, I’d been making annual multi-day excursions as part of a vintage sportscar club – the roads, scenery, people, and history are astounding. (If you haven’t been, you absolutely must.) These trips, however, are about more than just promoting adventure travel in Appalachia. Like other states, WV is facing a loss of access for ORV use – specifically of their unmaintained state & county roads – a unique, public-owned resource that groups like Country Roads Coalition (CRC) are working to preserve and protect for folks like us to enjoy. I hope to pique your curiosity with the videos and images we share from these trips and hope you’ll consider taking advantage of what the WV mountains offer.

PPWV2023 is my third WV event, including XPDN3 in 2021 and Adventure Appalachia – New River 2022 (ADVWV2022) last year. I’m fortunate to have been included again amongst these enthusiasts and industries – something more of a “family” than a group. And as with prior events, this year’s adventure certainly did not disappoint!


Days 1-3


Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

This event is named Petrol & Paranormal West Virginia – Adventure Appalachia 2023 and has furthered the Coal and Ghost themes of ADVWV2022. It also circled back to state origins explored in XPDN3 – our organizer puts incredible effort into weaving recurring themes into the living history that we discover off-pavement – and it shows.  

As always, a rally point and arrival time before the official first day of the event are revealed to the participants and little else – this year, it was the Base Camp at North Bend State Park in Cairo, WV – at the base of “the finger” (see the state outline) and near the Ohio border. That meant a 6-hour trip north, and I’m pretty sure we arrived barely 7 minutes before the driver’s meeting (but still ahead of the Torq Locker / Radial Dynamics crew.)

We’d intended to drive Julia’s 80-series this year, but our resident mechanic (me) slacked off on overdue repairs, so we took my FJC (again) instead. – No scratches or dents this year, but I did catch a log with a slider at one point while talking instead of paying attention. 😉

I mentioned that this group is relatively familial – it took no time for the pre-event campfire to bear that out Wednesday night.

photo courtesy of Eric Amato/Radial Dynamics

why Body Lift?

I’m frequently asked why I chose to run a body lift on my 3rd gen 4Runner, and why I design a lot of my stuff to be used with a 1-1.25″ body lift, and while answering those questions again today, I thought it made sense to explain my reasoning here for everyone’s benefit:

for me, the 1.25″ body lift is all about travel, clearance, and keeping a low COG.

the way I see it, IFS travel is limited by 2 things – the effective operating angle of the CV joint, and overhead clearance (body interference).

on a truck with stock suspension, the axle angles are close to horizontal so 1/2 of its travel is downward, limited by the angle at which the CV joint binds (assuming enough overall shock length).  the uptravel, on the other hand, is usually limited by the body well before the CV joint binds in that direction (assuming the collapsed length of the shock is appropriate).

when IFS is raised by using taller springs, the axles are angled downward at lifted ride height – so now the downtravel is reduced (CV joint still binds at the same angle it always did), and with the addition of larger diameter tires, the uptravel is reduced as well because the larger tire interferes with the body sooner – so the usable travel is now less than that of the stock setup.

on my 4Runner, I used a 1.25″ body lift in conjunction with a shorter overall suspension lift to retain as much usable travel as possible.  my axles are closer to horizontal at ride height than they would be with a taller suspension lift (for maximum down travel) and because of the body lift the top of the wheel well is higher, allowing the same maximum possible uptravel as a stock truck would have, even with the 35s I run (after generous firewall tubbing, of course) – in the rear, that additional wheel well height allows me to stuff the 35s up to the factory bump stop as well, without any tubbing.

the body lift height I chose is also allowing me to rotate/clock the transfer case to clear the frame rails for ground clearance – and remove the low-hanging crossmembers – to get a flat belly without cutting into the floor.  the break-over clearance of a flat belly on the 3rd gen is equivalent to that of a 4” or so suspension lift, but without the COG penalty since the frame & drivetrain (heaviest parts of the sprung weight of the vehicle) remain the same height relative to the ground.

– so basically, a 2” suspension lift and a 1” (1.25” in my situation) body lift nets more suspension travel and lower COG than that of a 3” suspension lift, with the break-over clearance of a `4” suspension lift.

(as a bonus, the body lift makes it possible to tuck the Ford F-150 tank up into the frame rails behind the axle and provides room for a dual triangulated 4-link in the rear with a proper upper link tower without cutting into the cabin area.)

Tacoma Fuel Tank Lift

I’ve worked up a set of brackets to lift the fuel tank on my extended cab 1st generation Tacoma 2″ to get it up into the frame rails and out of harm’s way. If there’s enough interest, I’ll add this set (9 pieces) to the catalog.

High Clearance Crossmember

I’m also working on a high clearance (+2″) transmission crossmember for the 1st generation Tacoma and 3rd generation 4Runner – it will require raising the exhaust and either clocking the transfer case or running a Lefty – but it’ll give you a flat belly!

FJ80 stuff

my wife and I got an FZJ80 a few months ago, so naturally I’ve got some stuff in the works for this platform:


(for 50-150mm lifts)

RAM. (Radius Arm Mounts)

– down 50mm, forward 30mm

– and I’m working on the rear Lower Link Skids; but they’re beating me up a bit. 🙂

High-Clearance Rear Bumper – 1 inch BL

working on the swing-out hinge mounts – lots of folk want them.




Here you can see how much I cut off this thing:

That should do it.  🙂


So version 10 was close, but I didn’t like the shape at the bottom of the hatch (I’d like it to mirror the curve at the top of the taillight) and the bumper clearances were way too tight, and the bumper was too long for big tire clearance.  So, on to Version 11.



FINALLY went to steel with this thing to prove it out:

(factory running board cover repurposed as step trim – you saw it here first.)


mis-bend by the bend shop on the bottom of the center section – see how it doesn’t hug the side piece under the back-up light hole?


rock clearance


catching that factory hatch contour line.  🙂

Lower Control Arm Reinforcement

working some reinforcements to combat Lower Control Arm cracking – these will tie the forged ball joint arm directly to the bump stop mount, and add triangulation and a skid plate on the bottom side:

rough at the moment, I know – I’ll refine these if there is enough interest and put them into production.  (Way cheaper than a fabricated arm!)

June 24th, 2019 edit – I’m going ahead with these, guys!  Thanks for the feedback, they’ll be up next after the bumper goes into production.  🙂