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pontoontodd

long travel Outbacks or making Subarus faster and more reliable offroad

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One of the last things I did before we drove to Vegas was replacing the ignition switch that was shorting out.  Has security bolts holding it to the column.  I read about people slotting them or removing them carefully with a hammer and punch.

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I tried a little of that and just decided to weld a bolt to the head of these and use that to remove them, it wasn't too difficult.

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When I bolted in the new one I used socket head cap screws (left) instead of the break off bolts supplied (right).

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Turned the car on and off without blowing fuses.  Still had to use the start button fairly often especially when the starter was hot.  Can't take the key out in the on position anymore which is annoying.

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I've been waiting to post about this all year.  Let me start by saying these won't be cheap, on the order of $4000 retail.

This has been a few years in the making but we finally made a proper low range for a Subaru.  Replaces the center diff of a 2006+ STI 6MT.  Shifts between 1:1 high and 2.94:1 low.  Center diff shifts between open and locked, no limited slip feature.  We've had one in my 99 Outback for about five months now.  We've had some shifter cable issues.  It popped out of high on rough portions of V2R.  It occasionally shifts into center diff lock also, most often on rough trails.  Those problems will probably be fixed by a better shifter.  Unit itself hasn't had any problems yet.  Everyone who drives it says it's like cheating.  Low range in B's Forester with the 1.6 dual range is equivalent to in between second and third in low with this trans.  We hardly even use first low on climbs, second or third is usually plenty, even putt up some hills in fourth low (equivalent to about first in high).  Finishing a few more we have most of the parts for, next one is going to slammo.  These are some pictures from the mockup, not the finished product:

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Video from our test run at Badlands off road park, video never does the hills justice but at least watch the rock crawl starting at 1:15:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyDVQnRx-Dc

I think we can fit the same thing in a 5MT which obviously has a much larger market.  It looks like the easy way to do the shifting would be to use a rear case section from a pre 97 5MT with the access panel on top.  No idea how the standard driveshaft and R160 will hold up to a 2.94:1 low range but I guess we'll find out.

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Very cool!!

Not compatible with '04-'05 transmissions?

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10 minutes ago, Numbchux said:

Very cool!!

Not compatible with '04-'05 transmissions?

Correct, those have a female splined rear output gear and I don't know of a good way to make that work with this design.

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We've been working on the long travels.  I think this is all the housings - galvanized, painted, and ID ground.

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Prepping the tops

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Z's set is all assembled and ready to install on his car which should happen soon.  Really just need a couple bushings and bumpstops to finish slammo's set.

 

Front control arm bushing off B's Forester.  Maybe the most worn out one I've ever seen.  He recently replaced both his rear wheel bearings, another reminder we have to do the billet rear knuckles.  Still need to get his dual range back together and back in his car too.

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Support for the trans skid plate on my 99 was quite bent after the Vegas to Reno.

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Bent it back about as straight as I could using a big piece of tubing and the floor jack.

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Flattened the panel back out in the vice and got it bolted back in.  Definitely not flat but much better than it was.

 

Hard to get a good picture showing how beat the floor of this car is, in person it looks like the ocean.

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Many of the skidplate bolts looked like this.

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Hard to tell in this picture but that rear strip (left) is about half the height it started out at.  I welded another strip on there before we put it back on the car.

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Here was our main structural failure during the race.  Hose clamped the driver's side of the steering rack back in before we drove home.

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Bracket was essentially disconnected from the crossmember.  The way it cracked it couldn't quite fall out but there was zero weld left intact.

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Not pretty but welded it back in place.  Should be good for the life of the car if we don't do any more desert races with it.

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Some of the many cracks I welded up, these were on the front crossmember near the rack mount.

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Put in new rack bushings and got the rack bolted back in.

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Very cool on the low range front, exciting to see something happening!

Before I had to move from a house to an apartment I started tearing apart a 4EAT and was planning on getting an adapter machined (as well as a custom splined output shaft) in order to run an NP231 transfer case from a XJ. Complete goal was a new tailpiece that could redirect  it through the transmission, but I was also looking into the option of running solid axles (or more specifically, traction beam) front and rear. Ultimately, with the lack of a garage, I had to put that project on pause :/.

Anyways, I figured I'd respond because I've been lurking for the past while now. Love what you guys do, and love what you have done. The fox struts have been an inspiration for my second gen Crosstrek, although I am looking at running off the shelf bushings from McMaster-Carr due to lack of, again, garage. I'm also looking into a "HiPer" style strut. That will allow me to bump the track width out about 2 inches, without changing the upper mount.

 

Keep up the good work!

 

-Tanner

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On 9/5/2021 at 11:08 PM, TanStin said:

Before I had to move from a house to an apartment I started tearing apart a 4EAT and was planning on getting an adapter machined (as well as a custom splined output shaft) in order to run an NP231 transfer case from a XJ. Complete goal was a new tailpiece that could redirect  it through the transmission, but I was also looking into the option of running solid axles (or more specifically, traction beam) front and rear. Ultimately, with the lack of a garage, I had to put that project on pause :/.

@Scott in Bellingham with SJR had started a similar project, I think to use a Nissan case behind the 4EAT. He's always got many irons in the fire, so I'm sure he'll come back to it at some point.

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On 9/5/2021 at 11:08 PM, TanStin said:

Very cool on the low range front, exciting to see something happening!

Before I had to move from a house to an apartment I started tearing apart a 4EAT and was planning on getting an adapter machined (as well as a custom splined output shaft) in order to run an NP231 transfer case from a XJ. Complete goal was a new tailpiece that could redirect  it through the transmission, but I was also looking into the option of running solid axles (or more specifically, traction beam) front and rear. Ultimately, with the lack of a garage, I had to put that project on pause :/.

Anyways, I figured I'd respond because I've been lurking for the past while now. Love what you guys do, and love what you have done. The fox struts have been an inspiration for my second gen Crosstrek, although I am looking at running off the shelf bushings from McMaster-Carr due to lack of, again, garage. I'm also looking into a "HiPer" style strut. That will allow me to bump the track width out about 2 inches, without changing the upper mount.

 

Keep up the good work!

 

-Tanner

I've seen several people put a transfer case behind a Subaru (or Toyota or other) transmission and put solid axles in a Subaru.  TTB in the front would be hot.  In my mind you might as well start with a Toyota at that point as it would be a lot easier.  Also in my mind it's a different tool for a different job, Toyotas and Toyota buggies crawl silly but they're best when they're crawling, not going fast.

How would you run the front output back through the transmission?  Ideally you'd want the low range before the center diff if you want a Subaru style center diff.  If you're using the NP231 2wd/4wd you would have to run the front output to the ring and pinion in the trans if you want a Subaru style layout.

We are using off the shelf bushings from McMaster, it's just a lot of pieces and work putting struts together.  Kinda wish we'd just made conventional struts with bigger shafts rather than inverted but our current design works so we're sticking with it.

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On 9/5/2021 at 11:08 PM, TanStin said:

I'm also looking into a "HiPer" style strut. That will allow me to bump the track width out about 2 inches, without changing the upper mount.

The HiPer strut design accounts for some steering geometry correction, but it will do nothing to address the strut bending issue that is arguably the biggest problem with adding track width.

16 hours ago, pontoontodd said:

Kinda wish we'd just made conventional struts with bigger shafts rather than inverted but our current design works so we're sticking with it.

I for one am glad you did inverted struts; maybe a thick shaft would be "good enough" but I wouldn't trust it for heavy use. I think there's good reason that any rally suspension uses an inverted design, as well as the other manufacturers that have entered the long travel Subaru market (Flatout, Gorilla, etc).

I'm really looking forward to having this setup on my car.

Edited by slammo

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I got into rally when my friend's STi got hail damaged. The insurance check paid for the cage....

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Man, I missed a ton of updates - the notifications were going into spam.

Loved the pics from your past couple trips - you've got a good eye for capturing cool photos. I'm curious whether the frog in your one pic with the snake escaped or not lol.

Congrats on finishing the Reno race, that's no small feat!

Very cool that you were able to build a custom 6mt low range - would love to see more details to satisfy my own curiosity :)

You've been hinting that the black subie is nearing the end of it's useful life - what's the replacement going to be?

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22 hours ago, pressingonward said:

Man, I missed a ton of updates - the notifications were going into spam.

Loved the pics from your past couple trips - you've got a good eye for capturing cool photos. I'm curious whether the frog in your one pic with the snake escaped or not lol.

Congrats on finishing the Reno race, that's no small feat!

Very cool that you were able to build a custom 6mt low range - would love to see more details to satisfy my own curiosity :)

You've been hinting that the black subie is nearing the end of it's useful life - what's the replacement going to be?

Glad you liked the pics.

Thanks, the V2R was quite a challenge, glad we finally finished it, can't imagine doing it again in a Subaru.

Maybe eventually I'll post more pictures of the 6MT low range but without showing it to you in person or some kind of in depth video it would be hard to explain how it all works.

 

The black Subaru still runs and drives pretty well so I will keep it for a while, I have plenty of other things to do.  But the eventual replacement will be:

Impreza wagon/hatch - probably first gen - lightest EJ Subaru, mechanical HVAC controls, more robust hatch than Legacy/Outback/Forester

EZ36 on standalone

swap over/copy many of the upgrades on the black Outback - 6MT/R180 with the low range, long travel, steel bumpers, skidplates, maybe fuel cell in place of spare tire well but no cage.

thinking about fabbing engine and trans crossmembers/subframe since I'd have to space/modify them somehow and the engine crossmember has been a real weak point on the black Outback.

 

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