When Grind Hard Plumbing Company set out to build a truck to try and take over Moab, the only two things that mattered were function and the lowest possible cost. But these settings are nothing new to Edwin Olding and Ethan Schlussler, owners of Grind Hard Plumbing Company. They’ve gained serious notoriety online for their quirky realistic (if not harsh) low-budget builds, starting with their Mustang Barbie turbo go-kart build and Gambler 500 BMW 232. As you might have guessed , they are not really plumbers. Ethan Schlussler explained: “Grind Hard means to work hard on something and we thought the use of plumbing in the name was different enough that it quickly showed up in Google searches. Plus, we thought it would be hilarious to stamp all of our builds with a plumbing company logo. »
With their financially restrictive plan in mind, they approached a friend of Edwin’s who had the perfect rig to start their project: a 2000 Toyota Tacoma with 212,000 miles that had been in storage for two years. The poor 3.4L V6-equipped Tacoma had been flipped over to avoid a deer and was clearly totaled (from any insurance company’s perspective), then parked, wet. “He offered to give it to us, but we felt bad for our friend, so we gave him $150 and went home to get a trailer.” Schlussler said. “Of course it had lost the keys so we had to hot-wire it – we plugged in jumper cables and it started on the first try!” It’s one of the reasons they chose it in the first place, given the Tacoma’s reputation for being incredibly reliable up to hundreds of thousands of miles.
It was no surprise that many parts of the truck weren’t ready to take on Moab. The automatic transmission was burned out; it would not go in reverse or at any speed other than a second. But it was surprisingly easy to swap out the automatic for a manual. “For $500 we bought a kit that had all the parts needed for the swap, including the driveshaft and clutch. The only aspect that wasn’t bolted on was the hole we had to drill in the firewall for the clutch pedal assembly,” Schlussler said. They also welded the rear differential to give the truck the poor man’s positive traction. Unfortunately, a tire always slips while turning.
Suspension of actions
Otherwise, the truck was mostly stock, including the suspension. They found a pair of spacers in the front suspension that lifted the front about an inch and a half, but the rear leaf springs were as they were from the factory. They knew going to Moab in a truck would be tough, so they replaced the worn ball joints even though they weren’t completely broken. “We used cheap replacement ball joints thinking they would be OK, but we should have gone for better quality parts because they failed us and we had to replace them on the trails in Utah” , Schlussler said.
Nice wheels and tires
With no real lift, some modification was needed to fit the Mamba M23 wheels and monster-sized Nitto tires. They had to cut four inches from the fender areas to accommodate the 37×12.5 R17 Trail Grapplers and purchase wheel spacers so they would properly match the stock suspension.
Don’t insist on aesthetics
On a build like this, there weren’t many decisions to be made regarding the interior. They ripped everything out of the cabin and only put the seats and seat belts back on. During the process, they noticed weld marks all around the roof line. Apparently either the roof of the truck had suffered damage or its wheels had been up in the air at least twice and the roof had been replaced. They continued their gentle massage of the sheet metal and floorboards with a hammer and welded as needed and replaced the windshield. “We liked the idea of keeping it ‘crispy’ – we didn’t want to waste time or money fixing a body job,” Schlussler said.
They attacked the exterior aesthetics avoiding them altogether. “We knew he was going to need a roll cage because we expected the truck to be upside down. again somewhere on a trail this time. We discussed it and thought we might as well do it outside because it’s not exactly a show truck,” Schlussler said. “We like the look of the one and a half inch diameter steel tubes – anything thicker looks silly, and anything smaller might not be strong enough. is the die size we have for our tube bender.” They kept building and making decisions as they went and worked down to the details.
Fun and effective
Of course, they tested the truck in the northern Idaho wilderness before taking it to Moab. “The end result was better and cooler than we had imagined. Having viewers watch the progress and rejoice in it made building more fun and helped keep us motivated,” Schlussler said.
The whole point of their week-long trip was to have fun, so they towed the Taco to Moab so they didn’t have to worry about getting it home. “He handled all the obstacles we threw at him. And, we didn’t have much climbing or extreme off-road experience before this trip. We were really impressed with the truck,” Schlussler said. “The only issues we had were the ball joint I mentioned earlier, and one of the rear shocks broke. Torn the bottom of the shock after hyper-extending it – it didn’t It was not intended for this purpose.Other casualties of the trip include the old stock leaf springs which have been stretched and are now slightly flat instead of curved.
“I love how ridiculous and absurd it looks. It’s so crispy and yet it has nice wheels and tires. I can’t believe how awesome it is to drive. It drove on some of Moab’s toughest trails in mostly stock condition. Schlussler continued, “We use it as much as we can, but after Moab, there’s nothing tougher here in Idaho but the custom deck is ideal for everything from a cooler to a mountain bike.”
So how much do they have in the build, not including wheels and tires? $1600 in total. Plus, it’s legal in Idaho and has legal title and plates. Although they’ve addressed their budget concerns, they’ve put a lot of time into it – Edwin and Ethan both put in around 100 hours, but they’re quick to admit they’re not good at keeping track of time when they are not paid. .
Sure, there are other budget builds out there, but it’s rare that much is accomplished with as little money as with Grind Hard Plumbing Company‘s Crunchy Taco.
Want more Toyota Tacoma action? You must see the Supreme Taco.