Toyota Product Review:
Rockstomper IFS Frame Brace

Http:// Short Cuts
Author: Joe Micciche July, 2000

The Rockstomper kit includes the frame brace, gold CAD-plated bolts, Ny-Lock nuts, and washers.

For those who four wheel their IFS Toyota trucks and 4Runners, one area of risk is the unbraced rear lower control arm mounts. The front drop mounts have a crossmember integrated into the IFS, but the rear is unbraced, which could allow the drop mounts to bend in, and possibly bend the frame when landing hard on the front tires while offroad.

Rockstomper offers a unique and heavy-duty solution at a very affordable price for 1986 to 1995 (pre-Tacoma) IFS Toyotas - the Rockstomper IFS Frame Brace. Scott Ellinger started Rockstomper in Spring 2000 with the goal of providing functional, high-quality, heavy-duty solutions for Toyota 4WD's used offroad, and this is one of the many trail-tested upgrades available.

While the idea of an IFS frame brace is not new, Scott has greatly improved upon known existing designs. His frame brace mounts flush on the inner sides of the drop mounts, does not reduce ground clearance, and provides a mount for an optional skidplate. The brace itself is 1/8" channel, with 1/4" "ears" for installation on the control arm mounts, and it leaves over 1/4" clearance between the channel and the front differential.

Scott asks that you measure from the inside of each lower control arm mount prior to ordering, thus ensuring your brace is an exact fit.

What really sets the Rockstomper brace apart, though, is that each brace is made custom for your vehicle. This is significant because there are some variances in the 1986 to 1995 control arm mounts from the factory. Also if the drop mounts are already bent, the brace can be made to that measurement, so insure they cannot move any further. Typically, the inner surfaces of the mounts are 16.75" to 17". A one-size-fits-all approach may result in a brace that simply does not fit properly, thereby rendering installation futile, or not providing the necessary reinforcment.

Drlling the holes requires a strong drill, a sharp bit, and plenty of patience.

Installation of the frame brace is straightforward. Four pilot holes are drilled in the brace prior to shipment. These holes should be used as a guide for drilling through the control arm mounts. I found it easiest to drill the lower holes first, install the bolts to hold the brace, then drill the upper holes. The drilling requires plenty of patience, as the control arm mounts are very tough on drills, bits, and arms.

The other option for installation is to weld the brace in place. If you're equipped or inclined for this, it's a very viable alternative to the drilling process. Welding the brace in will, however, make removing your front differential quite difficult. You will need to grind away the welds in order to remove the brace.

With the holes drilled, make sure everything lines up properly, then torque it down.

After the holes are drilled through the control arm mounts and the brace, the unit is ready to be put into place, bolts inserted and torqued down. If you order your brace painted, it may be worthwhile to touch up the bare metal around the holes with some paint or rust-preventer prior to installation. Scott Ellinger provided my brace unpainted as I requested, so I could treat it with rust preventing primer and paint. I also did not need the washers -- actually, I couldn't use them because their thickness prevented the Ny-Lock nuts from catching threads on the bolts.

I found it worth noting that when I ordered this brace, I did not provide Scott with the measurements (this was one of the first braces ordered). When I received it, I found the brace was 16.75", while I needed a 17" brace, so I contacted him immediately. Scott -- in the midst of closing on a house and packing to move -- made a new brace the next day, and shipped it priority at no additional cost.

The Rockstomper frame brace is an excellent solution to a known risk. It is a high-quality product at an affordable price. The welds are very clean, the fit exact, and overall the brace is very stout. Combined with his service and willingness to help anyone, I am very impressed with the product and with Scott Ellinger's Toyota fabrication business.

Note: Many IFS lift kits provide a drop bracket for the rear lower control arm mounts, and these are susceptible to bending when the truck comes down hard on the bracket. A bent bracket could render the vehicle inoperable if the frame is bent or pulled in. The Rockstomper frame brace, for stock IFS trucks, has the same potential risk, but with much less leverage on the brace due to the strength of the stock control arm mounts. This risk can be further minimized with an optional skidplate provided either by Rockstomper, or fabricated at home.


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