I finally came up with the cash to get the upgrades to my truck to make it more capable
on the trail and more comfortable to drive anywhere I decide to take it. One of the primary upgrades is the dual
transfer case and extra low gears designed, assembled and sold by Marlin at his shop in Fresno, California. After
talking to him about getting my truck into his shop for several months, I was finally able to secure an appointment,
and took my truck in the Sunday after Christmas, 1998. My buddy Mike went along with me, and drove my Corolla so
we could get back home. Marlin has run his main business, an automotive repair shop in the same location for 14
years. He started his Toyota truck and Land Cruiser upgrade business some time later. He has gotten to the point
that the Toyota upgrade business is becoming at least a full time occupation, so he is trying to work his way out
of the general repair business to concentrate on the upgrade business. He has been working many long hours and
weekends trying to keep up with the demand for his many upgrades. You can see his catalog and pricelist on his
web page Marlin Crawler .
For now the automotive repair business is housed in the front of
the building, while the upgrade business is run out of the back of the building, with access through a side door.
You can see my truck, and several other vehicles and trucks parked back there, all in the process of getting some
repair or upgrade.
||Around the back of the building is Marlin's collection of spare parts.
He uses old transfer cases as the raw materials to build his upgrades. You can see he is quite a collector. Need
any driveline parts for your truck? He is likely to have what you need.
|Inside the shop, Marlin had his 1980 longbed parked. When Mike and
I arrived, he was welding a Marfield joint. You can read more details on the his upgrades to the Birfield joints by
following the link. I had previously purchased and installed my set. (#048 and #049) while installing my front
True Trac and 4.88 gears.
||When Mike and I arrived, Marlin finished his Marfield, then showed
us around his shop. I told him I was taking some pictures for my web site and he directed me to the business side
of his shop. Here he is showing us some of the adapter cases and other parts he has in stock. While there had been
a supply problem in the past, he seems to have the inventory problem solved.
Marlin spent quite a long time examining my truck, and we talked at length about what I
wanted, and what he could do for the truck. We agreed what was to be done, and his original estimate of 2-3 days
became two full weeks. That was fine with me, as I have no immediate demands for the truck, and Marlin has other
customers who are pressuring him for quicker response. When the tour and discussion was over, Marlin got down to
business, and wrote up an estimate for the work to be done on my truck. Here is a picture of him in his 'office',
working on the open tail gate of his pickup. I am having a complete second transfer case installed, with 4.70 gears
in the rear case. He is going to install short throw kits in both transfer cases, and offset the rear shift lever
forward to clear my center console. I am getting the lighted shift lever installed on the center case, to show
when the low gears are activated. The installation includes modifying the driveshafts and crossmember as required.
He is also going to overhaul my transmission, install the Downey Super Clutch kit I provided, and resurface the
flywheel while the transmission is out. He said there are two possibilities for the transmission type I have in
the truck. There was an early one with a small diameter input bearing, and a later one with a larger bearing. He
promised to be sure I left with the more robust bearing, even if he had to use a case core he had onhand. He is
also going to straighten out the mess of the bent and cutout floor I inherited when I bought my truck with its
body lift, and install some real shift lever boots. I am looking forward to less road noise coming up through the
floor, as well as a quieter transmission, after my 5th gear whine is reduced. And of course, the off-road advantages
of the Crawler gears. The whole thing came out just under $3000, plus tax and an hourly rate for whatever time
it takes to fix my floor.
|Here is Mike, who is a machinist, admiring the finish work done on
one of the 4.70 gear sets that Marlin has built for his transfer case upgrades. Mike was impressed by the craftsmanship,
and there seemed to be plenty onhand to fulfill incoming orders. Marlin also showed us the super tie rods he makes,
as well as the crossover steering he and Jon from All
Pro Off Road have perfected. Marlin's truck has a nice
setup, as did a flatbed Toy that one of Marlin's associates was working on that day.