|Last Update: December 14, 2004
|For a couple of years now, I've read on the message boards about the famous BudBuilt transfer case cross member.
The design has two major advantages over the stock cross member. First it sits much higher and is less prone to
snag an obstacle when off roading. Second, it provides significant protection for the transfer case and underside of
the truck. When I was running IFS, I never had a lift higher than 3". On more than one occasion, I found myself
high centered on the transfer case cross member. The factory t-case skid plate is so small and light that it can only
be considered a joke. I later removed it and replaced it with a much beefier, although not much larger, piece of
stainless steel. It worked OK, but I still had the stock cross member hanging down like a grappling hook.
When I later SAS'd and upgraded to 35" tires, my lift was significantly higher. I had less problems with the stock
cross member, but I knew for any kind of serious off roading this was an upgrade that should be done.
I called Bud at BudBuilt to order the new cross member. He makes single and dual T-case cross members for all
Toyota trucks, including the T-100 and Tacoma models. I ordered the single T-case design for my 1989 truck, which
is a two piece design. Bud said that he could include an adapter, for minimal cost, that would allow the cross
member to fit a future dual case set up, if I so desired. Since I plan to stick with my single t-case, I declined, but it's
something to consider if you plan on ordering one, but were worried about adding a dual T-case set up later on. I
believe it needs to be added to the cross member before you order. I found Bud to be very friendly and easy to talk
too. He is more than willing to answer any questions you might have.
I received the cross member within a week, shipped to my door. It was a nice looking laser cut piece of steel.
Quite a contrast to the factory "cost effective" roll stamped cross member. The main BudBuilt cross member
design is made out of 3/8" thick, laser cut, hot rolled, pickled and oiled steel. Much beefier than the stock cross
member. The attached skid plate is made of 3/16" steel. Bud ships his stuff bare metal, but does offer the option of
powder coating. I chose to go ahead and paint it myself. Installation was very easy, as you'll see below.
|click on images for larger view
|The kit comes with 9 Allen screws.
Only 8 are needed, but a spare is
included. Even the allen wrench is
included. I special ordered the low
profile drain plug which is needed
before installing the cross member.
|It already comes sanded and
ready for paint. All that is
needed is a good cleaning.
|A close up of the skid plate.
The center hole clears the main
T-case factory mount, while the
other 4 holes are used to mount
the skid plate to the new cross
| A close up view shows the
elongated holes that bolt to
the frame. During
installation, these would
prove to be very useful.
|I decided to go ahead and primer
the cross member and paint it
right. I hadn't yet decided on a
color. Red was too flashy, but at
the same time, black would hide
this piece of art from view.
|I settled on a basic gray color.
Not too bling-bling, but doesn't
completely hide it either.
|This is my stock cross member with my own very basic skid plate. It's
only real purpose was help deflect the cross member off any rocks. How
well it would have worked had it been severely put to the test, I don't
know. I do know, I'm going to feel a lot better with this new set up.
|There are four 12mm bolts inside
the cross member that attach the
factory rubber T-case mount.
Simply unbolt these. These go
into the spare bolts bin as I won't
be needing them again.
|The first thing I had to do was
remove my skid plate.
|There are four 17mm bolts holding
each end of the cross member to the
frame. These need to be removed
and saved. You will be reusing
|Use caution when dropping
the stock cross member.
Make sure the transmission is
|Now that it's removed, we get our first
comparison view of the two cross members.
it's obvious just how much more clearance
the new BudBuilt design is going to offer.
|After dropping the T-case onto
the cross-member, things didn't
line up perfectly due to the
flexible rubber T-case mount, but
a small screwdriver quickly and
easily lines things up.
|When installing the new cross
member, it's necessary to make a
few adjustments, so I didn't install
and tighten all 8 bolts just yet.
|Now it's just a matter of
installing 4 of the allen head
screws into the T-case mount.
And then torquing down the 8
main cross member to frame
|The skid plate installs with 4 more
allen head screws. All the screws
are designed to be flush and snag
free. Note how the cross member is
specifically designed with an angle
to deflect the truck up and over any
|The skid plate covers almost the
entire T-case, providing protection,
the stock cross member could only
|The cross member is installed, only
the skid plate remains. You can
really see the clearance difference
between the BudBuilt and stock
|The stock cross member verses the new BudBuilt. The BudBuilt sits about 2"
higher than the stock unit. And it's not just higher at the lowest point. It's at
least 2" higher along the entire cross member and is nearly flush with the frame
at the mounting point, instead of hanging down over 2" like the stock unit.
|A little wider view of the cross
member. You can imagine it easily
sliding over rocks and obstacles,
assuming they touch it at all.
|While I have not yet had a chance to really trail test this cross member, there are hundreds of them out there, and
they've been used on a number of off road Toyotas with great success. I have all the confidence in the world in this
design. While this part would prove useful on any Toyota 4x4, the models that I think would see the most benefit,
besides any hardcore trail rig, would be those trucks that have either minimal or no lift. Instead of installing that 4"
IFS kit or 5" leafs springs, you could install this cross member, and still have all the clearance advantages of a taller
truck, with a much better center of gravity. Trucks with body lifts, instead of suspension lifts would also greatly
benefit, since a body lift does nothing to increase your frame or cross member clearance.
I would definitely recommend this product.
|www.brian894x4.com - Product Review
|This is the cross member as it
arrived at my door. It was
actually bolted together for
shipment, but I took it apart
|The next step is to support the
transmission while at the same time
relieving the weight off of the stock
cross member. Now, there may be a
better way than how I did it. The
bottom line is, be very careful here.