How To Build A DIY Limb Riser For The 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma For Under $50: Off-Road Mod You May Not Know That You Needed!
Limb risers are a mod that I don’t see on many Tacomas. However, they have been a popular upgrade on Jeeps for decades, and are especially useful on trails in densely wooded forests.
Since they are not a very popular upgrade in our space, there are very few options on the market. I’ve only found a few kits, all of which are around the $100 range. I don’t know about you, but $100 seems like a lot of money for two steel wires. That’s especially true when you can buy them for Jeeps or Broncos for $40-60.
If you’ve read any of my previous posts, you know how much I love DIY mods that save money. So, here’s a guide for DIY limb risers. In this post, I’ll go over what they are, what they do, and how to make your own for less than $45. This setup only requires a few simple hand tools and can be installed in around 30 minutes. Plus, you can also easily remove them when you’re not on the trail.
DIY Limb Risers For Tacoma
Table of Contents
What Are They & Why Do You Need Them?
Have you ever noticed those plastic loops on the front of the new Bronco? Those are for limb risers (as well as trail markers).
Limb risers, also known as branch deflectors or bush cables, are steel cables that extend from the front of a vehicle to the roof, just above the windshield. As the name implies, these wires protect your windshield and paint from low-hanging tree branches on tight trails by pushing them up and over the roof.
If you wheel in areas like Moab, you probably don’t need limb risers. However, if you live in tight wooded areas like the Southeast or the PNW, they can be especially useful. While they won’t completely prevent paint damage, limb risers can certainly help mitigate it.
These DIY limb risers require minimal hardware and some basic hand tools. It takes less than an hour to set up.
Tools & Supplies Required:
- (2x) Simpson Strong Ties A24 (I’ve also seen people use door hinges for this by drilling out the top hole)
- Wire & Crimp Sleeve Kit
- (2x) Double Eye Turnbuckles
- (2x) Zinc Plated ¼” Quick Link or (2x) 3/16” Galvanized Anchor Shackles
- Flat Mending Brace (Pack of 5)
- Grinder w/ Cutting Disk
- Wire Crimps or Pliers
- Adjustable Wrench
- Black Spray Paint
- Corner Brace Kit (Mounting w/o Roof Rack)
- Alternative Turnbuckles
- Heat Shrink Sheathing
Note: Most of these materials can be exchanged with other parts that fulfill the same purpose.
The hardest part about designing this setup was how they would attach to the hood. I didn’t want to drill holes into it and install D-ring tie-downs. Then, I came across a video by RevN3Adventures who came up with the idea to use these Simpson strong ties to use the existing bolts underneath the hood.
By far the hardest part of this installation was cutting the strong ties into a circular shape. It takes time and can be difficult to cut the semi-circle. However, following this process is pretty simple.
Below I’ll go over how I tied everything into my roof rack, which makes this process much easier. However, if you do not have a roof rack, you can install some small right-angle corner braces into the existing holes in the roof underneath the weatherstripping and tie the limb risers to those.
Step 1. Cutting Simpson Strong Ties
The first step is to cut the Simpson Strong Ties to make our hood mounts. The first cut is for the bolt holes. When you open up the hood, you will see a factory bolt and a second bolt hole at the front on either side that you will use to mount the strong ties.
Measure the ledge and distance between the two bolt holes and mark the measurements on the short side of the strong tie. Cut off about half of this short side so that it sits flush with the edge of this ledge (about halfway through the hole in the strong tie) and drill the two bolt holes into it.
Step 2. Create Template To Cut Strong Tie
The next cut will be on the long side that will stick up past the hood. You will use the large hole in the strong tie to connect to the cable.
For this, I suggest grabbing a piece of cardboard and cutting it to the size of the strong tie. Next, grab a jar lid or other circular object and draw a semi-circle. Cut out the semicircle from the cardboard and transfer the line to both of the strong ties so that the cuts will match on both sides.
Another option is to use a hexagonal cutout. This is somewhat easier to cut and is just a matter of how you want them to look.
Step 3. Cut Strong Ties
Take an angle grinder and cutting wheel and begin to make your cuts in the strong ties following your template. Once cut out, take a Dremel and clean up the lines of any sharp edges. Then, test fit them to the factory bolt holes where they will be mounted.
I have also seen people use T-Hinges which require less cutting but will not work with the existing bolt inside the hood, so you would have to drill and bolt these down under the hood. If you plan on removing your limb risers whenever you’re not on the trail, this might be a good option since you can fold them down underneath the hood and hide them.
Step 4. Paint & Mount Strong Ties To Hood
Now that you have the front brackets cut, you can paint them. I primed them with self-etching primer and a base coat before my top coat of paint. Apply multiple coats and make sure to allow the paint to dry before flipping over and painting the other side. While you’re at it, paint your mend plates/eye bolts if you wish.
Now, open the hood and remove the bolts at the front on either side. Place your strong ties facing outwards over the bolt holes and reinsert the bolts. Then, take two additional bolts and bolt down the other side to make sure the front brackets remain straight. Carefully close the hood, making sure it doesn’t hit the brackets on the way down. If it’s too close, bend the bracket outward slightly with a hammer or channel lock pliers.
Step 5. Mount Mend Plates Or Eye Bolts To Roof Rack
This may vary depending on which roof rack you’re mounting them to, but it should be a similar process. I am putting them on my Tyger Auto roof rack, which has a front cross plate secured by 3 bolts on each side. This is similar to Prinsu roof racks.
I unscrewed the middle bolt from both sides of my rack and inserted some flat 2-hole mending brackets. The second hole in the mending brackets will connect back to the cable.
If you do not have a roof rack, you can still install these, it will just need some additional hardware. For that, you can install corner braces (linked above) to the factory holes underneath the roof’s weather stripping. I’m sure any similar type of bracket will work as long as it’s not wider than the weather stripping channel.
Step 6. Attach Turnbuckles & Quick Links To Mounts
With the four mounts secured, connect your quick links and turnbuckles. The turnbuckles I chose have clevis pins and are similar to ones found in other limb riser kits. You can connect these directly to the holes in the strong ties on the hood.
If you choose to get inexpensive turnbuckles found at most hardware stores, you will need two additional quick links to attach them to the strong ties since they are closed-eye links. Before attaching, unscrew both ends so that there is at least 1/2”-1” of extra room on both sides.
Next, attach your two quick links to the mending plate or eyebolts on the roof.
The quick links and turnbuckles will allow you to easily remove the limb risers without having to cut the cable or remove the mounts.
Step 7. Cut & Connect Cables To Mounts
Now, measure the distance between the quick links on top and the turnbuckles on the hood. Take this measurement and add a foot so that you have 6” of additional line on both ends. Then, cut the steel cable.
Slide a wire crimp onto both ends of the cable and use a wire thimble to form a loop. This will protect the cable against friction with the quick links. Slide the tag end of the cable through the other side of the crimp sleeve and pull the wire through. Crimp the loop about 1/2”-2” from the cable thimble ensuring a strong loop connection that won’t slip. Then, run the cable to the other quick link, pull as tight as you can, and make and crimp the other loop.
Repeat on the other side.
Step 8. Tighten Cable
Now that you have the two limb risers set, use a wrench to turn the turnbuckles to tighten the wire. Get it as tight as possible and they’re ready for the trails.
After installing these DIY limb risers and using them on the trails, I think they work perfectly – as intended. They do not necessarily block everything, but they do a great job of protecting your windshield and A-pillars from damage.
One thing I do not like about them is that they have to be removed before you can open your hood. However, they are very easy to take off. Whether you just want to take the cables down or remove the brackets entirely, it’s just a matter of loosening the cable and taking out a few bolts. This also allows you to store them away when not needed.
All in all, DIY limb risers are a very cheap and easy mod that can help protect your truck when on the trails. Plus, they look just as good as buying a pre-made kit!