Hayden: You have your own designs for FJ parts right? Such as the bandi CB antenna mount, body lift, or ARB compressor mount. What can you tell us about that stuff? Any future designs or ideas in the works?
: Yes, I do, and more on the way too… just need time and money.
The FJ ‘bandi mount’ was developed out of necessity in June of 06’ as I was attending my first rock crawling (Rausch Creek Off-road Park, PA) in my FJ and I needed a CB installed. After looking around the FJ for options, I noticed there was really no metal place to mount the antenna. That was until I removed the plastic hinge cover and discovered the perfect flat surface including a mounting hole in the OEM hinge, and was at that point that the design came to me instantly. I posted the mount on the forum and a few people wanted one, then a few more, and more, and more… I made about 200 of them for fellow FJ enthusiasts, and had another 200 on order I had to build while working outside under a sun cover as I did not have a garage at the time. This was a side thing I was doing to help other FJ owners out, and I could not keep up with the orders, so I decided to approach All-Pro as they were the most prevalent on the forums. I ended up selling the design to them so that everyone could get one faster, and a plus is they kept the ‘bandi mount’ name association. I was not expecting the FJ to stick around as long as it did, and I did not know much about product development at the time, or otherwise I would have kept it for my own production… Live and Learn.
Going forward to the ‘bandi body lift’, I was wrenching on my FJ, adding the rear shocks and noticed the top stud/bolt was really tight to reach due to the body, and all I needed was about a half (0.5) inch more space. My first thought was to buy a body lift, but I really did not want a one (1.0) to three (3.0) inch kit which were the most common on the net. So, I thought I can make a half (0.5) inch body lift myself, therefore allowing access to not only to the shock stud/bolt, and anything else that was a PIA to get too. Once again, the forums spoke up and I started to produce them in quantity, and expanded to include a one (1.0) inch body lift kit to support the requests coming in... The ‘bandi body lift kit’ was now added to my lineup supporting the FJ Cruiser, and the 4th and 5th generation 4Runners.
Next was the ‘bandi compressor mount’ which came to fruition due to a good friend asking me to mount an ARB Twin Compressor in his 5th generation 4Runner. It only took one look and an idea came to me, and I had the first one done as a once piece unit and installed in short time. He had posted it on the forums, and once again requests poured in. The mount morphed a few times as differing requests came in to include manifolds, tanks, and regulators, and the mount became a highly versatile modular design not only supporting ARB single/Twin compressors, but options for Viair 400/450P. Other options include the ARB/Viair 1 gallon and Seamless 1 and 2 gallon tanks, ARB and Viair manifolds, UpDownAir system, and also options to work along with Shrockworks second batter kit, smog pump relocation, and water reservoir relocation. I have version for the 07-09 FJ, 10-14 FJ, 4th and 5th generation 4Runners, GX460, and Late Model Chevy Silverado. I am always looking to expand as vehicles to model to are able to get to me. The funny thing is I currently have two ARB twin compressors and one single, a Viair compressor, air tanks and manifolds, however as typical for a fabricator, I have yet to get one installed in my own rig’.
I have lots of future plans, but I need to make the major purchase of a plasma table/pipe bender first (maybe I need a GoFundMe), then the world is unlimited. I have a design for a unique skids plate setup, along with rear diff/skids, and spare tire mounts, and also aluminum roof rack setup…. Plus anything that comes to me as a need by myself or anyone else….
Hayden: Where all have you been with your FJ Cruiser? What trail/park/location is your favorite?
: Well unfortunately, not may places due to work/family, and this side gig ‘fabrication’. My first ever trip ever with the FJ was to Rausch Creek Off-Road Park, PA. where the FJ Trail Teams was attending in June of 06’. We have taken many trips to the Outerbanks, NC, with both of our FJs, including another gathering with the FJ Trail Teams. I really have not found a favorite as I have not ventured to the Midwest yet (it’s on my list), but I’m sure my favorite is out there in the sunset !...
Hayden: What park/location have you not been to yet that you would like to take your FJ to?
: The are so sooo many. Ouray, CO, area is on top of my list along with Moab, UT, along with others in Texas, Southeast and Northeast US also… I’d like to acquire a motorhome again to travel the country, with the FJ in tow.
Hayden: Has anyone on the forum inspired your build or been a go to resource for you?
: Well, my FJ was built up pretty well by June 06’, before many others were even doing anything. But over the years, many many many builds have inspired me for multiple mods... The forum is filled with so many incredible knowledgeable people it would be impossible to name just a few.
Hayden: You’re one of the forum OGs. How has the forum evolved since you joined?
: The main thing I see to this day even, is that the Forum is an Encyclopedia of information, a go to place for all things technical, optional, and modified, anything you need to know.. IT’s HERE !.... I still even today search the forum for tech’ info first over any place else.
Hayden: What has been the most memorable experience with your FJ Cruiser?
: The most memorable experience in reference to the FJ actually was on this forum. Back in 2006, our family suffered an unimaginable tragedy, the passing of a son
, our oldest boy. We were devastated and as the forum had become a big part of my life, I posted about it as we tried to move forward to understand what happen, to cope with this incredible loss, to just try to maintain our own existence. The forum kept a light in our hearts and kept us going with loving and positive posting, and with prayers. This forum came together and provided us some monetary support, from forum members, and from vendors like Demello Off-Road, which enable us to get through the following months with one less worry. I tear up today just with the thought of the love that poured our way. Thank You All !...
Hayden: Any additional thoughts about your FJ or FJ Cruisers in general that you’d like to share?
: The FJ is not just a vehicle, it’s a way of life. To this day, I am still friends with the people I have met in the FJ community, even as some have moved on to the Land Cruiser and 4runners, we laugh together, we cry together, we support each other, we trail together, the forum has literally changed my way of life.