October 2017 Member of the Month: CabinCruiser
We'd like to congratulate CabinCruiser - Will for being selected as the October 2017 Member of the Month!
Hayden: Tell us a bit about yourself (age, family, school/job, hobbies, where are you from, how long you’ve lived where, etc.)[Basically anything you’re comfortable sharing as if you were meeting someone new for the first time]?
I’m 44, have a wife, 2 kids, 3 step kids, 1 Border Collie/Australian Shepard mix, 2 C0cker Spaniels, and a Maine Coon. I have an AS in business management from the University of Wyoming, welding and metallurgy certifications, engine specialist & machining degrees as well as auto electrical certification, electrical degree and also I am ASE certified.
We own Hometown Garage in Laramie and dabble in commercial property rentals. I’ve accomplished everything from rebuilding entire vehicles, to fabricating bumpers to SAS conversions on Toyotas to rewiring vehicles to doing ordinary repair on automobiles, trucks, and equipment.
I’m originally from Houston, TX, and lived here most of my life. Also lived in Denver, Riverton, WY, and Snohomish county in Washington for 2 years.
I have a passion for old Chevy trucks, our ’69 Chevelle, and most semi-modern and classic Toyota 4x4s. We spend a good portion of our time, especially in the good weather months, in the mountains or traveling around the Rocky Mountains. We like being outside and don’t spend too much indoors, except for at work.
Hayden: How/when were you first introduced to the forum and what made you decide to join?
I probably lurked, getting technical information on the forum for a year or two before I had a question about something, therefore, I created a profile and the rest is history.
Hayden: Is the FJ Cruiser your first off-road vehicle? If not, what was your/the first vehicle you took wheeling? And what led you to eventually owning an FJ?
My 1st true off road vehicle was probably my ‘80 Honda 185C 3 wheeler but my 1st capable 4X4 was an ’85 Toyota X-Tra cab pickup. Equipped with a 3” lift, 33s, and lockers front & rear, the truck carried my dog and I (and once my good buddy Jim) all over the western U.S. including WY, CO, MT, ID, WA, OR, UT, NV, AZ, and NM. Truly a great machine!
My oldest brother had a ’77 FJ40, which later I got my hands on. Another brother had a ’75 Jeep CJ-5 and they both used to take me out wheeling when I was a young lad. I really had a thing for that FJ40 and it was always pulling the CJ out of a mud hole or towing it back home in need of repair. Those were my first lessons in reliability and robustness in Toyotas vs. Jeeps.
As far as what led me to an FJ Cruiser is somewhat of a mystery. We had a Tahoe that was getting up there in mileage and I just really didn’t want to put any more funds into. We got a lot of use out of it but the kids were getting older and we didn’t really think we needed the 3rd row seating anymore, so we were down sizing.
We had looked at other SUVs and I really didn’t want something that I wasn’t comfortable with having to work on. As a technician, I see the vehicles that require more service than others, so we looked at Tahoes and 4Runners and such. I really didn’t like the offerings of the other reliable brands.
I was searching autotrader one morning and an FJ Cruiser popped up. Then it dawned on me. I really liked these when they came out but deemed it impractical for our family size, so I had written them off. Now that FJs were back on my radar, we decided to go test drive one. It was a Smurf Blue ’08 and had a boat load of miles on it but it drove great and handled well. It wasn’t long before this was the only vehicle we were looking for.
My wife thought the 4Runners were kind of ugly but she really liked the uniqueness of the FJ. In the next few weeks we went and looked at a few but I really wanted a black one with low mileage. I found the one I wanted at Big Horn Toyota in Glennwood Springs, CO. We went down there and met Jeff. We drove it, wrote a check, she drove it home, and the rest is history. We couldn’t be happier.
We’ve had a couple other FJs as well, including a ’14 Trail Teams Ultimate Edition, and a 2008 Sandstorm. I couldn’t bring myself to modifying the TTUE, so I sold it. It was just too pure and unmolested to alter, so I thought someone else would appreciate it for what it was. I bought the Sandstorm with the intention of converting into a short bedded truck. I still want to do this conversion but the timing was bad so I sold it. Maybe next year I’ll find another to perform this conversion.
Hayden: What modification is your favorite or is the most worth the money/time/effort that you’d recommend it to someone else?
I don’t know that I could single out 1 mod per se. I really like the BP-51 suspension and the user friendliness in the fact that you can adjust compression, rebound, and ride height. I really dig my off white powder coated wheels. I was going for a “throw back” look and think I accomplished that. I receive many comments on the wheels. The one mod we probably get the most use out of is the M8000 winch. Between that and a Stihl MS170 chainsaw, we can simply move fallen beetlekill trees off of the trail and continue on our journey. Having cold beverages and food at arm’s length is also a plus. The Max Burton 53qt. fridge performs flawlessly.
I also really dig the drawers under the rear shelf area. It maximizes cargo and frees up so much room, particularly after grocery shopping. Should’ve done that years ago.
Hayden: What upgrade is your least favorite, or what modification would you do differently if you had to do it over again?
My least favorite upgrade would probably be the cheapie lift I had on it for the 1st few years. Also, I wish I’d have gotten the Ricochet skids powdercoated; not sure I like the raw aluminum look. Other mods that I didn’t care for would have to be certain tires that I’ve had on it. Being a tire dealer, I have had the opportunity to try out quite a few sets on the FJ over the years. The FJ Cruiser is a very good test bed for off road tires. I change them about once per year. 35s next!
Hayden: Has anyone on the forum inspired your build or has been a go-to resource for you?
Nobody specifically has inspired anything. I’ve seen enough posts to get an idea of what would be ideal or practical for this vehicle and our lifestyle so I’ve modified accordingly. BIGGUY has had some good objective opinions on things here and there and I can always bounce ideas off of Winterpeg and Thorn661. It’s good to get different perspectives on subjects with like minded individuals and similar lifestyles.
Hayden: Where all have you been with your FJC? What trail/park/location is your favorite?
We’ve had the FJs from Milwaukee, WI to the Grand Canyon to the northwest corner of Montana in the Yaak to the mountains of Colorado, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming of course. I don’t know that I have a definite favorite. The FJ is still relatively new in our mid life adventures but there are quite a few places on my radar. It takes us on our journeys to go look at properties/cabins/land for sale, hence the name “CabinCruiser”. It will always serve this purpose.
Hayden: What trail/park/location that you have not been to yet would you like to visit?
Parts of Moab, the Rubicon trail, Utahs scenic national parks, the trail systems of Montana and eastern Idaho, and of course, Summit, not to mention parts of Alaska and Canada.
What is your local Wyoming FJ Cruiser community like? Do you have many get-togethers, trail runs, or wrenching days where you’re located?[/ COLOR]
We don’t really have a local FJ community, but I’ve always had a group of wheeling buddies that go wheeling often. Most of the time it’s just the Mrs. and I going on little excursions here and there. I guess I’m more of an explorer than a wheeler these days. Having the business means that I rarely get away for longer than a 3 or 4 day weekend.
Hayden: What has been the most memorable experience with your FJ Cruiser?
Probably the trip my wife and I took through the Tetons, over into Idaho where we explored some of the eastern part of the state, up into Montana and eventually zig-zagging our way back. We made it all the way up into the Yaak valley and over to Lake KooCanUSA (pronounced koo-kuh-noos-kuh) and just saw some really great places.
We had no kids, no dogs, no itinerary, and no plans other than to be back by a specific date. We took the the FJ, a small tent, an air mattress, a small 12v fridge, a little bit of food and beverage, and some gear. We’d get a motel every now and then to shower and pretend to be civilized for the day, and then off down the road again.
We camped in some very remote places under the stars with no light pollution or noise. Huge Cedars were seen as well as many many mountain ranges, dams, bridges, water ways and mountain lakes. It was the cheapest, simplest, and most enjoyable journey that I can ever remember with so much windshield time. It was 2300 miles round trip in 8 days and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
Hayden:What do you enjoy the most about the FJCrusierForums?
The community for sure. Lots of comeradery, good ideas, and objective opinions come out of the forum. I like it’s adult nature with a hint of adolescence. I spend way more time on this forum compared to others where I’m a member. It’s like my favorite flannel shirt, just more comfortable here.
Hayden: What has the FJCruiserForums done for you and what do you feel you contribute to the forum the most?
The forum has given me the opportunity to network with like minded individuals and even become friends with a few members. I actually don’t feel like I contribute that much to the forum very much in the short time that I’ve been a member. I’ve helped a few members with wiring schematics and technical information about their FJs here and there. I mostly contribute comic relief, as I’m kind of a jokester.
Hayden:Do you think the FJ Cruiser will ever be produced again?
I think it still is in Japan but I doubt we’ll ever see another in the states. If we do, it will likely be targeted at a younger crowd who may or may not appreciate that the FJ Cruiser was originally intended to have a retro essence of the original BJ/FJ40s of the ‘60s-‘80s. It just probably wouldn’t make marketing sense. If they do, it would depend mostly on looks and capability.
Hayden:What do you expect to be in your FJs future build-wise/travel-wise/etc?
More road trips for sure. I still want to make Summit, hopefully next year. Things at work forced me to cancel this year’s trip last minute. I’d like to organize or attend a Rubicon run.
The only things on the immediate agenda are tidying up some wiring, get my HAM radio installed and situated. I currently have an auxiliary battery but it’s portable, not installed so I’d like to get that done and lastly, I will be performing a BMC and installing 35 inch rubber. I’m thinking I might try the new Yokohama Geolander M/T G003 which is similar to the original Cooper STTs that I liked better than the current STT Pros that I’m running now. I’m also trying a set of General Grabber X3s on another project so I may go that route. Or I might get Duratracs again.
Hayden: What final advice do you have for someone new to the FJ Cruiser or the Forum?
I would say just to keep it simple and keep it real, as a member and on the FJ. It’s easy to see everybody’s mods and go hog wild on a build. It doesn’t take too much to thin out a wallet and you won’t afford the gas to go enjoy your FJ. Make it personal and don’t go throwing a bunch of accessories on that you won’t get much use out of. Keep it practical.
FJs are very formidable off roaders and great daily drivers in stock form. With a decent set of tires, there’s not much that you can’t conquer while learning the ins and outs of your FJ Cruiser. As your confidence builds, you’ll want to go places that might favor certain mods and accessories that fit your lifestyle. Don’t worry so much what others are doing. Plow your own road!