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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This is the condensed version of my buildup, without posted comments. Please post comments to: Air2air's Full Frontal. The dates of the original posts are in bold.


The Goal
A supercharged, streetable copy of the awesome Donahoe Baja champion FJ that I can still take the family in. Here's how it ended up a year later:

The Inspiration
Among 4WD vehicles, we left-coasters know Desert racers to be lighter and faster than their rock, trail and mud-oriented brethren. And often 2WD - as is the case with prerunners and some SCORE truck and buggy classes. Of course the desert-style FJ is currently pretty rare with only a few examples, like the Millen and the incredible Donahoe Baja 250 champion FJ.


Jason took these pics of the Total Chaos long travel and the front set of Fox 2.5" adjustable bypass shocks that just came in. I am telling my wife these are for my "emergency bypass".

Below is Jack helping me up off the floor. I had just seen the COD invoice amount from the UPS guy.


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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)

We are not quite at the fun part of the buildup. Right now stuff is being taken off, last minute parts ordered. So much work is involved, I don't know how these guys make any money.

1. TC UCA's and LCA's are on.
2. Assembly of the new halfshafts complete (brutal job).
3. Jason is roughing out the bumper.
4. He was just completing a trick little intercooler radiator mount. My intercooler needs it because it was not getting airflow.

This week:
1. hood and fenders come off.
2. Both differentials come out tomorrow for the 4.56 gears
3. Rear end comes out. Diff armor goes on.
4. ARB locker install w/compressor.
5. Jason will fab rear lower links - everybody call him and make him do a production run.
6. About 70lbs of mud has to be removed from my radiator fins. DON'T go play in the mud unless you give the radiator a major, careful sprayoff.

Next week:
1. Fiberglass hood and front fenders will get a rough fit.
2. 4 hood hold-down points and pins will be installed in the engine bay.
3. The front clip will be final-fitted and painted blue at Anaheim Hills Auto Body, the crew that did the donahoe race FJ.
4. The fenders are very strong. I'm not worried about them. But the hood, being a large panel, flexes a bit. Jason had the creative idea of removing the hood inner frame and fastening the fiberglass to that.
5. We make a determination on tires. Do I need to go to 35's or are my current 33's OK?
6. Suspension calibration.

Week after that:
The rear fenders from Donahoe should be ready. This is complicated and may require it's own thread. Essentially the body sheetmetal is cut out around the fender opening, up to the edge of the wells. If you feel around, this is about 4" from the current opening.

And then the tricky stuff begins. Fuel filler, fairing ... oh it just gets worse. I'll just have to show pictures when it is underway.

On a side note, I complimented Jason on his near-perfect weld beads... and then he told me they sucked and he would never let them leave the shop! He is very detail-oriented and the parts he is fabbing are TUFF.


Above, notice the crinkle on the left fender inner panel, along the top. That is a $15,000 crinkle.

Edit: a $22,000 crinkle.

- Front and rear diffs removed, new 4.56 gears and ARB front locker ready to install.
- Exhaust and driveshaft temporarily removed.

This is an opportunity for me to get on the soapbox about mud again. Before I brought it in to Jason I spent 2 hours under the car with a power washer. And it is still filthy. My radiator is just about half plugged up, which is why I saw a 268 degree water temp at Hungry Valley.

I have only gone thru mud ONCE, about 4 mos ago. Don't do it unless you can go under your car with a toothbrush. I have about half the state of Utah piled up on my driveway and still there is more under there, usually crammed into places you'd rather it not be.

Below Jason is removing the transmission valve body to send to Import Performance Transmissions, per URD's recommend. They perform a mod that is necessary for higher-HP Toyota applications. IPT custom calibrates the valve body to provide much higher, faster clutch application power and clamping force. Without this mod it is possible to burn up the torque converter from slippage. We should also see faster acceleration because the shifts will be quicker and firmer.

Jason's gloves are for a new more personal type of employee interview he is doing. Something about coughing.

Below is NOT my car, it is the 4WD Toyota Owner magazine FJ. They are gonna race it in Baja, and after all a major total chaos install they now have to take it OFF because another competitor complained. Sucks!

So they will race in factory stock where they can do a shock and that's it. Even the Demello bumper will be covered up by strapping on their old factory one over it for the race!

Their cage above is similar to what Jason will do for me, but his will be much more hidden and family-friendly. The way he describes it I am really stoked to see what he comes up with.

A week from now we should be ready for paint. Because the rear fenders from Donahoe are not yet ready I will make a second trip to Demello in about a month for that little episode. The rear fender panels will be drilled and cut up for the new glass fenders and I think I will go and throw up at that point.



4rnRJ, This is about 85% close to what Jason and I talked over, based on my understanding. Hard to tell though from this pic and I'll try to make some others.

The idea is to still make it livable for family trips. Jason should talk about the details, not me. It will still allow the interior to be used except for the headliner. We'll be able to use and fold down the rear seat, and get luggage in the back.

There are sure a lot of issues as you know, 4rnRJ - seems you and Jason are well aquainted with them.


Close, but the front tubes will not go down to the frame but straight out and possibly attach to the front bumper. The bumper will still un-bolt but it will help support the truck front to rear. The rear area will have some more down bars and extend to the very back of the FJ cargo area.

The plan is to weld the cage into the frame and into the body as well. This is done to help make the whole truck one piece and not a rattle trap. It's allot of work, but in the end it will be really clean and you will only see the cage in a couple places.
Were also going to dyno matt the headliner and floor to reduce outside road.

I would like to take this time to thank Mr. Air2Air because of him not only is my son going to be able to go to college now but I can now go back and learn my self how to speel.:roller:


Sorry Shadow, looks like this last week was held up waiting for parts. Next couple weeks will include the following, and there will be tons of pics:

1. Total Chaos completed, Fox bypasses on, wheels on
2. Stinger baja bumper beginning fab, including 6061 skids, winch base
3. Final glass trim and fit
4. Custom hood structure - more on this later
5. Install 4.56 gears, ARB front locker & compressor
6. Custom rear lower links
7. Reinstall 3" straight exhaust, Y-pipe, driveshaft
8. Cage design and install
9. Headliner/interior refit to accomodate cage structure
10. Entire car soundproofed with Damplifier Pro
11. Install of Lucrum Light System
12. Total interior remove and replace including dash, stereo, computer
13. Hood scoop on hood
14. Final glass prep and paint
15. CB install
16. Duck when wife gets the bill

There is much more that I can't remember! Can you blame me?


Above is the Donahoe race truck stinger bumper, and below is the first pic of Demello's version in prgress.

1. Just like the Donahoe race FJ, the plastic top cover is cut from a donated factory bumper, from Demello's always-growing supply of cast-off factory parts.
2. The Donahoe FJ does not have a winch. The space is very tight because we want the bottom of the skid to go aft as much as possible. If you look closely you can see that the winch base is tilted forward. The fairlead will exit there. As seen in the other pics an aluminum skid goes across between the two bars.
3. This 1.5" horizontal bar pushes out the angled bars to allow room for the winch base. The Donahoe truck does not have these.
4. The factory frame towhooks are about to adorn the shop floor. I think everyone with an aftermarket bumper should do the same since all they do is dig into the ground.

Below is something you don't see every day; a fiberglass FJ hood. This piece will get a cool Demello engineering makeover for stiffening and use of the existing hood hinges.


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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)

6 business days left before paint!

Let these pics show how a committed, talented shop can make the impossible happen. And there are also some pictures from Demello's shop. Sorry Jason - just couldn't resist!:roller:

I am so stoked to see these guys kicking butt like this:

Demello's new battery tray to keep the Odyssey behaving. FJoel, if you're seeing this hopefully it will answer questions on the hook length of the cool clamp you're making for me. And thanks for the great services you're providing for everyone here, plus the awesome Ouray badges.

Another shot of the winch mount with some of the gusseting. The reason it is tilted is simply the rake of the nose skid. That is a placeholder winch, not mine. You can see the vinyl trim piece above that has been cut away from a stock bumper.

The bumper tubes are 1.5" DOM. Notice how the ends are extended far out past the vinyl trim. At first I thought they were out too far, but Jason had remembered... the fender flares! This is why you pay the big bucks I guess. The small verticals are for the lights; PIAA 6" 520 HID.

The Total Chaos spindle brackets are needed to strengthen the steering arms for impacts when I wheel without my glasses, or when Frogeye is my spotter.

A few weeks ago I read Greensboroughjohn's great thread comparing the various sound absorbing materials and it made the decision easy to go with Second Skin Damplifier Pro, and Overkill Extreme vibration mat. I ordered about 230 sq. ft.
Anthony at Second Skin was a great help. Thanks to both of you guys.

Next week will be the cage.


Today we're going in for paint! God I am not ready for the estimate yet.....


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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)

Looking a little forlorn in front of the body shop this afternoon.

I don't know whether to feel guilty or not. Such surgery on a fine, good-looking, trustworthy car.

Chris from Demello dropped it by on the trailer this morning. I got to steer while sitting on the floor. The other guys were spotting me as we rolled backwards off the trailer into the parking spot. Fortunately Chris told me to use the parking brake to stop - there were no brakes. I think by the time I would have figured that out I would have been in the lobby.


A note about the fiberglass. I almost wish I could take molds off my finished glass and sell fenders. This particular glass is quite stout, it is very fair with no visible unevenness. It's like they went 90% of the way to making a good set, and then forgot to finish up and stick it up against the car to get it finally trimmed and fitted.

Armando at Crown Valley Body wants to avoid fairing the fiberglass into the body for two reasons - first, the gaps are really bad, and second, the fiberglass is going to move around with impacts. So he wants to do a rubber or plastic bead like the kind you see on some race applications. The bead would follow the edges of the glass where it meets up with the body.


Am adding electronics to the front cage bar over the windshield including a Galaxy CB, frequency counter, Valentine One and a cellular relay amplifier that will go in the little dome in back.

Took this shot on my bed cuz I'm figuring out how to get this arranged on the headliner.

The Trimble dome is an inexpensive (used) marine VHF antenna. This I am using as the antenna for the 5 watt amplified cellular signal for the computer. The antenna amplifier is the box at lower right. That will mount somewhere up in the ceiling. Cell relays usually just take a coax plug, as these devices do. The CB, frequency counter and Valentine will attach under the front cage bar.

The frequency counter is not in the "absolute neccesity" department, more in the "nice to have". My experience has been that freqency matching between different units is not always perfect. The Galaxy allows manual fine tuning in case you are talking to someone whose radio is a few hz off of yours. Since the Galaxy readout only displays channels, the Counter gives you an actual Frequency readout, so you can tweak yourself right up to somebody else's frequency if need be.


These are photochops of the radio shelf when complete. With and without the bottom shelf.

The electronics from left are Valentine One, Galaxy CB, and the frequency counter. Also the cellular amplifier will go up there.

Also, the interior will be back in, except for the headliner. Demello has done some beautiful brackets that will connect the tubes to the body in the various locations. They are laser-cut, dimple-died and really will look great.

As far as the headliner, I'm up for suggestions. Jason has told me about a sticky fabric upholsterers use, and that sounds like the best right now. It is in prerunner trucks; which is pretty much what we have here. The sticky fabric would cover up the tubes and roof.

Here is a crude example of these brackets. Demello's will be works of art. There will be several of these at various points in the interior:


Here is a photochop with the fuel filler in the exact spot, and hopefully approximating the metallic blue.


Crown Valley Body shop also wanted to accurately straighten the front apron so that took awhile. The project scope was difficult for them to estimate accurately on because of the fiberglass fitting. And again, Donahoe was very insistent that this would be just as difficult a job as it turned out to be. They told me it would be sheer hell to get the glass on and they were right.

The Donahoe glass hood was intended to be pinned on, not to use the hinges. However Demello has put together an arrangement that uses the hinges and two pins in front. That required reglassing the two rear corners of the hood, which did not come out well the first time and may have to be redone with much heavier mat.

Regarding the fenders, the issue with them is that the molds themselves are pretty accurate, but the edges are not defined. This is the case with all fiberglass work as many of you know. So every inch of every edge has to be headscratched, then ground a little, checked, and ground a little more till the thing sort of fits okay. Plus Demello had to weld small custom brackets onto the body sheetmetal every several inches for the Dzus fasteners.

Demello's goal was just to rough fit the glass to get it to sit in place so the body shop could finish it off. This rough fitting is not pretty of course, and in some areas too much edge was removed. This means the body shop must rebuild some edges with resin and mat. Over the next week the body shop will get the glass edges fair, and apply rubber beading along all the edges. This will be done in lieu of actually fairing the edges into the body, as I've said before.

The paint will be BMW Topaz Blue, I may have said that before too.

And now... on to the interior!

This photochop is my current idea of finishing off the headliner. As you know the factory headliner cannot be used because of the tubes, obviously. Since interior protection of the family is my absolute goal I am trying to pad the heck out of the interior in an aesthetic way.

Again, the side curtain airbags are gone, and likely the front airbags will be disconnected as well. In a worst case situation the kids could work loose from their seatbelts and possibly bounce around the cabin.

I've visited a company called Deccofelt that has a wide range of foams and right now I am liking High Density PVC closed cell. This is fire retardant and SCCA approved for impact padding. It is also relatively lightweight, yet has really good compressive strength. Deccofelt can laminate any material on top of the foam if you wanted to add vinyl for looks.

On the photochop above I am envisioning 3/4" or 1" PVC foam on the tubes and panels. Deccofelt can apply adhesive backing so it would go pretty fast, and I'll make it a weekend project.

I'm sure you racers know the large variety of roll bar padding out there. I may use conventional roll bar padding for the areas where the whole tube is exposed. This would include the rear verticals in the picture above, and the center verticals behind the passenger seats.

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)

OK this thread is about to liven up again. Finally work is underway at the body shop. They are a good crew. It will be something to see over the next couple weeks. Then back to Demello for a week of assembly.

The glass is off and the front apron was aligned on the frame bender. I should have done that before the fiberglass rough fit was done, because the apron was indeed tweaked - and now the fiberglass attach points have to be relocated slightly.

Below is a cool 6065 hood stiffener the Demello boys Cad-ded up and laser cut. This will epoxy on to the underside of the hood. Currently it may block the hood scoop entry in the hood so it may need a little cutting here and there.

The hood was intended to be pinned on, but Demello wanted to retain the existing hood hinges. So the hood hinge attach points are being rebuilt with stronger glass mat, and an aluminum crossbar will be fabbed to go between them.


If you haven't seen this video of the Lucrum Light System, it's even better in the flesh. Since mine is the guinea pig (hee hee hee hee) yours will be a flawless piece of uber-FJ technology.

I just got an email from Chris Marsolais at Lucrum and also these pics. He is a couple weeks away from delivery:

"...I have the steering circuits finished, vertical stabilization finished and a laser pointer to aim your lights before you turn them on (laser not available to the public!!)..."

"...Also there are multi-function buttons that will open, center and turn on your lights with one touch, as well as close and turn off..."

"...The tracking mode is user selectable and if you are out of the vehicle you can hook the lights up to a aux channel on your car alarms remote and open and turn on, or turn off and close with one button..."

Major props to Chris at Lucrum not only for his creative and technical brilliance, but his outstanding customer support.


Here's one of the benefits of going with a topnotch body shop. Been waiting a month for it all to start happening but it is worth it.

Again, I am paying very dearly to fit a glass kit that was not intended for a street application. It has to be redesigned and rebuilt to do it. Since it was race glass there were no mounting points, no trimming, and everything has to be carefully head-scratched, ground down and head-scratched again. Right now the individual fiberglass panels are being precision fit, meaning resin and glass are being carefully removed and added where needed. Below is one of the new hood hinge mounts. This is square steel tube with aircraft bolts.

These foam spacers on the cowl are adjusted to give the correct shape to the hood before the Demello aluminum stiffener is glassed in. Edwin does not have the original hood, and the glass one is a little floppy. So he is eyeballing the hood fit over the cowl in this area carefully.


Continuing today with fiberglass fitting. Right now they are having to re-resin and build up the fiberglass edges so that they can then plane them down nice and fair, and make professional-looking gaps. Here is the boss Armando going over every detail with me. On the hood, you can barely see a large oval drawn where the hood scoop goes. It is slightly offset to the driver's right. The rectangular fake inlet on the front of the hood will be cut out to feed directly into the air intake.

The glass requires a huge amount of reworking. Again, DR warned me it would be this way, so I don't want anyone to think this is an issue. Below you can see the brown areas around the edges where they have built up the edge with new resin and mat.

These edges used to be so wavy you couldn't close the doors. Now it is getting to look stock.

The new hood mounts work great. They are jiggling the hood a lot to see if they can improve the fit, possibly adding some pins in the front and sides if needed.

They are also going to paint the engine compartment black for me, the wheel wells and the inside of all the fiberglass.

I think it will be a week before we are in paint. These guys are saying the front is 80% of this job, and the rears will go pretty fast. The rears look worse than the front but they seem to have a good grip on it. Pics on the rear later.

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)

What's the lift like from the Fox/TC setup. Higher than the previous DR? Lower? Do share!
Hi Kyle - This gives me a good excuse to reprint Jeshua's PM to me, below. This was a discussion about possibilities for the rear which we haven't decided on yet.

As it stands now, I am leaving the rear DR signature setup. Jason wants to drive it and see how it does before he decides exactly what to do. Then we will make a move on the rear. So to answer your question, for a short while I will be at 2-2.5". The TC LT likes to be at 4" but we'll just keep it low to match the rear until we get the rear determined.

Here is Jeshua's helpful shock information:

The rear is the limiting factor. As for travel numbers in the rear the best thing would be to at least match the front; you really want to get a little more as the rear actually takes stuff a little harder. The front can skip over the top of woops better than the rear; that's why the rear is so important, especially because you don't want to buck - that sucks major.

With the FJ the rear is tricky; as you know there isn't much room. What is needed is to squeeze a longer spring and shock in an area that won't fit it. The spring is the easy part - it's the shock that would need some fab work as long as there is no bind in the travel. I was looking at 4RnJr's buddy lances 4 runner and he did a little fab work in the rear to get a longer shock in with out too much work. Check it out here:

If you do this one I would try and bring the lower mounts up a little closer to the axle housing and bring the upper up into the cab. Get in touch with Jared to see if you can get Lance's number.

If this won't work because of binding the best thing would be to get a by-pass shock in so that you can get the best control possible with the limited travel we have. As that is key to controlled suspension. You can see this in racing when you got a class 7s moving faster in the rough then a 7. Get it tuned as good as it can be.

Another option you can look at would be to put some leaf springs on. I don't know how this would affect any other parts of the FJ but I think it is a possible solution that would get you travel easy. This would also be some what cheap, definitely cheaper then a 3-link. Leafs work good, so don't think it is stepping back in time to much links are better but this works very well, tried and true. Jason is doing this on Sol's FJ to go with the SAS.

All Pro's new Fox shocks are nice but yours (by-pass right) will be better. Theirs are just a standard Fox 2.0 external reservoir but with the ability to adjust the compression valving. (still a linear valving) and that doesn't even compare to a by-pass (progressive valving). See pictures at bottom to see the difference between each type of valving.

So in review you got:
1. 13" but 18" would be ideal. But we must work with what we are given.
2. Custom spring (longer then stock) with new fabbed upper and lower shock mounts while keeping the stock links. <b>Maybe about the same or a little less then the leafs.</b>
3. Just get by-passes in so you can get it tuned the best possible with stock travel numbers<b>Cheapest</b>
4. Change the 4 link out for leaf springs easy 18" of travel. <b>Not too expensive</b>
5. Custom 3 link. <b>Most expensive</b>

I think your best option would be to do the leaf springs. Cheap effective travel that would work well with the front.

Digressive; Donahoe.

Linear; King, Sway-A-Way

The Fox’s and Walker Evans are adjustable (on FJ) but they still have a linear valving as they can not change the valving mid stroke.

Progressive; Fox, Walker Evans

It allows you to stiffen or soften the valving in the area the tubes are at. They're sweet but pricey, but you know that...



Spin you'll like these. Starting to look like a car!

I need suggestions on some kind of screen for the front hood intake once it is cut out....?


Today more finishing up of the front end, and then paint either late this week or early next week.

The front inlet is cut out. Turned out this really weakens the area now and I have to get a screen in there if only for structural reasons.

The front glass is about to come off for finishing and prep of the inside surfaces, then black paint. Between the hood hinge mounts on the hood you will see a square tube that they fabbed to strengthen that area.

The scoop is nicely faired and I wish it wasn't quite so big, but hopefully it will look a little more subtle when it's all painted the same color.

You have to imagine the interior in, plus a lot of other differences. First of all the tubes and headliner will be padded in 1/2" gray PVC closed cell. It looks kind of leathery on the surface. Across the top will be a shelf with the CB, radar, and Lucrum control.

The horizontal bar across the dash goes under the dash. Also there will be really cool structural gussets joining the tubes to the body in a lot of places including the A-pillars.

Yes, I wouldn't want to bonk my head on these suckers either. So they will be double-padded in some places. From this intersection a vertical downtube will go down to the floor right behind the console. This will T into another tube that goes horizontally across the rear passenger floor, behind the front seats. And THAT tube joins the door upright you see at the right of the pic below.


Jason came down to the body shop to check progress. They are priming the front fenders and doors. The hood will go to prime tonight and over the next few days they will concentrate on fitting and trimming the rear fenders.

When it is time for paint they will do it with the fenders, hood and doors off the car. Next week they will push the car into the booth to do the door jams and the engine area.

Took the opportunity to get shots of the cage with the doors off.

Here is Landrover's screen glassed in. It's really strong.


Friday, Crown Valley started on the rear fenders which are going quickly. All that has to be done is buildup and trimming of the edges. Edwin, their top guy is truly a magician and I really scored picking this shop.

This first photo shows the horrible edges of the original glass. The other two show the first step in repairing them, which is to build up the whole edge with new epoxy and mat, and then sand the whole thing down again.

In these photos they are curing in front of the heat lamp. The foreground fender is the left rear.


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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Both front fenders are in primer. I am daring to start feeling excited...! This is the left front.

While the hood waits patiently for primer... I feel like giving words of encouragement to these poor parts.


Space Oddity

The roof is a focus because of the Lucrum LLS, and the fact that I'm losing the stock roof rack.

Losing the rack because I just gotta get rid of weight that we are packing on elsewhere. Also air drag is apparently very significant with the factory rack according to Kansas Law Dog and others. Lastly I will be able to store heavier things inside down lower now that there is a cage to clamp to.

Many of us have had things on the roof meeting with tree branches with dire results. And also I seem to be sprouting antennas and doohickies that need an organized, central place to live.

So I made a contraption to mount and protect various antennae and the cellular signal amplifier. It also fits in aesthetically with the Lucrum LLS. The photochop below is a right side view, with the contraption at left and the Lucrum LLS at right as they would sit on the roof.

Everything will be painted white.

Here is the whole doohickey photochopped on the roof:

The white dome is a surplus marine VHF diversity antenna - cheap. This will be the antenna for the 5 watt cellular amplifier - the black box. Also mounted are the CB antenna, GPS and Sirius antennas, and some inline filters. This whole mount will let me swap things back and forth.

Looks big but it only weighs 3 lbs. Total cost was about $40 for alum sheet and fasteners.

Yeah I agree it looks a little "different" at first. It's the best way I can think of to organize all the stuff and all the wiring, terminal strip, etc. and protect it from damage. So if something gets hit hard, it will just damage this contraption instead of the roof.

The sloped sides will hopefully keep the tree branches away and not reflect too much RF signal.

I'll drill four holes in the roof, grommet them and seal them, and then Chris at Lucrum has some kind of cool connector to run wires down inside.

And here yet again is Lucrum's awesome LLS Light System. I really hope a lot of people get these because they rock.


On Friday I will be able to post pics of the paint progress. They *may* be done with the final spray then. Right now they are painting black on all the undersides including the fenders, hood and engine bay.

Next week will be the home stretch as we reassemble at Demello's. I will be living there and reassembling the interior and electronics primarily.

Here is a Photochop of the unpainted roof assembly. It will be white when complete. This is a rough one so things will look a little choppy:


Looks like final spray will be next week. These were taken this morning and everything should be primed by the end of the day.

Yes, the fender well is bent up. We decided it was still structurally OK and it was not worth the time to straighten out further. I'll probably just bend it again anyway...

Now we are looking at the rear factory steel fenders. These are primed because they will be painted flat black. They will be completely covered by the fiberglass fenders.

These Dzus attachment points were welded in by Demello and faired by the body guys. If you are thinking about doing this yourself this is the only area that would give me pause.

Again, everything you see on this fender that is gray will be painted black. Above, notice the fender lip is still intact. Because this area can be seen peeking out from underneath the fiberglass fender, I was tempted to bend it back out of the way or get out the sawzall. Turns out it is adding longitudinal stiffness to the area and doesn't hurt to keep.

As you can see all the fiberglass is ready to spray. Now we are just waiting to prep all 5 of the doors, and the sills on the body. These are not yet sanded so I hope they get to that today.

Scoop still looks a little tall to me ... opinions?

Lastly is the cutout for the fuel filler, a kartek unit. It will be plumbed at Demello to join up with the neck at the factory location. Again, had to do this because the fiberglass fender covers up the stock filler. You could have cut a hole in the fender, but it would have to be reall big and weird to allow a pump nozzle in.

You can see here the black rubber factory filler neck centered below the rear quarter window. I will plumb a neck that will join back up with that filler, at that location. Yes, it will intrude into the passenger compartment behind the rear seat. Have to make sure it is nice and tight.

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Paint Day

I will be posting a couple times a day from the body shop. Here they are doing the inside of the fenders and hood flat black.

Other stuff will happen this afternoon and I'll get that posted too.


Today was sanding sanding sanding. Below, the discussion was on how to paint this area. The fiberglass fender will cover up the area below the window, so the decision was to do the area flat black, and bring the white down to about an inch below the window.

All exposed areas will be blue. Basically there will be no visible Voodoo Blue unless you turn the car over.

Below, the four light blue pieces are the interior trims from the doors.

Wonder if it's too late to turn back on this project?



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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Clearcoat goes on in about an hour. Then we will roll it out and remove this masking.

Then all the other parts - fenders, doors etc get hung up in the spray booth and sprayed either tonight or tomorrow morning.

I'm crossing my fingers that you guys like the color! I do.


This is after clearcoat in the more natural light of the shop:


Finish-sanded body parts ready to be hung in the booth and sprayed after lunch today. Everything is ready to paint now.


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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Blown away.

They had more sanding to do on the doors and hood so those will be Tuesday. What a lonnnng weekend this is gonna be.

Wishing everybody a great holiday.


These are about to be compounded and buffed, so you will see a little orange peel still. Dragged all this outside to get the pics of it in the sunlight.

You will see roughness on the surface, but most all of that is the jpeg compression because I am using Picasa. It's utterly smooth.

Doors and hood are being hung now in the booth. Body is in the other booth getting masked off to do the black inside the fender wells, and the white pillars.

Then tomorrow is *supposed* to be reassembly.


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Discussion Starter · #11 ·

Hung a fender on to see how it fit. There will be a thin mudflap behind the tire so it will not look as open from the back as it looks here.

Of course the real reason was I was just checking the fit. Not like I have been dying to see some painted panels for months and have been barely able to contain my sanity and just HAD to get pics of it on there before I croak. Nope. not the reason at all.

Mudflap below. Also above is 285/65/18 BFG and because of the gearing I have to go up to 35's so I will get Nitto TG 325/65/18 as below. Tires above are 32.6" dia./11.2" width, and below will be 34.6" dia./12.8" width.



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Discussion Starter · #12 ·


This morning's progress. After lunch the white on the pillars will be done and then that's it for paint. Tomorrow will be assembly and buffing.

Couldn't put the hood on for a photo 'cuz of all the stuff masked off on top of the engine.

A note about the rear fenders. You'll see that we've left the stock fenders alone. Turns out they're an integral part of the unibody and if you removed them, you may lose a little weight, but then we have no idea what the structural consequences would be. You could really classify them more as "external sheet metal" than as "fenders". They are painted black to try and hide them a little anyway. You will be able to see the lip peeking out a little bit under the fiberglass fenders, about 3" back.


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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Gonna be another hard weekend as progess was slow today. At least this is the last of the paint and we have nothing more left except assembly.

So I will try to get on Demello's trailer by the end of the day Monday or Tuesday morning and then you guys will see the sparks fly. We're gonna be goin crazy and I will be there the whole week getting in the way and cracking bald jokes.


This is just a dry fit of the panels. I shouldn't show these pics because of the dust etc. but hey, we're all friends here. The panels are not really attached here but trust me, they look factory.

Also the rear spacers are not in so the rear track looks narrow here. It will be 2" per wheel. Again, tomorrow we should be sanded, buffed and back on the trailer to Jason's for the real fun to begin...!

Thank you guys again for waiting so long... yes it's been unendurable!

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·

We have a hard date of the Pomona expo. Here is my list so far. Plus whatever Jason comes up with:

Front bumper completed, powder coated
Need 2 more 6" front bumper lights PIAA 520
Aluminum nose and engine skids
Mount Warn 8000
Rear diff armor welded on

Paint interior body locations where cage connects to bare metal
Mud flaps cut, installed
Fuel filler mount, neck install, plumbing into factory tank
ARB compressor mount in right rear engine compartment
Windshield install

Lucrum LLS
Schedule install with Chris and company
Roof mount - thru-bolted to tubes
Control box in front ceiling shelf

Reinstall all firewall and apron-mounted accessories
URD polished intake pipes
Larger air filter for new scoop area

Make sure body gussetts are ready
Tube clamps to allow removal?
Weld cage to body w/gussetts
Dome lights
Windshield mirror
Tabs for Pull-pal
Tabs for EPIRB
Tabs for extinguisher
Tabs for seat harnesses
Cage attached to frame points

Front Ceiling shelf
CB radio
Frequency counter
Valentine One
Lucrum control
Power strip and 12V tap

Rear Ceiling shelf
Cellular signal booster
Gun safe
Front and Rear crossovers

Roof Antenna Mount
FM antenna
CB antenna
GPS antenna
Dome antenna
Sirius antenna
Install mount unit w/grommets

Seat, interior reinstall
Install dash
Run amp/preamp leads along ceiling
Other ceiling accessory wiring
Innovate Air/Fuel gauge
Backup camera
Hella interior map light
Stereo install
Speakers install
Seat harness install

Nitto Terra Grappler 325/65/18



Another rear shot

The beading along the front edge of the rear fender. Notice at the very bottom how the fender is cut to fit around the black molding.

My assistant stopped by to make sure I wasn't fooling around.


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Discussion Starter · #15 ·

Right before color sanding. Can't trailer it to Demello's until after the weekend because somebody whose name I shall not mention sent their trailer to the Rubicon...:fight:


Paint now complete after color sanding and buffing.

This is Edwin - this job is his baby. He is putting on the last bit; the rubber trim pieces on the bottom of the front fenders.

Cleaned up the spaghetti very well this morning. The box is full of wiring from what I discovered to be the worst stereo installation ever. I am seriously surprised that the car didn't burn to the ground. If I was the suing type I would just because of the danger alone.

Al and Ed's are franchised, so it is unfair to lump them together. FJcruiseraudio for instance has a stellar reputation, and is an Al and Ed's. Unfortunately I used my local guys instead of FJcruiseraudio. I don't need to go into the details, but want to admonish everyody here to be extra extra vigilant on their stereo installs. They may sell high end equipment and have a nice facility but you have to really look at the work quality.

Now the dash is plug-and-play. Next week we'll be cutting some of the plastic to let the tubes pass through, but otherwise it will go straight in. I'll just do the stereo install myself like I should have done in the first place. All the electronics will be mounted in the ceiling; two PDX amps and 5 MB Quart crossovers.


Seen recently on the Demello Porn Cam:

(Thanks Sol)

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Two FJ's slowed down next to the trailer, then sped on ahead probably wondering what kind of weird accident damage this was.

Tried to get Jason an appointment at Supercuts and they went for the security buzzer - so lunch instead.

At the shop where we are shown a REAL car

The massive edifice of the New House of Demello, and the new Exotic Male Dance Revue.

Ze women go in zis room, and ze sheep...

Getting lost already.

It's huge.

The illustrious Mr. Thong (Tcao) stopped by to educate us on suspension topics. You can see Jason's joy at hearing somebody else's opinion on suspensions. Thong and Jason will be inviting everyone here on the board to a grand high-caliber weapons FJ shootoff soon.

Today Sol's awesome FJ finally roared to life. Happy birthday Sol!

I did my part with some Extreme Vacuuming.


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Discussion Starter · #17 ·

Today's highlights were a visit from Uphill (the Scorpion), getting my work area set up in the new space, and then a test of Sol's truck in the evening.

Now that Sol is finished everybody is gonna pitch in all next week to help me get to the Pomona Expo in something that works. It will be Overhaulin'.

First, it was good to see the new sign out front:

Lo and behold, a mean and nasty silver FJ pulls up...

"Larry, I'll let you park in here for $20 a half hour."
"But I was gonna help pull Todd into the work area."
"Okay - $30."

Really feeling the awesome suspension mods being towstrapped into the bay

And a deftly executed U-turn

The Scorpion unleashes it's full winching power

Some white trash guy decides to break in the huge new floor area

Larry!! Jump left! No - jump right!! Oh my God!!

Got the work area put together later in the day. The whole interior is still in storage but the electronics and tools are all in place and ready to go.

Here is the antenna rooftop mount in place. The Lucrum LLS light bar will go in front of it next week.

Going back over to check out Sol's truck, found this poor rag in its death throes. An innocent victim of a Suicide Weld Splattering.

But the big news was Sol's truck, and the post is here.

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Not very exciting yet as we just got the rest of the car moved into the new space and have been frantically organizing and cleaning in preparation for the install.

By the "rest of the car" I mean the entire interior which is surprisingly large, about 500 lbs. on two palettes. Innumerable small pieces, each of which produces a shower of fasteners or clips all over the floor when touched.

The Al and Ed's stereo installers decided that instead of using the $15 Eclipse plug adapter into the Toyota factory harness, they would just butcher the factory harness and the Eclipse harness together. Below Jason wields the soldering iron with many kind words for the installers. Nothing is labeled and the factory harness was chopped up in many places. So we are concerned when it's time to turn on the ignition.

This morning we got a visit from the famous Jeshua. He immediately dived into a very unpleasant task; the removal and cleaning of the radiator and AC condenser. This was required by my one single trip into the mud about 6 months ago.

Thanks again Jeshua for putting up with tranny fluid, coolant, and the constant war of clever epithets and insults required in the House of Demello.

The radiator packed practically solid with dried mud. The AC condenser was no different. I've said it before on this thread that when you make a trip into the mud, have a firehose ready no more than 5 minutes after you get out of it. I hit 280 degrees at Hungry Valley a few months later and wondered why. No mud for me ever ever again.

Surprisingly, Jeshua's radiator is immaculate. No clues as to why...?

After a whole day enjoying the Demello Staff's rapid-fire exchanges of humorous degradation, insults, and accusations of non-standard sexual orientation and deviant practices, it was time for pictures. For this one, I was sucking the gut in really hard so my wife will think this is actually beneficial in some way.

Ah yes - perhaps a moment to clean the dash. Every component of the interior has to be scrub-a-dubbed. Tomorrow will be more of the same, plus we are expecting to start welding on the cage a little.


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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Today was a visit from John (TIT-CRUISER) and front bumper and interior work. I did the latter. Below is exactly one half of the interior. Everything has to be taken outside, washed carefully, plugs and switches checked and dried, and fasteners accounted for:

Here's the other half outside. There are a lot of pieces here. The biggest is the floor at left, which is indeed the entire floor of the car. Many of these pieces will be measured and altered to allow the cage tubing to pass through.

This is the look I got when I said the word "Hillary". He's been beating on his front bumper with a lot of fitting to allow the Warn to mount, and a plenty of cutting and fitting of various unwieldy brackets that we wish Toyota could have made a little stronger:

The bumper will be taken off for powdercoat next week. We're gonna do a dark metallic silver/gray on all the metal including the cage.

There are no less than five heat exchangers mounted tandem here. Starting from the left is the radiator itself, which Jeshua and I discovered hides a transmission fluid cooler inside. In front of that is the black AC condenser. The hefty aluminum piece is the URD intercooler heat exchanger, and angled on top is the black URD cooler for the Rotrex supercharger blower unit.

Mr. Demello has expertly made them all fit behind the grill with room to spare and excellent airflow.

I didn't take pictures of TIT-CRUISER because he is taller and younger. By the same rationale you can understand why it's OK for me to take pictures of Demello however.

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·

When I got in this morning with the donuts, I found that Savvyav had meticulously connected and labeled all the mystery wires. Now THAT is a cool guy. This saved us many hours and blown-up equipment. Thanks again Savvy.

Since Jason can only get real work done early in the morning before the phone starts ringing, he had finished off the bumper and it was sent off for powdercoat today.

These are the tabs for the lights.

Put your orders in now!

We made gussets to join the cage tubes to the body and frame. This one for example is welded to the body where it pokes through the floor, and then butt-welded to the frame as you see him doing here. Then my famous gussetts go in which are of course the highlight of the whole build.

Mark (mtrent3450) came by with loads of monster cable and advice. He's a lifetime desert runner... I learn so much from everyone stopping by to help. Mark has a super clean looking Titanium with lo and behold my original Expedition One bumper and Superwinch. That was a great combo that I hated to sell.

This afternoon Baja Winner Dylan Evans of Donahoe Racing came by to give his opinions on the rear suspension design. He likes a 3-link with panhard like MissFJ's, just built lighter since I will not be crawling a lot. This will allow me to keep my gas tank and not have to do a cell. Jason is big on the 4-link on Dylan's race FJ. This would be fine too IF we can fit a cell that is also easy to live with.

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