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Premium Member
927 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My screen name is Briareos (pronounced Bree-R-E-ose). Briareos is a fictional character created by Masamune Shirow in the Appleseed series of comic books, which take place in the future. Briareos is a human who suffered from major war injuries, and was fitted with a full experimental cybernetic body that provided him with many combat enhancements, but compromised many aspects of being human (think Robocop, but better). I thought this was a fitting analogy for a mod-obsessed FJ driver, who enjoys being encased in piece of machinery that has been modded to walk a fine line between purpose-built off-road and daily driver service.

2009 Silver Fresco, automatic, …. Verified to have beefed up fenders with straw test:
Here is closest pic I have to stock:


Being used:

Type of Wheeling:
Central East Coast wheeling consists mainly of forest trails, jeep trails, mud, and rocks if you look for them. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of opportunity for the high speed stuff. Therefore, most of my mods are suited for general slower speed trail type use and daily driver operation. We do have some off road parks that offer everything from mild to wild. I got wild out of my system with my previous Tacoma. This build is intended to be practical, yet appeal to my sense of aesthetics with well integrated capabilities that lean towards “overkill” rather than “adequate” while still being driver friendly.

Build Approach:
Unfortunately, I only have hand tools and the normal assortment of do-it-yourself power tools. No welder, no lathe, no tubing bender, etc. This means most of what I do involves bolting on and tweaking parts that others have fabricated. I did make a few parts from aluminum and plastic, but by and large, this is a bolt together build.
Now that the basic vehicle and use category is covered, here is my mod summary, separated by topic area in the posts below. It is not in chronological order as a whole, but each section is divided into "rounds" which describe my progression within that area...

FJ Mod Summary/Contents:

Front Suspension:
Rough Country 6" lift
Total Chaos upper control arms with heim joints
Total Chaos lower stock length control arms with modded bushings
Icon Coilovers for 6" lift
Custom bumpstop spacers
Wheelers Superbumps

Rear Suspension:
Total Chaos lower links with modded bushings for more twist
Rough Country upper links modded for more twist
Radflo shocks
Rough Country lift springs
Total Chaos panhard bar
Metal Tech Bumpstop spacer
custom bumpstop spacer (additional)

Body/Chassis Mods:
Expedition One Sliders
Aluminess Front Winch Bumper
OEM black door handles, mirrors, grill
Baja Rack flat roof rack
LoD Rear Swing Out Bumper with custom support
Total Chaos Rear Link Skids
All Pro Transfer Case Skid
ARB Snorkel
Rocky Mountain rear driveshaft

Body mount chop and custom front mud flaps
Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs 315 70 R 17
Method "the standard" race wheels
Custom Cut ARP studs in front
Custom 7mm wheel spacer in front

Misc Mods:
SuperWinch Rock95 with synthetic line
Factor 55 "loaded" winch thimble
Factor 55 billet hitch link
ARB premium recovery kit
Warn power cut-off switch for winch
Bushranger X-Jack
bow shackles on bumpers
3 OTRATTW LED switches (compressor, fog lights, backup lights)
Through-the-roof connectors for front and rear roof lights
PIAA 1500 rear backup lights
PIAA 520 ATP driving lights
PIAA 540 ion crystal fog lights
BlitzPro LED roof lights
Hypertech speedo/odo Recalibrator
ARB compressor
Cobra CB
3' Firestik
Bandi CB mount, modifed
MPAC straddle
MPAC side rack
MPAC rear door rack
Custom Maxtrax carrier
Goodridge stainless steel brake lines
Backup camera mount and spare tire support

Premium Member
927 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Front Suspension:

This is the longest section of my build, with the most trial and error...

Round 1: 2.5" Donahoe/Icon Suspension

First suspension mod on this FJ was re-built Icon suspension from my 2007 FJ. The coilovers were still good, the springs even still have “donahoe racing” printed on them. Unfortunately, I think their early billet upper control arms are crap. I went through many problems: tight uniball races caused the mounting hardware to loosen, and could never get a good alignment out of them and They were only on my first FJ for a short while. Later in this section I descibe a jig I built to measure the a-arm position. I installed these arms in that jig and confirmed what I had suspected - the Donahoe arms are too long - explaining why I could never get a good camber angle. Additionally, the hardware did not tolerate even one east coast winter, as the following pics show...

Round 2: Total Chaos Upper Control Arms

This iteration consisted of replacing the Donahoe upper arms with Total Chaos upper arms with bushings. This was a "set it and forget it" mod, and I never had a problem in over 4 years, with minimal maintenance, and perfect alignments.

Round 3: Rough Country 6" Kit, Total Chaos and Radflo

This round was the big one. Due to my bumper choices (see body section), I wanted to improve approach/departure angle. For lifts over 3 inches there are bracket lifts, and long travel. I wanted to keep stock length arms, so long travel was out, but I also wanted to be able to tweak the range of travel and free it up. Ideally, a 3” bracket lift would have suited my needs, except it doesn’t exist – YES IT DOES. The Rough Country kit is really only a 3” kit that gets another three inches by moving the suspension arms – just like Icon, Old Man Emu, etc. This poor pic shows the drop down distance of the bracketry:

I didn’t want a full 6” so this was perfect, the second 3” stage of the lift could be dialed to anything I wanted if I installed adjustable coilovers. In theory this sounds great, and the install experience was quite interesting.

My front suspension goal was to maximize strength and flexibility. To do this, I blended in parts from Total Chaos with the Rough Country 6” kit. The main benefit of the TC lower arms is replacing the bonded rubber bushings in the OEM lower control arms with poly bushings and sleeves. This eliminates any resistance to control arm movement. They are also stronger, and due to the way the Rough Country kit brackets hang from the frame, the lower control arms are the main structural bridge between the bottoms of the front and rear brackets. These TC arms are more than up to the job, but some modifications were needed. I discovered an interference at the inside rear caster cam. If the cam is turned in, or the suspension is dropped, the inside edge of the rear Rough Country bracket will dig into the back of the lower TC arm. Some grinding and painting on both parts solved this problem.

After using Total Chaos upper control arms with bushings with the previous lift (Round 2), there was no way I could go back to stock uppers. For this application, I selected the TC arms with adjustable heim joints. The Rough Country kit presumably does not need caster correction (the main reason folks buy aftermarket UCAs), and since I wasn’t planning on dialing in the full lift, I might even end up with an abundance of caster angle. The ability to adjust the heims on the TC uppers meant I could dial out some of the caster angle to get it closer to stock upper arm geometry, while retaining all the benefits of the race-grade hardware. To do this I built a jig that enabled me to adjust the arms to achieve close to desired geometry, here is a pic of the jig:

and here is a more detailed post on this effort:

The folks at Rough Country know that not everyone will stick with the recommended length shocks, so they provide a bumpstop for drop travel, and a bumpstop for compression travel. This may seem like overkill, but it is a great advantage. You can tweak the bumpstops rather than have to use limit straps if you have coilovers or arm geometries that exceed RC’s expected specs. The lower Total Chaos arms have a different profile than the stock arms, so they also provide a bumpstop spacer. This means I would have to stack the RC and TC spacers to ensure the suspension does not overcompress.

For this incarnation, I decided to try Radflo. I went with the 2.0 version (again – not bombing through any deserts in this part of the world). They are about the same extended length as the stock shocks bolted to the RC spacers. The Radflo website lists the travel for these shocks as 5.12" which is the same amount of travel for their unlifted and 2" lifted versions.

Radflo Suspension Technology - OE Replacement Shock Absorber Applications

When I mounted the Radflos on the FJ, the upper drop bumpstop was not engaging - probably due to the fact that the TC arms with uniballs sit higher above the spindle than the stock arms. I easily corrected this by inserting three fiber reinforced rubber washers in the drop bumpstop assembly ordered from McMaster Carr: McMaster-Carr (McMaster Carr part no 90131A552). This enables the bumpstop to take the initial shock prior to the coilover hitting full extension. Both the coilovers and the drop bumpstops will work independently to ensure my front suspension does not overextend, possibly damaging the CV shafts.

On the compression side I knew I might have issues due to combinging RC and TC. I started by asking Radflo for the travel of these coilovers and was told 5.12 inches. I then subtracted 5.12 inches from the overall length of the coilover and jacked up the lower arm (without coilover in place) until this was the distance between the coilover mounting points. It looks like the upper arm hitting the fender and the lower arm hitting the rotor will happen before the coilover bottoms out. I backed off the compression and then I measured the distance from the bumpstop mounting surface to the top of the lower arm so I could compare this to the heights of the spacers provided with the kits (it was 5.13 inches for my particular FJ, yours will likely be different).

Another variable is the compressibility of the stock bumpstops. A quick trip to the bench vice to test the front bumpstops indicated that a good solid squeeze (approx full compression?) occurs with the front bumpstops squeezed down about ¼ inch, so I added ¼ inch to the measured length of the ideal bumstop. This confirmed I needed longer bumpstop spacers than what was providecd. Overall, the too-short bumpstop problem was easily remedied by cutting some ultra high molecular weight polyethylene rod (2.25 in dia) to a precise length and installing it in the bumpstop stack in place of the spacer provided by TC. The UHMW block is directly above the metal "box" in the picture below. TC provides a steel spacer that is used with their lower arms. My UHMW block is just slightly taller than the spacer TC provides.

Round 3 Update: Bumpstop Rework

Something about bolting a spacer to a spacer just seems half a$$ed, here is the updated part, it is 2.25" diameter ultra high molecular weight polyethylene, drilled and tapped for bumpstop on bottom and equivalent peice of M10x1.25 metric all-thread on top. I used a 2.25" diameter rubber washer on top to act as a "lock washer" while still providing support across the entire surface of the spacer:

The taller bumpstop spacer also keeps the upper control arm from hitting the wheel well at full compression, and keeps the uniball from binding. Here are pics to show how close it is at full compression:

Now both my compression and extension travel in the front is properly limited and I know that my CV joints have a chance at long life. Some folks may think this bumpstop effort was overkill, but it is vitally important when mixing components that operate differently from different manufacturers. There was one member who suffered a catastrophic failure on a mixed Total Chaos long travel and Rough Country lift. I posted my thoughts in that thread, and have not experienced any problems myself, which I attribute to good bumpstops...

Round 4: Icon Coilovers for RC and Wheeler's SuperBumps

This round was precipitated by my constant need to crank the Radflo coilovers to maintain ride height. The Radflo coilovers I have use 650# 14" Eibach coils with a 14" free length and 7.01" block height. The Radlo coilovers have a travel of 5.12" If you add the coilover travel and the block height, you get the minimum height for the spring when cranked, installed and extended. I finally went below this minimum height, which means my coil will bind prior to suspension bottoming normally, even considering the longer bumpstops. In Radflos defense, they normally provide a 700# coil, I went lighter to maximize front suspension flexibility. I decided to give Icons another try...

From full drop to full compression the vertical range of motion at the wheel mounting flange is 9.44 inches with the Icons installed. It was slightly more with the Radflos due to their longer length. If you believe the FJ Cruiser bulletin published by Toyota, the stock front vertical travel is 7.88 (if someone has a better number, please let me know). This would indicate I can potentially get 1.56 more travel than stock at each front wheel (depending on how well I optimize my bumpstop spacer height).

Coilover Comparison:
Radflo – free length: 25.75, compressed length: 20.63 and travel: 5.118
Icon – free length: 25.50, compressed length: 19.94 and travel: 5.56
Stock with RC spacer - free length: 26.25, rest no clue...

Note: My stock coilovers have been on the shelf for about 3 years with springs installed, so it may be possible that the constant tension on the shock has compressed some of the internals and it may have "grown" a little. It could explain why both Radflo and Icon coilovers are shorter than stock with RC top spacer.

At full bump (as defined above with proper bumpstops), the Radflos still have 0.12 of available compression travel left, while the Icons still have 0.81. Also at full bump I have to maintain a 5.13" spacing between between the upper bumpstop mounting point and upper surface of lower arm. I wanted to install Wheeler's SuperBumps, which are supposed to compress to the same height as stock bumpstops, but provide a more gradual bottom out effect. Based on previous experience, and not even knowing the actual compressibility of the stock bumpstops (other than my vice test) I didn't want to assume anything. My biggest challenge was to determine what is a good number for full compression of the Wheeler's SuperBumps so I could fine tune the length of my compression bumpstop spacer. I found some You-Tube clips of the superbumps in extreme action and determined they will compress "pretty far." I ended up cutting my new spacer 4.5" tall out of 3" diameter ultra high molecular weight polyethylene rod (a UV stabilized formulation for outdoor use). I used the larger diameter to fully support the Wheeler's Superbump, which has a 3" diameter as well. The Wheeler's SuperBump is bonded to a metal base plate and held on with an allen bolt from insde the spacer. I decided to add a few washers under the allen bolt. The 4.5" tall spacer, combined with the metal plate and allen bolt head/two extra washers measure out to be just short of 5.13", so this provides some degree of uncompressible failsafe against overcompression of the bumpstop.

On a side note, hit quite a few speedbumps tonight to help settle in the new coilovers. I asked for a "Low speed valving change" from Icon when I ordered these, and they are much smoother than the previous two pair of Icons I had on both this FJ, my first FJ, and a 2008 Tacoma. Additionally, the Wheelers SuperBumps do indeed eliminate the feel of hitting the bumpstops. It looks odd, but typically these bumpstops are very close to hitting the arms at normal ride height, don't let this be a concern, they absolutely will squish... Here is a link to the Super Bumps in action (not my truck). Not like normal bumpstops...

First off, a shot of the different coilovers side by side:

The bumpstop spacers are the black spacers between the frame and bumpstop. Here are pics showing coilover removed and full weight of front corner on Wheelers SuperBump only. As you can see, in this static loading scenario, I only have a little "breathing room" for both upper arm clearance with metal top of fender, and lower arm clearance with rotor. Metal to metal full travel is 9 7/16". From static bump to full drop I now have 8 5/8" travel (jackstand did shift, so this number may be a little soft). So overall, this gives me about 3/4" of buffer compression travel at the wheel beyond static before metal starts hitting metal.

This picture shows how much the Wheelers superbumps can compress. These things are unreal. No wonder they soften out the ride so much. You can also see the massive UHMWPE spacers I made:

And here is a picture of the final install - I was so impressed with the SuperBumps that I also replaced the RC supplied drop bumpstops for the upper arms with another set of SuperBumps. You can see the UCAs resting on them. They are softer than the RC bumpstops, and take even more "clunk" out of full extension without limiting travel.

After all this work to ensure the suspension components didn't interfere, I decided to check tire clearance as well. I installed the wheel/tire and jacked the arm up to full static bump without the coilover, and confirmed that there is full clearance for the tire, even when turning. It comes closest at rear of fenderwell, which is probably why Rough Country recommends the body mount chop when running 35's.

There is no binding of the steering linkage anywhere in this range of travel.

Measurement of Rough Country Crossmember Compared to Stock:

I also measured the crossmember drop to address some of the confusion about "drop bracket" kits reducing clearance. This pic should show that the Rough Country brackets actually increase clearance (assuming all other factors such as tire size and LCA angle are equivalent).

For stock FJs, the lowest frame point is the second LCA crossmember in the front. Measuring down from this crossmember to ground will provide front clearance for that particular vehicle, but it does not eliminate other variables (how high the coilovers are cranked, tire size). Because of these variables it is difficult to compare different setups equally. If you measure down from the LCA caster/cam bolts you can capture all the frame related aspects that extend below the arms. The stock crossmember dips below these pivot bolts by about three inches (top picture), not including the thickness of skids. Obviously I am trying to show the stock configuration on my truck, so please keep in mind on the stock configuration, the LCAs mount in the upper set of bolts that are holding the RC crossmember in this picture.

The new RC crossmember extends down 1.25 inches below the suspension (bottom picture). My intent is to show that with equal tire size and control arm angle, the RC crossmember provides 1.75" more clearance than stock crossmember.

Here is a theoretical example>
Stock vehicle with 3" lift via new coilovers or spacers - yields additional 3" clearance under front of vehicle.
RC 3" drop brackets with coils cranked 3" (otherwise known as RC 6" kit) - yields additional 4.75" clearance under front of vehicle.

Round 5: Back to Standard Valving and Modified Total Chaos Lower Control Arm Bushings:

Last weekend I installed the standard valved Icon coilovers. I also installed 1/4" thick spacers above the coilvers to regain the full extension travel I had with the Radflos. The vehicle has better side-to-side stability than the original "Icon low speed valving change" I started with.

I also modified and installed new Total Chaos lower front control arm bushings.

The TC bushings use metal sleeves. The metal sleeve on the front bushing has a thin wall and digs into the control arm pockets on the frame. HBMurphy originally solved this problem by shaving down the poly bushings and shortening the metal sleeves so he could insert some stainless washers as a buffer between the bushings sleeves and the frame pockets. I followed his lead, but implemented differently by insetting heavier, smaller diameter washers into the bushing face.

It turns out this mod is not needed for the rear bushings on the arm, which have a thicker walled sleeve, so I just changed out the fronts. Here is a pic of the modded bushings:


Premium Member
927 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Rear Suspension:

Round 1: Donahoe/Icon Rear Suspension and Man-a-Fre Links

Initially I installed the Donahoe coils and shocks. They served me well. My first set of rear upper and lower links were made by Man-a-fre. I think these are the best links out there for FJs without extended rear travel. The bushings are soft and will absorb road shock. The uniballs in the lower arms are very burly, and the misalignment spacers are as well. Here is a pic of the links after I removed them.

Unfortunately, the large diameter of the lower links enables them to hit the bottom of the axle when extended well beyond stock range. I also ran through the math to calculate how much the axle moves side to side during articulation. There is measurable side shift to the rear axle. Side shift requires special consideration, which leads me to the final set of rear lower links, which I continue to run with the Rough Country kit.

Round 2: Total Chaos Links with Modded Bushings

I described my ideal links rear links in this post Ultimately, I chose Total Chaos again for my rear lower links, not out of brand loyalty, but because they offered features I needed. They have a small diameter, which provides clearance between the axle and the link, and they are compatible with the Total Chaos link skids.

The only thing I do not like about these links are the bushings. This goes back to the side shift issue. The rear axle can move up to ½” laterally. The heim joint or uniball can easily accommodate this, but bushings are not designed be pulled very far in a SIDEWAYs direction. Coupled with the thin bracketry on the rear axle, the last thing I wanted was to start wallowing out the holes in the mounting brackets. To solve this, I borrowed a feature from the Old Man Emu bushings on the Man-a-Fre links. These bushings have a slight undercut by the bushing flange. When installed in the bushing shell, the bushings have a “barrel” shaped profile, rather than a “cylinder” shaped profile. This means the bushing shell can rotate slightly around the bushing in a SIDEWAYs direction. I installed the regular TC bushing in a vice and measured the sideways deflection under a constant load. I did it again with the modified bushings and achieved substantial improvement, enough to alleviate any concerns of unduly stressing the rear axle bracketry, and very conveniently setting me up for the Rough Country kit that was to come in the future. Here is a pic of the modified bushing next to stock bushing, modded bushing on left…

Round 3: Rough Country 6" Kit

Round three is very simple, it is the Rough Country rear suspension with Radflo shocks, modified Total Chaos lower links, and Metal Tech offset bumpstops. The RC kit relies on the rubber bumper on the rear shock as a bumpstop, as the rear shock compressed length is still too long to allow the stock bumpstops to work. Here is a pic I snapped of someone else's kit, they cut their bumpstop off, but even if it was full length, it is nowhere near long enough to be effective:

I would rather the bottoming out forces are shared by the frame and axle housing, rather than the shock mounts. The new arc swing corrected metal tech bumpstop spacer will achieve this, almost like it was made for use with this kit…plus the RC kit comes with longer than stock rear upper links, so the offset in the Metal Tech bumpstop is even more needed. EDIT: Although a step in the right direction, the Metal Tech bumpstops are not quite long enough for Rough Country kit when used with Radflo rear shocks, which are a little longer than the Rough Country rear shocks. Here is a pic of the Metal Tech bumpstop spacer (painted black):

After running the TC lower arms for a while (a few years), the misalignment spacers and rod ends were getting pretty corroded. I replaced the rod ends, and had new spacers machined out of stainless, and got new stainless jam nuts. The new hardware should be good to go for many years…here is old and new…

Round 3 Update: Rough Country Upper Link Problem

Discovered yesterday that both Rough Country upper rear links spit out their guts on one end, here is a pic of one of them:

It looks like the C-Clip came out, here is what it looks like dis-assembled:

And re-assembled (I noted the center to center length because if this happens again, it is time for some custom links...)

Round 4: Modded Rough Country Upper Links and Even Longer Bumpstops

15 Jun 2012

After going to Rausch Creek, I noticed two things, the rear bumpstops were still not long enough, and the Rough Country rear links were still prone to popping apart. Both issues are now fixed.

The bumpstop issue was fairly easy, I cut a 1" spacer from UHMWPE and bolted it between the bumpstop and the Metal Tech spacer. It seems like overkill, but now the upper bumpstop and the bumper on the Rear Radflo shock will both hit at the same time.

These first two pics show the rear suspension compressed. There is still air under the metal tech spacer/upper bumpstop, while the Radflo rear shock is down to the bumper.

These next two pics show the 1" tall spacer prior to installation, and installed.

The rear rough country links were easily modified for more articulation. These links use a Johnny Joint, which consists of a spherical ball inside a plastic race which is contained in the end of the arm with washers and a c-clip. The inside diameter of the washers define the available range of twist for the spherical ball assembly. The pic below shows the gouge that is starting to develop in the ball assembly where it is binding against the edge of the washer:

My solution to fixing this problem was to install new washers with a sligthly larger ID. This pics shows the new washer (stainless) and the original washer (gold color). You can see the stainless washer has a larger ID:

One caution is in order: the original washer ID is smaller than the diameter of the spherical ball. The new stainless washer ID is just sligthly larger than the diameter of the spherical ball. This means the ball could theoretically be pushed out of the bushing shell, but for this to happen the plastic race would have to be extruded out with it, and the axle bracket would have to seriously self destruct as well.

Here is a picture of the new washers installed. You can see the additional room around the ball. Severe twist scenarios will be somewhat mitigated by the new bumpstops, but these links should now be able to accomodate more twist without any metal-to-metal contact, which is what caused them to pop apart previously (twice).


Premium Member
927 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)


First body mod was Expedition One sliders, after giving away the plastic/aluminum steps. The powdercoat went south within a year, and I had them sandblasted and professionally re-coated by EastCoast PowderCoat. They have been going strong since.

Aluminess Front Bumper:

Second Body mod was Aluminess front bumper. I love this bumper, and the folks at Aluminess are great to deal with. I asked the folks at Aluminess to add in a modified metal panel under the wings to flesh the bumper out more. They were happy to oblige, and I think it turned out great. Note: this pic is pre-RC lift.


Somewhere along the way I also did the blackout with bezel, door handles and mirrors, but no plasti-dip yet:)...

Roof Rack:

Third body mod was Baja Rack utility rack. Another great mod. It has proven very useful for Home Depot runs to get plywood and drywall. It is completely stock with the exception that I replaced the mounting bolts with stainless button head bolts for a smoother look, and added rear backup lights. Here is a pic of the new bolts, and the plug for the rear backup lights...

Rear Bumper with Swingout:

Fourth body mod was a LoD rear bumper. I posted a pretty detailed description of how I modded the swingarm so it is vertically supported. You can see the added support post in the pic below. Again, love this bumper, no regrets.

Link Skids:

One of my earliest mods was the Total Chaos link skids. Here is a picture of the link skids. I added a countersunk bolt to the nose of the skid to keep it against the frame...I thought about welding, but it is an advantage to be able to completely disassemble it every once in a while to touch up any new rust...

Transfer Case Skid:

Most recent body mod was to install All Pro transfer skid plate. I had the aluminum Asfir set of skids prior to the RC lift, and like them a lot, but they could not be used with the RC drop bracketry. Hence, All Pro transfer skid called into duty. I broke a transfer case on my Tacoma, so I feel this is probably one of the most important skids to have, and like the Asfir transfer case skid, it is STEEL. (all the other skids in the Asfir set are aluminum). Here is a pic of the All Pro skid...In case you are wondering, I drilled the two large drainage holes under the crossover pipe. Without the holes, small rocks would get wedged between the skid and the pipe and make bad noises. I also had to use some additional washers to space the skid back about 1/2" from the crossmember in order to center the crossover pipe in the bumped out section. Otherwise, it would vibrate against the skid.


21 Sep 2012 - Installed snorkel today...

First off, thanks to Boston, who did an excellent write up on install of PRG snorkel, highly recommend following it:

I went with the Safari brand. I looked very carefully at the PRG snorkel, and I think it has a few features that are better implemented, such as the allen sockets to install the studs. The Safari version requires you to grab them with something. I used pliars with rubber protectors and still slightly damaged the threads...easily fixed by running the nuts on and off prior to install, but still unexpected.

I also noticed the front corner of the Safari snorkel did not sit completely flush to the sheetmetal. Not a huge deal, but I thought I remembered someone with the PRG snorkel with the same comment. I think the issue is more related to where the snorkel is mounted on the fender (there is considerable variability considering how much it floats around in the mounting holes before you tighten it down). I just added a bead of black silicon caulk along the top and front between snorkel and sheetmetal. This will hopefully keep debris from getting in behind.

Overall, very pleased. If I did it again, I would strongly consider the PRG brand. I had a snorkel on my previous 1st gen tacoma, so now I have to get used to all the odd looks and questions all over again...

Rear Driveshaft:

2 Nov 2012 - First off, big thanks to LarryStew and VooDooSmurf for breaking ground on solving the vibrating driveshaft issue some RC6 users experience. I just installed a new driveshaft today from I have several thousand miles on my Rough Country kit, and I finally started to get a vibration. Did some research, and ordered a new double cardan shaft from Rocky Mountain Driveline. I am the type of person who believes in trust, but verify. I trusted that Rocky Mountain had all the specs correct, but verified upon reciept. The new driveshaft fits beautifully, and compressed and extended lenths are better than stock. Best of all, no more driveline vibrations at slow speeds. One caution is in order: Rocky Mountain uses Chevron Black Pearl grease on these, which is not compatible with some other greases, so check compatibility of your grease (if different) if you go this route...

Also of Note: my initial angles were: transfer case: 0°, driveshaft 14°, rear axle 15° <<< THIS IS VERY BAD! input and output angles should not be this far apart for a standard universal driveshaft, but it is set up almost perfectly for the CV shaft. I can't beleive Rough Country would be this sloppy, but they were... After the new shaft was installed, my angles were: transfer case: 0°, driveshaft: 14° and rear axle 12°. This is near perfect for a CV driveshaft. Ideally you would want to have the rear axle and driveshaft in line, but in reality, it is better to have the axle slightly less than the driveshaft so under acceleration (when the rear squats a little) they move into alignment. It is also better for the bearings in the universal if they are 1 to 1.5° apart to ensure the bearings are exercised and maintain lubrication.

Here are pics...


Premium Member
927 Posts
Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Wheels and Tires:

Round 1: Nitto Terra Grapplers and Mudflap Mod

First tire mod was 285/70-17 Terra Grapplers. Very nice, and worked well on the FJ until I got the bug for bigger, meaner tires, courtesy of Jimmy’s Trail Grappler thread

In preparation, I did body mount chop and came up with a low profile mudflap.

Round 2: Nitto Trail Grapplers and Powdercoated Stock Wheels

I knew I wanted black wheels, and wanted to stick with OEM. I purchased a set of used OEM alloys, and had them professionally powdercoated by EastCoast PowderCoat. Then off to get the 295-70R17s mounted. These wheels have a different set of TPMS sensors, and rather than pay to have them registered to my FJ’s TPMS computer, I did !Cruzer!’s jumper mod, incorporating a switch so I could turn it on or off.
Here is a pic of wheel and tire…

After installing the RC 6" lift, these wheels and tires still worked, but I had to install the Spidertrax 1 1/4" wheel spacers so they would clear the steering spindles. Of course since the Trail Grapplers and stock wheels weighed 98#s a peice, and I had room to go larger, - it was time to upsize :)

Round 3: Good Year Duratracs, Method Wheels, Thin Spacers and New Studs

Next up, Method Race Wheels and 315/70R17 Duratracs. My favorite combination yet. The Methods are 17x8.5 with 0 offset/4.75" backspacing. I was surprised to see that the Method wheels have a 3200 lb load rating, a pleasant surprise, and much higher than average, which is usually 2200-2500 lbs for most cast wheels. The duratracs are 11 pounds lighter than the Trail Grapplers, and larger diameter, and quieter, and much smoother riding due to the D rating, whereas the Trail Grapplers were an E rating. The spare on the rear door was easiest to photograph...

Unfortunately, the Duratrac are a pretty wide tire, and when I first installed them on the FJ on the Method wheels, they came within 1/16" of rubbing the steering spindles. I selected the Methods after measuring the stock wheels and spidertrax spacers I ran initially. I knew they would be close, but not this close. I had to install some cheap 1/4" thick spacers from Auto Zone to prevent rubbing with sidewall flex. Here is a shot of the clearance after the spacers were installed...

For those thinking about the Rough Country 6" kit, STRONGLY RECOMMEND you go with 4.5" backspacing / -7mm offset if using an 8.5" wide wheel. Widths other than 8.5 will give you different backspacing numbers, but this combination will put the tire as close to the spindle as reasonably possible with enough room to spare, and allow clearance for wider tires like the Duratrac. Of course, if you want a wider stance, you can easily go with less backspacing/more negative offset. My recommended numbers set the tire for minimum clearance and minimum wheel bearing stress. Originally, I ran the stock wheels with Spidertrax spacers. This worked well, but the steering was not as stable as having wheels closer in. Here is a link to a detailed post I wrote on how to select wheel specifications (of course I figured all this out AFTER buying my own wheels), oh well, hopefully it helps someone else:

In anticipation of the Method wheels, I also installed longer front wheels studs. I selected studs made by ARP, and cut them to length (2.0 inches) to allow for the thicker flange section on the Method wheels (but had not accounted for the unanticipated spacer) and still get proper lug nut engagement. The process I used for determining optimal stud length and installation is documented in these posts:

Stud Length:

For a more permanent solution to the spacer issue, I ordered some custom 7mm spacers from We manufacture the best Wheel Spacers money can buy | Motorsport Tech The new spacers will be machined from billet aluminum to be hub-centric, with the properly sized holes for the 12mm wheel studs.

UPDATE: here is the 7mm thick motorsport tech wheel spacer, and a second set (because I didn't want to lose 7mm of thread engagment with the spacer) of ARP studs installed. The studs were cut 2.235" long, and work perfectly with the spacers and method wheels. I get full lug nut engagement through the main body of the lug nut. I really dont like the idea of using a spacer like this, but at least it is billet aluminum, and hub centric, and there is no chance of my tires skimming the steering spindle, even when the bearings start to go...

Motorsports Tech spacer on left, cheap spacer on right:

Motorsports Tech spacer installed - fits tight on hub, which is not really a big deal because it is so close to center of rotation that being off-center would not impact balance. It does address my other concern - I was afraid over time the cheap spacer might be susceptible to cracking due to heating/cooling, relatively thin sections, and unknown material properties. You can also see the pretty gold ARP studs...


Premium Member
927 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)

Okay, here are the rest of the mods...



I installed a Superwinch Rock 95. I chose this winch primarily based on weight. It's installed weight is only 57.6 lbs, and I got it for a steal on Amazon when they were closing them out. Due to the way the front bumper face slants where the fairlead mounts, I routed out the inner edge of the fairlead so the synthetic rope is not being pulled over a corner. Here is a pic. The radius I used on the back side matches the existing radius on the front, and the two met perfectly in the center...

Factor 55 Thimble for Winch:

Used these instructions to resplice rope eye: Instructions/12Strand_C2_Eye Splice_JUL2012_WEB.pdf Instructions/Tools Required for Splicing_SEPT2012_WEB.pdf
I made my own FID using an large diameter aluminum knitting needle from a local craft/sowing shop.

One feature I don't like about the factor 5 thimble is that the metal eyelet in the rope extends back, and it WILL gouge an aluminum fairlead if the fairlead is angled.

To solve this problem, when I removed the metal eyelet, I cut a short section of the chafe guard, and used that as a a new eye splice protector.
In order to prevent weakening the rope, I also used a combination of aluminum and PVC spacers to provide a larger diameter for the rope eye to pull over.

I did not care for the snap ring method of retaining the titanium pin in the Factor 5 thimble, so I drilled a very small hole up through the bottom of the thimble, and use a small nail to retain the pin. Now I can very quickly attach and remove the thimble without special tools. Normally I keep the thimble stored in the vehicle, and the rope tucked inside the bumper. The snap on rubber cover keeps the nail in place.

Not Shown: Factor 55 Hitch Link, ARB Premium Recovery Kit, Warn Power cutoff switch for winch, Bushranger X-Jack, and Maxtrax


OTRATTW Switches:

First off, thanks to Ruebarb for his writeup I added three switches, a two way for the backup lights (in the up position they are automatic with reverse, middle position is off, and bottom position is on), fog light switch and ARB switch.

Round 2 with properly backlighted switches (although not visible in daylight photo):

Backup Light Mounts and through-the-roof connector:

I ordered stainless u-bolt clamps with vibration damping plastic bushings from McMaster Carr: McMaster-Carr (Part no 3176T5). These fit the large tubing on the roof rack perfectly and enable me to mount my rear lights, using a strip of 1/8" thick aluminum to go from the u-bolt to the light bracket. I did cut down the U-bolt length so it just extends past the nylock nuts for aesthetic purposes...

The electrical connector was ordered from ebay, and is supposedly the same one that comes in the OEM roof lighting kit from Toyota. I also installed on for the front roof lights.


I am running PIAA 1500 rear backup lights, PIAA 520 driving lights, and PIAA 540 ion crystal fog lights (no pics yet).

Out of a neurotic obsession to fully utilize all the stock toyota switches, I decided to install some roof lights. I chose lights that would remain within the 110 Watt toyota design envelope so I could use the stock roof light switch and wiring, in combination with a through-the-roof connector.

Here are two BlitzPro SR15s mounted up top. Good flood pattern, very bright, but range is about the same as low beams. Should be fine for general purpose night activities, and cant beat the price...

Hypertech Speedo/Odo Calibrator:

I got really tired of using my GPS to track my speed, and using conversion factors to calculate my milage was a PITA. This was all solved with a product from Hypertech, their in-line calibrator. It is essentially a piggyback harness that attaches between the main harness and the instrument panel underneath the drivers dash box. No wire cutting is involved. A small black box is provided with a USB port, and you use the provided software to enter the old and new tire sizes, and old/new gear ratios (if applicable) and it calculates a conversion factor which is used to modify the signal going to your speedo and odo. It is Hypertech product number 730108. Hypertech 730108 In-Line Speedometer Calibrator Module for Toyota FJ Cruiser 2007-2010: Automotive. NOTE/Edit: in stock form, most folks note the FJ speedo reads faster than their GPS, and the speedo/GPS match is actually closer after going up one tire size. If you use this Hypertech unit, I suggest you set the stock tire size to 32", and it will result in a more accurate end result than if you use the actual stock tire size of 31.7". Here is a screen shot:

ARB Compressor:

Not much to show here, I made a custom aluminum plate that picked up three existing bolt holes in the passenger fender, and bolted it in...If I had it to do over, I would mount like this: Reason being, I have to open the rear anyway to get air line, having the compressor there keeps it in the works space, and keeps it in a clean environment...

CB Mount on Springtail Straddle:

This was one of those small mods that can make things a lot easier. Previously, I was keeping my cobra CB in one of the MPAC straddle bags, which works well for long term storage, but it is not good for quick accessibility, and laying the CB in the center console area was not a good solution either. The MPAC straddle was the perfect place to add a mount without drilling anymore holes into my FJ's interior. Here is a pic of the mount bolted to the straddle, and an installed pic:

Bandi Mount:

Like most, I used the trusted Bandi mount, but added my own tweaks. I bent the mount a little to match the profile of the hinge, and knocked out the stud and replaced with a button headed bolt so I could tighten it from the outside...


Interior Storage:

MPAC Siderack (not shown)
MPAC rear door storage (not shown)
MPAC Straddle (see above)

Maxtrax Carrier:

I just finished a project to build a bumper mount for my maxtrax. Goal was to have something that folds up when not used, easily lockable, and not interfere with rear vision. I think the first prototype turned out pretty good. Materials were ordered from McMaster Carr, and used a short bicycle wheel lock cable from amazon.

Folded Up:

One Maxtrax installed:

Both installed and locked:


Stainless Steel Brake Lines:

Installed Goodridge stainless steel lines. Had a few issues with length and fit, but they are in. Unfortunately, the pedal does not feel particularly different than before, but the lines do provide extra length which is better suited to the RC lift. Unfortunately, the stainless lines provided for the rear calipers (which do not have to be extended) were about 4" too long, so I did not install those. Here are the obligatory pics, and more details in this post:

Backup Camera Mount and Spare Tire Support:

The LoD carrier comes with three studs that you hang the tire on - there is no provision for the backup camera. Here was my first camera mount - it worked, but if I hit the bracket while moving the tire it did not support the wheel at all.

The Method wheels also have an acorn seat, and it would be nice if the wheel was vertically supported to aid in getting the lugnuts centered. This led me to add a wheel support to the carrier. This new support is simply a 1" thick peice of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene that is bolted to the carrier. It is positioned so the centerbore of the wheel rests on the top of the support and the three studs are automatically positioned properly to tighten the lugs. It also securly positions my backup camera...

Here is new and improved version. Will.Not.Bend.

Premium Member
13,321 Posts
Looks great and excellent reasoning for purchases. Well thought out. Aluminess rarely gets any play on here (same with LoD) and yet they both make great products. Cant wait to see the pics!:bigthumb:


Premium Member
9,302 Posts
^^. Looks like a fine job, in my opinion.

Mine should be moved to "Chat" so the structured approach is a much better way to present.

Great write up. I'm ordering the speedo calibrator. Didn't know it existed and the lack of has cost $387 to date.

Premium Member
13,321 Posts
Ok so Im curious... The drop bump stop you have pictured for the UCA... I dont have that. As far as I can remember- I havent had one. What gives?

Is that an aftermarket UCA bump?

Premium Member
927 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Ok so Im curious... The drop bump stop you have pictured for the UCA... I dont have that. As far as I can remember- I havent had one. What gives?

Is that an aftermarket UCA bump?
The drop bumpstop comes with the Rough Country kit, presumably because a few folks destroyed their CV shafts using longer than recommended coilovers. The RC kit pretty much stretches things to the limit on extension, so these are a final failsafe...

2,925 Posts

Okay, here are the rest of the mods...

I installed a Superwinch Rock 98. I chose this winch primarily based on weight. It's installed weight is only 57.6 lbs, and I got it for a steal on Amazon when they were closing them out. Due to the way the front bumper face slants where the fairlead mounts, I routed out the inner edge of the fairlead so the synthetic rope is not being pulled over a corner. Here is a pic. The radius I used on the back side matches the existing radius on the front, and the two met perfectly in the center...

First off, thanks to Ruebarb for his writeup I added three switches, a two way for the backup lights (in the up position they are automatic with reverse, middle position is off, and bottom position is on), fog light switch and ARB switch.

ARB Compressor:
Not much to show here, I made a custom aluminum plate that picked up bolt holes in the passenger fender, and bolted it in...

Bandi Mount:
Like most, I used the trusted Bandi mount, but added my own tweaks. I bent the mount a little to match the profile of the hinge, and knocked out the stud and replaced with a button headed bolt so I could tighten it from the outside...

Backup Light Mounts:
I ordered stainless u-bolt clamps with vibration damping plastic bushings from McMaster Carr McMaster-Carr These fit the large tubing on the roof rack perfectly and enable me to mount my rear lights, using a strip of 1/8" thick aluminum to go from the u-bolt to the light bracket.

Hypertech Speedo/Odo Calibrator:
I got really tired of using my GPS to track my speed, and using conversion factors to calculate my milage was a PITA. This was all solved with a product from Hypertech, their in-line calibrator. It is essentially a piggyback harness that attaches between the main harness and the instrument panel underneath the drivers dash box. No wire cutting is involved. A small black box is provided with a USB port, and you use the provided software to enter the old and new tire sizes, and old/new gear ratios (if applicable) and it calculates a conversion factor which is used to modify the signal going to your speedo and odo. It is Hypertech product number 730108. Hypertech 730108 In-Line Speedometer Calibrator Module for Toyota FJ Cruiser 2007-2010: Automotive. Here is a screen shot:

Nice work :bigthumb:

Premium Member
927 Posts
Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)

I owe you more thanks than you know. Mechanical stuff I can handle, electrical might as well be black magic. All your write ups were consulted when I did the electrical stuff.

thanks again,

2,925 Posts

I owe you more thanks that you know. Mechanical stuff I can handle, electical might as well be black magic. All your write ups were consulted when I did the electical stuff.

thanks again,
Glad you find them helpful, if you ever have questions, please ask.

Premium Member
927 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Thanks TCao, that means a lot coming from you! Also thanks for your insight on the ARP studs and TC lower front arms.


1,151 Posts
im pretty jealous of your build wish i would have kept the 17s but 16s will have to do.

looks good and keep it up!
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