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4-Corners Moderator
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
December 2019 Member of the Month: TexasFJ

We'd like to congratulate TexasFJ – Scuddy for being selected as the forum’s December 2019 Member of the Month!



Hayden: Tell us a bit about yourself (Family/pets, work/school, hobbies/interests, location, etc.)

Scuddy:Well, first off – I want to say thank you very much for this recognition. I’ve learned so much from all of the discussions on the board. Everyone has things to add and the only way to learn is to ask questions and take things apart.

I was born a small boy child in Houston. My sister was about 9 years older and therefore I was a constant pain in the buttocks. Dads’ job moved us every two years until he got tired of moving. We moved to Austin which is where I did all my real growing up.

I learned to drive in a 1974 MGB. The only flat space was the garage; the driveway sloped up to the street which went up or down. There were a lot of clenching of teeth on my part and a lot of “BRAKE! BRAKE! BRAKE!” on Dad’s part.

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In Austin at that time, the neighborhood was on the ragged edge of the city. We were surrounded by ranches and undisturbed spaces. At the end of my street there was a simple wooden barricade. Beyond that barricade were old jeep trails that I wandered down on foot or bike all summer long. My friends lived a valley or two over, so we’d meet at the old quarry and play war or just chase each other around like little heathens.

Eventually, I grew up…..well, I got older and got interested in driving off road. Mom and Dad bought me a Mitsubishi Montero. They were 2 door competitors to the new breed of Wranglers.

I really liked that little go anywhere 4x4. Literally, the first thing I did was to park in front of the house and practice taking the wheels off. It had a 2.4L naturally aspirated 4 banger. This was in the era of manually locking hubs. The engine wasn’t a paragon of horsepower but it was torquey and with the gearing it seemed perfectly happy crawling up and down the old jeep trails.

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I had custom nerf bars made at Spiller but they were welded on upside down. They worked and supported the entire weight of the little monster. I put on some aux lights I got from Autozone (probably) and wired it directly through a switch. Odd, but the switch kept melting…

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I really enjoyed seeing what it could do and would talk anyone I could into going out with me. Eventually one of my buddies got a Jeep Comanche, another bought a Jeep Cherokee (not the little one, the real one with “Bull Blood Red” paint) and a third used his Dad’s CJ5 bobtail. Good times! They always gave me grief about the 4 cylinder engine and I fell into the trap of trying to “upgrade” it. Really, I just messed it up with a different carb and a “race” cam.

I kept the Mitsu “Urban Gorilla” my last two years of High School and the first 4 years of college. I attended St. Edwards in south Austin for a few years then lost my mind and went to Texas Tech. It was at Tech when I first saw an FJ40. A friend had one and we’d go out. I was always amazed at what it could do with so little effort. I always thought it was blue; even mentioned it online as being blue but I found a picture and it’s not so much blue as it is yellow.

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I was out one evening, playing in the rain when I came across a small mud hole under a bridge. I tried to go through it in 2Hi but didn’t make it very far. So I backed out, locked the hubs, shifted into 4Hi, backed up a little more then launched into the mud puddle.

It turned out to be a little deeper than I expected. I got bogged down and tried to back out. That didn’t work and I tried to go forward but that didn’t work either. I got out and started hooking up chains and a come along. In the rain and the dark I tried to winch the Urban Gorilla out. After a few hours I had to give up because I was exhausted and hadn’t made any progress in either direction.

The next day I tried one wrecker service but he said his equipment wouldn’t budge the Montero. I ended up hiring a flatbed and it was a struggle for him to unstick it. I’d buried it deep in clay mud so it took a lot to break the stiction.

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After taking the Montero completely apart to dry it out and changing the fluids and blowing water out of the cylinders, it started up like a champ. For the next few years it smelled a little funny but ran just fine. When the synchro’s started to go bad, we had a family argument about keeping it. I wanted to but everyone else said to ditch it. At the time I was engaged and she was on the “get a family sedan type of car” side of the argument. I ended up with a Saturn 4 door. Mechanically, a great car but it had problems. Plus, with all of the sand in the air in the Panhandle, it generated so much static that it’d arc through my thick winter gloves. After that I had a Ford Ranger 2wd, a Honda Civic Hybrid, a Hyundai Sonata 2.0T, a 1991 Geo Metro drop top, the ’84 Chevy and finally the FJ.


Hayden: How did you come to own an FJ Cruiser? Is the FJ Cruiser your first off-road vehicle? If not, what was the first vehicle you took wheeling?

Scuddy:In college at Texas Tech I had a friend with a blue FJ40 (see? I told you I’ve been yapping about it being blue and not yellow). I fell in love with it and it was on my list of “must own” cars.

Spring forward to 2005 when the concept FJ Cruiser was presented to the world. I was sitting behind my desk at work. I was supposed to be drawing up surveys but instead I was reading everything I could find about the wicked cool FJ Cruiser. The visual cues were there: white top, the hood latches and the blue. I liked it from the one-off tire tread to the roof rack. I called my wife (at the time) and told her I was going to buy this vehicle.

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A few days later I started a binder of information. I collected magazines that reviewed the FJ. I printed out web pages with parts I wanted. I went to the Toyota build site so much that every time I logged on it said “Hi Scuddy. Can we please look at something else? How about a Corolla?” I’ve even got the first dollar I put away for purchase.

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Do you remember the card stock propaganda adverts in the magazines? I have all of those too.

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Then life happened. Years went by. Ended up with a Honda, then a Hyundai. Got a divorce and a motorcycle. Had a few wrecks and drove my 1984 Chevy C20 for a while. During this time I also drove around a 1991 Geo Metro droptop. One day I was idly looking online and saw my FJ for sale.

I saw it for sale at a dealer and asked to see it that evening. When I got there the first thing I did was to crawl all around underneath it looking for clues. Abuse, misuse or, in this case, even any off-road driving. There was nothing. No scratches, no rust, no dirt anywhere. There wasn’t even any dirt on top of the transmission or hidden in frame mounts. When I looked at the engine, it was clean and pretty with the battery being the only exception – lots of corrosion. Inside was the same. Virtually pristine! When we finally went for a test drive, I knew I was done. After the drive we agreed to a price then I scrambled around for money.


Hayden: How/when were you first introduced to the forum and what made you decide to join?

Scuddy: I think I found this forum because I would do a google search on the FJ Cruiser and threads would pop up. I’d read about the container ship the first allotment was on and where it was expected to dock. I used to know which dock in Seattle they were offloaded. I was obsessed! Because there were so many knowledgeable people on the board, I signed up even before I got mine. I didn’t see much vitriol being thrown around. It seemed like a group of very interested people posting their experiences. I can remember one member in Boston posting about the odd blizzard they had and how well the FJ handled it. I was sooooooo hooked. But as it turns out, the universe had different plans. In a way, it’s good. Because now I have experience that allows me to make cogent responses sometimes.


 

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Discussion Starter #2

Hayden: What modification on your rig is your favorite or was worth the money/time/effort that you’d recommend it to someone else?

Scuddy:So far, it has to be the rear window actuator. I don’t know why Toyota didn’t make that an option originally. Or maybe the awning. When it’s 119 outside, that shade is a wonderful thing. No, it has to be the seat covers. Well, I think the rear window……no, the techstream kit from amazon to get the key programed. I would have to say that it’s the…..um…..on the basis of worth the effort I’ll go with the rear window actuator.

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Hayden: What upgrade on your FJ is your least favorite, or what modification would you do differently if you could do it over again?

Scuddy:Hmmm. I think the drawers. I used 3/4” plywood which is perfectly fine if you aren’t doing things like dovetails and hidden hinges. I think I’d use a different ply, birch I think was recommended, and I’d use better drawer glides. Maybe glides that go on the bottom instead of the sides. That being said, I really like the cubby hole I made. I can hide the stock jack and jumper cables in there and still have a surface to put things on. I also like the hook and loop fabric I put on the top. It just needs to be glued down better but that’s because I didn’t know any better. And the door threshold I used was a stroke of genius. It’s taken a lot of abuse. But, it would be nice to have made it with more right angles. I think that would help with the drawer glide issue, maybe.

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Hayden: What has been your favorite thing about owning an FJ Cruiser?

Scuddy:This is going to sound stupid (but why would I stop now?) My fav thing has been and still is walking around a corner or opening the garage door and there it is. Patiently waiting for me to get in and go somewhere. It’s such a special vehicle and occupies such a special niche in the market and it’s great to finally own one. Most of my other cars have names: the motorcycle is Shelia, the Chevy is Gerdie and the ’51 is Roz. But the FJ is the FJ so far. I don’t know exactly why but I haven’t come across the name yet. I can’t even say the FJ is a him or her. I’ve even named the cat my pig has adopted: Linda.

“My most favorite thing” is a hard question because how many times have you been fixated on something only to experience it and be completely let down? Take being an adult for example. What a let down this is. I thought adulting would be different than junior high. Man, I was crushed when I figured that out.

I’ve seen and occasionally driven the FJ over the years and I’ve always wondered if owning one would change my opinion. It was always a little bit of an awkward drive because it was so different than what I was driving at the time. After a weekend of driving it, I was so completely hooked. I like looking at it, driving it, seeing other ones on the road, waving at other FJ’s and making spreadsheets of parts.

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Hayden: Has anyone on the forum inspired your build or been a go-to resource for you?

Scuddy:Who hasn’t???? DebFJVT is inspiring and what a set of serious brass……, well, she’s got some serious brass! I got all sweaty and nervous just looking at the pictures from Moab. Firemedic831 is awesome! Those trips he takes look like so much fun! He’s also got great advice to give because he’s been there and done that. Longtooth and CabinCruiser have a wealth of experience. Mikey has some serious OCD but he’s making the best/most of it. SandFJ90210 has been fun to watch as he posts what he’s done. Iconic_ has a fabulous build going on. And Hayden – it’s taken me a while, but I finally figured out that “Let’s FJ” on youtube and FJX2000 on the forums are the same person. Great content!

The other day I was looking at the ARB Breather connections on the rear pumpkin and looked up at the charcoal cannister. I’m amazed there are people out there who need a skid plate for that box. It’s so tucked up in there….just wowuh! I read Lee44’s posts because he posts such wonderful pics of the trails around his part of the world. Zero’sFJ is fun to keep up with and what a great accent! Truth be told, I don’t know if she’s got an accent but in my head…. Jamespoop is a veritable cornucopia of information! Hannibal knows just about everything and what he doesn’t know would fit in a thimble for Tinkerbell. Bazzros and his (I’m assume “him”) posts have turned me on to what can be done with computers. I daydream about driving through the outback and spending an afternoon driving across New Z. 101Firedog reminds me to be a little more pragmatic about things. Don’t just go whole hog and get in trouble. monflores11 has some great pics of fun places to go. amaclach has a great discourse on sand and driving in sand. Larson has been informative for stereo things. I had no idea it could be so complicated! I wonder how much better Paul’s Boutique sounds in his FJ than it does in mine. 35L Lego is close and has supplied me with some parts. I know I’m leaving tons of people off this list. I’m sorry about that!


Hayden: Where all have you been with your FJC? What trail/park/location is your favorite?

Scuddy:I’ve been to work and home. This past weekend I went down to Palestine Texas for a visit. So far I haven’t really been anywhere interesting. I want to get out soon.


Hayden: Is there a trail/park/location you haven’t visited yet that you would like to take your FJ to someday?

Scuddy:This is the fun list! Ever since I saw the video’s of the preproduction FJ on the Rubi, I’ve wanted to do the same thing. Probably not nearly as smoothly but it should be fun. I want to do Moab without any of you people egging me on! I’m very susceptible to peer pressure. I do enough dumb stuff goading myself into trouble without anyone else saying ‘Oh, go on. It’ll buff out.’ I want to hit Big Bend and Lajitias. Of course, Ouray is on my list of places. I think it’d be fun to drive the Rockies as much off road as possible. I want to hit the Adirondacks too. I’d like to go back out to Santa Fe and Las Vegas New Mexico. I used to go there to camp while in college at Tech. Part of me thinks it would be the trip of a lifetime to drive to Argentina. Baja California would be fun to explore too. I’d like to drive around Newfoundland but I don’t think I can learn enough of the language to be understood.

My overall plan is to take a trip every year to do a photo safari somewhere in the states.


Hayden: In Texas near where you are is there a strong FJ Cruiser following where folks get together and wheel or work on their FJs together?

Scuddy:I’m part of the Lone Star Land Cruisers here in Dallas/Ft. Worth. They have some members that have shops or well equipped garages and try to plan “work days”. They also plan a trip to Katemcy Rocks every spring. At the last meeting I went to there were some GORGEOUS 200’s and 55’s as well as three other Cruisers. One guy had a 6”x10’ pvc pipe attached to his roof rack. The ends were capped and it had a spigot tapped into one end. I’ve forgotten how many gallons it holds but clever idea. I think there’s a person who’s been to the Summit with his FJ. It’s a yellow, very well built FJ with a black vinyl graphic on the hood. One of these day’s I’ll screw up the courage to talk to people in person. Maybe. 😉


Hayden: What has been the most memorable experience with your FJ Cruiser?

Scuddy:Most memorable? So far I think it was the afternoon the dealer dropped it off. It was so shiny and clean and pretty and green and mine. He handed me the key and I could hardly walk over to where he parked to get it into the parking garage. My legs were mildly under my control and my hand was shaking so much it took a minute to get it into the lock. When I finally got rounded up and into the garage, I just sat there. Hands on the steering wheel and looking out over the hood.

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Or it could be the first day I rolled up the garage door and it was still out there waiting for me.

Or it could be a few days ago, driving around Palestine, Tx and so happy it’s mine.

No, I think it was the day I high centered it. Out all by myself with no winch, no keys to the tractor or the diesel. Just me learning where some limits were. Dork. I was there for 5 hours until I finally rolled off of the little dirt hill. This is what I mean by goading myself into dumb things.


Hayden: What do you enjoy the most about the FJCrusierForums?

Scuddy:I like the off topic discussions about what music you are listening to. I also like the funny pictures. While it is very expensive to look through, I like the build ups. Those axels!! Puts me in a crisis! I like being able to see different mods people do because it makes sense to them. I really like those that take an off the shelf product, mod it and make it perfect for them.


Hayden: What has the FJCruiserForums done for you and what do you feel you contribute to the forum the most?

Scuddy:Wow, what a question. I forget that the FJ Cruiser has been around 12 years or so and the questions I have have already been worked out. I was active when people were first figuring out the ATRAC hack and the fender bulge then I kind of dropped out for a while. Now that I’m back and thinking ‘How hard would it to be to…’ I just do a search to find multiple hits. For example, the back window actuator. I found Chitown4x4 and thought I can do that. Then I found the parts cost almost as much what they are asking plus you don’t have to do the engineering. So it’s a no brainer. Just buy it from them. It’s an easy install.

I think the forums have really encouraged my propensity to spend money by showing me examples of tires and bumpers and lifts and RTT’s and…..

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I like to think that I have worthwhile information to add. Some may disagree and I suppose there’s a good argument that I’m a jacka…smarta….sarcastic little shi……humerous person. But aside from the silly remarks, I think I’ve got things to contribute after working on various vehicles. I’ve been elbows deep in transmissions and engines. I’ve struggled with electrical issues. I’ve repaired everything from shallow water pumps to tractors to simple little furnaces. I can’t tell you how many times I take apart something and think “This is similar to that other thing; wonder if it’s that part that’s not working.” Maybe a problem I’ve run into and solved will help someone else. If not directly, maybe something I say will spark a conversation that will lead to a solution. Maybe something I offer is completely wrong and someone else will correct me and that leads to a helpful solution.


Hayden: In a world without new FJ Cruisers being built, do you plan on keeping yours forever or upgrading to a newer model ever?

Scuddy:I’m keeping mine for as long as I can turn a wrench. If, in the future, another FJ40 or Cruiser becomes available I’ll probably get one. But I still won’t turn loose of my current one. I mean, everything else is a step down so why would I even consider one? My goal is to have Gerdie for the heavy stuff. I want to buy a 1969 MGC (which is similar to the one I learned to drive in) and restore it for the fun days. I’ll have the ’51 Chevy 5 window pickup for those days when I feel snarky.

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Then I want to rebuilt a 51 HD panhead for those days when I want to scare my coworkers. 4 cars and 2 bikes, that sounds about right.

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Hayden: What do you expect to be in your FJs future build-wise/travel-wise/etc?

Scuddy:Well, Friday the 13th I’m picking up a set of used skids from a forum member. I will also have an idea how much of my bonus I will allow myself to blow on suspension, bumper, winch and electronics. I’m working on getting my Ham license. I like the idea of being useful during a natural disaster. So a ham radio is in the cards as well as a CB. At least one of them will go in the ARB overhead bin. I think I’ll go with the Cobra75 so I can hide the body under the center console and put the plug somewhere else. Maybe on the panel to the left of the steering wheel. Normally I keep straps and chains and a full set of tools with me. I’ve got a first aid kit that I’ve added to: superglue and gorilla tape.


Hayden: What final advice do you have for someone new to the FJ Cruiser or the Forum?

Scuddy:Um, well there’s the time honoured advice of “Lord loves a working man, don’t trust whitey and see a doctor and get rid of it.”

If you’re not falling, you’re not learning.

If they put screws on the outside they want you to take it apart.

I really believe in that last one. I wouldn’t have learned anything had I not decided to take things apart. Sometimes I know what to expect but most of the time I’m greeted with a wonderful tangle of wires and parts. One of the things I really like about the forums is the open source attitude. You can come up with a question and do a search and you’ll find tons of information. There are mechanics, homers (like me) and newbies all exchanging info which creates knowledge. So, don’t be afraid to ask.

As a final aside; it’s hard to convey but I’ll give it a try: Thank you ALL so very much for all of your input.



 

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Premium Member
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Congrats Scuddy . I really hope you can make it to Moab and meet some of us .
 

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When I saw you were the December pinu....errr, MOM I said right out loud, Oh Yay!!! This is gonna be FUN! And it was even better than fun 😀, so thank you Scuddy for letting us in on your life and wonderfully unique views and experiences! You are a real asset to this community, and your humorous writing has brought a needed smile to my face many times (as did your Brass compliment 🤣). I agree that you should come to Moab and wheel with us - promise to not get you stuck or damaged or skeeerd, and that we will have a TON of laughs doing whatever 🤪 BTW how much do you charge for ghostwriting?? 🤓 - Deb
 
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