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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)


I've had a 4x4 ever since I first started driving. I've had the wheeling bug ever since I first shifted a transfer case in that 85 S-10 almost 20 years ago. I went from it to an 87 Silverado and a 00 Jeep Cherokee. I've had other cars and trucks for DDs, but I've always had an adventure rig as well.

Earlier this year the Jeep was giving me a fit. I was really about 3 years out from being ready to buy something else, but the time had come. I was having a hard time finding any FJs locally, and told my wife I'd settle for a 4Runner, Taco, or Xterra. She said, "I don't want you to settle. You've wanted an FJ since you first saw one. That's what you need to get."

In May, I ended up finding an 07 in great shape with 80,000 miles on it. It had A-TRAC, the rear locker, the dash-top accessories, and a roof rack. Those were all the must-haves on my list. The previous owner had installed rock rails, a rear receiver, a Rough Country lift, and new tires. The only thing I could find wrong with it was that door speakers were blown and the cup holder inserts were missing.




I added a ScanGauge II, snorkel, and trailer wiring within a few days.






After that, I put it on the beach as quickly as possible.




Interior lighting, especially up front, is insufficient, so I converted it to LED. You can see here how much brighter the upgrade is over stock.




The beach driving had caused the trans temps to get higher than I liked, so I added a large transmission cooler.




The next glaring shortcoming was rear visibility at night. I added flush-mount LEDs to the rear bumper wings.










I tested out a homebrew awning before springing for the real thing.






I did a stealth installation of a 32" light bar behind the lower grille. It looks cool, but the placement really limits the amount of light output. It may be relocated at some point.






Most recently, I bought a rooftop tent, and that's where things get complicated...




I had the ladder and crossbars assembled and was ready to place the tent on top of the roof rack. It was heavy, but I felt confident I could handle it myself. That didn't work out, however, and I ended up tearing my right distal tendon, which attaches my bicep to my elbow.




Even worse than being hurt was seeing my new toy still sitting in the garage, so I arranged for my brothers in law to come help me get it installed.






With this injury, there are two choices you can make. Some people let it heal on its own. For the elderly or infirm, that may be a good choice. For anyone young or active, proper treatment involves surgery. Mine was last Wednesday...




I'm using the down time to shop accessories and to plan the next step of the build. A priority is adding a sliding tray for a cooler or refrigerator and a couple drawers for recovery gear, tools, and other goodies.

Pain is gradually subsiding and my range of motion is creeping back towards normal. I've not pushed any limits yet, but I typically heal quickly and feel certain I can be back to 100% by the end of the year.
 

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Great start to your build thread! For both your FJ and yourself! :D

I say start (even though you've done a ton of stuff already) because of course it never ends ;)

:cheers:

Happy healing and happy wheeling! :D
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Re: Kevin & Shannon's 07 FJ build, "Serenity"

Most of my mods are chosen by a demonstrated need. Aux reverse lights were needed in 02 when trying to back down a length of narrow trail on a rainy night. A snorkel was needed in 03 when Hurricane Isabel caused tidal flooding, leading to me hydrolocking my engine on the way to work.

The rooftop tent was solely a "want." I have a variety of sizes of ground tents. Before going with the FJ, I wanted a JK with the Ursa Minor hard top. That wasn't to be, but finally having a RTT of any sort is a dream come true. I can't wait to be well enough to enjoy it!

I'll try to wear more clothes in future posts but I thought seeing me walking around with a device pumping a nerve-blocking substance through a 4" catheter poked through my neck might serve as a striking reminder to enjoy this sport carefully. 😁
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I slept in the RTT in the back yard Wednesday night. It's everything I'd hoped for. I can't wait to be better so I can really get out and enjoy this rig. Since I'm not able to get into many of my usual shenanigans, I've been doing a lot of shopping instead.

I debated on in installing a real lift and getting rid of the spacers, but good information on FJ lifts is scarce. There's truly an option for every budget but not much useful info on why one choice is better than another. Disappointingly, it seemed as if the highest-performance systems were also the most problematic. If I'd had my choice, this thing wouldn't have been lifted at all. I'd have added Bilsteins to level the front and that would have been it. Since I'm running new tires, I'm just going to leave everything like it is. I'll reevaluate things when it's time to replace the tires.

After I decided against changing the suspension, I switched my focus to addressing navigation and communication. I bought replacement windshield mount for my Garmin Nuvi 1300. A piece went missing a while back when I loaned it out. I also brought the unit in and updated everything for the first time in over a year. I usually use my phone for for navigation but when you're off the beaten path, a lot of times you need something that doesn't rely on cell service, so the GPS is there as a backup. I bought a nice adjustable windshield mount for the phone as well so it can be in my line of sight instead of down in the cup holder like usual. I came across Lee44's CB thread and loved how his install turned out. I ordered a Cobra 75WXST, Bandi antenna mount, 18' of co-ax, Magnum noise filter, and a cheap SWR meter. I will reuse my old FS3-B antenna and SS-3H spring.

Self-recovery is also something I began giving thought to. First I looked at winches and mounting options. I really like the US Offroad winch mount the reutilizes the factory bumper skin. I love the sleeper look and hate how far most aftermarket winch bumpers protrude away from the front of the vehicle, so it seemed like a good choice. Then I began to weigh how often I go wheeling, the type of wheeling I do, and the number of times I've been stuck. I decided that a winch is overkill for me at this point in time. I have a 60" Hi-Lift I'm going to mount on the roof rack. I was waiting to see how the awning and RTT were going to play out before I decided where I was going to put the jack. I believe I'll be able to fit it along the passenger side of the rack now. I ordered Hi-Lift's own tube mounts, plus a spring and pin kit for the jack. After a dozen years or so of living in the elements, the original springs are weak and the pins pitted. I've taken them out and wire wheeled them before to restore functionality, but for $20 it's worth it to start fresh while tossing the original stuff in the tool bag for spares. I also picked up a handle keeper and looked into the devices that facilitate using a Hi-Lift as a come-a-long. After tallying the benefits of both the Hi-Lift Offroad Kit and the Jackmate, I went with the latter.

I'm shopping some more now. I'd like to add a combo panel to the rear with a 12v power point and a couple USB ports. On-board air is another item I'm looking at. I have a Viair portable that works great, but it gets really hot and can't be packed away for a long time after use. That's lead me to want something hardmounted that I just hook a hose to. I only want to inflate tires and maybe use a blow nozzle from time to time, so I'm not going as far as adding a tank. I like the form factor of the ARB compressors but since they're all intended to be used primarily for lockers, they have to be wired with a remote switch. That has me shopping Viair again. I'm just about settled on the 450H, but I'm not rushing the decision. I need to do some looking at where I might mount it and figure out what length of hose it will necessitate to reach the furthest-away tire.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I'm moving slowly while still in recovery. I haven't been able to do a lot, but I've been able to do some. One of the things I did was to wire up my $10 aux 12v and USB ports.







Now I have a place in the rear to plug in the 12v extension cord for my RTT, to charge camera batteries or a Bluetooth speaker, or allow access to charging cables with the door closed. I liked the idea of putting it over the inverter, but I was worried that the drawers I add in the future would prohibit convenient access. Nice addition for less than $10!




Removal is simple: take the top and bottom of the boot loose, and use a short length of a single wire from 14g Romex (stiff household wiring) or coat hanger as a fish wire.

To reinstall: The body side has a plastic retainer that is removed by inserting a small flat screwdriver into the slot at the top and releasing the retainer by prying gently. Once it's loose, you wrap the top end of the boot around it and pop it back into the body. The door end just pops back in.

 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I overdid things to accomplish this, and have paid for it for two days afterward, but I also managed to install my Hi-Lift mounts.

First, I started with something I knew I could handle and made a cardboard cutout of the jack. I added a few holes as well where I anticipated the mounts being. This let me line everything up without having to deal with the weight of the jack.



I was able to work out a mounting method that kept everything tight and secure while working with the RTT.


 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
A buddy stopped by for a beer over the weekend and we threw my Bandi mount on. The antenna is only temporarily installed. I didn't have my co-ax yet, at the time.



Pointless mod is pointless, but I trimmed the plastic cover to fit the new configuration.



Today was my first day back to work since my surgery. I took the opportunity to throw my license plate in the brake and bend it to match the profile of the front bumper so I could relocate it below my light bar. I have a brake too, but Lefty here couldn't set it up by himself.



Anxious to see how it looks in the dark.



I stretched out the co-ax and was about to start pulling wire for the antenna, but it was starting to get dark and I've probably pushed my arm as hard as I needed to already drilling new holes in the plate and bumper. I left it in the back for tomorrow though, and sized the grommet so I knew what size hole to drill: 13/32".
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
There was a bit of some drunk inspiration involved, and I decided to try something I hadn't seen done yet. The headlights on our FJs are great. Now that I've freed up the foot of spotlight in the center, my lightbar is great. I can definitely see what's ahead. I though it might be nice, however, to see what was to the side. These are the same lights I'm running for my aux reverse lights. I only cut them in tonight. I'll try to wire them up tomorrow. For now they're just going to the same switch leg as the light bar.



 

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There was a bit of some drunk inspiration involved, and I decided to try something I hadn't seen done yet. The headlights on our FJs are great. Now that I've freed up the foot of spotlight in the center, my lightbar is great. I can definitely see what's ahead. I though it might be nice, however, to see what was to the side. These are the same lights I'm running for my aux reverse lights. I only cut them in tonight. I'll try to wire them up tomorrow. For now they're just going to the same switch leg as the light bar.




Love the bumper wing lights!!! I'll have to do this when I have $$for more lights.:). Looks great!

Cheers


Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I finally tested the lights tonight on my parents' street and I can't believe how well they worked. Moving forward surrounded by a vast illuminated area 180° around the front of your vehicle is great!

But every silver lining has its cloud. While wiring these lights up, I discovered that both of my inner CV boots are slinging out grease. Normally I'd have ridden on it until it actually became a problem, but I've got some traveling to do next weekend and would rather everything be right.

5 months in, I'm adding the first dollar in non-routine maintenance. No complaints there at all! I think the boots only split because of the relatively new lift. At 8 years old and 80,000 miles in, a spacer lift was added by the previous owner. The rubber on the boots was probably too hardened at that point to handle the altered angle of operation after the lift. If left stock, they'd probably still be fine. But then I'd have leveled the front, and I'd probably be here anyway.

Tonight I picked up two new CV axles and plan to throw them in Sunday. Should be good stuff. If not, at least it has a lifetime warranty, so I'll only ever have to buy it once.
 

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nice expo build out of your FJC!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks! And thanks for your variety of how-to videos. You've helped me clean my MAF, replace my cabin air filter, and install a CB.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Just got home from a short-notice low-budget blast of a trip with one of my best friends to the George Washington National Forest. Learned what I need and don't need for next time, found some great camping spots, and explored all the way to West Virginia. I have never missed my wife as badly as this trip. The texts, calls, and Facebook stuff really makes a difference. We haven't been able to pick up anything besides Sirius out where we were, so we didn't have any real weather updates. Things froze over last night and we knew rain was inbound Sunday AM, so we hit the road a day early rather than break camp in slush. We were packed up by lunch and ran Reddish Knob from where we were camped, then took a bunch of country backroads to 81 to head home. Can't wait to go back in the spring with my wife!






 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)

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Nice! It's like daylight in that engine bay...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
It figures I finally get good underhood lighting on a vehicle I'll never need it for. :lol:
 
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