The only downside I've discovered so far is that I can't fit under my carport at home. I discovered this by smashing the ladder into the fascia. :lol:
I'm going to spin it 90° to open on the passenger side at some point. I'm tired of dealing with the ladder every time I want to open the door.
It's been brought to my attention that I forgot to post Thanksgiving pics, so I'll toss them in here to maintain some semblance of chronological order.
We wanted to camp, but time was a big consideration. To keep travel time at a minimum and time at camp at a maximum, we stayed close and went to First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach. It would have been far too crowded to have enjoyed in the summer, but in late November, there was sufficient quiet and privacy to pretend we were much further out than we were. To achieve that, we drove through and visited all the camp sites to pick the most secluded one, and ended up having a great time.
We arrived in the late afternoon and it got dark quickly after we'd chosen our campsite. I proceeded to unload and setup the tent while my wife cooked dinner.
It was a beautiful scene to awaken to, being surrounded by live oak and pines.
We checked out some of the many miles of scenic trails before going back to camp and having lunch.
Congratulations on your purchase. You have done a great job with the mods. Thanks for the terrific effort on the documentation and write up. I look forward to your future projects. Welcome to the madness.
Thanks! We are really enjoying it. I've built a few other rigs over the years, but this was the first one I've built for "us" instead of "me," so that's led to some different choices than I'd usually make. The difference is, it's getting my wife out on the trails with me, and I love that.
You've made me realize I forgot to post pics from Thanksgiving! I'll have to see if I can work it in back in an earlier post.
Reading back through this thread, I realized I've yet to install the CB or the new CV axles. I spent the winter working on projects for the business and modifying my garage. I chopped up the ceiling and made lofts at each end of the garage so next year I can stow the RTT and awning over the winter. Since it's the second week of March now, it doesn't really make sense to take them off now. With warmer weather just around the corner and getting my extra hour of daylight back next week, I'm sure I'll get my stuff knocked out soon.
The winter did take down the 2-year-old Walmart battery installed by a previous owner. Three different times I had to throw the charger on for a bit to give it the oomph to get going. I shopped for a couple days, read everything I could find on all the different batteries available now, and decided to stick with what I know. Amazon saved me $85 versus buying locally, and I threw in an Optima Yellow Top, which has worked great. I've even tested its limits on days I had nowhere to go. Last weekend while I was working in the yard, it powered the radio and Sirius receiver for 8 hours, no problem. The internet says Optima quality has dropped. Optima says the internet is just buying cheap battery chargers. I say I never had any issues in almost 3 years with the Red Top I had in my Jeep, so I decided to go with Optima again. We'll see what happens.
Also, I finally got around to unloading a portion of our camping gear I'd been riding around since September. When I did, my gear bin was sliding all over the place. I cut up some stuff from the scrap pile and made a quick frame to keep things mostly in place until I build my drawers and cooler slide. I'm going to paint the whole thing black, but it's only a short-term piece.
I've made peace with the stock ladder. I'm actually not particularly sure why I was so unhappy with it initially.
Today I began working on a "quick release" for the ladder so it can be removed when not needed, making access to the back of the FJ trivial. I used 5/16" pins, but they were really too snug. I'll swap them out for 1/4" at some point.
I also discovered there were buckles for the shoe bag to hang from. The instructions didn't mention it and the pics showed it on the ladder. Funny it took me so long to recognize.
Yesterday I managed to get out to ride between the raindrops. First time I've had the Scrambler out in 2 years. I bought it new and at various intervals have ridden a lot. The rear shock is not long for this world, but everything else seems to be in good shape, despite being 11 years old. Maintenance hasn't been bad over the years. Had the dealer flush the fuel system once when I was having a fuel supply issue and it was still sort of new. They didn't charge a ton, but I decided to learn how to take care of everything myself after that. I cleaned the carb once before I discovered fuel stabilizer. Replaced the sprockets and chain once. Replaced the drive belt twice. Replaced the rear axle bearings once. Replaced the rear brake pad 3 or 4 times before going to EBC ceramic. Replaced the rear shock once. I'm on my 4th battery. Went with an AGM this time. We'll see if it holds up any longer. For $40, I don't care one way or the other. The most expensive and hard to diagnose problem was the kill switch that's built into the headlight switch. It's setup for 3 positions OFF | RUN | OFF and had melted itself internally. After a lot of probing and jumping, I had cut the headlights on by accident and happened to slide the switch back and forth in frustration. The lights flickered at one point of switch travel, so I yanked the switch and took it apart. Eureka! That was a couple years ago, and we rode maybe a dozen times that year. Life gets in the way and we didn't get at all last year. I'm determined this year will be different.
The FJ tows like a dream. We're going back out again Memorial Day.
Just showing my charging and navigation setup. I change it up to add a standalone GPS when we're heading off the beaten path, but for day-to-day traffic avoidance and use, this works great. It's an iOttie Easy One Touch phone mount and 2.1A dual USB ports that fit the factory knock-out and feed a 1' Lightning cable.
Yesterday I did a bit more on my CB install. I'd put the Bandi mount on last year and just stuck the Firestik in hand tight so it wouldn't get lost in the garage. Last night after work I stretched the co-ax out in the yard and started planning my attack. First I popped the door panel off the back door and decided on where I'd drill a hole. I'd already sized the bushing and determined my final hole needed to be 13/32". Once the hole was drilled, I began pulling in the co-ax. I found that taking a rag, spraying a healthy patch of WD-40 on it, and pulling the cable through the lubricant made it slide through the bushing freely. I used the same process to pull the cable through the boot that goes between the rear door and the body. Once it was pulled through, I simply wiped it clean. In the driver's side door, I popped loose the lower portion of the interior trim so I could see a straight shot back to the jack storage area. I used a 4' wooden dowel to reach to the area. I used electrical tape to secure the co-ax to the dowel and pull it to the front of the vehicle. From there, I ran it down out of the trim and under the door sill plate, where I folded it over and left it for the time being. I'll get to installing the CB itself when the weather permits.
I'd had enough of work for one week by yesterday afternoon, so I took today off and did something I've never done before: went to the beach by myself. It's a leisurely 2-hour ride from Tidewater to OBX, but I've made the trip so many times over the years that I hardly even notice it. The water was a little rough, but I still had a great time and got to use the awning for the first time. They've posted a lot of "stuck" pictures from this beach over the last couple of weeks, but I had no issues. I didn't even bother to air down. You guys know, drop it in 4 low and switch on the locker and it'll go anywhere.
Better than new now, thanks to my local upholstery shop. You can see the issue with the original. By the time the strap looped through the buckle, the material was only doubled over itself. We have about 6" of extra rolled up on the end should the full overlap we have now prove insufficient in the future.
And fine-tuning our packing system and gear selection for 5 days of camping in Asheville.
This year fought me tooth and nail and I had surgery a second time back in August. This time I had two stents placed in my heart. Along with my other health issues, it seems I also have a genetic heart condition that makes me significantly more likely to develop blockages. Awesome. Just what I needed! I managed to catch things before anything bad happened and they estimated the current level of heart damage at less than 1%. I can live with that. No pun intended. My daily schedule now includes AM and PM trips to the weekly med dispenser, like most old people. But it's also forced me to reevaluate my life and better prioritize doing the things I'd like to do.
I started with Overland Expo. 3 friends and I went down for the trip and came home with a head full of plans for what we want to do next.
We camped away from the crowd at Powhatan Lake, which featured a peaceful overnight experience and warm showers as desired.
I was thoroughly impressed by both the number and variety of rigs on display there.
My buddy in the JK brought home a 12v fridge/freezer. I just picked up a set of Go Treads for getting unstuck, leveling the body when camping, and congregating the cats in the living room
We ate great, we slept great, we drank in the coolest bars, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. This may well become an annual tradition. Did I mention FJs were a popular vehicle choice? This was check-in on Thursday.
I came home contemplating the next build. I think one of these camper shells would work great in a Tundra...
Re: Kevin & Shannon's 07 FJ build, "Serenity"
I never really unloaded from Overland Expo. We swapped a few things around, added a Luggable 'Loo to the cargo area and my wife's sleeping bag to the RTT, and we headed out from the east coast to the WV line for a weekend of camping in the George Washington National Forest.
From the pavement to the gravel, we enjoyed the ride and the varied selection offered by Sirius. This was the longest trip my wife and I have ever done in the FJ and it went great.
We finally pulled in just as the rain started Friday. We setup the tent and awning quickly, and Shannon made us cheeseburgers for dinner just as it got dark.
We slept like babies and woke up dry but windy. Shannon cooked us a breakfast of sausage, eggs, and toast.
We had a lazy Saturday of exploring the camp site, the stream bed, collecting firewood for Saturday night, and giving curious visitors tours of the rooftop tent. We later rode back east out of the woods to make a beer run to Jake's Convenience Store and to get a hot shower at the Buckhorn Inn. I wouldn't mind that being a future stop on the way in. As much as I love sleeping outside, having a romantic night at a bed and breakfast before a few days in the woods sounds great!
After another cozy night in our RTT, we lazily packed up, had coffee with our friends, and went a few miles further west toward Reddish Knob as Shannon had never set foot in West Virginia before.
We didn't go all the way to the top. I figured I'd save that for next time. After the pics, we came back down, met up with our friends for a final goodbye, and headed east for breakfast on the road. We ended up at Kathy's in Staunton, and enjoyed the best pancakes we've ever had. No wonder it was voted best breakfast in the valley!
Needless to say, we can't wait to get away again. We're currently planning a trip south, camping in GA and spending a few days in Disney World.
This may be the longest CB install in history. I installed the mount and antenna over a year ago, ran the co-ax and wired the box in last May, and today I soldered the connector on the co-ax and mounted the box and mic. Still getting really high SWR numbers, so there's more troubleshooting to do, but here's the pics from today.
I didn't think to post about it at the time, but I entered a contest last year that Smittybilt was running on Facebook. I won a weekly prize, which was a nice LED head lamp, and I didn't think anything else about the grand prize. They announced the grand prize winner last month. I won a $500 Smittybilt gift certificate! It took me a few days to figure out what I wanted from their expansive catalog, but I've got a few goodies coming that should be here this week.
This was the pic I entered with. I always liked it, but now it's probably my favorite. This was me and my wife camped in GA on our way to Savannah and Disney World.