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Megamind - Overland Build

3333 Views 44 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  J Paul
For those wondering, my FJ is affectionately knowns as Megamind or sometimes his more subdued self, "Bernard".

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So welcome to my build
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Original picture of my FJ. stock in just about every aspect with the exception of the tires.

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Added a RTT and replaced roof rack and some lights

1. RTT- Roofnest Falcon XL
2. Sherpa "The Fuji" roof rack
3. 42" light bar front, 32" light bar rear, and side light
4. built a relay distribution block for the lights and for future upgrades
5. replaced front and rear bumpers
6. added a winch.

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i had to move the controller forward to avoid cutting the bumper. I created a new brace shaped to match the contour of the winch.

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It took a while with a lot of planning but I'm fairly complete with my 200watt Solar system.

I mounted two (2) 100watt Renogy Solar (black frame) on the roof rack of the RTT. I had a short run to the controller so I used a 12AWG solar connector and wrapped with a 1/2" cable sleeve. I do not intend on adding more solar so the 12AWG will suffice.

looking for a clean flush installation, I used aluminum Z-clips to mount the solar with stainless hardware. The solar panels are approximately 1/4" above the roof rack rails. It was a goal to protect the edge of the solar from the "unforeseen" flying road debris. I use the balance of the roof rack for my surfboards and other items so it remains useful. the roof rack on the Roofnest RTT can support 100lbs; and in the open position 50lbs. Each solar panel weighs 14.1lbs plus misc. hardware so I'm about 30lbs.

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Second Battery install
A little sandy from a recent beach trip. I need to get my air compressor for the sensitive parts...

a) C4 Fabrication Auxiliary Battery Tray. the tray comes uncoated from factory. I applied a bed-liner spray.
b) Duracell Ultra 80AH, AGM (SLAA 12-80C/FR). Weighs 50lbs This was the largest Amp-Hour I could fit on the tray.
c) Renogy Wanderer 30A PWM Charge Controller. I plan on upgrading the controller to a MPPT in the future.
d) Renogy Bluetooth Module RJ12. I can use an app on my phone to track battery temperature, watt production and battery life.
e) Renogy Battery Temperature meter. this plugs into the charge controller to meter the temp.
f) 1/2" thick PVC plastic sheet. I custom cut a platform to attach the breakers, controller, etc. The panel is secured underneath the battery tray cross member.
g) 120amp breaker providing power to the inverter in the back of the rig. For you eagle-eye experts, you will note the red to the inverter is not connected; and the black to the inverter is also missing. I was too lazy to take a current photo but I did complete the project and ran two (2) 4AWG 15' long cables from this battery to the inverter. A rubber plug in the firewall is conveniently located behind the battery so the install was super easy.

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Connecting both Batteries
this was a lesson learned improvement from a recent trip to Colorado, I only had a 100watt panel and the second battery. I was consistently within 1.5 days of having no power so I connected both batteries as to have the ability to charge while I'm driving especially after sundown and added a second solar panel.

a) installed an Auxiliary Power fuse block bracket available on amazon. I was happy with the product. I provided a spacer at the bottom to raise the platform as it was interfering with my relay fuse box nearby.
b) connected both batteries via the Blue Sea ML-ACR. this device allows me to automatically and manually control how both batteries are connected and charge. now while I'm driving, both batteries receive charge. it is also my understanding that I can start the FJ with my second battery should my primary fail.
c) the 60amp breaker is unrelated to the solar build. this breaker provides power to my relay fuse box for all my accessories.
d) 250amp breaker from the main battery to the ML-ACR

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Cabin Dual-Battery Switch
The blue sea ML-ACR comes with a switch allowing automatic and manual operation. I have been accused of being OCD, so the switch had to be a clean install. the switch emits a red light and i didn't want it among the other "non-red" switches on the center console. these reds and ambers don't play nice together....

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Inverter and Fridge
In the rear of the FJ, i built a storage system that organizes my gear. after a few iterations, this layout works best for me. i will be rebuilding this winter with a few tweaks, drawers, and a slide-out platform for the fridge.

a) I have a 700watt inverter that is close to 12 years old. i will be upgrading soon to a Renogy.
b) ICECO VL-45 fridge. i've been using for awhile and love it.
c) making expresso coffee in the morning. by far the best use for the bumper!!

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Next Steps
A project is never complete,

a) swap inverter and rebuild storage system.
b) add convenience USB charging ports in the rear. at night i typically charge flashlights, radios, etc while i'm asleep.
c) add information panel. i don't like being tethered to my phone when I'm enjoying nature. it would be nice to know the health of the system without looking at an app. any recommendations here are greatly appreciated.
d) perhaps a connector to the controller so i can park in the shade when available and use my folding solar, run a cable to the folding solar in the distant and have the best of both worlds.
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Frivolous perhaps..... but fun.... I installed a custom dual switch with "party lights" and wired a programable LED underneath the dash and seats. I sometimes find the FJ is too damn dark at night. You can control the colors, lumens and sync with music, hence "Party Lights".

LED lights $12.74, custom switch $23.79

What will your next switch be?

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Also, under the dash there is perfectly placed unused threaded hole. i cut a 2x7 aluminum plate and attached a fuse box, a relay linked back to the OEM fuse box as i only wanted my accessories operating with the key in the ignition, and a negative bus bar. the plate has one drilled hole and attaches perfectly to the threaded hole i mentioned. i'm sure a much easier method exists but i was looking for a scalable system.

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I've been looking to add a tablet to augment my navigation capabilities and for my aging eye-sight.. After reviewing many examples on this forum, I completed my install.

Three parts needed totaling approximately $75
a. RAM MOUNTS Aluminum Track Ball with T-Bolt Attachment RAM-B-463-TRA1U with B Size 1" Ball ($16.99)
b. YakAttack GT90 GearTrac, 4" Long Aluminum Kayak Accessory Mounting Track ($15.92)
c. Heavy Duty Drill Base Tablet Mount ($39.99)


1. Remove vertical dash trim
2. Using a 1/4" wood spacer, position the track parallel to the dashboard. The base of the RAM mount overhangs the track so the space is necessary.
3. Position the track center vertical and mark the three holes.

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4. With the marked holes, drill the three holes. make sure to protect the dash from the rotating drill chuck

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5. Using a spot of glue, attach the washer to the bolt. (more on this later)
6. I also increased the size of the washer from the provided hardware.

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7. If you were great with playing "Operation" as a kid, you will love this next step. If you didn't. stop here and seek other recommendations. These next steps wont help.
8. Wrap the end of a long thin flathead screwdriver with double sided tape. Don't be cheap. Wrap with new tape after every use. I didn't drop a single bolt but it required patience.

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9. Using the flathead screwdriver, insert into the top hole above the metal screw clip. Then with your "operation" technique, carefully push the bolt through the hole and tighten. this is where you will be happy the washer is glued to the bolt.
10. With a very thin profile wrench, you can then insert through the hole and tighten.
11. the two top bolts are accessible from the top hole above the metal screw clip. the bottom bolt is accessible from the bottom clip hole. If you notice, i acquiesced and removed the radio dash. This allowed the wrench to have better access of the two holes.

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12. Reassemble the dash and trim and install the RAM mount equipment.
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Finished product is below. I can now Bluetooth to my Garmin or mobile and enjoy the larger screen.

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One of my favorite interior modifications is the dash mounted accessory tray.

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Prior to having the tray, I had a cup-holder phone mount which always interfered with accessing the buttons. After much consideration, I decided to install the accessory tray. I personally like clean and well designed installations. No sloppy stuff for me. so i proceeded with caution.

Quality: overall the quality is great. the accessory tray has the appropriate gauge thickness to securely attach your accessories. The accessory tray comes with a phone mount. the phone mount by itself is descent and I have no plans on replacing for now but I did replace the bolt that attaches the phone holder "arm" to the frame. it comes with a flat plastic nut that you can barely grip and the mount kept rotating when "off-roading". I replaced with a bolt where i can apply the force needed to keep the arm from rotating.

Install: the installation was easy. I did watch a YouTube video on how to remove both vertical side trims. it was easier than i thought. the accessory tray attaches to the factory screws that hold the dash face in place. the entire install could be completed in less than half-hour. longer if you are like me that then end's up deep cleaning newly exposed areas.

Fitment: if you take note, the vertical metal brace fits snuggly between the dash face plate and the adjacent vertical trim. i was concerned due to the tight tolerance, the metal would cause either the dash and trim to stress, or cause an unsightly gap. the tolerance is tight but as you can see from the photos, the fitment is perfect.

Recommendations/Additions: since i like clean installs (OCD) I'm now looking at a cable management system to keep cables from dangling. drives me crazy to have hanging cables you have to push aside to access the dash. I recently added a new USB charger to the center console and will probably do the same in an inconspicuous location with short whips to each device. still in R&D so please provide feedback if anyone has recommendations. I'll also working on a clip to attach a communication radio.

Also, after several tries, the following kept my Garmin close to the dash:
1. Ram mount 1/4-20 post with B size 1" ball. ($10.99)
2. Ram double socket arm- overall length 2.42" (socket to socket 1.75") ($9.99)

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I was able to solve my "dangling charging cord" issue. i installed a USB charger, cut the cigarette lighter adapter and hardwired to my under-dash panel.

I was looking for a discrete, slim, and size appropriate USB charging port. I Found one on amazon and works perfect. the USB charger has a clip that fits perfectly on the mount, I did apply a 3M double-sided tape to secure from moving. I then Drilled a tiny hole on the side molding. I figured i could purchase a replacement if i ever wanted to return to factory. Now i can use short cords.

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I'm in the market for a 270 awning. I would like the option of sidewalls but its not a deal breaker.

in efforts to make an informed decision, I attempted to identify several popular brands and complete a comparison matrix but failed to find the data. So I am referring to the vast and knowledgeable expertise of this forum for an educated decision.

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Quick study reveals

roofnest - green
rhino batwing - cyan
ovs LT- blue

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images in order of:
1. roof nest (best coverage away from vehicle, greatest tailgate exposure)
2. rhino batwing (best coverage overall)
3. ovs 270 LT (overall least coverage and partial tail gate exposure)

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Okay folks, i started the awning discussing back in August and almost one month exactly, i am done.

i purchased the OVS 270 awning with the sidewalls after much deliberation.

special thanks to @NyNomad for the custom bracket idea, I had a 6" x 1/4" thick aluminum plate TIG welded to the RTT roofnest brackets. I then drilled holes on my drill press to match the awning fastening pattern and painted with bedliner paint.

this was an absolute overkill but i have (4) brackets installed. because the awning is capable of being deployed without the poles (although the manufacture recommends against it), i wanted a fixed connection reducing as much flex as possible. the last photo shows the 4 brackets on the RTT.

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Pictures of the final install

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After many trips, it is time to upgrade my storage system; so the journey begins....

Special kudos to my amazon drawer which has surprisingly survived for 1.5 years.

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Naked view of the build.
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While upgrading the cabinet, I decided to add the Bison Gear folding table. this was my first step so I can understand the clearances for the new cabinet.

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Removed the back seat

3/4" plywood, cut the base. final length is 54"

used a routed for the face down. i hate sharp edges and didn't want to cut groves on the floor while pulling in and out.

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cabinet takes shape!

3/4" plywood for the sides due to the 500# drawer slides that will be installed.

you may be wondering, "what is going on with that double wall on the left side".... well this was a field adaptation. the bison gear table in the closed position does not allow me to have a drawer against the outer wall. therefore, i had to offset the drawer. this however allowed for an opportunity for an electrical raceway and a few extra plugs.

created some holes for ventilation and weight reduction.

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measure twice and cut once.

i decided to have different size drawers. the left for larger camp and recovery gear, the right for camp kitchen and quicker access items.

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mockup some electrical

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Adding power to the cabinet. I already have a 4-gauge running from a second battery.

i will be adding more vent ports at the bottom.

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after testing the electrical system, I stripped it down and cut holes to reduced the weight and further ventilate. the holes at the top are positioned where the rear seats once existed

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While refining my electrical system, i decided to add some lighting and a charging station to the rear door.

1. SAE plug top right on a dimmer.
2. four lights, two below shelf and two above, also connected to a dimmer
3. USB charge station

I absolutely love the dimmers! they work perfect.
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applied some paint as a test. flat black but will eventually paint with a more durable bedliner type paint.

second photo shows some interior convenience lights and my control panel.

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Now the slide tilt platform for the refrigerator. I suppose i could have purchased one but decided to build my own,

1. stainless steel shelf angle
2. gas struts
3. hinge
4. drawer slide
5. igloo cooler tie-down corners.
6. plywood 3/4" side, 1/2" bottom attached to side rails, and 3/4" attached to drawer slide
7. two mock-ups, good music, and fun to design.

i will be disassembling, applying the final paint, and updating the fasters to bolt/nut vs the screws that are temporary.

next engineering steps,
1. a locking mechanism so the back wont bounce during offroading,
2. a mechanism to limit tilting angle. the struts already limit to a 30-degree but dont want the struts to be the limiting mechanism.
3. looking to add a cutting board underneath. perhaps size so it will fit on my Bison folding table?

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