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Discussion Starter #1

(photo credit rwdunn)

Been building up "RavenFJ" since 2015, and feel like we're finally ready for an attempt at a proper build thread, so here goes...

(click any photo for hi-res)

INITIAL BUILD GOALS
• Daily driver
• Toy hauler (windsurfing/paddling/skiing/etc)
• Occasional off-road/overlanding adventure platform

I've never been a "car guy" (never even used to change my own oil) but I always had a background fascination with rugged 4x4s, and FJs in particular. So when I needed a new vehicle to haul more water toys and such than my AWD BMW 3-series wagon could handle I decided to go with an FJ Cruiser, and to build it up a little to explore where it could take me. And since I'm an engineer (electrical, but pretty mechanically inclined too) – with perhaps slightly beyond a healthy dose of OCD – I decided to do as much of the build-up as possible with my own two hands.

Turned into a little more than I'd initially planned... ;)

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THE BLANK CANVAS (purchased Feb2015 @~16Kmiles)


2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser, Black, 4x4, 6-speed
• Convenience Package (remote lock, cruise, rear camera, etc)
• Upgrade Package (A-TRAC, rear e-locker, inclinometer, etc)
• nothing else! zero aftermarket mods, certified pre-owned, superb condition

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THE WORK IN PROGRESS (as of May2018 @~45Kmiles)


TIRES & SUSPENSION:
• BFG T/A KO2 285/70R17 (33"×11")
• SPC front UCAs*
• ToyTec Boss 2.5" coilovers*
• ToyTec Boss 2.5" rear shocks*
• ToyTec "HD" rear coils*
• Metal-Tech offset rear lower links
• Timbren bump-stops front & rear*
• MOOG greaseable cam bolts*

BUMPERS/ARMOR/WINCH/ETC:
• Demello aluminum bumpers front & rear
• Warn M8000-S winch + "Splicer" thimble
• All-Pro Heavy Duty rock sliders
• BudBuilt steel skid plates (4-piece set)
• BudBuilt stainless rear diff skid
• Icon "shin guard" rear shock protectors
• OPOR "link guard" rear LCA bracket skids
• breather mod for rear diff & e-locker

CARGO MODS:
• semi-custom BajaRack
• full-custom MAXTRAX mounts
• full-custom DIY cargo drawers
• full-custom "2up" rear bike/cargo rack
• full custom "belly stash plate" for RotopaX
• Demello steel hitch receiver
• brake controller + trailer connectors

LIGHTS:
• Rigid SAE LED fog lights & backup lights
• cheapo chinese flood-beam drive lights
• Sylvania SilverStar Ultra headlight bulbs
• switch-controlled DRL-disable + "BLINK" mods to factory lights circuits

ELECTRICAL:
• Odyssey 31M-PC2150ST dual-terminal battery
• full-custom "BatTerm" battery terminal distribution blocks
• full-custom "AuxPower" relaybox / switchbox aux power system
• Anderson PowerPole distribution block & outlets for interior 12V power
• Anker 5-port USB power hub

COMMUNICATIONS:
• Midland MXT115 GMRS radio
• Midland MXTA10 GMRS antenna on NMO mount
• Midland 75-822 CB radio
• FireStik FS-3BK CB antenna at OEM radio antenna location
• antenna diplexer (one antenna for both CB + AM/FM radio)

CREATURE COMFORTS:
• Wet Okole front seat covers
• adhesive fisheye blind spot mirrors
• fresnel lens windshield add-on for traffic light visibility
• custom machined dash device bar w/ magnetic mounts
• custom laser-cut "MAX A/C STOP" plate

*ToyTec/Timbren/MOOG suspension upgrade is a recent addition (May2018) installed by the good folks at the4x4center, replacing some Daystar "budget boost" PU spacers I had added to the stock suspension. Everything else installed (and in many cases designed from the ground up) by yours truly.

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CORE USE MODES (versatile "transformer" vehicle)

LOCAL WHEELIN' MODE (armored, and stocked with recovery gear etc, but otherwise stripped to the basics):

(photo credit Mike Hecht)

WINTER MODE (skids off, FluidFilm coated below, and Packasport System115 roofbox up top for skis etc):


OVERLANDING MODE (with James Baroud Explorer Evolution RTT + FoxWing awning):


FULLY-LOADED MODE (with XVENTURE XV-1 trailer):


WATERSPORTS MODE (with custom-machined Yakima cross-bar mounts on the BajaRack):


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TLC (fall routine)


Vermont winters are Raven's enemy. Every fall I provide some serious TLC (thorough deep-clean, wire-wheel off any visible rust, rattle-can paint touch-up, thorough Fluid-Film professional application) in an effort to keep rust at bay.
 

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Premium Member
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19 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Some mod highlight photos...
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SUSPENSION & ARMOR


• BudBuilt steel skids, 4-piece set


• MetalTech offset rear lower links + OPOR "link guard" rear LCA bracket skids
• ToyTec Boss 2.5" rear shocks + ToyTec "HD" rear coils
• Icon "shin guard" rear shock protectors (visible far side)
• BudBuilt stainless diff skid


• SPC front UCAs
• ToyTec Boss 2.5" coilovers
• MOOG greaseable camber adjuster bolts


• All-Pro Heavy Duty rock sliders (high-grade bolted + tack welded to frame)
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BUMPERS / WINCH / LIGHTS


• Demello aluminum front bumper
• Warn M8000-S winch + Factor55 "The Splicer" thimble
• Rigid SAE LED fog lights (in bumper recesses)
• cheapo Chinese flood-beam drive lights (on top of bumper)
• Sylvania SilverStar Ultra upgraded headlight bulbs


• Demello aluminum rear bumper
• Demello steel hitch receiver
• 7-way trailer connector (mounted high&tight to maintain departure angle)
• in-bumper backup lights are Rigid SAE LED fogs (same as in front)
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CARGO


• semi-custom BajaRack (rear bar omitted, angle-supports added instead)


• full-custom Yakima crossbar mounts (details here: Yakima crossbars on BajaRack — custom height-configurable towers)


• full-custom MAXTRAX mounts (details here: slick MAXTRAX mount for BajaRack)


• full custom "belly stash plate" for RotopaX (details here: armored RotoPaX "belly stash plate" — use that empty space behind the rear axle!)


• full-custom DIY cargo drawers (details here: Minimalist Rear Cargo Drawers — just one 4x8 plywood sheet + glue & screws)
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ELECTRICAL


• Odyssey 31M-PC2150ST dual-terminal battery
• full-custom "BatTerm" battery terminal distribution blocks (details to follow)


• full-custom "AuxPower" relaybox (details to follow)


• full-custom "AuxPower" switchbox (details to follow)
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INTERIOR


• custom machined dash device bar w/ magnetic mounts
• Midland MXT115 GMRS radio
• Anker 5-port USB power hub


• Wet Okole front seat covers


• Midland 75-822 CB radio
• Anderson PowerPole outlets for interior 12V power
• connector to FireStik FS-3BK CB antenna (at OEM radio antenna location, diplexed to FM radio too)
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FUN LI'L CUSTOM/DIY TWEAKS


• DIY custom UV/road-debris protective winch cover plate


• DIY custom laser-cut acrylic "MAX-A/C-STOP" plate
 

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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter #5
A few select "action shots"...
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A little peek under the skirt:


Dipping the toes:


Finding the bump-stops (old factory suspension w/ "budget boost" lift spacers):


In good company:


Light it up:


Transporter to magical places:
 

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Premium Member
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Discussion Starter #8
Looks good. Any closer pics of the square Rigids in the round hole? I really like the output they have on my wifes FJ and was thinking about putting them in the Demello on mine as well.
Thanks. And no immediate close-ups of those, but I can tell you they fit great (i.e. just barely!) in the aluminum Demello, both front and rear. But installing them in the front unfortunately requires either removing the bumper, or removing a bit of useless/hidden FJ body/bracket metal from behind the bumper (to get the light in from behind). I opted for the latter. Kind of a PITA, but I'm delighted with the end result. Awesome fogs.

Note that my comments about fit are specific to the *aluminum* Demello bumpers. Not sure if the steel ones are the same in this regard or not.
 

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MOAB SUPERSTAR
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6,554 Posts
Hey fellow Central Vermonter! I’ve seen your rig on I89 outside BTV....I’m near Montpelier - looks like you’ve run Woodbury Mt Rd and done VOR (I attended the past three years and will again this year) so I’m surprised we haven’t met up yet. Love what you’re doing - lots of really clever, innovative ideas :rocker: Would really enjoy seeing your FJ in person!
 

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Premium Member
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403 Posts
grayson,
re:Raven FJ,
More Info on the Fresnel lens...
Did you fab it or purchase it?
TIA,
D :smile
 

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Discussion Starter #15
More Info on the Fresnel lens...
Did you fab it or purchase it?
A bit of each. :wink

I purchased this on Amazon:
CIPA 60200 Wide Angle Lens - 8" x 6"
(intended for use in the back window of a van etc.)

Then I trimmed it to suit my rather different needs.

Here's a view from the driver's seat at a traffic light that would be out-of-view if not for the fresnel lens...



If you choose to do this, or something similar, be sure to heed the optical center of the fresnel lens (easy to identify as the center of the circular-patterned texture), and trim with that in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
What am I missing here ? How does this work ? How does you axle articulate with out the diff skid smashing in the tank skid ?
It's just a weird camera angle. The diff skid clears the tank skid no problem as it articulates. The BudBuilt tank skid is cut off in the corner nearest the diff to ensure that there is no interference. But I agree it doesn't look that way in that particular photo.
 

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Thx!
Been looking for way to see traffic light; I saw on a car show where they used a chunky glass Fresnel lens on older cars but glad to see updated/safer idea!
D :nerd
 

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Forum Beer Meister
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Sweet baby Jesus you’ve got to be an electrical engineer that’s some serious wiring! Nice build dude.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Sweet baby Jesus you’ve got to be an electrical engineer that’s some serious wiring!
Guilty as charged. >:D

One day I'll share details of the "AuxPower" system I designed (basically like a SPOD on crack, with heaps more flexibility, plus a dash of retro toggle-switch flair), just 'cuz I think it might be useful to somebody else out there too. But documenting that in a form that can be digested will take a bit of work. So for now, here's a top-level sketch showing the overall wiring diagram of my electrical mods to date (click image for hi-res)...

 

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Forum Beer Meister
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Guilty as charged. >:D

One day I'll share details of the "AuxPower" system I designed (basically like a SPOD on crack, with heaps more flexibility, plus a dash of retro toggle-switch flair), just 'cuz I think it might be useful to somebody else out there too. But documenting that in a form that can be digested will take a bit of work. So for now, here's a top-level sketch showing the overall wiring diagram of my electrical mods to date (click image for hi-res)...

Holy chit yea that’s complexity, lol my first thought of your switch panels was it looked like something found inside an Apollo command module. Sweet build dude.
 
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