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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey fellow FJers...

I'll just get down to it... but let me first say almost every one of my ideas was generated using this forum. I simply tweaked them as I saw fit for my "Short Bus." I sincerely think this site is one of the best tools in my recovery bag -- seriously. So props to everyone else -- and if you see an add-on that looks familiar, thank you.

Short Bus is a 2007 with 7,000 miles on it. Needless to say she's spent a LOT of time in the shop getting wrenched on by myself and a few places that I found to be on par with my OCDness.

Don't let the Nebraska plate fool you -- she's spent most of her life in Colorado and is purpose built for many moons up in Alaska when I move there in the next few years. (oh... wait... there are moons in AK right?!)

My objective is and will continue to be:

OEM look and cleanliness while being damn near unstoppable.






 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
So this is where Short Bus got it's name.









Obviously that wasn't going to fly, so I started with the exterior paint. I'm a paint/body man in a past life so that's where I felt most comfortable personalizing my FJ.

Day one I debadged it entirely, had Mountain States Toyota of Denver, CO remove the OEM roof rack (bad things happened, see SC install thread about 3 replies down) and install the TRD big brake kit (had them include it with the sale... otherwise not worth it IMO for the 0.1" increase in rotor diameter) and TRD exhaust. When I got it home I applied a 48" clear bra to the hood and completely wrapped the front fenders. This has proven to be worth every penny. I used to do this as a side business, so I bought in bulk and applied it myself.

Then I sprayed a two stage PPG Jet Black on the roof and A pillar. This was NOT an easy job. For one, the most rear side glass is glued into place, so to remove it without breakage is impossible. Also, thinking I liked the bald FJ look, I had to remove the plugs that cover where the roof rack feet insert. Which, is easy -- but to get a clean job I had to move the entire plastic rail system (the plastic in between the feet that serves no real purpose other than to redirect water out of the channel back onto the metal roof) to avoid "clear bridging" between the rails and the metal.

Also what presented a problem was the lateral piece that is directly above the windshield. Talk about a PITA. I ended up removing the entire assembly (there is a metal plate behind the plastic cap) and replacing it to the tune of $680 or so.








The "black out" of the exterior bits was fairly straight forward and fun. I went a single stage PPG flat black. I added a little flare to the brake lights and hideous orange turn signals.

The billet grille insert was a straight forward install.










Interior was blacked out to match using some SEM plastic adhesive promoter and some good' ol rattle can textured black. The finish is quite nice... hmm, I guess I'll have to find some after photos...











Probably one of my favorite, yet challenging parts to this puzzle was the All Pro front bumper. I honestly can't stand the two holes they put in their bumpers. I looked for-ev-er for one of their old, flat faced bumpers but to no avail. I decided that I'd machine two additional holes outboard of the IMO useless winch access holes. I custom cut them to the size of some KC HiLite slim fog lights, welded a couple of tabs on the back side and -- whala -- instant USABLE holes.

The problem that came about from this was filling the old holes. Although I had the metal from the holes I just cut -- and had them within .002" that I filled with a quick weld bead and smoothed down -- there still was a lip that you could catch your fingernail on. Knowing that attempting to fill it with body putty and then paint would ultimately lead to cracking, I looked to my buddies at LineX.

OMG did I Line-X the bejesus out of this thing. Bushwacker fender flares, rock sliders, front bumper, rear bumper, skid plates .... basically everything plastic that could get schwacked with flying rocks or the metal underneath is now completely protected. It actually looks pretty sweet too.




 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
So 20" wheels probably aren't necessary, but damnit I wanted them.. :)

MB Motoring Razors are what these wheels are -- but I have to say that THIS set of 5 is one-off. Reason being is that MB Motoring doesn't make a 20x10 that is hubbed for the FJ. They only make a 20x9. Weak sauce.

You'll notice in one of the first pictures that the hub hole is small. Too small. Way too small actually. With my help from friends at Lincoln Machine, Lincoln NE (read: paying them out the wazoo) they machined the hub bore to the appropriate diameter and even added the hub-centric angle so these ride as stock wheels would -- completely resting the weight on the hub, vice on the hub bolts.

I am very, very happy with how they turned out at Lincoln Machine still has the specs if you're interested.


I also am mostly pleased with the 33x12.50x20 Toyo Open Country M/Ts. I mostly have used them on icy/snow covered CO mountain roads and they have performed every time.

My only regret (and most likely my next fix) is to go up to 35s. Unfortunately, Short Bus barely fits in the garage as it is. So... yes, new garage time. :)










 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
The part that I got the greasiest / bloodiest / most frustrated with was the installation of the Total Chaos "Optimum Travel" kit, Icon remote reservoir front long travel coil overs, Icon UCAs, Icon rear 2.5" piggybacks, Icon rear lift springs, Light Racing front/rear jounce shocks, Icon billet trailing arms, Icon billet upper links, Icon adjustable track bar.

It is also the part of the build that has absolutely morphed the FJ into why people often ask ... "is that a concept vehicle?!" and many, many nights of beer drinking and yelling at bolts with my buddy Garson.



Total Chaos makes some very, very nice stuff. They also were cool enough to have their powder coat shop coat my lower control arms black vs their customary gray. Their directions were straight forward and the games began:

I think chopping my axles in half was probably the most disconcerting part of the operation. I didn't have a diamond bit chop saw available at the time, so I took the grinder to them. Worked just fine.

The ONLY negative I will say about the TC kit is that the extended axles have already rusted. The powder coating on them is weak. It went from nice and flat black to what is now a crappy brown color. Unimpressed. (Pic to follow once it's out of the shop for axle build)


Icon... well, Icon has impressed the hell out of me. My rig rides SO much better than stock it isn't even comparable. And, yes, I got a free t-shirt with my order. :) LOL


























The FJ is currently (May, 2010) in the shop at Crawlertech 4x4 Denver, CO having a Currie RockJock III rear Dana 60 hi spline rear, extended axle (custom cut to match the front's extra 4" from the TC long travel). It also is getting ARB front and rear air lockers and 4.88 gears.

This is what will finish the rig to Alaska-ready and as close to "unstoppable" as my wallet and foresight will afford.



 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
In my ongoing effort to make this truck as OEM as possible I perused the depths of Sparks Toyota's vast stock of Toyota OEM buttons, relays and goodies.

I didn't really want a bunch of off road switches plastered all over my console so I spent the extra bucks to go all OEM Toyota switches.

Being apt to ride in a short bus rather than drive one, I looked to Andy from Midwest Electronics in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Trust me, if you have something that needs wired, this dude is the guy to go to. He has like a 18 pound brain when it comes to reading electrical schematics and wiring stuff.

Some of the things he did that I would have never thought of include putting quick disconnects on all the wires leading to the winch (for possible trail rash replacement in the future), taking OEM buttons down to the bare bones in order to convert the lights to be on when pushed, and off when off (there was some reverse polarity going on), wiring the Painless Dual battery kit up for a one-button throw (cool battery sticker included).

Yes, I'm young-ish and like my music, but I like audiophile style, not just bumps. Andy, with help from the local and regional JL Audio techs, designed a very, very impressive (read: clean, punchy and loud) JL based system. We went dual 6.5" components in the front doors (two mid 6.5 drivers and one tweeter directed different directions) and one tweeter in the stock location. We also modified what is supposed to be rear 3.5" speakers (really were like 2.8") to accept a 5.25" component set.

Modeled after the OEM sub box, two custom made 3/4" / fiberglass enclosures were made to house the latest 13.5" 13tw5 SlimLine subs. They sound very, very impressive.

My only concern was the amp location (I was deployed the entire time he had my rig) as they are not glassed over nor are they protected. I told him after-the-fact that when I go snowboarding etc I throw a lot of wet gear in the back. Has yet to cause a problem as I have my OEM rubber mat over them... but if there is anything I would have changed, this would be it.

Over 200 sq ft of RoadKill sound damping material was used in the roof, all four doors, and rear cargo area. I can actually have a normal conversation while doing 75mph now.


Andy also wired:

12-way marine quality auxiliary fuse panel with relays.

Dual Optima red / yellow top battery running through Painless dual battery relay.

An ARB heavy duty compressor installed inside the stock jack location with an external quick-connect coupler outside under the rear bumper for easy-access, and pre-wired all of the ARB air locker switches and solenoids.

Muth mirror heating elements in the side view mirrors and wired them to turn on / off with the rear defrost switch/timer. Also threw some PIAAs in the mirrors as I don't really care for the running mirror lights.

Dual zone Rostra seat heaters.

A front dome light.

In-cab winch control switches. Yes... my pansy a$$ wanted them. They make winching so much safer and easy.

Back up cameras in the rear Demello Offroad bumper that automatically activate on the Kenwood DNX9140 screen when put in reverse. The Line-X increased the thickness so that the rear backup sensors would not fit properly. The custom made swing out tire carrier by Crawlertech 4x4 also makes this rolling blind-spot that much more difficult to park.
























 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Ahh yes.

With any build comes hang ups, right?

I spoke earlier about how I had an issue with Mountain States Toyota of Denver. The long of the short of it was that I bought the FJ from them, had them uninstall the OEM roof rack and sent me on my way. Well, the ONE night I have my rig out of the garage in Nebraska it rains to beat hell. The next morning I have over 2" of water in my FJ.

I was very upset (rarely happens) at Mountain States because the repair manager asked me two things that really pi$$ed me off:

1) They wanted to dry out, re-upholster with non-OEM material and re-use what was now a stained, soggy cardboard headliner.

Um. No.

2) If I wouldn't do that, and because I demanded a new liner (which they had legitimate concern of bending during shipping) they wanted me to drive, at my cost, back to Denver from Lincoln to have them install a new headliner.

Um. No x 2.


So, FINALLY they paid to have to local Lincoln Toyota dealership install a new headliner.


Anyway... that being said, everyone deserves second chances right? Fastforward 2 years and a move back to Denver later and I have this nice TRD SC I want installed. Wanting to keep my warranty I have good ol' Mountain States Toyota install my supercharger.

Not a good idea.

So, picture 1:

After Midwest Audio installs the mass amount of electrical equipment circa de 2008:









Picture 2: Post SC install circa de early 2010. Notice anything different? I didn't when I was at the dealership...




So I drive about 3 miles down the road and decide to connect the Aux battery to the system for charging. I push the button and my FJ damn near explodes. Fries the 0 gauge grounding wires, fries the in-cab winch control switches, fries the winch control box, fries the $300 yellow top Optima.






Long story short: They fixed everything. Albeit three weeks and one very, very p-o'd second-chance-giver later. Even though the tech turned the battery around and put what he thought was a positive cap on the positive lead since the FJ started just fine off the normal battery, he still put the positive bundle on aux battery wiring on the negative lead. As soon as I connected the battery it was Optima vs. Optima. Red top wins apparently. :)

Runs like a champ now btw.
 

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I agree. That is one mean looking machine. Good job. Thanks for posting.
 

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Very nice! I am guessing a lot of this wasn't done when you were living down the street, I am not sure how I would have missed seeing that!
 

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Not my style at all, but :bigthumb::bigthumb::bigthumb::bigthumb:

INCREDIBLE build man!
 

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Awesome! :bigthumb::bigthumb:
 

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Outstanding rig man.

It looks so clean and is so bad ass.

I think your ready for Alaska.

:cheers:

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