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Discussion Starter #1
I decided to start my own build thread, mostly to combine the other threads that I have started and hopefully to pull everything into some kind of order.

The name "Black Tag" comes from the Triage Tag system used by emergency workers. If you receive a black tag that only means one thing,"your dead". This has more to do with my wallet and time spent. My FJ has been a sort of Black Tag on both. No worries though, I have loved every minute and look forward to spending even more of both on it.

I am going to start by reposting my Rough Country 6" Lift thread from start to finish. That was my first big mod and if anything I enjoy reading it again to relive all the trials and tribulations that I had and how much I enjoy it now.

Please along the way I would like to hear from you, good or bad. I can take it, I live a third of my life in a firehouse and busting chops is a way of life.

So lets begin...:rocker:
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
So here she is, I bought her in 2008 with 11k on it. The owner before had not touched anything. It was a tough won battle at the Toyota dealership, with the purchase taking about three weeks. I walked out three times, the last time was over $500. The dealer gave me the "your going to walk on the deal over $500? Yep, see ya. Finally I came in a fourth time and the salesman turned me straight over to the manager. I think he was just sick of dealing with me and thought I would never actually buy. The manager asked what it was going to take and I told him I wanted the FJ for 21k. He agreed and the deal was done. At the time the car market was the worst it had been. That worked out for me cause its worth more now than when I bought it four years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The RC Lift Thread Repeated

Last Sunday I began to install my Rough Country 6" lift in my buddies garage. The following is my experiences during this exciting and trying time. My reason for posting is that during my install I searched the forum many times looking for similar problems that others may have had and how to remedy them. Today,five days later, I am still in the process of completing my lift. In no way is this thread bashing Rough Country, in fact most of the problems that I encounted were probably due to my lack of experience installing lifts. What I am planning on doing is going through the RC install manual step by step and let you know what worked for me and what didnt. Please post any opinions, good or bad, or any information that you would like to pass on to the next sucker.

First a little background on myself. I am a Firefighter/Paramedic. This is important to know due to my schedule. 24hrs at work and 48hrs off. This gave me two days to get my lift done. RC manual estimates 6-8hrs for a professional. Stupid me I thought I could get it done in double the time. In my opinion I would say I am mechnically inclined. I know how to weld and I used to be in the construction business. I have worked on my personal vehicles and friends over the last 15 years. I put one other lift on a buddies truck 10 years ago with limited success.

My FJ is a 2007 TRD edition with 6 speed manual transmission. It has about 54,000 miles on it. Only problems I have had with it is the well known MT chirp. It was taken care of about two months ago. I have not had any other problems or done any other modifications to it up till now.

Page 1 clearly states that RC suggests only professionals attempt to install this lift. Point taken, moving on. It also lists a phone number to contact if help is needed. Keep it handy. Although due to starting on a Sunday this did not help on day one.

I should mention that I attempted to do as much preplanning before taking on this install. I searched the forum for months, I pre read the installation instructions from RC and I purchased all the listed tools that I did not have listed in the manual. On that note, the 35mm socket was hard to come by. Looked at auto supply stores in my town with no success. Sears did not have one in the store but offered one online for $28. Found one at Harbor Freight but had to buy set for $31. Further along in my adventures I did find one at Autozone for $11, but to little to late. The 12mm allen was also a challenge. I ended up grinding a SAE one down to fit.

The wife was not especially happy about my $1300 dollar expedature so needless to say new tires and wheels were not in the cards. Due to my preplanning and some help from tnsquire and other forum members I knew that my stock 16" TRD wheels and tires would not fit. I purchased a set of wheel spacers from RC hoping to get around buying tires for a little while, we will get to that later.

With all the tools, equipment and wheelspacers I set out to my buddies garage. It was day like many other days but would end in a night of blood sweat and many bad words.

The next couple of pages are a parts list. Again, keep this handy, you will need it. My first issue with RC was that not all the bags had labels. If you are like me when you see metric equalivents your brain shuts down. So when bag 1 and bag 2 are not labeld. My brain had a hardtime knowning what the difference between .750 and 14mm were. By the way the bigger bolts go in the rear cross member.

Moving on, you now get to begin the install. Here was my first self generated problem. I needed to remove the wheels and tires. This seems like a pretty easy task, and it is unless you cannot find where you left your lug security key. 20 minutes later it was located at home in my toolbox and the tires were removed.

I forgot to mention in the preplanning portion of my last post, but in the RC manual it states multiple times to retain stock hardware for installation of the new parts. I like to think that I was ahead of the game by purchasing a box of ziploc bags and markers to labels all of the parts removed from the truck and what they were. I highly suggest this.

At this point my I was working on the passenger side and my buddy was working on the driver side. I printed two sets of directions so we could both follow along. We flew through steps 1-14. So far the hardest part was removing the dust cap. Step 15 directs you to use two hammers to knock the CV shaft out of the knuckle. I was always told never to strike two hammer together. Due to the hammers being hardened they could chip and injure yourself or others. Needless to say I attempted it anyway without success or injury. I think I was too timid due to not wanting to miss and strike the shaft or chip the other hammer. My buddy had a wheel puller type tool from a brake kit that we used to separate the shaft from the housing.

Here was self inflicted pain act two! RC suggests using zip ties to secure the CV shaft from over extending. At the time it seemed like a small bungee cord would work. I was wrong. DO NOT ATTEMPT USING ANY THING BUT ZIP TIES! Of course the bungee cord broke, snapping me in the arm causing me to bleed and cuss, and the shaft fell to the ground. Hopefully no harm was caused but it is unknown at this time.

Up to this point things had been going pretty good, Relatively speaking. Step #21 simply states, "Remove lower control arm bolts then arm and retain." Sounds simple enough. Like I said earlier, I have a limited knowledge of suspension lifts and this is where it began to show. The front bolt was removed from both sides with ease.

The back bolt on the other hand was a different matter. The nut on the back side was removed without incident. Two odd grooves were noted along each side of the bolt. An impact wrench was applied to the head of the bolt with no effect. My mind began to race on how the bolt was held in. Up to this point a lot of the bolts had been rusty but none were seized up or that difficult to remove. Along with that the front bolt came out with very little effort. This led me and my friend to think we were going about this wrong. Maybe the bolt doesnt turn due to the grooves. A hammer was put to use with no effect. Again my mind began to race on the removal of this object. I turned to the forum. Mind you, I was using my smartphone with 4" screen trying to find out how to remove the bolt.

After about an hour of searching the forum and the internet I found a post saying that it was common for these bolts to become seized in the bushing. Now armed with the knowledge on how the bolt is removed we went to work. Loads of penetrating oil had already been employed with no effect. When that didnt work we resorted to the old torch. Heat was applied. I did not want to get it cherry hot so I just heated up what I could till I got a good smoke rolling. Still no help on the removal.

With other threads I found most of their suggestions were to remove the bolt with a recip saw or angle grinder. We initially tried the saw. That went to the wayside shortly after the fourth blade. The grinder on the other hand made quick work of the bolt and on my buddies side the LCA. The bolt was cut from both sides of the ears attached to the frame. Once removed the metal inside appeared to be one solid piece. My friend is not used to defeat so he spent another 15 minutes beating the remainder of the bolt from the bushing.

Four hours later both LCA's were on the ground. Did I mention it was Sunday. No parts are available on a Sunday. By this time we put in the prescribed eight hours and we werent installing anything yet. We decided to break for the night.
 

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RC lift continued

...So that night I went home and began my search for parts. My initial thought was to replace all my LCA bushings with aftermarket polyurethane bushings. Why not right? Ahh because you have to use all the metal pieces that I destroyed while removing the factory bushings. Needless to say they were no longer an option. I had to break it to the wife that I was going to spend a little more money, but that should be the exent of any further purchases. I searched the forum and was able to find the parts schematics from toyota.

The next morning, Monday, I began my day by dropping off my wife at work so I could now use her vehicle and taking the kids to the sitter. I made my way to the local Toyota dealer with destroyed parts in hand. On a side note USMC is correct, plan on replacing both wheel seals. One of my seals was torn and it didnt seem worth it to not replace them while everything was apart. I placed an order with Toyota for two camber cam adjustment bolts ($23.50ea) two wheel seals ($43ea) and two rear LCA bushings ($60ea). So I was not a happy camper leaving the dealer. I know I could have got the parts cheaper online but this was a guarntee that they would be the right part when they arrived the next day.

Feeling a little sore on the backside I left and proceeded back to my own personal nightmare to start with the differental brackets and the rear end.

I skipped past the LCA's and moved on to step #23, Support the differental with stands. I would like to stop there and make a note that anyone attempting this should have at least two sets of jack stands. Luckly I had one set and my friend had a set. At one point I had six jackstands under my FJ. We will get to that later. Back to the lesson at hand...The differental bracket. They say remove the two bolts on the passenger side and the three on the driver side. What they dont mention is that apparently the hulk put them on and used loctite. Plus the upper bolt on the driver side is not accessable with a socket.

If your counting this is where injury three occurs. While trying to remove the bolts from the differental with the old combination box wrench prybar technique I managed to get a chunk of rust in my eye. The rust mixed with the sweat and penetrating lube was a exquisit feeling. Multiple bad words and a short fit later the bulk of the rust was removed and I continued undetered to complete the front and back by days end.

Eventually the bolt was removed. Earlier I mentioned that I could not find a 12mm allen wrench so I made my own. Not really a big deal other than my buddy does not have a bench grinder and I am lazy so I was doing the tool modification from my back under my FJ. The job got done and the bolt was removed with ease once the wrench fit. Now came the fun part. Why did Toyota need to put one of the damn bolts on top of the bracket? Of course the bottom comes off with ease but the top one wanted to see me suffer. Again the old combination prybar wrench worked its wonders and the bolt was removed.

I finally felt like I accomplished something. At this point all the parts that needed to be removed from the front end were off and now it was time to start putting parts back on.

Sorry its been a busy weekend. I will continue.

So anyway everything was off now time to put some stuff back on. First step in the installation was to reinsert the new differental mount. It looks so little and innocent when you take it out of the RC package but looks are decieving. First off the busing provided has a raised ring on one side. This would make sense if there were a grove on either pieces that it is supposed to fit between. I dont know if I was right but I put the raised area facing down. Anyway...when installing this piece I found that putting in the bolt on top of the bracket first is the easist and quite possibly the only way to go. As previously stated I am self described as lazy. So I started with the easy bolt first, the bottom frame bolt. Then I went to the other one I could see. This made it almost impossible to line up the one on the top that you cannot see. Mind you I did not tighten any of the bolts completely and I was still not able to get the top bolt in. I started over, removed all the bolts and started with the one on the top. This worked for me but no guarntees.

I thought all that was tough until I got to the other differental brackets that go between the two new front cross members. First thing I would like to address is that you remove three bolts and only put one back in. To me I would think that if Toyota put three bolts there they did it for a reason. Oh well im sure some engineer somewhere crunched a bunch of numbers and figured out that it probably will never make any difference. Photo #23 shows the bolt hole lining up perfect. Of course for me this was not the case. I dont know if I did something wrong or just got a kit made on a friday but it was about a 1/4-1/2 off. I attempted multiple times to adjust the cross member and differental with no success. I know these things are built in jigs that have been checked and double checked so when something doesnt fit it is probably due to the dumbass installing it. But I threw that nonsense out the window, removed the cross member and grinded the hole down until it fit. With only a dremel tool and grinding bit to get this done needless to say I felt pretty good when I got it to fit.

What I didnt think about was the other four bolt I was going to have to get in on the passenger side. I moved over there and followed directions on the install. Of course when I got to that side both of those bolt holes were about a 1/4 off. I attempted every possible configuration I could think of. Knowing how difficult it was to get the ear of the cross member ground down I really did not want to attempt that again. Common sense kicked in and I contacted RC's help line. I wish they could have been more help but after I related to him what was going on he really didnt have an answer for me. He had me email him some pictures and said he would ask around and email me back. I was throughly frustrated at this point. It didnt help matters any that for some reason every fly in Illinois had migrated on me. At one point I was caught myself reasoning with them and pleading for them to just leave me alone for a couple of minutes till I could get this damn differental in. That was short lived. I snapped starting throwing tools and swatting at anything in site. Im sure if anyone was there to see me it would have been quite funny.

With no diagnosis from RC I decided to remove the bracket from between the cross members and attach the bracket to the diff. first. after doing this I was able to use a crowbar and align the bracket between the cross members. I would definitely do it this way if I had to do it again. At that point I still didnt have the bushing for my LCA's. I decided to reorganize and clean up my work area before starting on the back.

Sorry to skip ahead and possibly ruin the ending to my story but the FJ is out of the garage on all fours but im having some problems. I noticed when I was putting on the tires that I could hear the rotors hitting the dust cover. I used a little elbow grease and thought I fixed the problem. When I moved the truck under its own power initially no noise was heard. Once I got moving out of first gear when I let off of the gas or push in on the clutch a grinding noise can be heard. It sounds like the rotors rubbing again but worse. When I apply the break it gets even worse and I can change the sound with different pressure applied. When I accelerate the sound goes away but it is there without touching the break. I had no problems before the lift. I have read some threads about driveshaft replacement but it looking at the shaft it does not look to be over extended and the joints are good. Any ideas? oh btw the saga will continue shortly.

At no point does RC suggest skipping steps and I now know why. It it scary to have your entire truck on four little jack stands while you are working under it. This was probably the stupidest thing I did in the whole adventure but it was all in the name of completion. I do not recommend it, but you have to do what you have to do.

So moving to the back. From my preplanning most people said that once you master the front the back is a piece of cake...we will see about that. I followed RC instructions step by step waiting for something to be stuck, seized or otherwise. Everything for the most part came off without a hitch. I did have one problem with the rear sway bar links. They were pretty rusty and I was not able to get the allen in the bolt. Since I was not planning on reusing the parts I just used a pair of vice grips to hold onto the bolt while I backed off the nut. On the driver side I just broke out the cutoff wheel and let it eat. Due to my laziness and lack of planning ahead I didnt even think that I could have probably sold these parts. Oh well.

Now putting the parts back in was not as easy as taking them out but not anywhere near the challenge of the front. I did have a couple of issues with the directions. First issue was the brake lines. No where in the manual do they mention that the brake lines will have to be modified or bent. When attempting to install the new coils you have to drop the axle down quite a bit. If you are not careful or watching out for it you will destroy your break lines. Other places in the manual they are looking out for the at home mechanic but this is not that place. I removed all of the retainer clips on the rear axle letting the break line come loose. This gave me enough line to be able to squeeze the coils back in. Looking at the parts being in there and the placement of the break lines I didnt think there was anyway that they were going to go back in the original retainers on the axle. Looks were decieving. Once you lower the weight back down everything lines up pretty well with the new break line bracket installed.

The only other problem I had with the installation was the rear track bar. In step 14 of the rear installation it says "Using a 19mm socket and stock hardware, install the new rear track bar in the original frame mount." OK, this was a pain in the ass with the truck in the air. I fought with the floor jack and axle trying to find the right combination to get it to line up. Finally after a lot of facial expressions and expliatives it was in. Then I read on and step # 20 says "With the vehicle on the ground, install the new rear track bar in the original frame mount using a 19mm socket and stock hardware." I think that I was supposed to put one side in and then after you lower it to the ground put the other side in. Either way it was in before it hit the ground.

Those were the only problems I had, everything went on without injury and I even managed to have a beer or two during it. I actually found my self enjoying working on my truck.

The next morning, now wednesday, I had all my parts in had freshly delivered and picked up from my local Toyota dealer. I had a new sense of motivation and attempted to dash that as soon as possible. I asked the dealer service guy how much they would charge me to remove the old bushing from the LCA and push in the new ones. He stated that it would be $95 and he couldnt do it for two more days. I told him thanks but no thanks. I left and began hunting down a couple of buddies that I work with on the volunteer fire department I am still on. One owns an autobody shop and the other ones family owns a garage in town. Of course the one with the equipment was no where to be found. I stopped by the autobody shop and found the other guy. He said he didnt have a press but he could get them out.

With no other choices I let him at it. He came around the corner with a torch and hammer. I told him I could have done that on my own. He said that is how he usually does it and he has never had a problem. Back to that lazy thing we spoke about. I was here and he was willing. Lets do this! About ten minutes later both old bushings were out and the new ones were in. I tried to slip him a $20 and of course he refused. So later that day I left a 30 pack in his front seat.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The RC lift continued

Now LCA's in hand I returned to my two wheeled FJ posing on jack stands. I forgot to mention I stopped by Autozone for the biggest bottle of anti-seize I could find. There should be no way those bushings seize up ever again. Not to jump ahead but im pretty sure I pissed off the alignment guy at the Firestone shop due to the amount of anti-seize that was on the cam bolts. The installation of the LCA's was complaint free. Like I said earlier I opted to purchase new wheel seals. To anyone planning on attempting this install I would suggest going ahead and purchasing two of these puppies. If you plan ahead, unlike myself, they wont set you back that much and if you dont the hassle of taking everything back apart to fix the bad wheel seal is in no a good situation.

New seals were in and the spacer was placed on the stock coilover. After wheels and tires I think this will be my next upgrade. Number 36 reminds you to line up the bottom strut eye. How about some direction on how the hell you ar supposed to get a wrench on the back bolt of the strut spacer bolt. I didnt even try, insert laziness here, I used my buddies welder and tacked the rear bolt into place. After studing it for a little bit it looks like there is a little area you could get a wrench in but I wasnt going to try it. I grinded a small area of the powdercoating off and with a pull of a trigger the bolt wasnt going any where. I dont know what RC would have to say but it made the install pretty simple. If your having problems do it. Install of the knuckle can be a little tricky. You have to cut off the handy zip ties you should have put in place the first time! I regress...Its not to difficult but take your time and be careful.

It was amazing things were actually starting to look like they were going back together. The manual was even starting to sound easy. Install the rotor it said...easy right? HA, not when you been working on your truck for a couple of days. Really the action of placing the rotor on wasnt bad. I got it on with little problems, other than that damn dust cover. We will talk about that little guy later. I got the rotor and caliper on. After tighting everything down I noticed that the area where the CV meet the wheel seal there are two dust covers that are made to fit around each other. These two things had separated from one another. THIS IS NORMAL! Since everything had been moving along so well my brain was searching for something to go wrong. I talked myself into this being wrong. I dissembled the entire assembly back down to the knuckle. After taking a step back I relized that when I tighten down the axle nut it will pull the seals back together. Hey, I had to find some way to add another hour to the project! I wish I was getting paid for it.

Sorry Its been a while I thougth I should probably finish this up one of these days. I left off putting the the front end back together. Amazingly it all went pretty well. One thing that I will mention is the brake lines. I had a hard time lining up where the new bracket was supposed to be. Like the back you have to bend the lines carefully into a new position. I know I mentioned this with the rear but of all of the step by step instructions in the manual you think they would mention this. I also had issues with the new brake line bracket. I didnt like how it was bent so I put it in the vise and made another bend to make the bracket fit at a 90 degree angle to the old bracket. IMO photo 38 shows this bracket bent the way I bent it but out of the box there is only one bend. Im sure it works either way, just FYI.

After getting the brake lines back into place I finished up the front end. The only other problem I ran into was I was missing the hardware to install the drop down brackets for the bump stops. I was going to let RC know but at that point I just wrote them off cause in the end it was my fault for not following the instructions at the begingin of the manual and making sure that all the parts are there. At this point I had to make my trip to the auto parts store anyway. I dont own a torque wrench so Orileys loans them out for free. I torqued all of the bolts down. BTW torquing the axle nut takes some ass behind that wrench.

Returning from the store I buttoned up the rest of the kit. At this point I need to talk about the recommended specifications from RC. When they say recommended they mean that it will not work with anything other than those recommendations. IE you must have 17" wheels. I think I talked about it before but I did find that wheel spacers will work if you dont want or cant in my situation afford new wheels and tires. With that said I purchased a set of wheel spacers from RC. If you are saying to yourself RC doesnt make wheel spacers for an FJ you would be correct. I was just excited that they were almost half as much as the Spidertrax spacers. I was so excited infact I would let my mind see that FJ Crusier was not listed under the 6x5.5. I didnt even think that the hub would be different. I was concentrated on the tread pattern. Needless to say I was down to putting them on by the time I figured out that they will not fit.

One step left and I was stuck. I forgot to mention that it was now Thursday. If you have been following along I started this 12 hour project on Sunday. By my calculations I would be about 115 hours in. Being a Thursday afternoon even if I choose to have the spacers shipped by Spidertrax they wouldnt make it until Monday anyway. Oh did I mention that it was $80 for overnight shipping. I decided to wait until Monday and pay the 14 bucks for shipping instead. I also decided to just go ahead and buy all four.

In a last ditch effort to get my truck out of my buddies shop until the spacers arrived I attempted to put my stock TRD wheels and tires back on. Once they were bolted to the axle they were snug up against knuckle arm. In my infinite wisdom I thought that I might get just enought space if I lowered some weight on the front end. I set it down on the ground for the first time with no success. Still dead in the water and waiting for parts. This was becoming a theme for my install.

So there she sat all weekend. By this point I had to go back to work. Luckly my in-laws had an extra vehicle that they were willing to let me borrow. Of course the spacer didnt arrive until Tuesday. With parts in hand I returned to the scene of the crime and began the bolt on. All went well and the truck was able to move under its own power for the first time in almost 10 days. Only problem was it was making a god awful noise in the front end. It was like a rock was stuck in my rotor. The sound only got worse when you hit the brake. For more on that you can look at my other thread that explains everything.

Basically the rotor dust cover was scraping the rotor. It was fixed with a little pry bar and some curse words. The next day I made an appointment at Firestone for a lifetime alignment. Side note. I would definitely suggest this. It was only $150 and you can have your vehicle aligned anytime you want as much as you want. With future add ons in mind I dropped the coin and didnt look back.

I will say that I am still not done as of today. I still have to put in the extended bump stops and I left the skids plates off. I do plan on doing the body mount chop when I get my new wheels and tires. All in all I would say the install went about how I thought it would.

Total install time: About 10 days but only about 20 hours of actual working time.

Total Cost: Kit $1200 Tools $130 Wheel Spacers:$200 Alignment $150 Beer $20= $1700

It was worth it. So far so good. I have about 200mi on the kit. I expected the ride to be rough but the rear is definitely built for the off road. Hopefully the wheels and tires will be here soon. I will put up some picutres soon.

Thanks for reading
 

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Discussion Starter #6
After the lift

So its been about six months since I put the lift on and just recently I finally saved up enough for my new wheels and tires. I debated for months between a 33" and 35" tire. I knew with the 35's there would be some more work to be done to keep them from rubbing my girl the wrong way. I was also concerned about the rear gears. I love this fourm but it freaks me out reading about all the possible problems that I could have with my FJC. After reading about so many '07's that have detonated the rear gears I was leaning toward just going with 33's and seeing how it turned out. But the more I thought about it I knew that I would regret not putting the biggest tires I could fit. I went through the same debate between the 3" lift or 6". Bigger is always better, right?

With that said I knew the body chop was in my near future. I have some fabrication experience and a couple of buddies with welders. I did some more fourm research and found more than enough info. I choose to lop the entire end off. I figured that this would be the easiest to fab a new piece. It was pretty straight foward. I used a recip saw and made one cut across the entire front of the mount. Then I used a cut off wheel on an angle grinder and shaped the outer part in the wheel well to allow for the most clearence. Once the cutting was done I made a template out of cardboard. I transfered the template to some 3/16 steel and shaped it to fit. All together both sides took me about two and a half hours. :cheers:
 

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Quite a detailed write up there. I'm sure its of great use to the RC lift installers. Any cliff notes or executive summary for the rest of us?:lol:

At least your getting well experienced in the joys of working on the FJ. After many hours of frustration you'll get it squared away and get to enjoy your lift.
 
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