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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
JUST MY OPINION

2 Days ago (Death Valley, California)


One week ago (Kanab, Utah)


DUSTPARK high Centered (Deep Creek, California)


UNDERACTIVE swamped (Azusa Canyon, California)



I just returned from a run in the Death Valley area (Ballarat/Panamint Range) with POKERDAWG and others. He asked me to post my opinion on mods for "the road less traveled". What order? I know that everybody has a different opinion on the subject. This is only mine. What is the "road less traveled"? It's an expedition concept that is mild to wild because you NEVER know what you're going to run into. Many unimproved roads change with every rain storm so the trip that you thought was going to be an easy one can suddenly turn into a challenging run.





My philosophy is "getting home". The Scorpion was modified not to be glamorous or make a statement but to get me home at the end of the day.

In order:

(1) Rear lower control arms and leading edge armor plates to protect them. The OEM arms are weak. One good strike on a rock and you can break them. If you break one, you're screwed. You can disconnect a front or rear drive shaft and you can play games with other "getting home" magic, but once you've lost a lower rear, you're not going anywhere.
Recommended: MAN-A-FRE rear lower control arms with bushings. They're heavy duty (most unlikely to break), they are not adjustable because you don't need adjustable rear lower control arms (IMO) and MAF stands behind their products. US$299.00 for the rear lower control
arms. TLC Trailing Arm Skid US$90.00

(2) Tow Straps/Shackles/Recovery gear is very important. I recommend the ARB recovery kit because it's everything in one bag. I bought my components separately and always keep spare shackles.
Price Estimate: 2 x 10,000 lbs 3/4" Pin Bow Shackles - US$13.00 each & 2" x 30' 8,000 Kg Snatch Strap - US$70.00 & Tree Protector 26,000 lbs 3" x 10' - US$50.00 Total: US$146.00 (estimated)
Again, I bought all my components separately and threw them in a bag. The ARB kit is a one stop shop but there are a number of ways to skin that cat.

(3) Skids will protect your vital engine components. I recommend BudBuilt Skids. There are a lot of people out there who will tell you that this skid is better than that one. They're all right. This is just my opinion folks - more armor is better. Bud stands behind his products, he is a small shop and yes, you may have to pay for shipping, but the product is excellent, he's excellent and that's just how it is. US$650.00

(4) Sliders are also necessary. I recommend DeMello Offroad Sliders. They offer maximum protection, Jason DeMello cares about his customers & is one of the most talented FJ Cruiser fabricators there is. I'm proud to call him my friend. $429.00

(5) Hi-Lift Jack with Wabfab slider adaptor. I hate the Hi-Lift Jack, for the record. They're awkward to use, they are big and heavy and they rust when left out on the roof rack or the spare tire (wherever you store them) but they're essential. If you are going to get a Hi-Lift, do yourself a favor and also buy the Wabfab adaptor so the Hi-Lift won't slip off when you're jacking it, damaging your rig, you or both. Hi-Lift (about) US$70.00 & tubing adapter http://www.trdparts4u.com/Scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=-6211 US$59.00

For about $2,000.00 (I threw in a couple hundred dollars shipping that you'll pay) you've protected your rig. You have some gear to either recover yourself or to aid others who want to help get you out of a tight spot. Now all you need is to go out, and get practical experience.



Another word: When running "out there", water is important. If you have to walk out of a bad situation, your water jug is nearly useless. Buy some inexpensive canteens. I keep 3 gallons of water in canteens to carry with me if it comes to a hike.
 

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Great post Larry. I agree with everything you stated and I have the exact same Philosophy. I made the Raptor to get me out there and back home safe. Thanks for the post buddy :cheers:
 

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Thanks for this Uphill.

I'm happy to know I have many of these items but I'm disappointed that I don't have all of these item. I've purchased 3 sets of tires since FJC ownership but should've routed my early budget to "getting home" must have items.

I'm going to make a point in completing this list.
 

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Great post...but it left me w/ one question:

There's mud in Death Valley???
 

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good post, always good to hear more advice like this. i may have been under estimating the lower control arm idea, wasnt high on my list - but i should give that some more thought
 

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Great post...but it left me w/ one question:

There's mud in Death Valley???
Yes there is. In the pre-run I found it and just had to lead the group through it. Actually when I was there there was standing water where the recovery took place. That was the first of two mud crossings.
 

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Great advise Larry - my next purchase - a set of MAF lower control arms - should have been my first.

:cheers:
 

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NICE LARRY !... Great info and POST, I'd give you
a REP, But... :cheers:
 

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Good thread indeed!! I agree 100%, recovery gear and protection are very important. I wish I had the preverbial nickle for every time I have heard " I dont need a winch, if I get stuck you can pull me out" IMO if you go out on the trails without propery recovery gear you deserve what you get. I see plenty of people with no straps, no shackles, no hi lift (to jack or use as a winch) and no winch.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Great post...but it left me w/ one question:

There's mud in Death Valley???
There is a LOT of mud in Death Valley. Most of it is alkaline. The Panamint Valley where STHARRIS bellied in is flat and the water is under the surface. You are driving along and SLOP! You're up to your axles.

Here are photos of running/sweet water from this past trip:


POKERDAWG photographing Saratoga Springs - an oasis in the middle of NOWHERE (literally)


Photo (courtesy of DOMINICG) of my rig running up Golar Canyon. The road is the river bed and the water pours from aquifer.


Another photo by DOMINIC G of my rig in Ballarat Canyon.

The canyons were either created by hydraulic action over aeons or through volcanism. In Death Valley there are both but the deep cuts are all stream beds and there is a lot of water in Death Valley, which creates water-related driving hazards that the uninitiated may not be prepared for. When you think about it, Death Valley is actually a series of valleys broken up by mountain ranges. It's hundreds of miles long and hundreds of miles wide with only a portion of it resting within the boundaries of the National Park.
 

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Thanks for the list Uphill!

I can attest to needing these components. I have everything in that list except the LCAs and #2. That's me in pic #1, and I was lucking that Uphill was there and had the necessary recovery gear. Hindsight being 20/20 you don't want to be lucky, you want to be prepared. You also don't want to be embarrassed when your asked to get out your shackles and strap so that someone can help YOU get out of a situation that YOU got yourself into . . . it's doubly worse when it's in front of Uphill :(

I'm happy to know I have many of these items but I'm disappointed that I don't have all of these item.

I'm going to make a point in completing this list.
I hear ya!
 

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Uphill, one comment/question on the list.
The LCA skids consume about 3/8" of space, and the washer on the OEM bolt does not come off. Consequently the bolt, which use to extend about 1/4" out of the nut is now about flush with the nut which kind of makes me uncomfortable. You had an aftermarket bolt that was longer, and greaseable. What were the names of these bolts and where do you get them?

CAUTION For anyone who gets these LCA skids (which I also endorse), I highly recommend you use an impact wrench (or find the proper torque setting) on that bolt. You do not want that nut to come off while you're driving. I had mine hand tightened, with as much mojo as I could, and one side was slightly loose by the end of the DV run.
 

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If you are going to get a Hi-Lift, do yourself and also buy the Wabfab adaptor so the Hi-Lift won't slip off when you're jacking it, damaging your rig, you or both. Hi-Lift (about) US$70.00 & Wabfab adaptor US$60.00


Did anyone else read through the whole post and notice this??

Great thread Larry. Good list of some important items. I think for down here where there are no rocks just mud and ruts and such, items 1 and 2 would be swapped for order of importance, but that is about it.
 

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what's scary is that one can do (and should) all these mods, and to the casual observor, it will still look like a stock vehicle...assuming nothing else has been done.
 

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Recommended: MAN-A-FRE rear lower control arms with bushings. They're heavy duty (most unlikely to break), they are not adjustable because you don't need adjustable rear lower control arms (IMO) and MAF stands behind their products. US$299.00 for the rear lower control
arms.
Geez...I wish MAF would do a "stimulus package" group buy for this item.
Geez...I wish MAF would do a "stimulus package" group buy for this item.
Geez...I wish MAF would do a "stimulus package" group buy for this item.

You think if I say it enough they'll do it??

Maybe if Mir207 says it.....it'll happen :wave:
 
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