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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My FJC - Part One





Update Feb/2013: The rest of the post, below, and the various pages associated with it all date from 2007-early 2009. There was then a pretty long drop off in my work on the vehicle. At one point, I think I was hoping I would go back through and integrate some of the new stuff, but I think what I'm going to do is leave the "old school" build pages in place 'as-is' for historical purposes. As the pages age, various things I've used don't exist anymore (many examples, but one is the Man-A-Fre shackle mounts on the ARB front and AllPro rear bumpers). If you notice some of these, and want more info on alternatives, drop me a PM - I'll also try and edit these with modern alternatives if you let me know (PM me) when stuff goes out of date / links go bad / photos vanish. When I finally get this hunk-o-junk (meant in a very Millennium Falcon-kind of a way) back on the road, I'll put a whole new write-up / new table-of-contents for the current build on this thread and link to it from this first page.

This thread is designed to be a comprehensive, continuous, and easy to use description of my vehicle mods and why I got them. I update the main sections that link off this first post. The main narrative thread extends for many posts, which are unfortunately disconnected (but you can get between each of the "parts" via the clickable part list at the bottom and top of each main-thread post, and from the Table of Contents). However, if you use this first post as a table of contents, you can scan through everything without having to "search" the thread. A detailed breakdown of the table of contents follows this brief list of section headings:

0. Introduction
1. Ancient History
2. Bumpers
3. Suspension and Related
4. Skids and Sliders
5. Exhaust
6. Roof Rack
7. Lights
8. On Board Air
9. Gearing, Diffs, and Lockers
10. Recovery Gear and Storage Thereof
11. Battery
12. Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
13. Interior
14. Navigation, Communications, and Electronics
15. Camping Modifications and Extras
16. Engine
17. Auxiliary Fuel Tank

Latest update: 14 June 2008

Table of Contents

In this post:
0. Introduction
- Gallery
- The Build-up Section
- Organization
- Motivation for Build
- Who Did all the Work on my FJC?
- Suggestions​
1. Ancient History

In the second post: (click here)
2. Bumpers
- ARB Front Bumper (Bull Bar)
- D-ring shackles
- All-Pro Rear Bumper​
3. Suspension and Related
- Old Man Emu (OME) Heavy Front and Rear (3") Suspension "Lift"
- What is a Coil-Over?
- Flex with the OME Heavies - What's the RTI?
- Man-A-Fre Extended Brake-lines
- Total Chaos front Upper Control Arms (UCA)
- Man-A-Fre/4+ Rear Lower Control Arms
- All-Pro Rear Upper Control Arms
- Shaking Mounting Bolts Loose
- (Anti-)Sway-bar (and removal thereof)
- Jounce Shocks (AKA "chubbies")​

In the third post: (click here)
4. Skids and Sliders
- The Stock Skid (AKA "Bling") Tray and Stock Rock Rails
- Man-A-Fre/4+ Skid Trays
- Making the MAF/4+ Plates work with the Inchworm Lefty+Crawler
- Man-A-Fre/4+ Rock Rails (Sliders)
- Total Chaos Front Lower Control Arm Skids
- Total Chaos Spindle Gussets
- Rear Differential Cover / Skid (AllPro and AllPhase)
- TLC Trailing Arm / Rear Lower Control Arm Mount Skid
- All-Pro Rear Lower Suspension Mount Skid
- Inchworm E-Locker Guard / Skid
- Manik TailLight Guard​
5. Exhaust
- FlowMaster Offroad Muffler
- Custom High Clearance Exhaust

In the fourth post: (click here)
6. Roof Rack
- Gobi Ladder
- Demello HiLift Jack Clamps
- FourTreks Shovel and Axe Mounts
- Jerry Cans and Roof Mounting
- What Would I Do Differently if I Were Starting From Scratch?
- Garvin Basket for Roof Rack
7. Lights
- Bumper-Mounted Driving and Fog Lights
- (old) Manik Front Roof Light Bar with Hella Driving Lights
- Cowboy4x4 Front Roof Light Bar with Hella Driving Lights
- Daytime Running Headlights Switch
8. On Board Air
- Compressor or CO2? Why not both?
- QuickAir 3 Compressor - For Tires and Front Diff Locker
- Heat Problems with Under-the-Hood Compressors
- The CO2 Ultimate Air 15 Lb "Multiforce" System
- Where do You Fill CO2 Tanks?

In the fifth post: (click here)
9. Gearing, Diffs, and Lockers
- Stock Setup and Thoughts There Upon
- Manual or Automatic Transmission?
- The ATRAC / Rear Diff Hack
- Front Diff Locker
- Differential Regearing
- Inchworm Lefty and Crawler Box / 4 Speed Transfer Case
- Crawl Ratio and Components​
10. Recovery Gear and Storage Thereof
- HiLift Jack
- PullPal
- Spare Parts and Tools (including X-Jack)
- First Aid Kit
- Jerry Cans
- Max Axe and Shovel
- Sand Ladders
- Warn Winch and Accessories
- Fire Extinguisher​

In the sixth post: (click here)
11. Battery
- Dual Battery Setup by MAF​
12. Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
- The Problem with Stock Bridgestone Duelers
- The MasterPlan: All-Terrains and Full-On Rock Crawlers
- BF Goodrich All Terrains
- ProComp "Street Lock" Wheels
- SpiderTrax Wheel Spacers
- Body Mount Chop and "Plastic Surgery"
- Pitbull Rocker Tires
- Stazworks Dual Beadlock Wheels
- What Size Tires Will Fit an FJC and What Does "Fit" Actually Mean?
- Mounting the PitBulls
- Tire and Wheel Weights
- Extended Brake Lines
- DBA Brake Disks
- Green Stuff Brake Pads​

In the seventh post: (click here)
13. Interior
- Arm Rest
- Overhead Dome Light
- Extra Power Outlets
- Side Sun Visors
- MPAC Rear Door Storage System
- Life Hammers​
14. Navigation, Communications, and Electronics
- CB Radio
- On Board Computer with RAM Mount
- Garmin 376c GPS
- Scan-Gauge II
- i47 iPod Adapter​

In the eighth post: (click here)
15. Camping Modifications and Extras
- The ARB Fridge
- Rear Door Lock and Latch​
16. Engine
- Snorkel
- Hood Louvers​
17. Auxiliary Fuel Tank

Image are interspersed within the text - click on them for larger versions.

Disclaimer: Since some people have asked me: I am not affiliated with MAF in any way other than I really like working with them and my rig has served as a test article for some of their products. Opinions expressed here are from my own honest evaluation.


0. Introduction

- Gallery:

Mojave Road
Pomona Offroad Show
Odessa and Bismark Canyons, Calico
Red Rock Canyon
Panamint Valley
Saline Valley



- The Build-up Section
This is a write-up on my FJC in the vein of a "member's build up". I had seen that such sections had proven cool and useful for other clubs, and so I proposed something similar for FJCruiserForums.com. The mods were kind enough to setup such a section in May '07, and here we are.

- Organization
My non-daily-driver Black MT 2007 FJC is the focus of this thread. I've got this page organized with a little introduction on how the FJC was setup when I bought it and following that, is organized by the type of modification. The only section with labeled subsections is the Introduction. In every other section, the individual mods are listed in the prose (too hard to breakout - but they're location within the Sections is given in the Table of Contents). Since the write-up is too long, it is split over multiple pages (for part two click here, part three click here, part four click here, and part five click here or click on the link at the bottom of this post.)

- Motivation for Build
Although I did not know what I wanted when I started, my objective for the vehicle is now to be a non-daily-driver, "expedition"-style machine. It's not going to be a rock buggy (so no SAS..., yet..., maybe next year) and it's not going to be a desert-racer (so no long-travel suspension). Yet, I wanted it to be capable of reasonable rock traverse-ability and moderate-to-long range desert and mountain trail drives. Ask me tomorrow and my objective will have changed :)

- Before and After Photos


- Who Did all of the Work on my FJC?
Almost all of the work on this truck has been undertaken by Man-a-Fre. This is "largely the truck that Man-a-Fre built." I've had a great time building up this truck with these guys - all in coordination with Steve Hayes at MAF. For more stuff on latest MAF developments / products, also check out their section on this forum.

The only major piece of work not done at MAF was done at Inchworm Gear, in coordination with Jim Christiansen. This involved replacing my stock transfer case with a new "lefty" transfer case plus a crawler box, regearing of front and rear diffs, and addition of an ARB front air locker.

In addition, I have had some repair work (and the installation of new front upper control arms) done at Toyota Land Cruisers (TLC) in Van Nuys; and I have bought bits from most vendors that have bits you can buy for an FJC.

- Suggestions
I did this write-up partly to keep track for myself of what we've done to the truck, but also to be interesting and useful. There's a lot of material and organization is a challenge. If you read this and have any thoughts on how I could improve navigation or things you'd like to see me write-up or areas where more information / detail would be useful, let me know (post up a reply or send me a PM).


1. Ancient History

I bought my black FJC in June 2006. I got it with the full upgrade/convenience/whatever package in order to get the ATRAC, locking rear diff, but also largely out of shear ignorance. This is the first offroad vehicle I have ever owned, and aside from some occasional wheeling (but sometimes challenging: Red Rock and Death Valley / Panamint) in my buddies stock Taco, I had not known much about offroading before I owned my FJC. The first photo is my "fresh from the dealer" version of the truck. Although I bought the stock sliders, roof rack, and skid tray with the truck, they took a few weeks to get fitted. In the mean time, I wheeled the truck in Red Rock Canyon,
and Death Valleys (all CA), Hurricane,
, and
. With the stock slider and skids, I did several more trips to the CA areas, above, plus a few areas in the San Gabriel and San Bernadino mountains, CA. I didn't modify anything until October 2006. Once I started, I found I couldn't stop... :(

IMAGE-> The Bone Stock FJC.

IMAGE-> Stock FJC on Trail in Utah (I).

IMAGE-> Stock FJC on Trail in Utah (II).


This post has eight parts. Click below to navigate:
Part One <- You are here
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
 

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Nice pic. That's how to do it, no mall shots!
 

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Yeah definitely the scariest lookin rig around. Tuff, man. Hope to see it in Ouray.

What are your "Wheel well mods" ?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just got it back from Inchworm today. Holy mother of... 13:1 on the combined tcase for a total crawl ratio of 247!!! I've never driven an MT that you CANNOT STALL before :) Delirious from that and a 6 hr drive down the 5... Hmm, the lefty+crawler doesn't do much to make the drive quiet :) But who cares at 247:1 !!!
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Hope to see it in Ouray.
I'm currently signed up for the TTORA Rubicon run from July 9-11. If I survive, maybe I should just hit the 80 and come straight out... Very tempting...

Air2air said:
What are your "Wheel well mods" ?
I currently have both the stock Duelers on the stock wheels and a set of 33" BFG AT's on Procomp 16" "street lock" rims (but needs spacing). At this point, with regeared diffs, the stock wheels/tires are past usefulness. Anyone wanna buy 5 stock wheels and tires with a cover? :)

The new thing is that I have some dual beadlock wheels on order from Stazworks - they use a nice inner ring that traps both beads against the rim, kinda like the H1 hummer rims or like having the Staun inflatable beadlocks on there. I'm looking at putting a 35"(+/-1") tire on there: still looking at interco and pitbull, and less likely a couple of other tire choices.

Stunning! I am looking at rims & tires with a bumper to come hopefully by years end. K
Great looking rig.
Thanks alot.

K: what rims/tire combo you looking at

Rese: you're here in SoCal - now I finally have the rig back, we should do a run somewhere...
 

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I'm looking at putting a 35"(+/-1") tire on there: still looking at interco and pitbull, and less likely a couple of other tire choices.
If you are going 35's, you have a ton of great choices from Interco (plug plug) that you can go with. The Iroks would be badass, but the 35's are 14.5" wide, and would probably not fit. The 33's though are 13.50" and could probably be fit with some effort.
 

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Just got it back from Inchworm today. Holy mother of... 13:1 on the combined tcase for a total crawl ratio of 247!!! I've never driven an MT that you CANNOT STALL before :) Delirious from that and a 6 hr drive down the 5... Hmm, the lefty+crawler doesn't do much to make the drive quiet :) But who cares at 247:1 !!!

Welcome to the Inchworm Crawler Club Mark! You're going to love your new blue boxes. The gear driven cases do make a little more noise, but it will get better once you get some miles on it. You'll also notice that the heim joints on the triple stick linkage are making most of your noise. I sprayed some spectro dirt bike chain lube (sticky gooey stuff) on the heims in an attempt to gum them up a little and the noise is substantially less now. You will also reduce the noise when you get that boot installed.

Disclaimer: For those that are now going to whine about a crawler making noise after reading this post, get over it they all make noise. Go drive an old Toyota truck and listen to the geared cases. That exactly the way they are supposed to sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
My FJC - Part Two

This post has eight parts. Click below to navigate:
Part One
Part Two <- You are here
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight



2. Bumpers

- ARB Front Bumper (Bull Bar)
My first major mod (the gobi ladder was my first true mod, see roof rack section) was the ARB bullbar front bumper, with Warn winch, and fog and driving lights (set up like this). The winch is described in the "recovery" section and lights in the "lights" section. Since installing, we've added a CB antenna mount and some extra recovery points to the bumper. While I like the extra clearance of many of the other aftermarket bumpers, and there is a downside to the weight of the ARB bull bar, it turns out that you can drive this bumper straight into a vertical wall of rock - and get away with it. It is truly "A Real Bumper". Sitting as far out as it does, you can bang the bumper at a range of angles without doing body damage - this can be useful if you're truly as unskilled a driver as me. Certainly, the extra width of the bumper has saved my ass (or at least the front fender bodywork) on a number of occasions. The loops provide good protection for the stock lights and the upper part of the front body work.

IMAGE-> Front bumper, winch, shackles, and also bits of the front OME suspension (yellow) and the MAF/4+ front skid tray.

- D-Ring Shackles
In order to improve the recovery options, we added mounts/brakets for D-ring shackles (left and right of the winch). They were welded and through-bolted. I used the MAF / 4+ parts.

- All-Pro Rear Bumper
The stock rear "bumper" also had to go, since it was hanging in several pieces from the rear of my truck by October '06. Turns out: you cannot reverse the stock bumper into a vertical wall of rock and still expect it to be OK. Thankfully you can do so with the AllPro rear bumper (see bottom of page), and it also has great lines and clearance. Again, mounts for D-ring shackles were added by long-bolting and welding. The reverse sensors work fine with this bumper. The only downside I can see is that it doesn't include a swing-out tire carrier or jerrycan carrier. That might be the only reason I would switch at some point in the future...

IMAGE-> Rear bumper with shackles.


3. Suspension and Related

- Old Man Emu (OME) Heavy Front and Rear (3") Suspension "Lift"
All the weight, especially the front bumper with winch, had the FJC drooping like a... Well, it was now drooping. Being "oh, so Hollywood" afterall, it was now time for a lift. Actually, lift is a bit of a misnomer. What I did was replace my stock suspension system (struts and springs) with an aftermarket suspension system. There were two effects: 1. My ride stiffness changed, 2. My default ride height changed. The overall range of the articulation in the front was not (cannot be) changed because it is controlled by the pivot location and size of the control arms. While the 6" lifts (like the ProComp) do move the front axle downwards (a "diff drop"), most "suspension lifts" do not. In the back, the axle was pushed down by the longer struts / springs. The suspension was installed at Man-a-Fre.

I went with OME simply because it was the most commonly installed (at the time) and because they're so widely and reliably used world-wide. A lot of debate swirls over what the "best" suspension / lift is. The OME heavies give about 2-3" of lift over stock, which is nice additional rock clearance. They have a very "truck"-like ride, which I like. It is much more rigid than stock, but I'm now so used to it that when I'm in a stock FJC, I'm like "whoa, something's gone all squishy with your suspension". With my current vehicle weight, the extra stiffness of the OME heavy setup is useful in limiting bottoming on bumpy trails (it doesn't stop it, and I'll still bump my wheels into the top of the wells more often than I'd like). Bottom line is that I like the OME heavies, though I've never had anything other than the truck other than the stock and the OME suspension.

IMAGE-> The weight of the bumper, winch, and skid plates really had my truck feeling down (top panel). Thankfully, the OME heavy lift was all the truck needed to feel back on top of the world - and standing about 2-3" taller than before! (bottom panel).

- What is a Coil-Over?
The OME is a full coilover suspension replacement. Often you'll read on the forum about "coilover vs. stock vs. OME" - but all front suspension systems for the FJC are coilovers (even the stock suspension is a coilover upfront). This simply means the coil (spring) sits over the strut (or shock absorber). In the rear, the spring is not over the strut, but it's still a spring and strut system (rather than a leaf-spring, for example). What people may be mistaking the term "coilover" for is an adjustable system such as the Walker Evans / AllPro or the Donahoe setups. So the question "should I go to a coilover system or go with OME?" doesn't make any sense. And if you don't believe me, then I can run you a great deal on "converting" your stock suspension to coilover at a very reasonable rate. Only half the cost of the OME's :D

- Flex with the OME Heavies - What's the RTI?
I've read that the OME's are much too stiff to flex, so I measured the RTI using a forklift. The RTI is the Ramp Travel Index and it's just a measure of how much your suspension will flex (the index issue is associated with the wheel base of the vehicle and allows you to sort of compare between different vehicle types). For the front, I got about 600 vs. about 515 for stock - so it's certainly an improvement. But it's no rock buggy.

IMAGE-> Lower part of front OME suspension connecting to stock lower control arm - also provides good view of MAF/4+ skid plates.

- Man-A-Fre Extended Brake-lines
With the default position of the axles changed, and with the idea that I'd be putting the vehicle through end-to-end articulation frequently, we decided to put extended brake lines on the truck. These suckers are also somewhat stronger than stock and less likely to stretch. So with all the extra weight, it seemed like a good idea.

- Total Chaos front Upper Control Arms (UCA)
After a wheeling incident in December, my front right steering components needed to be replaced, and I decided to use this as an excuse to change out my stock front upper control arms (UCA) for the Total Chaos aftermarket versions. This was part "I need something stronger" response to the incident (and in that sense probably unnecessary), but also reflected a desire to create more clearance for larger tires. The UCA's were put on by TLC in Van Nuys.

IMAGE-> Front OME shock and heavy spring, Total Chaos upper control arm (UCA), and parts of the anti-sway bar (or "sway bar" or "anti roll bar" - but now removed from my truck anyway...)

IMAGE-> Close-up of the front end with wheel off. The Total Chaos upper control arm (UCA) and OME front coil-over are easier to see in this shot.

- Man-A-Fre/4+ Rear Lower Control Arms
Horror stories from 4wdToyotaOwner magazine re: damage to rear lower control arms on the Rubicon trail in '06 (page 24, Sept/Oct'06 issue) combined with having balanced my truck on rocks at various times, lead me to upgrade these components. I put on the MAF/4+ lower control arms, which are substantially thicker than stock.

- All-Pro Rear Upper Control Arms
While I was at it (you see how my mind works) "why not do the rear upper control arms, too?" Thus I swapped the stock versions for the AllPro models (about 1/3 of way down the page). The stock uppers are really skinny. But I'm not sure how much danger there is of breaking them (never seen a report of it). I thought "beefier is better, right?" Well, maybe. The problem with these uppers is the johnny joints that give the links their flexibility are not very strong. After a year on the truck, two of the joint ends actually disintegrated. They have a lifetime warrantee, so AllPro sent me out replacement joints, but these might not be the parts-of-choice if you want durability vs. flex.

IMAGE-> Disintegrated Johnny joints from my rear upper arms: Johnny joints might not be the choice if you want durability.

- Shaking Mounting Bolts Loose
One note about the rear control arm elements: mine have actually shaken loose through usage on several occasions. Twice now, the upper rear control arms have come completely loose of the mount. I guess heavy and frequent shaking can undo nuts - who knew :) Most recently, I thought I'd broken my steering, but it turned out my rear axle was slightly flapping in the breeze (! hair raising !). But the bottom line is that the bolts that come with these parts are not adequate, and we've replaced the bolts / nuts on the arms and the suspension with something that should be alot harder to shake loose.

IMAGE-> The nuts and bolts holding the struts and control arms have been replaced after they were twice shaken loose on trails.

IMAGE-> The rear upper arms were particularly prone to shaking loose due to the nuts and bolts holding them in place.

IMAGE-> View of rear OME shocks (yellow) and OME heavy springs. Also shows MAF/4+ rear lower control arms, AllPro rear upper control arms, Inchworm e-locker guard, and Flowmaster diamond plate "offroad" muffler.

- (Anti-)Sway-bar (and removal thereof)
I decided to take off the front sway bar. This adds a fair amount more skittishness on the hard top, but I believe it gives a fair amount more articulation offroad as a trade. Hopefully someone will develop a sway bar disconnect at some point, maybe Bandi? ;-) In any case, the "before and after" photo at the top of this page, gives some idea of the amount of right-vs.-left extension possible when the sway bar is gone. I have read that removing the rear sway bar can help - but I have also heard that you can pop the rear springs off the vehicle - I haven't investigated this enough myself to feel totally happy taking the rear sway bar off.

- Jounce Shocks (AKA "chubbies")
Hitting a lot of "whoop-di-doos" on the Mojave Road back in late 2007, I noticed that the truck would bottom out alot. I spoke with several people about this, most notably Jeshua and Air2Air, and there was a strong recommendation to go with a secondary shock instead of the hard bump stop. The secondary I went with goes by two names: Jounce shocks when acquired from Light Racing and Chubbies when acquired from Icon Dynamics (the company formerly known as Donahoe Racing). Not being a chubbie-chaser, I decided to go Light Racing :). These suckers require the stock bump stop to be cut out, and a dome "receiver" piece to be bolted to the top of the front lower control arm. In subsequent testing, the do seem to greatly reduce bangs when going over terrain that would otherwise cause the up travel to go through full range. I have bought, but not yet installed the rears.

IMAGE-> Light Racing jounce shocks have replaced my front bump stops to give a more graceful termination to up-travel.

This post has eight parts. Click below to navigate:
Part One
Part Two <- You are here
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Kind of a drastic change when yo show the pics like that.

Well done.

Cya
After i get my light bar lights installed, my fog light mount reset, my forward roof rack piece with air dam, and my cb antennas installed, I'll take some true before and after shots with same angles, locations, etc. on the driveway.

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The first post in this thread has been updated to give a narrative flow to the modification process. I will add more details over time...
 

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Yeah mir good idea updating the first post.. it looks terrific. I really have to watch this and copy all your good ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I maxed out my number of photos in one post, so here are the...

Action Shots

In my favourite canyon (Odessa)...



 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
My FJC - Part Three

This post has eight parts. Click below to navigate:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three <- You are here
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight



4. Skids and Sliders

- The Stock Skid (AKA "Bling") Tray and Stock Rock Rails
I bought the FJC with stock rock rails and skid tray. I was actually quite surprised at how well the truck handled with no extra skid trays on my initially forays to UT and various SoCal runs. The stock skid tray was fine, but it just buckled so bad after moderate impact with rocks that it became clear that I should swap it out. The stock rock rails handled much better. But I just decided I wanted some extra width (don't we all?) I still went with one of the least wide aftermarket rails, though.

IMAGE-> Front segment of the MAF/4+ skid trays. The apex of the "V" sits a little off from the cross member associated with the front axle, but touches the bottom of the front differential. The ridge line or apex of the "V" in the skid becomes the lowest point on the entire three segment skid setup. Probably good, since if you can't clear this, you'll be in deep trouble a few feet later...

- Man-A-Fre/4+ Skid Trays
I went with the MAF/4+ skid trays because they cover the entire length of the underside from nose to the back end of the tcase, and at 3/16" steel, they are as strong as you can get. The photos on MAF's webpage are of my truck, so you can see the before-and-after effects of wheeling. Whilst I have bounced the truck off very many big rocks, the worst I've managed to do while rock crawling is scratch the plates. Absolutely no tearing and no snagging on rocks. The only time I've damaged the plates is when I hit big "whoop-di-doos" at very high speed - no plate could survive that unbent. The front section has since been replaced and is now almost stock again. The exhaust cross over cover has taken by far the most damage while rock crawling - but just scratches and I have never got stopped on a rock by this (I think there's no physical way to do this since it's so small and you can just brute force the vehicle to slide over it - unless you've really badly high-centered it - in which case the trench is irrelevant and you have bigger problems). There are nice access holes and drainage holes in the plates, but small enough that they will not snag on stuff. The oil drainage hole did not line up properly on early versions, but I understand that this is now fixed. These skids cover all of the underside of the vehicle - the only skids with as good protection I have seen are the BudBuilt units, and I see the MAF/4+ and Bud's as equivalent, despite all the hype.

Recently, MAF introduced an extra skid piece that replaces the ARB apron at the bottom of the ARB front bumper. This essentially upgrades the thickness of this piece. Given that I've never so much as scratched that piece, it was of highly dubious necessity, but hey, now I'm full thickness steel from the top of the bumper all the way back to the gas can.

IMAGE-> Second and third segments of the MAF/4+ skid trays, including the extra cross member for the third panel mount.

IMAGE-> It turns out I quite like flat bottomed girls... :) This image also shows why the exhaust cross-over bulge isn't really an issue - if that snags, checkout what's next - d'oh, rear diff pumpkin, comin'in fast!

IMAGE-> This is the new full-thickness steel plate skirt / connecting plate (in black) that fits between the ARB bumper and the first regular MAF/4+ plate. The original ARB skirt was quite thin - but also nearly impossible to hit. Whether I really need it or not, I now have it! :)

- Making the MAF/4+ Plates work with the Inchworm Lefty+Crawler
When I had my transfer case changed out to the Inchworm dual tcase, my combined transmission / tcase became about 8 1/2" longer than stock. This pushed the tcase end aft of the MAF/4+ cross member (the part needed to mount the third part of the skid plate). We were concerned this would be a major issue, but it turned out that the cross member could be cut in a very limited number of places to allow it to pass in the original location, without fouling on the tcase. Thus, the skids have been reinstalled over my new tcase setup and work great.

IMAGE-> The MAF/4+ cross member was cut to accommodate my extended Inchworm tcase, but the skids required no modification.

IMAGE-> With the third plate off the truck, you can see what parts of the cross member needed cutting. Having dragged the plates over rocks, even cut like this, the cross member and plates are more than strong enough.

- Man-A-Fre/4+ Rock Rails (Sliders)
The change out to new rock rails was less pressing, but having used the rails as an essential part of getting over obstacles as I got to do more difficult trails, I felt I wanted the rocks kept further from the vehicle. I put the wide version of the MAF/4+ rails on the truck. These have worked out great. I have managed to deeply scratch the rails, and by dropping the whole weight of the truck (at some speed) on one side as I slid down a rock, I have even managed to very slightly bend one of them. Overall, these are awesome rails and will do the job vs. rocks. They're a little too narrow for steps, but I never bought them wanting steps. Plus, being pulled in, they'll take less torque on rock impact (torque = force of impact * radial distance to the mounting point).

IMAGE-> The MAF/4+ "wide" rock rails on the truck. These rails are still quite "tucked in" compared with the other aftermarket rails. Have worked great for me.http://i153.photobucket.com/albums/s231/mirfjc/P5280014-1.jpghttp://i153.photobucket.com/albums/s231/mirfjc/P5280014-1.jpg

- Total Chaos Front Lower Control Arm Skids
The front suspension and steering components are vulnerable, and the lower front arm particularly so. These are the only parts I've ever out-and-out broken on the trail. Total Chaos have designed a bolt or weld-on skid plate for the lower arms. In the photos, I have them bolted on. Now they're partially welded (and painted black!) The plates originally interfered with the bolt on the base of my jounce receiver, but this was solved by recessing the bolt.

IMAGE-> The Total Chaos front lower control arm skids shown bolted to the arms. I now have them partially welded on and painted.

IMAGE-> I now have the lower arm skid plates partially welded on (outboard part, note unused bolt hole and weld) and painted.

- Total Chaos Spindle Gussets
I read this post on bent front spindles and also noted that Air2Air had beefed his spindles up and thought "do I drive like a crazy person off road? Might I also potentially damage my spindles?" In good conscience, I could only answer "yes" to both. In that case, I figured it was better to spend $40 on some gussets that potentially damage my spindles. It is important to note that these gussets eliminate the sway bar mount points. This isn't a problem for me as I haven't run with a front sway bar in a long time. The gussets also do not work with the stock UCA - again, not an issue for me as I have the Total Chaos UCA's.

The gussets can be bought from Total Chaos (they're the 5th item down from the top of the page). They weld to the spindles and reinforce them.

IMAGE-> Spindle gusset welded in place and painted.

- Rear Differential Cover / Skid (AllPro and AllPhase)
I had got my rear differential caught on a rock during a trip in December '06, and got worried about protection. At the time, all I could find for diff protection was the AllPro weld on rear diff plate, which provides great protection for the back of the diff, but not the bottom or front.

IMAGE-> The AllPro rear differentail guard is welded onto the "pumpkin" - also shown are the lower shock mount skids.

I ordered an AllPhase Offroad rear diff skid as part of a group buy that resulted in some badly sized plates. But my biggest problem was that it turned out that the skids wouldn't fit over my welded-on all pro plate. So the skid (after heft mofidying) found a home on another FJC:

IMAGE-> The AllPhase skid wouldn't fit on my rear diff because the allpro skid was already welded on. So it found a new home on a different FJC.

- TLC Trailing Arm / Rear Lower Control Arm Mount Skid
In the same article that talked about the bending of the rear lower control arms, I also read about how exposed the frame mount for these arms are. I had recently been at TLC and so decided to get a set of their skids for this mount (see bottom of this linked page at TLC). These are easy bolt on parts. The only issue is that I can imagine the fronts of these digging in and pulling off the frame. Welding the leading edges would probably help.

IMAGE-> The TLC lower control arm mount skid plate.

- All-Pro Rear Lower Suspension Mount Skid
More exposed even than the trailing arms are the mounts at the base of the rear struts. I this addedprotection to the bottom mounting points of the rear shocks with skids from AllPro (see near bottom of the linked AllPro page).

- Inchworm E-Locker Guard / Skid
I really don't want to lose my rear locker while crawling due to rock impact, so I picked up these Inchworm guards. The bolt and snap-on (one of the bolts cannot be put back in after installation - this is intended).

IMAGE-> The Inchworm e-locker guard is the blue piece near the rear differential on the rear axle.

- Manik TailLight Guard
I have one final piece of protection which maybe more bling than protection, but I like them. They're the Manik Tail Light Guards. They're a pain to install, involving removing panels in the back, and there was concern that they'd just get pulled off by a branch or rock. Indeed, for a long time I only had one of them on my truck because I thwacked my left side guard off on a rock when returning down one of my favourite trails. BUT - I insist that I would have broken my tail light instead of the guard if the guard had not been on! That's my story, and I'm sticking to it :) "Just tell you're self: they're not bling, they're not bling, ..."

IMAGE-> Oh, left side tail light guard, I feel like I never even got chance to know you! Gone young, but not forgotten...


5. Exhaust

- FlowMaster Offroad Muffler
After some amount of wheeling, I noticed that I'd beaten up my stock muffler pretty bad. I felt it was time to go shopping for something less prone to damage.

IMAGE-> Beaten up stock muffler.

It was thus that I became enamoured with the Flowmaster OffRoad Muffler. What a thing of diamond plate beauty! Anyway, it tucks-up much closer to the vehicle body and I don't think I've even touched it on a rock since I got it. So much for the need for diamond plate steel. The FJC sounded more "truck like" after getting this (and the custom exhaust) added - not sure if that's a great thing, but 1. this was a functional as opposed to aesthetic (acousto-aestheic?) mod, and 2. the later mods have also added noise, such that the FJC is no longer a quiet ride, regardless of the muffler.

IMAGE-> The Flowmaster OffRoad Muffler installed along with the custom exhaust backend.

- Custom High Clearance Exhaust
While having the muffler installed, my local muffler shop in Glendale (Muffler Town and Brakes, BTW) also came up with a way of re-ducting the exhaust to gain more clearance. The design for this turns out to be pretty obvious, since it's been independently come upon by several designers. Mine has just ordinary bent pipe (which puts little contraction points in the pipe where it bends), but AllPro has subsequently come out with a very similar design using really nice mandrel bent pipe. If I were to do it again, I'd just buy the AllPro stuff - not because my custom stuff is bad, just because the AllPro stuff is better...

IMAGE-> Custom offroad exhaust rearward of the rear axle showing the high clearance, especially where the pipe exits under the rear bumper.


This post has eight parts. Click below to navigate:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three <- You are here
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
My FJC - Part Four

This post has eight parts. Click below to navigate:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four <- You are here
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight



6. Roof Rack

- Gobi Ladder
I think the very first mod I ever made to the truck was to get the Gobi rear door ladder. I may have said earlier that it was the front bumper that came first, but that isn't true. I got the ladder somewhat as bling, cause I thought it looked cool. As it turns out, even though the rungs are very narrow, I use the ladder every time I put stuff up on the roof or take it off. It turned out to be very useful, thereby de-blinging itself. This comes under "roof rack" as I only use it to access my roof rack :).

IMAGE-> Labeled picture of the rear of the roof rack with various parts and mounts.

- Demello HiLift Jack Clamps
I looked at many threads on many forums when trying to figure out how to mount the various large tools I wanted to bring on trips. Very early on, I read about the Demello HiLift Jack Clamps, and bought a set. These end up being really nice clamps (they come in two pieces that mount around the roof rack bar and that you bolt together with allen bolts) - I have them mounted on the lower, rear part of the roof rack. Since the HiLift is so heavy, I have it most easily accessible. The clamps use nice, large winged nuts to hold the Lift on the bolts. Despite vigorous shaking, I've never managed to even slightly loosen the wing nuts while wheeling, and the nightmare fear of dropping the jack off the back of the truck on the freeway is receding... The clamps are biased to the left driver side of the vehicle, since I chose to put the heaviest part of the jack nearest the ladder (the weight of the jack base means that the centre of mass is way over to the baseside of the jack - rather than being at the half way point along the jack length).

IMAGE-> Close up of the shovel, axe, HiLift, and jerry can mounting rings.

- FourTreks Shovel and Axe Mounts
For the shovel and axe, I ended up going with the FourTreks dual tool mount. These have nice Quick Fist rubber clamps located on rings that allen-bolt around the roof rack bar. It's really easy to lock and unlock the tools into these rubber clamp mounts. I have this tool on the upper bar, and the axe and shovel get locked in after the HiLift has been locked on.

IMAGE-> The HiLift and tools on the stock roof rack.

- Jerry Cans and Roof Mounting
I also ended up using FourTreks rings to mount my Blitz jerry can carriers to the roof rack. I had read about the dangers of horizontal fuel can storage, but after experimenting with Scepter NATO plastic fuel cans, I've become somewhat more comfortable with it. We'll see if at some point I don't leak petrol all over my roof. Not so much as a drop so far. I have two jerry can carriers, which I sometimes use for two fuel cans, and sometimes for one fuel and one water can. The water can does leak, but who cares? It's water.

IMAGE-> More of the tool storage.

When all the tools are loaded, and the shovel head rotated properly, this setup keeps the tools from rubbing on each other and vibrating. It's very quiet. The only problem is that unloaded, the fuel can bases stick up from the roof like two huge air brakes. Probably really hurts fuel efficiency. This leads to the need for an air dam.

IMAGE-> Top view down onto loaded roof rack.

- What Would I Do Differently if I Were Starting From Scratch?
Having started down the path of adding mounts, etc. to the stock roof rack, I decided that I didn't want to give up and replace it completely with an aftermarket solution like e.g. a Gobi. If I were to start again from scratch, I might not have bought the stock roof rack with the truck - but I barely knew what I was doing when I bought it (would also likely not have bought the stock skid plate).

- Garvin Basket for Roof Rack
There are aspects of the stock roof rack that I like, but the front half seems nearly useless in stock form for actually storing stuff on the roof. In order to make more useable space up front, I decided to add a Garvin "Adventure Rack". This has the advantage of coming with a pseudo-airdam on the front, plus this dam sits far enough back that I can fit it behind my light bar and lights. The Garvin hangs on brackets that grip the stock roof rack rails.

IMAGE-> The pseudo-airdam on the Garvin sits nicely behind the old Manik light bar (just as well behind my new Cowboy4x4 bar).

IMAGE-> Lots of room for stuff on the roof - and nice match to Cowboy4x4 light bar.


7. Lights

- Bumper-Mounted Driving and Fog Lights
Having been stranded a couple of times out on trails too late, I decided to get some more lights. The first part of this came with the ARB front bumper. I had fog lights installed in the bumper, and two Hella driving lights added in the center, flanking the winch control box.

IMAGE-> Front of FJC with the fog lights inset in bumper, and two Hella driving lights in center.

The driving and fog lights are controlled by factory fog light switches on the left side (top and bottom) of the center console switch panel (see photo, below).

IMAGE-> Center console, gear sticks, and switch panel. Bumper fog and driving lights are controlled by two factory fog light switches on left of switch panel.

- (old) Manik Front Roof Light Bar with Hella Driving Lights
Up top, I used to have have a Manik Light Bar attached to the front of the roof rack. Four additional Hella driving lights sit up on there.

IMAGE-> Hella driving lights mounted on a Manik light bar. Three of four lights sport the white Hella light covers in this shot.

- Cowboy4x4 Roof Light Bar with Hella Driving Lights

The same lights are now housed in a custom Cowboy4x4 lightbar (Thomas, "cowboy4x4", is a forum member, search for him and PM him if you're interested in a lightbar). The reason for the switch is that the Manik gave no protection to the lights and I was bashing them on tree branches, etc. Now the lights are nicely caged.

IMAGE-> Hella driving lights mounted on a Manik light bar. Three of four lights sport the white Hella light covers in this shot.


The four upper driving light are paired up, with the center pair on one switch and the outer pair on a second. Since I am now out of room on my main switch panel, switches for these lights were added to the access door below the steering column on the left. The two right hand switches are awaiting my roof rack mounted side and reverse lights.

IMAGE-> Switches for the front lights (left two switches).

- Daytime Running Headlights Switch
For times when you want the truck running, but without the lights (say while camping for the heater, or for any other reason), I added a daytime running headlights switch. For this mod I followed SwissArmySUV's post.

8. On Board Air

- Compressor or CO2? Why not both?
I went backwards and forwards on whether to go the compressor or CO2 route for onboard air. In the end, I went both - kind of a belts and braces (or suspenders) thing. The way I now have things, my CO2 is the first option for tires and the compressor is the first option for the air lockers. The compressor serves as the backup to the CO2 for tires.

IMAGE-> Airing down the AT's.

- QuickAir 3 Compressor - For Tires and Front Diff Locker
Until very recently, I had only the compressor. I went with a QuickAir 3 compressor due to the relatively high flow - rated 3.65 cfm at 40 psi. I mounted the compressor in the engine bay, on the vacant driver side wheel well. Recently, the compressor has been re-plumbed with a 100 psi pressure switch and hooked up with a switch on the dash to drive an ARB front locker.

IMAGE-> QuickAir3 in the engine compartment.

- Heat problems with under-the-hood compressors
The only major problem with having the compressor under in the engine compartment is heat. It has no problems on cool days for the very short periods needed to get the front differential locked, even when I'm turning it on and off every few minutes. The problem comes when after a long drive, you need to air four tires up from 15 to 45 psi. On one of my first test runs, the compressor did three and then stopped. I had to find a gas station to fill up the fourth. After that, I was without front air locker for the rest of the day. The compressor thermal shutoff only got released after a couple of hours of post-sunset cool down on my driveway back home. I think mounting the compressor elsewhere would be better for cooling and reliability. As it is, I figured I'd just be better off having the compressor assigned to one job, and get a dedicated system for tires.

On a more recent run in the southern California summer, the compressor would not work simply due to the combination of ambient and engine heat --- clearly the current location of the compressor is far from ideal as it's getting baked. What we ultimately decided to do was to get some air vents placed in the hood to get the engine bay temperatures down. Most people are interested in this for purported performance improvements. I'm not sure about this, but I figured since most people would be interested in hood vents for this purpose, I've included my mods in the "Engine" section.

IMAGE-> Closeup of the compressor with the air locker plumbing.

- The CO2 Ultimate Air 15 Lb "Multiforce" System
For the CO2 system, I decided to go with the Ultimate Air 15 lb CO2 "multiforce" system. This has a nice volume and good flow rates. I had difficulty getting this tank refilled at paintball shops - but a welding supply store proved much more useful. The can is accommodated in the rear drivers' side of the back cargo area, standing upwards, with the stand housing bolted to the floor. The reach of the hose from the tank (via appropriate door) seems to be sufficient to get the tires. The tank is mounted in a cradle when driving, so as to stop it sliding around. The cradle is itself bolted to the floor of the rear of the truck (see next photo). We had looked at trying to mount the cradle horizontally above the rear left wheel well (i.e. on the "sill" below the rear, left window), but it was simply too big and heavy.

IMAGE-> The mounting stand for the CO2 tank. We had looked at mounting on the rear window sill, but it's too big and heavy.

The system has a main "open / closed" valve on top, which takes the flow into a regulator (when "open"). The regulator has two gauges: one provides a measure of the mount of CO2 in the tank, the other a measure of the pressure at the outlet nozzle. The latter can be controlled with a valve on the regulator. This valve can be thought of a a rate-of-flow control or a final-pressure control. I use it more for the former and use a separate tire gauge to periodically check pressure while filling. The only operational problems I've had with the tank has been some "sticking" of the flow, which seems to be when ice forms in the line and/or regulator. In that case, I simply stop and then restart the flow. It is impressive how cold the regulator gets, forming a nice water ice frost on the outside (boy, I guess adiabatic expansion really does cool, who knew? :) ).

IMAGE-> The Utlimate Air 15lbs tank.

IMAGE-> The tank regulator (annotated). The main valve opens the tank to the regulator system. The main tank pressure gauge then provides info on how full the tank is. CO2 flows when the "flow rate valve" is opened. This valve controls the delivery pressure in the output valve. This pressure is indicated on the second pressure gauge.

- Where do You Fill CO2 Tanks?
I had always heard that paintball shops would fill CO2 tanks, but on my first forays, I uniformly found that they would claim the tank was too large and refused. I eventually found that a welding supply place would do it (for those in SoCal, it's Gordon Woods Industrial on Coldwater Canyon in North Hollywood.) Others have had luck with exinguisher places, etc.


This post has eight parts. Click below to navigate:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four <- You are here
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
 
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