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· Premium Member
7,480 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)

The sword is more important than the shield and skill is more important than either.

photo courtesy of VOLHOO (thanks Vince)​

All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.
--Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO

The Scorpion FJ, though unworthy of the man, has been created in honor of T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935), may he rest in peace.

When I bought the FJ, I mapped out a philosophy on which direction a build-up should take. My philosophy was built around a vehicle that could operate, removed from populated areas, and support my interest in exploration and examination of unsettled regions (increasingly difficult to find). Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.

My philosophy in modifications is simple. I wanted to create a strong, capable, sustainable rig that would BRING ME HOME at the end of the day. Everything I've done to my FJ has that particular end in mind.

My favorite FJ Cruiser Moment: I'm driving my FJ on an expedition and I can't fall asleep at night under the stars because reality is finally better than my dreams.

This is the stock FJ.

I bought my FJ Cruiser on December 23, 2006 as a Christmas present to myself since it was highly unlikely that anyone else would buy an FJ for me no matter how hard I tried to get off the naughty list.

My daughter Emilie agreed to ride shotgun with me on trail runs.

concentrated mist,

a clear jewel on a leafpoint,


the river begins!​

(Photo Courtesy of THUBUB, Holcomb Creek ford - 07)​

And I began the process of modifying the FJ


Edited and Updated Mod List
I'm going to use this partcular posting to post added mods so it will change over time to reflect those additions. Some mods will replace others so occasionally there will be deletions as well.

(photo courtesy of CRAZYHERMIT and NETTI - Kokopelli Trail - Nov. 2007)

(photo courtesy of DOMINICG - Mojave Road - Feb. 2008)

(photo courtesy of DRAGON - Kokopelli Trail - July 2008)
2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser Model 4704C
Upgrade Package 1 <ATRAC/Rear Locker>
CQ and C7 Convenience Packages
Curtain Shield Airbags
Roof Rack

Build Date: November 2006

Engine bay bulges/rips: First noticed 1/21/08 - bulged on both fenders @22K miles

Significant Mechanical Problems: None so far

  • ARB Bull Bar - Front Bumper
  • DeMello Offroad rear bumper w/swing arm[/COLOR])
  • Bud Built Front Skidplate
  • Bud Built Middle Skidplate
  • Bud Built Transmission & Transfer Case Skidplate
  • Bud Built Rear Crossmember
  • Bud Built Fuel Tank (Beefy) Skidplate
  • Bud Built ARB Spacer Armor Plate
  • Inchworm E-Locker Motor Skid (sustained trail damage, cut down in size to repair)
  • Rear Lower Shock Skid
  • Rear Trailing Link Skid
  • Rear Differential Plate (welded)
  • DeMello Hybrid Sliders
  • Manic Tail Light Guards (Real Wheels guards took 5 trail hits -saves- then gave up the ghost)

  • Walker Evans Beadlock Rims
  • Nitto Terra Grapplers - 305/70R17
  • Demello Frame Chop
  • Donahoe Racing Shocks and Front Coil-Overs
  • Old Man Emu Heavy Duty Rear Coil-Overs (OME-886)
  • Donahoe Racing Upper Control Arms
  • Light Racing Jounce Shocks (Chubbies) replacing bump-stops
  • Icon Signature Lower Control Arms
  • Gorilla Lugs

  • Lowrance Baja 540C GPS & Freedom Maps Chip F103EX-S and F104EX-W & Shadow GPS R/V Mirror Adaptor Mount
  • Man-A-Fre Auxillery (22 gal.) fuel tank
    --Providing a total capacity of 40 gallons
  • Wet Okole Seat Covers
  • Scanguage 2
  • K & N Air Filter - Replaced by OEM Air Filter
  • Aux. Optima Yellow-Top Battery
  • Dirty Parts Auxiliary Battery Kit
  • Circuit Boss 7 Circuit Fuse Block
  • 6 x REL40 40 Amp custom amber switches
  • Stebel Nautilus Compact Air Horn
  • Passenger-side arm rest
  • Fuel Can Options: 2 x Wedco Jerry Cans (gas/water)
  • Relocated Rear Differential & E-Locker Breather - Scuba Driver Mod.
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • ARB Safari Snorkel
  • I-Pod
  • Death-Stalker Scorpion transfer case shift knob

  • SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker
  • Midland 75-822 Handheld CB Radio with Vehicle Adapter
  • Antenna – 5' and 3’ Firestick/CB
  • Yaesu FT-1802 M/E 2 meter transceiver (50 watts output)/HAM
  • Comet 3D5M mobile mounting hardware/HAM
  • Antenna - Diamond NR-770HA 2M/70CM 3/5.5dB Mobile Antenna/HAM

  • Airflow Headlight Covers
  • Hella Black Magic 6” Driving Lights (mounted to ARB Bumper)
  • N-Fab Front Light Bar/Bracket w/3 x Acro X1870M Driving Lights & 2 x 40 B/U PIAA Flood Lights
  • N-Fab Rear Light Bar/Bracket w/2 x 40 B/U PIAA Flood Lights & 1 x LEDQUAD LED Strobe Light Bar
  • 2 x Oznium Flexible Super Thin (red) LED Dome Lights
  • 2 x Puck (white) LED Dome Lights
  • LED Red dash lights replacing white instrument gauge lights

  • Fiskars Axe
  • Short Handle Shovel
  • Crowbar/Pry Bar
  • Eagle Talon (RJM Forge)
  • Husqvarna 350 18" Chain Saw
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tool Kit
  • JB Weld
  • Spool (1000 ft) OD Green Parachute (550) Cord
  • Roll(s) of 100 MPH Tape (milspec rigger's tape)
  • FJC Spare Parts Kit (on extended load-out): including 2xCV Boots, 2xCV Sway Bar Links, Serpentine Belt, rear lower control arm, front axel, spare fuses, tire valves, etc.

  • SCORPION MOUNT - An endoskeleton in the back to provide hard points and additional M-PAC storage.
  • Pelican Cases - Allow modular load out depending on the nature of the trip.
  • Fourtreks Shovel/Axe mount
  • Fourtreks HiLift Jack Mount
  • Fourtreks Dual Mount
  • Fourtreks Fuel Can Rack Mount
  • Fourtreks Modular Roll Bar Handle
  • Springtail M-PAC rack and MOLLE gear
  • Springtail M-PAC Side Rack
  • 2 x Expeditionware Jerry Can Holders (currently one mounted)
  • Power Tank Roof Rack Mount - (Custom Fab using Four Treks parts)

  • 20 lbs. CO2 Auxillery Tank (Internal Mount)
  • 10 lbs. CO2 Power Tank
  • Ingersol Rand #2135 Ti (composite titanium) pneumatic impact gun
  • Power Tank Super Coupler
  • Power Tank HD Tire Inflator Handle
  • Oasis Trailhead Deflator / Stebel Trailhead Deflator (both onboard)
  • ARB Tire Repair Kit
  • Spare valves and valve cores

  • Warn XD9000 Winch
  • Viking Kevlar Winch Line (100')
  • Winch Safety Thimble
  • Viking Delrin Fairlead Rollers
  • Warn Hitch Shackle
  • 30’ Rescue Strap
  • 100’ of braided steel cable
  • ARB Snatchblock
  • Pull Pal
  • 4 x 3/4 ton D-Rings
  • ARB Bushranger X-Jack
  • Hi-Lift Jack
  • WabFab Slider Attachment
  • Hi-Lift Jack Base
  • Hi-Lift Jack handle keeper

  • Basic Survival Kit (on standard load-out)
  • Large First Responder First-Aid Kit including an adult bag/valve mask
  • Smoke Grenades (pyro- red and green)
  • Chemlights (red and green)
  • Polish Model 78 Flare Gun (26.5 MM) with star flares
  • Lensatic Compass
  • Knive(s)
  • Firearm(s)

I have had consistently good service from these
vendors and encourage you to consider them in
your build-ups. I have not received a discount
from any of them and have no financial stake in
the outcome of your purchase.

DeMello Offroad
Springtail (MPAC)
Dirty Parts


(Courtesy of FJROD)

(Courtesy of POKER DAWG)


DeMello swing-out bumper.

Scorpion Mount

ICON lower rear control arms

(hyper-links to this thread)

















Note that NO products produced by All Pro Offroad are used on THE SCORPION.

Meet the Scorpion - Current phase of build up/build out for my FJ.


When selecting team members everyone looks for a combination of factors in their team mates. The most important is an absolute passion for the project, an ability to communicate, a diversity of proven expedition-specific skills in remote and hostile environments, physical stamina and mental toughness. FJ Cruiser expeditions are designed first and foremost to be fun. Secondly, they hone your skill sets by forcing you into new and unfamiliar situations that requires you to adapt and overcome. Thirdly, you get to make the run in a Toyota FJ Cruiser.


"Well George, we finally knocked the [email protected] off."
– Edmund Hillary's first words, to lifelong friend George Lowe, on returning from Everest's summit

(Ft. Mojave to Afton Canyon - California) October 07

MOJAVE TRAIL EXPEDITION (Afton Canyon to Ft. Mojave - California) February 08

MOJAVE TRAIL EXPEDITION (Ft. Mojave to Afton Canyon - California) April 08

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.
(Grand Junction, CO to Moab, UT) November 07

DEATH VALLEY (Death Valley - California) March 08

Kokopelli Trail Expedition (Grand Junction to Moab) July 08

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.


· Premium Member
7,480 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)



"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on earth." --- Steve McQueen

DEEP CREEK (B) (Cleveland National Forest - California) July 07

AZUSA MUD ROMP (Azusa Canyon - California) August 07

KOLOB PLATEAU (Southern Utah) August 07

CLEGHORN ROAD (Cajon Pass to Lake Silverwood - California) September 07

ODESSA CANYON/DORAN LOOP (Calico Ghost Town area - California) October 07

LATHAM SHALE - FOSSIL RUN (Amboy - California) November 07

SIBLEY MANSION(Copper Creek - Arizona) December 07

2 BUGGIES AND AN FJ (1) (Martinez Canyon - Arizona) December 07

LYTLE CREEK RUN (Mt. Baldy - California) December 07

QUARTZ HILL (Big Bear Lake - California) December 07

HELL'S GATE (Young - Arizona) February 08

Parunuweap Canyon (Kanab, Utah) April 08

The Arizona Strip (Tuweep, Arizona) April 08

The Valley of Death (Death Valley, California) May 08

A Long Road Out Of Eden (The Eagles)

Music blasting from an SUV
On a bright and sunny day
Rolling down the interstate
In the good ol' USA
Having lunch at the petroleum club
Smoking fine cigars and swapping lies
"Gimme 'nother slice of that barbecued brisket!"
"Gimme 'nother piece of that pecan pie"

Freeways flickering, cell phones chiming a tune
We're riding to Utopia; road map says we'll be arriving soon
Captains of the old order clinging to the reins
Assuring us these aches inside are only growing pains
But it's a long road out of Eden


· Premium Member
7,480 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)


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.

So 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 & Wabfab adaptor US$60.00

So 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.


The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. --George Bernard Shaw

Martinez Canyon - Arizona - December 2007

With CROZHAWK on Soda Lake - California - February 2008

Top of the World - Kokopelli Trail, Utah - October 2007

The Rose Garden - Kokopelli Trail, Utah - October 2007

Soda Lake - Mojave Road, California - October 2007 (photo courtesy of POKERDAWG)

Hell's Gate Area - Payson, Arizona - February 2008

Less than Lucky - Beatty, Nevada - March 2008


When I made the move to Nitto, I had 5 tires UPS'd from Georgia so they'd be completely fresh. My tires were made in Georgia last week and they're mounted on the SCORPION this week.

After going through dynamic balancing, each of these specially ordered tires required less than one ounce of weight!

Finding the “right” wheels for my FJ has been a difficult study since everyone has an opinion and everyone’s opinion is right (certainly for them). I decided on the Walker Evans Racing Beadlock Wheels. For the sake of the forum, I wanted to explain my process in reaching this decision.
I don’t commute to work in my FJ and so the needs of a daily driver didn’t need to figure in to my decision. If I had been pumping miles onto it, I would have decided in a direction other than that I’ve gone. Beadlocks require more maintenance than the standard rims. You need to know how to use a torque wrench to tighten the bolts periodically.

Legal Issues with On-Road Beadlock Use

Even though the “off-road” beadlock design is not legal to run on the street in some states, it is legal in California. Though it is not binding on my prior government affiliation, I retired from the Orange County (California) District Attorney’s Office in March 2007. I did research, as did colleagues who are also interested in off-roading and there doesn’t appear to be any provision in the California Vehicle Code that would prohibit their street use.
Bead locks have been around for over fifty years but they’re not US Department of Transportation (DOT) approved. DOT does not give approval for the wheel itself. (Approval means that the wheel has been submitted to and approved by DOT.) Improper maintenance of a beadlock by a user impacts liability issues that a manufacturer faces, therefore it is rare to find a DOT approved bead lock except for commercial use

As for your or (more to the point) MY liability in using them on the street, if there is an accident due to my negligence in keeping the BL ring bolts tightened properly then I expect to be sued if that is the cause of the accident. Beadlocks used on the street bring the same sort of exposure as a lift, oversized tires, after market brakes or anything else that alters the OEM parameters of the FJ.

About the Wheels

At the risk of sounding ego driven, custom wheels do provide a dramatic improvement in style and performance. I also looked the people doing the racing. Many of them are running wheels from Walker Evans for the most demanding, punishing racing that a wheel could be expected to be subjected to.

Each wheel begins as a single aluminum casting with the beadlock surface cast directly into the wheel, rather than being welded on later as is the case with some other beadlock wheels that I looked at. This one step casting process creates a stronger wheel and eliminates the possibility for leaks at the mounting surface. The valve stem is located as far as possible into the wheel, to protect it from rocks and obstacles that would normally damage it. Each wheel is rated for a 3800-pound load.

Walker Evans Racing's one-piece beadlock rings are made of 6061 T-6 aluminum and are specifically designed and precision manufactured for rock crawling and general off-road abuse. The use of 24 grade-8 bolts on the bead lock ring provides an evenly distributed and reliable clamp onto the tire. Depending on the specific tire, they can be aired-down very low to get the best possible traction while maintaining a grip on the bead and essentially “run flat”.

The backspacing was custom cut for the FJ with the 6-lug pattern we use. I use Gorilla Lugs/Wheel Locks.

I ordered the standard finish on the wheels and the extra wide, fully polished, aluminum ring and mounted Nitto Terra Grappler - LT305/70R17 (33.9”) on them. Walker Evans Beadlock tires require that the tires used have a three-ply sidewall construction. The Nitto Terra Grappler three-ply sidewall construction employs an advanced silica compound that resists punctures, cuts and tears in the sidewall area.

· Registered
2,203 Posts
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

Looks good Uphill. Gotta love the Titanium with red skids! I am really starting to like the look of the tinted airflow headlamp covers. Sounds like you are ready to hit the trails hard with all the recovery and armor mods. I'd beware of the rear light guards though. They may deflect thrown rocks, but if you bash into a tree/wall you are likely to push in the whole quarter panel instead of just losing a lens.

It looks friggin' awesome though.

· Premium Member
7,480 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)


My Selection Criteria​

Armor is important to me because I want to come home. A lot of expedition driving is done in remote locations and things do break. You should have spare parts with you (or with your group) if you are in the back of beyond. That's why there is armor. The armor will get scuffed and won't look as pretty as new if you use your rig, but it will help bring you home at the end of the day.

Front Bumper - ARB with Bull Bar was selected based on the rugged nature of the construction, the practical nature of the design, and the proven concept put into action. No, I don't anticipate running into kangaroos, but it's not unlikely that I'll smack into a deer at one time or another. Hopefully the front end will survive the impact and allow me to continue my trip. It mounts the Warn winch effectively and allow me access to the winch while wrapping it in steel. The minimalist concepts of bumper design don't appeal to me and the weight differential isn't terribly important. I haven't had many problems with approach angles on the front end and when I did, I screwed up the "ARB spacer plate" that rests between the bottom of the bumper and the top of the BudBuilt front skid. Answer - Bud built a steel skid to fit in the gap and powder coated it red for me.

Rear Bumper - I upgraded from stock to a Fab Fours rear bumper. It was a horrible mistake (and an expensive one). While the bumper itself was stylish, the swing-arm sagged horribly and dangerously. The locking latch broke after I'd had it for two weeks. I patched it but was never happy with it. Finally I convinced Jason DeMello to fabricate an "ultimate" rear bumper with swing-out and have been EXTREMELY happy with the results.

Skid Plates - BudBuilt are my choice because they provide maximum coverage to the belly of the FJ Cruiser. I have heard others praise "minimalist skids". To me "minimalist skid" is an oxymoron. I want the bottom protected in the most effective way possible. I have beat the heck out of my BudBuilt skids time-and-time-again and they still maintain their shape, their coverage and while I am amazed, I am continually happy that I selected Bud as my skid-maker. Bud rocks on rocks.

E-Locker Motor Skid - I like the Inchworm skid to protect the E-Locker Motor. Without a skid, your motor can be taken out by a rock and then you have an expensive repair and no locker on the rear. After looking at a couple of options, I found Inchworm to be the best. You need to buy new attaching bolts since the Inchworm doesn't come with them, but otherwise, it's an easy installation. There are other options that require you to "grind and fit". Why would I buy that?

Sliders - I have ARB sliders and slider skid plates. If I had it to do over again, I would have bought DeMello sliders. It isn't that the ARB skids don't do the job. The ARB sliders are strong, they have held up very well (almost too well because I won't replace them until they are beat beyond recognition). The DeMello sliders protrude from the side of the FJ and provide additional protection while offering a step to passengers who may wish to get into the passenger compartment.

RealWheels Tail Light Guards - People talk trash on tail light guards and say they're bling and don't protect the lights. Wrong. I have had 3 saves so far (12/07). They're worth the money and they do protect those protruding rear lights from getting smashed. Update: Five saves later, they gave up the ghost. Real Wheels has increased their price - way too high IMO and I'm considering Manic as a replacement.

Misc. Skid Parts - When I was new to FJ ownership and had very little experience with vendors, I did buy a couple of parts from All Pro. Never again, but there are some small bended pieces of All Pro metal on my rig: protecting the trailing edge of the rear lower control arm and the lower edge of the rear shock absorber. I think these are important to protect your rig but there are places to buy them other than All Pro. The rear portion of the rear differential is thin enough that it's important to add a plate there to protect your differential from rocks when you're backing up. Again, I bought a steel plate from All Pro and welded it there.

---There is no armor against fate. - James Shirley

Helpful Hint #1: Don't over-drive your FJ Cruiser. There are things that you must to at times that strain the vehicles capabilities. We all understand that. All that aside, try and keep within safe operating limits. It's not a sand rail, it's not a rock buggy, it's an FJ Cruiser.

If you do expedition driving you or somebody in your party will get in a position where they'll need help getting out of a mess. Sometimes you run onto somebody on the trail who is stuck. You need to help if nothing else because of karma. The next time it might be you up to the axles in mud. My choices for recovery equipment reflect an interest in coming home at the end of the day. Expedition driving is an exercise in teamwork. Recovery is a team effort.

Winch - I selected the Warn XD9000 (built for the ARB bumper). Warn is the most trusted name in winches. They've been in business a long time and they build a rugged winch. The 9000 lbs. winch is sufficient for the FJ Cruiser. Yes, there are other brands of winches but I only really considered the Warn.

Winch Line - The first thing I did when I installed the winch was to spool out the steel line and install Viking Kevlar Winch Line. Synthetic line does not hold kinetic energy and is MUCH SAFER while imparting considerable force to the effort of winching. I have used it a number of times since I installed it and I love it. I have a safety thimble on the front of the line because it's safe and I use shackles as connectors not a hook. Winching can be dangerous if a line parts under a load. Best to take all precautions.

Fairlead - I part company with my friends who use synthetic line and don't use rollers on their fairlead to protect their synthetic line. I use Delrin Fairlead Rollers and wouldn't do it any other way. It's about protecting the line.

Straps, shackles, ARB snatchblock, etc. - I don't want to go into the use of a snatchblock here. There is a section you can reference (above) on this thread through a hyperlink. It's important to have one, but know how to use it before you practice with it on the trail. Yes, you should always use a tow strap and heavier shackles are better than lighter ones.

Jacks - If you've modified the suspension, the OE jack is near worthless for trail repairs or even tire repairs on the street (sorry). I am NOT a fan of the Hi-Lift jack. There are amazing things you can do with a Hi-Lift and the BELLYDOC has done some very cool write-ups on it. I do have and use a Hi-Lift jack because they are the only thing on the market that does what they do. (again, it doesn't mean I love them). If you have a Hi-Lift jack and sliders, you need a WabFab slider attachment so that the jack won't slip from the rig, damaging it - easily. The Hi-Lift might still slip from where you've attached it, but the WabFab means that it is less likely. I also have the ARB Bushranger X-Jack. It's safer than a Hi-Lift, and works very well, using the rig's exhaust to inflate it. Or you can use CO2 from a tank or air from your compressor to inflate the X-Jack. ARB makes excellent products and I keep this with me in addition to the Hi-Lift because there are a number of places where a Hi-Lift doesn't work well, especially in mud or in off-camber situations where the X-Jack excels.

Pull Pal - If you need to winch, you need something to attach the winch to. If there are no giant rocks or heavy trunked trees handy and your friends aren't there to pull you out, the Pull Pal anchor works to help extract you from the horrible place you've found yourself. It's a proven piece of hardware and it's essential for an expedition.

Bridging Ladders - I haven't found a lot of need for sand ladders, but bridging ladders are another matter. Somebody in your party needs to bring them along on the expedition. Notice that I don't equivocate. Your party should have them available because there are occasions when you absolutely need them to bridge a bad place. They can also serve the same purpose as sand ladders - but sand ladders aren't any good for bridging. They're not heavy enough.

---An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. - Benjamin Franklin

Helpful Hint #2: Parts will break. Do what you can to prevent it, but have the skill sets in place to effect likely trail repairs and have the tools and parts with you/your party to do the work. If all else fails and you need to walk out, have water, flares and communications equipment with you. If it's too cold to walk out, have enough fuel, food and warm clothing to support yourself until help arrives. Always let others know where you are going and when you expect to return.


Tires - There is an ongoing controversy over which tire size, which manufacturer, A/T or M/T and it rages on. I went with the 305/70R17 (34") Nitto Terra Grappler because I thought it was the best all-around tire for the sort of driving I do. If I lived on the Eastern half, or the Pacific Northwest portion of the US or Canada where there's a lot of mud driving, I would have gone for a mud tire. The larger, wider tires (34x12.5 inches) provide for a greater air-down capability while maintaining maximum clearance. I chose the 17 inch wheel because of more balancing options with more wheel space to put led on.

Wheels - The Walker Evans Beadlocks are written-up (above) in this thread. I have a wide ring because of rocks and to provide more support for the wheel and tire. If I drove in clay mud a lot, I would go to a narrow locking ring. The WE Beadlock allows me to air-down to near run-flat levels while maintaining support for the tire.

Suspension - Donahoe Racing suspension was my choice for several reasons. Their factory is physically located very close to me, they have a great reputation and a wonderful warranty philosophy and they are a RACING company that runs what they build (hard) on the Toyota FJ Cruiser. I have DR shocks, DR coils on the front and OME heavy duty coil-overs (OME-896) on the back, supporting the auxiliary fuel tank and the Fab Fours bumper. My front upper control arms are also made by Donahoe and I have augmented my suspension with Light Racing jounce shocks replacing the stock bump stops. I am running custom after-market lower control arms, modified by Currie. As a package, I have a great street and trail ride with the ability to manage extra expedition weight effectively.

---spinning tires=broken parts - My Father

Helpful Hint #3 : Only part of it is what you drive. The key to success is with the driver (and a spotter you can trust when you need it). If you can't wheel the rig, you are going to get into trouble eventually.


CB Radio - The Midland 75-822 Handheld CB Radio with Vehicle Adapter is certainly not the best Citizen Band radio n the market. It's one of the least expensive but my use for the CB Radio is very close range trail use. You could attach two soup cans with a string between FJC's and get essentially the same results that I need. I've gone through five antenna's to date on the FJ (in about 9 months), lost to trail damage primarily from cedar branches. As of this writing I've dropped my antenna length from 5 feet to 4 feet and now I have a 3 foot Firestick. Who knows how long that will last?

Two Meter Band Radio (HAM) - I bought my Yaesu FT-1802 M/E 2 meter transceiver (65 watts output) from a Forum member who decided to upgrade. I selected Comet 3D5M mobile mounting hardware and the Diamond NR-770HA 2M/70CM 3/5.5dB Mobile Antenna

Satellite Telephone - There are a lot of options out there and it's an expensive piece of equipment to buy and use just for the FJ. When you're out there and well beyond cell phone range, a SAT Phone isn't a bad idea. I chose the Iridium 9505A Satellite Phone because it is lighter and more resistant to water, dust and shock than Motorola's original Iridium satellite phone. Iridium coverage extends worldwide and I also use it for work.

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas. -Linus Pauling

Helpful Hint #4 : The ability to communicate while on the trail will get you out of a lot more trouble than it will get you into.


Driving Lights - Overhead I use an N-Fab Light Bar forward and use 3 Acro X1870M modified beam pattern lights. From the ARB bumper, I use Hella six-inch Black Magic driving lights (arranged in a fog light pattern)

Perimeter - I've got just about 360 degree coverage from 2 40 B/U PIAA Flood Lights forward on the forward N-Fab light bar and 2 40 B/U PIAA Flood Lights on the rear-facing N-Fab light bar.

Protection - Airflow Headlight Covers protect my headlights from foreign object damage (FOD).

Caution Lights - I installed an LEDQUAD LED Strobe Light Bar on the rear N-Fab light bar. It's bright, it lets people know if you've stopped on the highway and it keeps other FJ's off your tail in heavy dust trail conditions.

Puck Lights - They're one of the least expensive modifications I've made and on trips, one of the most useful. I bought 2 Puck lights from Home Depot for about $6 each and attached them by pulling the OE headliner tabs in the back of the FJ, putting the tabs through the hole in the back of the Puck light and slapped them back in. When you're on the trail and you plan to sleep in the back of the FJ, they work great as overhead lights.

Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he's too old to fight, he'll just kill you.

Helpful Hint #5 : Is there any such thing as "too many lights"? For an expedition rig, you should have 360 degree flood light capability. It helps when you're camping and it helps when you're on the trail at night trying to negotiate a tough turn or when you find that you need to back up.


Lowrance Baja 540C GPS - After extensive research, I settled on this GPS as being the best for my expedition use. It's flexible, has great coverage available outside of North America and is easy to see and use when mounted. I added Freedom Map Chips F103EX-S and F104EX-W and may add more later as needed. It's mounted where the rear view mirror used to be with the aid of the Shadow GPS Rear View Mirror Adaptor Mount.

Maintenance - It's something that many of us take for granted, but needs to be mentioned to make my section complete. It's difficult to over-maintain your FJ Cruiser. The vehicle is robust but the most well built vehicle needs regular, scrupulous maintenance. Changing the oil in the transmission, front and rear differentials, the crank case, inspecting hoses and belts - replacing as necessary - will make your expedition a lot more worry free. Things might still break, but there is a far smaller chance of that happening if you "over maintain" the rig. If you think that you can squeeze another ten thousand miles out of the hoses, change them now.

(More coming)

· Premium Member
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Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

Great set up Uphill.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge, insights and experience.

The Scorpion is awesome...

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Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

uphill, those wheels are spot on, they make your fj look so aggressive! like it can conquer anything, nice build!

· Registered
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Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

Awsome wheels and tires buddy!

Did you get the other LCA in??:bandit:
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· Premium Member
7,480 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

The Scorpion visits Big Bear Lake 7/26:

"What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism."
-- Albert Einstein

The Build-Up Continues:

On the way back from Big Bear Lake, I stopped at Demello's and ordered Donohoe upper control arms (that turned out to be in-stock and available at Donohoe Racing. I know that there is some debate as to the relative value of replacing the OE upper control arms.

I'm running very heavy beadlock rims and heavy tires and feel that because I made this choice and intend to run the rig not just off pavement but off road, it was warranted. Donohoe UCA's are constructed of heat-treated aircraft-grade aluminum. They feature Uniball misalignment spacers and adapters. Dust cover to protect the Uniball, Teflon-lined bearings, and allow for Caster & camber adjustments.

I also ordered Light Racing jounce shocks.

The JounceShocks form the backbone of a secondary suspension system that dramatically increases the capacity of the FJ's vehicle suspension. Driving off-road the FJ won't feel as though it's bottoming. It also feels as if it's moving up and down less when the JounceShocks are added.

As Light Racing advertises, "When the suspension compresses it drives the shaft of the JounceShock into the JounceShock body. The shaft compresses the nitrogen volume and since the nitrogen is in a closed cylinder, the nitrogen pressure increases dramatically as it compresses. This gives a smooth exponential increase in force (like an air spring) instead of the force spike that occurs when typical suspension systems bottom out. The valving inside the JounceShock is designed such that after the JounceShock has compressed the suspension falls away faster than the JounceShock can extend. Therefore all of the energy that was put into compressing the JounceShock is dissipated by the valving rather than pushing the suspension back out. This is a key factor in why the JounceShocks are so effective for high energy absorption and vehicle control."

It all comes back to an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. You can still over drive JounceShocks but it provides a back up to your suspension system. The UCA's and JounceShocks will be installed by Demello next week.


· Emeritus Moderator
7,444 Posts
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

Very cool buddy, I haven't taken the time to learn about the JounceShocks, now I have just learned what I need to know about them. Thanks :D Very cool, the rig does look great! :)

· Emeritus Moderator
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Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

Rep Points to ya Buddy!:D Great job on the build :)

· Registered
461 Posts
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

Nice Larry.
I have enjoyed seeing this progress over the past month and the tires and rims are definately the topping on the cake.

Those WE rims are perfect on the FJ
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· Registered
461 Posts
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

By the way, how is the ON road ride and noise with the new rubber?

I really like the look, but my FJ is my daily driver.

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unaltered to learn the way you, yourself have changed.

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

Nice Larry.
I have enjoyed seeing this progress over the past month and the tires and rims are definately the topping on the cake.
I chopped the body mounts before putting the 305's (34 inch tires) on the FJ but I do have some rubbing issues. That's one of the reasons I visited Demello Offroad today. In addition to the new stuff, we're going to do a more aggressive body chop and it's difficult to describe the way it rubs, but it doesn't look like it's going to be much work to eliminate the problem. (famous last words -- I think Napoleon said that about the British on the eve of Waterloo)

· Emeritus Moderator
7,444 Posts
Re: Meet the Scorpion (Uphill's Build-Up)

I chopped the body mounts before putting the 305's (34 inch tires) on the FJ but I do have some rubbing issues. That's one of the reasons I visited Demello Offroad today. In addition to the new stuff, we're going to do a more aggressive body chop and it's difficult to describe the way it rubs, but it doesn't look like it's going to be much work to eliminate the problem. (famous last words -- I think Napoleon said that about the British on the eve of Waterloo)
You going to post some before and after pics of the body mount chop?...I'm doing mine next week it would be helpful to know what will be the best way to do it. I will be running 34's or try 35's if I can get them to fit without rubbing with the DR. Thanks again Larry :)
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