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4,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
tibaal89's 2007 Black Cherry FJ Cruiser

as it lays today-ish...

I think I'm supposed to put some kind of inspirational quote here... uhh.. hmm... be nice to people. Yea! :D


--- I. The Truck ---

Go to post 1...
1. Armor
- All Pro Tcase/Xhaust Skid
- All Pro IFS Skid (front skid)
- All Pro Transmission Skid
- All Pro Rock Sliders
2. Bumpers
- Custom Front Tube Winch Bumper
- Rear Bumper - THE ULTIMATE BUMPER MOD!!!!!!!

Go to post 2...
3. Wheels and Tires
- 17" Stock FJ Alloys
- 275/70/17 Goodyear MT/R
4. Suspension
- Front: FOX 2.5 from All Pro
- Rear: All Pro Springs, 2" Spacer, FOX 2.0 shocks
- Front Swaybar Removal

Go to post 3...
5. Racks, Exterior Storage
- BajaRack Roof Rack
- Thule Spare-Me Bike Rack

Still writing - to be continued...

--- II. The Narrative ---

Go to post 1...
- In the Beginning...
- August 7, 2007 - Redington Road
- August 8, 2007 - Trail 4436
- August 10, 2007 - Trail 4436
- August 18, 2007 - AZFJ Dinner
- August 22, 2007 - Chiva Falls
- August 27, 2007 - Chiva Falls
- September 1, 2007 - CB Install

Go to post 2...
- September 3, 2007 - Rice Peak and surroundings
- September 8, 2007 - Chimney Rock Loop
- September 9, 2007 - CB Install
- September 16, 2007 - AZFJ Chiva Falls Run

Go to post 3...
- September 23, 2007 - Charleau Gap (kinda)
- September 27, 2007 - Oracle Control Road
- September 29, 2007 - Table Mesa with homedad
- September 30, 2007 - Front Bumper Install and Box Canyon Run

Go to post 4...
- October 6, 2007 - AZFJ Mod Party at homedad's!
- October 7, 2007 - Willow Springs Road
- October 13, 2007 - Body Spray Paint and Fender Plastic Removal
- October 14, 2007 - Trail 4436, Chimney Rock Loop, Alamo Springs

Go to post 5...
- October 17, 2007 - Trail Gear Sliders Install
- October 20, 2007 - AZFJ Crown King Run and Scottsdale Pavilions Car Show
- October 21, 2007 - Gila River Exploration
- October 25, 2007 - Car Wash and Gillette Ruins Campfire
- October 27, 2007 - Montana Mountain
- November 3, 2007 - Sedona with 1leglance, Day I
- November 4, 2007 - Sedona with 1leglance, Day II

Go to post 6...
- November 5, 2007 - Wheel Painting
- November 10, 2007 - Box Canyon Earnhardt's Toyota Run
- December 2, 2007 - Senator Highway
- December 6, 2007 - Rackless HiLift Mounts Install
- December 7, 2007 - Oracle Control Road and AZFJ Letters!

Go to post 7...
- December 9, 2007 - Oracle Control Road
- December 14, 2007 - Table Mesa and Gillette Ruins Camping
- December 15, 2007 - Copper Creek Trek, Day I
- December 16, 2007 - Copper Creek Trek, Day II
- December 18, 2007 - Crown King

Go to post 8...
- December 19, 2007 - Box Canyon, Coke Ovens, Battle Axe
- December 23, 2007 - Alamo Springs and Chimney Rock Loop
- January 4-6, 2008 - El Camino del Diablo
- January 9, 2008 - New Tires! 275/70/17 GY MT/R
- January 10, 2008 - Exploring Santa Rita Mountains, Gun Sight Pass

Go to post 9...
- January 12, 2008 - Sutherland
- January 26, 2008 - Table Mesa 'Training Day' with homedad
- February 2, 2008 - Montana Mountain

Go to post 10...
- February 10, 2008 - Upper Woodpecker
- February 16-18, 2008 - Cherry Creek Trip

Go to post 11...
- March 2, 2008 - Willow Springs (kinda)
- March 9, 2008 - Alamo Springs and Chimney Rock Loop
- March 29, 2008 - Mod Party at BellyDoc's (Front Spacer Lift Install)

Go to post 12...
- March 30, 2008 - Willow Springs (more so, but still not really)
- March 31, 2008 - New Stock Skids
- April 4-6, 2008 - SE Arizona Ghost Town Hunt

Go to post 13...
- April 19, 2008 - Table Mesa Cleanup, Trail Run
- April 20, 2008 - AZFJ Meet'n Greet
- April 25-27, 2008 - Sedonafest II
- May 24-26, 2008 - AZFJ Chiricahua Mountains Expedition

Go to post 14...
- May 29, 2008 - All Pro Tcase Skid Install
- May 30, 2008 - Road Trip to Hemet, CA!
- June 1, 2008 - Exploring the Santa Rita Mountains
- June 3, 2008 - Front and Trans Skids Install
- June 4, 2008 - All Pro Sliders Paint and Install
- June 6, 2008 - Table Mesa and Gillette Ruins Camping
- June 7, 2008 - Crown King
- June 8, 2008 - Mod Party at the BellyDoc’s
- June 12, 2008 - Chiva Falls Night Run
- June 13, 2008 - BajaRack Install and Gillette Ruins Campfire
- June 15, 2008 - Mod Party at homedad’s Shop

Go to post 15...
- June 22 - July 27, 2008 - Continental Divide Expedition

Still writing - to be continued... only behind several months now. :lol:

· Registered
4,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
1. Armor

- All Pro Tcase/Xhaust Skid

When it comes to damaging the underside of the FJ, the transfer case is the most vulnerable part IMO. It has virtually no protection from the factory, hangs lower than its surroundings, and is in the area of the truck that is most likely to smash into the ground when the break-over angle is exceeded.

It is possible to do a lot of crazy wheeling without a Tcase skid, but keeping this vital component off the ground must be a top priority when choosing lines and assessing obstacles. In other words, smash anything and everything else first before allowing this part to kiss some rocks... :lol:

The story of my receiving the skid is pretty interesting. Trail Gear had a giveaway of their own version of this skid which is basically a carbon copy of the one that All Pro had been making for a while. I always knew that this was the kind of skid that I wanted, so naturally I tried to get in the running for the Trail Gear giveaway. I'd met Terry from All Pro at SedonaFest II and I guess he was moved by my mad begging for the skid from Trail Gear so much that he swooped in and randomly sent me an All Pro skid free of charge!! It was a really awesome and unexpected thing to happen...

Putting the skid through its paces scraping across some rocks.

- All Pro IFS Skid (front skid)

Since I'd landed the Tcase skid in a huge stroke of luck, it was only natural that I complete the set and pick up the other main All Pro skid. The front is a really nice unit and covers things up well without eating up too much clearance.

Front skid with fresh rashes, about to get some more... :D

- All Pro Transmission Skid

I got this piece as kind of a "why not" skid. It's not very heavy and not very expensive so I figured I might as well. But frankly, the transmission oil pan isn't very vulnerable, IMO. It's a good couple inches above the level of the frame, and if you're swallowing rocks down the center of the truck THAT badly you seriously need to reflect on your driving style... :lol:

- All Pro Rock Sliders

Sliders are crazy important for rock crawling! By far they are the single thing that takes the most abuse. I like the sliders from All Pro in that they stick out a ways, are angled up for better clearance, and have the little kick-out in the back.

Sliders in action on the driver's side...

2. Bumpers

- Custom Front Tube Winch Bumper

It's a shame that I have to call this a 'custom' bumper... it was made by a place in Phoenix called Desert Armor and supposed to go into production in late 2007 but the project (despite great interest in the community) shriveled up, died, and only two of these bumpers were ever made.

I went with the tube bumper because it's crazy light and I like the naked/tube look. It's compact, has massive clearance, provides great winch and light protection, and is extremely durable.

The only problem I've had with this bumper is the way it is mounted to the frame... anyone planning to fab their own tube bumper needs to be mindful of this if the bumper is to house a winch or be used as a recovery point.

One night at Table Mesa with homedad I became severely stuck in a silty river bottom. To avoid getting into the freezing cold water to access the front tow hooks, I climbed out the door, across the hood, and attached the strap directly to my bumper.

After a few good tugs, I was free... but THIS happened!

Moral of the story - if you're going to tug on the bumper, it needs to be mounted to more than just the flat plates at the end of the frame.

Before leaving on the 2008 Continental Divide Expedition I wanted to have the bumper more securely mounted to the truck just in case such a situation should arise again. Fortunately for me, I had access to BellyDoc who in no time welded some additional tubing on my junk between the bumper and frame... problem solved, it is as rigid as can be.

- Rear Bumper - THE ULTIMATE BUMPER MOD!!!!!!!

This is the greatest mod I have ever done. It's free, has negative weight, and offers the greatest possible rear bumper performance. Plus, I think it looks pretty cool and fits right in with my naked theme...

I did this in October of 2007 and when I unveiled the idea to the forum here, I was completely roasted by a few people. To those folks, here's a big :thefinger: for ya. You can relive that hilarity here.

When I first did it...

Lately it's come in pretty handy...

Just don't try to peek up my skirt...

· Registered
4,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
3. Wheels and Tires

- 17" Stock FJ Alloys

I kept the stock wheels because I can't really justify the cost of new wheels and find them to be more than adequate for wheeling. On one occasion a rock outcropping went into the side of the rim and I literally lifted the truck up an obstacle by the side of rim (tire off the ground, rim pressed on rock)... it left some deep gouges, but the rim is fine. These days my rims are completely mutilated on the outsides and have given me no problems.

If I was running larger tires I might benefit from a rim that had a better bead holder thingy, but for now with these tires I have yet to pop a bead.

I always liked black wheels and in an attempt to have some cool looking wheels without breaking the bank, I painted the insides of the rims.

I like the way it turned out, but the whole process of prepping, taping, and painting is a little time consuming... over the course of about a year I still have only done two of the five rims. :rofl:

It looks great when the two painted ones are on the same side...

...or one is on the back...

...but not so good when they're mixed and matched and on the same side one is painted and one is not. :lol:

- 275/70/17 Goodyear MT/R

It's hard for me to give a really thorough review of these tires since it is literally the first mud terrain (or offroad tire in generally, really) that I have ever owned. Having worn them down literally to where there is NO tread left on them over several thousand miles of mixed 4x4 action, I can say...

  • Extremely durable on the trail (especially side wall on rocks)
  • Frequently explode on the road (have had three huge holes in sidewall, all on road)
  • Uneven wear (though probably my fault)
  • Not too noisy on road, nice ride compared to what I was expecting
  • A bit on the expensive side

I picked the 275/70/17 size because it's juuust a little bit larger than stock and when I purchased the tires I had no body chop and no lift. My friends The R2's had exactly these tires and experienced no fitment issues so I gave it a shot.

The gains in mud performance was incredible... the mud walls on the sides of the river at Table Mesa could no longer hold me, despite exceeding my clearance in the front (mud wall visible in background). :lol:

4. Suspension

- Front: FOX 2.5 from All Pro

This is another cool story of All Pro really helping me out with some great gear. Basically at the time of the Summit, I was running OME mediums and a 1" spacer up front and a spacer lift with mysterious springs (long story) in the rear. My front shocks exploded in the middle of the Summit and I found myself in a huge pickle since the Summit was just a stop on a much larger trip!

Terry and Jon cut me a mad deal on the FOX system (front and rear) and I installed it right there in the parking lot of the Best Western during the raffle. Read more about that story here...

Install time...

Thar it be!

The performance out of this system is completely sick... there is a 50-mile section of really nice dirt road between Tucson and Phoenix that I have driven dozens of times with different suspension. The FOX coilovers blow everything else I've tried (OME, spacers, stock) out of the water. There are a few nice airborne parts off cattle guards, big whoops, and fun curvy sections that are really fun to blast through. I bottom out much less and can do the whole thing much faster now.

- Rear: All Pro Springs, 2" Spacer, FOX 2.0 shocks

Basically I have All Pro's FOX 2.0 3" lift system in the rear with a 2" spacer thrown on top of that for fun. It leaves me with something like 4.5" of lift in the rear. The truck is raked forward a little (about as much as stock) since there is obviously a bit more lift in the rear than the front. I don't think there's any benefit to the rake, but the extra lift in the rear is nice and I don't want to go any higher on the IFS to level it out.

I am able to get massive amounts of flex out of this setup and absolutely love it. I've yet to detach the rear sway bar, but will likely experiment with that in the future.

Some rear flex pics:

- Front Swaybar Removal

I ditched the front sway bar in early 2008 when that was sort of new/controversial thing to do. At that time, I wasn't very confident recommending for or against doing so but since then quite a few people have taken theirs off and now there is a larger body of experiences to go by. There are some drawbacks, but overall I think it has been a very good thing for me.

The good:
  • Increased flex (not necessarily greater travel, but difference side/side)
  • No sway bar links to break!

The bad:
  • Possible UCA ball joint damage from contact with spring
  • Greater flex = greater danger of CV/steering damage (lay off the throttle!)
  • Increase in body roll on road

There are some good discussions on the forum that can easily be found with a search for more details.

In the following picture, you can see that the down-travel is limited by the UCA crashing into the spring. That doesn't seem like a problem to me, but on the other side the winds of the spring happen to line up differently such that it's the ball joint that crashes into the spring... which is obviously bad! What parts will make contact depends on your individual setup, picture is stock UCA's and stock springs with a spacer.

Some quick examples of the flex benefits:

I'll pick on JEEBUS for this one... look at the position of each wheel relative to the truck in this shot - pretty flat, and one wheel is up off the ground.

With swaybar and nice coilover suspension:

Now look at me in the exact same spot. One wheel is stuffed, the other is hanging down. There is massive side to side flex and both wheels are on the ground.

No swaybar, stock suspension w/ spacers.

Another example...

No swaybar, FOX 2.5 system...

Swaybar, OME Heavy...

I had more flex than this Jeep!! :rofl:

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4,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
5. Racks, Exterior Storage

- BajaRack Roof Rack

I love recommending the BajaRack to people and have absolutely no hangups doing so - it's a great rack for a huge value and the customer service can't be beat over there.

I wrote up a review of the BajaRack after putting it through some pretty heavy use in the summer of 2008. Others have had similarly awesome experiences and shared them in that thread and in other places throughout this forum.

Newly installed rack...

The ultimate rack durability test - my huge ass! :D

- Thule Spare-Me Bike Rack

If you want to haul a bike while taking part in some 4x4 action, this is the rack to do it. I have no particular affinity for Thule, just the spare tire mounting idea in general which I believe is the best place for a bike. On the roof the bikes can easily be destroyed by trees, in the truck they take up too much space, and those hitch racks severely limit your clearance in the rear... on the spare tire, though, they are safe and out of the way.

Drawbacks include extra weight on the door (particularly if you have some kind of massive tire), and the bikes getting really dusty back there.

Here's a review I wrote of the rack waaaay back in the day and a pic of it in action (gratuitous Pinzgauer shot!)


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4,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
II. The Narrative

In the Beginning...

I got the FJ on 6/15/07 at a dealership in the suburbs of Chicago. I lived in Milwaukee at the time and had just graduated college. My previous car was a '99 GMC Sonoma 2WD 2.2L pickup, so the FJ was a major step up! It appealed to me largely for practical purposes (cargo space, people hauling, reliable), looked really cool, and after years of a 2WD pickup on bald tires in the midwest I was ready for some four wheel drive...

I had never been offroad in my life and the closest I'd ever come to any kind of 4x4 activity was once witnessing the RAMINATOR monster truck at a tractor pull event in Wisconsin. The idea of using the FJ for offroad definitely hadn't hadn't occurred to me.

It wasn't until I'd moved to Tucson for grad school in August of '07 that the thought of going offroad began to enter my mind. I was in a bookstore, paged through a copy of "Backcountry Adventures: Arizona", and decided to purchase it. It was all downhill from there... :lol:

August 7, 2007 - Redington Road

I was very nervous my first time on the dirt in the FJ (first time in any vehicle for that matter, if you don't count the forest behind my highschool :lol: ) so I selected something really easy and fairly local. Redington is a dirt road on the east side of Tucson that accesses many popular 4x4 trails in the Rincon Mountains. But I wasn't planning on doing any of them!

So, having no idea what to expect and completely ignorant of proper etiquette on such a road, I set out... I went slow, waved at people like an idiot, and the day went off with no problems. It was a blast! I was hooked and decided I must do it again the next day... :D

August 8, 2007 - Trail 4436

I woke up the next day, eager to get out and explore some more. I figured I'd head back to Redington, select a random 4x4 trail, and turn around if there was anything shocking or ridiculous. As luck would have it, I happen to pick one of the easiest in the area... I made it to the end where there was a HUGE hill climb which I decided not to attempt (having been back to this spot a number of times since, that was definitely the right call :lol: ).

To demonstrate what a n00b I am at this point, look at this picture. I took it because I thought that was about the craziest thing that you could possibly drive over... I was the king!! :rofl::rofl::rofl:

August 10, 2007 - Trail 4436

My girlfriend was in town from Madison, WI to visit and somehow I convinced her that we needed to go out and wheel! Since literally the only spot I'd ever been was Trail 4436, I figured I'd play it safe and head back out there rather than stumbling into some hilarious trouble elsewhere...

Since it wasn't just me, I was able to appear in a pic!

I brought some gloves and we picked up a bunch of trash along the trail... a fulfilling day!

There's an optional obstacle on the way out that I could no longer resist despite the odd circumstances (girlfriend in car, otherwise alone, no experience on any obstacle, etc). The front bumper didn't quite clear, but we made it over no problem... I was officially pumped. Must find more rocks!! :D

August 18, 2007 - AZFJ Dinner

If I had to pick any single day as the most transformational experience in the whole FJ journey, it would be the time I first met the crazy AZFJ folks for a nice steak dinner in Tempe. Considering I'd only ever been on one trail in my life and had never seen a modded FJ, you can imagine how a sight this was:

It was a fun time with a good group of folks...

August 22, 2007 - Chiva Falls

The AZFJ crew, under the fearless leadership of TrAiLbUs1, had planned an invasion of Tucson to run Chiva Falls. I was very nervous to really wheel with a group for the first time (a night run after the steak house meeting was more a bunch of goofing around) and didn't want to be caught in a bad situation... so to bone up on the trail, I sneaked away for an incredibly foolish solo night run of Chiva!! :lol:

It turned out to a ton of fun... foolish 'attempting huge obstacles at midnight alone in a stock rig' fun, but fun nonetheless. ;)

August 27, 2007 - Chiva Falls

I head back again once more before the AZFJ run during the daylight to really get an idea of things... I did many of the same obstacles, but was able to get more pictures. Getting pics rock crawling alone is pretty interesting... you kinda have to get out of the truck and get them all yourself. :lol:

September 1, 2007 - CB Install

In a bizarre act of impulse shopping I picked up a crazy CB at the Radio Shack down the street and began the task of installing it. I had a basic crimp thingy setup (technical term) and spliced the radio into the cigarette lighter power.


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6,210 Posts
You've finally gone over the edge.
Tibaal is the only member who has built up and torn up his FJ at the same time.

· Registered
1,037 Posts
I will attest to the badassness of this capable rig and insane driver. Laptop GPS screen, tons of loose wires in the cabin, fridge, dirt, rock rash, more dirt.

A harder working FJ is impossible to find. I just LOVE going on a trail with Tibaal, because he takes all the pressure off. We can just sit around and watch him beat the he11 out of his BC and we can all cheer.!

· Registered
4,792 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks Sonic... those fools who don't have loose wires and dirt don't know what they're missing. :rofl:

*cough* DocFab mod...*cough*
I see it in there.. you must have skipped over it. :worried:
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