FJ Cruiser "Five & Dime"

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CHILL907

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

1,479
Peoria, AZ
Member #

7258

How it currently sitsIMG_6709.JPG

Back in 2014, the wife and I were looking for an offroad/exploring/camping vehicle. Our goal was to find a gently used FJ, 4Runner, or JKU. We were living near Fairbanks AK at the time when we pulled into a used car lot and laid our eyes on a 2012 FJ Cruiser that appeared to be heavily modified sporting an almost unbelievable price tag and an odometer with only 3000 miles on the clock. My wife excitedly exclaimed, "I vote you want that one!" I guess she thought if I bought something already tricked out I wouldn't want to spend anymore money on it...ha! I made 4 more trips back to the used car lot with a notepad in hand, taking inventory of all the aftermarket parts that had been added before finally signing the papers and bringing our new rig home.

Here is how our FJ looked the day we brought it homeIMG_0413.JPG
Here is breakdown of what we brought home:
2012 FJ Cruiser
All Pro Long Travel Suspension
Walker Evans 2.5 Coilovers w/remote reservoirs
Walker Evans 2.0 shocks
ProComp series 31 wheels
Super Swamper IROK tires 315/70r17
4:56 Gearing (assumption made using a gearing calculator)
ARB CKMA12 Air Compressor
ARB Front Air Locker
Safari Snorkel
Fab Four Front bumper
Fab Four Rear bumper
Warn 9.5 xp-s winch
Bushwacker Fender Flares
Anzo Projector Headlights (total junk)
IPCW LED Tail Lights

Of course this created a little moral dilemma in the area of "built vs bought." But when the used car lot was only asking book for this rig, I couldn't resist.

Right away a change needed to be made. The Irok tires looked pretty sweet on there but they were not exactly winter friendly. I was also a few months away from a 20,000 mile road trip and decided I needed to find some more appropriate shoes. So I sold the Iroks and threw on some Toyo ATs in 285/70r17.
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The Toyo's didn't look as cool but I got 40,000 faithful miles out these spanning from Fairbanks AK, to Corpus Christi TX, and just about everywhere in between.

June of 2014 I started my retraining in the Air National Guard and thus began what would become a 20,000 miles road trip. The first leg was from Fairbanks to San Antonio with a quick stop at Low Range Off-Road in Orem Utah where a Warrior Products roof rack and ARB Simpson III RTT was added. The second leg of my trip took me from San Antonio TX, to Spokane WA. Along the way we took some time to explore Prescott, Sedona, and Flagstaff AZ as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Capitol Reef UT.

Camp above Prescott
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Sedona
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Grand Staircase-Escalante Smokey Mountain Rd
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Capitol Reef Cathedral Valley
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Third leg of my trip took me from Spokane to Altus OK making a quick stop at the top of Pikes Peak
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In Oklahoma I added a Pro Comp Explorer DR36 Light Bar and a Cobra 29LX CB radio
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The last leg of my trip took me back home to Fairbanks AK.IMG_0715.JPG

Along the way a few items caused some issues. First, the cool looking Anzo headlights were not very bright at all and at one point the wiring to one of the bulbs caught fire. So out they went and some stock looking headlights ordered from Low Range Off-Road went in. Not as cool looking, but brighter and safer.IMG_1124.JPG

Second issue, the long travel suspension made my front track width 4" wider then the rear. Wasn't an issue until I hooked up trailer and drugged it across Canada in the winter. Having three different axle/track widths traveling across the rough and uneven roads of the ALCAN in the winter, made for some quirky handling and some white knuckle driving. I put on some 1.25" spidertrax wheel spacers on the rear and so far have been very pleased with the results. Third, I replaced the rear Walker Evans shocks with some Fox 2.0 shocks.
IMG_0836.JPG

With a new kid on the way we needed more room inside the FJ for a car seat, a German Shepherd, and all our camping gear. Selling the FJ was out of the question so thanks to Craigslist, we picked up an M101a2, and now we have room for a growing family.IMG_1987.JPG

In 2016, our stay in Alaska was coming to a close. October of 2016 we found ourselves settling into Phoenix AZ...what a change! My Toyo's had served us well and it was time for a change. The FJ had become less of a daily driver and I wanted a more aggressive look, so on went some General Grabber X3s in 315/70r17
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Much Gooder
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There were some clearance issues with the rear fenders when flexed out. The slightly(hahaha)larger tires did a good job of chewing up the rear fender flares.IMG_6065.JPG
So off came the Bushwackers and a little hammer therapy was applied to the inside of the wheel well. Sorry, no pics of that!

2017 brought on the big repairs. First to fail was the steering rack. Make sure you take the time to inspect the boots around your tie-rods. This was a costly mistake on my part.
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Shortly after this repair, a bolt through a lower control arm uni-ball failed. Boss, gonna be late for work today.IMG_6463.JPG
Saw this as an opportunity to completely freshen up the front suspension so the FJ went into Hanger Queen Status as I spent a couple months and a butt load of money on the rebuild.IMG_6475.JPG
Replaced bushings, uni-balls, wheel bearings, hubs, tie-rods, and hardware. I also had the a-arms powder coated.IMG_6534.JPG
I never really liked the Pro Comp wheels so my wife gave me permission to replace them. Happy Birthday to me! Method Roost wheels in bronze.IMG_6541.JPG

All the accessories had been wired straight to the battery and it bugged me something fierce. I know nothing about wiring and electrical stuff, so a 1 day project was finished 3 days later. A Blue Sea fuse box was added and all the relays were co-located. A couple extra relays were added for future accessories.
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Picked up 4 KC Cyclone lights and decided to have a little fun. Hello rock lights!
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I've now got about 50,000 miles on my rig and have no plans to replace it. With all that we've been through, I feel that my FJ is now more built vs bought. I've put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears fixing it along the way. The paint is covered in Alaska/Arizona pin stripping and my FJ is never confused with a Mall Crawler. I hope to add many more pictures and stories in the future.
 

GreenMachine02

Rank V
Member

Advocate I

1,440
Oakwood, Ohio
Member #

5762

Love the rig! You are lucky to have found such an amazing build at such an amazing price! Love the color and all the upgrades you added! Great rig!

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Thatredfj

Rank III
Member

Traveler III

684
Kirkwood, MO, USA
First Name
Randy
Last Name
Willard
Member #

6829

AWESOME RIG! Always cool to see guys out there making long hauls in FJ's!
For someone knowing nothing about wiring you tackled a pretty big job relocating everything! I also cant stand messy wiring all going to the Positive. the up side for the fuse blocks is when you have an issue its a lot easier to chase down.

Great build man!
 

CHILL907

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

1,479
Peoria, AZ
Member #

7258

AWESOME RIG! Always cool to see guys out there making long hauls in FJ's!
For someone knowing nothing about wiring you tackled a pretty big job relocating everything! I also cant stand messy wiring all going to the Positive. the up side for the fuse blocks is when you have an issue its a lot easier to chase down.

Great build man!
Thanks! I'm pretty happy with how wiring turned out. I figure, as long as my rig doesn't catch fire I did ok.


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CHILL907

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

1,479
Peoria, AZ
Member #

7258

Just out of curiosity, how do you like the long travel front? Any significant extra maintenance?

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First off, as I mentioned, I purchased this rig with the long travel already installed and so there were things I wasn't quite ready for. Additionally, this is the first rig I have ever owned with any type of suspension modification and there were mistakes I made and things I neglected to address. That being said, I love the long travel front end. Some extra care needs to be given to the uni-balls to keep them clean and lubricated, and there are some great YouTube video put out by Total Chaos that cover this. The polyurethane bushings will squeak like there is no tomorrow if not properly greased. A lot of this kind of sounds like common sense, but there was a lot of learning along the way for me as I racked up the miles. If this is something you are seriously considering I would go spend some time in the FJCruiser forums (the blue room). There are a few great write ups of folks running various brands.

As for my take. The long travel for FJ's, Tacoma's, and 4Runner's, seem to be a great way to achieve lift while keeping CV and drive line at or near stock angles. While the this type of suspension is billed as a long travel, it is the down travel that makes it fun off road, providing lots of articulation for playing in the rocks. As far as blasting through the whoops our FJ's are limited by the rear suspension. As an overlanding setup, most people will see plenty of gains out of a good set of coilovers and some aftermarket UCAs. If you wanna push the FJ in the rocks and make some questionable life's choices, then a long travel is the way to go!
 
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mmnorthdirections

Rank VI
Founder 500
Member
Supporter +

Off-Road Ranger I

3,470
Dixon Ca
First Name
mason
Last Name
north
Member #

364

Ham Callsign
KN6EUR
Well done and thank you for your service! I will be doing a long travel setup in the near future. My mid travel setup is great but you solidify the gains of a long setup for a dedicated Overland rig.. Thanks for the story and look forward to seeing you and your fam on the trail!!!!!
 

CHILL907

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

1,479
Peoria, AZ
Member #

7258

We don't have any friends who share our camping/overlanding lifestyle, and we are pretty new to using social networking to reach and make new camping friends. Most of our trips are single ship and we get pretty nervous from time to time, so we look forward to making new friends!
 

mmnorthdirections

Rank VI
Founder 500
Member
Supporter +

Off-Road Ranger I

3,470
Dixon Ca
First Name
mason
Last Name
north
Member #

364

Ham Callsign
KN6EUR
We don't have any friends who share our camping/overlanding lifestyle, and we are pretty new to using social networking to reach and make new camping friends. Most of our trips are single ship and we get pretty nervous from time to time, so we look forward to making new friends!
So here you are and you do have friends! Overland bound has brought me as a vet to meet folks that are like minded. Since my joining OB
I have made life long friends and I meet more all the time. Reach out to your local area through the member map and or your Facebook region and give it a shot. You may be surprized at the response. If your out my way the door is always open and a journey always awaits.
Be Cool!!!!!
 
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Rexplorer

Rank VI
Member

Educator I

4,360
Lake Country, BC, Canada
Member #

6856

it was pretty nice when you bought it but you really made it your own. the trailer is an excellent addition too. i laughed when i imagined winter canada driving on 3 different width axles.
 

theBROFESSOR

Rank VI
Member

Influencer II

4,226
Conway, Arkansas
Member #

8306

Great Story! Stories like this of people doing life are so inspiring! Plus the help with items that work and those that don't save us others a ton of time and money (which I don't have!). Thank you for taking the time to share!
 
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CHILL907

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

1,479
Peoria, AZ
Member #

7258

Over the last year or so, I have been teaching my wife’s 17yo brother the ins and outs of off-roading and rock crawling. During our last Moab trip I had been talking with him about some of the many gremlins that have plagued my FJ over the years. Well, for Christmas he made this up for me and being as AZ is not a two plate state, I was more than excited to mount it up on my front bumper.




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CHILL907

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

1,479
Peoria, AZ
Member #

7258

Five & Dime strikes again!!!


Driving into work the other morning I had to execute a quick stop on the freeway during traffic when I experienced a failure of a rear driver lower link.



It appears as though the threads failed on the heim joint and/or the link itself, making for a very uncomfortable drive while trying to quickly exit the freeway.

The good news, my wife let me spend some money to upgrade some rear end components! More follow later this week!


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CHILL907

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

1,479
Peoria, AZ
Member #

7258

That's a really nice and capable looking FJ! Hope you get it back on the trail soon!
Thanks, I love getting compliments from Jeep owners. Most of the time when Jeep guy is hassling me about my Toyota, he’s driving some $100k JK that’s never left the pavement. I really enjoy this community and it’s “run whatcha brung” inclusive mentality!


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