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Thread: NAS LR3 build with an overseas twist

  1. #1
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    Default NAS LR3 build with an overseas twist

    I finally hit a tipover point where I had enough pictures and stuff accomplished to feel like a build thread was appropriate. As a promotion gift to myself I finally pulled the trigger on an LR3 in Dec of 2013; I'd been impressed by them after partnering with one for VOT and with my wife in grad school I was putting a lot of (loud) miles on my D1 so it was time for some comfort. When a 78k mile 2006 Tonga Green w/7 seat black interior, SE model w/HID & cold wx package came up the kids and I went for a test drive and she came home. Then I found out I was being sent to the UAE...
    LR3 Overview.JPG
    My OCD requires that everything start with a purpose/endstate and for this truck I think that context is important as it shapes the build a great deal; this truck has been modified from the beginning to be a comfortable daily driver that can take me + wife & 2x kids places on and offroad safely. I didn't really bog down on the lack of an HD package because if I wanted to thrash a truck I'd do it in my D1, or eventually in the series that my wife wants as her wheeling rig-so the LR3 was more meant to tow, or to get to the slopes, the campsite, etc. Basic specs of the truck:

    -2006 LR3 SE 7 seater, green on black. HID and cold wx packages
    -IID tool
    -Nitto Terragrappler 285/60-18s including full size spare
    -Winch bumper (custom made in the UAE by Icon)
    -Superwinch Tigershark 9.5k w/synthetic line
    -Rock sliders (really more like tube side steps at this point) (Icon)
    -Frontrunner 1/2 rack & ladder
    -Wet okle seat covers
    -Traxide dual battery setup with an aux Optima yellow top in the LH side box
    -Ironman fridge in the 30 portion of the 35/30/35 seats
    -Blue Ridge Overland MOLLE panels & headrest covers w/1st Aid kit(s), recovery/winch, microstart/jumpstart, & fire extinguishers
    -TJM portable 12v compressor hard mounted w/QD on the front bumper
    -SPG case w/tools (~Pelican 1510 sized)
    -Hella 4k compacts
    -Maxtraax

    More overview shots, follow on posts will detail some of the ins/outs for how it got to where it is today.
    Liwa Hotel 3.JPGMaxtraax on roof rack.jpg
    mid-stride shakeout trip over to Oman:
    Oman.jpgOman 2.jpg
    r-
    Ray
    Last edited by Ray_G; 02-13-2016 at 11:20 AM.
    2006 D3 "Saqr"
    1996 D1 5 speed "Coyote"
    1954 S1 "Riley"
    Twin Mountain Off Road

  2. #2
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    Apr 2008
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    Default Background/initial ownership

    After grabbing her off from the used car lot which almost certainly picked it up at wholesale auction, turned off whatever warnings were on and washed it I set about 'owning' an LR3.
    IMG_0525.JPG
    That meant first figuring out why the passenger side floorboard carpet and soundproofing was wet...awesome. So a lot of $$$ to the dealership later to offset my lack of time and familiarity with the truck saw a new cowling installed and the wiring harness that runs in the canal, I mean channel, on the right side repaired.

    The winters in VA in 13-14 demanded better shoes, so once the Nittos showed up they went on...appropriately enough on a snow day:
    LR3 tire change_snow day.jpeg
    I love Northern Va's less flashy side for the ability to find a place to mount/balance and install even if some of the work has to be done on a place they just cleared of snow.
    Truck immediately went into the fight to go pickup the wife in Cville and return for an event-I love the Terragrapplers.
    Cville.jpg66_pm.jpg
    Early mods were minimal since there was still, at the time, some thought of unloading the her given the pending overseas move. Once we discovered that we could bring it to the UAE the decision was made even if we knew we were being foolish sending a dark green truck with a black interior to the desert. Before going I did get some decent time with the truck making some minor mods:
    D3 conversion.jpg
    Obligatory Semper Fidelis-ness shots:
    Iwo Jima_15 Feb.jpg
    And taking her up to Twin Mountain in WVa for some light fun in the mud
    D3_1.jpg
    2006 D3 "Saqr"
    1996 D1 5 speed "Coyote"
    1954 S1 "Riley"
    Twin Mountain Off Road

  3. #3
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    Default Exploring Ras al-Khaimah (Part 1)

    After executing the move overseas in mid 2014 the truck made its way via ship, eventually arriving to clear customs, get inspected, etc. Demands of the job (a lot of travel) coupled with the wife being back in the U.S. teaching as part of her PhD program put most of the modification and even utlization of the truck on the back burner. I doubt I put more than 300miles on it from Aug-Dec. During Christmas the wife (and cats!) came to the UAE for the rest of this tour and thus as we started to look for things to do the desire to explore emerged. Our first major trip was up to Ras al-Khaimah which is the northernmost of the Emirates as you head along the Arabian Gulf. Rugged mountains and a lot of (relative) isolation made for some amazing scenery as we explored.
    RaK exploration.jpg
    Top Gear should seriously come here.
    RaK_road to Jais.jpg
    Stunning ruggest mountains, the pictures really don't do it justice.
    RaK Jais Mtn views.jpg
    UAE_Jais Mtn_15 Feb_2.jpg
    After a stop on the transit up Jais Mountain we decided to start looking for somewhere to camp. The LR3 in stock form was more than adequate for the terrain encountered, admittedly we weren't pushing hard and didn't have to go far up the wadi to find a decent level place.
    RaK_ingress.jpg
    One of the great things about the UAE is that much of the land is public, or rather it isn't private. With a little map work you can find wadi's to drive up and basically you can camp anywhere you see fit so long as you are not encroaching on obvious infrastructure or otherwise bothering herds of livestock and the like. Pushing just a little ways up a Wadi got us to here:
    RaK Campsite_1.jpgRaK Campsite_3.jpg
    What was also interesting was how close we were to the border of Oman-with little/no demarcation past what was on our GPS.
    GPS_Border btwn UAE & Oman.jpg
    2006 D3 "Saqr"
    1996 D1 5 speed "Coyote"
    1954 S1 "Riley"
    Twin Mountain Off Road

  4. #4
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    Default Exploring Ras al-Khaimah (Part 2)

    After deciding that the intended location was level enough, we unloaded our camping gear which was a mixture of stuff pulled from our D1's setup (wolf boxes, action packers, rollup tables) as well as the purposely acquired double tent cot/tent cot mattress. As we prepared to depart the U.S. I went ahead and purchased a double tent cot based off the notion that I'd spent enough time sleeping on the desert surface, if packing my own stuff in I was going to do better than mission dictated discomfort. The downside to the tent cot is that it is huge, with the mattress being even bigger. The upside is that it does great for keeping you off the rocks, and the mattress is fantastic.

    I got bogged down with scenery...
    RaK Campsite_2.jpg
    ...and shots of the truck in the scenery.
    UAE_Jais Mtn_15 Feb.jpg
    Eventually I was directed to assist more with camp setup.
    RaK Campsite.jpg
    Some lesson's learned about UAE acquired firewood and a whole bunch of notes about the state of our camping equipment aside, the night was fantastic and as is often the case in remote areas the stars and the silence were superb.
    The next morning at dawn was a treat:
    Dawn 15 Feb 15.jpg
    As light came up the obligatory making of coffee transpired along with the other normal tools of the trade being utilized (the diet coke is mine, coffee is the prerequisite to get the wife moving).
    Coffee.jpg
    Packup was quick and painless and the trip back to Abu Dhabi fostered the discussion on whether it was time to refine our build on the truck since previously we'd just assumed it would be postponed till return to CONUS. That starts the next chapter; i.e. getting a bumper, rack, and the like.
    2006 D3 "Saqr"
    1996 D1 5 speed "Coyote"
    1954 S1 "Riley"
    Twin Mountain Off Road

  5. #5
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    Default The build begins in earnest; winch bumper, rack, sliders

    On the heels of RaK and being cleared hot by the finance minister to start building the truck given our enjoyment of what the UAE (and prospectively Oman too) had to offer I set out trying to figure out what was in the realm of feasible given the location. With that said it is probably worth setting anchor for a moment and point out that the UAE is an amazing place to live. For those that have experience in other less desirable parts of the greater Middle East/North Africa/South Asia the simplest thing that can be said is that this is a long ways from that. I spend a lot of time in those other places, and I will unequivocally champion the UAE, and Oman for that matter, as fantastic places to come visit with the entire family. I'll cover Oman more in a follow on post so for the sake of focusing on the UAE I'd describe it as being better than a modern European city, and without question its infrastructure and amenities make much of the US look, well, poor. It is worth highlighting that you aren't likely to run into too many Emiratis as they are a small percentage of the population-but when you do it is notable. You will encounter a wide swath of other Arabs, droves of ex-pats from the UK, the rest of Europe, Americans, and of course a tremendous number of Asians.

    I find that between Abu Dhabi and Dubai I much prefer Abu Dhabi, but that is likely a facet of not wanting to go out quite as much anymore and not wanting to deal with as much traffic. To be sure both locations have plenty to see, do, and enjoy. It is worth pointing out that it does get exceptionally hot for about 4 months of the year, but the rest of the time it is just hot or downright amazing for about 4 months of the winter.

    Enough on that, on to the build itself. There is an ARB distributor in AD, when engaged about a bumper it could easily be procured but it was going to cost me probably $500 more than it would in the U.S.. I'd considered waiting for L8's work with PM to come to fruition but started exploring local options when I came across Icon Auto in Dubai (http://www.icon-auto.com/). While they mostly work on Raptors and the large Jeep community here a look through their gallery of custom fabrication resulted in a query which was answered promptly. As I started to work with Sam, their lead fabricator, it became apparent that I could get a bumper built, and sliders, and a front runner 1/2 rack (they are a FR distributor) for about as much as the ARB, perhaps a few $100 more. I decided to give it a go based off a face to face trip, and ordered a winch. I should mention that Amazon prime is amazing and will ship pretty much anything, including superwinch TS 9500's (thank god it was a synthetic) to DPO (like an APO/FPO, but at the Embassy). With that en route I provided Icon an OCD sketch to work off of:
    IMG_1245.jpg
    A few weeks later the winch showed up and an appt was booked to drop off the truck
    Icon drop off.jpg
    Always neat things in their parking lot
    Icon parking lot.jpgIcon parking lot 2.jpg
    About a week later things were wrapped up, with the main item being the bumper. All told I am extremely happy with their rendering of my sketch, its appearance, angles, etc. Time will tell on durability of course but I think it will do quite well. I also am happy with the access to the winch, something I felt was lacking on the ARB based off my friend's LR3 with that bumper setup-I also appreciate they took the time to wire in the plug to the top of the bumper and then remoted the solenoid. The LED lights they threw on for me, I didn't really like the look so went to Hella 4K compacts later. It is also worth noting that out of the box the Superwinch comes with a hook that could double as a ship crane's...so a Warn hook was ordered to give it a better appearance.
    IMGP2902.JPGIMGP2903.jpgIMGP2904.jpg
    The sliders are...ok, they aren't exactly what I want but they are a good start. I think I'll be taking them back to get tucked in closer so there is no gap and potentially add in skids integrated where appropriate to strengthen what I currently consider to really be tube side steps. That said between the intended purpose of the truck and their relative cost, I have no major issues with them as-is for the moment.
    Sliders v1.jpg
    The rack is what one expects from Frontrunner, superb (even though this is an older model vice their newest slimline series).
    Maxtraax on roof rack 2.jpg
    One thing that didn't get sorted in the haste to get the truck back to me was the front EAS block, something they probably didn't want to mess with too much anyway so a trip to my local LR mechanic (Abu Askoor-former LR UAE master tech and recommended by a forum member) got that sorted quickly albeit perhaps not in an OSHA approved manner. It doesn't hurt that Abu Askoor is across the street from the TJM distributor (and down the street from ARB).
    IMG_1341.jpg
    2006 D3 "Saqr"
    1996 D1 5 speed "Coyote"
    1954 S1 "Riley"
    Twin Mountain Off Road

  6. #6
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    This is an Epic post, very well done and very enjoyable. Thank you for sharing.

  7. #7
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    Thank you Todd, I'm looking forward to the hitch in due time being a part of the build!
    2006 D3 "Saqr"
    1996 D1 5 speed "Coyote"
    1954 S1 "Riley"
    Twin Mountain Off Road

  8. #8
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    Default Fridge

    One of the things that was in place before the RaK trip was the 12v fridge that we'd previously had in Coyote. When we were planning our move to the UAE the prospect of mountain and beach camping was good enough that we figured it better to send the fridge vice leave it in the Disco or put it in storage. All along I'd wanted to see how it would work out in the middle 30 section of the 35/30/35 seating. To my pleasant surprise it fits very well and integrates with the cabin of the vehicle perfectly.
    Fridge.jpg
    From the back:
    Rear Seat Panels.jpg
    The fridge itself is an Indel-B (aka Ironman), it has an ironman transit bag around it. The rubber matting on the top was from a generic rear cargo mat I cannabalized because when we sent the fridge out here we packed it, in the transit bag, in its origininal box. Which worked great, right up till we went to unpack it and in cutting the tape on the top of the box we-I-cut the transit bag too. Rather than have a nice long streak of black duck tape on the top I decided to use some of the thin rubber diamond plate and velcro that down. I am fairly happy with the results, finding that it also acts to keep things on top of the fridge for passengers as well as reduce the impact of little shoes that frequently climb over/on the fridge to get to the rear seats when those are used.

    The fridge is secured by using bolt plates from US cargo control like these:
    Bolt plate.jpg
    (http://www.uscargocontrol.com/Tie-Do...ainted-2200lbs)
    When I removed the 30 section I used the existing hardware to bolt the plates down and then routed the ARB Fridge/Freezer tie down system through them and tightened it up. As you can see very little sticks out, with the placement of the hardware the straps run back along the side of the fridge keeping everything compact:
    IMG_20150310_083118.jpg
    There is a small gap in the back, I thought about building something to cover it but like the ability to reach in there if needed to manipulate the power cord and such, not to mention unless looking at it from the rear it is pretty unobtrusive. The fridge is wired through a 12v outlet connected to a blue sea systems fuse box I mounted in the rear cubby (that setup will come in a later post).
    IMG_20150310_083127.jpg
    As all who have convered over to the 12v fridge have found, it really is the only way to go once you spring the $$$ for it. The wife views it as the single best offroad mod we've made to any vehicle it gets installed in and it greatly improves morale on trips to have cold drinks, unsoggy food, etc. I am fairly certain upon return to the US I'll be buying a 2nd fridge to keep one in here and return one to Coyote.
    2006 D3 "Saqr"
    1996 D1 5 speed "Coyote"
    1954 S1 "Riley"
    Twin Mountain Off Road

  9. #9
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    Default Oman

    To keep this somewhat chronological it is worth tossing in a quick blurb about the spring trip we took over to Oman. If you are looking for an authentic Middle Eastern experience but don't want to do Jordan (you should do Jordan too for the history alone) Oman is a wonderful place filled with warm, friendly people. Good infrastructure and modern standards make it an exceptional place to explore if you like the outdoors or just want to wander a souq. I am unabashadly a fan of the UAE, but Oman is far more 'origininal' in the sense that you will interact with Omanis throughout the visit whereas in Abu Dhabi that is a rarity. It doesn't hurt that at the same time I got sent to AD the wife's sister and her husband decided to pull the pin and go teach overseas, ironically ending up in Muscat. We see them more now than when we lived on the East Coast and they were in Colorado.

    With a friend of April's from grad school taking a break from it all and coming to see us we decided to try the drive over to Oman (flights cost ~$100) because we'd heard the scenery was amazing. We were not dissappointed. Mandatory nerd map showing ingress (green) and eggress (blue) routes:
    UAE_Oman Map.jpg
    The border crossing was underwhelming. When you read things here about African crossings or stuff in OJ you get the sense that any moment your car will be impounded and you'll be making frantic calls to the Embassy for help. Between the UAE and Oman it was far less dramatic; a short wait in a line of cars, a quick trip into a building for exit stamp and then boom...you are in Oman. Note that there was no entry stamp. That freaked us, especially me given what I do, out a great deal. Nobody else seemed to care. The guards just kept saying Jizi (prounounced Jeezy) and saying '30km.' (*Note, having a Garmin that only has UAE maps loaded = fail, especially b/c my cell was a work blackberry which has atrocious mapping). So we drove around for a bit in the town adjacent to Al Ain, to no avail. Finally we walked into a police station-always a great idea when you have no status in the country you are in. It was clearly the most exciting thing going on b/c the entire station turned out to assist. Ultimately the chief drew us a strip map with great landmarks and somewhat great distances/times and off we went, driving some 30 min out into the desert to the 'border' crossing where we got our visas for Oman and were then legal. The rest of the trip in was uneventful though I will say the coastal road in Oman is a trip b/c of the chaos as you approach each town as people vie to defeat the inevitable backup of traffic and roundabouts. We stopped at a coastal fort for a break with mandatory picture:
    IMGP2886.JPG
    Finally getting into Muscat that night we spent the next day showing my wife's friend the city, A few shots from down along the gulf of Oman and the inevitable placement at a Starbucks right there on the Corniche. I would be remiss if I didn't point out that I love the irony of Starbucks being pretty much everywhere (including Pakistan) I go, so I've embraced it now because people need to drink coffee and the collection of country mugs I have cracks me up.
    IMGP2894.JPG
    IMGP2892.JPG

    The transit out provided some of the overview shots I've used and was much more pleasant than the coastal road since it ran through the mountains and then across the desert back up to Al Ain. Entry to the UAE was far less challenging since now we were used to it, with the rest of the transit being pretty much low key.
    Oman.jpg
    You cannot help but stop and take obligatory pictures when you see these for the first time:
    IMG_1378.JPGCamel xing.jpg
    2006 D3 "Saqr"
    1996 D1 5 speed "Coyote"
    1954 S1 "Riley"
    Twin Mountain Off Road

  10. #10
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    I'm enjoying this thread immensly. The labelled gear bags are cool

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