"RavenFJ" — an engineer's build

GraysonVT

New member

(photo credit rwdunn)

Been building up "RavenFJ" since 2015, and feel like we're finally ready for an attempt at a proper build thread, so here goes...

(click any photo for hi-res)

INITIAL BUILD GOALS
• Daily driver
• Toy hauler (windsurfing/paddling/skiing/etc)
• Occasional off-road/overlanding adventure platform

I've never been a "car guy" (never even used to change my own oil) but I always had a background fascination with rugged 4x4s, and FJs in particular. So when I needed a new vehicle to haul more water toys and such than my AWD BMW 3-series wagon could handle I decided to go with an FJ Cruiser, and to build it up a little to explore where it could take me. And since I'm an engineer (electrical, but pretty mechanically inclined too) – with perhaps slightly beyond a healthy dose of OCD – I decided to do as much of the build-up as possible with my own two hands.

Turned into a little more than I'd initially planned... ;)

________________________________________________________________________________

THE BLANK CANVAS (purchased Feb2015 @~16Kmiles)


2013 Toyota FJ Cruiser, Black, 4x4, 6-speed
• Convenience Package (remote lock, cruise, rear camera, etc)
• Upgrade Package (A-TRAC, rear e-locker, inclinometer, etc)
• nothing else! zero aftermarket mods, certified pre-owned, superb condition

________________________________________________________________________________

THE WORK IN PROGRESS (as of May2018 @~45Kmiles)


TIRES & SUSPENSION:
• BFG T/A KO2 285/70R17 (33"×11")
• SPC front UCAs*
• ToyTec Boss 2.5" coilovers*
• ToyTec Boss 2.5" rear shocks*
• ToyTec "HD" rear coils*
• Metal-Tech offset rear lower links
• Timbren bump-stops front & rear*
• MOOG greaseable cam bolts*

BUMPERS/ARMOR/WINCH/ETC:
• Demello aluminum bumpers front & rear
• Warn M8000-S winch + "Splicer" thimble
• All-Pro Heavy Duty rock sliders
• BudBuilt steel skid plates (4-piece set)
• BudBuilt stainless rear diff skid
• Icon "shin guard" rear shock protectors
• OPOR "link guard" rear LCA bracket skids
• breather mod for rear diff & e-locker

CARGO MODS:
• semi-custom BajaRack
• full-custom MAXTRAX mounts
• full-custom DIY cargo drawers
• full-custom "2up" rear bike/cargo rack
• full custom "belly stash plate" for RotopaX
• Demello steel hitch receiver
• brake controller + trailer connectors

LIGHTS:
• Rigid SAE LED fog lights & backup lights
• cheapo chinese flood-beam drive lights
• Sylvania SilverStar Ultra headlight bulbs
• switch-controlled DRL-disable + "BLINK" mods to factory lights circuits

ELECTRICAL:
• Odyssey 31M-PC2150ST dual-terminal battery
• full-custom "BatTerm" battery terminal distribution blocks
• full-custom "AuxPower" relaybox / switchbox aux power system
• Anderson PowerPole distribution block & outlets for interior 12V power
• Anker 5-port USB power hub

COMMUNICATIONS:
• Midland MXT115 GMRS radio
• Midland MXTA10 GMRS antenna on NMO mount
• Midland 75-822 CB radio
• FireStik FS-3BK CB antenna at OEM radio antenna location
• antenna diplexer (one antenna for both CB + AM/FM radio)

CREATURE COMFORTS:
• Wet Okole front seat covers
• adhesive fisheye blind spot mirrors
• fresnel lens windshield add-on for traffic light visibility
• custom machined dash device bar w/ magnetic mounts
• custom laser-cut "MAX A/C STOP" plate

*ToyTec/Timbren/MOOG suspension upgrade is a recent addition (May2018) installed by the good folks at the4x4center, replacing some Daystar "budget boost" PU spacers I had added to the stock suspension. Everything else installed (and in many cases designed from the ground up) by yours truly.

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CORE USE MODES (versatile "transformer" vehicle)

LOCAL WHEELIN' MODE (armored, and stocked with recovery gear etc, but otherwise stripped to the basics):

(photo credit Mike Hecht)

WINTER MODE (skids off, FluidFilm coated below, and Packasport System115 roofbox up top for skis etc):


OVERLANDING MODE (with James Baroud Explorer Evolution RTT + FoxWing awning):


FULLY-LOADED MODE (with XVENTURE XV-1 trailer):


WATERSPORTS MODE (with custom-machined Yakima cross-bar mounts on the BajaRack):


________________________________________________________________________________

TLC (fall routine)


Vermont winters are Raven's enemy. Every fall I provide some serious TLC (thorough deep-clean, wire-wheel off any visible rust, rattle-can paint touch-up, thorough Fluid-Film professional application) in an effort to keep rust at bay.
 
Last edited:

GraysonVT

New member
Some mod highlight photos...
________________________________________________________________________________

SUSPENSION & ARMOR


• BudBuilt steel skids, 4-piece set


• MetalTech offset rear lower links + OPOR "link guard" rear LCA bracket skids
• ToyTec Boss 2.5" rear shocks + ToyTec "HD" rear coils
• Icon "shin guard" rear shock protectors (visible far side)
• BudBuilt stainless diff skid


• SPC front UCAs
• ToyTec Boss 2.5" coilovers
• MOOG greaseable camber adjuster bolts


• All-Pro Heavy Duty rock sliders (high-grade bolted + tack welded to frame)
________________________________________________________________________________

BUMPERS / WINCH / LIGHTS


• Demello aluminum front bumper
• Warn M8000-S winch + Factor55 "The Splicer" thimble
• Rigid SAE LED fog lights (in bumper recesses)
• cheapo Chinese flood-beam drive lights (on top of bumper)
• Sylvania SilverStar Ultra upgraded headlight bulbs


• Demello aluminum rear bumper
• Demello steel hitch receiver
• 7-way trailer connector (mounted high&tight to maintain departure angle)
• in-bumper backup lights are Rigid SAE LED fogs (same as in front)
________________________________________________________________________________

CARGO


• semi-custom BajaRack (rear bar omitted, angle-supports added instead)


• full-custom Yakima crossbar mounts (details to follow)


• full-custom MAXTRAX mounts (details to follow)


• full custom "belly stash plate" for RotopaX (details to follow)


• full-custom DIY cargo drawers (details to follow)
________________________________________________________________________________

ELECTRICAL


• Odyssey 31M-PC2150ST dual-terminal battery
• full-custom "BatTerm" battery terminal distribution blocks (details to follow)


• full-custom "AuxPower" relaybox (details to follow)


• full-custom "AuxPower" switchbox (details to follow)
________________________________________________________________________________

INTERIOR


• custom machined dash device bar w/ magnetic mounts
• Midland MXT115 GMRS radio
• Anker 5-port USB power hub


• Wet Okole front seat covers


• Midland 75-822 CB radio
• Anderson PowerPole outlets for interior 12V power
• connector to FireStik FS-3BK CB antenna (at OEM radio antenna location, diplexed to FM radio too)
________________________________________________________________________________

FUN LI'L CUSTOM/DIY TWEAKS


• DIY custom UV/road-debris protective winch cover plate


• DIY custom laser-cut acrylic "MAX-A/C-STOP" plate
 
Last edited:

GraysonVT

New member
A few select "action shots"...
________________________________________________________________________________

A little peek under the skirt:


Dipping the toes:


Finding the bump-stops (old factory suspension w/ "budget boost" lift spacers):


In good company:


Light it up:


Transporter to magical places:
 
Last edited:

Cypher

Full Time Traveler
Great build! Nice and clean. I appreciate the engineering approach to vehicle builds. I also really like your fall TLC approach.
 

chunko

Observer
This is an awesome build!

As soon as you mentioned being an electrical engineer, I knew there would be some sweet wiring pics and was not disappointed- please post up details when you have time. Also, I am sorry for missing this when you posted in May (it probably got buried by one of those threads that are just a constant back-and-forth).
 

BigSwede

The Credible Hulk
Good stuff... engineer overkill in a few cases, but hey whatever works. My approach is more minimalist (my solution to the AC Max delete was to put a glob of hot glue on the back of the temp knob :LOL: ) but we have made some of the same choices.

Have you found much utility from the rear bumper? I haven't found a compelling reason to replace it.
 

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