Showing posts from February, 2015

Middle Seat Mod

After several hundred miles of traveling and camping with two Golden Retrievers, the non-functioning 60/40 middle seat became problematic. It took up too much space while providing little space in which Ginger and Mary Ann could get comfortable. It also encroached on cargo area, requiring some of our long and narrow kit to go up on the roof, like the double cot, tent pegs and table. Add that we rarely have passengers in that space, it was time to make a change.

There's a cable that attaches to a mechanism inside the middle bench that when deployed allows the bench to fold down and forward creating more cargo room. This cable on the 60 section has busted twice on us, debilitating the seat. I removed it by dismantling it from the hardware on its flanks giving me access underneath the seat bottom to the mechanism that releases it from its mount on the floor. Not the smartest thing to do in 105 degree heat, but it's out. I also removed the 40 seat - piece of cake on that one.


Old Man Emu HD

The main modification I've been waiting to do is an Old Man Emu suspension upgrade giving the Monty the lift it needs, not easy to come by since it ships from Australia.

I measured wheel well and ground clearance.

Thirteen inches from the ground to the rock sliders and three inches in the wells.

I began with the front, removing the battery and tray on the driver side and the air box on the other, making access to the three nuts on top of each strut tower. Next it's necessary to remove the top A-arm. Remove brake and traction-control lines from the support on the arm. I then used a breaker bar and a 22mm socket to free the bolts for the A-arm and the strut tower mount and then removed that assembly.

I disassembled the strut assembly using spring compressors to take the load off the top of the strut tower, allowing its removal. I kept track of the order of the strut hardware for reassembling the new strut and spring components.

To do so, the new spring needs to be compressed. I…

Hood Black-out and Dakar Logo

Having driven my share of westward returns at golden hour I've wanted to black-out the hood getting rid of that double whammy reflection. The contour of the Gen III's hood lines flow nicely to the grill leaving the popped round fenders to flank the black, framing it up nicely.

But I wanted to break up the mass of the black with a graphic, deciding on the Dakar logo to tie in the badges I added. Here's how I did it:

I googled the graphic and projected it on a wall where I hung some newsprint.

I traced the logo...

...and cut it out of the newsprint creating the template.

I taped the template to the hood and masked the exposed area...

...and then trimmed the mask through the template.

I masked the rest of the hood and removed it, suspended and shot it with Dupli-Color flat black trim paint, three coats.

Peeled off the masking. And this is the result.

I also shot the rest of the grill to blend the lines form the hood. I had previously painted the grill insert.

Driving Lights

Since I trashed the driver's side driving lamp on the Three Hour Tour, I've been looking for a replacement alternative to OEM. Prices were outrageous, at least for me, to go stock or upgrade, either way I was looking at $300+. So I rolled the dice and ordered a pair of Montero Sport driving lamps, under $75 for the pair and engineered a new mount for the lamps.

I removed the factory frame along with the connectors, since the Sport connectors don't match the Montero's factory harness, go figure. I fed the lamp housing through the front of the openings in the bumper and used steel strapping to create a frame with which they were mounted. I eye-balled the beam path, measuring lamp centers. I later tweaked height with an adjustment of what's left of the lower bumper, creating an adjustable strut that pulls the lower part of the bumper in.

Since I had the bumper off I picked up a pair of Hella 550 FFs and installed them.

Passed the shake and rattle test.

Hi-Lift Jack Mount

A change in our camping setup along with the added rigidity of a roof rack mod got me to consider an alternate spot to mount a Hi-Lift. Before I had it mounted on a pair of Thule load bars, but in their absence since I won't be using the RTT, I created a mount on the factory rack using a pair of QuickFists following their instructions on how to use them for this purpose.

I drilled out the the holes in the QuickFists with a 3/8" bit. I measured the jack and decided on a 34" center that would allow the jack to mount through the holes on the ladder. With that measurement, I drilled two 3/8" holes, 34 inches apart on the passenger side roof rack, perpendicular to the side making it exit at the angle of the rail.

I inserted a 3" 3/8-16 bolt from the underside so the threads were pointing out of the rail. Anything longer than a three inch bolt will not clear the roof to access the hole.

The QuickFists were mounted on the bolts, along with four washers, a lock wash…

Roof Rack

I've considered alternate roof racks but for the time being want to put the serious money into suspension and recovery. The stock rack has served its purpose fine with a Thule system that holds the RTT and awning, but I want a tray in between the stanchions to hold other recovery and camping gear.

To this end I removed the headliner.

It's pretty straightforward, removing all the hardware of grab handles, interior lighting modules, sun visors, etc. The only hang up is in removing the sun visor clips with tabs that tend to break easily.

Remove the weather stripping on all doors. The A-pillar covers snap out being careful to keep retention clips in place, and second row seatbelt mounts on the B-pillars need to come off to remove the covers. The rear covers that surround the wing windows between the C and D-pillars snap out, again being careful to keep the retainers in place.

With the headliner free, the last step is to remove the electrical connection from the sunroof junction i…