Rotw: Dbs311

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Dec 7, 2004
Coronado, CA
First, I need to give credit to my bro-in-law. If it wasn't for him, I would never have become part of the Land Cruiser community. Turns out he drove a 60 series in Bolivia for a number of years and when he came back to the states he vowed he would own one. After a number of years he found a clean '88 FJ62 and bought it. Honestly, I wasn't impressed. To me it looked like a bigger version of the station wagon the Griswald's drive in National Lampoon's "Vacation". The year was 1995 and I felt there were a lot better options out there for an SUV (I was ignorant, so forgive me). After several months of owning his, he drove by a Toyota dealer one day and spotted a super clean 1990 FJ62 that had just arrived. He told one of the salesman to hold it, he had someone who was going to buy it. Turns out that someone was me. I wasn't interested, but he convinced me to at least go to the dealership and look at it. So here was a 5 year old FJ62, single owner and 18,000 miles! A husband had bought it for his wife (they were both getting up there in age) because he wanted something big and safe for her. She had never driven it in bad weather because she was too scared. It spent most of the time in the garage and came out for the occasional run to the grocery store. An hour later my 1988 Jeep Cherokee (BIGGEST PILE OF CRAP I EVER DROVE) was gone and replaced with the Cruiser.

It went with me to college in UT and little did I know this simple fact would forever change my relationship with my Cruiser. I had never even considered lifting a vehicle let alone take one offroad until I had lived in UT. It did stay completely stock for a year or so. First mod was an ARB front bumper. Yes, it looked a little strange with stock suspension and the stock 28" tires, but I wanted the bumper. After the tires finally wore to the point I was ready to replace them, 31x10.50 BFG All-Terrains were fitted. I was amazed at how far this setup could take me. In college, I was the guy with the truck that doubled as the road trip/ski/camping trip/party wagon. Campfire in the canyon, everybody hopped in with me. Head up to the ski resorts for a day of skiing or boarding, I was the taxi.

It was on one of these ski trips that solidified my position as lover of all things Toyota Land Cruiser. I'm heading up the canyon with 4 others and all their gear in the back of my 62. It had already started to snow and there was a good, thick blanket covering the road. Just as it starts to get pretty steep, there is a lifted Tahoe (no offense to those who drive one) with big tires and a crew of unhappy skiers pulled off to the side. They couldn't get any further up the road and told me to turn around as well, there was no point in going any further. One of my buddies blurted out "keep going", so I continued on to see how far I could make it up the road. I just kept going, and going, and going until I came to a stop at the ski resort parking lot. I felt like a champ, and the guys and girls with me gave praise the rest of the day to my "unstoppable" Land Cruiser.

The second defining moment for me was my first trip to Moab, UT. I have always been a mountain biker. Growing up on the east coast, I would ride all over the trails of No VA and at some of the resorts in WV. Now that I was in UT and biking all over the Wasatch, my brother suggested I head down to Moab. He heard that for some reason, lots of bikers would go down and ride there. "Moab, what's Moab?" The first time I crossed the Colorado River and pulled into Moab, I knew this was a special place. There was just something about the place that made me feel home. Anway, I was there to bike, so off to Slickrock Trail I went. Amazing ride, amazing scenery, amazing atmosphere. Then I see a group of trucks going up Lion's Back, Dump Bump, and Baby Lion's Back. I had never seen anything like that before and couldn't believe something could actually drive up those things (I now understand how unimpressive those obstacles are). I decided to give Baby Lion's Back a try, and that is the first time I experienced the "pucker factor" and how annoying the loooooong hood of the 62 is. Now, don't give me a hard time for getting nervous on B.L.B., it was my first time on what I would call an "obstacle" and not merely a dirt road. After that simple 60 second rush of adrenaline, I was hooked to offroading.

Next mod was to throw on the OME suspension sometime in the late '90's. When the 31's finally wore out, I slapped on some 33x10.50 BFG All-Terrains. At this time I also put the full length Garvin Wilderness rack up top, with Hella 4000's up front and IPF 816's wired in as additional reverse/flood lights on the back. The spare tire went on the roof and the snorkel was plumbed up and bolted to the pillar. I admit that those last two were for looks. The headlights and harness were replaced with IPF H4 bulbs and IPF housings and remain one of my favorite mods. The stock headlights SUCKED! The stock horn was also an embarrassment and was replaced with a Hella horn kit.

And this is how my Cruiser remained for many years and for most of its offroad excursions. I found that with the lift and 33's, I could do the majority of trails I wanted. The 60 series is just so incredibly capable in nearly stock form! Moab became an almost every other weekend trip, and even during my busy semesters I made sure to make it down at least once a month for some offroading, biking and camping. Moab will always be a place for me that no matter how busy or challenging or crappy my life can get........I can cruise into town and life is all good. I just wish I could make it there as much as I did while in college.

This is not the end of my Cruiser saga, but will be continued tomorrow. Sorry I can't get the entire thread done at once! Pics will go up as soon as my silver star renewal goes through. I know, this thread is worthless without pics!!!!
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Here are my and my bro-in-law's Cruisers completely stock.
Unfortunately, this is the only pic I can dig up of my Cruiser with the OME lift and 33's. Needless to say, you can't get a good view of the goods. This is coming down one of the many fins on the trail Fins 'N Things in Moab.

If I can find any more I will just add them to this thread.
I wheeled many years SUA with 33's and the day finally came that I pulled the plug and went SOA. Here's one pic testing for shock length and a poser driveway shot. Forgive me for the white letters out. I swear it wasn't by choice.

A little info about the SOA. I went with stock height replacement springs to keep the COG low as possible, plus I was still running 33's and didn't want to look ridiculous. Perches were 4+ units, shocks were Heckethorn all around, and steering is Man-a-Fre. Had to replace the brake lines with lengthened SS ones. Front axle has been cut and turned, and the driveshafts are Tom Woods CV's. Shackles are 4+ GSK's.
Finally ditched the 33's for some 35x12.50 X Terrains.

Started hitting up the trails around San Diego. This one is from Coyote Canyon.

My stock center console finally gave up so I replaced it with a Tuffy and added a Cobra CB.

Made my way east to check out Bronco Peak and Sidewinder.

View of Lake Morena in the distance.

Having no portable compressor, I decided against airing down on this trip. It made for a little rough of a ride.




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My father bought a set of PIAA's for his SUV (combo fog and driving light) but never got around to putting them on, so I made him a deal and put them on the Cruiser. Note that these are the small rectangular lights below the stock lights, not the Hella 4000's on the ARB light tabs.

This was the best spot I could come up with to mount them.

My ghetto "beam test". This shot is low beams only.

This is low beams with driving lights on.

This is low beams with the fogs on.
Thanks for the compliments guys. I have more of my build to go through, I just need to organize it all. I guess you can say I'm a procrastinator, just like in college.

Dylan, I have decided on a direction to go and that will unfold over the next couple months. A lot of stuff has been ordered. Maybe I can do a ROTW part 2 come this July. A lot should be added/changed by then.
One of my favorite areas in So Cal is Big Bear. These pics are from Holcomb Creek and Dishpan Springs.

Poser flex shot at a v-notch just after crossing the creek. The 7 month pregnant wife just wanted the entire trip to be done.

Running backwards on Holcomb Creek, this is one of the first rock gardens.

One of the few climbs on this trail.

I swear I'm not stacking.....we're removing rocks to make it harder. Ok, I'm unlocked front and rear, so gimme a break.

Trail's end.

My first and only damage ever sustained on a trail. Time for some sliders.

Exciting spot on Dishpan Springs.

I'm glad I didn't have the roof rack on loaded up with gear.

View from the front at the same spot.

Short "waterfall" that I almost did a nose stand while coming off of it. It's steeper and taller than it looks. Plus, taking the wrong line doesn't help.

Another poser flex shot to try and keep up with John Shotts.
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That is a beautiful truck, in beautiful country! I'm in OC and haven't gotten to wheel in Big Bear yet. The SOA looks awesome, its gonna be some years before I do that to mine, if ever!
Great looking rig. Nice build up.
That is a great looking and well used rig. I grew up in San Diego and used to fish Lake Moreno all the time. I am really surprised that there is still water left in it.

I really miss the dry wheeling around San Diego county. Dry, dusty and add rocks, sage brush and Manzeneta and wheel!

too cool brings back a lot of great memories!

Sweet looking rig!
Guys, I really appreciate the positive comments. When you have a spouse and in-laws that see this hobby as a waste of time and money, you rarely receive any compliments.

Here are some pics of her all cleaned up. I really have enjoyed wheeling with it SOA, but I quickly found out (and you can probably tell by the pictures) that flat springs don't last very long on top of the axle. It only took 4 or 5 hard wheeling trips to cause the fronts to sag. These were not my stock packs either. They were brand new factory height replacements. I'm also running lengthened bump stops to limit the inversion the springs experience.

Front end is starting to sag.

The roof rack was permanently removed. As you can see from this view, I BARELY fit in the garage as is.

I also took this time to throw on the 37's and see how clearance was with them. I had zero rubbing in the back, even at full stuff, but because the fronts were already sagging, they would rub in the front with the wheels turned in either direction at full stuff.

To show the difference in size between 35's and 37's. I'll let you guys decide which is which.

37" Goodyear MT/R's


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