ROTWhenever: NoMAD

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Joined
Apr 9, 2007
Threads
82
Messages
810
Location
Spring Lake, MI
Well Here goes: I don't post very often anymore because like so many here, once you have wrenched on your own truck for a while you end up using mud more for entertainment value in Chat than you might otherwise need it for the 80 Series Tech.

In any case, seeing as how there are a growing number of new 80 members, I figured I may as well contribute my rig and the build leading up to her most current state to add to the already vast resources this site has offered me over the years.

First I'd like to thank all those MUD members who have been a resource and inspiration behind what, at times, can be a frustrating and time-consuming process.

My decision to buy an 80 can be summed up with two very distinct experiences I had with them:
A 2 minute river-crossing in Honduras with a rented 105 series as best I can remember, water lapping over the hood, our driver crossed the river without incident remarking how well the truck was made as we emerged onto the other side.

The second was a series of events experienced during my 15 month deployment to Iraq, where Land Cruisers are of course ubiquitous. I witnessed dozens of Land Cruisers getting shot up, blown up, torn up (Iraqi driving), and otherwise just treated like crap. After seeing how reliable they were I began my search and found a mint 97 LX with 109K miles from a family friend in Texas. (after much searching this is the most recent picture I could find)
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My wife bought her for me sight unseen after my dad test drove it. The first mod if you can call it that was adding a set of 295 BFG AT tires and doing a shake down trip to Moab while we lived in Colorado. I didn't have any experience driving offroad at the time, and as such was pretty selective in the "trails" we took, but even then the truck showed how capable it was.
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The first years with the truck were spent in Colorado, and my wife and I took every opportunity available to get out into the woods. I gained more confidence driving, made very easy with the 80, and the first item I realized I needed was a good set of sliders. After much research, I wanted something that would function first as slider and a step second, so I decided on a set of MetalTech sliders. Built very well, these were a heavy addition on an already sagging suspension, but I rocked them (literally) for a couple of years while deciding on a suspension. It doesn't show in the picture, but I adding some super-sticky skateboard tape to top edges to add grip and to this day (5 or so years later) it's still holding up great.
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Did you rebuild the 1FZ-FE yourself or did you outsource?

If you wanna come wrench, I'm out in Covington. :)

:cheers:
 
Next mod on the truck was a roof rack. Although I was really impressed with the INTI rack pictured first, wanted more of an expedition style rack and I couldn't afford either the ARB or the INTI for that matter. After coming across the MULE rack featured on DMC's South America trip, I happened to find one for cheap. My first impressions of it were good. It was lightweight, which again was nice given the fact I was still without a lift, easy to install, and seemed to suit my needs for cargo very well. After a couple of years though some problems began to emerge with it. Not to say it wasn't good for what it was designed for, but after putting loads on it periodically (fuel cans, camping gear, etc.) the loads bars began to noticeably sag, to the point where cracks emerged along the welds to the frame. Having said this, you'll notice in the picture I have a full-szed 295 on the rack which could probably explain the warping issue. Other nuances like excessive noise from the shape of a slats, and those mentioned before led me to sell it to 2000UZJ for cheap to be replaced later on with an ARB unit.
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Over the years other items emerged as convenience items. I picked up an ARB Air Onboard Air Compressor for airing up after wheeling. THis has actually been one of the more useful items I've purchased. I mountain bike quite a bit, so it's been useful for that and everything to helping motorists on the side of the road with Fix-A-Flat and a fill-up. Additionally the compressor fills the tires from 20 PSI to 35 PSI in just a couple of minutes. It does get hot, especially in areas like Moab, but over the years has shown no signs of failure or even air leaks.
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Auxiliary Lights were next on my list for those dark Colorado nights. Again, I wasn't made of money and wanted something that 1: Would hold up to years of abuse and 2. Would have bulbs that could be cheaply replaced. I decided on the Hella Rally 4000 Euro beams with a little broader field of light output as opposed to the pencil beams. I opted for the Euro beams as opposed to pencil beams because the stock lights already have pretty poor output to begin with and I wanted a light that would help fill that gap as well. The housing is metal, which over the course of 5+ years show little sign of aging and I added clear covers for them which have payed their dividends. Installation was very straightforward even as I was still at the time maybe a :banana::banana: mechanic. I drilled holed in the center of the two ducts within the bumper and I can say I've been very satisfied with the lights. In the future I will replace the lights with a high output LED unit.
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Over the next few years, the truck ran flawlessly, tackling more and more difficult trails across Colorado. It was a joy to drive and always impressed my friends who for the most part all had jeeps. The truck enabled my wife and I to enjoy parts of Colorado we may not have been able to otherwise.
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More since everyone is always asking for more pics...
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After getting out of the military, I moved to Arkansas so my wife could finish out school. At this point a lift was a must as I was now not limited by my own experience wheeling but the trucks lack of height. I got a second-hand lift from a MUD member and used a fellow members shop to install the lift. The lift consisted of OME Heavies all around, L-shocks, and an adjustable rear panhard.
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With more lift and a new environment for the NoMAD to play in I participated in my first official TLCA event which proved to be a ton of fun and the cause for major cruiser envy.
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From this point on, the truck began to run poorly, starting consuming coolant at an alarming rate and in the end was diagnosed with the dreaded blown head gasket. I took the truck to a shop nearby where she went under the knife, and decided ignorantly after the mechanics recommendation to rebuild the entire engine which would later come back to haunt me, but more on that later. I don't have any pictures of any of this as I ended up being deployed for the rebuild process. After thousands of dollars spent, many delays, and headaches dealing with this from 9000 miles away, I returned home to find my truck at least for the most part completely intact. I owe my wife for dealing with all this... she even got her hands dirty while I was gone!!!
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Shortly after my return, I got to work doing a lot of not-so-glamorous mods to the truck:
1. Did all the fluids
2. New disc brakes from DBA with a set of 4 DBA 4000 Series rotors and Hawk pads.
3. Removed the carpet from the back and replaced with heavy duty rubber mat for what I thought would increase sound dampening (which it failed to noticeably do)
4. Added a janky Hi-lift mount a la a strip of steel bar from Home Depot in the cargo area
5. Replaced the front seat foam with a new set from toyota in addition to adding a set of Specter (RIP) canvas seat covers for the front
6. Failing starter replaced with a 2.2 kW unit from BENO
7. Replaced diff breathers with an overpriced set of ARB extended breathers
8. Added Slee Stainless Steel Brake lines
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More pics... including shots of rattle-canned front fascia. Not a big deal, same process as others: just sand and spray away.
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And then this....
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So this was last year, only 4 years (40k miles) after having my entire engine rebuilt. To say the least I wanted to drive the truck into a ditch and light it on fire, but the boys at ACC calmed me down and I put the truck in their capable hands for a HG repair (they were not the ones who initially did the work and I will not name the party responsible for the first rebuild). While talking to Bryan, I knew my front axle needed work so I had the whole front end rebuilt and powder coated. It was not an easy process, but after waiting impatiently, I got my truck back in better condition than I left it. I even added a personal touch to the valve cover gasket (indication of work to come). During the process I also got a new radiator as the stock one had become very brittle. And I forgot to add the addition of my dorkel to the thread.
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Pics of radiator, axle with braided lines
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Fast forward nearly a year and now the truck is ready to enter the next phase. For Christmas Santa got the NoMAD a new bumper and winch. After pouring over threads related to winches I concluded I don't wheel as hard as some of you, and therefore don't think I need a 12k or even a 16k pound winch for self-extraction, so I decided on a Warn XD9000. I wanted a little more pulling power than an M8000, though I have only heard positive things about them, but I didn't think I needed as much as the M12000. Not to mention the M12000 weighs 140lbs on an already big bumper.

For the bumper, I must say, I made a compromise on this one. I've loved the Slee Shortbus since I first saw one on an 80 in Colorado, it's built as stout as they come, and it can take a beat down on the rocks. My wife, however, has had a fair share of deer encounters with various cars and wanted more front end protection. With Romers testimony from years back when his daughter was hit, we agreed on the ARB.
Now I know there are naysayers regarding the ARB bumper crunchability, and I've seen how flimsy the wings are when they contact trees. However, it wasn't designed for your tree-ramming pleasures in mind, but with animal strikes in mind, and with that in mind I give you the NoMAD's current stance.
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Poser shots...
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A final word: To those that have either just gotten or are thinking of getting one of these dinosaurs, you should take to heart a few words of advice:
1. As so many have mentioned here, some recently, these are NOT cheap vehicles to FIX. Now having said that, you can run them into the ground but when they bite back, they bite right into your wallet. I have taken nearly OCD measures to keep this truck in the best working condition possible while still going out and using it for what it was meant for, but having said this you unforeseen catastrophes can happen.
2. Get an FSM, do as much work as you can yourself, and enjoy the ride. It's a long process but after owning this truck for 8 years now I can confidently say I've gone from a :banana::banana: mechanic to a :banana::banana::banana::banana:. I just still HATE electrical with all of my existence.

3. You can only know when you own one for a while, and I'll steal a line I heard from Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear regarding owning one of these glorious beasts. It's like having a 2 year child: It's really annoying a lot of the time but if someone tried to take it away from you, you'd kill them.

Sometimes it just seems like there's one thing after another with these vehicles, but the one thing I can say now after 8 years of ownership: The truck has always been absolutely dependable, even with a blown head gasket miles from home, and has never left me stranded on the side of the road.
In writing this I have gone through hundreds of pictures, memories, many of which were made possible by this truck. There's something about these trucks that just stick with you, sometimes like genital warts, but everyone I know that owns one admits they sort of become almost a member of the family.

As for me I won't ever get rid of this truck. The odometer says 228K miles but I know she has another 200 in her.
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