Posted by on August 30, 2018


I was going to wait until I had a few more things done to my FJ before I posted this build thread but I’m afraid I will forget something and leave something out and I really want to post this to remember for myself all that I have done and went through to make this exactly what I want to do what I want. There are a ton of nice things out there that you can buy if you have an endless supply of cash but thats not me. Living on a city employee budget I’m going to have to scrape and scratch and put in for some OT in order to try and make this what I want.

So this is the day we saw our “little girl” for the first time.

I had an ’08 Ford F-250 that was nothing but a money pit. I have a friend who works as a salesman at the local Toyota dealer and I wanted to go back to Toyota because I loved the last one I had. He had a Tacoma that I was going to look at. But he was late getting there that morning so the wife and I decided to look around. She saw the FJ and said, “I’ve never seen one of these before. I like this.” I had seen them. I had always loved them but never thought I could ever afford one. We looked inside and drove it. The numbers were right so after they cleaned it up it was delivered to the house.

I was working that day but my wife came outside when I met the guy at the house and she snapped a few pics. I was so freaking excited. It was older and had a lot of miles (about 124k), but the CarFax was about 40 pages thick where the previous owner had taken meticulous care of her. Everything was in perfect shape. Bone Stock except for a tow package that had been added. So my dream of building my dream FJ started…

But before it started I had to pay sales tax and buy tags, pay property tax, etc. So there was no money at this time for accessories. But that didn’t keep me at home. I had to get out and explore! So on my first day off I headed to the Ozark National Forest in north AR. I went to the Ranger station and got some maps and off down the dirt roads I went. I found the Zing Trailhead and started down an OHV trail and realized very quickly this was not the place for street tires…especially worn out ones. I turned around and headed home very shortly. I arrived at my house and found my front left tire had a stick shoved in it so I went to the local used tire shop and purchased 4 pretty good AT Tires. Much bigger beefier and made for off-road.

Sales tax paid, personal property tax paid, tags paid and first months payment paid. NOW we can start building our “little girl.” I found some money that I could use and it was perfect timing. The week of Black Friday was upon us so I started researching deals and seeing what I could get for the most money…what I wanted so bad and what I could wait for. Amazing how fast the money runs out!



Trying to catch things up a little on this thread. Good and bad is that I try to stay on the trails and forest roads as much as possible and its hard to do that and upgrade things at the same time. I’m not one that really like to work on vehicles, I would rather be adventuring in them. lol. Wish I could find a way to do both. Just don’t have a vast array of tools at my disposal in the wilderness. Might make for some good YouTube videos though. lol

Anyway, got my new front and rear Smittybilt bumpers in along with my Smittybilt winch.

Front bumper –…0.aspx?t_c=64&t_s=26&t_pt=6410&t_pn=S/B612850

Let me tell ya. For a backcountry Arkansas boy thats a lot of parts. lol. The light kit was really nice and bright once installed. Very good quality and the wiring harness is top notch. The bumper is amazingly built. Very heavy. I think the two crates that came on a freight truck stated together was about 700 lbs. The coating on the bumpers is awesome and should last about 6 lifetimes. Which is about how long I plan on keeping this FJ.

The Winch –…aspx?t_c=18&t_s=300&t_pt=100702&t_pn=S/B98495

It took me putting together and taking apart the electronic controls on the winch about 6 times before I finally got it into a position that would work and not rub my front grill. Plus it also states that you should not install the cables from the electric box until AFTER it is installed on the bumper which is a bunch of bullcrap and impossible unless you have hands the size of a 1 yr old. There’s no possible way. But all in all it wasn’t a problem and i got it done in just a few hours in the freezing cold. The winch works like a charm and love the synthetic line cable. Do yourself a favor. It is worth the money for the synthetic line. Spend the extra. You will not regret it.

Rear Bumper –…0.aspx?t_c=64&t_s=26&t_pt=3486&t_pn=S/B614850

The rear bumper was a whole different story. Cut the original bumper into 3 pieces, throw the middle part in the trash and then reinstall the side pieces. There is no going back after this. You reach at this point the “point of no return.” That scares me a little. But I went for it. Went down to the local Wal-Mart and picked up a cutting wheel for my handheld grinder and went to cutting. My wife FREAKED! But oh well I went for it. Not too bad of a deal. The bumper is very heavy duty just as the front. The lights…and then there was the lights…

After the mountain brackets were installed (oh and they assume that you have a receiver hitch so I had to shim up one of my brackets with some washer I had laying around the garage.) I proceeded to install the lights. I ran the really nice pre-wired wires through the cab firewall and then down underneath my vehicle. Yeah the wires were about 4 feet too short. I thought what? This product said it would fit my vehicle. Long story short after about an hour on the phone with Smittybilt, I was told that this is a generic “off the shelf” wiring light kit and any parts you need other than what is included is on me. So that kind of throws a wrench into the whole “this product will fit your vehicle.” And since the FJ cruiser is about one of the shortest vehicle made, like a Jeep (did I just say that?), and so I’m pretty sure this light kit will not fit anything but a smart car. Rant over.

After all was said and done the new bumpers looked awesome and I am very pleased. Although they were not what I wanted, they were what I could afford at the time. For the Demello bumpers I wanted front and back I was looking at around $4500. These I got were on sale at for $1400 for the two. I couldn’t beat that nor could I justify the other when there was such a large price difference. No I didn’t get the swing out spare i wanted nor did I get the brush guard I wanted but I did save about $3k and I could live with that for now. When my children and ex-wife stop milking me for all I am worth I will find another nice FJ and build it like I want. For now, I am pleased with what I have and I can get myself and others out of bad situations.



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