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The Ultimate 3rd Gen….. In my world at least……

And its done!!! Fiona has finally returned home after her major upgrades. Painful as it was waiting for her to come back – it doesn’t compare to the waiting we have to do before we can head back out to try all the new toys!!!

The list is long and the upgrades substantial – but well worth the time. For over 3 years, I’ve been planning this and finally…….

So here’s the list starting at the rear and working forward. Custom Dual Swing out rear bumper. No more tire on the roof with a gerry can strapped inside of it. No no, now the tire is hanging in the rear as it should and we have the ability to carry 10 gallons of gas back there as well, more if we invest in Rotopax. On the tire swing portion there is a built in fold out table – this should be a total game changer from Tracey and I!!!

For the rear drive line… we have the #ARB airlocker with #Yukon 4.88 gears. While they were in the rear end, they happend to notice that the rear wheel bearing were showing some signs of wear, so swap them out with new. While they were at it, I also had them free up our “long time seized” (if you own a 4Runner you know what I’m talking about) emergency brake and what the heck, throw in some extended bump stops while you are at it. Since she was lifted, no one was able to get a proper alignment done on her and I figured out why. Obvious as it may be to some, when you lift a vehicle, the pan hard bar geometry changes and pulls the rear axle over. This causes premature wear and tear on bushing and links. One way to nullify this issue is a drop bracket on the hanger for the pan hard bar – throw one in. Finally she’s had a proper alignment. Speaking of premature wear, the tie-rod ends had to be replaced as well. One issue we were having, once we were loaded, Fiona’s rear end sagged – badly!! Time to swap out the tired ARB Coil and put some heavier Toytec ones in their place. Empty, she now has a forward lean – she looks mean and ready for business!! The coils are rated at twice the capacity that the ARB ones were rated for – we’ll see how they hold up.

Mid section – Skid plates!!! Actually this should fall under the Front of her, but they cover the front to the rear passenger doors – totally blew me away!!! I wasn’t expecting they would cover that much!!! Now fully protected, we are ready to ROCK!!!

Front end – well like I said just above – Skid plates. Custom made to connect up to the ARB front bumper and solid steel. Made to take a beating!! No more concerns about putting something through the oil pan or damaging the transfer case – she’s covered! Again, the ARB Airlocker with the 4.88 Yukon gears installed as well as the extended bump stops. The OME coilover shocks we surprising still in good shape – considering the rear springs had seen better days – so there was no need to replace them at this point.

Just prior to her going into the Dr at BCC, we finally took her in to another Dr to get some other “minor” issues dealt with. Soundsgood is an amazing place – if you ever need car electronics done and done properly – stop by and see these guys. The radio that was in Fiona, came from Roni (my previous 4Runner) and before that, the entire stereo system was in my work van, so its been around for a while and was showing signs of ageing. The display on the deck finally gave up the ghost on our Oregon trip and 1 of the rear speakers was no longer working. Time to get this dealt with and some other little extra’s. Ahhh extra’s you say… yup, extra’s. About 1 year ago, I started to source parts and pieces that I’d need for this upgrade, 1 of them was a switch panel to control the off road lights, compressor and front and rear locker solenoids. The switch panel also has 2 USB ports, your standard cigarette lighter socket and a volt meter. Time to get the boys at Soundsgood busy. New radio to install, replace rear door speakers, re-wire spotlights, ditch lights and light bar to the panel along with the compressor switch. Luckily for me, the dash would need to be modified and I found a “donor” dash to give them. It took a few days for their tech’s to play around with the positioning of the panel and come up with an idea to secure it. Finally got the call and booked the day for them. Everything went as I had hoped. The entire switch panel is powered from the auxiliary battery in the rear – so the main battery stays focused on engine and winch only. The secondary battery takes care of all other electrical needs, stereo, compressor, auxiliary lights etc. The radio we went with is the Kenwood KDC-X502. Not a top of the line unit or anything like that – but it could connect both of our iPhones via bluetooth and also connect the iPod. The handsfree phone was an added bonus. Needless to say, we are still playing around with this unit – more buttons and settings than we know what to do with!!! Steep learning curve here!!

So now its nothing more than waiting, driving carefully and watching the odometer edge closer the magical 500Km mark. Oh yeah, I didn’t mention that yet did I…. Well we can’t really do “anything” until the gears and bearings all seat themselves and that’s at about the 500Km mark. At which point, its back to BCC for a checkup and fluid change. After that though – time to get down to business!!! Stay tuned for more once we get her out and put the upgrades to the test in the real world…

Once again, Tracey and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the new subscribers to our YouTube channel. We really appreciate your subscription, views and comments!!!

Comments are always welcomed!

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