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Messages - Rambo Penguin

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Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: September 23, 2019, 11:35:26 PM »
I finally did it! I built a front bumper! Iíve wanted to do this since i moved to Montana to give me a fighting chance against the massive population of deer out here. My goal was complicated. I wanted to build something that matched the lines of the Montero, was as light as possible, was removable for ease of maintenance, could protect against light animal strikes, wouldnít hinder the epic approach angle that i already had, and would be cheap. Obviously if I was really worried about animal strikes and performance i would just get an ARB, but they are out of my budget and I think they look ridiculous on the gen 3. There isnít a straight line almost anywhere on the car, and the ARB is just an angular block. Doesnít fit the style and it adds about a foot to the front of the car. The big challenge here is that the Gen 3 doesnít have anywhere to mount a bumper too, since itís a unibody. Iíll go into a good amount of detail about the build here, if you just want to see the end result skip it and check out the pics at the end, my feelings wonít be hurt.

Step 1) prep the front end for a bumper. There are 2 things that need to move when building a bumper: the windshield washer reservoir and the factory crash bars. The crash bars are easy, grab a sawzall and go. I cut through the thinner metal and left the rest intact. I cleaned it up with a dremel and painted the whole thing black. The washer reservoir is also easy to remove and some people just leave them off, but I like being able to wash off my windshield so I decided to come up with an alternative reservoir. A quick Ebay search lead me to a $10 washer fluid bag with a pump included. Splice it into the factory wires, run the plumbing to the factory spots and itís done. I hung it right behind my passenger headlight.

Step 2) build a bumper mounting point.

I saw a lot of different designs for this. All are by DIY intensive and require a lot of tools and skill. Mine, unfortunately, is not any different. I opted to basically continue to build out the Box and ladder frame design that the montero already had (even though itís a unibody.. So weird how they built these). So I used a hole saw to cut a 2Ē hole in the rails, put a piece of ⅛Ē wall tubing through it and welded it to the frame as best I could. This is about as solid of a mount as it gets. It would be nearly impossible to get that bar to move in the frame rails. After that I welded some mounting plates to it. I used ⅛Ē metal for everything. This would serve as the permanent side of the bumper mount and allow for me to have a clear spot to attach the bumper and also allow me to easily remove it later.

Step 3) The actual bumper

Similar to the mounting point, I designed a plate that would bolt on and hold the bumper. I decided to go with a tube bumper to save weight and to follow the montero styling. This proved to be a lot more work than i thought. Iíd never worked with tubing before and it proved to be much harder than expected. After hours of bending, measuring, cutting, redoing, welding and a lot of head scratching and staring, I finally settled on something I liked. Simple, clean and attainable. This was far from my best work, my welds were strong but ugly, my angles are off, things are uneven, but in the grand scheme of it all, you wonít notice unless you were looking for it. Overall, iím happy. Iíll probably keep cleaning it up and making it look a little better. I plan to add some amber fog lights as well to help with snow glare this winter. Iím proud that i built it myself, i feel like it will be sufficient to protect my rig in most applications and i like the way it looks well enough.

And now, pictures. Unfortunately I didnít take a lot of shots during the creation process.. Basically there was a lot of grinding, bending and welding.. But now itís done and looks like this!

Side note: Chances are very high that this is hurting my MPG because you can see almost all of my 33Ē tire haha. I might try to make it more aerodynamic (something like filling in the sides or making an integrated front skid plate.. But those are problems for the future)

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: September 23, 2019, 11:26:39 PM »
Some shots of the painted wells

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: September 23, 2019, 11:23:38 PM »
Remember how those wide wheels were running into my fenders? Yeah thatís still a thing. My bump stops helped a lot in the rear, but the front was still smashing into my guards, linders and bending stuff. This was very apparent when i went to the sand dunes and treated my montero like a dune buggy. I had the suspension at full compression multiple times at high speeds, and everything got crunched. Here are some pics that better explain what time talking about

This was before the stiffer/taller lift in the front, so that will help slow things down for sure, but i still needed to remove stuff. Iíve ripped out 3 sets of fender liners already, so those were already removed. Next was to cut the fender and flares back. Iíll be honestly, there wasnít exactly a science to this. I cut the metal fender back so that it was nearly even with the height of the frame so that i wouldnít smash it. Next I drilled out the rivets on the plastic flares and cut them back as well. This gave me nearly an inch of extra width and should be enough to clear the wheels at full tuck. Itís hard to explain exactly what this looks like so just check out the pics. I finished it off by covering the exposed fender sheet metal with paint and then some door trim rubber for a cleaner look and also so that I didnít have sharp edges in my wells. Then i painted everything to prevent rust and called it a day. I suspect with will be enough to solve my rubbing issues, but i wonít completely know until i push it to the limit again.. Iíll report back when i do

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: September 23, 2019, 11:19:53 PM »
I want to take just a minute to comment on the weight thing I mentioned earlier. Yes, according to my local scale, my montero fully loaded is about 6,000lbs. This is with all the armor, camping gear for 4-5 days, probably 27 gallons of gas (including the jerry can) and 10 gallons of water total. Itís really heavy. Part of that is that the Gen 3 weighs 4,800 stock, so it can get up there fast. Up until this point weight savings wasnít a huge deal, but now that itís really climbing up there it has become a major factor (this is the story of every overland build haha). I took some time to really evaluated what iím carrying as well as whatís on the rig. Aftering some thought and planning I came to a few conclusions. The first is that less liquids will really help keep the weight down. I donít do any trails were I need more than a few gallons of fuel so jerry isnít needed, I also donít need as much drinking water as I usually pack. Instead, i will fill the can only to what i think i need and bring a water filter if for some reason i run out on the trail. The other is that added a winch and heavy front and rear bumper would only make things worse. I can easily justify the need for both, however at this point the cost is too high. With that, let's talk about 2 things that the weight really effected, lift and that front bumper idea..

First is lift. Man this has been a pain. I think iíve taken the front end of my truck apart 10 times by now. But iím at a point that iím really happy with. My OME and Bilstein setup was working really well, however, it just wasnít that tall. After everything had settled and was aligned i realized i was only ĹĒ over stock! Thatís almost nothing. So once again, i was on the hunt for more lift to get the ground clearance i needed for simple trails. Fortunately, the bilstein front struts have some adjustment. There is a circlip located under the bottom spring seat. It moves the seat up 10mm (functionally producing 20mm of lift because of the preload) So that got my about 1Ē extra lift. Relatively simple to do, and free! I have HD springs in the rear already. They are rated for about 400lbs over stock which is right about where iím sitting with everything loaded up. They ride fantastic even when weighed down, i just needed a little more boost. A fellow montero owner tipped me off that XJ jeep spring spacers work with our rear springs, so I picked up a set of those that are 1Ē thick and they did the trick! I think i still sag just a touch in the rear but it doesnít matter as much anymore because everything is up higher. At this point i have almost 13Ē of ground clearance under the front skid and rear diff. Bring on the rocks!

The ride is notably stiffer, however after just a few days of driving I've gotten used to it and couldnít tell you the difference. Off Road itís amazing. Iím still getting flex out of both front and rear and it feels planted and stable. Hereís to hoping thatís the last change!

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: September 23, 2019, 11:17:02 PM »
Itís time for a regear! Let me first off say that when I first got into this build I NEVER thought that I would be in as deep as doing a regear. Then I found out how simple, cheap and beneficial it is and it became a very attainable modification. There is lots of info about 4.9 diff swaps out there, but I will cover some of the basics here so everyone can get caught up to speed if you are unfamiliar. I might post later on about how to actually get the diffs out of the car, but itís pretty simple and there are some good youtube videos out there (like this one I drove 7 hours round trip to pull these diffs, took me 2 hours to pull them in the yard, cost $160 out the door for both. Considering this is usually a $2k- $3k job in a normal vehicle iíd say thatís pretty good!

1st! What monteros have what gears? Gen 3ís (2001-2006 in the USA) have two different gear ratios: 4.3 and 4.9. Almost all of them have 4.3. Only the 01-02 XLS models have 4.9. The 01-02 XLS with a sunroof (not the limited) have 4.9 and an LSD.. which is pretty sweet but i didnít get one of those :(. They directly bolt on and are already set up from the factory so you just swap the diff assembly (sometimes called the carrier or 3rd member) and donít have to open the diff at all!

So why did I go with a regear? Three reasons stand out. 1) As I mentioned before, it was cheap and simple to do. 2) The 33Ē tires did take away some of the punchiness and power to the ground that I had when I was on stock tires and 3) My rig weighs 3 Tons.. Not a joke.. Itís 6,000 lbs fully loaded without passengers. So the 3.8 V6 and nicer tranny that they put in the 03-06 models was good, but I really needed all the advantage I could get.

Let me explain #2 for a sec. As long as lift and tires are a thing, people will ask the question: What fits? How does it affect the torque? MPG? Yada yada yada. After a year on 33Ēs I have some feedback on how they ran on my rig. I immediately noticed the negative effects of bigger tires on the performance of the montero. The most noticeable was actually on dirt roads. When I hit the dirt I would get into 4H (AWD) and the montero would get really slow. It was constantly downshifting to keep accelerating and felt sluggish. I would often find myself shiting all the way into 4LLC just to get the low range gear advantage to save the stress on my transmission. In 4LLC they ran great. I also felt this sluggishness on the street, especially if I was moving more than 2 people or loaded up for a trip. I know the Montero is not a race car so I wasnít expecting much, but for the sake of longevity I wanted to help the transmission and motor out as much as I could. The reason the montero felt so sluggish is because these motors make almost no power below 2,500 rpm.. At least it doesnít feel like it. With stock 4.3 gears and 33Ēs my effective gear ratio was 4.01. This meant that it spent a lot more time at lower RPM than it did when stock. Combine that with weight and it was a slow, fat pig.

Now that iíve done the swap here are some highlights!

The best way to describe the power coming back to the Montero is that it went from feeling lethargic and lazy to fit and healthy. It is still not a race car. But it has some of the punch back, it spends more time in the ďpowerbandĒ and it doesnít feel overworked anymore! 4H has become a usable drive option and 4LLC feels amazing! Tons of torque and slower crawling speeds. If feels like itís aggressively geared for trail work and climbs with ease. Itís also nice to have the extra low gearing for hill descent.

As far as MPG goes, I didn't see anything crazy. I would say i went from around 11-13 mpg combined to 13-15mpg. On the Hwy doing 80 iím still down in the 11-12mpg range just because this thing has the aerodynamics of a cinder block. But on slower 65mph roads with mild grades iím all the way up at 18-19! So it definitely helped, but wasnít crazy.

So in summary, regearing is awesome and iím excited that I did it. It very well might be the best performance mod and preventative maintenance mod iíve done to date. Here are a few pictures of the swap.

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: April 07, 2019, 08:55:40 PM »
With the awning mounted it was time to optimize my roof rack storage space. Nothing fancy here. I moved the shovel inside of the basket and kept the highlift where it was. Next i made space for some X bull recovery boards which will live there permanently as a primary form of snow recovery and bolted a Ridgid tool box on top for lockable storage. I will mostly use that for tools and extra gear for longer trips. I left enough room for a 5 gallon jerry can and called it good.

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: April 07, 2019, 08:45:17 PM »
While the struts were removed in the front I took time to disconnect the sway bar and confirm that front bump stops were tall enough to protect the fenders at full compression. Turns out I just needed a Ĺ inch of additional spacing in the front. So I ordered some extended bump stops from Procomp and threw them in. Iím curious to see how the new suspencial, wheel, tire and bump stop set up works offroad. As I mentioned before, Iím not even close to hitting the stops at full flex during slow articulation (since the front end geometry doesnít like to move at all) but at higher speed whoops and bumps I will hit them. If they are too limiting I might have to reevaluate my wheel choice and go narrower, but in the meantime iíll just wheel it!

My generous wife and family got me an ARB 2000 Awning for Christmas this year! I love our current camping set up with the sleeping platform in the back of the Montero. If offers great protection from the elements at night, but it present a problem for normal ďoutdoor livingĒ. We do not carry a tent with us when we camp, and standalone shelters are usually bulky. So when it rained, we would just hide out in the front seats of the car. Not exactly what we are hoping for in our adventures. So an awning became an high priority for our overlanding needs. The 2000 series fits nicely with the size of the Gen 3 Montero roof line.

Figuring out a way to mount the awning was a fun challenge. I made quick disconnect brackets that bolt onto the roof rack rails and allow me to quickly pull off the awning if I decide to go without it. The bolt on brackets mean the whole system can be transferred to a different set up easily as well. I am looking into a way to make additional brackets for the rear of the basket so that i can set up the awning over the rear tailgate when we are set up at camp. More to come on tha idea. In the mean time hereís the set up. Excuse the surface rust, I wanted to test the setup out before committing to paint. Very pleased with how this all turned out and iím excited get out and enjoy the shoulder season more with some shelter.

A side note: My roof rack lights hang below the awning so that at night i can use them to light up everything under the shelter.

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: April 07, 2019, 08:42:24 PM »
The next few mods are big ones! Lift kit, awning and 4.9 gears!!

As mentioned before, I basically outgrew my spacer lift. It worked really well for the time and activities i used it for up until now, but with the capability and capacity of the rig both going up it was time for something more substantial. I could tell that the stock suspension was not up to the task of carrying all our gear or even just 4 people. The rear springs would sag like crazy causing the Montero to have a prerunner lean. So out with the old, in with the new! Went with ARB Old Man Emu lift springs front and rear. Medium duty in the front and Heavy Duty in the rear to support the extra weight. Install was the exact same as the spacers and struts so iíll skip that part. The lift stayed about the same in the front but I gained about 1.5Ē and it handles the weight much better.

For what itís worth, the bilstein struts have an adjustable base plate that allows you to alter the high of the vehicle. Bottom is lower, top is taller. I opted to go with the lower setting for now. If I add a bumper it is possible that i will adjust the height to compensate for sagging.

Here are some pics of it after the lift as well as some measurements on the size difference between OME and stock.

Rear springs



Front springs



Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: December 23, 2018, 08:27:28 PM »
Another thing i did was shorten my hitch. That stupid thing would drag on everything. I cut 2Ē out of it, rewelded it and used the removed sections as scab plating. Should be just as strong as before and now it will spend less time dragging all over the trail

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: December 23, 2018, 08:25:49 PM »
The final drawback of the wide wheels was that my sliders also had to be cut down to accommodate the wider turning radius. I needed to take abou 1.5Ē off of them so while i had them off the car I decided to beef them up a bit. These siders did save my doors once this summer when i slipped off an obstacle and almost smashed my door. I wanted to re-enforce them so that they would hold up for more hits, and I also wanted to add some support so I could use them as a hi-lift point.

I used a hole saw to notch some tubing, cut it to size, smashed it in and welded it up. Very pleased with how they turned out! Now i will have a little more confidence using a hi-lift on them if i need to and they will take a beating without losing shape.

Lastly, I really wanted rock lights.. But the kind that all the posers have that just light up there suspension set ups in their wheel wells, I wanted to be able to see under the rig for night wheeling. I had saved the factory side step plugs and reused them to add some lights attached to the sliders. They are bright enough to light up the entire underside of the montero and they also come on when i unlock the car and open the doors, which is a cool touch. Later on I will install a switch so i can run them all time.

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: December 23, 2018, 08:23:01 PM »
And if you were being observant in the last post you might have noticedÖ That I scored cheap wheels!! Finally, iíve been hunting for a wider stance since the second i bought this. I found some Eagle Alloy wheels (set of 5) for cheap and jumped on it. 4 came painted in bedliner and i sprayed the spare to match. The details: -11 offset, 8Ē x 16Ē Aluminum with a 108mm center bore. I was really hoping for 0 offset for fitment but another ĹĒ isn't too much and the price was right. Hereís a few things iíve learned about wide wheels on a Gen 3. They look amazing, fix that tippy feeling that makes you crap your pants and they absolutely require hub centric rings. A hub centric ring is used to center the wheel on the hub. Simple conical lugnuts is not enough for the sensitive Gen 3 front end. I got some plastic 67.1mm to 108mm rings and they eliminated any front end shake or vibration. These barely clear the front calipers (problem with the steel wheels from earlier) but they do in fact clear.

Hub centric rings

So how do the wheels compare? Track width was my primary goal here. Sure, they look mean, but I was far more worried about performance. The new wheels are 2.75? Wider per side than the stock wheels with the 33Ē tires. So iíve gained 5.5Ē of total track width which feels and looks massive! The back wheels are just about flush with the guards and the front wheels stick out about ĹĒ.

A few issues. The first is that wide wheels will rub on front and rear of the fenders in the front. I had already trimmed the front bumpers so i didnít need to do any more work there. I did however need to trim about 2Ē of the rear front fenders. There wasnít any science to this, I just cut until they fit. It wasnít much cutting, but now i need to figure out how to remount the fender guards to keep mud and dirt out of my body panels.

The other big issue is suspension travel. At slow flex the tires will not hit the fenders. However, add a little bit of speed and everything changes. I found this out when I took a dive into a muddle that was much deeper than expected. Smashed my front driver fender and passenger rear. Luckily it wasnít anything crazy.. But it did make me realize that i was going to have to fix the issue. Before considering more serious modifications i decided to extend the bump stops. After messing with some spacers and flexing the rig out a bit i decided to run Ĺ spacers in the rear and 1Ē in the front. I extended the bolts on the stock bump stops by cutting the original bolt, cutting up a different bot and welding them together. Seems to work well and allows for me to run spacers. If this becomes a more permanent fix i will order custom bump stops to replace these.

Longer term solutions involve getting a real lift, running different wheels, or cutting. Iíve decided to go with a true lift spring and run OME medium duty springs instead of my spacer lift. This should help dramatically since the stock suspension is soft and worn out. I will see if that fixes the issues before doing anything else.

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: December 23, 2018, 08:19:28 PM »
I scored an inexpensive (but good quality) light bar recently so i decided to put it on. Itís a 24Ē Blazer spot/flood combo. Nothing special, but a good step above the cheap chinese stuff. Used some scrap aluminum that i had to make a bracket for it and cut the grill to match. I wired it to come on when I hit the high beams for simplicity. It is surprisingly bright with really good spread. Not exactly a pencil beam but it is great for trail work and night driving on dark back roads.

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: October 07, 2018, 04:18:35 PM »

Iíve taken the summer off from updating this build thread. I figure, why spend time on the computer when you can spend time on the trails? This was my first summer season with the montero and it was great to see all the hard work and time pay off! Here is how to Montero is currently sitting

As hinted about before, lift and tires are on. Iíve actually had them for about 5,000 miles and 2 months at this point. I went with a 285/75/16 BFG Ko2 all terrains, and I couldnít be happier! The are aggressive enough for all the trails i end up on and they handle the highway like a true street tire. The side way is much stronger than my previous Goodyear wranglers.

It seems that not matter how many times the topic is brought up, people still want to know about how the Gen 3 will handle 33ís (myself included). The short story is: it does awesome. You definitely feel the loss of power on the hwy. My speedo runs about 5mph lower than stock and i spend less time in the higher rpms (which is where the power band is on these 3.8L engines). Around town itís less noticeable. Acceleration feels just a touch sluggish but within a week I had completely adjusted to it. Braking time is increased and less effective, but not unbearable or unsafe. Off Road (dirt or gravel) in 2H, 4H or 4HCL it feels really sluggish. I'm pushing the accelerator nearly to the floor before it downshifts and gives the power I need to maintain normal driving speeds. 4LCL is a different story. 4LCL is still punchy, powerful and torquey. It still crawls up and down everything with ease. Iíve never been lacking for power in 4LCL. However, the different tire size does seem to confuse the transmission shift points. For example, the transmission likes to stay in 3rd gear at nearly any speed offroad in 4LCL.. Which is absurd. This puts the rpms down in the 1,500 -2,000 range which is barely above idle. I often downshift manually into 1st or 2nd off road and that fixes the problem.

What about Gas mileage? Well. If you bought a montero for the MGPs then you messed up haha. When mine was stock I saw close to window sticker numbers. Somewhere between 15 and 19 mpg with mixed driving conditions. Now that iím on a much heavier 33Ē tire iím seeing closer to 12-15 in normal driving and 10mpg offroad. Itís pretty bad. This isnít a huge problem for me because i live in a small town and bike to work. So I only really use the Montero for trips and adventures.. And thatís the price you pay to play with an offroad rig. 

Rumor has it that 285/75/16s can fit on a gen 3 with stock suspension with just a little bit of trimming of the plastic bumper. I bet this is true given how big the wheel wells are. However, I opted to do a cheap spacer lift to get me through this summer. Everything i do to this truck is on a tight budget, so while iíd like to just swipe my card and build it, i have to wait and time my mods and upgrades accordingly with my budget and time constraints. I will be making a separate post with details about spacer lift options and their different outcomes. It was a mess to get this the way i wanted, but in the end I ended up with something that works really well, is safe and cost effective.

The lift I ended up with is a 1.5Ē spacer lift front a rear. I used some rubber pucks for the rear and aluminum discs for the front. I got the rear ones from a fellow montero owner and have no idea where they came from. They are just ok. I will be replacing them over this upcoming winter for better weight support and a little more height. I will be going with OME medium duty springs without any spacers. The fronts were home made. I cut some aluminum discs 6Ē in diameter and ĹĒ thick. These slipped right on top of the stock strut mount. This safely lifted the front up 1.5 inches. The difference in spacer thickness and lift height is due to the geometry of the IFS. A little bit goes a long ways. With these spacers the CVs sit almost flat so angles were not an issue.

I did attempt to get a cheap set of steel wheels for the new tires. I want a 0 offset, but the brake calipers in the front make it hard to fit some kinds of cheap wheels. So i decided to hold off on wheels until i can spend the money and do it right. Hopefully that will happen soon because wow is this thing narrow and tippy offroad. At least it has amazing balance and a lower center of gravity.

With the lift on my next order of business was to handle the slider kick outs. I scored on some left over steel that was already bent to the perfect angle and size for my kick outs. This was kinda a quick and dirty job. I eyeballed the fitment, cut the ends down, tacked it, welded it and gave it a rattle can finish. Nothing pretty, but they did save my doors 2 or 3 times this summer. Before next season I will go back and put some additional supports in the middle for increased rigidity and hopefully the ability to use a Hi lift jack on them.

After spending a whole summer on the spacer lift i learned a lot about the handling and suspension upgrade needs. The weakest link is saggy springs and bouncy shocks in the rear (but I ended up doing all 4). On the highway it swayed a lot and likes to wonder after bumps. I already want to replace the springs, but figured i would start with shocks first for better performance sooner. I polled the montero community and decided on Bilstein 4600s. Fronts are Bilstein 24-062718 and rears are 24-062725.

I should have done this upgrade much sooner but didnít know how bad it really was. I have no record of the struts or shocks being changed in the history of the truck. Upon removing the rear shocks i discovered that they offered almost no dampening at all. I was able to compress one of them with one finger and it would not bounce back. This means I spent the summer wheeling around and road tripping with basically no shocks and just stock springs in the rear. Epic fail. Since the rears were so bad I bit the bullet and did the front ones too. They werenít as bad but definitely had seen some wear.



So now I have new struts in the front and shocks in the rearÖ. And it rides like a dream! All the vagueness and body roll I was used to disappear and instead the truck is planted, smooth and stable. The highway is no longer a death trap and offroad it just eats up the bumps and rocks. This might be my favorite upgrade after the 33Ē KO2s

An interesting point on the rear Bilsteins. When I installed the new shocks I noticed that they were slightly (ĹĒ) shorter than the stock ones I was removing. I was nervous about having the shock be the limiting factor for my droop. I called Bilstein and they confirmed that I had the right part, and that it was the correct measurement from the factory. So I put my fears to rest since I figured they would know what they are doing and that they would know if it had resulted in major problems. Plus they are covered by Bilsteins lifetime warranty.

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: June 27, 2018, 09:25:41 PM »
Alright time for a little review and evaluation of how this project has gone so far. I will warn you right now, this post will be a lot of writing. I wanted to take some time to look back and examine how this Montero has turned out so far. I wanted to do it now because I am at a pretty good crossroads in the build and in life. In the build because I just hit 157,000 miles which means that I am due for a new timing belt and water pump. I wanted to wait on doing lift and tires until I had hit this point to see how the car was running before sinking too much money into it. In light because I recently moved from Colorado to Montana. Colorado is one of the best places in North America do go exploring and off-roading and it will be sad to be further away. However, Montana also has some amazing country to explore with a different set of challenges and terrain to conquer.

So given that iím at a good stopping point, I want to evaluate a few things and answer some questions:

Is this turning out how I expected?

What has been my favorite mod?

What has been my least favorite?

How much money have I spent?

How will the change in location affect the build

What is next up for this truck?

So if you are interested in looking into my thoughts and feelings about stuff, grab a beer/coffee (depending on the time of day.. Use you best judgement) and read on! If not, thatís cool.. Skip this one. Iíll put some pictures from my adventures throughout the post.

1) Is this build turning out how I expected?

Before getting too deep into something, itís good to make sure that you have a clear picture of where you are going and if you are still on the right track. In my first post about this build I mentioned that ďMy goal is to build a very capable overlanding/camping rig for me and my wife. It needs to drive at 75 MPH on the highway for days at a time and then be able to jump into the dirt and light 4x4 trails to take us to camping spots, sweet views and mountain topsĒ. I am very pleased to say that everything has worked out perfectly in that area! Iíve driven 11,000 miles in this truck since i bought it in January (so only 6 months) and itís been through a lot. Itís driven in snow, rocks, mud, sand, water crossings and a lot of pavement. I can have it in 4lo crawling out of a sand pit and then throw it in 2H and be cruising at 75mph without any issues at all. Having the sleeping platform in the back means that my wife and I can keep our camping gear loaded up all the time and be ready to an overnight trip in just a few minutes. In 11,000 miles I have not had any notable mechanical issues and the truck has run smooth as can be. A lot of this iím sure is due to the POís meticulous maintenance. Itís obvious that he didnít know anything about cars so he always took it in to a shop and always did what they recommended. The result is that my Montero is very well cared for AND I have every record for it since 37,000 miles. It spent its whole life in CO before I moved it to MT so it has almost no rust. Seeing that the truck runs strong and seems to have a lot of life left in it makes me more confident about building it up even though itís spent 15 years on the road.

2) What has been my favorite mod?

This one's tough. There are a lot of mods that I have really enjoyed about this truck. So iím going to cheat and break this one into three sub categories. Favorite for 1)Daily driving 2) Offroading/camping 3)Appearance.

First: Daily Driving. This one has to be the stereo. Even a bad day of being stuck in traffic can be remedied with some good tunes. Given that I really enjoy stereo work this isnít a surprise. I also really enjoy having tunes for off-roading as well. The slim sub allows me to have amazing quality and never even think about the space that itís taking up.

Second: Offroading/camping. Ĺ Aluminum skid plates! When you hear a bump under your car, itís never good. But it feel better when you know that you can support the entire weight of your vehicle on a Ĺ sheet of aircraft grade aluminium! These have saved my bacon a couple times already and iím very pleased with how they turned out. Also the price makes them hard to beat :)

Third: Appearance. Grill and headlight retrofit. Like I mentioned before, i think the front end of the gen 3 montero is horrible. So changing these two things basically saved the car for me. The grill makes it look much cleaner and the headlights update the look and make it distinguished.

3) what is my least favorite mod?

This one is easy. I hate the hitch. I knew from the second i put it on that it was going to be an issue. Itís so low and the Montero already suffers in departure angle because it hangs so much weight off behind the rear wheels. I basically bump my hitch on a rock once a trip if not 10 times. At this point i just consider it body armor. Good thing is that it still works perfectly, itís just annoying. I will be cutting it and rewelding it in a higher spot as soon as I decide how I want to design my rear bumper.

4) How much money have I spent?

Some people shy away from this question when talking about their car, and understandably so because this can get spendy. However, Iím on a really tight budget and that has forced me to do things in a way that keeps everything cheap. My goal in going over the numbers is not to shame those who spent a lot and built up their rigs with the latest and greatest stuff, but rather to show that even on a budget you CAN build a very capable overlanding rig. With that in mind.. The grand total that I have in this truck to date is somewhere around $6,000, Including the initial $3,500 to buy it. Iím guesstimating on the numbers a little since i do not have every receipt. So where did the $2,500 in mods go?

Full stereo build: $750

Headlights: $110

Sleeping platform: $60

2nd battery system: $225

Roof rack and accessories: $250

Hitch and trailer light harness: $190

Body armor (sliders, skid plates): $100

Tires $450

Window tint: $150

Other supplies and parts: ~$250

Overall iím very pleased with where this money has gone and how much iíve spent. I know there are plenty of people that have more money invested in their roof rack system than I do in my entire truck. Itís not all about building something sexy for instagram, itís about enjoying what you have.

5) How will the change in location affect the build?

Iím still just getting to know the terrain here in Montana. Itís beautiful, full of mountains, rivers and valleys. Come winter, it will be like living in a snowglobe. There is also a fair amount of mud compared to colorado (which is all rocks). Therefore self recovery becomes a higher priority since snow and mud can turn a regular dirt road into a devastating obstacle. Recovery boards and/or a winch is looking like a strong consideration for future purchases. Bigger and more aggressive tires are at the top of the list. I will be driving less for the next few years due to my proximity to work, however the truck still needs to be able to do road trips across multiple states. Additionally, there are a LOT of animals out here. Animals are great to look at and fun to spot on the trail, but hitting one on the road can ruin all your fun. So a front bumper is also high on the list. With that in mindÖ

6) What is next up for this truck?

Wheels/lift/tires: These three are at the top of the list and will all happen together. A lot of guys run M/Ts out here for the wet season. While iíd love to get into a more offroad specific tire, I cannot compromise the highway ability that I currently have. So I will likely be sticking with an A/T tire but I will be looking for something a little more aggressive and also moving up to a 33Ē. In order to fit a 33Ē Iím going to need a lift, so iím going to run a 2Ē lift all around using spacers. Iíll use aluminium in the front and rubber in the rear. More on that to come. And then because the lift will push the truck up, and pull the wheels in, I will be going to a wider offset wheel. Iím currently looking into a 0 offset basic steel wheel.

Slider kick outs: Even those the sliders i have right now have saved me from damage, I really need them to be wider to protect more of the slide of the vehicle as well as offer a proper high lift spot.

Bumpers: As mentioned before Iím most worried about animal strikes. However, I would love to make something that would hold a winch for the future, and iíd like to make a new rear bumper that offers more ground clearance. I will likely be building these, not buying them.

I hope to do the wheels/lift/tires and slider kick outs sometime in the next month. The bumpers will have to be a winter project so I can recover my funds and spend some time designing everything.

Build Threads / Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« on: June 08, 2018, 11:50:31 PM »
Thanks for the encouragement everyone! I'll be doing a review post here in a few days and looking back at the build thus far and evaluating some of the mods and steps along the way. I'm also kicking around lift, wheel and tire options for the future.. Should be a fun summer!

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