Author Topic: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build  (Read 25402 times)

Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2018, 03:47:19 PM »
Details on your fire extinguisher setup and the brackets that hold your shovel and/or axe?

Nice build so far man!!

Thanks! The fire extinguisher is just your standard run of the mill automotive extinguisher, it came with a bracket that i just bolted to the panel. The ax and shovel mounts are the standard door handle mounts (i think they are m6) with some quick fist attachments. They do the job and it's actually bolted to the frame of the door so it's solid.

Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2018, 08:46:01 PM »
Next camping modification is adding lights to the roof basket. I have a lot of big plans on the electrical side of this build but iíll keep those details separate from this mod for simplicity's sake. Hereís the goal: pull up to a camp site in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. I need to make dinner, set up camp and catch some sleep. I want to be able to hit a switch and light up everything around me for 50í without even touching a headlamp or flashlight. So LED light bars are going to be key. I started by just running some additional reverse lights tapped into the stock reverse light power lines. Those worked out well so I also mounted some on the sides and iíll have some front ones (ditch lights) coming by the end of the week. Iím using cheap amazon/ebay flood LEDs.

I started by running wire all over the rack. I used 14 AWG which is way over kill for my application, but i got some for really cheap and itís good hardy outdoor stuff, so itís what worked. I ran all the wire, cut it to length (a little generous for flexibility in mounting) and then soldered everything together. I used a trailer wire connector to attach everything to the carís power so that I could easily disconnect the wires when taking the rack off. Did my best to keep it tight and tucked up out of the way. I wired all of the lights up to my electrical connections in the back (Iíll cover this in a future post) and it worked well. Now I have a lot of lighting options for setting up camp in the dark. Running 8 lights total for this set up: 2 in the front of the basket kind of like ditch lights, 2 on the sides, and 4 in the rear (2 on the basket and then the stock reverse lights which were swapped out for LEDs as well). Combined with the headlights i have 360 degrees of light coming from the vehicle which is great for both camping and night time driving. The last step was to waterproof the bars with some silicone sealer. These are cheap LEDís ($15 per pair) so I figured they would all start collecting water at some point.

Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2018, 08:47:56 PM »
The next two mods were major ones for the camping side of this build. First was the sleeping platform. One of the Monteroís greatest strengths is the 3rd row seating. Sure, you could fit 7 people in here, itís cramped but it can happen. Whatís actually really great about that 3rd row is that it pops out to reveal a giant hidden storage space. Usually SUVís use this space for the spare tire, but the Montero has always had it mounted on the door so this space is open and usable. This does however present some challenges for building a drawer system / sleeping platform. The typical drawer builds would cover the extra storage space making it nearly impossible to get to. I could design a drawer system where the drawers come all the way out and expose the area underneath, but it would be a lot of work and innovation for a fairly simple gain.

So instead i decided to build a platform that allowed for ample storage underneath as well as access to the extra storage space left by the 3rd row. I used some wood that I had laying around to mockup a ďProof of conceptĒ platform. I wanted to put it in the truck for a little bit and actually use it before committing to real build. My first concept was simple and worked well enough become the base of my final design.

I took measurements of the trunk area and designed a platform that was well supported and utilized the maximum amount of the space. Two 2x4 legs on each side and two more in the middle for extra support. Everything worked well, except that it was unbalanced toward the rear of the truck, so I added 2 more legs per side to make it sturdy and not tipsy. Hereís a picture from the initial mock up.

One of the things I really wanted to do was be able to sleep in the car. Sleeping in the car gives me the option of totally removing myself from the elements if camping conditions are rough or if I just feel like it.. Because I can! I kicked around the idea of building something that would replace the 2nd row seats (forcing me to remove them) but it really wouldnít be practical for usability and the extra work would deter me from using it often. So instead I built a foldable plywood sheet to sit on top of the platform and folded 2nd row seats. This maximized the use and usefulness of space in the car. My proof of concept was very basic, a plywood sheet, cut in two pieces and attached with a piano hinge. It worked, but i had to pull it all the way out of the car to get it extended and then drop it back inside, Read: cumbersome. But it all worked well enough to show me that this was a design I could commit to.

So onto a final design. I kept a lot of the original so Iíll spare the details on that. The biggest change was the sleeping platform extension.  The folding part had to be changed to be more usable. Instead of making it a completely separate system I modified it to be attached to the platform at all times. Using another piano hinge made it possible for the platform to accordion in and out of place taking up almost no additional cargo room and allowing for very easy set up. My wife and i can set it up and break it down in about 30 seconds. The seat backs support a lot of the weight but for additional support I added metal piping that threads into the platform to create removable legs. The result is a sturdy platform that can easily sleep two. After all of this was test fitted and finished up I covered it in some simple automotive carpet for a cleaner look and to protect the seats and surrounding materials from the rough wood. Side note: the subwoofer fits underneath perfectly.

The only downside about this platform is that it blocked the dome lights leaving all off the storage underneath was pitch black at night. To fix this I installed a strip of red LEDs under the platform so that I could see everything under the platform at night, again, without ever grabbing a flashlight.

Here are the dimensions of the final platform: 14Ē Tall x 43Ē Wide x 35Ē Long when folded (70Ē total lengthĒ).

Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2018, 08:49:55 PM »
The 2nd of the major mods is a dual battery system. Now, if this is a new topic to you (like it was for me) This can seem very overwhelming. I did a lot of research and found several helpful build threads that answered almost all of my questions. Because there are so many other great threads out there, I will spare the details of what it takes to wire a system and just make a list of the few details that really make up this build, as well as the cost. First, why did I want two batteries. In all honesty, I probably donít need two for my current set up. However, this does offer my security and peace of mind while using electronics when the car is off.

Battery and tray
My ďhouseĒ or ďaccessoryĒ battery is a deep cycle 75AH duracell SLI24MC Marine/RV battery. The 24 size fits snugly, but perfectly, behind the stock air box. The battery tray was a miracle find. Itís a scrap piece of aluminum that just happened to be the perfect shape and side to fit into my very tight spot and secure the battery. I used some factory mounting points to secure it in 3 spots so that it wouldnít flex on the trail. Honestly, this was a pretty unique tray set up that wonít be easily replicated so I wont go into all the details of how I made it work, but here are some pictures.

This is some of the brackets I used to secure the tray to the firewall. Mocked it up and drilled holes to match the factory bolts

And I used a thick piece of rubber to protect the factory wiring harness. No sense installing a 2nd battery if it wears through the harness and shorts everything out!

Final product turned out great. Painted it all black, installed an aluminum strap to keep it bolted in and also added a some dynamat to the base for a little extra dampening.

The end result is that it fit very well and holds the battery securely in place. Another plus is that my starting battery and house batteries are the same size and similar age, so they should wear evenly and perform well together.

Isolator, Fuses and circuit breakers
I followed a very simple diagram when wiring up my batteries. The Isolator is a simple on/off connection that comes on when the ignition is one and turns off when itís not. That means that my battery is always charging when I drive and disconnected when itís not. Simple, and foolproof. I used 100 amp fuses to connect the batteries and a 100 amp circuit breaker to protect all of the electronics that run down steam of the house battery. A circuit breaker here allows me to quickly disconnect all of the power running into the cab so that I can safely work on the accessories without having to pull a fuse out.

Cables and wires:
I scored a bunch of 2 AWG copper wire from a local recycling center. Usually this stuff runs $5 per foot and can add up to a very expensive part of your build. I got nearly 40í of it for $40. Using a hydraulic crimper I attached terminal ends and then wrapped all of the connections in heat shrink. I also covered the wires with some sheathing more for looks than anything. Makes the engine bay feel a little less crowded.

This also a good place to mention that in preparation for doing a dual battery set up I also did the big 3 upgrade. This is an upgrade borrowed from my car audio days. Basically you beef up the 3 big connections in your electrical system: Alternator -> battery, Battery ground -> chassis grounding point, Engine ground -> chassis. This allows more current to flow through you system. I also did this in 2 AWG wire.

Factory vs upgraded ground wire. The factory is a bit smaller. The new wire has better insulation.

Accessories and options
So now that all that is done, on to accessories. Basically I want to run every new thing I add off the house battery. This puts less strain on the starting battery and allows for the most peace of mind while camping. The first thing I did was run 2 AWG wire from the house battery to the rear of the vehicle. 2 AWG is huge, so this required me to remove all the seats and really mess with the carpet to get it all hidden and ran through the cab. The 2 AWG wire (which I will call the house wire) terminates in the driver side panel where the subwoofer used to be. The house wire flows far more power than I will ever need in the rear of the car, but thatís kind of the point. I over built this so that no matter what I added (fridge, compressor{which should really be ran off the starter anyway}, inverter, water pump) it could handle it without having to redo the wiring. Itís kind of like having a battery terminal in the back of the trunk.

The house wire connects to two accessories that make up most of my current system. One is a switch panel which features 5 fused toggle switches, two 2.1 amp USB ports and a standard 12v socket. It also includes a voltmeter so I can see how the house battery is doing on voltage. The switch board has plenty of options for future expansion. At the moment, the only thing I have connected to this unit is the factory 12v plug that is on the passenger side of the trunk. I rewired this plug to run off of the house battery instead of the starter. This is where my sleeping platform lights plug in. Side note: I actually went to the junkyard and got a side panel from an xls model Montero that didnít have the factory subwoofer. That meant that the panel was a plank slate to drill and cut into, leaving the end result of the panel looking very clean.

The second part of my system is a Blazer wireless light controlling module. For $40 this thing is amazing. Basically you just plug your lights in, give it power and then control everything from a little remote. I have all of my roof top LEDs running off this module. It says it can handle a 20 amp draw so my little LEDs shouldnít be an issue at all. I love this because it eliminates the ďwhere do i put the switchĒ issue. Before i found this i was torn: When i camp i basically live out of the trunk and would love to have control over the lights from the rear of the vehicle. But when iím driving and want to turn on the lights i donít want to have to put the car in park, get out, turn them on and then start driving again. Additionally it would be awesome to control the lights from on top of the sleeping platform so that if I heard an animal outside, or just had to get up to pee in the middle of the night, I could easily turn on the lights without having to stretch all over the cab to hit a switch. This little module solves all those problems because it can be used in all three locations as well as from a camping chair by the fire at night :). The range is not as good as it claims but it works fine for $40.

At this point Iím nearly done with the dual battery setup. I love being able to use the USBs to charge electronics while camping or on the road and it gives me confidence that I can use my lights all I want without killing my car. Later upgrades will include: LED lighting above my rear door mounted table and converting the cabin lights to run off of the house battery.

Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2018, 08:52:17 PM »
And back to the roof rack we go! Iím going to be adding a lift in a few weeks so I wanted to make sure I had a high lift with me for emergencies and also for self recovery. I also wanted a shovel easily accessible for digging myself out of sticky situations.  High lift is bolted to the rails using 8.8 rated M8 and M10 bolts and the shovel is attached with quick fists. Touched up the paint for some corrosion protection and itís good to go. Later on I might mount an awning where the shovel is, but thatís a problem for future me.

Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2018, 08:54:14 PM »
After some wheeling and exploring I has become evident that I need some body armor. Sliders were my first priorityÖ and then i got a sweet deal on some skid plates :)

For the middle skid plate I went found a T6061 ĹĒ plate that I also got from my local aluminium recycler. In a previous life it was used as a handgun target and some stray .223 rounds made some nice drainage holes.  I cut it down to size, drilled out some holes and ran new bolts through it to attach to the factory mounting points. The factory plastic shield has a bend to it so I had to make up some spacers to accommodate the gap made by a flat plate. It does hang down a little lower and create a shelf, but that would be there either way because of the way the bend is used to accommodate the front diff. When i make a front plate i will try to get them closer than the stock one sits now. I went back to the aluminum recycler and found a perfect spacer cylinder also made of T6061. Drilled out, cut to size and it fits perfect leaving me with about 2mm of clearance for the diff. Countersunk the bolts with a mill to keep the heads clear of rocks. I also slotted the rear bolt holes so that I can slide the plate on and off without dropping it on my head.

Note: These shots were taken with the front skid plate removed so I could get a better look inside. When the front plate is on it matches much more seamlessly with the middle plate and doesnít leave that low hanging shelf.

Hereís where it gets awesome. My custom T6061 skid plate weighs less than 20 pounds and cost me less than $30 to make. Itís hard not to be excited about that!

But I wasnít out of aluminum yet. This next plate is much bigger (43Ē x 18Ē). Weighs 35 lbs and is also ĹĒ t6061 aluminium. I used this to cover the transmission pan and part of the transfer case. This process was almost exactly the same as the first plate so iíll spare you the details and just show you the pictures.

Both plates together. ĹĒ T6061 as far as the eye can see :)

For the record, this is probably the least DIY friendly part of my build so far. The materials I got, the price i got them for and the tools (mill) I used are not common. However you could do a very similar thing with a steel plate from any steel yard.

I will have to do some research and planning for a new front skid plate. My goal would be to build a front bumper that would incorporate one but only time will tell.

Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2018, 09:09:16 PM »
Sliders are tricky for a Gen 3 montero because they are not body on frame. Instead the use some kind of reinforced unibody system. Itís plenty strong, but it doesnít allow for easy attachment of sliders either by welding or bolting to the frame. So I did some research and found out what the manufactures were doing to get around this and then got some very helpful tips from Alex (from the Mitsubishi fb page and Expedition portal). I give all credit to him for the design and materials used. I utilized the factory side step mounting points and the pinch weld (strong point on the unibody frame) to make my sliders as bomb proof as possible. I cut the mounting brackets out of 2Ē L channel ľĒ thick. I cut them between 6Ē and 7Ē long. The front mounting points are higher up than the middle and rear so they needed to be longer.

Mocked all of the brackets up and marked where the holes should be. I used M10 bolts to secure them. Then I took a 6í section of 2Ē square hitch material and mocked it up to the brackets. This runs the entire length of the pinchweld for maximum protection. Using a jack and C clamps I held it in place and tack welded it together.

After that I pulled the whole thing off and finished the welds. Then i cut the front and rear ends at a 45 degree angle and welded on another section of plate to create an angle rather than a hard edge that might get caught on rocks. Paint it black and itís good to go! Later i will come back and add some more protection to cover the side of the rocker panel and add a jacking lift point. I will most likely not use these as a side step because I donít want them to stick out too far from the body, however we will see how I feel about that after the lift goes on :)

Paint it black and install!

Unlike my lightweight and cheap skid plate, these sliders cost me about $80 and probably weigh 80 lbs. But you gotta do what you gotta do. After all this body armor went on I think my added weight was about 150 lbs (rounding up for when i add kick out panels to the sliders) and i lost 0.25Ē of height in the front suspension.


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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2018, 07:17:36 AM »
Nicely done dude, I'm really liking this build. Keep up the good work.


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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2018, 11:28:09 AM »
Wow, clean looking rig and great mods so far.
"AZPAJERO" - 1997 Gen 2 Montero SR, 5.29 gears, 37" tires, Detroit front locker, Factory rear

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Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2018, 06:58:42 PM »
Nicely done dude, I'm really liking this build. Keep up the good work.



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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2018, 05:40:01 AM »
Man...this is one dope build. Great work man!!!
-1998 Montero (Winter package & Adjustable suspension)
-2002 Montero Limited
-1991 Galant VR4 1948/2000
-1996 Galant 4G64t 5spd
Owner of: Nostalgic JDM
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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2018, 01:08:07 PM »
Great thread man!!


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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2018, 04:42:29 PM »
The level of detail and ingenuity going on here makes my meagre threads feel like amateur hour. LOL

I especially like the electrical setup. Well thought through, with room for expansion. Thanks for sharing, and please - Don't stop! Sometimes build threads feel like diaries because no-one comments, but trust me - we are reading over your shoulder. And sneaking peeks when you leave it open... :)

Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #28 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!

Rambo Penguin

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Re: Rambo Penguin's Gen 3 Montero Build
« Reply #29 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.