Our first step was to haul the FJ over to KC Customs for a quick sanding and spray job of semi-gloss black on the bumpers that had come in a raw steel finish. We tore off the body cladding and began the sanding to make sure the paint would adhere. This low grit cuts through the factory clearcoat, but you must be very careful to keep any grease or oils off the body, and even fingerprints must be wiped off prior to going in the paint booth.Our first step was to haul the FJ over to KC Customs for a quick sanding and spray job of We tore off the body cladding and began the sanding to make sure the paint would adhere. This low grit cuts through the factory clearcoat, but you must be very careful to keep any grease or oils off the body, and even fingerprints must be wiped off prior to going in the paint booth.We tore off the body cladding and began the sanding to make sure the paint would adhere. T To get the truck painted quickly (we had less than three days before we had to head northeast to the start of Ultimate Adventure) the KC Customs crew first laid out four patches of brown on the fenders of the FJ. Once dry, the graphic was masked off on the brown sections.To get the truck painted quickly (we had less than three days before we had to head northe Finally we actually sprayed the green. Whenever you totally change the paint color of a vehicle there is this point where you question your decision and when the most obnoxious green was sprayed over our truck our hearts skipped a beat. What had we done? Were we about to be cruising around the country is some crazy Incredible Hulk-mobile?Finally we actually sprayed the green. Whenever you totally change the paint color of a ve But the next step of a new paint job is about as close to Christmas morning as you can get and that's when you roll the truck out from under the fluorescent lights and strip off the masking tape and paper. Here we finally felt great about our decision. The green was a bit more subdued when viewed in daylight but still bright enough to pop in photos, and the brown accents gave it just the unique, without overdone, styling we were looking for. Thus the Ultimate FJ began its list of nicknames including the Ultimate Avocado and the Ninja Turtle.But the next step of a new paint job is about as close to Christmas morning as you can get About this point we had one last stop on the way to the start of Ultimate Adventure and that was back to Advance Adapters for the final installation and tuning of the cable shift levers on our four-speed Atlas. Unfortunately, as we were reassembling the body panels and molding of the truck the driver-side door locked, and neither the key nor the remote access key fob would unlock it. Yes, with just days left to go on this project we were all of a sudden locked out of the driver seat, and to add insult to injury, the passenger door was locked open! This project had for the most part moved along on schedule, and though there were a few last-minute details to button up, we had little time or patience for some electric locks that wouldn't let us in our own truck. After nearly 12 hours of using every four-letter word we could think of (and inventing a few new ones), we were about at the end of our rope. How were we going to go on a weeklong trip in a truck that we couldn't even open the doors?! Luckily the boss (Editor Rick Pw) called and said "ignore the doors, and get that truck to Advance Adapters. We'll deal with it there." Did we ever! A pair of channel locks and tin snips later we had the electro gadget gutted from the door and a homebrew system fabbed up to get us in and out. Maybe the boss is right and true 4x4s don't have doors.About this point we had one last stop on the way to the start of Ultimate Adventure and th Our final install before we hit the road was the cable shifters for the Atlas transfer case. We were slightly hesitant about using anything other than a true lever shifter on a trail rig, and the boss was extremely hesitant since he's not a big fan of change. However, after the week of off-road use we can truly say that the cable shifters worked flawlessly. In fact, when compared to some Atlas transfer cases with standard levers we've used, we would call this an upgrade. The lever brackets attach directly to the body, yet the cables have a more direct inline activation of the shift rails, and when the center console was installed everything looked near factory stock.Our final install before we hit the road was the cable shifters for the Atlas transfer cas And thus we rolled out of the Advance Adapters shop and hit the road for Idaho for the start of the Ultimate Adventure. Now for most folks this is where the buildup should end, but of course we never want to waste time hanging out with old friends when we could still be adding upgrades to our ride. With all those old friends around we had plenty of spare hands to put to work doing final jobs like attaching the CB antenna, bolting on the Poison Spyder Customs modified rocksliders, and roof-mounting a new Hi-Lift Extreme Jack.And thus we rolled out of the Advance Adapters shop and hit the road for Idaho for the sta Just in case we have any carnage on the trail we like to carry a small supply of spare parts. In addition to an extra rear driveshaft, we also pack complete front and rear 35-spline axleshafts and a set of bombproof CTM U-joints.Just in case we have any carnage on the trail we like to carry a small supply of spare par Finally, check out the bottom of the FJ while running Gas Tank Alley in Elko, Nevada. The long aluminum skidplate from Slee Off Road replaces the stock plastic unit to protect the gas tank so we didn't end up stranded like this trail's namesake.Finally, check out the bottom of the FJ while running Gas Tank Alley in Elko, Nevada. The RetrospectNow that we've finished the Ultimate Adventure '06 , we look back at the truck and have only a handful of complaints about the performance and bucket-loads of praise for our Big Green Turtle truck. The biggest flaw of the FJ has got to be visibility, both on the trail and the street. We're sure that this vehicle was born in a designer's studio rather than an off-road engineer's notebook, and unfortunately certain flaws resulted. The side mirrors are too small, the taillights too big, the back windows too small, and the hood too big. That being said, we loved the 4.0 for grunty torque, and the six-speed manual tranny, which when matched with the Atlas four-speed gave us a gear for every occasion. The 39-inch Krawlers worked great and when spun by Yukon 5.38 gears and Detroit Lockers, we never had issues.The suspension worked great, comfy at speed in dirt or dunes due to the adjustable Walker Evans shocks and Light Racing Jounce shocks, and finally tuned by the fabricators at All Pro Off Road. Though some folks thought our Dynatrac axles were overkill, we love the ground clearance, clean fabrication, and brute strength. Plus by adapting the stock FJ brakes we had a perfectly balanced system to halt the Turtle in a hurry if need be. And speaking of the Turtle, the inside of the shell with a tight TIG-welded cage by Poison Spyder and plethora of safe lockable storage by Slee Off Road in the back made for a great home base. Outside our shell was protected by two big Fab Fours bumpers and though the rear got some bruises due to its low-hanging lower lip, both fared well and did the job of protecting the body and engine compartment. Another thing that front bumper did was house a Warn 9.5 ti winch, and more than most years we often had it running to climb vertical ledges or drag us out of sloppy quagmires, and never did it give any hint of quitting. We truly feel this year's Ultimate Adventure truck is one of our best yet, and we may just need to take another week off to go enjoy it some more. « | 1 | 2 | View Full Article Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!