RiverRaider Snorkel Install

RiverRaider Snorkel Install

River Raider Snorkel InstallWhen the original snorkel was released for the FJ Cruiser, I realized that someday we may want to install that as an option, but I really never liked that design. Something about that giant plastic sticking to the side of the truck, plus drilling a large hole in the fender just never worked for me. Over the years I’ve seen several DIY options that seemed promising, but I was holding out for something a little different.

As we reported in the last issue, the River Raider Snorkel aims to provide another option for your deep water fording needs. This snorkel has three primary differences from other options I’ve seen. First, it’s made of steel so it just feels more ‘solid. It also doesn’t require drilling a fender, but you do have to drill the cowl, which is probably more difficult. Lastly, this snorkel looks more like military style options, which I personally love but others may not.

The install instructions covered each step adequately, although the photos (like most installs) don’t always provide enough information. As you can see from our pics, it’s extremely difficult to document many of the nuances of an install at this level. This is definitely not a ‘beginner’ install, and if you’re not very comfortable with cutting things off your FJ, I recommend having a professional do the work.

A big question with this install before we even began was the dual battery. Since most dual batteries require custom fabrication for a proper install, it would’ve been helpful to do the snorkel first. Perhaps then the tray for the battery could be located in the area of the original intake box, since it’s eliminated with this install. Unfortunately we already had the battery done, so I basically just routed the new intake tube over the battery. The tube does contact the battery fully when the hood is closed, but since it’s a rubber tube I don’t expect any issues. If I notice any rubbing that could become a problem I’ll simply wrap the tube with tape to protect it.

Since the battery is blocking access to the underside of the cowl, I opted to leave out the plastic box that the River Raider instructions require be cut. So far (about 200 miles in), this hasn’t been an issue and if you didn’t know it was originally there, you wouldn’t miss it. This modification, like so many others, requires a fair bit of ingenuity to complete.

The instructions require you to modify the stock air box if you have a 2010 or newer FJC, so we can’t comment on how that process would go. The other required modifications, including cutting part of the hood hinge and heavily modifying your corner cowl piece worked as instructed. The overall install isn’t terribly difficult, it’s the finishing that’s really a pain.

The last steps include adding three bolts to the corner cowl to hold it in position. In stock form there are 4 clips that hold it to the truck, none of which have the force to hold it in position after the snorkel is installed. All three bolts (one on the inside of the cowl and two outside) are very difficult to install. The outside-rear bolt requires holding the top of the bolt through a tiny opening through the door jam, while threading and tightening the lock nut with a washer on it from inside the front fender. This would be much easier with two people, unfortunately I was without help for this part of the process. It literally took over 2 hours for me to get that bolt tightened down.

One other point I need to make that applies to almost any install. If your truck has high miles (our TRD sits at over 93,000 as of today), make it a point to inventory and purchase the three or four types of plastic clips you’ll need. While some clips come out fairly easily, almost all of them break (either partially or completely) during removal of your fender flares and the plastic piece on top of the fender. If you have spare clips handy, the install would be much easier because you won’t worry about breaking clips off.

Although this is one of the tougher installs I’ve done, I definitely think it’s worth it. At $399 for the basic kit it’s a really good deal if you prefer this style snorkel over the plastic versions. An 18” extension kit is available for desert environments, as is color-matching service for non-black FJCs. As I mentioned, so far I have about 200 miles on the snorkel (none off pavement) and so far it’s working great. My mileage hasn’t been affected, but I’ll be able to fully test that on my two trips to Arizona this spring. We’ll do a follow up article in a later issue that covers performance of the River Raider Snorkel, but so far so good!

More Photos!

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